Trump’s first year in office was marked by extremism in his
administration and in Congressional leadership that shutdown the
government by pitting sick children who need health care against scared
children who need protection from deportation, all as leverage for
building a dehumanizing, unnecessary, and demonic wall.
Attacks on communities of color, the poor, and other vulnerable populations have been the policy agenda of this administration — from the enactment of the Muslim travel ban to repeated attempts to take health care from millions of Americans, to open support for white supremacists like Thomas Farr, Trump’s nominee to the federal bench whom Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have already voted to move forward in 2018.
We live in a time where states and the administration are actively working to undermine voting rights. In his first few weeks in office, President Trump formed a so-called voter fraud commission on the belief that three million undocumented immigrants voted in the 2016 election. The commission was authorized to seek voter registration data from Texas identifying all voters with Hispanic surnames. Though the commission was discontinued, the administration continues to deny the real issue of voter suppression in this country.
With the support of extremists in the Republican-led Congress, President Trump has sought to destroy our economic democracy by enacting an immoral tax bill built on the backs of America’s poor in order to benefit the wealthy. Congress gave corporations a 21 percent tax rate. Now they get to keep 79 percent of their profits, leaving the poor and working class to pick up the tab. We haven’t seen a transfer of wealth this extreme since slavery stole the labor of 4 million women and men to benefit the plantation class.
The tax law Republicans have celebrated as their great policy win is a shameless gift to the wealthy that will hurt poor whites, poor blacks, and poor brown communities. State budgets across the country depend on state income, sales, and property taxes as primary sources of revenue for their operating budgets. The tax law will limit the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT). If states wish to prevent this tax hike, they will be forced to make up lost revenue by choosing between cutting critical programs such as education and health care, or forcing vulnerable communities to pay higher taxes. According to analysis by the National Education Association, this could jeopardize state funding for more than 130,000 education jobs, including 2,500 in North Carolina.
While President Trump has been so focused on building a racist wall on our southern border, he has failed to build up a functioning infrastructure and an immigration plan that provides paths to citizenship, not punishment for people whose labor has built this nation and who want to make this country their home. As we found in our preliminary report for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival — “The Souls of Poor Folk” — discretionary spending in 2016 allotted almost four times more for the military than for people’s lives at home — with $630 billion for the military versus $183 billion for education, jobs, housing and other basic human needs. Budgets are moral documents and congressional and political leadership at every level should be focusing investments towards our nation’s 140 million poor and working poor people.
I’m often reminded of the Prophet Isaiah who said, “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness, which they have prescribed; To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless.” (Isaiah 10: 1–2).
To stand with our immigrant, refugee, and poor sisters and brothers is to stand with God, who calls us to love and welcome the stranger.
I cry for all who have been impacted by extremists at the hands of immoral political leaders and systemic policy-violence, but we must remember that President Trump and extremists in the Republican-led Congress are simply a symptom of the real sickness of this nation. There is a moral deficit that allows so many to applaud and pray for this immoral agenda that fails to ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare or establish justice. The most glaring irony is that the very people who embraced Trump’s extreme rhetoric — poor and working whites in the South — are, in raw numbers, the ones who are hurt the most by these extreme policies.
It is our moral responsibility to create a country built on policies that benefit all, not just the wealthy. We need a moral public policy agenda that uplifts the poor and communities of color. We must build a country that aims to serve everyone. We need leaders in our government who understand the #StateofOurUnion is divisive and demands a moral intervention.
President Trump’s first year in office makes clear that he not only campaigned with extreme rhetoric, but he and all who enable him have made extremism their policy agenda. Standing down is not an option. It’s movement time in America.
If you care about the heart and soul of this nation, please join the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival in 40 days of direct action starting this spring. To learn more, visit www.poorpeoplescampaign.org.
Will you join us?
I come to you today in the spirit of the God who is a mother to the motherless.
I come to you today thankful for Tamika and Linda and Carmen and Bob and all of you who are here.
I come today as co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and President of Repairers of the Breach.
I come to you today in the spirit of Harriet Tubman who said, “I would fight for my liberty so long as my strength lasted, and if the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.”
I come to you today in the spirit of Mother Jones, who said, “Pray for the dead, but fight like hell for the living.”
I come to you in the spirit of Ella Baker, who said, “In order for us as poor and oppressed people to become part of a society that is meaningful, the system under which we now exist has to be radically changed… It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.”
I come to you today in the spirit of Coretta King, who taught us that abuse against women is violence. But “starving a child is also violence. Neglecting school children is violence. Punishing a mother and her family is violence. Discrimination against a working person is violence. Ghetto housing is violence. Ignoring healthcare is violence. Contempt for poverty is violence. And an apathetic attitude that refuse to challenge injustice is also violence.”
I come to you today in the spirit of my mother, Eleanor Barber, who was one of the first black women to integrate public schools in Washington County and still gets up every morning at 83 years old and goes to work. I asked her, “Why are you still going to work?” And she answered, “They didn’t want me when I came here; now I’ll leave when I get ready!”
I come to you today as a man who has known abuse.
I come to you today in the spirit of Roz Pelles, the manager of the Poor People’s Campaign and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, the co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
I come to you in the spirit of all the women from Africa to Asia to America to Mexico — wherever they are.
And I come to you in the spirit of Tyler, who I met on the plane late last night from Chicago and is here in the crowd somewhere.
And I come here to declare that if Sojourner — “Ain’t I a Woman?” — Truth and
Fredrick Douglass and Lucretia Mott, a Quaker, and William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist, could form a coalition to fight for women’s suffrage and change America in the 1800’s, so can we.
I’ve come here to declare that if Diane Nash and Rosa Parks and Joan Baez and Viola Liuzzo and Martin Luther King and Rabbi Heschel could form a coalition to change America in the in the 1960’s, so can we.
We must know that, down through history, those who have promoted sexism and violence against women have more often than not also stood on the side of racism and homophobia and religious tyranny and fascism and greed and systemic poverty. Truth is, to be anti-woman is to be against democracy. It is to be anti-justice. It is to be against our deepest moral and religious values.
In nation where women are 35 percent more likely than men to be poor — where women account for 60 percent of low wage workers and, together with children, account for 70 percent of the nations poor, refusing to address poverty while giving welfare tax cuts to the greedy at the expense of the poor and working poor is anti-woman, anti-family, anti-American, and immoral.
Denying healthcare is anti-woman, anti-family, anti-American, and immoral. And I’m not just talking about the Affordable Care Act. I’m talking about universal healthcare for every human being as a human right.
Participating in voter suppression that allows extremists to cheat in order to get into office is anti-woman, anti-family, anti-American, and immoral.
Attacking labor rights is anti-woman, anti-family, anti-American, and immoral.
Refusing living wages is anti-woman, anti-family, anti-American, and immoral.
Refusing the rights of immigrants in a country made up of immigrants — and a group of people talking about “meritorious immigration” and deciding that they want to put rules in place that their own grandmamma who was an immigrant couldn’t pass — is anti-woman, anti-family, anti-American, and immoral.
So we must stand together. And I’ve come, my sisters, to say that the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival stands with the Women’s March and your goal to transform America, to have massive voter mobilization of one million new registered voters, and to take the power to the polls.
On Mother’s Day, we will launch the Poor People’s Campaign with 40 days of nonviolent civil disobedience, direct action, power building, and voter mobilization with the poor and moral leaders in 25 state capitols and in Ryan and McConnell’s offices. Our first action will be standing against policies that exacerbate child poverty and cut money for public education.
Truth is, my sisters, it’s movement time in America. Any time the nation, with a race-driven Electoral College, turns the presidency over to a narcissistic, egotistical, racist that looses by 3 million votes, it’s movement time. It’s movement time.
Any time the very politicians in the Congress that have claimed Trump is not stable set aside their assessment to push his agenda, it’s movement time.
We can’t wait four years. We have to move extremists now — out of the Congress and out of statehouses. Do you know that if we registered 30% of the black voters in the Southern states and connected those with white people that are progressives and Latinos, Alabama doesn’t have to be an anomaly? We can win in Florida and Georgia and Texas and North Carolina and Mississippi. We need a mid-year election turnout like never before. It’s movement time.
So finally, since it’s Sunday, I come here today as a preacher in the prophetic tradition and in the spirit of a woman in the Bible named Deborah. Deborah was a woman in the Bible in the Book of Judges. The nation in her day was under assault by a loud mouth, egotistical, abusive, narcissistic, lying leader named Trump — I mean, Sisera.
But Deborah wasn’t scared. Some of the men didn’t want to take on Sisera. They were willing to accept what was going on, but Deborah said, “It’s time to fight.”
So she had one message for those who wanted to save the soul of the nation. It was, “Get up!”
And I say to you today, we’ve been crying and whining long enough — talking about what happen in 2016. It’s time to get up and make something happen. It’s time to get up and register everybody you know to vote. It’s time to get up and take the power to the polls. Instead of deporting immigrants, we need to deport some of these politicians out of their office.
It’s time to get up. If we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now. And anybody that doesn’t vote, my grandmamma had a word for you: it’s called “trifling.”
It’s time to get up and know that love can win, and justice can win, and righteousness can win when we organize black and white and brown and red and yellow; old and young; Jewish and Muslim and Christian and those who do not have a faith, but they believe in a moral agenda. It’s time to get up — gay and straight. No more fighting each other. Let’s fight racism. Let’s fight sexism. Let’s fight the extremists.
It’s time to get up and demand justice for all. It’s time to get up because we are the people who know that we can take a word like “shithole” and turn it into fertilizer and grow a new movement.
It’s time to get up and vote people out of office who do wrong. It’s time to get up and speak truth to power.
And if I could channel my inner hip hop:
We ain’t meant to survive, ’cause it’s a set-up
And even though you’re fed up
Huh, you got to keep your head up
Oh child, it’s gonna get easier
Oh child, it’s gonna get better
Oh, oh child, things are gonna get brighter
Because we are going to get up, get up, get up!
many times will we rebuild Florida’s cities, Houston, coastal New
Jersey, New Orleans and other population centers ravaged by storms
lethally intensified by global warming? At what point, surveying the
devastation and knowing more is inevitable, will we walk away, leaving
behind vast coastal dead zones? Will we retreat even further into
magical thinking to cope with the fury we have unleashed from the
natural world? Or will we respond rationally and radically alter our
relationship to this earth that gives us life?
Civilizations over the past 6,000 years have unfailingly squandered their futures through acts of colossal stupidity and hubris. We are probably not an exception. The physical ruins of these empires, including the Mesopotamian, Roman, Mayan and Indus, litter the earth. They elevated, during acute distress, inept and corrupt leaders who channeled anger, fear and dwindling resources into self-defeating wars and vast building projects. The ruling oligarchs, driven by greed and hedonism, retreated into privileged compounds—the Forbidden City, Versailles—and hoarded wealth as their populations endured mounting misery and poverty. The worse it got, the more the people lied to themselves and the more they wanted to be lied to. Reality was too painful to confront. They retreated into what anthropologists call “crisis cults,” which promised the return of the lost world through magical beliefs.
“The most significant characteristic of modern civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present,” philosopher and psychologist William James wrote, “and all the power of science has been prostituted to this purpose.”
We are entering this final phase of civilization, one in which we are slashing the budgets of the very agencies that are vital to prepare for the devastation ahead—the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, along with programs at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration dealing with climate change. Hurricane after hurricane, monster storm after monster storm, flood after flood, wildfire after wildfire, drought after drought will gradually cripple the empire, draining its wealth and resources and creating swathes of territory defined by lawlessness and squalor.
These dead zones will obliterate not only commercial and residential life but also military assets. As Jeff Goodell points out in “The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilized World,” “The Pentagon manages a global real estate portfolio that includes over 555,000 facilities and 28 million acres of land—virtually all of it will be impacted by climate change in some way.”
As this column is being written, three key military facilities in Florida are evacuated: the Miami-area headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees military operations in the Caribbean and Latin America; the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, in charge of overseas operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia; and the Naval Air Station in Key West. There will soon come a day when obliteration of infrastructure will prohibit military operations from returning. Add to the list of endangered military installations Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle, the U.S. missile base in the Marshall Islands, the U.S. naval base on Diego Garcia and numerous other military sites in coastal areas and it becomes painfully clear that the existential peril facing the empire is not in the Middle East but in the seas and the skies. There are 128 U.S. military installations at risk from rising sea levels, including Navy, Air Force, Marine and Army facilities in Virginia. Giant vertical rulers dot the highway outside the Norfolk naval base to allow motorists to determine if the water is too deep to drive through. In two decades, maybe less, the main road to the base will be impassable at high tide daily.
Cities across the globe, including London, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, Lagos, Copenhagen, New Orleans, San Francisco, Savannah, Ga., and New York, will become modern-day versions of Atlantis, along with countries such as Bangladesh and the Marshall Islands and large parts of New Zealand and Australia. There are 90 coastal cities in the U.S. that endure chronic flooding, a number that is expected to double in the next two decades. National economies will go into tailspins as wider and wider parts of the globe suffer catastrophic systems breakdown. Central authority and basic services will increasingly be nonexistent. Hundreds of millions of people, desperate for food, water and security, will become climate refugees. Nuclear power plants, including Turkey Point, which is on the edge of Biscayne Bay south of Miami, will face meltdowns, such as the accident that occurred in the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after it was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami. These plants will spew radioactive waste into the sea and air. Exacerbated by disintegration of the polar ice caps, the catastrophes will be too overwhelming to manage. We will enter what James Howard Kunstler calls “the long emergency.” When that happens, our experiment in civilization might approach an end.
“The amount of real estate at risk in New York is mind-boggling: 72,000 buildings worth over $129 billion stand in flood zones today, with thousands more buildings at risk with each foot of sea-level rise,” writes Jeff Goodell. “In addition, New York has a lot of industrial waterfront, where toxic materials and poor communities live in close proximity, as well as a huge amount of underground infrastructure—subways, tunnels, electrical systems. Finally, New York is a sea-level-rise hot spot. Because of changes in ocean dynamics, as well as the fact that the ground beneath the city is sinking as the continent recovers from the last ice age, seas are now rising about 50 percent faster in the New York area than the global average.”
A society in crisis flees to the reassuring embrace of con artists and charlatans. Critics who ring alarm bells are condemned as pessimists who offer no “hope,” the drug that keeps a doomed population passive. The current administration—which removed Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan from the White House website as soon as Donald Trump took office—and the Republican Party are filled with happy climate deniers. They have adopted a response to climate change similar to that of the Virginia Legislature: ban discussion of climate change and replace the term with the less ominous “recurrent flooding.” This denial of reality—one also employed by those who assure us we can adapt—is driven by fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries that along with the rich and corporations fund the political campaigns of elected officials. They fear that a rational, effective response to climate change will impede profits. Our corporate media, dependent on advertising dollars, contributes to the conspiracy of silence. It ignores the patterns and effects of climate change, focusing instead on feel-good stories about heroic rescues or dramatic coverage of flooded city centers and storm refugee caravans fleeing up the coast of Florida.
Droughts, floods, famines and disease will eventually see the collapse of social cohesion in large parts of the globe, including U.S. coastal areas. The insecurity, hunger and desperation among the dispossessed of the earth will give rise to ad hoc militias, crime and increased acts of terrorism. The Pentagon report “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States Security” is blunt. “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,” it grimly concludes.
But as Goodell points out, “In today’s political climate, open discussion of the security risks of climate change is viewed as practically treasonous.” When in 2014 then-Secretary of State John Kerry called climate change “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction” and compared it to the effects of terrorism, epidemics and poverty, the right-wing trolls, from John McCain to Newt Gingrich, went into a frenzy. Gingrich called for Kerry’s resignation because “a delusional secretary of state is dangerous to our safety.”
James Woolsey, the former head of the CIA, wrote in a climate change report for the Pentagon titled “The Age of Consequences: The Foreign-Policy National Security Implications of Global Climate Change”:
If Americans have difficulty reaching a reasonable compromise on immigration legislation today, consider what such a debate would be like if we were struggling to resettle millions of our own citizens—driven by high water from the Gulf of Mexico, South Florida, and much of the East Coast reaching nearly to New England—even as we witnessed the northward migration of large populations from Latin America and the Caribbean. Such migration will likely be one of the Western Hemisphere’s early social consequences of climate change and sea level rise of these orders of magnitude. Issues deriving from inundation of a large amount of our own territory, together with migration towards our borders by millions of our hungry and thirsty southern neighbors, are likely to dominate U.S. security and humanitarian concerns. Globally as well, populations will migrate from increasingly hot and dry climates to more temperate ones.
We will react like most patients with a terminal disease as they struggle to confront their imminent mortality. The gradual diminishing of space, perception and strength will weaken our capacity to absorb reality. The end will be too horrible to contemplate. The tangible signs of our demise will be obvious, but this will only accelerate our retreat into delusional thinking. We will believe ever more fervently that the secular gods of science and technology will save us.
As Goodell writes, “People will notice higher tides that roll in more and more frequently. Water will pool longer in streets and parking lots. Trees will turn brown and die as they suck up salt water.” We will retreat to higher ground, cover our roofs with solar panels, finally stop using plastic and go vegan, but it will be too late. As Goodell writes, “even in rich neighborhoods, abandoned houses will linger like ghosts, filling with feral cats and other refugees looking for their own higher ground.”
The water will continue to rise. “It will have a metallic sheen and will smell bad,” Goodell writes. “Kids will get strange rashes and fevers. More people will leave [low areas]. Seawalls will crumble. In a few decades, low-lying neighborhoods will be knee-deep. Wooden houses will collapse into a sea of soda bottles, laundry detergent jugs, and plastic toothbrushes. Human bones, floated out of caskets, will be a common sight. Treasure hunters will kayak in, using small robotic submersibles to search for coins and jewelry. Modern office buildings and condo towers will lean as salt water corrodes the concrete foundations and eats away at the structural beams. Fish will school in the classrooms. Oysters will grow on submerged light poles. Religious leaders will blame sinners for the drowning of the city.”
The damage suffered by Houston, Tampa and Miami is not an anomaly. It is the beginning of the end. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
|"Dear Bob [and Everyone],
With the horrific tragedy in Texas, this week we wanted to share a message from Our Revolution's Texas Coordinator Chris Kutalik-Cauthern in it's entirety as we felt it was urgently important.
Here is Chris' (from 'Our Revolution') note:"
"Thousands in our state are suffering because of Hurricane Harvey and spillover flooding since this weekend. Our Revolution Texas members are among them. Many of us around the state are wondering how we can volunteer and donate to help the many in hard-hit areas. We all know that showing solidarity in trying times is an important part of what we do and why we do it as progressive populists.
In the Houston Area
If you have a flat-bottomed boat or a high-water vehicle, you are urgently needed. Call 713-881-3100.
If you are in need of immediate help from a life-threatening emergency call 9-1-1.
If you are or know others in need of non-emergency help call 3-1-1 in Houston or 2-1-1 in nearby areas.
Local relief groups, progressive organizations, unions, and immigrant rights groups are already mobilizing grassroots relief efforts. Here is a list of groups and efforts you can plug into to help.
The Texas Workers Relief Fund. A union-relief effort by the Texas AFL-CIO, donations are tax-deductible. The state fed has been closely coordinating with the Houston and Corpus-area central labor councils to provide material aid.
RNRN Disaster Relief Fund. Our ally the National Nurses United organizes medical relief for major disasters through this fund.
Texas DSA. DSA chapters (also allies) have been organizing both volunteers and those in need at a grassroots level. Sign up here to offer help (or ask for it) or donate directly to Houston DSA.
Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund. If you want to donate directly for relief in the Coastal Bend towns hit directly by the hurricane.
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston's mayor has set up this fund to assist with victims of Houston's ongoing and increasingly dangerous flooding. Donations are tax-deductible.
The extreme enforcement policies of SB4 and ICE have put immigrant workers in increased harm's way through the crisis. Immigrant and refugee groups such as RAICES in San Antonio are moving to get aid directly to immigrant families. Jumping in now is just the beginning."
We'd also like to encourage you to donate to one of the organizations in our OOA Organizing booklet, Covenant House, which helps homeless children and teens and is keeping their doors open for them at their Houston Shelter throughout these difficult times.
In gratitude and solidarity for your compassion for those suffering in Texas today, and for those suffering, every day, all over the world,
Theresa and Blase" [Bontane]
I drink coffee in the morning on a round, ornate oak table that once belonged to Harlan Fiske Stone, a U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1925 to 1946 and the chief justice for the last five of those years. Stone and his family spent their summers on this windswept, remote island six miles off the coast of Maine.
Stone, a Republican and close friend of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, embodied a lost era in American politics. His brand of conservatism, grounded in the belief that the law is designed to protect the weak from the powerful, bears no resemblance to that of the self-proclaimed “strict constitutionalists” in the Federalist Society who have accumulated tremendous power in the judiciary. The Federalist Society, at the behest of President Trump, is in charge of vetting the 108 candidates for the federal judgeships that will be filled by the administration. The newest justice, Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, comes out of the Federalist Society, as did Justices Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. The self-identified “liberals” in the judiciary, while progressive on social issues such as abortion and affirmative action, serve corporate power as assiduously as the right-wing ideologues of the Federalist Society. The Alliance for Justice points out that 85 percent of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees—280, or a third of the federal judiciary—had either been corporate attorneys or government prosecutors. Those who came out of corporate law firms accounted for 71 percent of the nominees, with only 4 percent coming from public interest groups and the same percentage having been attorneys who represented workers in labor disputes.
Stone repeatedly warned that unchecked corporate power would mean corporate tyranny and the death of democracy. He was joined in that thinking by Louis D. Brandeis, his fellow justice and ally on the court, who stated, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
The supposed clash between liberal and conservative judges is largely a fiction. The judiciary, despite the Federalist Society’s high-blown rhetoric about the sanctity of individual freedom, is a naked tool of corporate oppression. The most basic constitutional rights—privacy, fair trials and elections, habeas corpus, probable-cause requirements, due process and freedom from exploitation—have been erased for many, especially the 2.3 million people in our prisons, most having been put there without ever going to trial. Constitutionally protected statements, beliefs and associations are criminalized. Our judicial system, as Ralph Nader has pointed out, has legalized secret law, secret courts, secret evidence, secret budgets and secret prisons in the name of national security.
Our constitutional rights have steadily been stripped from us by judicial fiat. The Fourth Amendment reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Yet our telephone calls and texts, emails and financial, judicial and medical records, along with every website we visit and our physical travels, can be and commonly are tracked, recorded, photographed and stored in government computer banks.
The executive branch can order the assassination of U.S. citizens without trial. It can deploy the military into the streets to quell civil unrest under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and seize citizens—seizures that are in essence acts of extraordinary rendition—and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers while denying them due process.
Corporate campaign contributions, which largely determine who gets elected, are viewed by the courts as protected forms of free speech under the First Amendment. Corporate lobbying, which determines most of our legislation, is interpreted as the people’s right to petition the government. Corporations are legally treated as persons except when they carry out fraud and other crimes; the heads of corporations routinely avoid being charged and going to prison by paying fines, usually symbolic and pulled from corporate accounts, while not being forced to admit wrongdoing. And corporations have rewritten the law to orchestrate a massive tax boycott.
Many among the 1 million lawyers in the United States, the deans of our law schools and the judges in our courts, whether self-identified liberals or Federalist Society members or supporters, refuse to hold corporate power accountable to the law. They have failed us. They alone have the education and skill to apply the law on behalf of the citizens. They alone know how to use the courts for justice rather than injustice. When this period of American history is written, the legal profession will be found to have borne much of the responsibility for our descent into corporate tyranny. Lawyers are supposed to be “officers of the court.” They are supposed to be sentinels and guardians of the law. They are supposed to enlarge our access to justice. They are supposed to defend the law, not subvert it. This moral failure by the legal profession has obliterated our rights.
The radical libertarians in the Federalist Society, now ascendant within the legal system, champion a legal doctrine that is essentially preindustrial. It is centered exclusively on the rights of the individual and restricting the power of government. This can at times lead to rulings that protect personal liberty. The followers of this doctrine on the Supreme Court, for example, voted to overturn Connecticut’s eminent-domain rape of a New London working-class neighborhood to make way for a pharmaceutical plant. The liberals, who formed the court majority, endorsed the taking of the neighborhood.
Another example of radical libertarianism on the bench occurred when attorneys Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer and I sued President Obama over Section 1021 of the NDAA, which overturned the 1878 act that prohibited the government from using the military as a domestic police force. We garnered support from some charter members of the Federalist Society. The proclivity by the Federalist Society to hold up the primacy of individual rights became especially important when, after the temporary injunction of Section 1021 issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was overturned by the appellate court, we had to file a cert, or petition, to request that the case, Hedges v. Obama, be heard before the Supreme Court.
“As obnoxious as [Antonin] Scalia was on cultural issues, he was the strongest modern justice in terms of protecting First Amendment speech, press and assembly rights—no liberal came anywhere near him in these areas,” Afran told me about the late justice. “In fact, Scalia was the justice who sympathized with our cert petition in the NDAA case. [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg denied our petition without circulating it among the other justices. When we went to Scalia, he immediately asked for additional briefs to circulate. It was his dissents in the Guantanamo cases that we relied on in our cert petition. He issued strong dissents holding that the Guantanamo inmates and others taken by the military in Afghanistan should have complete civil rights in criminal prosecutions. He went much further than the majority did in these cases and condemned any holding of civilians by the military.”
But although the Federalist Society purports to be against curtailment of civil liberties, with some members embracing traditional liberal positions on issues such as drug laws and sexual freedom, the organization also supports the judicial system’s position that corporations hold the rights of individuals. It is hostile to nearly all government regulations and regulatory agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Securities and Exchange Commission. It opposes the rights of labor unions, voting rights laws, gender equality laws and the separation of church and state. It seeks to outlaw abortion and overturn Roe v. Wade. The self-proclaimed “originalism” or “textualism” philosophy of the Federalist Society has crippled the ability of the legal system to act en masse in class action suits against corrupt corporate entities. And for all the rhetoric about championing individual liberty, as Mayer pointed out, “they never did a thing about any First Amendment intrusions that all of the legislation passed after 9/11 involved.” The Supreme Court did not accept our cert, leaving Section 1021 as law.
The Federalist Society says it seeks legal interpretations that are faithful to those that would have been made at the time the Constitution was written in the late 18th century. This fossilization of the law is a clever rhetorical subterfuge to advance the interests of the corporations and the oligarchs who have bankrolled the Federalist Society—the Mercer Foundation, the late John Olin, the late Richard Scaife, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry. The Federalist Society has close ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose lobbyists draft and push corporate-sponsored bills through state legislatures and Congress.
Stone knew that the law would become moribund if it was frozen in time. It was a living entity, one that had to forever adapt to changing economic, social and political reality. He embraced what Oliver Wendell Holmes called “legal realism.” The law was not only about logic but also about the experience of a lived human society. If judges could not read and interpret that society, if they clung to rigid dogma or a self-imposed legal fundamentalism, then the law would be transformed into a sterile constitutionalism. Stone called on judges to “have less reverence for the way in which an old doctrine was applied to an old situation.” The law had to be flexible. Judges, to carry out astute rulings, had to make a close study of contemporary politics, economics, domestic and global business practices and culture, not attempt to intuit what the Founding Fathers intended.
Stone was wary of radicals and socialists. He could be skeptical of New Deal programs, although he believed the court had no right to reverse New Deal legislation. But he understood that the law was the primary institution tasked with protecting the public from predatory capitalism and the abuses of power. He voted consistently with Holmes and Brandeis, two of the court’s most innovative and brilliant jurists. The three were so often in dissent to the conservative majority they were nicknamed “The Three Musketeers.”
The law, Stone said, must never “become the monopoly of any social or economic class.” He condemned his fellow conservatives for reading their economic preferences into the law and “into the Constitution as well.” By doing so, he said, they “placed in jeopardy a great and useful institution of government.”
Stone embraced the doctrine of “preferred freedoms”—the position that First Amendment freedoms are preeminent in the hierarchy of constitutional rights, permitting justices to override any legislation that curbs these freedoms. This became the basis for court decisions to overturn state laws that persecuted and silenced African-Americans, radicals—including communists, anarchists and socialists—and labor and religious activists.
Stone, as dean
of Columbia Law School before being named U.S. attorney general in 1924
and joining the Supreme Court the year after that, said the school’s
mission was “devoted to teaching its students how to live rather than
how to make a living.”He denounced the
and mass deportations of radicals that
ended in 1920. He supported five
Socialist members of the New York State Assembly
who were stripped of their elected seats by their legislative colleagues in 1920 because of their political views. And he said that everyone, including aliens—meaning those who were not citizens but who lived in the United States—deserved due process.
As attorney general he weeded out corrupt officials and zealously enforced antitrust laws, swiftly making enemies of many leading industrialists, including Andrew Mellon. He also, ominously, appointed J. Edgar Hoover to run the FBI. His aggressive antitrust campaigns led to calls by the business community for his removal as attorney general, and he was elevated to the Supreme Court in 1925, a move that, as the New York Globe and Commercial Advertiser newspaper observed, “protected business from disturbing litigation or the threat of such litigation [and] has saved the [Coolidge] administration from the charge that it has betrayed business. …”
The 1920s were, as Alpheus Thomas Mason wrote in his 1956 biography, “Harlan Fiske Stone: Pillar of the Law,” “a decade pre-eminent for the exploitative large-scale business; its leaders preached the ‘Gospel of Goods.’ ‘Canonization of the salesman’ was seen ‘as the brightest hope of America.’ The absorbing ambition was to make two dollars grow where one had grown before, to engineer, as utilities magnate Samuel Insull put it, ‘all I could out of a dollar’—that is, get something for nothing.”
Organized labor, which before World War I had been a potent social and political force, had been crushed through government repression, including the use of the Espionage and Sedition acts. Government regulations and controls had been weakened or abolished. It was a time when, as Sinclair Lewis said of Babbittry—referring to the philistine behavior of the lead character in his 1922 novel “Babbitt,” about the vacuity of American culture—the goal in life was to be “rich, fat, arrogant, and superior.” Inequality had reached appalling levels, with 60 percent of American families existing barely above subsistence level by the time of the 1929 crash. The American god was profit. Those not blessed to be rich and powerful were sacrificed on the altar of the marketplace.
The New Hampshire-born Stone, grounded in rural New England conservatism and Yankee thrift, was appalled by the orgy of greed and inequality engineered by his fellow elites. He denounced a hedonistic culture dominated by unethical oligarchs and corporations very similar to those that exist today.
“Wealth, power, the struggle for ephemeral social and political prestige, which so absorb our attention and energy, are but the passing phase of every age; ninety-day wonders which pass from man’s recollection almost before the actors who have striven from them have passed from the stage,” he wrote. “What is significant in the record of man’s development is none of these. It is rather those forces in society and the lives of those individuals, who have, in each generation, added something to man’s intellectual and moral attainment, that lay hold on the imagination and compel admiration and reverence in each succeeding generation.”
Wall Street’s crash in 1929 and the widespread suffering caused by the Depression confirmed Stone’s fears about unfettered capitalism. Victorian-era writer Herbert Spencer, who coined the term “survival of the fittest” and whose libertarian philosophy was widely embraced in the 1920s, argued that liberty was measured by the “relative paucity of restraint” that government places on the individual. Stone saw this belief, replicated in the ideology of neoliberalism, as a recipe for corporate oppression and exploitation.
If the law remained trapped in the agrarian, white male, slave-holding society in which the authors of the Constitution lived, if it was used to exclusively defend “individualism,” there would be no legal mechanisms to halt the abuse of corporate power. The rise of modern markets, industrialization, technology, imperial expansion and global capitalism necessitated a legal system that understood and responded to modernity. Stone bitterly attacked the concept of natural law and natural rights, used to justify the greed of the ruling elites by attempting to place economic transactions beyond the scope of the courts. Laissez faire economics was not, he said, a harbinger of progress. The purpose of the law was not to maximize corporate profit. In Stone’s reasoning, a clash between the courts and the lords of commerce was inevitable.
Stone excoriated the legal profession for its failure to curb the avarice of the “giant economic forces which our industrial and financial world have created.” Lawyers, he went on, were not supposed to be guardians of corporate power. He asked why “a bar which has done so much to develop and refine the technique of business organization, to provide skillfully devised methods for financing industry, which has guided a world-wide commercial expansion, has done relatively so little to remedy the evils of the investment market; so little to adapt the fiduciary principle of nineteenth-century equity to twentieth-century business practices; so little to improve the functioning of the administrative mechanisms which modern government sets up to prevent abuses; so little to make law more readily available as an instrument of justice to the common man.” The law, he said, was about “the advancement of the public interest.” He castigated the educated elites, especially lawyers and judges, who used their skills to become “the obsequious servant of business” and in the process were “tainted with the morals and manners of the marketplace in its most anti-social manifestations.” And he warned law schools that their exclusive focus on “proficiency” overlooked “the grave danger to the public if this proficiency be directed wholly to private ends without thought of the social consequences.” He lambasted “the cramped mind of the clever lawyer, for whom intellectual dignity and freedom had been forbidden by the interests which he served.” He called the legal profession’s service to corporation power a “sad spectacle” and attorneys who sold their souls to corporations “lawyer criminals.”
He was viciously attacked. The Wall Street lawyer William D. Guthrie responded in the Fordham Law Review, warning readers that Stone was peddling “subversive doctrines” championed by “false prophets” that had as their goal “national socialism, the repudiation of standards and obligation heretofore upheld, the leveling of classes, the destruction of property, and the overthrow of our federal system designed to be composed of sovereign and indestructible states.”
But Stone understood a seminal fact that eludes our day’s Federalist Society and the Republican and Democratic party leaderships: Corporations cannot be trusted with social and political power. Stone knew that the law must be a barrier to the insatiable corporate lust for profit. If the law failed in this task, then corporate despotism was certain.
He wrote of the excesses of capitalism that led to the Depression:
"I venture to assert that when the history of the financial era which has just drawn to a close comes to be written, most of its mistakes and its major faults will be ascribed to the failure to observe the fiduciary principle, the precept as old as the holy writ, that “a man cannot serve two masters.” More than a century ago equity gave a hospitable reception to that principle, and the common law was not slow to follow in giving it recognition. No thinking man can believe that an economy built upon a business foundation can long endure without some loyalty to that principle. The separation of ownership from management, the development of the corporate structure so as to vest in small groups control over the resources of great numbers of small and uniformed investors, make imperative a fresh and active devotion to that principle if the modern world of business is to perform its proper function. Yet those who serve nominally as trustees, but relieved, by clever legal devices, from the obligation to protect those whose interests they purport to represent, corporate officers and directors who award themselves huge bonuses from corporate funds without the assent or even the knowledge of their stockholders, reorganization committees created to serve interests other than those whose securities they control, financial institutions which, in the infinite variety of their operations, consider only last, if at all, the interests of those whose funds they command, suggest how far we have ignored the necessary implications of that principle. The loss and suffering inflicted on individuals, the harm done to a social order founded upon business and dependent upon its integrity, are incalculable."
The corporate coup d’état Stone attempted to thwart is complete. His worst fears are our nightmare.
Stone had his flaws. After he refused to grant a stay of execution for Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the two anarchists were hanged in August 1927. (A courtier took a fishing boat to retrieve the fateful decision that Stone made while he was at his vacation home here on Isle au Haut. He probably signed off on their execution orders on the table where I sit each morning.) He sometimes ruled against the rights of unions. He endorsed the internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II. He was not sympathetic to conscientious objectors except on religious grounds. He did not always protect the constitutional rights of communists. He could use the law to curb what he saw as Franklin Roosevelt’s consolidation of power within the executive branch.
But Stone had the integrity and courage to throw bombs at the establishment. He attacked, for example, the Nuremberg Trials of the Nazi leadership after World War II, calling it a “high-grade lynching party.” “I don’t mind what he [the chief Nuremberg prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson] does to the Nazis, but I hate to see the pretense that he is running a court and proceeding according to common law,” he wrote. “This is a little too sanctimonious a fraud to meet my old-fashioned ideas.” He noted acidly that the Nuremberg Trials were being used to justify the proposition that “the leaders of the vanquished are to be executed by the victors.”
Stone spent his summers in a gray-shingled cottage with blue-green trim overlooking a small island harbor. He and his wife built the cottage, which still stands, in 1916. He tramped about the island in old clothes. One day at the dock a woman mistook the Supreme Court justice for a porter. She asked him to carry her bags. Stone, a burly man who had played football in college, lifted the suitcases and followed her without a word.
Stone did not possess the Emersonian brilliance and rhetorical flourishes of a Holmes or the trenchant social analysis of a Brandeis, but he was an astute legal scholar. There would be no place for him in today’s Republican or Democratic parties or judiciary, seized by the corporate interests he fought. The Federalist Society, along with corporate lobbyists, would have mounted a fierce campaign to block him from becoming attorney general and a Supreme Court justice. His iron fidelity to the rule of law would have seen him, like Ralph Nader, tossed into the political and judicial wilderness.
Stone opposed socialism because, as he told his friend Harold Laski, the British political philosopher and socialist, he believed the judicial system could be reformed and empowered to protect the public from the tyranny of corporate elites. If the judicial system failed in its task to safeguard democracy, he conceded to Laski, socialism was the only alternative.
|"Donald Trump is on his version of a staycation, chilling at his golf course resort in New Jersey and watching FOX News or tweeting nonstop — when he’s not golfing or threatening nuclear war. This week on Intercepted: As Erik Prince peddles his plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan on major news networks, Jeremy gives an update on the aftermath of Blackwater’s 2007 massacre of Iraqi civilians at Nisour Square in Baghdad. Intercept reporter Lee Fang lays out how a network of||libertarian think tanks called the Atlas Network is insidiously shaping ideological and political infrastructure across the world, especially in Latin America. As the Trump administration has ratcheted up its hostile rhetoric toward Venezuela, we speak with attorney and former Hugo Chavez adviser Eva Golinger about the country’s political turmoil. And we hear Claudia Lizardo of the Caracas-based band, La Pequeña Revancha, talk about her music and hopes for Venezuela.” Jeremy Scahill|
Trump’s ideological vacuum, the more he is isolated and attacked, is
being filled by the Christian right. This Christianized fascism, with
its network of megachurches, schools, universities and law schools and
its vast radio and television empire, is a potent ally for a
beleaguered White House. The Christian right has been organizing and
preparing to take power for decades. If the nation suffers another
economic collapse, which is probably inevitable, another catastrophic
domestic terrorist attack or a new war, President Trump’s ability to
force the Christian right’s agenda on the public and shut down dissent
will be dramatically enhanced. In the presidential election, Trump had
81 percent of white evangelicals behind him.
Trump’s moves to restrict abortion, defund Planned Parenthood, permit discrimination against LGBT people in the name of “religious liberty” and allow churches to become active in politics by gutting the Johnson Amendment, along with his nominations of judges championed by the Federalist Society and his call for a ban on Muslim immigrants, have endeared him to the Christian right. He has rolled back civil rights legislation and business and environmental regulations. He has elevated several stalwarts of the Christian right into power—Mike Pence to the vice presidency, Jeff Sessions to the Justice Department, Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Betsy DeVos to the Department of Education, Tom Price to Health and Human Services and Ben Carson to Housing and Urban Development. He embraces the white supremacy, bigotry, American chauvinism, greed, religious intolerance, anger and racism that define the Christian right.
More important, Trump’s disdain for facts and his penchant for magical thinking and conspiracy theories mesh well with the worldview of the Christian right, which sees itself as under attack by the satanic forces of secular humanism embodied in the media, academia, the liberal establishment, Hollywood and the Democratic Party. In this worldview, climate change is not real, Barack Obama is a Muslim and millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
The followers of the Christian right, like Trump and his brain trust, including Stephen Bannon, are Manicheans. They see the world in black and white, good and evil, them and us. Trump’s call in his speech in Poland for a crusade against the godless hoards of Muslims fleeing from the wars and chaos we created replicates the view of the Christian right. Christian right leaders in a sign of support went to the White House on July 10 to pray over Trump. Two days later Pat Robertson showed up there to interview the president for his Christian Broadcasting Network.
If the alliance between these zealots and the government succeeds, it will snuff out the last vestiges of American democracy.
On the surface it appears to be incongruous that the Christian right would rally behind a slick New York real estate developer who is a very public serial philanderer and adulterer, has no regard for the truth, is consumed by greed, does not appear to read or know the Bible, routinely defrauds and cheats his investors and contractors, expresses a crude misogyny and an even cruder narcissism and appears to yearn for despotism. In fact, these are the very characteristics that define most of the leaders of the Christian right. Trump has preyed on desperate people through the thousands of slot machines in his casinos, his sham university and his real estate deals.
Megachurch pastors prey on their followers by extracting “seed offerings,” “love gifts,” tithes and donations and by selling miracle healings along with “prayer clothes,” self-help books, audio and video recordings and even protein shakes. Pastors have established within their megachurches, as Trump did in his businesses, despotic fiefdoms. They cannot be challenged or questioned any more than an omnipotent Trump could be challenged on the reality television show “The Apprentice.” And they seek to replicate their little tyrannies on a national scale, with white men in charge.
The personal piety of most of the ministers who lead the Christian right is a facade. Their private lives are usually marked by hedonistic squalor that includes mansions, private jets, limousines, retinues of bodyguards, personal assistants and servants, shopping sprees, lavish vacations and sexual escapades that rival those carried out by Trump. And because they run “churches,” in many cases church funds pay for their tax-free empires, including their extravagant lifestyles. They also engage in the nepotism found in the Trump organization, elevating family members to prominent or highly paid positions and passing on the businesses to their children.
The Christian right’s scandals, which give a glimpse into the sordid lives of these multimillionaire pastors, are legion. Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise the Lord Club, for example, raked in as much as $1 million a week before Jim Bakker went to prison for nearly five years. He was convicted of fraud and other charges in 1989 because of a $158 million scheme in which followers paid for vacations that never materialized. As the Bakker empire came apart, there also were accusations of drug use and rape. Tammy Faye died in 2007, and now Jim Bakker is back, peddling survival food for the end days and telling his significantly reduced television audience that anyone who opposes Trump is the Antichrist.
Paul and Jan Crouch, who gave the Bakkers their start, founded Trinity Broadcasting, the world’s largest televangelist network, now run by their son Matt and his wife, Laurie. Viewers were encouraged to call prayer counselors at the toll-free number shown at the bottom of the TV screen. It was a short step from talking with a prayer counselor to making a “love gift” and becoming a “partner” in Trinity Broadcasting and then sending in more money during one of the frequent Praise-a-Thons.
The Crouches reveled in tasteless kitsch, as does Trump. They sat during their popular nightly program in front of stained glass windows that overlooked Louis XVI-inspired sets awash in gold rococo and red velvet, glittering chandeliers and a gold-painted piano. The network emblem, which Paul Crouch wore on the pocket of his blue double-breasted blazer, featured a crown, a lion, a horse, a white dove, a cross and Latin phrases among other elements. The Crouches would have been at home in Trump Tower, where the president has a faux “Trump crest”—allegedly plagiarized—and has decorated his penthouse as if it was part of Versailles.
The Crouches were masters of manipulation. They exhorted viewers to send in checks for $1,000, even if they could not afford it. Write the check anyway, Paul Crouch, who died in 2013, told them, as a “step of faith” and the Lord would repay them many times over. “Do you think God would have any trouble getting $1,000 extra to you somehow?” he asked during one Praise-a-Thon broadcast. Viewers, many of whom struggled with deep despair and believed that miracles and magic alone held them back from the abyss, often found it impossible to resist this emotional pressure.
Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is home to many of the worst charlatans in the Christian right, including the popular healer Benny Hinn, who says that Adam was a superhero who could fly to the moon and claims that one day the dead will be raised by watching TBN from
their coffins. Hinn claims his “anointings” have cured cancer, AIDS,
deafness, blindness and numerous other ailments and physical injuries.
Those who have not been cured, he says, did not send in enough money.
These religious hucksters are some of the most accomplished con artists in the country, a trait they share with the current occupant of the Oval Office. I wrote a book on the Christian right in 2007 called “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” I did not use the word “fascist” lightly. I spent several hours, at the end of two years of reporting, with two of the country’s foremost scholars on fascism—Fritz Stern and Robert O. Paxton. Did this ideology fit the parameters of classical fascism? Was it virulent enough and organized enough to seize power? Would it go to the ruthless extremes of previous fascist movements to persecute and silence dissent? Has our deindustrialized society replicated the crippling despair, alienation and rage that always feed fascist movements?
The evangelicalism promoted by the Christian right is very different from the evangelicalism and fundamentalism of a century ago. The emphasis on personal piety that defined the old movement, the call to avoid the contamination of politics, has been replaced by Christian Reconstructionism, called Dominionism by some. This new ideology is about taking control of all institutions, including the government, to build a “Christian” nation. Rousas John Rushdoony in his 1973 book, “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” first articulated it. Rushdoony argued that God gives the elect, just as he gave Adam and Noah, dominion over the earth to build a Christian society. Their state will come about with the physical eradication of the forces of Satan. It is the duty of the church and the elect to “rescue” the world so Christ can return.
This is an ideology of death. It promises that the secular, humanist society will be physically destroyed. The Ten Commandments will form the basis of our legal system. Creationism or “Intelligent Design” will be taught in public schools. People who are considered social deviants, including homosexuals, immigrants, secular humanists, feminists, Jews, Muslims, criminals and those dismissed as “nominal Christians”—meaning Christians who do not embrace the Christian right’s perverted and heretical interpretation of the Bible—will be silenced, imprisoned or killed. The role of the federal government will be reduced to protecting property rights, “homeland” security and waging war. Church organizations will be funded and empowered by the government to run social-welfare agencies. The poor, condemned for sloth, indolence and sinfulness, will be denied government assistance. The death penalty will be expanded to include “moral crimes,” including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy and witchcraft, as well as abortion, which will be treated as murder.
Women will be subordinate to men. Those who practice other faiths will become, at best, second-class citizens and eventually outcasts. The wars in the Middle East will be defined as religious crusades against Muslims. There will be no separation of church and state. The only legitimate voices will be “Christian.” America will become an agent of God. Those who defy the “Christian” authorities will be branded as agents of Satan.
Tens of millions of Americans are already hermetically sealed within this bizarre worldview. They are given a steady diet of conspiracy theories and lies on the internet, in their churches, in Christian schools and colleges and on Christian television and radio. Elizabeth Dilling, who wrote “The Red Network” and was a Nazi sympathizer, is required reading.
Thomas Jefferson, who favored separation of church and state, is ignored. This Christian propaganda hails the “significant contributions” of the Confederacy. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who led the anti-communist witch hunts in the 1950s, is rehabilitated as an American hero. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, along with the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, is defined as part of the worldwide battle against satanic Islamic terror. Presently, nearly 40 percent of the U.S. public believes in Creationism or “Intelligent Design.” And nearly a third of the population, 94 million people, consider themselves evangelical.
Those who remain in a reality-based universe often dismiss these malcontents as buffoons. They do not take seriously the huge segment of the public, mostly white and working class, who because of economic distress have primal yearnings for vengeance, new glory and moral renewal and are easily seduced by magical thinking. These are the yearnings and emotions Trump has exploited politically.
Those who embrace this movement need to feel, even if they are not, that they are victims surrounded by dark and sinister groups bent on their destruction. They need to elevate themselves to the role of holy warriors, infused with a noble calling and purpose. They need to sanctify the rage and hypermasculinity that are the core of fascism. The rigidity and simplicity of their belief, which includes being anointed for a special purpose in life by God, are potent weapons in the fight against their own demons and desire for meaning.
“Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty,” Simone Weil wrote.
These believers, like all fascists, detest the reality-based world. They condemn it as contaminated, decayed and immoral. This world took their jobs. It destroyed their future. It ruined their communities. It doomed their children. It flooded their lives with alcohol, opioids, pornography, sexual abuse, jail sentences, domestic violence, deprivation and despair. And then, from the depths of suicidal despair, they suddenly discovered that God has a plan for them. God will save them. God will intervene in their lives to promote and protect them. God has called them to carry out his holy mission in the world and to be rich, powerful and happy.
The rational, secular forces, those that speak in the language of fact and evidence, are hated and feared, for they seek to pull believers back into “the culture of death” that nearly destroyed them. The magical belief system, as it was for impoverished German workers who flocked to the Nazi Party, is an emotional life raft. It is all that supports them. The only way to blunt this movement is to reintegrate these people into the economy, to give them economic stability through good wages and benefits, to restore their self-esteem. They need to live in a society that is not predatory but instead provides well-funded public schools, free university education and universal health care, a society in which they and their families can prosper.
Let us not stand at the open gates of the city waiting passively for the barbarians. They are coming. They are slouching towards Bethlehem. Let us shake off our complacency and cynicism. Let us openly defy the liberal establishment, which will not save us, to demand and fight for economic reparations for the poor and the working class. Let us give all Americans a reality-based hope for the future. Time is running out. If we do not act, American fascists, clutching Christian crosses, waving American flags and orchestrating mass recitations of the pledge of allegiance, united behind the ludicrous figure of Donald Trump, will ride this rage to power.
Trump’s election to the presidency has prompted an outpouring of
protest and activism from millions of people, including many who had
not been politically engaged before. But what will it take for “the
resistance” to not only defeat Trump but push forward a transformative
agenda to address the multiple crises of our time?
In her best-selling new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics And Winning The World We Need, Naomi Klein draws from her previous books on corporate branding, the politics of climate change and the history of neoliberal elites around the world using moments of profound crisis to advance unpopular policies. With hindsight, her work over the past two decades anticipates in many ways the rise of a rightwing reality television star who wants to dismantle democratic institutions and burn as much fossil fuels as possible.
“It’s like bad fiction it’s so obvious,” Klein told The Indypendent.
In No Is Not Enough, she doesn’t shy away from showing how Trump emerged from a decaying political culture to seize power, or warning that the worst is yet to come. But she refuses to wallow in despair, arguing instead that the oppositional forces conjured up by Trump have a unique opportunity to build a much more just and humane world than anything we have seen before — provided we fight not only what we’re against but what we’re for. This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for length and clarity.
TARLETON: This book begins with a
scene from the
night of Trump’s election in which you are meeting with a group of
prominent activists in Australia. The meeting gradually runs out of
steam as people in the room watch the election results come in over
their phones. Can you describe how you got from that moment of shock
and horror to producing this book, which is ultimately quite hopeful?
NAOMI KLEIN: (Laughs) Slowly, I would say. I think that day the only emotion I could compare Trump’s election to was a feeling that many of us involved in the anti-corporate globalization movement had after 9/11. We had been part of this movement where there was a lot of forward momentum and a deepening of analysis and an opening of new political spaces, and then just this kind of instant feeling that all of those spaces were going to be shut down. A lot of us projected that political moment into Trump’s election. But, I think we gave him more power than he actually has.
There are a lot of political spaces where it is possible for progress to happen whether at the sub-national level in the United States, internationally or just in movement spaces. I think there was a slow process of realizing that this did not necessarily have to be a repeat of a closing off political progress. There are ways in which the assumption that from now on we’re only playing defense is true and unavoidable, but there are also ways in which it is not necessarily the case.
ALL THE constant hype about Russia, you’d think we were living in a new
Cold War. This week on Intercepted: Glenn Greenwald fills in for Jeremy
Scahill, and we take a deep dive into the origins and evolution of the
Trump-Russia story. Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and Glenn find something
they can actually agree on (the Democratic establishment’s
||Russia hysteria), but diverge on Tucker’s coverage of immigration and crime. Glenn responds to stories by Peter Beinart and Jeet Heer. And Russian-American writer Masha Gessen explains how conspiracy thinking is a mirror of the leaders we put in power, and why it’s so tempting — and dangerous — to believe in simplistic reasons for Trump’s election.” Glenn Greenwald for Jeremy Scahill|
HAUTE, Ind.—Eugene Victor Debs, whose home is an infrequently visited
museum on the campus of Indiana State University, was arguably the most
important political figure of the 20th century. He built the socialist
movement in America and was eventually crucified by the capitalist
class when he and hundreds of thousands of followers became a potent
Debs burst onto the national stage when he organized a railroad strike in 1894 after the Pullman Co. cut wages by up to one-third but did not lower rents in company housing or reduce dividend payments to its stockholders. Over a hundred thousand workers staged what became the biggest strike in U.S. history on trains carrying Pullman cars.
The response was swift and brutal.
“Mobilizing all the powers of capital, the owners, representing twenty-four railroads with combined capital of $818,000,00, fought back with the courts and the armed forces of the Federal government behind them,” Barbara W. Tuchman writes in “The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914.”
“Three thousand police in the Chicago area were mobilized against the strikers, five thousand professional strikebreakers were sworn in as Federal deputy marshals and given firearms; ultimately six thousand Federal and State troops were brought in, less for the protection of property and the public than to break the strike and crush the union.”
Attorney General Richard Olney, who as Tuchman writes “had been a lawyer for railroads before entering the Cabinet and was still a director of several lines involved in the strike,” issued an injunction rendering the strike illegal. The conflict, as Debs would write, was a battle between “the producing classes and the money power of the country.”
Debs and the union leaders defied the injunction. They were arrested, denied bail and sent to jail for six months. The strike was broken. Thirty workers had been killed. Sixty had been injured. Over 700 had been arrested. The Pullman Co. hired new workers under “yellow dog contracts,” agreements that forbade them to unionize.
When he was in jail, Debs read the works of socialist writers Edward Bellamy and Karl Kautsky as well as Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital.” The books, especially Marx’s three volumes, set the “wires humming in my system.”
“I was to be baptized in Socialism in the roar of the conflict. … [I]n the gleam of every bayonet and the flash of every rifle the class struggle was revealed,” he writes. “This was my first practical lesson in Socialism.”
Debs came to the conclusion that no strike or labor movement could ultimately be successful as long as the government was controlled by the capitalist class. Any advances made by an organized working class would be reversed once the capitalists regained absolute power, often by temporarily mollifying workers with a few reforms. Working men and women had to achieve political power, a goal of Britain’s Labour Party for workers at the time, or they would forever be at the mercy of the bosses.
Debs feared the rise of the monolithic corporate state. He foresaw that corporations, unchecked, would expand to “continental proportions and swallow up the national resources and the means of production and distribution.” If that happened, he warned, the long “night of capitalism will be dark.”
This was a period in U.S. history when many American Christians were socialists. Walter Rauschenbusch, a Christian theologian, Baptist minister and leader of the Social Gospel movement, thundered against capitalism. He defined the six pillars of the “kingdom of evil” as “religious bigotry, the combination of graft and political power, the corruption of justice, the mob spirit (being ‘the social group gone mad’) and mob action, militarism[,] and class contempt.”
Debs turned to the Bible as often to Marx, arguing “Cain was the author of the competitive theory” and the “cross of Jesus stands as its eternal denial.” Debs’ fiery speeches, replete with words like “sin” and “redemption,” were often thinly disguised sermons. He equated the crucified Christ with the abolitionist John Brown. He insisted that Jesus came “to destroy class rule and set up the common people as the sole and rightful inheritors of the earth.” “What is Socialism?” he once asked. “Merely Christianity in action.” He was fond of quoting the poet James Russell Lowell, who writes:
He’s true to God who’s true to man;
Whenever wrong is done.
To the humblest and the weakest,
’neath the all-beholding sun.
That wrong is also done to us,
And they are slaves most base,
Whose love of right is for themselves
And not for all the race.
It was also a period beset with violence, including anarchist bombings and assassinations. An anarchist killed President William McKinley in 1901, unleashing a wave of state repression against social and radical movements. Striking workers engaged in periodic gun battles, especially in the coalfields of southern West Virginia, with heavily armed company goons, National Guard units, paramilitary groups such as the Coal and Iron Police, and the U.S. Army.
Debs, although a sworn enemy of the capitalist elites, was adamantly opposed to violence and sabotage, arguing that these actions allowed the state to demonize the socialist movement and enabled the destructive efforts of agents provocateurs. The conflict with the capitalist class, Debs argued, was at its core about competing values. In an interview conducted while he was in jail after the Pullman strike, he stressed the importance of “education, industry, frugality, integrity, veracity, fidelity, sobriety and charity.”
We have to begin all over again. And we must do so understanding, as Debs did, that any accommodation with members of the capitalist class is futile and self-defeating. They are the enemy. They will degrade and destroy everything, including the ecosystem, to get richer.
They are not capable of reform.
I walked through the Debs home in Terre Haute with its curator, Allison Duerk. It has about 700 visitors a year. Rarely do these visits include school groups. The valiant struggle by radical socialists and workers, hundreds of whom were murdered in labor struggles, has been consciously erased from our history and replaced with the vacuity of celebrity culture and the cult of the self.
“Teaching this kind of people’s history puts a lot of power in working-class people’s hands,” Duerk said. “We all know what that threatens.”
The walls of the two-story frame house, built by Debs and his wife in 1890, are covered with photos and posters, including pictures of Debs’ funeral on the porch and 5,000 mourners in the front yard. There is the key to the cell in which he was held when he was jailed the first time. There is a photo of Convict No. 9653 holding a bouquet at the entrance to the federal penitentiary in Atlanta as he accepts the nomination from leaders of the Socialist Party to be their 1920 presidential candidate. There are gifts including an intricately inlaid wooden table and an ornately carved cane that prisoners sent to Debs, a tireless advocate for prisoner rights.
I opened the glass panel of a cherry wood bookshelf and pulled out one of Debs’ books, running my fingers lightly over his signature on the front inside flap. I read a passage from a speech he gave in 1905 in Chicago:
The capitalist who does no useful work has the economic power to take from a thousand or ten thousand workingmen all they produce, over and above what is required to keep them in working and producing order, and he becomes a millionaire, perhaps a multi-millionaire.
He lives in a palace in which there is music and singing and dancing and the luxuries of all climes. He sails the high seas in his private yacht. He is the reputed “captain of industry” who privately owns a social utility, has great economic power, and commands the political power of the nation to protect his economic interests. He is the gentleman who furnishes the “political boss” and his swarm of mercenaries with the funds with which the politics of the nation are corrupted and debauched. He is the economic master and the political ruler and you workingmen are almost as completely at his mercy as if you were his property under the law.
I leafed through copies of Appeal to Reason, the Socialist party newspaper Debs edited, which once had almost 800,000 readers and the fourth highest circulation in the country.
Debs, like many of his generation, was literate. He read and reread “Les Misérables” in French. It was his father’s bible. It became his own. His parents, émigrés from Alsace, named him after the French novelists Eugene Sue and Victor Hugo. His father read Sue, Hugo, Voltaire, Rousseau, Dumas and other authors to his six children. Debs found in Hugo’s majestic novel the pathos of the struggle by the wretched of the earth for dignity and freedom. He was well aware, like Hugo, that the good were usually relentlessly persecuted, that they were not rewarded for virtue and that those who held fast to truth and justice often found their way to their own cross. But there was no other choice for him: The kingdom of evil had to be fought. It was a moral imperative. It was what made us human.
“Intellectual and moral growth is no less indispensable than material improvement,”
Hugo writes in an appendix to “Les Misérables.” “Knowledge is a viaticum; thought is a prime necessity; truth is nourishment, like wheat. A reasoning faculty, deprived of knowledge and wisdom, pines away. We should feel the same pity for minds that do not eat as for stomachs. If there be anything sadder than a body perishing for want of bread, it is a mind dying of hunger for lack of light.” A life of moral probity was vital as an example in the face of capitalist exploitation, but that was not enough to defeat the “kingdom of evil.” The owners and managers of corporations, driven by greed and a lust for power, would never play fair. They would always seek to use the law as an instrument of oppression and increase profits through machines, a reduction in wages, a denial of benefits and union busting. They would sacrifice anyone and anything—including democracy and the natural world—to achieve their goals.
Debs, if he could hear today’s proponents of the “free market,” self-help gurus, positive psychologists, talk show hosts and the political class as they exhort Americans to work harder, get an education, follow their dreams, remain positive and believe in themselves and American exceptionalism, would have scoffed in derision. He knew that
corporate power is countered only through organized and
collective resistance by workers forced to fight a bitter class war.
Debs turned to politics when he was released from jail in 1895. He was one of the founders of the Socialist Party of America and, in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), or “Wobblies.” He was the Socialist Party candidate for the U.S. presidency five times in the period 1900 through 1920—once when he was in prison—and he ran for Congress in 1916.
Debs was a powerful orator and drew huge crowds across the country. Fifteen thousand people once paid 15 cents to a dollar each to hear him in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. In his speeches and writings he demanded an end to child labor and denounced Jim Crow and lynching. He called for the vote for women, a graduated income tax, unemployment compensation, the direct election of senators, employer liability laws, national departments of education and health, guaranteed pensions for the elderly, nationalization of the banking and transport systems, and replacing “wage slavery” with cooperative industries.
As a presidential campaigner he traveled from New York to California on a train, called the Red Special, speaking to tens of thousands. He helped elect socialist mayors in some 70 cities, including Milwaukee, as well as numerous legislators and city council members. He propelled two socialists into Congress. In the elections of 1912 he received nearly a million votes, 6 percent of the electorate. Eighteen thousand people went to see him in Philadelphia and 22,000 in New York City.
He terrified the ruling elites, who began to institute tepid reforms to attempt to stanch the growing support for the socialists. Debs after the 1912 election was a marked man.
On June 18, 1918, in Canton, Ohio, he denounced, as he had often done in the past, the unholy alliance between capitalism and war, the use of the working class by the capitalists as cannon fodder in World War I and the Wilson administration’s persecution of anti-war activists, unionists, anarchists, socialists and communists. President Woodrow Wilson, who had a deep animus toward Debs, had him arrested under the Sedition Act, which made it a crime to “willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of the Government of the United States” or to “willfully urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of the production” of anything “necessary or essential to the prosecution of [a U.S. war, in this case against Germany and its allies].”
Debs did not contest the charges. At his trial, he declared: “Washington, Paine, Adams—these were the rebels of their day. At first they were opposed by the people and denounced by the press. … And if the Revolution had failed, the revolutionary fathers would have been executed as felons. But it did not fail. Revolutions have a habit of succeeding when the time comes for them.”
On Sept. 18, 1918, minutes before he was sentenced to a 10-year prison term and stripped of his citizenship, the 62-year-old Debs rose and told the court:
Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
I listened to all that was said in this court in support and justification of this prosecution, but my mind remains unchanged. I look upon the Espionage Law as a despotic enactment in flagrant conflict with democratic principles and with the spirit of free institutions. …
Your Honor, I have stated in this court that I am opposed to the social system in which we live; that I believe in a fundamental change—but if possible by peaceable and orderly means. …
Standing here this morning, I recall my boyhood. At fourteen I went to work in a railroad shop; at sixteen I was firing a freight engine on a railroad. I remember all the hardships and privations of that earlier day, and from that time until now my heart has been with the working class. I could have been in Congress long ago. I have preferred to go to prison. …
I am thinking this morning of the men in the mills and the factories; of the men in the mines and on the railroads. I am thinking of the women who for a paltry wage are compelled to work out their barren lives; of the little children who in this system are robbed of their childhood and in their tender years are seized in the remorseless grasp of Mammon and forced into the industrial dungeons, there to feed the monster machines while they themselves are being starved and stunted, body and soul. I see them dwarfed and diseased and their little lives broken and blasted because in this high noon of Christian civilization money is still so much more important than the flesh and blood of childhood. In very truth gold is god today and rules with pitiless sway in the affairs of men.
In this country—the most favored beneath the bending skies—we have vast areas of the richest and most fertile soil, material resources in inexhaustible abundance, the most marvelous productive machinery on earth, and millions of eager workers ready to apply their labor to that machinery to produce in abundance for every man, woman, and child—and if there are still vast numbers of our people who are the victims of poverty and whose lives are an unceasing struggle all the way from youth to old age, until at last death comes to their rescue and lulls these hapless victims to dreamless sleep, it is not the fault of the Almighty: it cannot be charged to nature, but it is due entirely to the outgrown social system in which we live that ought to be abolished not only in the interest of the toiling masses but in the higher interest of all humanity. …
I believe, Your Honor, in common with all Socialists, that this nation ought to own and control its own industries. I believe, as all Socialists do, that all things that are jointly needed and used ought to be jointly owned—that industry, the basis of our social life, instead of being the private property of a few and operated for their enrichment, ought to be the common property of all, democratically administered in the interest of all. …
I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.
This order of things cannot always endure. I have registered my protest against it. I recognize the feebleness of my effort, but, fortunately, I am not alone. There are multiplied thousands of others who, like myself, have come to realize that before we may truly enjoy the blessings of civilized life, we must reorganize society upon a mutual and cooperative basis; and to this end we have organized a great economic and political movement that spreads over the face of all the earth.
There are today upwards of sixty millions of Socialists, loyal, devoted adherents to this cause, regardless of nationality, race, creed, color, or sex. They are all making common cause. They are spreading with tireless energy the propaganda of the new social order. They are waiting, watching, and working hopefully through all the hours of the day and the night. They are still in a minority. But they have learned how to be patient and to bide their time.
They feel—they know, indeed—that the time is coming, in spite of all opposition, all persecution, when this emancipating gospel will spread among all the peoples, and when this minority will become the triumphant majority and, sweeping into power, inaugurate the greatest social and economic change in history.
In that day we shall have the universal commonwealth—the harmonious cooperation of every nation with every other nation on earth. …
Your Honor, I ask no mercy and I plead for no immunity. I realize that finally the right must prevail. I never so clearly comprehended as now the great struggle between the powers of greed and exploitation on the one hand and upon the other the rising hosts of industrial freedom and social justice.
I can see the dawn of the better day for humanity. The people are awakening. In due time they will and must come to their own.
When the mariner, sailing over tropic seas, looks for relief from his weary watch, he turns his eyes toward the southern cross, burning luridly above the tempest-vexed ocean. As the midnight approaches, the southern cross begins to bend, the whirling worlds change their places, and with starry finger-points the Almighty marks the passage of time upon the dial of the universe, and though no bell may beat the glad tidings, the lookout knows that the midnight is passing and that relief and rest are close at hand. Let the people everywhere take heart of hope, for the cross is bending, the midnight is passing, and joy cometh with the morning.
Three years later, Debs’ sentence was commuted by President Warren Harding to time served, and, in broken health, he was released from prison in December of 1921. His citizenship was not restored until five decades after his 1926 death. The labor movement and socialist party he had struggled to build had been ruthlessly crushed, often through violent attacks orchestrated by the state and corporations and mass arrests and deportations carried out during the Palmer Raids in November 1919 and January 1920. The government had shut down socialist publications, such as Appeal to Reason and The Masses. The “Red Scare” was used as an ideological weapon by the state, and especially the FBI after it was established in 1908, to discredit, persecute and silence dissent.
The breakdown of capitalism saw a short-lived revival of organized labor during the 1930s, often led by the Communist Party, and during a short period after World War II, and this resurgence triggered yet another prolonged assault by the capitalist class.
We have returned to an oligarchic purgatory. Wall Street and the global corporations, including the fossil fuel industry and the war industry, have iron control over the government. The social, political and civil rights won by workers in long and bloody struggles have been stripped away. Government regulations have been rolled back to permit capitalists to engage in abuse and fraud. The political elites, along with their courtiers in the media and academia, are hapless corporate stooges. Social and economic inequality replicates the worst excesses of the robber barons. And the great civic, labor and political organizations that fought for working men and women are moribund or dead.
HOTTEST June on record
2nd HOTTEST all-time high temperature on record
7th hottest any month on record
31st June with no measurable rain at official site
All-time consecutive day streaks broken:
Highs of 115°+: 3 days (June 19-21; old record 2 days in 1994, June 28-29)
Highs of 114°+: 3 days (June 19-21; old record 2 days in 1994, June 28-29)
Lows of 83°+: 5 days (June 22-26; old record 4 days last occurring in 2016, July 15-16)
Lows of 82°+: 7 days (June 20-26; old record 4 days last occurring in 2016, July 15-16)
Lows of 81°+: 7 days (June 20-26; old record 5 days occurring in 2010, June 29 to July 3)
Lows of 80°+: 9 days (June 20-28; old record 8 days occurring in 1990, June 24 to July 1)
All-time consecutive day streaks tied:
Highs of 113°+: 3 days (June 19-21; tied with 1994, June 24-26)
Lows of 84°+: 2 days (June 22-23; tied with six other occasions, last in 2010, July 9-10)
Lows of 79°+: 10 days (June 20-29; tied with 1995, August 1-10)
All-time hottest high temperature time periods broken (out to 7 days):
3 days: 115.3° (June 19-21; old record 114° on three occasions, last in 1994, June 27-29)
All-time hottest high temperature time periods tied (out to 7 days):
2 days: 115.5° (June 19-20 & June 20-21; tied with June 28-29, 1994)
4 days: 113.8° (June 19-22; tied with June 25-28, 1990 & June 26-29, 1994)
All-time warmest low temperature time periods broken (out to 7 days):
7 days: 84.6° (June 20-26; old record 82.1° in 2006, July 19-25)
6 days: 84.8° (June 20-25; old record 82.7° in 2006, July 19-24)
5 days: 84.6° (June 22-26; old record 83.2° in 2006, July 19-23)
4 days: 85° (June 22-25; old record 84° in 1915, July 7-10)
All-time warmest low temperature time periods tied (out to 7 days):
3 days: 85° (June 20-22; tied with July 5-7, 2007)
All-time warmest average temperature time periods broken (out to 7 days):
1 day: 101.5° (June 20; old record 99° in 1990, June 27)
2 days: 100° (June 20-21; old record 98.8° in 1990, June 26-27)
3 days: 99.2° (June 20-22; old record 98.3° in 1990, June 26-28)
4 days: 98.6° (June 20-23; old record 97.9° in 1990, June 25-28)
5 days: 98.5° (June 20-24; old record 97.4° in 1990, June 24-28)
6 days: 98.6° (June 20-25; old record 97.2° in 1990, June 25-30)
7 days: 98.1° (June 20-26; old record 97° in 1994, June 24-30)
|"THE ROYAL FAMILY of the United States takes some heat as the fate of American health care hangs on a few votes. President Trump once said that when it comes to health insurance, he would cover everyone. He lied. Meanwhile the crown prince of America, Jared Kushner, and Mohammed Bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, play house with foreign policy. This week on the podcast: Intercept columnist and Al Jazeera host Mehdi Hasan fills in for Jeremy Scahill. With the Muslim travel ban heading to the Supreme Court, Intercept reporter Murtaza Hussain and||Palestinian author and journalist Rula Jebreal discuss the global consequences of the House of Trump’s meddling in the Middle East. British historian Tom Holland joins Mehdi for a heated debate on the role of Islam within the Islamic State — is religion the motivation behind terrorist attacks, or is it merely used as a justification after the fact? Plus, actor Bill Camp reprises his role as the “SIGINT Philosopher,” the failed novelist turned newsletter columnist for the NSA, and answers an ethical question. Spoiler: It involves Captain Jack Sparrow. " - Jeremy Scahill|
It’s a word that has come up a lot since November— for obvious reasons.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about shock. Ten years ago, I published “The Shock Doctrine,” an investigation that spanned four decades from Pinochet’s U.S.-backed coup in 1970s Chile to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
I noticed a brutal and recurring tactic by right wing governments. After a shocking event – a war, coup, terrorist attack, market crash or natural disaster – exploit the public’s disorientation. Suspend democracy. Push through radical “free market” policies that enrich the 1 percent at the expense of the poor and middle class.
The administration is creating chaos. Daily. Of course many of the scandals are the result of the president’s ignorance and blunders – not some nefarious strategy.
But there is also no doubt that some savvy people around Trump are using the daily shocks as cover to advance wildly pro-corporate policies that bear little resemblance to what Trump pledged on the campaign trail.
And the worst part? This is likely just the warm up.
We need to focus on what this Administration will do when it has a major external shock to exploit.
Maybe it will be an economic crash like 2008. Maybe a natural disaster like Sandy. Or maybe it will be a horrific terrorist event like Manchester or Paris in 2015.
Any one such crisis could redraw the political map overnight, giving Trump and his crew free rein to ram through their most extreme ideas.
But here’s one thing I’ve learned over two decades of reporting from dozens of crises around the world: these tactics can be resisted.
And for your convenience, I’ve tried to boil it down to a 5-step plan." - Naomi Klein
Adapted from Naomi Klein’s new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, published by Haymarket Books. www.noisnotenough.org
Chris Hedges - June 18, 2017"We must embrace a despair that unflinchingly acknowledges the bleak future that will be created by climate change. We must see in any act of resistance, even if it appears futile, a moral victory. African-Americans understand, in a way perhaps only the oppressed can grasp, that our character and dignity will be measured by our ability to name and resist the malignant forces that seem to hold us in a death grip. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Our technology and science will not save us. The future of humanity is now in peril. At best, we can mitigate the crisis. We cannot avert it. We are fighting for our lives. If we do not rapidly build militant movements of sustained revolt, movements willing to break the law and attack the structures of the corporate state, we will join the 99.9 percent of species that have vanished since life first appeared on earth.
"We Can’t Fight Climate Change if We Keep Lying to Ourselves"
Truthdig dot com
“In these circumstances refusing to accept that we face a very unpleasant future becomes perverse,” Clive Hamilton writes in “Requiem for a Species.” “Denial requires a willful misreading of the science, a romantic view of the ability of political institutions to respond, or faith in divine intervention.”
Tens of millions of human beings, especially in the global south, are being herded into the climate furnaces for immolation. And we in the north are soon to follow. The earth’s temperature has already risen by more than 1 degree Celsius since the late 19th century. And it is almost certain to rise a few more degrees—even if we stop all carbon emissions today. The last time the earth’s temperature rose 4 degrees, the polar ice caps disappeared and the seas were hundreds of feet above their current levels.
“[Climate change] is interacting with two previously existing crises,” Christian Parenti, author of “Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence,” told me in an interview. “On the one hand, the legacy of neoliberal economic restructuring has weakened states in the global south so they don’t have the capacity to pave the roads, educate the population, to help farmers who are in distress. On the other hand, much of the global south is littered with cheap weapons and veterans of previous conflicts who know how to use those cheap weapons. In this comes the extreme weather of climate change. [In] states that have been systematically reduced to the point where they can’t respond even if they wanted to, how do people adapt to climate change? How do they adapt to the drought and floods? Very often, you pick up surplus weaponry. You go after your neighbor’s cattle. Or you blame it on your neighbor’s ideology or ethnicity. Underneath a lot of these ethnic and religious conflicts we see there is a climate element.”
“The great danger in climate change is that at a certain point [you will see] the collapse of natural ecosystems, the dying of tropical forests, which are currently carbon sinks—they pull CO2 out of the atmosphere,” Parenti said. “But if they die and all that wood burns or rots, they can become net emitters of greenhouse gases. There are the huge deposits of methane, frozen methane in the Arctic. These are already beginning to come out.”
“The fear is that at a certain point we cross the line and there’s a tipping point,” he said. “The primary cause of greenhouse gas emissions will become the breakdown of these natural systems, and then it really is out of our control.”
We have the technology to build alternative energy and food systems, but the fossil fuel industry, the most powerful industry in the world, has blocked all meaningful attempts to curb fossil fuel extraction and reduce energy consumption. And meat, dairy and egg producers, responding to consumer demand, are responsible for the emission of more greenhouse gases than the entire global transportation sector. Livestock generates enormous amounts of methane, which is 86 times more destructive than CO2. Livestock also produces 65 percent of nitrous oxide resulting from human activity, a gas that has 296 times the “Global Warming Potential” of carbon dioxide. The massive animal agriculture industry, like the fossil fuel industry, receives billions of dollars in subsidies from the U.S. government. And corrupt and pliant politicians who do the bidding of these industries receive millions in return from lobbyists. It is legalized bribery. And it won’t stop until this political system is destroyed.
The nonprofit Project Drawdown, which compiles research from an international coalition of scientists, says that “a plant-based diet may be the most effective way an individual can stop climate change.” Adopting such a diet should be our first act of revolt. The second should be carrying out civil disobedience to disrupt the extraction of fossil fuels, along with massively reducing our consumption of those fuels. The third, through mass mobilization, should be to overthrow the corporate state and nationalize the energy sector, the banking industry, utilities and public transportation in addition to dismantling a war machine that in waging futile and unwinnable wars consumes nearly half of all government expenditures. It is a lot to demand. But if we do not succeed, the human race will disappear.
Governments, if they were instruments of the common good, would end subsidies to the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries, retrofit government vehicles and buildings to use clean energy, ban the fossil fuel and animal agriculture industries from public lands, end the externalization of the true costs of these industries, and impose taxes so heavy that extraction of fossil fuels would be unprofitable and the purchase of animal food products economically unsustainable—just as those foods are environmentally unsustainable. But with state power being held captive by corporations, short-term profit takes precedence over human health and even human survival.
“The technology exists to strip CO2 out of the atmosphere,” Parenti said. “The problem is it’s extremely expensive. And how do you store it? As a gas, it can leak out. But it can also be turned into basically baking soda. But the costs are so expensive. So this technology currently exists. It’s proprietary. Private companies are using it to facilitate further oil extraction. If civilization was serious about survival, governments will seize or buy that technology. Make it open source. And invest in whatever was necessary to strip CO2 out of the atmosphere artificially, along with [extraction by] plants and forests etcetera.”
Parenti stressed that collapse will be defined not only by rising temperatures but a series of social and infrastructure failures. It will be nonlinear. He noted that food prices, including the prices for basic grains, surged shortly before the 2010-2013 uprisings known as the Arab Spring.
“You had the Black Sea drought, affecting grain harvest in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan,” he said. “This ripples through world markets. Bread prices spike in Tunisia and Egypt. People are out in the street protesting this mukhabarat [secret police] state they’ve lived in for 30 years. But it’s also about the price of bread. That’s one way that a climate crisis appears. It doesn’t appear like a climate crisis at first. You have to think about the interconnections of the world economy.”
The civil war in Syria was preceded in 2006 by the worst drought in 900 years, as well as an austerity program that weakened government support systems. Farmlands were transformed into arid dust bowls. Livestock perished. Food prices skyrocketed. Over 1.5 million desperate people from the countryside fled to urban areas, many packing themselves into the shantytowns and slums set up by refugees during the war in Iraq. And into the chaos walked Islamic State. The war, which has taken half a million lives, created 4.8 million refugees and internally displaced 7 million people in Syria. The refugee crisis that resulted in Europe is the worst since the end of World War II. The influx to Europe has empowered nationalist and protofascist movements and touched off a rise in hate crimes. Climate change is the unseen hand in unrest, social disintegration, chaos and war.
“At one level, this is a war about ethnicity and religion and opposing the foreign occupation,” Parenti said of the war in Afghanistan. “But on another level, this is about farmers who are dealing with the worst drought in living memory, which is occasionally punctuated by extreme flooding, growing the only crop they can grow in those conditions—[heroin] poppies. The poppy happens to use about one-fifth or one-sixth the amount of water that wheat and other traditional Afghan crops use. So farmers have to grow poppy if they’re going to survive. Which side of the conflict will help them do that? The Taliban. There are subtle and important interconnections to all ongoing conflicts.”
“In India, you have the Naxalites, a Maoist guerrilla movement that has been going for over 40 years,” he said. “It progresses with the drought. District by district, where there is drought, there are Naxalites. The key there is the state has withdrawn from the credit markets. Farmers have to go to moneylenders. The moneylenders will only lend them money to grow cotton because they can’t eat cotton. The more money they borrow, the worst the drought, the more the cotton is produced, and the lower the cotton price will go. You have mass suicides. You can imagine if you’re a farmer on the verge of drinking poison to kill yourself, and the Naxalites come along and say, ‘Hey look, we have a short-term and a long-term solution for your problems. The short-term is when the moneylender comes to town you stop his car and we kill him. When the cops come, we ambush them. In the long term, it will be better.’ ”
Failed states, proliferating in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, are ruled by phantom governments.
“There’s a mythology of the central state that operates when the police stop you and demand some paperwork,” Parenti said of failed states. “But really, there is no central database. [These are the] twitching limbs severed from a spider. These offices are used for basic survival. They can hold up travelers and demand a $50, $100 bribe from them in the name of some centralized state that did, in fact, exist 10, 20, 30 years ago. That’s a part of how states fail—the corruption and re-privatization of the means of administration and the means of repression. [Max] Weber’s argument is [that] the modern state is about detaching the leader of a bureaucracy from the ownership of a bureaucracy. State failure begins with the re-privatization of the bureaucracies, particularly the repressive bureaucracies of the police and military.”
“In a place like Afghanistan, cops pay to have those jobs,” he said. “They pay the head cops. They pay the dues so they can shake down traffic on the roads. That’s spreading all over the world. Its uniforms, insignia, paperwork, ministries and officialdom all exist, but exist for the personal gain of whoever is wearing that uniform.”
“The possibility of a progressive, civil, left politics is curtailed in a world where drug-addled teenagers run the checkpoints,” he said. “That’s really important to keep in mind. Then the immediate response in the West is to justify further military intervention, which in every case is the immediate cause, or trigger, of state collapse. Of course, there are older, deeper problems that set it up. Libya is a perfect example. The NATO bombing campaign created that failed state. Iraq is a semi-failed state. Yemen is a semi-failed state. Half of Syria is a failed state. U.S. and Western intervention has been pretty instrumental in a lot of that. The great irony is there’s further justification for an overdeveloped military. That’s bad for democratic politics here.”
“In the long run, it won’t work,” he warned. “The process of state failure spreads and spreads. What we see in response is also a hardening of democratic regimes in the north. We’ve got xenophobic politics in the U.S. Southwest in response to a migration crisis [and that kind of politics also] is happening in Europe across the Mediterranean. There are all sorts of great humanitarian responses. But there’s also a very clear shift to the right. France has this state of emergency that’s still in effect. Right-wing politics are doing well all across Europe. One of the great dangers of state failure in the global south in the short term is the hardening and drift towards increasingly authoritarian, xenophobic, quasi-fascist type of politics in the global north and developing states.”
On one July night in 1977 the power went out in New York City. There were citywide riots. Arsonists started 1,037 fires. Looters smashed their way into 1,616 stores. There was over $300 million in damage. This Hobbesian nightmare will become normal in more and more parts of the globe as we traverse the sixth great mass extinction, brought on by the activity of human beings. The greatest existential crisis of our time is to at once accept the tragic reality before us and find the courage to resist. It is to acknowledge that the world as we know it will become harsher and more difficult, that human suffering will expand, but that we can, if we fight back, perhaps reconfigure our lives and our society to mitigate the worst savagery, dramatically reduce our carbon footprint and save ourselves from complete annihilation. The power elites will do nothing to save us.
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic,” historian Howard Zinn wrote. “It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
The inability to see what is in front of our eyes replicates the blindness of all past civilizations that celebrated their eternal glory at moments of precipitous decline. The difference is that life across the whole planet will go down this time. It is comforting to pretend this is not happening, to foster false hopes and fool ourselves with the myth of human progress, but these illusions only tranquilize us at a moment when we should be rising in collective fury against those who are orchestrating our doom."
following segment is excerpted from “The Putin Interviews,” a
transcript of a series of discussions between filmmaker Oliver Stone
and President Vladimir Putin conducted in Russia over nine days between
July 2, 2015 and Feb. 10, 2017. The excerpt below is from the “Fourth
Interview,” which took place on Feb. 10. This excerpt is reprinted by
arrangement with Skyhorse Publishing. Coutesy of Truthdig - Here ~ Forward by TD editor and chief Bob
Scheer - Here
On Syria and Defense:
OS: Can we quickly get back—in the matter of Syria, it seems to have quieted down. The showing of Aleppo was much-played-up in the Western media as barbaric. And I’ve seen the RT reports from a different perspective about what was happening there in West Aleppo—a different sense of, where the US media was not reporting some of the atrocities that were happening in Aleppo.
VP: You know, this is all part of an information confrontation. Certainly the media are used. If they present lopsided information, they discredit themselves in the end. In any case, when a question arises inevitably, if people are taken hostage by terrorists does it mean that we have to stop fighting terrorists? Should we just give them a blank check to do whatever they please? The question always arises—is the source of this evil the ones who fight terrorists or the terrorists themselves? Just have a look—there has been much talk about the need to provide immediate humanitarian aid to Aleppo. Right now, Aleppo has been liberated of terrorists. And no one talks right now about the need to provide humanitarian aid to Aleppo, even though security and safety have been ensured there. Many partners of mine, my colleagues were telling me that they were willing, they were ready to provide that kind of humanitarian aid, but so far nothing has happened. There were always those who said that we would be in conflict with the Sunni world sooner or later. I think this is, to me, a provocation. Many in the Arab world, and in Turkey, they do understand what our intentions are. There are those who disagree with that. But our position is clear. Our goal is to support the legitimate authorities, to prevent a disintegration of the Syrian statehood, otherwise this territory is going to be yet another Libya or worse. Or another Somalia. Secondly, our goal is to fight terrorism. And this is no less important to us. Just as I said, according to our data, 4,500 people from Russia and around 5,000 citizens from Central Asian countries—the former Soviet republics—are fighting there. And our task is to prevent them from coming home. Nonetheless, it is with respect that we treat the concerns of our partners from Turkey and from the Arab countries. What did it result in? First, at the final stage of the fight for liberating Aleppo, this stage didn’t end with hostilities. No, it ended with separating the forces. And we helped part of the armed opposition to evacuate from Aleppo. And we were the ones to facilitate this process. We were the ones to organize all of that. But everyone just made it look like they didn’t see what was happening. Secondly there were talks that once Aleppo was liberated, ethnic or religious cleansings would take place there. Do you know what decision I took? I decided to dispatch a battalion of Russia military police to Aleppo, from the Northern Caucasus, mostly from the Chechen Republic and a number of other republics in the Northern Caucasus. Incidentally, all of them are Sunni.
OS: [laughter] I see.
VP: And the local population gave them a very warm welcome. They see them as their protectors. Certainly we did that with the concern and with the support of President Assad. He said he was interested in fostering a dialogue between different religious groups. Do you know what it led to? I’m going to tell you something that no one is aware of so far, but probably they are going to learn that before your film appears. The representatives of the armed opposition in one of the suburbs of Aleppo asked us to increase the number of our military policemen. They want us to bring this number to a great number in the regions they control. A week ago I decided to dispatch another battalion of military police there. But this is not all there is to it. Together with our military police, a Mufti from the Chechen Republic has appeared there. He is also a Sunni. He talks to our military, to the local population. We’re not interested in adding fuel to this conflict. Quite the contrary, we are interested in fostering dialogue, so as to preserve the territorial integrity of this country which is a very complicated matter. I’m particularly concerned about what we are witnessing. We see some sort of a divide of different religious groups. People are moving from one part of Syria to another. These religious groups are isolating themselves and separating, and this is very dangerous because it might result in a split. But I’ve got to tell you that we are successful because we’ve got the direct support of the Turkish leadership, as well as the leadership of Iran. This is a very difficult matter and it’s not always easy to find consensus. But direct contacts are being upheld with the Iranian partners and the Turkish partners, and this is what gives us hope and that is why we achieve success. What you’ve said about Syria quieting down, that is true. Indeed, hostilities have all but ceased between the armed opposition and the armed forces of the government. But hostilities are still ongoing against Daesh, the Islamic State.
OS: What would you say is the result of the Russian military intervention—in a few words?
VP: I can sum that up very easily. First, we’ve stabilized the legitimate authorities. Secondly, we have achieved a reconciliation and we’ve managed to bring to one negotiating table both the Armed opposition and the government. And we’ve managed to foster a dialogue in a trilateral format which engages both Turkey and Iran. We need the support of the United States as well as the support of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt. We’re going to tread very cautiously. So that each step secures what has been achieved at the previous step instead of undermining it.
OS: Again, what was the distance between Damascus and Moscow. You told me once it was kilometers . . .
VP: Well I never counted. I think 3,000. 2,000 to Sochi, another thousand to Istanbul. 3,500 or 4,000 kilometers.
OS: Okay. And one quick question. I mean, I definitely get the feeling from what you said that Mr. Erdogan in Turkey feels that the US CIA was involved in the coup d’état against him recently.
VP: Did he tell you that?
OS: No. He said things that hinted at it—in that direction.
VP: I don’t know anything about that. But I can see the rationale behind what he said. Mr. Gülen, whom he suspects of organizing this coup d’état, is living in Pennsylvania and he’s lived there for more than nine years.
OS: And Mr. Erdogan never said anything to you, he never whispered . . . ?
VP: No, he told me that he suspected Gülen and his organization, his movement, of organizing that coup d’état. He has never told me anything about the role of the United States. But I can see his logic—you can guess it. If indeed Mr. Gülen had taken part in this coup d’état attempt—of which I have no idea—it would be very hard to imagine that at least the intelligence services of the US would be unaware of what was happening. That’s the first thing. Secondly, the Air Force stationed at the Incirlik Air Base has been active in this coup d’état attempt. And that is exactly the air base where the main part of the American Air Force that is stationed in Turkey is located. We are a little bit concerned. And why is that? The thing is, tactical nuclear weapons are deployed in Turkey, US nuclear weapons. And when such dramatic events occur, the question arises as to what might happen to the nuclear warheads.
OS: Well, if the army is loyal to Erdogan, then I’m not sure. A lot of them are involved with the United States.
VP: Well, probably you know better than I do.
OS: Well, he rounded up a lot of military people.
VP: You know, Mr. Erdogan was one step from being assassinated. He moved from the hotel where he was staying. Some of his security officers were staying there. And one of the Special Forces, a commando from the armed forces came to him, there was a clash with his security officers and his security officers were killed. I think we can say that if Erdogan had stayed there than he would have been assassinated. These are just bare facts from which I infer no conclusions whatsoever. But this is what happened. I do not want either to analyze or give an assessment to what he did afterwards. But we know the historical role that the armed forces have been playing in Turkey. They’ve been the grantor of a secular avenue of development in the country. We’ve got this Golden Rule which we stick to—we never interfere within the domestic affairs of any country.
OS: Not even the US election?
VP: No, never. It’s up to the people of the country.
OS: I believe you.
VP: You know, even earlier, sometimes half as a joke, half on a serious note, we were saying that the American Constitution was not perfect.
OS: The Electoral College.
VP: Yes, absolutely right. Because the elections are not that direct. There was this electoral college that you mentioned. But their response was always, “This is none of your business. We’re going to sort it out ourselves.” So we do not interfere, either within the domestic affairs of the US or any other country. We have not interfered in Turkey.
OS: How close were you to a war—the United States said to Syria you crossed the red line in 2013 and General Shoygu, your Defense Minister said the Syrians were about to launch a massive attack of 624 cruise missiles within 24 hours. And it probably would have ended the sovereignty of the Syrian state at that point, when Obama said they crossed a red line, and you were involved with that, in stopping that and in removing the gases, the chemical weapons from Syria. How close was it? And were you worried about a US strike on Damascus?
VP: Honestly, I don’t know—I think you’ve got to ask the Obama administration about that, about how close they were to the brink of war, to making that decision. Another decision finally was made, luckily.
OS: You were involved in it.
VP: Yes, I was, when the G20 Summit took place in St. Petersburg, President Obama and I, we talked about this topic. And we agreed to try to take steps to eliminate the remains of chemical weapons in Syria.
OS: You sound very casual. It doesn’t sound right. I mean, if Shoygu said 24 hours, you guys have to be worried about it. This is your ally.
VP: Well, it’s all about the subjunctive mood, so to speak. Be that as it may, both I and President Obama agreed to work together back then, and luckily our joint work resulted in success.
OS: Well, you make it sound casual, but weren’t you worried that your ally would disappear and maybe ISIS was going to get all the way to Damascus right then and there? Didn’t you see all the implications of this?
VP: Yes, certainly we were concerned. And that’s why we talked about how we could address that matter with other means and we were successful in doing that.
OS: You seem very cool about it, but I would imagine in that time period it might have been much tenser.
VP: Look, what happened back then happened back then. And right now we have a very well-organized and well-performing system of air defense deployed there.
VP: —We have the S-400, with a range of more than 300 kilometers, S-3000, also with a range of 300. The DEBO system with a range of 60 kilometers. And there are other systems that are more efficient in the shorter range. So we’ve got a multi-tier plan for air defense. And there are also the ships stationed off the coast that all also have this system of air defense.
OS: So you could have prevented it?
VP: And the most sophisticated air defense systems with a range of 300 kilometers.
OS: Well that’s some conversation you’re having with Obama—you’re saying Russian weapons are going to shoot down US weapons and you’ll have an international crisis. It’ll be quite a situation. The Pentagon is going to go wild, no? You know, this is close to war.
VP: Back then, we didn’t have those missiles in Syria.
OS: Oh, I thought you did.
VP: Our missiles were not active in Syria back then.
OS: Well, you had a long-term alliance with them since the early 1970s?
VP: Yes, but we didn’t take any part in what was happening there. We were just providing medical and technical military assistance to them, financial assistance.
OS: So, in other words, if the Assad regime had been, let’s say, weakened, would Russia have come to help it against an ISIS move towards Damascus?
VP: This once again depends on the subjunctive mood, and it’s difficult to talk about, because it’s all about myriads of factors that have to be taken into account.
OS: Let’s talk about another war situation since we’re in the Situation Room. More recent. In the Crimea, when the referendum was coming up, the US destroyer Donald Cook was moving towards the Black Sea with Tomahawk missiles. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I saw a documentary . . . Well, first of all, NATO announced military drills in the Black Sea and the Russian naval commander was talking about how close—in this documentary—was talking about how close Russia came to using its missile system for coastal defense. The US ship Donald Cook was apparently coming right into the Black Sea when it made a U-turn and didn’t carry through its mission. It seems like it was similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis when the same thing happened, where a ship was coming towards the demarcation line and made a U-turn because it had been threatened by the US Navy back in 1962. So where were you at this time when this Donald Cook situation was happening and were you nervous about his?
VP: Remember how the Ukrainian crisis unfolded. [We’ve discussed it.] The three foreign ministers of European countries were acting as guarantors of an agreement between the opposition and President Yanukovych. Everyone agreed to that. President Yanukovych even agreed to hold early elections. At that time, at the initiative of the United States of America, they told us, ‘We ask you to prevent President Yanukovych from using the armed forces.’ And they promised in their term they were going to do everything for the opposition to clear the squares and the administrative buildings. We said, ‘Very well that is a good proposal. We are going to work on it.’ And as you, know President Yanukovych didn’t resort to the armed forces. But the very next day the coup d’état took place during the night. We didn’t have a telephone conversation, we didn’t get a call, we simply saw them [the Americans] actively support those who perpetrated the coup d’état. And we could only shrug our shoulders. Such conduct, the way the Americans acted, even among individuals is absolutely unacceptable. They should have at least told us afterwards that the situation had spun out of control. They should have told us that they would do everything to put them back on a constitutional track. No, they didn’t do that. They started to come up with lies saying that Yanukovych had fled. And they supported those who performed that coup d’état. How can we trust such partners?
OS: Question—is this when Victoria Nuland, the Undersecretary of State, had that conversation with the American ambassador and said, “Fuck the EU”?
VP: Well, it doesn’t matter, honestly. It was on February 21st. Or maybe the 20th. The coup d’état took place the next day. So now that Crimea has become a full fledged part of the Russian Federation, our attitude towards it changed drastically. If we see a threat to our territory, just as any other country, we will have to protect it by all means at our disposal. I wouldn’t draw an analogy with the Cuban Missile Crisis, because back then the world was on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse. Thankfully, the situation didn’t go as far this time, even though we did indeed deploy our most sophisticated, our cutting-edge systems, for coastal defense.
OS: But the Bastion is a big missile and the destroyer, the Donald Cook, has Tomahawk missiles.
VP: Yes, certainly—against such missiles as the ones we’ve deployed in Crimea—such a ship, destroyer as Donald Cook is simply defenseless.
OS: Yes, that’s probably why they turned around?
VP: I think this captain was smart and also a responsible person. This doesn’t mean
he’s weak . . .
OS: No, no.
VP: —He simply understood what he was dealing with. He decided not to continue.
OS: But your commander had the authority to fire?
VP: Our commanders always have the authorization to use the necessary means for the defense of the Russian Federation.
OS: Still, it’s a big incident potentially.
VP: Yes, certainly. It would have been very bad.
OS: Were you notified?
VP: Yes, certainly. Where is that ship stationed usually—the Donald Cook? Where is the base?
OS: The Mediterranean, I presume.
VP: Yes. But I think that the mother port is somewhere in the United States—the place it’s registered. So, thousands and thousands of kilometers from. . . . And even if the port is somewhere in the Mediterranean, somewhere in Spain, it is still thousands of kilometers from the Black Sea. And we are determined to protect our territory.
OS: I understand. But were you available, were you—
VP: Who was trying to provoke whom? What was that destroyer doing so close to our
OS: I understand, but were you contacted at the time? In what timeframe did all of this take place, this challenge?
VP: I think it was real time. Once the destroyer was located and detected, they saw that there was a threat, and the ship itself saw that it was the target of the missile systems. I don’t know who the captain was. But he showed much restraint. I think he is a responsible man and a courageous officer to boot. I think it was the right decision that he made. He decided not to escalate the situation. It doesn’t at all mean that he would have been attacked by our missiles. But we had to show them that our coast was protected by the missile systems
OS: Was there a warning sent out to him?
VP: The captain sees right away that his ship has become the target of missile systems—there is special equipment. He has special equipment to detect such situations.
OS: And all of this takes place in two minutes, 30 minutes, 50 minutes?
VP: I don’t know—the experts can give you the answer. Seconds, mere seconds, I
OS: I mean, does this happen all the time? You sound very cool.
VP: It sometimes happens. And that’s why our American counterparts have suggested we should build a system for exchanging information about the aircraft that are flying over, so as to avoid any kind of incident. Because when an aircraft is targeted, is eradiated by another aircraft this is considered a serious incident.
OS: I’d say.
VP: And this is always a very serious incident.
OS: So there have been others—there have been other incidents we don’t know about?
VP: I don’t know. NATO aircraft are flying over the Baltic Sea without transponders—the systems that are used to identify them—and our aircraft have started to fly without our transponders as well. And once our aircraft have started to do that, there’s been so much ruckus saying that we do not use transponders, but when I publicly declared that the number of our flights is many-fold fewer than the number of NATO flights the ruckus has quieted down. The president of Finland has proposed that we should make a decision making it obligatory for everyone to use these transponders, to detect them, to identify and we suggested right away that this should be done, but our NATO partners have refused. You see we need a dialogue all the time, we do not need new provocations.
OS: I understand, it’s very scary. At that time, you made a strong speech, I thought, addressing NATO. You said, “This is our historic territory. These are Russian people. They are in danger now. We can’t leave them alone. It wasn’t us who staged the coup. It was done by nationalists and people with far-right views. You supported them, but where do you live—5,000 miles away. But we live here and it is our land. What do you want to fight for there? You don’t know, do you? But we do know. And we are ready for it.”
VP: Yes indeed we were brought to the brink, so to speak.
OS: To the brink—you admit to the brink?
VP: Yes, certainly. We had to respond somehow.
OS: Well, finally you’re admitting it.
VP: Yes, we were open to positive dialogue. We did everything to achieve a political settlement. But they had to give their support to this unconstitutional seizure of power. I still wonder why they had to do that. Incidentally, that was a first step to further destabilization of the country. And this happens still. So, first the power is seized and right now these forces that have seized power are trying to make those who disagree with that accept this as a fact. This is what is happening to the south and eastern part of Ukraine. Instead of engaging in a political dialogue, which is quite possible, that is what they’re doing.
OS: Well, you have to get your story out there. Your side of the story—not only on RT, but hopefully with some intelligence releases, some shots, some images that would tell the story. You have to tell this story, you have to somehow get your raw intelligence into the system.
VP: You see, that’s quite impossible, because this point of view that we present is ignored by the world media. And if it’s ignored, not on equal footing with the other perspectives, then almost no one hears it. So a narrative is being constructed of some evil Russia—
OS: —I wouldn’t give up on that, I wouldn’t give up. You have to fight back. And you’re doing a great job but more, better.
VP: I’ll bear that in mind, but I think this critique is justified.
OS: [teasing] No, Dmitry’s done a lousy job on that. [Putin’s press secretary and confidant]
VP: Well, this is not up to him. This is not the task he’s supposed to do.
OS: I know.
VP: His task is to provide information and support to my everyday functions. . . . It’s my job and I’m not doing a very good job of it.
OS: You’re doing a great job, but you work too hard—you’ve got to relax. I think you should take a vacation. Go to Palm Beach, relax, sit on the beach, play some golf, talk.
VP: I understand the hint. Well, I envy him.
OS: In closing, you inherited a Russian state that was collapsing at the end of the last century. You came to office accidentally and people were in great misery. There was no sense of a central power and the point is that I think Russia had to be rebuilt so that it wouldn’t collapse again. Mr. Gorbachev’s ideal of restructuring didn’t happen. The West, in a sense, supported disorder. A vision which, you said, Russia must never again embrace. Then you said sovereignty is the key. Sovereignty is the key. I believe you said one time that a state in order to exist and have sovereignty has, amongst its obligations, to pay the pensions of older people. Yes?
VP: Yes, certainly. In general, and especially right now, a country can only ensure its sovereignty if it secures a good economic growth rate—not just the economic growth rate, you’ve got to secure economic development. And in this sense, despite the good assessment you’ve given to my job, I think both myself and my colleagues could have done an even better job. Even though that would have been immensely hard, because we were always facing a dilemma. We had to choose between a bad decision and an even worse decision. But that happens all the time everywhere. You are always faced with a choice. And you’ve got to make it. Liberally-minded people think that we should have taken harsher, tougher measures. I thought that the harshness had to correlate to the standard of living to help people. We had to go step by step in improving the lives of our people. Back then, in 2000, more than 40 percent of our citizens were living below the poverty line, the system of social security was in ruin, let alone the armed forces which all but ceased to exist. Separatism was holding sway. I’m not going to elaborate on that, but I’m going to say that the Russian constitution didn’t apply all throughout our territory and the Caucasus was seeing a war that was raging—a civil war, which was fueled by radical elements from abroad. And in the end that civil war degenerated into terrorism. The situation was very difficult. But the Russian people and all the peoples of Russia, they’ve got a very important quality and that is love for their own nation, for their country. The sense of danger, the sense of compassion as well as the willingness to make sacrifices for the interests of their country. And thanks to these qualities of the Russian people and other peoples of Russia, we have managed to get through that difficult period. But we cannot exploit these qualities endlessly. We want our people to have better lives. Liberal-minded economists say we should have economized more or we shouldn’t have increased the wages, the salaries, the pensions. But you see our people still have a very, very modest standard of living. I want rank and file citizens, families to see that our country is recovering. Anyhow, we are trying to pursue a very restrained, reserved economic policy.
OS: Getting back to sovereignty.
VP: We are trying to use the revenues from oil and gas. We will save this money, but we try to spend what we get from other sectors. For us that is a very difficult task. As you can see we have increased the real income of our population by a magnitude of several times. Last year, because of high inflation, real income was reduced a little bit. But at the end of last year we saw a pickup of that real income. Last year we managed to reduce the inflation rate to a historical record low—it was 5.4 percent or so. Even though our target was 6.2 percent. And we’re going to target inflation and I do hope that we’ll be able to bring it down to four percent. We’ve got a relatively low unemployment rate at around 5.4 percent. In spite of all the political restrictions, we’ve managed to keep our reserves, to stabilize our economy. I’m confident that this year we’re going to witness more economic growth, albeit modest. Our monetary policy is very well-balanced. It’s being implemented by the Central Bank and by the government.
VP: Our agricultural producers have to thank the Obama administration. Due to the measures we’ve introduced to counter the sanctions against us. These countermeasures are mostly related to closing our market to agricultural produce. And thanks to these measures, the agricultural producers have managed to increase annually their production by more than three percent. Last year we saw record crops of wheat and other grains. And I know you love Russia, so it gives me great pleasure to tell you that Russia ranks first in the world in terms of wheat export.
OS: I like bread—the black bread is my favorite.
VP: We used to buy grains and wheat.
OS: From Canada, yeah.
VP: Right now we produce less than the US or Canada or China. But these countries have larger consumption rates. And as far as per capita production is concerned, it’s very good.
OS: I believe you. Sovereignty is not just economic though. I just want to tell you a quick story—last night . . . I mean the Russian people have guts. And last night there was a TV series on television Channel 1, I think it was. I saw it—prime time, 8 p.m. It was about the Germans and the Russians. And it was a very interesting story. It was in Russian. I didn’t understand much. But I got a sense of it. In that story, the Russians again behaved very courageously, very courageous and were very good fighters, and outwitted the Nazis. And you know, TV stuff, but it was damn good. It was well-made. The actors were really terrific. It was kind of ugly in a way, but in a good way—gritty. Very impressed and I remembered when I was here during the Brezhnev era, when they used to show all the old black and white Soviet films on TV, I saw the same kind of movie where the Soviets were taking on the Nazis again. And I made the connection. This is 34 years later, and I say the Russian people have a certain quality of courage which manifests itself time and again and they never forget. And by watching these old movies and remembering the tradition, remembering history, you go a long way towards keeping that sovereignty.
VP: Yes. That is very important. But no less important than this rigid framework of tradition is to be willing to accept new things, novelties, and to advance.
OS: Like cyber warfare! I’m not going to bug you anymore. I’ve got my hands full, 25–30 hours to cut. No more questions! Promise. A handshake across the countries. I wish I wish I wish. You did a great job, you did a good job.
VP: [a warm handshake] If they’re going to beat you for this, you can come back here
to Russia and we’ll help heal you.
OS: We’ll see. I’m proud of the film. You got to tell your side of the story and that’s
all I can do.
VP: I don’t know if anyone is going to be interested in that.
OS: That’s also possible. Goodnight, Mr. Putin.
|"DONALD TRUMP HAS made crystal clear that he has a great affinity for strongmen and for unquestioned loyalty of those who work for him. This week on Intercepted: Trump’s besties in Saudi Arabia convinced him that Qatar, the host of U.S. Central Command, is the premiere Arab nation sponsoring terrorism. Amnesty International’s Sherine Tadros and Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan analyze the hypocrisy-laden, bizarre crisis. We also||discuss the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy addresses the Justice Department’s allegations about The Intercept’s recent NSA story and the prosecution of the alleged leaker. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes talks Russia, Trump, the media and his new book, “A Colony in a Nation.” DJ Spooky joins the conversation and imagines a Trump-inspired mash-up of Dante’s Inferno and Disco Inferno." - Jeremy Scahill|
|"Jared Kushner is sort of like Donald Trump’s less savvy version of Don Corleone’s consigliere. But did he make the Russians an offer they couldn’t refuse? This week on Intercepted: The scandal spotlight shines on Trump’s influential (and strangely quiet) son-in-law as questions abound over Kushner’s alleged meetings with Russian officials to establish secret back channel communications. We talk to amateur punk rocker turned national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman||of The Daily Beast. Organizer and scholarMariame Kaba offers a people’s history of prisons in the U.S. and the politicians — both Democrats and Republicans — who have made them what they are today. And we hear an incredible rendition of “The Partisan” from composers and musicians Leo Heiblum of Mexico and Tenzin Choegyal of Tibet. They met this week at the home of legendary composer Philip Glass and perform for the first time together on Intercepted." - Jeremy Scahill|
Israeli writer and dissident Uri Avnery asked an Egyptian general how
the Egyptians managed to surprise the Israelis when they launched the
October 1973 war. The general answered: “Instead of reading the
intelligence reports, you should have read our poets.”
|"The idiots take over in the final days of crumbling civilizations. Idiot generals wage endless, unwinnable wars that bankrupt the nation. Idiot economists call for reducing taxes for the rich and cutting social service programs for the poor, and project economic growth on the basis of myth. Idiot industrialists poison the water, the soil and the air, slash jobs and depress wages. Idiot bankers gamble on self-created financial bubbles and impose crippling debt peonage on the citizens. Idiot journalists and public intellectuals pretend despotism is democracy. Idiot intelligence operatives orchestrate the overthrow of foreign governments to create lawless enclaves that give rise to enraged fanatics. Idiot professors, “experts” and “specialists” busy themselves with unintelligible jargon an ....."|
|"The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is pleased to host Creative Time and the New York Public Library for In Situ: How to Reasonably Believe in God. The talk will feature Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, moderated by Sister Helen Prejean. A performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir will kick off the event." - Here**|
Tales of a feast on Plymouth plantation in the Autumn of 1621, where of pilgrims from the Mayflower, celebrated the harvest, shared and broke bread with the first Americans are false. They are still used as inspiration and shared with children, teaching them the beauty of gratitude.
But it is now widely understood this Thanksgiving story is a fictional history. It was invented to whitewash the vicious genocide wrought upon the native inhabitants of this magnificent continent. Not only did the Europeans try to eradicate native populations, but they made every effort to eviscerate their culture, their language and eliminate them from these coveted lands.
From Plymouth Rock to Standing Rock, this lie has made our Thanksgiving Day a Day of Mourning for the First Nations, all the tribes big and small, those who came before us.
A few weeks ago we traveled to visit the Standing Rock Sioux In North Dakota. We arrived at this unprecedented historical gathering of over five hundred tribes and thousands of others standing on the front lines to protect water, to state the most basic human truth, to say water is life. Despite the painful history, today they fight peacefully for us all.
The camp grows as winter comes. Standing in protection of our most vital life support systems, but also for the rightful preservation of Native American cultural ways and their sovereignty. Everyone we talk with is committed to peaceful resistance. Weapons alcohol and drugs are forbidden there.
Standing together in prayer to protect water displays a deeply rooted awareness of life's interconnected nature, and of the intrinsic value and import of traditional ways. This growing movement stems from love, it is the most human instinct to protect that which we love. An eager and engaged youth are at the core of this pipeline route resistance, learning from a population of elders who pass down unforgotten knowledge.
It is an awakening. All here together, with their non-native relatives, standing strong in the face of outrageous, unnecessary and violent aggression, on the part of militarized local and state law enforcement agencies and National Guard, who are seemingly acting to protect the interests of the Dakota Access Pipeline profiteers, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars, above all other expressed concerns. They stand against corporate security forces, the county sheriff and the National Guard. Standing while being hit with water cannons, mace, tear gas, rubber bullets. Standing without weapons and praying, the water protectors endure human rights abuses in sub freezing temperatures. Supplies arrive from all over as the social media universe shares the heartbreaking news to the world, that an American corporate media is not free to report. Thus, it is the ugliness of corporate America, seen around the world.
But they stand, their hair frozen from water cannons. They stand for all that is good and they stay strong.
We are calling upon you, President Barack Obama, to step in and end the violence against the peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock immediately.
We will be going back to support the water
And we can give thanks for the bounty.
Like water on the garden of activism, America’s surprise president brings a bounty of opportunity. The great issues of our time are now brightly illuminated and people are becoming more aware of them than ever, from sea to shining sea, from Standing Rock to Wall Street.
The surprise president elect was not the winner of the popular vote, does not have a mandate for the change of ideals envisioned. Keep in mind, close to over two million more people voted for another candidate.
Nor is the surprise president the leader of the free world. Two hundred of the worlds nations believe in science, above the profits of the oil, gas and coal industries, and are committed to working together to protect the future from an unchecked climate crisis.
The surprise president claims he does not believe in climate science nor the threats it presents and his actions and words reflect that claim in tangible and dangerous ways.
Do not be intimidated by the surprise presidents' cabinet appointees as they descend the golden escalator. Those who behave in racist ways are not your leaders. The golden tower is not yours. The White House is your house.
Your growing activism in support of freedom over repression, addressing climate change, swiftly replacing a destructive old industries with safe, regenerative energy, encouraging wholistic thinking in balance with the future of our planet; that activism will strengthen and shed continued light on us all. These worthy goals must be met for the all the worlds children and theirs after them.
This is our moment for truth.
Unintimidated, stand, speak up and show up. Be counted. Be like our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock. Be there if you can. The progress we have made over two hundred and forty years as a nation, has always come first from the people
|One Love One Earth
2013 Climate-Change Archive
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