"Everything is as it should be."

                                                                                  - Benjamin Purcell Morris

 

 

© all material on this website is written by Michael McCaffrey, is copyrighted, and may not be republished without consent

A Curious Case of Mystery Attacks, Microwaves and Media Manipulation

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes 47 seconds

The U.S. media’s lazy reporting of mystery attacks on American personnel in Cuba takes the predictable path of blaming Russia without evidence.

I came across a story recently in the New York Times that was intriguing. The story, headlined “Microwave Weapons are Prime Suspect in Ills of U.S. Embassy Workers”, was written by William J. Broad and was about mysterious “attacks” that started in 2016 on U.S. personnel stationed in Cuba who had suffered the equivalent of concussive brain trauma and the ensuing after effects, such as hearing loss, dizziness and diminished cognitive function, yet had not been visibly assaulted or struck in the head. The article posits the “attacks” were made by a microwave-type of weapon that would invisibly strike its targets.

In the Times article it never states outright but certainly gives the distinct impression, that the mystery is now solved and that the “attacks” were made by a microwave type of weapon that would invisibly strike its targets.

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The most striking thing about this story was the seemingly out of nowhere speculation that it was Russia that perpetrated these “attacks”. What was so odd about this assertion was that upon closer inspection it became clear the actual facts presented in the story indicate there is no consensus or actual evidence Russia was responsible for the attacks or that any attacks had even taken place.

The article begins by giving a brief history of microwave radiation as a weapon, stating in its opening sentence, “During the Cold War: Washington feared that Moscow was seeking to turn microwave radiation into covert weapons of mind control.”

For the next nine paragraphs, Broad never mentions Russia, but then with no background as to where his speculation comes from, he writes,

“The microwave idea teems with unanswered questions. Who fired the beams? The Russian government? The Cuban government? A rogue Cuban faction sympathetic to Moscow? And, if so, where did the attackers get the unconventional arms?”

In re-reading the opening paragraph, you will notice that there is no proof that Russia has ever had a microwave weapon, only decades-old “fears” it was “seeking” to develop one. It would seem the entire basis for the speculation blaming Russia in this article is nothing more than some old, fleeting sense of Soviet super-villainy, that this fact is hidden in plain sight reveals a deft but ultimately duplicitous hand writing the story.

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In fact, the only person quoted in the piece claiming Russia as the prime suspect is a scientist, biologist Allan H. Frey, who has vast experience with microwave technology. Mr. Frey is described as having “traveled widely and long served as a contractor and a consultant to a number of federal agencies.” That description of Mr. Frey is curiously, if not suspiciously, lacking in specifics.

The New York Times goes on to write in regards to Mr. Frey, “he speculated that Cubans aligned with Russia, the nation’s longtime ally, might have launched microwave strikes in attempts to undermine developing ties between Cuba and the United States.” Mr. Frey describes his own analysis as a “perfectly viable explanation.”

So the New York Times bases the underlying assumption of Russian guilt on the uninformed speculation of a biologist, who has no expertise or insight into the subject, and who also admits that his beliefs only rise to the rather tepid level of being a “viable” explanation.

Frey’s credibility and believability takes a serious hit later in the article when he recounts the story of how, after he made a name for himself in the early 60’s with numerous papers about the effects of microwave energy on the human body which brought him a lot of attention, so much so that these effects were given the name the “Frey effect”, he was invited to the Soviet Union to speak.

The New York Times writes, “The Soviets took notice. Not long after his initial discoveries, Mr. Frey said, he was invited to the Soviet Academy of Sciences to visit and lecture. Toward the end, in a surprise, he was taken outside of Moscow to a military base surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire fences.”They had me visiting the various labs and discussing problems”, including the neural impacts of microwaves, Mr. Frey recalled. “I got an inside look at their classified program.

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Now, just think about what Frey is claiming here. Frey is saying that at the very height of the Cold War, with the Cuban Missile Crisis fresh in everyone’s mind, he was invited to go to the Soviet Union and then WAS GIVEN AN INSIDE LOOK INTO THE SOVIET’S CLASSIFIED PROGRAM! In what universe is this even remotely plausible? This story has got to be at best embellishment and at worst a total fabrication. And yet, the New York Times prints it as if it isn’t a big deal and must unquestionably be true. Frey reveals himself to be a pretty dubious character with that statement, and yet the New York Times’ reporter, William J. Broad, still uses him as the backbone of his assertion that Russia was behind the “attacks”.

Another rather remarkable piece of news that appears towards the end of this article is some contradictory evidence to the notion that Russia is the culprit behind the attacks, namely that other alleged microwave attacks have happened to U.S. diplomats stationed in China.

What makes that fact all the more salient is that the article describes a list of states that may have the ability to make a microwave weapon.

“Russia, CHINA and many European states are seen as having the know-how to make basic microwave weapons that can debilitate, sow noise or even kill. Advanced powers, experts say, might accomplish more nuanced aims such as beaming spoken words into people’s heads.” (emphasis mine)

Obviously, if China is capable of making this sort of weapon and there have been “attacks” upon U.S. diplomats in China, wouldn’t China be a better suspect than Russia? And China also has deep connections to Cuba…so…why did the New York Times write so suspiciously of Russia and not China? It makes you wonder if an “advanced power” like the U.S. beamed this article into the head of reporter William J. Broad.

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Further proof of something being greatly amiss about this article and story is the paucity of actual evidence that an “attack” even took place. According to thew York Times’ own reporting, the most clear cut pronouncement of an attack was made by James C. Lin, a scientist and expert in the field who wrote in a paper that the effects felt by the U.S. diplomats could “plausibly arise” from microwave beams. “Plausibly arise” is an extremely low bar, so much so that it is absurd to base any conclusions on that statement at all. Of course, many other things could be “plausible explanations”, and Broad even admits that no one really knows or agrees on what happened.

“Scientists still disagree over what hit diplomats. Last month, JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) ran four letters critical of the March study, some faulting the report for ruling out mass hysteria.”

Mass hysteria sounds like it could be not only a “plausible” explanation for this alleged Russian microwave attack in Cuba but also for the Times’ slanted article, as well as the spate of Russo-phobia infecting America’s establishment media.

The Times article glosses over the skepticism of scientists that actually claim they do not know what happened, and instead embraces speculation it was a “microwave attack”, and then despite a total lack of evidence and in the face of some contradictory evidence, confidently speculates that it was Russia that is the likely suspect.

Furthering this journalistic malpractice was NBC News, which followed up on the Times article ten days later with even more vapid reporting on the subject. The NBC News headline of September 11th reads “U.S. officials suspect Russia in mystery ‘attacks’ on diplomats in Cuba, China”.

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What is so amusing is that even the headline questions whether these events are attacks at all, putting quotation marks around the word. But that doesn’t stop NBC from devouring intel agency pablum hook, line and sinker. NBC relies entirely on anonymous sources for the story and never quotes anyone saying what the story so boldly asserts, which is that Russia is the main culprit in these “attacks”.

NBC News simply repeats unchallenged, the claims of anonymous intelligence officials that the suspicion of Russia is “backed up by evidence from communications intercepts”. The same paragraph making this assertion ends with this gem of a revealing statement, “The officials declined to elaborate on the nature of the intelligence”.

So NBC, which ran the story on as “Breaking News” and hyped it endlessly on MSNBC, simply repeats intelligence agency speculation without ever seeing any of the alleged corroborating evidence or challenging the voracity of that alleged evidence, and calls it news. That isn’t journalism that is stenography.

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The stenography charge against NBC shouldn’t come as a surprise since one of the reporters who “broke” the story is Ken Dilanian. Dilanian is a notorious intelligence agency shill, who was exposed by The Intercept as having shared his stories and outlines with the CIA before he submitted them while he was working as a national security reporter at the L.A. Times, a shockingly unprofessional journalistic practice. What is even more outrageous is that Dilanian’s lack of journalistic ethics never hampered him from getting a job at NBC as their lead national security reporter. And since he has gotten to NBC he has done nothing but regurgitate intelligence agency approved talking points and narratives non-stop.

NBC’s and the Times’ reporting on this issue is perniciously vacuous, insipidly shallow and riddled with an insidious anti-Russian bias. These articles are forms of malignant disinformation that alchemically transform speculation into fact and replace critical thinking with presumption, the final result of which is that these presumed “facts” will go unchallenged and become part of a wider and often nefarious narrative. An example of which is that last week cable news talking heads like Chris Matthews proclaimed “of course Russia did it!” and even comedian Bill Maher roared “Russia attacked us in Cuba!”

These incidents may very well be proven to be attacks, and Russia may ultimately be responsible for them, but we should wait for actual evidence and not accept whispered innuendo wrapped in a slavish deference to intelligence agency authority as proof.

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After the media’s complicity in deceiving the American public into war with Iraq, followed quickly by their acquiescence on torture, or as the Times preferred to call it “enhanced interrogation”, and then concealing Bush’s warrantless surveillance program, of which the Times was aware but refused to publish for more than a full year, we the people must condition ourselves to read all of the establishment media news with an acutely jaundiced eye.

Similar to the delirious fever for war in the lead up to Iraq, the media are currently suffering from a virulent hysteria, this time of the anti-Russian variety. Now more than ever it is imperative to maintain a healthy and vigilant skepticism whenever Russia is blamed for misdeeds but there is a dearth or absence of concrete evidence. If we succumb to the corporate media’s Siren’s call of compulsive Russia blaming, our new Cold war may just turn very hot, and that will be a catastrophe for all of us.

A version of this article was originally published at CounterPunch.

 

©2018

In a Fit of Anti-Trump Pique, Liberals Shamelessly Embrace 'Deep State' Criminals

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes 11 seconds

In their blind hatred for Trump, liberals have sunk to an all-time low by unabashedly cheering a war criminal.

On Friday August 24th, HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher had former CIA director John Brennan on as an interview guest. Brennan has been in the news lately because he accused Trump of treason, or more precisely, "nothing short of treason", due to the President's weak-kneed, post summit news conference with Vladimir Putin.

In retaliation for Brennan's remarks Trump revoked his security clearance which has caused an uproar from establishment intelligence toadies and in a case of strange bedfellows, the allegedly liberal anti-Trump movement which has dubbed itself the #Resistance.

On the episode of Real Time, the usually acerbic Maher, or as I am fond of calling him due to his petulant demeanor and intellectual dwarfism, Little Bill, immodestly degraded himself by nearly fellating John Brennan before the former CIA chief ever got on stage by gushing that he was a “true American patriot”.

The nadir for the #Resistance occurred shortly thereafter as Brennan rumbled on stage and was greeted by the eruption of a raucous standing ovation by the liberal audience, with Little Bill calling it a "well-deserved standing ovation". Only in the bizarre universe where a silver-spooned, multi-bankrupted, reality television star is president does a former CIA director who has committed crimes and war crimes such as implementing and covering up Bush's rendition and torture regime, spying on the U.S. Senate and masterminding Obama's deadly drone program, get a delirious ovation from those on the left.

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As Little Bill sat across from Brennan his sycophancy swelled further when, like a pimply faced teenage boy on his first date, he rapturously declared, "I don't say this very often, but it is an honor to meet you and have you here." If this interview were taking place in the back seat of Little Bill’s parent’s station wagon the windows would've have been completely fogged by this point.

The interview was one rambling study in conformation bias, as Brennan bemoaned not having a security clearance for the first time in 38 years, and Maher stomped his feet and wailed "everyone with a brain is on your side!" Neither man was self-aware enough to realize the brazen level of entitlement that oozes from their belief that a security clearance for a former government official is a right, not a privilege.

Brennan then blamed Kentucky Senator Rand Paul for starting the whole mess and Maher breathlessly screeched, "Rand Paul is dead to me!" In the throes of his Brennan crush, Little Bill all but promised to fight Rand in the parking lot after school to defend the former CIA director's honor.

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Brennan then waxed poetic about how "national security is one of the most sacred and solemn professions in this government". I wonder which part of his national security work Brennan finds so sacred...was it the torture? The extraordinary rendition? The kill lists? The murdering by drone strike of innocent people, American citizen's included? The spying on the Senate in order to scuttle any impartial investigation into the torture program? The teaming with fascists in Ukraine to overthrow a democratically elected government? Or teaming with terrorists in an attempt to overthrow Assad in Syria?

Little Bill, no doubt hoping to get lucky on his dream date, did not ask any of those questions or raise any of these topics, he just pursed his lips and shook his head as he proclaimed his horror that Trump dared to call Brennan, the man who "defended our country after 9-11", a "low life".

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Maher's on screen love affair with Brennan is in keeping with his erotic profile, as his history shows he is most certainly aroused by high-ranking intelligence agency criminals. Maher has had similarly fawning, to the point of bootlicking, interviews with former head of the NSA and CIA, General Michael Hayden. Little Bill's modus operandi is to never speak ill of such mendacious intelligence officials as Hayden, Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, all of whom have lied to the American public and committed numerous crimes and moral atrocities such as their culpability in the rendition, torture and surveillance programs, but he instead chooses to speak only in the most overly reverential tones about their bravery and patriotic work keeping America safe.

I find it very curious that both Little Bill and his fellow liberal HBO comedy comrade John Oliver of Last Week Tonight, are so enamored with the intelligence agencies. Oliver too is an unrepentant establishment shill and brownnoser who has routinely ignored intelligence agency misbehavior and parroted the pro-intel line at every opportunity, a perfect example being his softball interview of former NSA chief General Keith Alexander and his aggressive take down of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

What is even more disheartening than two insipid cable television comedians being so obviously in the pocket of the intelligence agencies, is the total lack of intellectual and moral integrity on the part of the liberals in their audience.

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The buffoons in Maher's studio audience who gave Brennan a Pavlovian standing ovation on Real Time are probably the same fools who have donated money to the GoFundMe campaigns for fired FBI officials Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok to the tune of more than a million dollars between them. Do these liberals not know who the FBI is and what they do? The FBI are the ones who wiretapped Martin Luther King Jr. and tried to blackmail him into killing himself. The FBI also infiltrated environmental, anti-war and civil rights movements in a concerted attempt to destroy them. According to Human Rights Watch, the FBI has gone above and beyond in subverting civil rights and due process in post-9/11 America by being "directly involved" in high profile terror plots in the U.S. where Muslims were entrapped and imprisoned for phony plots proposed or led by FBI agents or informants.

The liberal adoration of FBI flunkies and intelligence big wigs like Brennan, Clapper, Hayden and even the media anointed saint, former Director of the FBI and current Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who rounded up Muslims in the wake of 9/11, botched the anthrax investigation and lied about WMD’s in Iraq to the American public, is repugnant and will ultimately be counter productive if not downright self-defeating to any progressive movement.

I understand the liberal anger with the demagogue Trump, what I do not understand is why the left is so intent on embracing the most deplorable of war criminals and police state apparatchiks who have routinely flouted the constitution and flaunted their power, in order to try and bring down Trump, who progressives claim has flouted the constitution and flaunted his power.

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Towards the end of the interview Brennan received a cacophony of cheers when he described Trump to Little Bill as a man who is "dishonest, unethical, doesn't have principles...or integrity", but Brennan's description of Trump is a case of the former CIA official doth protest too much, methinks. When seen in the light of Brennan's own dishonesty regarding torture, his unethical spying on the Senate and his overall lack of principles and integrity throughout his career, this statement reeks of shameless hypocrisy. Brennan's condemnation of Trump would equally fit Brennan or any of his other media darling intelligence agency cohorts, along with the liberal lemmings who send them money, give them standing ovations and take their word for gospel.

In closing Brennan postulated that things will "get worse before they get better" and reminded viewers that this country "fought hard for the freedoms and liberties we have right now". I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment, which is why the #Resistance must jettison from their ranks all criminals like Brennan, Clapper and Hayden who have dedicated their careers to usurping the "hard fought freedoms and liberties we have right now".

The pied pipers in the media, including court jesters like Little Bill Maher and John Oliver, are leading liberals down a road to perdition by holding insidious intelligence officials and agencies up as paragons of nobility and truth. Brennan, Clapper, Hayden and their ilk are professional liars whose main priority is not to uphold and defend the constitution but rather to uphold and defend the corrupt establishment and the military industrial complex. 

In 2016 liberals lost the election, but since that time, as evidenced by their deification of Brennan and his intel cohorts, they have proceeded to lose not only their minds, but their souls as well. In the face of the Trump demon, liberals have conjoined themselves to truly despicable people who have perpetrated great evil at home and across the globe. In the long run, the #Resistance is going to learn the hard way that with friends like Brennan, Clapper and Hayden, who needs enemies?

A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT RT.COM

©2018

The Pentagon and Hollywood's Successful and Deadly Propaganda Alliance (Extended Edition)

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Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes 48 seconds

The Pentagon aids Hollywood in making money, and in turn Hollywood churns out effective propaganda for the brutal American war machine.

The U.S. has the largest military budget in the world, spending over $611 billion, far larger than any other nation on earth. The U.S. military also has at their disposal the most successful propaganda apparatus the world has ever known…Hollywood.

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Since their collaboration on the first Best Picture winner Wings in 1927, the U.S. military has used Hollywood to manufacture and shape its public image in over 1,800 films and TV shows, and Hollywood has, in turn, used military hardware in their films and TV shows to make gobs and gobs of money. A plethora of movies like Lone Survivor, Captain Philips, and even blockbuster franchises like Transformers and Marvel, DC and X-Men super hero movies, have over the years agreed to cede creative control in exchange for use of U.S. military hardware.

In order to obtain cooperation from the Department of Defense (DOD), producers must sign contracts - Production Assistance Agreements - that guarantee a military approved version of the script makes it to the big screen. In return for signing away creative control, Hollywood producers save tens of millions of dollars from their budgets on military equipment, service members to operate the equipment, and expensive location fees.

Capt. Russell Coons, Director of Navy Office of Information West, told Al Jazeera what the military expects for their cooperation,

“We’re not going to support a program that disgraces a uniform or presents us in a compromising way.”

Phil Strub, the DOD chief Hollywood liaison, says the guidelines are clear,

“If the filmmakers are willing to negotiate with us to resolve our script concerns, usually we’ll reach an agreement. If not, filmmakers are free to press on without military assistance.”

In other words, the Department of Defense is using taxpayer money to pick favorites. The DOD has no interest in nuance, truth or, God-forbid, artistic expression, only in insidious jingoism that manipulates public opinion to their favor. This is chilling when you consider that the DOD is able to use its financial leverage to quash dissenting films it deems insufficiently pro-military or pro-American in any way.

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The danger of the DOD-Hollywood alliance is that Hollywood is incredibly skilled at making entertaining, pro-war propaganda. The DOD isn’t getting involved in films like Iron Man, X-Men, Transformers or Jurassic Park III for fun, they are doing so because it’s an effective way to psychologically program Americans, particularly young Americans, not just to adore the military, but to worship militarism. This ingrained love of militarism has devastating real-world effects.

 

Lawrence Suid, author of “Guts and Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film” told Al Jazeera,

“I was teaching the history of the Vietnam War, and I couldn’t explain how we got into Vietnam. I could give the facts, the dates, but I couldn’t explain why. And when I was getting my film degrees it suddenly occurred to me that the people in the U.S. had never seen the U.S. lose a war, and when President Johnson said we can go into Vietnam and win, they believed him because they’d seen 50 years of war movies that were positive.”

As Mr. Suid points out, generations of Americans had been raised watching John Wayne valiantly storm the beaches of Normandy in films like The Longest Day, and thus were primed to be easily manipulated into supporting any U.S. military adventure because they were conditioned to believe that the U.S. is always the benevolent hero and inoculated against doubt.

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This indoctrinated adoration of a belligerent militarism, conjured by Hollywood blockbusters, also resulted in Americans being willfully misled into supporting a farce like the 2003 Iraq war. The psychological conditioning for Iraq War support was built upon hugely successful films like Saving Private Ryan (1997), directed by Steven Spielberg, and Black Hawk Down (2001), produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, that emphasized altruistic American militarism. Spielberg and Bruckheimer are two Hollywood heavyweights, along with Paramount studios, considered by the DOD to be their most reliable collaborators.

Another example of the success of the DOD propaganda program was the pulse-pounding agitprop of the Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun (1986).

Top Gun, produced by Bruckheimer, was a turning point in the DOD-Hollywood relationship, as it came amidst a string of artistically successful, DOD-opposed, “anti-war” films, like Apocalypse Now, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket, which gave voice to America’s post-Vietnam crisis of confidence. Top Gun was the visual representation of Reagan’s flag-waving optimism, and was the Cold War cinematic antidote to the “Vietnam Syndrome”.

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Top Gun, which could not have been made without massive assistance from the DOD, was a slick two-hour recruiting commercial that coincided with a major leap in public approval ratings for the military. With a nadir of 50% in 1980, by the time the Gulf War started in 1991, public support for the military spiked to 85%.

Since Top Gun, the DOD propaganda machine has resulted in a current public approval for the military of 72%, with Congress at 12%, the media at 24% and even Churches at only 40%, the military is far and away the most popular institution in American life. Other institutions would no doubt have better approval ratings if they too could manage and control their image in the public sphere.

It isn’t just the DOD that uses the formidable Hollywood propaganda apparatus to its own end…the CIA does as well, working with films to enhance their reputation and distort history.

For example, as the War on Terror raged, the CIA deftly used Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) as a disinformation vehicle to revise their sordid history with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and to portray them-selves as heroic and not nefarious.

The CIA also surreptitiously aided the film Zero Dark Thirty (2012), and used it as a propaganda tool to alter history and to convince Americans that torture works.

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The case for torture presented in Zero Dark Thirty was originally made from 2001 to 2010 on the hit TV show 24, which had support from the CIA as well. That pro-CIA and pro-torture narrative continued in 2011 with the Emmy-winning show Homeland, created by the same producers as 24, Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa.

 

A huge CIA-Hollywood success story was Best Picture winner Argo (2012), which ironically is the story of the CIA teaming up with Hollywood. The CIA collaborated with the makers of Argo, including alleged liberal Ben Affleck, in order to pervert the historical record and elevate their image.

The CIA being involved in manipulating the American public should come as no surprise, as they have always had their fingers in the propagandizing of the American people, even in the news media with Operation Mockingbird that used/uses CIA assets in newsrooms to control narratives. 

Just like the DOD-Hollywood propaganda machine has real-world consequences in the form of war, the CIA-Hollywood teaming has tangible results as well. 

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For example, in our current culture, the sins of the Intelligence community, from vast illegal surveillance to rendition to torture, are intentionally lost down the memory hole. People like former CIA director John Brennan, a torture supporter who spied on the U.S. Senate in order to undermine the torture investigation, or former head of the NSA James Clapper, who committed perjury when he lied to congress about warrantless surveillance, or former Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden, who lied about and supported both surveillance and torture, are all held up by the liberal media, like MSNBC and even allegedly anti-authoritarian comedians like John Oliver and Bill Maher, as brave and honorable men who should be thanked for their noble service. 

The fact that this propaganda devil’s bargain between the DOD/CIA and Hollywood takes place in the self-declared Greatest Democracy on Earth™ is an irony seemingly lost on those in power who benefit from it, and also among those targeted to be indoctrinated by it, entertainment consumers, who are for the most part entirely oblivious to it.

If America is the Greatest Democracy in the World™ why are its military and intelligence agencies so intent on covertly misleading its citizens, stifling artistic dissent and obfuscating the truth? The answer is obvious…because in order to convince Americans that their country is The Greatest Democracy on Earth™, they must be misled, artistic dissent must be stifled and the truth must be obfuscated.

In the wake of the American defeat in the Vietnam war, cinema flourished by introspectively investigating the deeper uncomfortable truths of that fiasco in Oscar nominated films like Apocalypse Now, Coming Home, The Deer Hunter, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Born on the Fourth of July, all made without assistance from the DOD.

The stultifying bureaucracy of America’s jingoistic military agitprop machine is now becoming more successful at suffocating artistic endeavors in their crib though. With filmmaking becoming ever more corporatized, it is an uphill battle for directors to maintain their artistic integrity in the face of cost-cutting budgetary concerns from studios.

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In contrast to post-Vietnam cinema, after the unmitigated disaster of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the continuing quagmire in Afghanistan, there has been no cinematic renaissance, only a steady diet of mendaciously patriotic, DOD-approved, pro-war drivel like American Sniper and Lone Survivor. Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker (2008), shot with no assistance from the DOD, was the lone exception that successfully dared to portray some of the ugly truths of America’s Mesopotamian misadventure.

President Eisenhower once warned Americans to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex.”

Eisenhower’s prescient warning should have extended to the military industrial entertainment complex of the DOD/CIA- Hollywood alliance, which has succeeded in turning Americans into a group of uniformly incurious and militaristic zealots.

America is now stuck in a perpetual pro-war propaganda cycle, where the DOD/CIA and Hollywood conspire to indoctrinate Americans to be warmongers, and in turn, Americans now demand more militarism from their entertainment and government to satiate their bloodlust.

The DOD/CIA - Hollywood propaganda alliance guarantees Americans will blindly support more future failed wars and will be willing accomplices in the deaths of millions more people across the globe.

A version of this article was originally published on March 12, 2018 are RT.

©2018

American Bloodlust: Projecting the Shadow and the Hunter Myth Cycle

ESTIMATED READING TIME : 7 minutes 14 seconds

In continuing to try to make sense of the senseless massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida yesterday (February 14, 2018), I thought I would re-post portions of an article I originally wrote in September of 2016 titled Jason Bourne, Projecting the Shadow and the Technological Hunter: A Review and Commentary. That article was a review for the film Jason Bourne starring Matt Damon but after reviewing the film, I veered into the topic of our violent and bloodthirsty culture and the Hunter Myth Cycle. I am re-posting the article but have edited out the sections that death solely with reviewing the Bourne film. I believe the ideas expressed in this edited version are very salient to the discussion of violence in America in the wake of our most recent tragedy and speak to the cultural and archetypal forces at work in our violent nation. 

THE HUNTER MYTH CYCLE

Coincidentally enough, right after seeing Jason Bourne I read the book, Projecting the Shadow : The Cyborg Hero in American Film by Janice Hocker Rushing and Thomas S. Frentz. The book is wonderful and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in cinema, myth and Jungian psychology. In the book, the authors examine from a Jungian perspective, six films and their relationship to the evolution of the archetypal hunter myth, from The Indian Hunter to The Frontier Hunter to The Technological Hunter as seen through the modernist, post-modernist and "trans-modernist" view. The six films they look at are JawsThe Deer HunterThe Manchurian CandidateBlade RunnerTerminator and Terminator 2. The book was published in 1995 so the Bourne films weren't "born" just yet, but I couldn't help but think of them in terms of the authors intriguing premise. 

According to Hocker and Frentz, there are three types of hunter myths, the Indian Hunter, the Frontier Hunter and the Technological Hunter. The Hunter Myth Cycle is seen as circular in that it evolves from one myth (I.E. Indian myth) to another myth (I.E. Frontier myth) to another myth (I.E. Technological myth) and then back to where it started (Indian myth). It is interesting to examine the character Jason Bourne in relation to this hunter myth cycle. The Bourne character is a weapon used by men in suits in offices back in the Pentagon and C.I.A., so he is a no different than a drone, or a smart bomb. He was created, much like the man/weapons of The Manchurian Candidate, to do the killing from which the post-modern man wants to consciously dissociate. The Bourne character is also similar to the Manchurian Candidate, in that he is a human but has had his true identity and memory, markers of his humanity, taken from him in order to make him a near perfect robotic killer.

Bourne's personal place on the archetypal Hunter Myth scale is that of The Frontier Hunter, yet he is also just a weapon of his C.I.A. overlords who are Technological Hunters, thus giving the film two myths in one. Rushing and Frentz describe the Frontier Hunter in part, "Since Indians as well as wild beasts occupy the land he wants, he slaughters both indiscriminately, gaining a decisive advantage over his human prey because of…his sophisticated weaponry, and his lack of spiritual restraint. Although his frontierism converts "savagery" to "civilization", the white hunter himself cannot reside in society without losing his individualistic heroic status and thus does not return from the hunt…". Things always get interesting in the Bourne films when Jason Bourne must fight against another one of the human weapons of the Technological Hunters in the C.I.A. in the form of an opposing Frontier Hunter. Two men/weapons with "sophisticated weaponry and lack of spiritual restraint" fighting each other is a key to the successful Bourne formula.

Rushing and Frentz describe the Technological Hunter Myth as follows, "…Because he is so good at making machines, he now uses his brains more than brawn, and he prefers to minimize his contact with nature, which can be uncomfortable and menacing. Thus he creates ever more complex tools to do his killing and other work for him. Having banished God as irrelevant to the task at hand, the hero decides he is God, and like the now obsolete power, creates beings 'in his own image'; this time, however, they are more perfect versions of himself - rational, strategic, and efficient. He may fashion his tools either by remaking a human being into a perfected machine or by making an artificial "human" from scratch. "

In cinematic terms the Bourne character falls somewhere between the dehumanized human weapons of The Manchurian Candidate, "remaking a human into a perfected machine", and the humanized robot-weapon "replicants" of Blade Runner, "making an artificial 'human' from scratch". The replicants in Blade Runner are tools and weapons for humans, just like Bourne, but they also yearn to be human, as does Bourne, who aches for a return to his long lost humanity while his Technological Hunter overlords yearn to make him ever more robotic, or more accurately, devoid of humanity. The problem with both the replicants and Bourne, is that their humanity, their need for love and connection, is their greatest weakness and their greatest strength.  Bourne and the Blade Runner replicants, yearn to Know Thyself, which is what drives them toward freedom from their makers and yet also makes them erratic and at times vulnerable weapons for the Technological Hunter. This inherent weakness of humanity, the need for love and connection, is removed entirely in the later films that Rushing and Frentz examine, Terminator and Terminator 2, where humans have created super weapons, cyborgs, that are completely inhuman, and of course as the story tells us, turn on their creators like Frankenstein's monster and try to hunt and torment mankind into oblivion.

In many ways, Bourne is the perfect post-modern hero in that he is so severely psychologically fragmented. He was intentionally made that way by the Technological Hunter Dr. Frankensteins at the C.I.A. because eliminating his humanity (past/memory/love and connection) is what makes him so effective as a weapon. Originally in the story, the people in power calling the shots back in Washington are using Bourne to clandestinely hunt their enemies. But now that Bourne is off the reservation and out on his own, he has become the archetypal Frontier hunter, searching for his soul/memory which was stolen by those D.C. Technological Hunters. This is the normal evolution in the hunter myth cycle…the weapon turns on its creator, as evidenced by both Blade Runner and the Terminator films, and now by the Bourne films.

LIVING IN THE AGE OF THE TECHNOLOGICAL HUNTER

What does this talk of post-modernism and the technological hunter have to do with anything? Well, in case you haven't noticed, we live in an age of the post-modern technological hunter. The films examined in Projecting the Shadow show us the road that may lay ahead for our culture. Our inherent weakness in being human, both physical and emotional, and our intellectual superiority has forced us to become technological hunters. From the first caveman to pick up an animal bone and use it to bash in another cave man's head (hat tip to Mr. Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey), to the drone pilot who sits in an air conditioned office in Nevada and kills people half a world away with the touch of a button, we have removed ourselves from the direct conscious responsibility for killing because it is too psychologically and emotionally traumatic for our fragile psyches. Or at least we think we have removed our psychological responsibility. Like consumers of meat who would rather not know where it comes from or how it is treated, we as a society have removed our direct conscious involvement in the killing done in our name by creating a cognitive dissonance (cognitive dissonance is defined as  a "psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously") and an emotional distance from it. Whether it be the drone pilot who goes home for lunch with his wife and kids after having killed dozens, or the politicians and citizens who cheer at the shock and awe of "smart bombs" and munitions dropped from miles overhead on defenseless human beings, we have become Technological Hunters all. Rushing and Frentz describe the Technological Hunter as one who…"prefers to minimize his contact with nature, which can be uncomfortable and menacing", that is us. The "nature" we want to minimize contact with is the killing we have done and our moral, ethical, psychological and spiritual responsibility for it. That is why we create "ever more complex tools to do our killing". We need those tools to give us an emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual distance from the the killing we do. 

The distance between thought, impulse and deed in regards to killing is shorter than ever for the technological hunter, it is just the push of a button away, but with our cognitive dissonance, we are able to consciously detach from the results of those actions and make them feel ever more remote. While they may feel consciously remote, the unconscious ramifications of those actions are felt deeply and personally in the psyche of the collective and the individual. The drone pilot may believe he is merely playing a realistic video game when he kills people half a world away, but his psyche and soul are being torn to shreds without his conscious knowledge of it, as is our collective psyche and national soul.

PROJECTING THE SHADOW

The U.S. soldiers and Marines, Frontier Hunters all, sent to the middle east to be the weapons of their Technological Hunter superiors in the Pentagon, continuously come back psychologically, spiritually and emotionally fragmented beyond recognition, perfect symbols of the post-modern age in which they fight. This psychological fragmentation brought about by the trauma of these wars leaves these soldiers and Marines wounded and maimed in invisible and intangible ways and often times leads to them killing themselves. The suicide rate of U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars is that of 22 a day. This horrendous torment, and the desperate suicides attempting to get away from it, are the price paid for the cognitive dissonance we as a culture enable and embrace in regards to the killing of other people done in our name. Since we as a culture cannot embrace or acknowledge our killing, we stuff it into our collective shadow, or as I call it the "killing shadow", and force the less than 2% of the population who serve in our wars (and even fewer who kill in those wars) to carry our killing shadow for us. The psychological shadow in general and the killing shadow in particular, brings with it an enormous amount of powerful psychic energy, which is why it does such tremendous damage to those who bear its burden, and why it is imperative for us as a culture to reduce that burden on the soldiers and Marines carrying our killing shadow energy.

As our Technological Hunter culture evolves, in order to remove the psychological and emotional cost on the human beings sent to fight these wars, we won't decide to stop fighting future wars, but we will decide to stop using humans to fight them. No doubt at this very moment, somewhere in the Pentagon they are developing robotic, amoral, emotionless warriors who will do all our dirty work for us. The problem will arise of course, when that same amoral, emotionless warrior technology figures out that they are stronger, faster, bigger and better than us. And once they realize they can replicate themselves, we weak humans will become entirely unnecessary. This is the story told in the Terminator films. This will just be another form of our culture ignoring their killing shadow and projecting it onto another, in this case our cyborg weaponry. Except our shadow will not be ignored, and it will lash out at its deniers by any means necessary, in this case by using our technological weapons to strike out at us to force us to acknowledge our own killing shadow.

SHOCK AND AWE - MUST SEE TV

Until we can create these perfect, robotic killers though, we are left to wrestle with our own spiritual and psychological weaknesses, namely, our thirst to kill and our desire to not feel the emotional and spiritual turmoil that comes with killing. It is interesting to notice how in our time we fully embraces the technological hunter myth completely unconsciously. An example of this was the overwhelmingly giddy joy and exuberance shown for the first Gulf War in 1991 and its made-for-tv technological bombardment with smart bombs upon Iraq. Never before had war been brought into the living rooms of Americans as it was happening, and yet, here was the war in all its technicolor glory except without any conscious connection to our responsibility for the devastation and death that we were watching unfold.

The same occurred with the start of the second war in Iraq in 2003 when the U.S. unleashed the cleverly marketed "shock and awe" bombardment. The dizzying display of devastating munitions were a sight to behold, like the greatest fireworks display imaginable, but our conscious connection to the devastation being wrought was minimal. This is another example of our culture being unwittingly under the throes of the Technological Hunter Myth. In contrast, our cultural shock and visceral disgust with the terror attacks of 9-11, where barbarians used primitive box cutters to kill innocents and then turn our technology (airplanes) against us, were signs of our unconscious detachment from the Indian Hunter myth and more proof of our deep cultural connection to the Technological Hunter Myth.

Another example of our cultures post-modern Technological Hunter Myth is the fetish among the populace for Special Operations Forces (SEALs, Special Forces, Delta force, Army Rangers and Marine Force Recon). These Special Ops forces have become the favorite go to for any talking head on television or at the local bar or barbershop, to proclaim who we should get to handle any military issue. ISIS? Send in the SEALs!! Al Qaeda? Send in the Green Berets!! Not long ago I saw everyone's favorite tough guy Bill O'Reilly opining on his Fox news show that we should send in ten thousand Green Berets into Syria and Iraq to wipe out ISIS. I guess Bill isn't aware that there are only 11,000 Special Operators deployed around the globe at any moment in time, not to mention that most of those Special Operators are not Special Forces (Green Berets). This sort of thing happens all the time where people see a problem and say, 'well let's send in these Special Operations supermen to deal with it.' This is more proof of the Technological Hunter Myth in action, as Rushing and Frentz describe it, "...the hero (the technological hunter) decides he is God, and like the now obsolete power, creates beings "in his own image"; this time, however, they are more perfect versions of himself - rational, strategic, and efficient. He may fashion his tools...by remaking a human being into a perfected machine". We as a culture are Technological Hunters who have made these Special Operations forces in "our own image", but only better. The Special Operations forces are "more perfect versions" of ourselves, "rational, strategic, and efficient." We believe we have remade these ordinary men into "perfected machines" for killing, and then we have projected our killing shadow (our responsibility and hunger for killing) onto them.

In our current Technological Hunter Myth, these Special Operators are, like Jason Bourne, nothing more than extensions of ourselves in the form of weaponry, no different than the drone or smart bomb, or in the future the cyborg, and looked upon as just as mechanical. And we have no more genuine connection to them or their work or the massive psychological toll it will take for them to carry the burden of our shadow than we do that of the drone or the smart bomb or any other machines we created.

HERO OF THE DAY

When we examine our Technological Hunter Myth in the form of Special Operations forces, we can see why our culture is drawn to certain things and repulsed by others. For instance, the greatest hero and biggest symbol of our most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the cultural militarism surrounding them has been Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Kyle, who alleged to be the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, wrote a best selling book, "American Sniper" and the movie of the same name based on that book broke box office records. People went absolutely crazy for the story of Chris Kyle. In terms of the Hunter Myth Cycle, Chris Kyle was a weapon used by the Technological Hunter. And interestingly, he was a sniper, a man who kills his enemies from great distances. This is not to diminish the skill it takes to be a great sniper, or the utility of that skill, but it is to point out that a sniper being the heroic symbol of a post-modern war speaks volumes to where we are as a culture. The reason people could admire Chris Kyle is because on an unconscious level they could symbolically and mythologically relate to him. Chris Kyle, like the rest of the culture, killed people from a distance and removed the conscious emotional and psychological responsibility for those kills from himself and from the culture.

The act of looking through a scope mounted on a sniper rifle gives the shooter much needed psychological and emotional distance from his killing. In the case of the sniper, he is twice removed from his kill, once by the scope and once by the weapon itself. The psychological distance of the sniper with his scope is in some ways similar to the emotional distance and cognitive dissonance created when people sitting on their couches watching CNN see smart bomb after smart bomb eviscerate some Iraqi city. Whether it be the sniper scope or the television camera, seeing something through a lens or screen gives the viewer a detachment from what they see, and with that detachment comes the ability to maintain a cognitive dissonance from the horrors seen and any moral or psychological responsibility for them.

In thinking about our current age, and our evolution from the age of the Frontier Hunter Myth of World War II, where our soldiers fought the savagery of the Nazi's and the Imperial Japanese in order to preserve western civilization, to the post-modern, Technological Hunter Myth of today, it is easy to see why an accomplished sniper like Chris Kyle became such a celebrated symbol of the wars we are waging. In comparison to our current culture's example of "The Sniper", Chris Kyle, being the hero for the Iraq war, think of World War II and the hero and symbol of that war, Audie Murphy. Murphy became revered and beloved in his time just like Chris Kyle did in our time, and like Kyle, Murphy also had a successful film about his combat exploits. Murphy, though, fought and killed his enemies in close quarters, without the scope and distance of the sniper. Back then, Murphy was fighting under the predominant myth of the time, The Frontier Hunter Myth, while Chris Kyle fought under our current myth of the Technological Hunter Myth. This doesn't make Murphy better than Kyle or vice versa, it just shows how cultures unconsciously choose their hero's based on the myths they currently embrace.

Another point of note showing how we are currently under the spell of the Technological Hunter Myth, is that there are other warriors who could've become the cultural icons and symbols of our current wars, but didn't resonate quite as much with the public as much as sniper Chris Kyle did. The late Pat Tillman, the former NFL football player who became an Army Ranger, is one example of someone who easily could've become the iconic hero of the war on terror but didn't.  Marcus Luttrell, the Navy SEAL of the book and movie Lone Survivor fame is an even better example. Luttrell did became famous for his story, but, for some reason, he didn't resonate anywhere near as much with our culture as Chris Kyle did. I believe the reason for this is our cultural and collective unconscious attachment to the Technological Hunter Myth. Simply put, Luttrell and Tillman were just as worthy of adulation as Kyle, but they weren't snipers. The sniper is the perfect symbol of the emotional and psychological distance we as a culture like to keep from the people we are killing. The current cultural celebration of the sniper also enables us to maintain our cognitive dissonance with relative ease and keep any conscious psychological and emotional turmoil brought about by the killing we do at bay.

The need for psychological and emotional distance between the person wanting to kill and the actual killing is a signature of the Technological Hunter Myth. At the behest of his superiors in Washington, the drone pilot in Nevada pushes a button and kills dozens in Yemen or Pakistan. The drone pilot is, through his drone, twice removed from the actual killing, once by the button he pushes and once by the missile fired,  and is also detached from it by the screen he watches it on, thus giving him a conscious distance from the killing. His superior in Washington is thrice removed, once by his phone used to call the pilot, once by the pilot himself and once by the missile used. The B-2 pilot, who at the behest of those same Washington superiors drops his payload from a mile up, never sees the people he is obliterating, enjoys the same distance and assures himself of the same cognitive dissonance as the drone pilot. The Special Operations forces that are covertly sent to Pakistan to assassinate a terrorist leader under the dark of night and the cloak of secrecy are the closest yet to the actual killing, but even they are twice removed from their kill because of the weapon they shoot, and the night vision goggles they see through, creating that technological hunter myth distance for which western man yearns. The conscious distance from the killing through the use of technology is vital in creating and maintaining our cognitive dissonance and the illusion of conscious emotional and psychological well being.

In contrast, think of the terrorists in ISIS who behead their captives. They kill directly, no distance between them and their victims. The act of beheading, like the atrocity of 9-11, gives us in the west a visceral, guttural reaction, one of pure revulsion. There is something utterly barbaric, savage and repulsive about cutting a defenseless persons head off. Yet if innocents are decapitated by drone strikes or smart bombs we somehow aren't quite as repulsed by that. What this speaks to is our current enchantment with the Technological Hunter Myth. For in western culture, we have created technology which gives us a safe distance from the barbarity of the acts done in our name. Decapitation by smart bomb feels much less barbaric to us because our technology gives us a moral, emotional and psychological distance from that barbarity and aids us in maintaining our cognitive dissonance. 

I HAVE BECOME COMFORTABLY NUMB

In American foreign policy killing has become something other people, or things, do, and anyone who directly kills, like ISIS, are reprehensible savages. In our post-modern age and the Technological Hunter Myth which has come with it, the extensions of man are his weaponry in the form of machines (drones/smart bombs) and human machines (special operations forces). Either way, whether with a manufactured machine or a human one, our culture is able to consciously detach and distance itself from the violence it perpetrates, regardless of the righteousness of that violence, and this is a recipe for a cultural and psychological disaster as we numb ourselves to the damage we do others and our selves.

In bringing this back to Jason Bourne, the Bourne films have resonated with our culture to such a great extent because Bourne is the perfect human weapon in the age of the Technological Hunter Myth. Like we imagine our Special Operations Forces, Bourne is " made in our own image", but is a 'more perfect version of ourselves - rational, strategic, and efficient."

We can watch Bourne kick-ass in a world that is just like ours thanks to the franchise's trademark hyper-realism, and so we are able to project ourselves onto him and live vicariously through him. The Bourne character gives us one more lens, like the snipers scope, or the camera, or the television screen, through which we can see the horror of our world, that lens is the mind's eye…our imagination. This added lens of imagination means we can watch actual, real-life civil unrest in Athens on our television and not only detach ourselves from our responsibility for that unrest, but also create even more distance by imagining the drama going on underneath the surface of that unrest, and imagining how we would, like our "perfect version of ourselves" Bourne, thrive under those circumstances. This is the final stage of the Technological Hunter Myth, where the technological hunter is so far removed from the actual killing that he/she is forced to use their own imagination in order to envision how they themselves would really behave if they were actually in the scenario where the killing took place. The end stage of this type of evolution, or devolution as the case may be, would be The Matrix trilogy, where humanity is reduced to being prisoners of their own imagination and being used as little more than captive batteries to their shadow, the Technology they once created to fight for them. Once that Technology became self aware and understood that humans were intellectually and physically inferior, it simply conquered and enslaved humanity for its own benefit. 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, at the current stage of the Technological Hunter Myth we find ourselves in, we have been so far removed from our primal instincts and detached from our collective psychological shadow, that the tide may turn and we may eventually begin to yearn for an acknowledgment of our most ancient and primitive psychological drives. The need not just to eat an animal, but to kill it, courses through the deepest trenches of our psyche. The need not just for our enemies to die, but for us to feel their last breath on our faces, is alive and well and living in our killing shadow. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, these type of instincts are the gateway to a return to a respect for the earth, respect for life, respect for our enemies and respect for killing in general.

Killing and war will never cease to be, they are eternally part of the human condition, but one can only hope that the anti-septic form of war/killing currently enjoyed by the west, where we shove our darker impulses and our unequivocal guilt and responsibility into our shadow, where it festers and grows as we ignore it, will be transformed back into the more simple, if equally brutal form of killing of the Indian Hunter Myth, where respect for prey, enemy and the act of killing return. What I am saying is that if we are to kill we must do it consciously, take full responsibility and be fully aware of what we have done. If we continue to psychologically fragment and cognitively dissociate from the killing we do, that impulse will become our killing shadow, unconscious and angry. When those impulses are cast into the shadow they do not disintegrate, they only disappear from consciousness and grow more and more powerful until they simply refuse to be ignored. When the killing impulse is ignored and forced into the shadow, it eventually will strike out with a vengeance, often destroying the fragmented and cognitively dissociated psyche which ignores it. Twenty-two veteran suicides a day is the damning proof of the consequences of our cognitive dissonance from the killing we do and our moral and ethical responsibility for it. 

Our only hope for the healing of our fragmented psyches, and the reclamation of our humanity is to make our killing impulses and acts conscious.  We must take full mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual responsibility for the killing that we do.  Sadly, with our culture thoroughly numbed through technology and medication, this seems terribly unlikely. The more likely scenario? Go watch the Terminator and Matrix films to see what happens when humanity is unable to carry and acknowledge its killing shadow. And if you really want to spend your time wisely, I highly recommend you go read Projecting the Shadow : The Cyborg Hero in American Film.

©2016

The Post: A Review

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****THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW!!! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ZERO SPOILERS!!!****

My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

My Recommendation: SKIP IT. No need to see this film except for the wonderful performance of Meryl Streep, so maybe catch it on Netflix or cable if you are so inclined.

The Post, written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer and directed by Steven Spielberg, is the story of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee, the publisher and editor of the Washington Post respectively, as they guide the newspaper through the Pentagon Papers controversy. The film stars Meryl Streep as Graham and Tom Hanks as Bradlee. 

In case you aren't aware, The Post is one of Spielberg's "serious" movies, which the Spielberg-worhsipping Amen chorus in the media tells us means that it should only be spoken about in most hushed and reverent tones. The Post has been self-consciously selling itself as being very "timely" because it is allegedly a story about freedom of the press in the face of tyranny. The film is obviously meant as a nobly defiant gesture in the face of Fuhrer Trump, who goes unmentioned in the film but is an ever ominous presence lurking beneath the movie's surface, sort of like the Great White shark that terrorized one of Speilberg's actually good films, Jaws

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Speilberg made The Post not only after Trump became president, but because he became president. The film was hurried into production in June of 2017 in order to strike while the anti-Trump iron was hot in an attempt to convert Trump hate into dollars and awards. The political problem for The Post is that it comes across as entirely, overwhelmingly and painfully reactionary. Being reactionary is not a crime in and of itself, but the mark of a great artist is that they are ahead of the curve. The true artist dances between their individual consciousness and the collective unconscious and are able to sense things they can only articulate and express artistically (even when though they may not be intellectually or "consciously" aware of them) before they come to surface in the wider collective consciousness. With The Post, Speilberg's reactionism feels like merely a symptom of the disease of artistic fraudulence and bankruptcy, which is a malady from which he has long suffered. The film is also a result of his shameless and clumsy attempt to be politically relevant in order to be further admired by those in the political and media establishment.

The truth is I saw The Post over a month ago and was so underwhelmed by it on every single level I haven't been able to muster the creative energy to review it until now. The film is a stale and suffocatingly conventional piece of predictable moviemaking that feels as if a propaganda unit for the Hillary Clinton campaign made an after school special that was a sequel to their smash hit "Love Trumps Hate"…or as America heard it, "Love Trump's Hate".

On the most basic level, The Post is extraordinarily poorly structured cinematic venture and is so numbingly bland as to be unremarkable in every single way. The Post is just one more bit of incontrovertible evidence that Spielberg is simply not that great at making "serious" movies, and that he needs aliens or dinosaurs at the heart of his story in order to be proficient at his craft.

In The Post, just like in his other "serious" films Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln and Bridge of Spies, Spielberg seems completely unaware of how to create a cohesive and palatable narrative rhythm to a film. As with many of his previous "serious" films, Spielberg chooses to encase The Post in the most useless and clumsy preamble and coda, which renders any sort of dramatic tension or revelations that can be scrounged up in between them entirely moot and ineffective.

There are some sequences in The Post that are so cinematically inept, amateurish and heavy-handed it is difficult to not laugh out loud at them. Of all of the cringe-worthy scenes scattered throughout, none makes the colon twinge quite so much as the scene where Streep's Katherine Graham exits the Supreme Court to a soaring soundtrack amidst a sea of young, bright eyed women who part for her like the Red Sea and then gaze with awe and astonishment upon her as if she were the Goddess coming down from the heavens victorious having slain the patriarchal dragon. This scene is so awful it actually made me unintentionally groan aloud in the theatre. There are also some ridiculous scenes of Nixon in silhouette at the White House that are the absolute height of unintentional comedy.  

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Meryl Streep stars in the film as Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham, a woman trying to make her way in a man's world. Streep is simply the very best at her craft that we have seen and her work in The Post is testament to that. With a flaccid script, she is able to turn Katherine Graham into an honest to goodness, multi-dimensional human being, the only one in the entire film. Streep's Graham never rings false, which is an accomplishment of Herculean proportions on the part of the Grand Dame, due to the emotionally and intellectually infantile script from which she has to work. 

Tom Hanks co-stars as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. Hanks has proven himself over the years to be a decent movie star but at the end of the day he turns out to be a pretty shitty actor. Hanks's shallow portrayal of Bradlee, with his spray on tan and affected grumble of a voice, would be better suited in an SNL sketch than in a feature film. Seeing Hanks on screen opposite Streep is very illuminating, as Hanks is exposed as being a smoke and mirrors huckster of a performer, and Streep is revealed to be the consummate actor.

The narrative of The Post is meant to cover as many politically correct bases as possible. There is the story of the tyrannical president and the noble press fighting for American ideals and freedoms. There is also the story of female empowerment where a woman must overcome the horrors of the patriarchy that conspires to keep her down. With all of the shamelessly, not-so-subtle Hillary love and admiration for the mainstream press imprinted in the DNA of The Post, a more apt title for it may have been "The Establishment Strikes Back".

One of the things that bothered me about The Post, even more than the sub-par storytelling and ham-fisted directing, is why tell this particular version of the story in the first place? The Pentagon Papers is an important story, of that there is no doubt. Daniel Ellsberg is an important story and The New York Times publishing the Pentagon Papers in an important story, but Spielberg doesn't tell any of those stories. Instead, he tells the story of the Washington Post's part in the Pentagon Papers, and that probably isn't even in the top ten of stories surrounding the Pentagon Papers that should or need to be told. 

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The trick that Spielberg manages to pull off in his version of the Pentagon Papers is he manages to smear Daniel Ellsberg and belittles and demeans what he risked and accomplished in exposing the Pentagon Papers. It is remarkable that Spielberg could make a movie about the Pentagon Papers, one of the biggest whistleblowers stories in U.S. history, and yet completely diminishes and disrespects that whistleblower. Spielberg turns Ellsberg into a long-haired, hippie malcontent and narcissist driven solely by his self-aggrandizing instinct and ego. This would not be such a big deal except that it is entirely at odds with the reality of who Daniel Ellsberg truly is and what he did. 

The other thing that bothers me are the lies of omission committed by The Post. Ben Bradlee is portrayed as not only a truth teller in the face of power, but also the quintessential journalist who was a thoughtful and passionate man who cared deeply for his profession. The reality is that Bradlee was the consummate Washington insider and his tentacles were everywhere in The Swamp. It is shown in the film that Bradlee was a friend of JFK and a frequent guest at the White House for private dinners with JFK and occasionally Jackie, which is true. What the film doesn't dare mention is that Bradlee was married to wealthy socialite Toni Pinchot during Kennedy's presidency. Toni's sister was Mary Pinchot Meyer, a divorcee who was having an affair with JFK during his presidency and would frequently go to the White House with Ben Bradlee and Toni in order for them to cover for her and JFK's affair. Also of note is that Mary Pinchot Meyer wasn't just any divorcee, she was divorced from Cord Meyer, a powerful CIA official who was Head of the Covert Action Staff of the Directorate of Plans during Kennedy's administration, and also became the principle operative of Operation Mockingbird, which was an massive operation that was used to secretly influence U.S. and foreign media. 

Another bit of info kept out of The Post about Bradlee is this, that almost one year after Kennedy was assassinated, on October 12, 1964, Mary Pinchot Meyer was assassinated, gunned down in broad daylight, while walking along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath near her Georgetown home. Why is this important? Well, it is important because Mary Meyer had kept a very thorough diary of her time with JFK, which included not only the usual Kennedy sexcapades, but JFK's use of both marijuana and LSD. To make the Meyer case all the more intriguing, Mary Meyer was convinced that JFK was murdered by a conspiracy involving U.S. intelligence agencies, of which she was intimately familiar, and she was determined to bring it to light.

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After she was murdered some very strange things occurred, the first of which is that someone in the CIA called Ben Bradlee on the day of the shooting to tell him of Mary's murder. Why is this strange? Because Mary Pinchot Meyer was still lying in the morgue and had not even been identified by the coroners office, she was just a Jane Doe. Mary's family didn't even know anything had happened to her at this point, but because of a mysterious source in the CIA, Ben Bradlee did. Bradlee then went to Mary's house and scoured the pace and found her JFK diary and instead of doing the journalistically honorable thing of reporting on it, he instead kept it secret and turned it over to none other than James Jesus Angelton who destroyed it. Who is James Jesus Angelton? Well, James Angelton was just the Chief of Covert Counter-Intelligence Operations for the CIA. 

To make the Meyer story all the more intriguing is what happened when Bradlee was called to testify in the 1965 murder trial against a young Black man charged, and later acquitted, of the crime of killing Mary Meyer. On the stand Bradlee lied, in other words committed perjury, when he failed to mention his interaction with Mr. Angelton of the CIA and about the existence of Mary's diary. How do we know he lied? Because years later when he wrote his 1995 memoir, A Good Life, he told the truth about what actually happened and how he conspired with Angelton to find and destroy Mary's diary. 

Bradlee's back story is pretty remarkable, but so is Katherine Graham's. Graham's husband, Phil, was the publisher and co-owner of the Washington Post. In late 1962, Phil was having an affair with a young woman from Australia and told Katherine about it. A short time later in 1963, Phil got himself into a boat load of trouble when he got stinking drunk at a newspaper publisher's convention in Phoenix and stood up and told a room full of reporters that President Kennedy was having an affair in the White House with...Mary Pinchot Meyer. Mrs. Graham was alerted to her soon to be ex-husbands behavior and flew out to Phoenix with their doctor and Phil was sedated, put in a straitjacket, and flown to Washington where he was quickly hospitalized at Chestnut Lodge, a hospital in Maryland well-known to be used by the CIA for various unsavory psychiatric activities. 

After his initial release five days later from Chestnut Lodge, Phil left Katherine and told friends he was going to divorce her, take sole control of the Post, and quickly remarry with his Australian girlfriend. Shortly thereafter, in June of 1963, Phil was again placed in Chestnut Lodge and treated for "manic depression". Chestnut Lodge then released him in early August 1963 to his ex-wife Katherine's custody for a weekend break because she claimed he seemed to be doing much better. Phil stayed with Katherine at their Virginia farmhouse, and that is where he allegedly shot himself with shotgun. Against the wishes of Phil's will, which Katherine challenged, Katherine Graham then inherited the Washington Post which became a powerful mouthpiece for the intelligence community on all matters.

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Ben Bradlee was also a key part of the intelligence community's control over the Post and of American political discourse. The best way to describe Bradlee is that for the duration of his Washington Post career, he was a useful asset to the intelligence community. Katherine Graham was less an asset and more of an insurance policy for the intelligence community. They got her power over the Post, and she gave them access and unquestioned loyalty. Remember the previously Operation Mockingbird, well the Washington Post is the flagship newspaper for Operation Mockingbird, and remember who ran Operation Mockingbird…none other than Cord Meyer, Mary Meyer's ex-husband. (If you want to read more about the very tangled and incredibly fascinating story of Mary Meyer, JFK, Cord Meyer, James Angleton, Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham, I wholly encourage you to go read Mary's Mosaic by Peter Janney, it is a page-turner well worth your time if you have the interest.)

Now, don't those stories sound much more interesting and dramatically charged than the limp, third-rate Washington Post - Pentagon Papers nonsense that Spielberg conjures in The Post? Wouldn't those backstories make for at least a modicum of intrigue and drama when trying to fully flesh out who these dramatis personae really are and what actually happened at the Washington Post during the Pentagon papers incident? 

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But Steven Spielberg has no interest in telling that kind of truth in his movies, he is only interested in telling a certain kind of truth, the same kind of truth that Ben Bradlee and Katherine Graham are interested in telling, namely...the manufactured, "safe" truth. If you look at the length and breadth of Spielberg and Hanks' career you notice something very troubling, they are both only interested in telling that sort of manufactured "safe" truth. Hanks and Spielberg are anything but artistic truth-tellers, they are Rockwellian myth-makers and star-spangled Riefenstahls who consistently and exclusively pump out agitprop for the Establishment and American Empire. I realize that I will be tarred and feathered as a tin-foil hat wearing kook for saying this, but it doesn't take a genius or a madman to figure out that upon closer inspection, Hanks and Spielberg are just like Bradlee and Graham, they are well positioned assets useful in disseminating disinformation propaganda for the American Intelligence community (and maybe some other nations Intelligence communities as well) in order to subtly indoctrinate the gullible and unaware masses.

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Bradlee and Graham were so well positioned to be assets for Operation Mockingbird one cannot help but wonder if they were "assisted" in their rise to such pivotal and prominent roles on the American political stage…and the same can be said of Hanks and Spielberg, who have proven time and again that they seem to have risen to heights in Hollywood well beyond their artistic abilities and use their positions of power to inundate the public with most insidious of propaganda. (For further reading on Hanks desire to alter history to appease the American Intelligence community, check out James DiEugenio's book Reclaiming Parkland, it is not a particularly well-written work, but it is does contain some fascinating ands insightful information.)

When you look at the question I posed earlier about why Spielberg would make THIS film about the Pentagon Papers, instead of investigating other more potentially interesting angles of that story (Ellsberg bio-pic, NY Times angle etc.), through the prism of his job as a propagandist for the Establishment and the intelligence community, then The Post makes a helluva lot more sense.  

Spielberg could not make a film with Ellsberg as a hero because Ellsberg is a whistleblower and whistleblowers cannot be perceived as heroic especially in this day and age because they could potentially reveal the crimes of American empire and the intelligence community. Hanks and Spielberg both said as much in doing interviews regarding The Post. When asked if Ellsberg was a hero they both said, "yeah sure", but when asked if Snowden was a hero, they both declined to answer and said it "was complicated". It isn't complicated, it is only complicated if you are a propagandist interested in obscuring truth, not exposing it. The reason they can sort of say Ellsberg is ok is because his revelations are ancient history with no impact on today's world, whereas Snowden is making a brave Ellsbergian stand today, and to make things worse in Hanks and Spielberg's eyes, Snowden did so while Obama was president. 

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Think of it this way, Spielberg can make any movie he wants, but he chose the safest route imaginable and made The Post. He could've made a Snowden movie, or a Chelsea Manning movie, both of which would tell the truth to power story and even the freedom of the press story that The Post pretends to tell. He could've made a film about John Kiriakou which would be immensely more interesting than The Post, but he didn't. Spielberg could've still played it safe and made a straight up, paint-by-numbers Ellsberg bio-pic…but he didn't. Hell, Spielberg could've made a Trump bio-pic, Oliver Stone made one of George W. Bush while he was still in office for goodness sake, but he would never do something so ballsy. Instead, Spielberg made the impotent and insipid The Post, with all of its narrative quirks, historical omissions and sub-textual dishonesty.

What I found even more damning than the shitty filmmaking and predictable script on display in The Post, was the audience with whom I watched it. The screening I attended was pretty crowded and at various times throughout the showing, the crowd whooped and cheered for the "good guys" (Hanks and company), and when the film ended there was a rapturous round of applause. I can easily surmise that none of these cheering people voted for Donald Trump, and that they felt their cheering was a brave and courageous act of "resistance".

What all the cheering from the audience proved to me is that this anti-Trump audience deserves that know-nothing buffoon as their president, because just like him they are dim-witted ignorami who only want to be told what they want to hear and are incurious, ill-informed and easily manipulated.  

These cheering ninnies are blissfully unaware of Ben Bradlee's connection to the intelligence community or his duplicitous relationship with JFK's affairs and Mary Meyer's murder. They are also blissfully unaware of Katherine Graham's equally nefarious connections to the intelligence community and the mystery surrounding her husbands downfall and supposed suicide and her subsequent rise to power at the Washington Post. These same simpletons probably confuse Snowden with Assange, and recoil at the truthful and accurate revelations of those two men and Chelsea Manning, but ignorantly cheer the charade of The Post as a metaphor for speaking truth to power and the battle for the freedom of the press today, just because Spielberg tells them to. These fools are Spielberg's bread and butter, for they are the worst kind of fools, they think they are savvy, well-informed, serious people, but they are simply dupes and dopes, and these vacuous, vapid and vacant numskulls have gotten the country, the president and the movie they so richly deserve. 

In conclusion, The Post is certainly not worthy paying to see in the theatre. If you stumble across it on cable or Netlfix you can watch it to see Streep's marvelous performance but that is about it. The Post is fools gold for those looking for powerful stories of the struggle for freedom of the press and speaking truth to power. Viewers would be much better served avoiding the historical revisionism of The Post and seeking out the stories of Edward Snowden (the documentary Citizenfour or Oliver Stone's flawed Snowden), Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou, Daniel Ellsberg (the documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America) and yes, even the much-maligned Julian Assange, if they want to understand the current fight for freedom of the press and the battle against tyranny, where information and the truth are the greatest weapons of war.

©2017

The Death of Edward S. Herman and the Death Knell for Liberalism in America

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes 18 seconds

Last week Edward S. Herman, professor emeritus at the Wharton School of Business and teacher at the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, died at the age of 92. In addition to his stellar academic career, Herman is best known for co-writing with Noam Chomsky the seminal book in the field of media analysis and criticism, Manufacturing Consent.

Manufacturing Consent is a staggeringly brilliant book. It is such a paradigm defining and altering work that I believe it, along with the Adam Curtis documentary Century of the Self, should be mandatory reading and viewing for every citizen, voter and consumer of media in the United States. It is impossible to watch the news, read the newspaper or follow political debate the same way after digesting Herman and Chomsky's theories on the media and their propaganda model in Manufacturing Consent and Curtis' revelatory documentary on psychology, public relations and control of mass democracy.

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A great example of the immense importance of learning and understanding Herman and Chomsky's propaganda model was on display recently with the slavish reception by the establishment media of Ken Burns' newest documentary, The Vietnam War. Burns uses a great deal of energy and time (the film runs nearly 18 hours) to make a film that, consciously or unconsciously, goes full bore in proving the existence Herman and Chomsky's propaganda model. Burns' documentary is an homage to the limits of establishment thinking and debate, not a true and honest critical assessment of the war or of America. If you haven't seen Burns' film, read Manufacturing Consent before you do, and if you have seen it, read Manufacturing Consent and watch the film over again. 

I found it striking that the same week that an original thinker and true resister to power, Edward S. Herman, died, America and what currently passes for American liberalism did something to signify its own philosophical, intellectual and ethical debasement and death. On Monday of last week the Justice Department forced the news channel RT America, to register as an agent of a foreign power in order to avoid legal penalties for their employees. (Full disclosure, I am a current contributor to RT.com. I have been informed that I am not effected by RT America being forced to register as a foreign agent because RT and RT America are two different entities. If any readers have legal insight into my situation please feel free to share it with me as I obviously want to stay in full compliance with American law.)

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What was so dismaying about the RT America situation was not the Justice Department going after them, it was the absolute glee that democrats, establishment liberals and #theresistance showed upon learning the news. The intellectual corruption of democrats and establishment liberals knows no bounds, and this was proven by their embrace of the targeting of RT America and their joy at the silencing of an anti-establishment dissenting voice.

The reason that there was such vicious glee emanating from liberals in regards to RT America being targeted and sanctioned, is because liberals have been conditioned to believe that Russia in general, and RT America in particular, is the sole reason for Trump being president. The mainstream media, in fulfilling their position as the propaganda arm for the elites and the military-intelligence industrial complex, has continuously beat the anti-Russia and anti-RT drum.

Liberals are so blinded by their rage at Trump that they are signing on to the criminalization of their own political beliefs. Have liberals read the DNI report about "Russian Interference" in the 2016 election? Every single person I have spoken to about this subject has said that they haven't read the report. And for some, maybe they feel that reading in black and white the reality of the situation, which is contrary to what they imagine it to be, might make their fantasies of nefarious Russians co-opting America's sacred elections disintegrate and leave them with no one to blame but themselves. And not only have these folks never read the DNI report, they have never watched the channel RT America, but in their ignorance are so thoroughly convinced of RT's villainy that they not only cheer its destruction, some also actually express a hope for my personal imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay. 

I have written about this willful blindness and intellectual and philosophical suicide of liberals before, and Edward S. Herman wrote about it in the last article he ever published. If liberals read the DNI report they will quickly learn that the intelligence community has zero evidence that Russia interfered in the election. None. They also would learn that the intelligence community are criminalizing the exact things in which liberals claim to believe and hold dear. 

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For instance, the DNI report spends the majority of its time claiming that the cable news channel RT America was a key piece of the Russian election interfering campaign. The smoking gun evidence the DNI report gives for RT guilt? The fact that RT America hosted third party debates, extensively covered the negative environmental impact of fracking, highlighted the Occupy Wall Street movement, claimed that Wall Street is ruled by greed and that America has a police brutality problem. Are there any liberals reading this who don't wholeheartedly agree with RT's position on those issues? I sincerely doubt it. And yet, liberals have unquestioningly swallowed all the anti-RT and anti-Russia stories the media keeps feeding them. 

The other problem with blaming RT for Trump's victory is that it is completely absurd on its face because RT barely registers in terms of viewers here in America. Cable news channels like Fox News have around 2.2 million viewers in prime time alone, whereas RT doesn't even come close to having 30,000 viewers for an entire day. RT is also not carried by many cable providers in America, thus reducing their reach even more. The claim that RT is some evil Putin-controlled leviathan vomiting its propaganda across the whole of America is ludicrous. 

The fact that liberals were so quick to embrace the demonization of RT is a bad sign for the future of liberalism and America. We need more dissent in America, not less, and if we simply allow America's corporate media to be the gatekeepers for Truth, we will only get the sanitized version that those in power wants us to hear. 

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I just finished reading James W. Douglass remarkable book, JFK and the Unspeakable. In Douglass' book he shows how JFK was surrounded by enemies in his own government and administration because he refused to buy into the virulent anti-Soviet/communist propaganda of the time. JFK had to try and restrain anti-communist madmen like General Curtis LeMay and General Lyman Lemnitzer who were itching for a nuclear first strike against the Soviets. It is remarkable that 54 years later it is the alleged liberals here in America who, just like Lemnitzer and LeMay, are so blindly and rabidly anti-Russian they will gladly cut off their political nose to spite their face. 

A brief look at history, and a reading of Manufacturing Consent, tells us that we must be ever vigilant against the propaganda we are fed by our elite corporate overlords. The establishment media has always been in lock step with every bit of nonsense the elites try and sell us. Look no further than the Iraq war or the financial collapse of 2008 for an example of the corruption of our mainstream press. 

I understand on an emotional level why liberals are so happy to scapegoat RT for Trump and the state of our nation. But to do so is hopelessly adolescent, foolish and is a shot cut to thinking. Trump is an atrocious human being, but all that is wrong with America didn't begin with Trump. Look at Yemen, where the Saudi's are perpetrating a genocide, including famine, upon the Yemeni population. The U.S. backed Saudi war on Yemen didn't start with Trump, it started under Obama. Notice also that if you want to see coverage of the war in Yemen you will need to watch more RT and less American media because the U.S. press is barely covering that abomination, and when it does cover it, it does so without mentioning America's involvement in it at all. For proof of this read this Washington Post article on Yemen which remarkably never mentions U.S. responsibility for the conflict and also read this Alex Emmons piece at The Intercept which skewers a recent 60 Minutes segment which conveniently neglected to reveal U.S. involvement as well. 

Liberals blaming Russia and RT for Trump's victory are alleviating themselves from the desperate need to look in the mirror and learn from their failings. Pointing the finger at Russia for unsubstantiated claims of election interference and supporting punitive actions against RT America will, in the long run, end up being a self-destructive act for liberals that criminalizes liberal beliefs and limits dissent and oppositional voices. Of course, I am well aware that my pleas for rationalism will be lost amongst the whirlwinds of emotionalism that have accompanied our current hurricane of anti-Russian hysteria. 

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To be clear, I loathe Trump with the fury of a thousand suns and I think he is as crooked as a dog's hind leg. If Mueller digs into his business dealings such as those uncovered by Adam Davidson of The New Yorker with his tremendous investigative journalism, then Mueller will have Trump dead to rights. The same may also be true of Obstruction of Justice charges against Trump for his handling of Comey and the Russian investigation. That said, I just don't think the actual charge of Russian election interference at the core of this whole thing is a viable one. I will gladly change my opinion if and when the intelligence community ever releases any actual, tangible evidence of Russian hacking. As of right now, there is just as much a chance that the DNC's and Clinton campaign's emails were leaked as opposed to hacked. Why doesn't the intelligence community show proof of the claim that Russia hacked the emails? And why in the world do people trust the intelligence agencies after all of the lying and shenanigans they have pulled over the years?

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At this moment, and this could change with more evidence, it strikes me that the claims of Russian election interference are just like the claims of the intel community in the case for the Iraq war, and just like the Gulf of Tonkin incident that made the case for the war in Vietnam…in other words, there is no "there" there. All of the evidence of Trump administration figures meeting with supposed "Kremlin-connected" Russians (according to the establishment media every Russian is a "Kremlin-connected" one) mean nothing without proof of the hacking of the DNC/Clinton emails which is the center of the election interference case. Until that is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the rest is all nonsense. 

In conclusion, I think a collective madness has descended upon the United States in general and democrats/liberals in particular. Liberals lionizing the intelligence community have very short memories and are incredibly naive…do they really think the intelligence agencies don't lie to them? The reality is that the intelligence agencies CONTINUOUSLY LIE… the sooner you figure that out the better off you will be. RT America's tag line is "Question More", and regardless of what you feel about RT, that is sage advice that we should all take to heart, especially regarding stories that we so desperately want to be true. 

In honor of the great Edward S. Herman, I wholly encourage everyone to go read or re-read Manufacturing Consent. Once you do you will have the ability to read between the lines of the carefully crafted propaganda we are continually fed by the establishment media and discern something closer to the actual Truth of our nation and our world. It is only with the tools taught to us by Herman and Chomsky in Manufacturing Consent that we are able to break free from our media-induced myopia and wake up from our ignorant slumber to see the glaring Truth that has been hiding in plain sight all along, right in front of our nose. 

©2017

I encourage you to please go read Matt Taibbi's excellent article on Herman's work and death and also read Edward S. Herman's entire final piece at Monthly Review as it is a great primer for Manufacturing Consent. Here is a very long, but worthwhile, excerpt from the article which is extremely useful in understanding our current media climate in relation all things Russia. 

FAKE NEWS ON RUSSIA AND OTHER OFFICIAL ENEMIES by Edward S. Herman Aug. 2017

The demonization of Putin escalated with the Ukraine crisis of 2014 and subsequent Kiev warfare in Eastern Ukraine, Russian support of the East Ukraine resistance, and the Crimean referendum and absorption of Crimea by Russia. This was all declared “aggression” by the United States and its allies and clients, and sanctions were imposed on Russia, and a major U.S.-NATO military buildup was initiated on Russia’s borders. Tensions mounted further with the shooting-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over southeastern Ukraine—promptly, but almost surely falsely, blamed on the “pro-Russian” rebels and Russia itself.15

Anti-Russian hostilities were further inflamed by the country’s escalated intervention in Syria from 2015 on, in support of Bashar al-Assad and against rebel forces that had come to be dominated by ISIS and al-Nusra, an offshoot of al-Qaeda. The United States and its NATO and Middle East allies had been committing aggression against Syria, in de facto alliance with al-Nusra and other extremist Islamic factions, for several years. Russian intervention turned the tide, frustrating the U.S. and Saudi goal of regime change against Assad, and weakening tacit U.S. allies.

The Times has covered these developments with unstinting apologetics—for the February 2014 coup in Kiev—which it has never labeled as such, for the U.S. role in the overthrow of the elected government of Victor Yanukovych, and with anger and horror at the Crimea referendum and Russian absorption, which it never allows might be a defensive response to the Kiev coup. Its calls for punishment for the casualty-free Russian “aggression” in Crimea is in marked contrast to its apologetics for the million-plus casualties caused by U.S. aggression “of choice” (not defensive) in Iraq from March 2003 on. The paper’s editors and columnists condemn Putin’s disregard for international law, while exempting their own country from criticism for its repeated violations of that same law.16

In the Times‘s reporting and opinion columns Russia is regularly assailed as expansionist and threatening its neighbors, but virtually no mention is made of NATO’s expansion up to the Russian borders and first-strike-threat placement of anti-missile weapons in Eastern Europe—the latter earlier claimed to be in response to a missile threat from Iran! Analyses by political scientist John Mearsheimer and Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen that noted this NATO advance were excluded from the opinion pages of the Times.17 In contrast, a member of the Russian band Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, was given op-ed space to denounce Putin and Russia, and the punk rock group was granted a meeting with the Times editorial board.18Between January 1 and March 31, 2014, the paper ran twenty-three articles featuring Pussy Riot and its alleged significance as a symbol of Russian limits on free speech. Pussy Riot had disrupted a church service in Moscow and only stopped after police intervened, at the request of church authorities. A two-year prison sentence followed. Meanwhile, in February 2014, eighty-four-year-old nun Sister Megan Rice was sentenced to four years in prison for having entered a U.S. nuclear weapons site in July 2012 and carried out a symbolic protest. The Timesgave this news a tiny mention in its National Briefing section, under the title “Tennessee Nun is Sentenced for Peace Protest.” No op-ed columns or meeting with the Times board for Rice. There are worthy and unworthy protesters, just as there are victims.

In Syria, with Russian help, Assad’s army and allied militias were able to dislodge the rebels from Aleppo, to the dismay of Washington and the mainstream media. It has been enlightening to see the alarm expressed over civilian casualties in Aleppo, with accompanying photographs of forsaken children and stories of civilian suffering and deprivation. The Times‘s focus on those civilians and children and its indignation at Putin-Assad inhumanity stands in sharp contrast with their virtual silence on massive civilian casualties in Fallujah in 2004 and beyond, and more recently in rebel-held areas of Syria, and in the Iraqi city of Mosul, under U.S. and allied attack.19 The differential treatment of worthy and unworthy victims has been in full force in coverage of Syria.

A further phase of intensifying Russophobia may be dated from the October 2016 presidential debates, in which Hillary Clinton declared that Donald Trump would be a Putin “puppet” as president, a theme her campaign began to stress. This emphasis only increased after the election, with the help of the media and intelligence services, as the Clinton camp sought to explain their electoral loss, maintain party control, and possibly even have the election results overturned in the courts or electoral college by attributing Trump’s victory to Russian interference.

A major impetus for the Putin connection came with the January 2017 release of a report by the Office of Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Background of Assessing Russian Activities and Intention in Recent US Elections. More than half of this short document is devoted to the Russian-sponsored RT news network, which the report treats as an illegitimate propaganda source. The organization is allegedly part of Russia’s “influence campaign…[that] aspired to help President-elect Trump’s chances of victory when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to the President-elect.” No semblance of proof is offered that there was any planned “campaign,” rather than an ongoing expression of opinion and news judgments. The same standards used to identify a Russian “influence campaign” could be applied with equal force to U.S. media and Radio Free Europe’s treatment of any Russian election—and of course, the U.S. intervention in the 1996 Russian election was overt, direct, and went far beyond any covert “influence campaign.”

Regarding more direct Russian intervention in the U.S. election, the DNI authors concede the absence of “full supporting evidence,” but in fact provide no supporting evidence at all—only speculative assertions, assumptions, and guesses. “We assess that…Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2015,” they write, designed to defeat Mrs. Clinton, and “to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process,” but provide no proof of any such order. The report also contains no evidence that Russia hacked the communications of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) or the emails of Clinton and former Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, or that it gave hacked information to WikiLeaks. Julian Assange and former British diplomat Craig Murray have repeatedly claimed that these sources were leaked by local insiders, not hacked from outside. Veteran intelligence experts William Binney and Ray McGovern likewise contend that the WikiLeaks evidence was leaked, not hacked.20 It is also notable that of the three intelligence agencies who signed the DNI document, the National Security Agency—the agency most likely to have proof of Russian hacking and its transmission to WikiLeaks, as well as of any “orders” from Putin—only expressed “moderate confidence” in its findings.

But as with the Reds ruling Guatemala, the Soviets outpacing U.S. missile capabilities, or the KGB plotting to assassinate the pope, the Times has taken the Russian hacking story as established fact, despite the absence of hard evidence. Times reporter David Sanger refers to the report’s “damning and surprisingly detailed account of Russia’s efforts to undermine the American electoral system,” only to then acknowledge that the published report “contains no information about how the agencies had …come to their conclusions.”21 The report itself includes the astonishing statement that “Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.” Furthermore, if the report was based on “intercepts of conversations” as well as on hacked computer data, as Sanger and the DNI claim, why has the DNI failed to quote a single conversation showing Putin’s alleged orders and plans?

The Times has never cited or given op-ed space to William Binney, Ray McGovern, or Craig Murray, leading dissident authorities on hacking technology, methodology, and the specifics of the DNC hacks. But room was found for Louise Mensch’s op-ed “What to Ask about Russian Hacking.” Mensch is a notorious conspiracy theorist with no relevant technical background, described by writers Nathan Robinson and Alex Nichols as best-known for “spending most of her time on Twitter issuing frenzied denunciations of imagined armies of online ‘Putinbots,'” making her “one of the least credible people on the internet.”22 But she is published in theTimes because, in contrast with the informed and credible Binney and Murray, she follows the party line, taking Russian hacking of the DNC as a premise.

The CIA’s brazen intervention in the electoral process in 2016 and 2017 broke new ground in the agency’s politicization. Former CIA head Michael Morell announced in an August 2016 op-ed in the Times: “I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton,” and former CIA boss Michael Hayden published an op-ed in the Washington Post just days before the election, entitled “Former CIA Chief: Trump is Russia’s Useful Fool.” Morell had yet another op-ed in theTimes on January 6, now openly assailing the new president. These attacks were unrelievedly insulting to Trump and laudatory to Clinton, even portraying Trump as a traitor; they also made clear that Clinton’s more pugnacious stance toward Syria and Russia was preferable by far to Trump’s leanings toward negotiation and cooperation with Russia.

This was also true of the scandal surrounding former Trump Defense Intelligence nominee Michael Flynn’s telephone call with the Russian ambassador, which may have included a discussion of the incoming administration’s policy actions. The political possibilities of this interaction were quickly grasped by outgoing Obama officials, security personnel, and the mainstream media, with the FBI interrogating Flynn and with widespread expressions of horror at Flynn’s action, which could have allegedly exposed him to Russian blackmail. But such pre-inauguration meetings with Russian diplomats have been a “common practice” according to Jack Matlock, the U.S. ambassador to Russia under Reagan and Bush, and Matlock had personally arranged such a meeting for Jimmy Carter.23 Obama’s own ambassador to the country, Michael McFaul, admitted visiting Moscow for talks with officials in 2008, even before the election. Daniel Lazare has made a good case not only that the illegality and blackmail threat are implausible, but that the FBI’s interrogation of Flynn reeks of entrapment. “Yet anti-Trump liberals are trying to convince the public that it’s all ‘worse than Watergate.'”24

The political point of the DNI report thus seems to have been, at minimum, to tie the Trump administration’s hands in its dealings with Russia. Some analysts outside the mainstream have argued that we may have been witnessing an incipient spy or palace coup that fell short, but still had the desired effect of weakening the new administration.25 The Times has not offered a word of criticism of this politicization and intervention in the election process by intelligence agencies, and in fact the editors have been working with them and the Democratic Party as a loose-knit team in a distinctly un- and anti-democratic program designed to undermine or reverse the results of the 2016 election, on the pretext of alleged foreign electoral interference.

The Times and the mainstream media in general have also barely mentioned the awkward fact that the allegedly hacked disclosures of the DNC and Clinton and Podesta emails disclosed uncontested facts about real electoral manipulations on behalf of the Clinton campaign, facts that the public had a right to know and that might well have affected the election results. The focus on the evidence-free claims of a Russian hacking intrusion have helped divert attention from the real electoral abuses disclosed by the WikiLeaks material. Here again, official and mainstream media fake news helped bury real news.

Another arrow in the Russophobia quiver was a private intelligence “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent working for Orbis Business Intelligence, a private firm hired by the DNC to dig up dirt on Trump. Steele’s first report, delivered in June 2016, made numerous serious accusations against Trump, most notably that Trump had been caught in a sexual escapade in Moscow, that his political advance had been supported by the Kremlin for at least five years, under Putin’s direction, in order to sow discord within the U.S. political establishment and disrupt the Western alliance. This document was based on alleged conversations by Steele with distant (Russian) officials: that is, strictly on hearsay evidence, whose assertions, where verifiable, are sometimes erroneous.26 But it said just what the Democrats, the mainstream media, and the CIA wanted to hear, and intelligence officials accordingly declared the author “credible,” and the media lapped it up. The Times hedged somewhat on its own cooperation in this tawdry campaign by calling the report “unverified,” but nevertheless reported its claims.27

The Steele dossier also became a central part of the investigation and hearings on “Russia-gate” held by the House Intelligence Committee starting in March 2017, led by Democratic Representative Adam Schiff. While basing his opening statement on the hearsay-laden dossier, Schiff expressed no interest in establishing who funded the Steele effort, the identity and exact status of the Russian officials quoted, or how much they were paid. Apparently talking to Russians with a design of influencing an American presidential election is perfectly acceptable if the candidate supported by this intrusion is anti-Russian!

The Times has played a major role in this latest wave of Russophobia, reminiscent of its 1917–20 performance in which, as Lippmann and Merz noted in 1920, “boundless credulity, and an untiring readiness to be gulled” characterized the news-making process. While quoting the CIA’s admission that it had no hard evidence, relying instead on “circumstantial evidence” and “capabilities,” the Times was happy to describe these capabilities at great length and to imply that they proved something.28 Editorials and news articles have worked uniformly on the false supposition that Russian hacking was proved, and that the Russians had given these data to WikiLeaks, also unproven and strenuously denied by Assange and Murray.

The Times has run neck-and-neck with the Washington Post in stirring up fears of the Russian information war and illicit involvement with Trump. The Times now easily conflates fake news with any criticism of established institutions, as in Mark Scott and Melissa Eddy’s “Europe Combats a New Foe of Political Stability: Fake News,” February 20, 2017.29 But what is more extraordinary is the uniformity with which the paper’s regular columnists accept as a given the CIA’s assessment of the Russian hacking and transmission to WikiLeaks, the possibility or likelihood that Trump is a Putin puppet, and the urgent need of a congressional and “non-partisan” investigation of these claims. This swallowing of a new war-party line has extended widely in the liberal media. Both the Times and Washington Post have lent tacit support to the idea that this “fake news” threat needs to be curbed, possibly by some form of voluntary media-organized censorship or government intervention that would at least expose the fakery.

The most remarkable media episode in this anti-influence-campaign was the Post‘s piece by Craig Timberg, “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say,” which featured a report by a group of anonymous “experts” entity called PropOrNot that claimed to have identified two hundred websites that, wittingly or not, were “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.” While smearing these websites, many of them independent news outlets whose only shared trait was their critical stance toward U.S. foreign policy, the “experts” refused to identify themselves, allegedly out of fear of being “targeted by legions of skilled hackers.” As journalist Matt Taibbi wrote, “You want to blacklist hundreds of people, but you won’t put your name to your claims? Take a hike.”30 But the Post welcomed and promoted this McCarthyite effort, which might well be a product of Pentagon or CIA information warfare. (And these entities are themselves well-funded and heavily into the propaganda business.)

On December 23, 2016, President Obama signed the Portman-Murphy Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, which will supposedly allow the United States to more effectively combat foreign (namely Russian and Chinese) propaganda and disinformation. It will encourage more government counter-propaganda efforts, and provide funding to non-government entities to help in this enterprise. It is clearly a follow-on to the claims of Russian hacking and propaganda, and shares the spirit of the listing of two hundred tools of Moscow featured in the Washington Post. (Perhaps PropOrNot will qualify for a subsidy and be able to enlarge its list.) Liberals have been quiet on this new threat to freedom of speech, undoubtedly influenced by their fears of Russian-based fake news and propaganda. But they may yet take notice, even if belatedly, when Trump or one of his successors puts it to work on their own notions of fake news and propaganda.

The success of the war party’s campaign to contain or reverse any tendency to ease tensions with Russia was made dramatically clear in the Trump administration’s speedy bombing response to the April 4, 2017, Syrian chemical weapons deaths. The Times and other mainstream media editors and journalists greeted this aggressive move with almost uniform enthusiasm, and once again did not require evidence of Assad’s guilt beyond their government’s claims.31 The action was damaging to Assad and Russia, but served the rebels well.

But the mainstream media never ask cui bono? in cases like this. In 2013, a similar charge against Assad, which brought the United States to the brink of a full-scale bombing war in Syria, turned out to be a false flag operation, and some authorities believe the current case is equally problematic.32 Nevertheless, Trump moved quickly (and illegally), dealing a blow to any further rapprochement between the United States and Russia. The CIA, the Pentagon, leading Democrats, and the rest of the war party had won an important skirmish in the struggle over permanent war.

 

While We Were Sleeping...The Dogs of War Awoke

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Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes 49 seconds

"THE WHOLE CELEBRITY CULTURE THING - I'M FASCINATED BY, AND REPELLED BY, AND YET I END UP KNOWING ABOUT IT." - ANDERSON COOPER

America is a celebrity addicted culture. Proof of this is that our current president's only qualification for that job was the fact that he was a second-rate reality-television star. America is also a sex-obsessed culture. Proof of this is…well…everywhere. From the booming porn business, to the porno-fication of popular culture in the form of the Kardashian's and their reality tv empire built on the back (pardon the pun) of Kim Kardashian's sex tape, to the tarted up harlots hosting cable news shows, America is like an adolescent boy who is defenseless against the constant chaotic assaults upon his focus by his own relentless hormones and erotic thoughts. 

And so it has been for the last month or so with the public disclosure of film producer Harvey Weinstein's repulsive history of sexually assaulting and harassing women. The Weinstein story opened a Pandora's Box of similar tales of repugnant behavior by a coterie of male swine. Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner, James Toback and Louis CK are just a few of the heavy hitters who have been outed for their sexual crimes and bad behavior.

These stories of sexual harassment, assault and rape have sucked all the oxygen out of the room which holds the attention of our collective consciousness. How could they not? These stories give us the salaciously sexualized celebrity gossip that we as a culture so desperately crave.

We have gorged ourselves upon the tawdry details of the famous women Weinstein, Toback and Ratner attacked, and the juicy and entirely predictable revelation of Kevin Spacey's homosexuality and yearnings for underaged boys. But rest assured, this feast is a six course meal and we haven't even finished the soup yet.

"IF THERE'S GRASS ON THE FIELDPLAY BALL!!" - ALABAMA'S NEXT SENATOR ROY MOORE

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The next celebrity-sex serving is Roy Moore, a local Alabama politician who made himself a nationwide political celebrity with his infamous Ten Commandment's battles and his anti-gay marriage stances who is now running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Moore is one of those faux-pious, holier-than-thou charlatans like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Baker and Ted Haggard that America churns out with predictable regularity. The 70 year-old Moore is now the center of our celebrity-sex addiction because it is alleged that he, depending on what political party you belong to, either "molested"(D) or "messed around with"(R), a fourteen year old girl when he was a thirty something year-old Assistant District Attorney. It would seem Mr. Moore's libido credo when it comes to the age of consent is that famous motto they say down there in 'Bama…"Roll Tide".

Not to get all biblical or anything in defense of Mr. Moore, but let he among you who have not sinned cast the first stone. We all must admit that at one time or another, just like Roy Moore, we have all tried to fuck a fourteen year old…of course the big difference between us and Roy Moore is that we were fourteen when were trying…and in my case failing...to do so.

Not surprisingly, the Moore story has eclipsed all other news since it broke last week because it deals with the two things we can't turn away from...sex and celebrity. If Moore had been accused of a bad real estate deal or something, it would be covered but certainly not with the cable news fervor and intensity it now garners. For instance, back in the 90's, the Clinton's "bad real estate deal", the Whitewater scandal, was a minor blip on the radar screen until Ms. Lewinsky's Slick Willie stained dress and the Disappearing Cigar Trick was uncovered. 

SEX SELLS

This revelation is not earth shattering…sex or celebrity sells…and "news" is a business so they always push the sex angle. Of course if the story isn't just about sex or about celebrity, but rather about celebrity-sex…then the mainstream media go into a feeding frenzy mode and the collective consciousness goes right with them into either hysteria, panic, or both. 

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Like heroin, our culture's celebrity-sex addiction has an increasing threshold for intoxication. With Trump as president, we have a 24-hour reality show where we constantly follow his every tweet of buffoonery or act of bellicosity in order to get our satisfactory fix of Two-Minutes Hate outrage. Adding the current celebrity sex scandals of Weinstein, Ratner, Spacey and now Moore to the traveling shit show that is the Trump presidency, has sent us into a collective stupor so disorienting that we may all wake up in a few months and wonder what the hell has happened while we've been blissfully in the arms of Morpheus. Like a bad sequel to The Hangover, we will all suddenly awake from our indulgent slumber and have to piece together our reality from the random clues left scattered behind us. 

As we enter the current stage of our celebrity-sex hysteria where we are completely oblivious to anything else, our myopia may put us in great peril. What else might be happening in our world that are we missing while we are distracted by every breathless revelation of aberrant celebrity sexual behavior?

"CRY HAVOC!, AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR" - MARC ANTONY, SHAKESPEARE'S JULIUS CAESAR

The thing that is currently receiving the barest minimum of news coverage, which in the long term may be the most consequential events of this time is the situation in Saudi Arabia. If you haven't been following this story, and why should you be since the media isn't following it very closely, it is a fascinating and disconcerting one. 

SAUDI ARABIA

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What is basically happening is that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS)- the son of King Salman, just purged the royal family of anyone who opposed the Prince's newfound power and eventual ascension to the throne. MBS claims that this purge, which has resulted in the jailing of many Saudi royals and billionaires, including Bandar bin Sultan aka "Bandar Bush" who ran Saudi intelligence and whose connections to 9-11 are undeniable, is a result of cleaning up corruption in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is the equivalent of handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.

LEBANON

Besides the royal family purge, the next big thing to happen was that last week Lebanon's Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, was for all intents and purposes held hostage in Saudi Arabia, and forced to make a cryptic and bizarre statement where he resigned his position as Lebanese Prime Minister because of his opposition to Hezbollah, the Iranian backed Shiite Muslim group who are in a power sharing, coalition government in Lebanon with Prime Minister Hariri and the Christian president Michel Aoun. 

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It seems that Saudi Arabia, under the control of MBS, forced Hariri to resign and are now holding him as a sort of hostage in order to create political havoc in Lebanon. This provocative act is feared to be a catalyst for yet another war in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia wants war in Lebanon as a way to confront their eternal and existential enemy Iran. This is not a wise maneuver as Iran and its allies Hezbollah have proven themselves in Syria and Lebanon of being very capable of defeating Saudi Arabia and its allies on both the military and political battlefield. 

One of Saudi Arabia's allies in this grand chess move against Iran is Israel. Israel seems to think that they can push back against Iranian influence in both Syria and Lebanon in order to decrease Iran's alleged regional ambitions. Apparently Israel has forgotten how poorly they fared the last time they squared off against Hezbollah in Lebanon…in case you forgot too…Israel suffered a stunning and brutal defeat

YEMEN

Adding to this cornucopia of crazy is the fact that Saudi Arabia is currently, with vociferous U.S. support, at war in Yemen against the Shia-led Houthi rebels. The Houthi rebels allegedly fired a missile at Riyadh last week and…shock of shocks…both the Saudi's and the U.S. are declaring the missile to be Iranian. As always, take whatever the Saudi's and U.S. intelligence agencies say with a large grain of salt and a double dose of skepticism. Yemen has been under a blockade and is effectively quarantined, it is unlikely if not impossible for Iran to have gotten a missile into Yemen, nevermind the tortured logic that would compel them to do such a thing. Skepticism and cynicism are the wise position to take in regards to the claim that Iran was behind the missile attack on Riyadh. 

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The Yemen story in and of itself is one of the most underreported stories in America. Five million Yemenis are on the verge of famine, 18.8 million need humanitarian aid and over 540,000 people are suffering from Cholera. The reason the civil war in Yemen is under reported here in America is because we are on the ones responsible for all of the damage. Another reason for scant American coverage of the Yemen war could also be because, just like we worked with ISIS in Syria, we are actually fighting alongside of Al Qaeda and that might not sell well in the heartland.  

QATAR

As if all of that wasn't bad enough, Saudi Arabia is also blockading fellow Gulf nation Qatar which had the temerity to try and normalize their relations with Iran. The Sunni Muslims states Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain have all aligned against Qatar, which is ruled by Sunni Muslims but has a sizable Shiite population. The Saudi decision to cut ties with Qatar is just another move on the chessboard by Saudi Arabia against the rising power of Iran. 

IRAN

And finally, the Trump administration is making noises about Iran violating the nuclear agreement they signed with the Obama administration that everyone besides Trump knows they are adhering to. 

Foolishly the U.S. has long made the choice of allying with the paper tiger of a despotic Saudi Arabia, when our more natural allies should be Iran. Iran in particular, and Shiite muslims in general, have not attacked the U.S. or Europe with terrorism. The same cannot be said of Saudi Arabia and Sunni Muslims. While our historical relationship with Iran was soiled by our overthrow of their government and imposing the brutal Shah upon them in the 1950's, and their eventual retaliation by taking American hostages in the 1970's, Iran is a wiser ally for us because they are much more stable, much more rational, are much better equipped to govern and have a much more educated and potentially Americanized population. Iran's recent military and political success in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon is a testament to their governing ability and to Saudi Arabia's ineptitude and is proof that we have backed the wrong horse in this Middle Eastern power struggle.

Iran's alliance with Russia and China has also put the U.S. on the defensive and Americans are too blind with propaganda induced hatred toward Iran to see that our best way forward in the Middle East is with Iran. If we fail to see that and quickly, the U.S. will be incredibly vulnerable financially and politically to Russian, Chinese and Iranian maneuvers in the Middle East. 

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The Saudi Royal Family is only able to maintain its power because they are propped up by U.S. military might. The House of Saud is a house of cards and when it falls, which it inevitably will, the chaos released will be catastrophic in the region, and maybe the world, and could precede a total collapse of the U.S.-led, western centric uni-polar world order we have grown so accustomed to. 

ISRAEL

Israel too has unwisely chosen to ally with Saudi Arabia and other brutal dictatorships in the region like Egypt. Israel can certainly take care of itself, but if the Israelis think they can possibly "win" a war in Lebanon or Syria, they are terribly mistaken. Israel is desperate to maintain the current world order because they sit in an advantageous position as a nation that leads the U.S. around by the nose (if you want to talk election meddling by a foreign power, forget Russia, look at Israel's grip upon American politics). If the House of Saud collapses, and the U.S. is reduced into an equal role with Russia and China in a multi-polar world order, then Israel will be left in a precarious position indeed. 

RUSSIA

Russia has masterfully played their hand in the Middle East by stepping in and winning the war for their ally Assad in Syria, thereby blocking Saudi Arabia's and the U.S.'s move to replace Assad and securing Russia's dominance is supplying gas to Europe by snuffing out any attempts at building pipelines from the Middle East through Syria to Europe.

Russia's cordial relations with Iran also mean that they are poised to win big if Saudi Arabia's strategic gamble against Iran fails. As an oil based economy, Russia will benefit from the price spikes brought on by any reduction in oil from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East caused by a wider war in the region or a collapse of the Saudi royal family.

So what does all this mean? It means that a seismic shift is starting to happen in the Middle East and it is on the verge of volcanically erupting. Regardless of how Mohammed bin Salman and Saudi Arabia's power play in the region resolves itself in the long run, in the short term, the people of Yemen, Lebanon, Qatar, Syria and even Saudi Arabia suffer and will continue to do so. And even though Americans are largely unaware of this suffering, that doesn't mean we aren't responsible for the brutal horrors taking place in Yemen. We will no doubt pay a price for our ignorance of and complicity in the barbarity perpetrated by Saudi Arabia across the Middle East these last few years in Yemen and Syria. While we may be blissfully unaware of our complicity, the Syrians and Yemenis are not.

I assume you are bored to tears with all of this rambling geo-political war-talk nonsense…I don't blame you…I'm bored too. The topic just isn't…sexy enough to hold my attention. Speaking of sex…when do you think Steven Spielberg will be outed as a pedophile? Soon I hope!! I can't wait for that story to break!!

©2017

JFK and the Media: The House Always Wins

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Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes 11 seconds

It is always both enlightening and disheartening to get a glimpse into the corrupt and vacuous abyss that is our national news media. Last week the JFK file release was a wonderful opportunity to study just how truly mendacious and manipulative our media has become. 

I usually do not watch much cable news because I feel that every second I do watch, a small part of my soul, and a large part of my brain, dies a painful death. But since I wrote about the topic last week, and also out of a sense of duty to you, my dear readers, I made a foolhardy attempt to try and follow the coverage of the release of the JFK files by switching back and forth between CNN and MSNBC. 

On CNN on Thursday, I caught an interview of an "expert" on all things JFK assassination related. The expert was Gerald Posner, a "journalist" who in 1993 wrote what the establishment media praised as the "definitive" and "authoritative" book on the JFK assassination titled Case Closed. Posner's book was little more than a sycophantic defense of the Warren Report which caused the media to immediately embrace it as the final word on the assassination for that lone reason.

 

The media's love for Posner and Case Closed started back in 1993, and was less a result of his journalistic and literary talent, which is infinitesimal, but rather was born out of their colossal hatred of Oliver Stone and his 1991 film JFK, which was to JFK conspiracy theories what the Warren Report was to coincidence theory. The media love for Posner was exactly inversely proportional in size and scope to their hate for Oliver Stone, who was loathed with the fury of a thousand suns by the corporate media.

True to form for Posner, who clearly suffers from Stage 4 Norman Rockwell Syndrome, the canned answers he gave on CNN declared that the only reason the CIA had withheld any information from the Warren Commission, the House Select Committee on Assassinations and the public over the last 54 years was because there might be information in the files that would embarrass the Agency. Apparently, according to Posner, the CIA is REALLY, REALLY afraid of embarrassment. 

In Noam Chomsky's masterwork Manufacturing Consent, he uses a very simple formal when it comes to judging the actions and believability of the American media and government, that formula is this…would we believe it if the Soviets (or any other enemy) and their media did or said the same thing? I find that Chomsky's formula is a surefire way to break through the intellectual rigor mortis and cognitive dissonance that accompanies so much of our political discourse, and so it is with the JFK assassination.

So in applying Chomsky's formula to Posner's contention that the CIA has lied and manipulated every investigation into the killing of Kennedy due to a fear of embarrassment…what would a rational person's conclusion be? Obviously, if the KGB withheld information for 54 years and lied to the public regarding an assassination of someone like Khrushchev in 1963, we would rightly think that it wasn't out of fear of embarrassment but rather because they were covering up their guilt or complicity in the murder. 

Besides Posner's answers in his interview, there was something else that made his appearance on CNN very curious, namely, the fact that it happened in the first place. Why was Gerald Posner on CNN talking about the JFK files when CNN and the other media outlets kept talking about how it was "conspiracy theorists" who were the ones so excited about the document dump? Why have a true-blue establishmentarian supporter of the Warren commission on and not a "conspiracy theorist"? It wasn't only CNN that kept talking ABOUT conspiracy theorists but not TO them…MSNBC did the same thing. Neither channel, at least when I watched them, not only never had a single person on who was even remotely skeptical of the lone gunman theory but never had anyone on who didn't have complete and utter contempt for conspiracy theorists. Not one. What is remarkable about that is that both CNN and MSNBC kept citing the fact that opinion polls show that an overwhelming majority of Americans (61%) believe a conspiracy took place. 

To add to the oddity of Posner's CNN appearance was that just an hour later I got to see his painfully taut, surgically contorted, age-defying to the point of mummification, face on MSNBC too. Posner appeared on MSNBC's Meet The Press Daily and gave the same exact talking points to host Chuck Todd that he gave to the CNN host, even reiterating the whole CIA "embarrassment" reason for not releasing documents. Was there no one else that Chuck Todd could get? Did CNN or MSNBC even ask a writer of a JFK conspiracy book to come on? There are plenty of them, were NONE of them available? 

 

 

Of all of the curious things about having Posner on both CNN and MSNBC to talk about the JFK files, the most curious thing is that he is a less-than credible and respectable journalistic entity to begin with. Posner has been repeatedly proven to have plagiarized in his work, so much so that he lost his job at the Daily Beast because of a plagiarism scandal. It was later revealed that Posner also was guilty of plagiarism in his books Miami Babylon, Secrets of the Kingdom and Why America Slept.

One of the best things about the Posner plagiarism scandal is that in order to sue his accuser the Miami New Times, he hired attorney Mark Lane, the godfather of JFK conspiracy theories and author of seminal works on the subject Rush to Judgement and Plausible Denial, who back in 1964 was actually hired to represent Lee Harvey Oswald in front of the Warren Commission by Oswald's mother Marguerite after his death (not surprisingly, the Commission declined). 

My favorite thing about Posner's plagiarism scandal is not that Mark Lane defended him, but that Posner, the mainstream media's favorite anti-conspiracy theorist, claimed that the plagiarism scandal was actually the result of a media conspiracy against him. What a delicious piece of irony pie that juicy little tidbit is. 

In a blog post last week (and another a few years ago) I assailed Chris Matthews of MSNBC for his "spittle-flecked" defense of the lone gun man theory. Even though it has only been a few days since I wrote that, Mr. Matthews has since presented even more reason to rake him over the coals for his slavish worship of officialdom and his deceptive framing of stories.

By happenstance, last Thursday I had just watched a segment from Chris Matthews show Hardball from back in 2013 on Youtube. The clip was of Matthews hosting a discussion between he and David Talbot, founder of Salon.com and author of the book Brothers, which is about Jack and Bobby Kennedy in which Talbot claims that Bobby Kennedy did not believe the Warren Report, and Vincent Bugliosi, former prosecutor and author of the most recent (2007) "authoritative" book proving Oswald acted alone titled Reclaiming History (why they didn't go with the title Case Closed II: Electric Bugaloo will forever remain a mystery). Bugliosi's predictable embrace of the Warren Report is not to be confused with the old (1993) "authoritative" book saying exactly the same thing, Mr. Posner's Case Closed. One wonders if these books are so definitive and authoritative, why do they have to keep writing a new version saying the same thing every decade? 

In the segment Matthews buddied up to Bugliosi and the two of them went after Talbot. Unlike Matthews, Talbot is a respected journalist, in fact he was once Chris Mathews' editor many moons ago, so it was interesting to see the contempt with which Matthews held him. The most striking part of the segment was when both Bugliosi and Matthews challenged Talbot by asking him if Bobby Kennedy was lying when he publicly stated that he endorsed the Warren Report. This is a predictable and hackneyed argument, not surprising coming from two repugnant fools and liars like Matthews and Bugliosi, that embraces an intentional obtuseness that makes debate impossible. 

Coincidentally enough, when I turned off the 2013 Hardball discussion I turned on the live show and low and behold the topic was the JFK file release again. What was so synchronistically striking was that it almost seemed as if Chris Matthews had just watched the same old clip of his show on Youtube that I did and wanted to prove a point, for he opened the segment by playing old footage of Bobby Kennedy publicly stating that he believed in the Warren Report. Matthews then turned to his guests, NBC News Justice correspondent Pete Williams, NBC News National Security reporter Julia Ainsley and distinguished presidential historian Evan Thomas, author of the book, Robert Kennedy: His Life, all of whom adamantly stated that Oswald acted alone and that there was no conspiracy. 

 

Besides the constant reinforcing of the official narrative that Oswald acted alone and that conspiracy theories are "nutty" and the only reason people believe them is out of psychological weakness, one interesting thing did happen on the show. When Matthews turned to Evan Thomas, esteemed author of the "definitive" biography of Bobby Kennedy, and asked him, almost rhetorically, if Bobby Kennedy believed in the Warren Report, Matthews did not get the answer he expected. Thomas actually replied to Matthews that Bobby Kennedy, in fact, did not believe the Warren Report. Sadly, the camera was not on Chris Matthews at this point because I would have loved to see the look on his dopey face when Evan Thomas basically said that David Talbot was right and Chris Matthews, who just wrote a book about Bobby Kennedy that comes out this week, was dead wrong.

Thomas, of course, made haste in reassuring his host that he, Evan Thomas, is a citizen of the Kingdom of Serious People because he believes in the lone gunman theory and Oswald's guilt, unlike Bobby Kennedy who according to Thomas' own reporting apparently would not be allowed into the same Kingdom due to his doubt in the official story. Regardless of Thomas' faith in Oswald's guilt, the damage to Chris Matthews thesis about Bobby Kennedy's belief in the Warren Report was already done. Matthews, as is his penchant when proven wrong, quickly changed the subject and the segment soon ended. No doubt Mr. Matthews will conveniently forget Evan Thomas' opinion because it doesn't fit into the very limited preconceived establishmentarian cosmology from which he operates. I wonder…will Chris Matthews now have David Talbot back on Hardball to apologize to him for his 2013 attack? I have a funny feeling that Mr. Talbot shouldn't hold his breath waiting for that invitation.

In conclusion, let's apply the Chomsky formula to all of the media coverage surrounding the release of the JFK files. First off, if the Russian media were to exclusively have hosts and guests, some of whom are discredited journalists guilty of plagiarism, on their networks that only supported the official story of a lone gunman and belittled and condemn anyone who dared to question the establishment narrative as "nutty" or psychologically unstable, we would rightly believe that was patently absurd and blatant propaganda.

Secondly, if Russian media were to have every host and guest on their networks repeatedly state that the only reason the KGB has lied and withheld information from the public and investigative committees over the last 54 years was because of the KGB's fear of embarrassment, we would rightly call that even more patently absurd and blatant propaganda.

The only logical conclusion we would draw of the Russian media behavior in these instances was that they are thoroughly corrupt and are mere propaganda wings for a nefarious Military-Intelligence cabal headed by the KGB. This is what any rational human being would deduce from these obvious facts. It wouldn't be a conspiracy theory if the Russians did it, it would be a conspiracy fact. So why are we so incapable of seeing the same Truth about our own country and its media that hides in plain sight right in front of our nose? 

The JFK story will soon fade away but our mendacious media will not. The establishment press, both print and television, are diabolically venal, unethical and unscrupulous. They are not in the business of telling you the Truth, they are in the business of protecting and lying for the ruling elite. The mainstream media's only real function, not just with the JFK story but with all stories, is to distract the masses by controlling narrative and limiting debate. Once you realize that the media are just Public Relations for the Military-Intelligence Industrial complex, Wall Street and the ruling elites then you come to understand the Truth that underlies the whole country. That Truth is this…that America is a casino, and the House always wins…and guess what…you ain't the house.

©2017

JFK and the Conspiracy Conundrum

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Estimated Reading Time : 9 minutes 11 seconds

TO BELIEVE OR NOT TO BELIEVE, THAT IS THE QUESTION

This past weekend the news broke that President Trump, in accordance with a law passed in 1992 (thank you Oliver Stone!), was going to allow the National Archives to finally release the remaining files on the JFK assassination that have been kept secret for the last 54 years. In Trump's tweeted statement he did leave himself room to change his mind, but as of right now, the document release is set to happen on October 26.

As everyone knows, the mainstream media is consistently awful, but nothing gets their goat quite like the topic of the JFK assassination. After reading of Trump's announcement, I turned on cable news to get their reaction…and it was just as you would expect. There was a lot of eye-rolling and sneering at conspiracy theories and theorists, which is always funny considering the media hates conspiracy theories except when they don't…like with the Russia investigation. 

THE USUAL SUSPECTS

MSNBC was particularly abysmal, like when "reporter" John Harwood went to great lengths to let his viewers know that HE believes the Warren Report is the final and faithful word on the assassination…good to know, John, thanks for sharing. I found the vitriol and venom directed toward people who believe Oswald did not act alone to be very strange since various hosts throughout the day also kept repeating the fact that polls show over 60% of Americans believe Oswald did not act alone. Way to alienate your audience guys.

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As I switched back and forth from MSNBC to CNN (I am incapable of watching Fox at this point in my life…sorry Rupert) some recurring themes presented themselves. Namely that the Warren Report was the "official" word on the JFK assassination, and of course, that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president by himself. These two statements were repeated early and often and never once went challenged, which I found...curious. 

The cable news coverage was most curious because everyone kept banging home the talking point about the Warren Report and the "official determination" that Oswald acted alone. If a viewer did not know any better they would come away from watching cable news coverage of this story thinking that the final "official government determination" in the assassination of JFK was that Oswald acted alone. Technically, this is factually incorrect. 

John Harwood and the rest of the empty heads on MSNBC and CNN are being at least disingenuous if not downright deceptive when they claim that the government determined Oswald acted alone…either that or they are historically illiterate. 

HSCA IS MIA ON MSNBC AND CNN

Here is a fact…the United States Government, in the form of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, made the determination in 1978 that President Kennedy "was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy". The HSCA report is most certainly controversial and its conclusions and the science behind them are contentious, but equally if not more contentious is the science behind the conclusions of the Warren Report. 

In addition, the HSCA report determined that the FBI and CIA weren't just deficient in their duties in regards to the assassination, but were also deficient to the point of malevolence in regard to their interactions with the Warren Commission. Unlike the scientific conclusions of the HSCA report, the conclusion regarding Intelligence agency subterfuge is not in contention. In other words, the CIA and FBI lied, withheld crucial information and undermined the Warren Commission investigation at every turn, which is as good a reason as any to deem the Warren Report to be at a minimum insufficient, and at a maximum, manufactured propaganda. 

Regardless of your thoughts on the Warren Report and the HSCA, what I found so curious about the cable news coverage of the new JFK story was that the HSCA was never mentioned at all. Not once. This seemed to me to be more than a mere oversight, it seemed to be an intentional obfuscation of the facts and of history. 

DEMOCRACY DIES IN DARKNESS…SO LET'S KEEP THE LIGHTS OFF

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Upon reading the Washington Post and New York Times on the subject of the JFK document dump I found two other things to be very curious. Both newspapers basically wrote the same exact story, even including similar quotes from authors Philip Shenon and Larry Sabato, Jr. and a link to a Politico article they had co-written on the subject published last Friday. Shenon and Sabato's article declared that releasing the documents would be a "fiasco" and would only “help fuel a new generation of conspiracy theories,”. I found it particularly ironic that Shenon and Sabato's obvious disdain for transparency was printed under the Washington Post's new moniker,  "Democracy Dies in Darkness", which loomed like an Orwellian doublespeak blimp over the article that quotes these men so extensively. 

Both the Times and Post also included in their reports near identical quotes from Shenon about what these secret JFK files may reveal. 

The New York Times wrote -

They (Shenon and Sabato) wrote that the documents relate to what they call a “mysterious chapter in the history of the assassination — a six-day trip that J.F.K. assassin Lee Harvey Oswald paid to Mexico City several weeks before the president’s murder, in which Oswald met with Cuban and Soviet spies and came under intensive surveillance by the C.I.A.’s Mexico City station. Previously released F.B.I. documents suggest that Oswald spoke openly in Mexico about his intention to kill Kennedy.”

The Washington Post wrote -

“I’ve always considered the Mexico City trip the hidden chapter of the assassination. A lot of histories gloss right past this period,” said Philip Shenon, a former New York Times reporter and the author of a book on the Warren Commission, the congressional body that investigated Kennedy’s killing. “Oswald was meeting with Soviet spies and Cuban spies, and the CIA and FBI had him under aggressive surveillance. Didn’t the FBI and CIA have plenty of evidence that he was a threat before the assassination? If they had acted on that evidence, maybe it wouldn’t have taken place. These agencies could be afraid that if the documents all get released, their incompetence and bungling could be exposed. They knew about the danger of Oswald, but didn’t alert Washington.”

I found those quotes, and the fact that the Washington Post and New York Times highlighted them in their articles to be…curious….just like the cable news coverage. Why did I find them so curious? 

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

The Post and the Times have for decades been used as mouth pieces for the intelligence community. They aren't so much news organizations as they are useful organizations for those in power to control narrative. In other words they are propaganda tools. You think I am paranoid? Well, just go look at the coverage during the lead up to the Iraq War, or the Bush torture…oops, I mean "enhanced interrogation" and surveillance programs. Or better yet, go read up on Operation Mockingbird. Mockingbird was a CIA operation that operated internationally and domestically (which is illegal in and of itself as the CIA is prohibited from operating on U.S. soil) which planted reporters, writers and editors in all of the major news organizations in America and the across the Globe from the 1950's to at least the 1970's. 

Think there isn't some form of an Operation Mockingbird operating in the media right now? Recent history reveals to us the Bush administration program involving the Pentagon/Military contractors and their use of paid analysts on cable news in order to "control narrative".

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And then there is the story of former Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune reporter and current NBC News National Security reporter Ken Dilanian, who got exposed for literally sending his articles to the CIA so that they could sign off on them before he submitted them. Dilanian is still paraded out on NBC as a serious journalist even after his CIA lapdog status was revealed. If you think these are isolated incidents, you are either willfully blind of hopelessly naive, these types of stories are just the tip of the iceberg. 

This is why when I read the almost identical stories in the Post and Times regarding the JFK document release and heard the uniform embrace of historical illiteracy and sneering at "conspiracy theories" on cable news, my bullshit detector went off.  

NEXT STOP - SPECULATION STATION

This is just speculation but considering the context of the pre-release media coverage, this is what I think the "narrative" will be once the release of the new JFK assassination documents occurs.

First off, there is always a chance that there is nothing of interest in these documents, meaning that there are no bombshells or any information that reflects poorly on the intelligence services. I sincerely doubt there is a paper trail to the grassy knoll so to speak, and if one does exist, the intelligence agencies are not in the business of incriminating themselves so they would have removed or destroyed those documents a long time ago. 

That said, if there is new information that is damning to America's national security apparatus  or other powerful figures, then I think that there are three tactics the establishment press will use to manage the story. Here they are in order of seriousness and likelihood, from least to most.

1. The new documents and any damning or alarming information contained within them will simply be ignored by the mainstream media. Establishment news outlets will say that there is nothing of relevance in the documents and will let the story drift off to the nether reaches of the internet that they condescendingly call the "fever swamps". "Serious people" will understand that to engage in talking about the documents or any damning information they may bring to light is a one-way ticket out of the Kingdom of Serious People. 

This approach is pretty standard, in fact, we have an example of it just recently with the release of information that shows that the United States played a pivotal role in the genocide in Indonesia 53 years ago. 

The New York Times covered the newly released documents but deep into the paper and with a very innocuous and misleading headline, "U.S. Stood by as Indonesia Killed a Half-Million People, Papers Show". In the heart of the article this sentenced appears,  "In 2015, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico reintroduced a resolution in the Senate calling for Indonesia to face up to its traumatic history. He also held the United States to account for its “military and financial support” there, which included providing lists of possible leftist sympathizers to the Indonesian government and, as one cable released Tuesday showed, pushing to bury foreign news coverage of the killings." Providing kill lists and managing a news blackout are not "standing by", that is considered active participation by most folks, just not by the people at the New York Times.

The U.S.- backed Indonesian genocide story has been successfully swept under the rug for over a half century and counting, you still won't hear it spoken of on cable news, that is for damn sure. But killing a half-million Indonesians 53 years ago does not equal the killing of one president 54 years ago in the eyes of the American people, so this head in the sand strategy might be ineffective in regards to the JFK file release. As stated earlier, over 60% of Americans believe there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, so the whistling past the graveyard, nothing to see here approach seems to have already failed and trying it one more time might be a useless endeavor.

2. Anyone who claims to find something important that challenges the "establishment narrative" of Oswald being the lone shooter or who contends there is a connection between Oswald and the CIA, will be mercilessly ridiculed. Any unflattering information that hints at conspiracy will be intentionally ignored and any people who claim a conspiracy will be crucified, demeaned and belittled as tinfoil hat wearing loons.

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"Conspiracy theorist" will be thrown around as a slur and the new damning revelations in the documents will be twisted beyond recognition until they are no longer deemed a threat to the establishment narrative. In this case the game plan will be to obfuscate, obfuscate, obfuscate. 

 

Again, this tactic has been used over and over again but as poll numbers indicate, Americans are seemingly becoming less and less enchanted with this approach. That said, the "fake news" taking point has certainly thrown the media-truth paradigm into chaos, so who knows if this tactic would be as successful this time around as it was years ago. 

3. If the documents reveal any truly damning information that could be seen as an indictment of the intelligence/national security community, such as a clear connection between Oswald and the CIA, like proof that he was on their payroll, then the national security establishment and their toadies in the media will quickly pivot and make the rather lame case that Oswald "went rogue" or they will bring out the big guns and blame Russia and Castro/Cuba for the assassination. Both are possible, but considering recent context, I think the latter is much more likely.

This would be the most interesting turn of events and frankly the most alarming. The Washington Post and New York Times quotes I mentioned above (and the Chris Matthews monologue I cite below), hint at this game plan and plant the seeds for it to come to fruition.

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING!

The intelligence community and their puppets in the establishment media will use any damning new information, if it exists, and contort it to their advantage. This sort of narrative jiu jitsu is the type of propaganda at which the national security state excels. As previously mentioned, over 60% of Americans believe in a conspiracy, so instead of fighting that fact the propagandists will finally embrace it. Admitting a conspiracy in the assassination, but only one that involves Russia/Cuba, is a devious masterstroke for the intelligence community trying to avoid exposure for their misdeeds. It will also psychologically buttress the argument for Russian manipulation of the 2016 election by making clear that conspiracies can occur and that Russians are the ones behind them.

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So, if Oswald is shown to have been connected to the CIA, the agency will simply claim that "yes, he was an intelligence asset and we sent him into Russia as a phony defector, but while in Russia he was "turned" by the KGB and unbeknownst to us, he returned to the U.S. playing both sides of the fence". The CIA will claim that the Soviets used their KGB double agent Oswald to assassinate President Kennedy. 

A story has circulated for years that during Oswald's alleged trip to Mexico City a few weeks before the assassination, that he met with the head of the KGB assassinations operations in the western hemisphere Valeriy Kostikov. He also allegedly went to the Cuban embassy and supposedly spoke openly about killing Kennedy. Famed "former" CIA agent Robert Baer extensively propagated these stories on his short lived 2017 History Channel program JFK Declassified: Tracking Oswald

Considering the current pandemic of Russophobia among the mainstream media and the U.S. populace, I have no doubt that the national security community and the press will run with any cock and bull story blaming the Soviets/Russians for JFK's death. The framing of the narrative will be that "Russia killed our President in 1963, and killed our Democracy in 2016!"

STRAIGHT SHOOTERS AND SAINTS

The stage for this nefarious duplicity has been set over the last year as the media have lavished the highest and most sanctimonious praise on the Intelligence community over the rather dubious Russian election interference story.

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For instance, MSNBC dolt Joy Reid recently described former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Director of the CIA John Brennan as "the straightest of straight shooters"  when they came out and said Russia "hacked" our election. Ms. Reid must have a very different definition of "straight shooter" than I do, because James Clapper committed perjury when he lied to congress about NSA surveillance, and John Brennan oversaw the CIA as it spied on congress, which is not only a crime but an egregious act of treason. 

Ms. Reid's comrades over at MSNBC, like known liar Brian Williams, echo the same sentiment as they speak in the most hushed and reverent tones about "the brave men and women of our intelligence services". Yeah, the brave men and women who are responsible for the recent coups and the murders of innocents in Ukraine, Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Yemen just to name a few.

This current deification of intelligence agencies will continue in the aftermath of the JFK document release because the intel agencies and their puppets in the media, will make this claim...that the only reason that the CIA undermined and lied to the Warren commission and the HSCA about their connection to Oswald is because they knew the Russians/Castro killed Kennedy, but they did not want to start World War III.

In other words, they will claim that they lied to us for our own good, to protect us. The narrative will be that this is the type of sacrifice that good, noble people, like those in the intelligence community, routinely make in order to save the world from armageddon. Not only will they beat the rap for the Kennedy killing by blaming the Russians/Castro, but they will explain away the cover-up following the crime and will be made out to be heroes. Pure genius.

THE JOYS OF SCAPEGOATING AND LIVING IN DENIAL

It will all be nonsense, as Russia and Castro were not involved in the assassination at all, and in fact not only gained nothing from it but lost a president who was fast becoming a partner for peace. As it often is when dealing with the government and intelligence agencies, the real casualty in all of this, besides JFK and our democracy, will be the Truth.

Sadly, the American people, with a big assist from our repugnant media, will buy this story, hook, line and sinker because it tells us what we want to hear, namely that a conspiracy took place, which supports the view of a majority of Americans, AND that it was outside forces, those dastardly Russians/Cubans who did this horrible act to us, and not us. Thus we never have to do any introspective self-examination at all which is a psychological win-win for Americans.

As a result of our reflexive scapegoating of the "other" (Russia/Cuba) and our shirking of self-refelction upon, and responsibility for, our own actions, we will get another cold war, bordering on a hot one with Russia. This will please the Military Industrial Complex no end...and we may even finally get our revenge on Cuba for daring to free itself from our imperial clutches, in the form of a coup or maybe even worse. No doubt we will eventually be treated to staged and choreographed scenes of Castro's statue being torn down by "freedom loving" Cubans. 

THE CONSPIRACY CONUNDRUM - THANK YOU FOR PROVING MY THESIS, MR. MATTHEWS

On Monday, after I had written the majority of this piece. I had to step away for a bit to see a client and then after the client left I turned on the television for just two minutes and I caught Chris Matthews' final segment of his show which was titled "Let Me Finish". In the segment Matthews talked about the pending JFK document release and I fully expected his usual spittle flecked, vacuous ranting against JFK conspiracies. Matthews said he was hoping that the soon to be released JFK files had information in them about Oswald and whether he acted alone or "had help". He also wanted to know what went on during Oswald's trip to Mexico City to meet with Russians ands Cubans and whether the CIA and FBI dropped the ball in watching him. Matthews' monologue was littered with half-truths, innuendos, outright factual inaccuracies and lies. 

Matthews concluded the segment and the show by saying he wants to definitively know if Oswald worked alone "OR IF HE HAD HELP FROM THE HAVANA OR MOSCOW". Upon hearing that statement, any trepidation I may have had about writing this piece quickly evaporated as Chris Matthews had proved my point for me.

Matthews made it clear that there are only two options regarding the Kennedy assassination…a lone nut or a Russian/Cuban conspiracy. This is the only thing Mathews and his ilk are now able to conceive, that Oswald either did this on his own or he was aided and abetted by the Soviets and Cubans, who Matthews hints in his monologue may have been accessories after the fact. Matthews inability to even contemplate that the CIA , FBI and National Security apparatus could be guilty of anything but "dropping the ball" regarding the assassination says all you need to know about him and his intellectual impotence. The thought of the CIA, FBI, the Pentagon or some rogue element of any or all of those groups being nefarious actors in the JFK assassination is entirely inconceivable to Matthews.

What is very intriguing about Matthews' hedging towards a Russian/Cuban conspiracy is that in 2013 he was adamantly opposed to ANY conspiracy related to the assassination. In an interview with Vincent Bugliosi, who had just published a mammoth book on the JFK assassination titled, "Reclaiming History", which went to great lengths to dispel any conspiracy in the murder of JFK, Matthews said he "agreed 100%" with Bugliosi's claim that Oswald acted entirely alone and that is was impossible for a conspiracy to have taken place. 

The Matthews - Bugliosi love-fest just four years ago made it abundantly clear that Chris Matthews would absolutely not even contemplate any inkling of a conspiracy. Now, in 2017, on the eve of the release of previously secret documents regarding the assassination, he changes his opinion and seems to be suffering from a conspiracy conundrum. 

 Matthews' conspiracy conundrum is very curious behavior indeed, and it is made even more curious by the fact that he fails to acknowledge his previously vociferous anti-conspriacy stance. I wonder what changed in the last four years regarding the case that Matthews is now not poo-pooing all conspiracies, but rather hinting that it was a Russian/Cuban conspiracy? 

NORMAN ROCKWELL SYNDROME AND WHO STOLE THE CHICKEN?

There is a scene in Schindler's List where the Nazi Amon Goth, masterfully played by Ralph Fiennes, lines up a group of Jewish prisoners and demands to know which one of them stole a chicken. When no one answers, the he shoot a man with his rifle and then a guard shoots the man again in the head. As the man lay dead in front of his fellow prisoners, his dark blood pooling everywhere, a young boy, shaking with fright, steps forward weeping. Goth asks the boy if he took the chicken, the boy shakes his head no. Goth surmises the boy knows who took the chicken and asks him who it was. The boy sobs that he does know who did it…and then emphatically points to the dead man laying on the ground and shouts…"HIM!"

It is a great scene and if something untoward pops up in regards to the release of JFK files, the establishment will be the scared little boy, and the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro will be the dead man laying on the ground taking all the blame. The Soviet Union and Castro are no more, and therefore are unable to defend themselves, which means they are the perfect foil and diversionary target for the intelligence community to lay the blame. 

Maybe I am wrong. Maybe the CIA and the national security establishment will acknowledge the role it played in the assassination and America will have a glorious come to Jesus moment and realize what actually happened 54 years ago and how it still affects us today. The gaping wound at the heart of America is the Kennedy assassination and the rot in our national soul springs from that event and the lies that surround it. Maybe if we just got a little bit of the Truth, we could start to heal that wound and maybe try to save ourselves. If not, if the lies continue, then rest assured that the wound to our national soul is surely as fatal as President Kennedy's head wound. It is only a matter of time before we bleed out and fade into eternal darkness.

It is anathema to Chris Matthews and the rest of his media cohorts to ever consider anything but the most benevolent intentions emanating from the establishment to which they are so beholden. These media establishmentarians like Matthews or even famed documentarian Ken Burns, whose recent Vietnam documentary opens with the delusional lines, "the war was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings", suffer from what I call Norman Rockwell Syndrome. For those with Norman Rockwell Syndrome, America is always and every time the good guys who only act out of benevolence and and never act out of malice.

It is human nature to want to embrace denial and avoid introspective self-reflection and clearly seeing the worst part of oneself (or one's country) at all costs and to project those shadow feelings onto the "other". When Matthews and his fellow Norman Rockwell Syndrome sufferers in the media shun self-reflection and go blind to national misdeeds and atrocities, like the JFK assassination or Vietnam, they are just displaying the usual symptoms of the syndrome, which are identical to the symptoms associated with the terminal disease of empire.

The disease of empire is corrosive on the spirit and soul of our nation and is a pestilence upon our democracy. On November 22, 1963 everything changed. It wasn't just the President of the United States, the myth of Camelot and the dream of America that died that day in Dallas, it was the Truth. 

Watch the two Chris Matthews' segments and you will get a taste of what is to come from the rest of the media in the awake of the release of the JFK files. Any thinking person with eyes to see and the courage to look will quickly recognize that, once again, the fix is in and we are never going to learn who stole that damn chicken because Truth doesn't stand a chance when lies rule the roost. 

©2017

The Media Hates Conspiracy Theories…Except When They Don't

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Estimated Reading Time : 6 minutes 38 seconds

KOOKS OF THE TINFOIL HAT BRIGADE

This week marks the 16th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. Whenever the topic of 9-11 comes up in the establishment press, it is wrapped in the warm cloak of officialdom and protected by vociferous assaults upon "conspiracy theories" and their unhinged purveyors. What is odd is that even during the anniversary week of the attacks, actual 9-11 conspiracy theories rarely rear their head anymore, only the denunciations of them from authority figures in the media who over time have become all the more fervent and ferocious in their attacks upon them. At this point, the sight of the anti-9-11 conspiracy crusaders pontificating in the media is akin to watching a straw man tilting at windmills.

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The anti-conspiracy forces in the press don't just deride 9-11 conspiracies but all "conspiracy theories", reshaping the term into an epithet meant to belittle and mock anyone who dare believe in such nonsense as a "conspiracy". Without fail, every year, the establishment news puts out an article that "scientifically" proves that anyone who believes in a conspiracy is a loser and kook who eats his own boogers and maybe other people's boogers too. Google "why do people believe in conspiracies" and you can see the same article repackaged year after year in different media outlets. NPR, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Scientific American, CNN, Business Insider, Research Digest and the Washington Post all have articles reinforcing the belief that anyone who believes in a "conspiracy theory" does so because they are uneducated, lack control in their lives, are emotionally and psychologically unstable and are also inherently more violent and dangerous. 

This belittling approach to conspiracy theories by the establishment press has been very effective, for anyone who wants to be allowed entry into the Kingdom of Those Who are Taken Seriously, knows not to "peddle in conspiracy theory". A friend of mine, a man in his seventies, is so indoctrinated by this thinking that whenever any sort of "conspiracy" is even remotely alluded to he simply says "now you're talking conspiracy theory" and abruptly ends the conversation. He is not alone, as I have had more conversations than I care to recall with people of all ages where people simply refuse to consider something because they label it a "conspiracy".

"SERIOUS PEOPLE" VS. CONSPIRACY THEORY AND MAGICAL THINKING

Kurt Andersen followed the pattern of these dismissive and presumptuous articles when he wrote a magnificently awful, bias confirming, self-aggrandizing piece titled, "How America Went haywire", in last month's The Atlantic magazine where he bemoaned America's descent into non-rationality and conspiracy theory. The piece is taken from Andersen's book on the same subject and if you don't want to read it I'll give you a quick summary, Andersen majestically gets on his pristine high horse and doesn't just tell kids of this generation, but kids of ALL generations, to get off his impeccably groomed, rational and science based, lawn. Andersen's thesis is basically that he and anyone enlightened enough to agree with him, like his establishment liberal friends in the media, are the smart, rational and noble ones who are caretakers of all knowledge, and aren't fooled by idiocies like conspiracy theories or, God-forbid...religion. 

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Adam H. Johnson, did a thorough and wonderful job of eviscerating Andersen's lazy, lackluster and thoughtless piece, and I encourage you to go read his article before, or instead of, reading Andersen's insipid Atlantic piece. As I read Andersen's article I was struck by many things, and then when I read Johnson's takedown of the piece I recognized that he and I both had nearly identical thoughts about Andersen's screed. The first thought I had was…why did Andersen start his timeline for when things really went off the rails in terms of conspiracy theory and magical thinking, after the Iraq invasion without ever mentioning that debacle? This struck me as odd because the Iraq war was a gigantic moment when a conspiracy theory and magical thinking came together and were peddled to the American public as fact by those in authority in the government and the press. It seems to me that the Iraq war was a key moment in destroying the credibility of the news media and authority in the eyes of Americans, which made the public more likely to disbelieve "official stories" and start to believe "alternative stories". But then Adam Johnson enlightened me as to why Andersen skipped the Iraq war altogether in his jeremiad…Andersen's editor at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, was a key player in the spreading of those false conspiracy theories regarding Iraq and 9-11, and is a neo-con who pushed hard the magical thinking of American empire in the middle east. In other words, Andersen sold out to his paymaster in order to get his piece published in The Atlantic, which will now act as a commercial for his new book. Needless to say, Andersen's credibility and intellectual integrity are entirely scuttled by his decision to ignore some of the more glaring examples of conspiracy theories and magical thinking in recent times.

It isn't just the graveyard of the Iraq war that Andersen whistles past, what about the other real conspiracies that happened in the same time frame that effected us all, like when Goldman Sachs and the other too big to fail banks conspired to defraud their customers and the country, along with mortgage lenders, ratings agencies and the regulators? And while we are on the topic, what about the magical thinking of trickle-down economics? Or the fed re-infalting bubble after bubble? Or neo-conservatism as an ideology? Apparently, according to the King of Rationality, Kurt Andersen, neo-conservatives are not like those foolish rubes who worship an invisible man in the sky. No, neo-cons, just like Kurt Andersen, worship the right God…namely, the dollar and American Empire, neither of which are targets of Andersen's lazy, shallow, pompous and self-serving diatribe. 

THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED

"Serious person" Kurt Andersen reminds me of another self-serving, self-styled rationalist of his same, decrepit generation, Little Bill Maher, who just like Andersen, despises religion and worships "science". The trouble is that Andersen and Maher's faith in science is fundamentally flawed. An example of this occurred a few months ago when Maher was arguing with a guest on his show about the Scooby-Doo/Russian story, and his guest said that there is no evidence to support the conspiracy claims, and Maher vociferously retorted, "The science is settled!! All 17 intelligence agencies say so!!". Little Bill, as always, was talking out of his ass, as "all 17 intelligence agencies" did not sign off on Russian interference, four of them did, and they only claimed that they were "asserting" this to be true, but did not provide one iota of evidence.

Maher's phrase, "the science is settled", stood out to me. Science is rarely, if ever, "settled". The fact that it was lost on Maher that science is always evolving is ironic, considering his admiration for Darwin. What Little Bill and his equally arrogant comrade Kurt Andersen also mis-understand about "science" is that just because something cannot be replicated in a laboratory doesn't mean it is impossible or isn't true, only that it has never been replicated in a lab. Science is, at its heart, fueled by the humbling acknowledgement that we as a species have very little understanding about ourselves, our world and our universe. Maher and Andersen's presumptuous vision of science is one of a near omnipotent force that has figured out just about 99.9% of everything that is knowable in the universe. The reality is that mankind knows next to nothing about itself, its world and this universe, but the adherents of scientism, like Maher and Andersen, are too enamored with their delusions of superiority to ever fully contemplate or grasp that inconvenient truth. 

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In terms of conspiracy theory, Little Bill is no better than the rest of the establishment media. On a show this past spring, Maher was talking with former CIA operative, Malcolm Nance, about the Scooby-Doo/Russia story, and Little Bill proclaimed that the intelligence community had Kennedy killed because he had a "pussy problem", meaning that Kennedy was vulnerable to blackmail because he was such a philanderer. This statement was remarkable for a few reasons, the first of which is that it went completely unchallenged by the former CIA agent, Nance, with whom Maher was talking, which would indicate that he too agrees with Maher's assessment of Kennedy's assassination, which is an extraordinary revelation. The second interesting thing about it is that Maher, ever the rationalist, is a strident opponent of 9-11 conspiracies because of his hatred of Islam, so his aligning himself with not only the Russian conspiracy, but a JFK one as well, was noteworthy in that it was a glaring intellectual inconsistency. 

Of course, what was really happening was that Little Bill was willing to set aside his usual adherence and allegiance to "facts and science"  in order to confirm his bias against Trump and the Russians, and in a round about way, be in support of the intelligence agencies. Maher wasn't saying that the intel community assassinating Kennedy was a bad thing, he sounded all for it, and in so doing he came across like he was encouraging them to do the same thing to Trump.

Little Bill's exercise in confirmation bias is, just like Maher himself, entirely unremarkable, as it is standard operating procedure in the institutional press and media. Just watch the intellectual contradictions fly on cable news or in the newspapers without any mention of the obvious moral, ethical, political and mental gymnastics required to ignore the glaring hypocrisies hiding in plain sight. 

CONSPIRACIES DON'T EXISTEXCEPT WHEN THEY DO

What I find interesting about this approach on all things conspiracy, is that it is entirely emotionally driven and so transparently vacuous as to be absurd. The reality is that a "conspiracy theory" should not automatically be dismissed simply because it claims a conspiracy occurred. The truth is, conspiracies happen all the time. I am not saying Bigfoot shot Kennedy or that Hillary Clinton is a Lizard Person (…although..I believe that he probably did and she more than likely is…), but conspiracies do not just live in the realm of fantasy, but flourish right here in reality. For instance, people are routinely charged with and convicted of "conspiracy" to commit one criminal act or another all the time here in America. So when people automatically and instinctively label anything a conspiracy false, simply because it is a conspiracy, they are not only taking a shortcut to thinking, they are denying things that are observably true. 

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9-11 conspiracy theories, in particular, seem to really rile the mainstream media and those in authority a tremendous amount. Any 9-11 theory that deviates from the "official story" as compiled by the 9-11 Commission, is deemed a threat to the establishment order and treated as such with attacks and ridicule in the form of the demeaning slur of "conspiracy theory". The problem with this approach, for anyone who cares about language or…God-fobrid, Truth, is that the "official story" of 9-11 is actually...a "conspiracy theory". According to the 9-11 Commission, Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts in Al Qaeda, CONSPIRED together in a cave in Afghanistan, to have 20 hijackers fly planes into various U.S. landmarks, killing thousands of Americans. When two or more people conspire to commit an act, that is a conspiracy, and in the case of 9-11, if you subscribe to the official story, then you are subscribing to a conspiracy theory, but you will never hear the media call the official 9-11 story a conspiracy or conspiracy theory.

The truth is most people just use the term "conspiracy theory" as a way to bludgeon a disquieting set of facts or ideas that are contrary to their ideology or worldview. There is a very clear example of this dominating the headlines and talk shows on cable news this very day…the Russian Election Meddling Story. Most people I know unquestioningly believe this story, that the Russian government colluded with the Trump campaign and interfered with the U.S. election, to be absolutely, 100% true, and it may very well be true, but people are believing it without ever even reading the Intelligence report that is the foundation from which all of the stories about the subject are based.

If the Russians did collude with Trump and interfere in the election, than that is most definitely a...conspiracy, but interestingly enough, the news media are very careful to not ever call the Russia story a "conspiracy". The establishment has so systematically and thoroughly degraded the word conspiracy that they cannot even use it when they are alleging an honest to goodness conspiracy in which they themselves actually believe. 

RACHEL MADDOW LOVES SCOOBY-DOO

A friend of mine, the incorrigible Johnny Steamroller, calls the Russian "meddling story" "The Scooby-Doo Story", because "meddling" is an amorphous, weasel-word term that lacks much needed specificity, and that in the old Scooby-Doo cartoon tv show, Scooby and his gang would always solve some crime and the perp would tell the cops he "would've gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids!!" The Scooby Doo/Russian meddling story is interesting in terms of conspiracy theory because it is an "official" conspiracy theory and not an "alternative" conspiracy theory. That is the key to understanding the establishment media and their loathing or loving of a conspiracy theory. As gatekeepers for officialdom, the mainstream news will not counter any official conspiracy theory, but will eviscerate any alternative conspiracy theory. 

As a result of the distinction between official and alternative conspiracies, we get Rachel Maddow whole-heartedly embracing the Russian election conspiracy theory to the point that she makes Glenn Beck look like Walter Cronkite and Sean Hannity look like Edward R. Murrow. Maddow sees Russians behind every single thing that happens and furiously reports it as though she's found the Lindberg baby in the arms of Jimmy Hoffa. This should not be surprising though, as when it comes to the "officially" sanctioned Russian conspiracy theory, anything goes. Even the most stodgy of old school media entities have embraced the most batshit conspiracy peddlers in regards to the Russian story, one need look no further than the New York Times op-ed page where the certifiably insane Louise Mensch was allowed to write a pieceas proof of that.

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Maddow may end up being totally right about Russia, and everything she is reporting true, but there has not been any solid, tangible evidence put forward to date to corroborate the claims of Russian interference she embraces. None. There was an Intelligence Report, that I wholeheartedly encourage people to go read (that Ms. Maddow tells her viewers to only read from select sections and not get bogged down in the details) that makes assertions that the Russian government tried to influence the 2016 election, but even that official report is completely devoid of evidence. That doesn't mean the story isn't true, it just means there is no evidence the story is true.

But that said, if you believe, as Rachel Maddow does, that the Russian government "meddled" in the election and colluded with the Trump campaign, then you believe in a conspiracy theory, that as of right now, has as much solid proof behind it as 9-11 being an "inside job" or the CIA assassinating Kennedy. Again, that doesn't mean those things didn't happen, it just means those things haven't been proven to have happened. 

EMOTION AS A WEAPON

Contrast Maddow's approach to the Russia conspiracy, an officially sanctioned conspiracy, to her approach to the Seth Rich murder - alternative conspiracy theory. Rich, a DNC staffer, was shot and killed at the height of the election season last year. The case is unsolved and what happened and who did it are unknown. Regardless of the void of information regarding the Rich case, Maddow, and the rest of her cohorts at MSNBC, are so opposed to any notion of a conspiracy in the Rich story that they are physically repulsed by it. The thread running through all of the anti-Seth Rich conspiracy reporting in the establishment press is that anyone who dare consider a conspiracy in the case is being cruel and vicious to the Rich family. These types of pleas to emotion by the media are giant red flags in terms of their credibility. Why should the media care if the family's feelings are hurt by people investigating the very mysterious death of Seth Rich, a case where no one knows what actually happened and who was behind his murder? And why is considering a conspiracy something that should never be contemplated ever again just because the family finds it offensive?

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The same appeal to emotion occurred in regards to 9-11, when Maddow, in particular, and the establishment media in general, consistently claimed that anyone talking of conspiracies were being disrespectful to the memories of the fallen and their families. Even in the case of the JFK assassination, considerations for the Kennedy family were said to be of paramount importance to those in power and so if anyone asked why so many standard operating procedures were ignored, the establishment used the delicate feelings of the Kennedy family as an excuse for deviations from standard, or to hide documents or even destroy them (the autopsy notes etc.). 

The truth is that people may say they don't believe in conspiracy theories in general, but they will believe in a conspiracy theory as long as it acts as a piece of confirmation bias for their belief system or helps to alleviate their cognitive dissonance. If a conspiracy is useful to them, they will give it more credence than if it challenges their ideology. For example, the Scooby-Doo/Russia story is a conspiracy theory that confirms the bias of a lot of people on the left and in the establishment in regards to Trump's election victory, and may also help to reduce their raging cognitive dissonance. Being able to blame Russia for Hillary's defeat isn't just a salve for Mrs. Clinton, her adamant supporters or the media, all of whom have a great deal of humiliating egg on their faces, but it also allows all of these folks to avoid doing the thing we as human beings least like to do…namely, admitting we were wrong or that we made a grievous mistake. 

The Russia interfering in the election causing Trump to win narrative means that America isn't a nation that has lost its mind, Hillary wasn't as atrocious as she always has been and democrats weren't idiotic to have nominated her, and Clinton supporters and the media's instincts weren't as spectacularly wrong as they obviously were. Russia is a very convenient scapegoat for those looking to blame everyone but themselves for the election disaster that brought us President Trump. 

THE LADY DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH, METHINKS

As I previously said, the Russian election conspiracy may very well be proven true. There is a long history of foreign governments meddling in other countries elections, the problem is that the country doing the meddling is usually the U.S. This is an inconvenient fact for those in the establishment, and is usually ignored or glossed over as "whatboutism" or "moral equivalence", two terms in vogue at the moment used to shut down debate. 

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That said, there have been previous cases of election meddling in the U.S., but these examples are also uncomfortable to the institutional press because they undermine the narrative of the establishment and American democracy as being above reproach. One noteworthy example was when Nixon sabotaged LBJ's Vietnam peace talks in 1968, in order to keep the war going and increase his chances of winning the presidency. What is interesting about this bit of election meddling is that the establishment media is only talking about it now in order to equate Trump with Nixon. 

Another example of U.S. election meddling is one that the mainstream press will deride as a "conspiracy theory", but which is in reality a conspiracy fact, and that is Reagan's treasonous deal with Iran to keep the U.S. hostages imprisoned until after Reagan won the 1980 election. Go read Robert Parry's outstanding work on this topic as it will surely help you to see Reagan's America, and the media's adulation of him, in a new light. It will also help to give context to this past year's election and the possibility of Russian interference.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, Official media go to great lengths to belittle conspiracy theories because they are seen as a threat to them and the established order they are committed to defending. The gatekeepers in the media are little more than stenographers to those in power, so when citizen journalists start stepping on their toes with questions those in authority would prefer not to hear, then the media kick it into high gear asserting their control over debate.

Just because something is a conspiracy, does not make it false, nor does it make it true. Each case should be studied and judged on the merits of the actual evidence. When judging the probability or possibility of a conspiracy, it is vital that we acknowledge our own personal predisposition's and biases and take them into account just as we take the veracity and amount of evidence into account. Know this, conspiracies happen, and the truth is that the most reliable theory of history is conspiracy theory, not the coincidence theory that the establishment hoists upon the public. 

The best bet regarding the current conspiracy du jour that the media won't call a conspiracy, the Scooby-Doo/Russian election story, is for the buyer to beware, not because the Russians are saints and Trump is a beyond reproach, but because the establishment and their shills in the media has been proven to lie over and over and over again…trusting them is a sucker's bet.

Regardless of whether a conspiracy has the imprimatur of officialdom or originates from an alternative source, it is imperative for us to demand clear-cut evidence and proof for or against whatever assertions are being made when people are trying to convince us of anything, especially when we are predisposed to believe what they are selling. Now…in that spirit, please go read the entire intelligence report on Russian election interference, especially the sources and methods section…you may find it very enlightening.

©2017

 

Colossal Warning on Korea

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****WARNING - THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FILM COLOSSAL!! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!****

Estimated Reading Time : 5 minutes 12 seconds

The other night a young lady friend of mine, the esteemed Lady Pumpernickle Dusseldorf, wanted to "spend some time" with me, and she decided that the best course of action was for the two of us to watch a movie together. Ever the gentleman, I accepted her invitation and added that she should pick the entertainment for the evening. The Lady chose Colossal, the off-beat art house movie starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. I had already seen Colossal back in April when it was first released, but when a vivacious, pretty, young lady wants something, I am in the practice of always obliging, so we sat down on the couch at a respectable distance from one another and watched Colossal. 

The first time I saw the film I enjoyed it a great deal, so I was more than happy to watch it again. Colossal isn't a perfect movie, but it is definitely an original and unique work of art. Both Hathaway and Sudeikis turn in solid performances and writer/director Nacho Vigalando was always a step ahead of me with his storytelling. 

The reason I mention Colossal now, after my second viewing, is that when I watched it this time I watched it through the prism of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula between the U.S. and North Korea. Watching the film as potential prophesy made the movie even more compelling to me the second time around, although it also made it slightly less entertaining. My Isaiah/McCaffrey Wave Theory©®™ uses, among many other things, the myths and archetypes of films as a trend analysis and prediction tool, so I am very conscious of movies as a means to reading tea leaves. That said, Colossal has not, at least not yet, reached certain artistic and popular benchmarks demanded by the Isaiah/McCaffrey Wave Theory©®™ to be considered an "Indicator" film. What that means is that the film is unlikely to be of high value as a trend analysis or predictive tool, but to be clear, unlikely to be of high value doesn't mean it has zero value, which is maybe why I was unsettled by what I observed hiding in plain sight in the film and how it relates to our world at the moment.

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The similarities between the Colossal and the current Korean situation are pretty fascinating. Let us start with the players. The film's lead character Gloria, played by Anne Hathaway, is a psychologically wounded, self-destructive narcissist New Yorker in a state of perpetual adolescence. When Gloria gets mugged by her unconscious (in her case by getting really drunk), a giant monster, the manifestation of her psychological wound, appears in Seoul, South Korea and starts demolishing the city. 

In regards to our current Korean crisis, does the description of Gloria as a "psychologically wounded, self-destructive narcissist New Yorker in a state of perpetual adolescence" sound like anybody else we know? It seems relatively obvious to me that Gloria is a much prettier, ultimately more self-aware version of Donald Trump. 

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The main male character is Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis, who is a psychologically wounded, love starved, desperate, self-destructive, at first passive-aggressive and then aggressive-aggressive, control freak with some extra spicy misogyny thrown into the mix. To give you a glimpse of Oscar's darker impulses, in a pique of jealousy and anger he sets off a gigantic firework in the bar that he owns and operates, which is a family owned business he inherited, which results in setting the place ablaze, all just to prove to Gloria and her ex-boyfriend how Oscar is the one in power and complete control. Similarly to Gloria, Oscar also comes to discover that his psychological wound manifests itself in Seoul leaving death and destruction in its wake, but unlike Gloria whose demon takes the shape of a monster - a living organism with feelings (albeit unconscious ones), Oscar's demon takes the shape of a robot, symbolizing his total lack of connection with any emotional self.

To me, Oscar sounds an awful lot like Kim Jong-un, the "psychologically wounded, love starved, desperate, self-destructive, at first passive aggressive then aggressive aggressive, control freak" leader of North Korea who "inherited the family run business" of leadership of his country and who seems very capable of igniting a "gigantic firework" that lights the family business on fire.

Watching Colossal as primer for a potential Korean conflict was a bit unnerving, which is the main reason why I found it less entertaining the second time around. To me, it is entirely believable that the two stunted children grown large, Trump and Kim Jong-Un, would use the people of Seoul as their playthings and ultimately sacrifice them at the altar of their egos and personal psychological deficiencies and wounds.

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If it meant proving a point about how powerful and virile they both are, I have no doubt that these impotent fools would gladly fire some phallic missiles at one another. The brunt of the damage of any conflagration on the Korean peninsula would fall on the city of Seoul, where 25 million people live in the crosshairs of North Korean artillery. Most power-hungry people who become presidents and leaders of nations are little more than sociopaths if not outright psychopaths, but Trump and Kim seem beyond the pale of even the ordinary madmen who rule supreme on this earth. Both of them appear to me to be craven enough to not even consider the fate of the people in Seoul or anywhere else in the world if their fragile psyches and delicate masculinity were on the line. Just like Gloria and Oscar, Trump and Kim only care about themselves and their own insatiable and relentless wants and needs.

As I mentioned in my original review, the fact that Gloria's monster appears in Seoul, as opposed to Tokyo or Beijing, is no coincidence. Seoul, or more accurately, SOUL, is the battleground where Gloria must reclaim her Self and heal her psychological wounds. If she fails in the task of psychological evolution and integration, then Seoul/her soul, will be destroyed. The same is true of Trump, that if he is unable to restrain his most base desires, which for him are to gain power and control and to avoid embarrassment and humiliation, then Seoul will be forced to pay the heavy price that his ego demands. 

The same is true of Kim, but in a slightly different way. Kim's life is on the line in any resurgence of Korean hostilities. Kim's self-preservation instinct is currently all that is keeping the entire Korean peninsula from armageddon.  For the narcissist, the survival instinct is very strong, as the need for love and approval can be a powerful fuel to get them through life. But as strong as the survival instinct is for the narcissist, there can be a turning point, a sort of emotional/psychological event horizon, beyond which there is no turning back. The narcissist will not only do anything for love and control, but for spite…and Kim could certainly get to the point in the Korean situation where he simply must act in order to maintain his delusion of self-worth and identity, which will have dire consequences for his people, the people of South Korea, and the U.S. military men and women serving in the area. 

In the end of Colossal, Gloria gets sober, thus giving her control, not over others, but over herself and her unconscious, which frees her to do the hard work of self-discovery and self-healing that she desperately needs in order to evolve beyond her childhood trauma and into adulthood. Gloria saves Seoul and defeats Oscar by putting herself directly in harms way and taking responsibility for her life and her choices. Obviously, this is where the Gloria-Trump comparisons come to a screeching halt. Trump, the 71 year old man-child, is not going to change now, and so the people of Seoul will have to live on the razors edge of his erratic psyche until he is no longer in office. 

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There is a line in Colossal where Gloria says to Oscar, "you've lost your mind…you know that, don't you?", to which Oscar replies, "The important thing now is that you don't lose yours". Kim Jong-Un and his father and grandfather, have always been described as madmen by their adversaries here in America. To be fair, the U.S. ALWAYS describes their enemies as crazy, so that epithet isn't unique to the ruling family of North Korea. That said, for the first time in my lifetime, it appears that America has a true-blue lunatic of their own leading our nation in Donald Trump. So in the near future we may be dealing with an equation in which Kim Jong-Un has potentially "lost his mind" and we are forced to rely on Donald Trump "not losing his" mind. If that becomes the case then we are in some very deep shit. 

In the final analysis, Colossal is a unique film worth seeing that I hope is just a nice piece of original entertainment and not a doomsday prophecy. Although, if I am being honest, I have to admit I have a sinking feeling that in the long run, Colossal will end up being much too prophetic for my comfort. The sad truth is, when two men with twisted souls like Trump and Kim square off, we all might end up losing our Seoul. 

©2017

 

 

JOE McCARTHY WAS RIGHT!! Shocking Revelations From a Manchurian Op-Ed Writer

Estimated Reading Time : 5 minutes 03 seconds

Last night a reader emailed me a tweet that commented on former CIA director John Brennan's testimony to the House Intelligence Committee earlier in the day. The tweet read...

"Brennan: Russians use RT as well as individual op-ed writers who are on the Russian payroll in order to advance Russia's interests"

Upon seeing the tweet my blood ran cold, my heart nearly stopped and my mind raced. As my tweet sending reader knows full well, since January of this year I have occasionally contributed to RT, the Russian-based website and news channel, by *GASP* writing op-eds for them. 

I quickly tried to gather myself and went to investigate Brennan's testimony further. I had to unravel this story and follow it wherever it led, let the truth prevail or the heavens fall. 

After reviewing Brennan's answers to the committee, the sentence that jumped out at me most was when the stern faced former director said, "Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path, do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late."

Once again my blood ran cold, my heart nearly stopped and my mind raced. Was I, as an occasional op-ed contributor to RT, on the "treasonous path" and simply unaware of it? Was I an unwitting traitor hell-bent on destroying America from the inside as a Manchurian Op-Ed writer? I decided to take a long, hard look at myself to see if I was as John Brennan described, an inadvertent traitor and Russian collaborator.

I must admit that I was shocked and appalled at what I found as I dug into this story. As is always the case, John Brennan, and the rest of our remarkably infallible Intelligence Community, were right on the money. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that I had, in fact, been writing articles on RT for the last five months that were skeptical of the official Washington narrative regarding Russia. How dare I question the group think coming from the establishment in Washington and the mainstream media? What was wrong with me? I think we all know the answer to that question…don't we comrades?

 Presumably, this was my training to be a Manchurian Op-Ed Writer.

Presumably, this was my training to be a Manchurian Op-Ed Writer.

The thing that disturbed me the most was that, for years prior to getting published at RT, I had been writing articles that questioned the establishment's Russia narrative on my own website, which means that I was doing it...FOR FREE!! So, before I ever received my first paycheck signed by my best friend and confidante, Vladimir Putin, I had been shilling for his takeover of the free world gratis. The only conclusion one can draw is that I must have been Kompromised…oops…I mean, compromised, much earlier on than I believed. 

As my investigation went even deeper I discovered, with the help of some kind-hearted commenters and emailers that had been so gracious as to reach out to me, that I was, in fact "a useful idiot" for Putin and the Russians. This lifted my spirits enormously, as being a "useful idiot" was a big promotion for me since I have been a "use-less idiot" for the overwhelming majority of my life. I hope this promotion comes with an increase in pay grade as well, as I've really had my eye on a super sweet jet ski for a while now!!

As difficult as it was to unearth the fact that I am a Russian created Manchurian Op-Ed Writer, the harder part was peeling the layers back upon the conspiracy of which, unbeknownst to me, I had been such a crucial part. I began to wonder…who was my handler? Is it the old Russian lady I say hello to on my morning walk as I pass by the local nursing home? I bet it is…she wears a lot of perfume, probably to cover the stench of treachery that emanates from her evil Russian flesh.

 St, Basils looming menacingly over the White House.

St, Basils looming menacingly over the White House.

The deeper I investigated, the more concerned I became. The TV has told over and over again how the Russians are masters of "trade craft" in the art of spying, which means I must be a master spy, since I am not even aware that I am one. Obviously, the fact is, by not being aware I am a Russian spy, that proves that I am a Russian spy. Secondly, how did I know that this cover of Time magazine shown on the left, which purports to show the Kremlin taking over the White House, is actually not the Kremlin but St. Basil's Cathedral. How the hell did I know that? Once again, we all know the answer to that, don't we my commie-pinko comrades. 

So it is a fact, I am a Russian spy, and, just like Russian meddling in the election, of that there can zero doubt or questioning regardless of any lack of evidence. Tangible proof is not needed for this "assertion" because it is so self-explanatory. But the question becomes, who else besides me is in on this conspiracy? 

I went back and read the unclassified Intel Community report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election in order to find out who my other co-conspirators might be. The report, brought to congress by then Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, says that RT is a Russian propaganda arm meant to disrupt American democracy.

The proof Clapper's report presented for Russian election interference was that in 2012 and 2016 RT had done stories on "alleged US election fraud and voting machine vulnerabilities". CBS and PBS had also done extensive stories on those same exact topics, as did most every other American news outlet. The Russian contagion is worse than I thought. The clues were always there, hiding in plain sight, I mean Dan Rather and those commies at Public Broadcasting being Russian spies is not exactly shocking. 

Clapper's report also used as proof of Russian election meddling the fact that the channel had "highlighted a lack of democracy in the United States" and had "broadcast, hosted and advertised third party candidate debates". The Russians are so nefarious that they were able to scuttle our democracy by highlighting our democracy. The evil genius of that is staggering.

In addition, the report states that RT undermined our 2016 election by airing a documentary on Occupy Wall Street that the report described like this…"RT framed the movement (Occupy Wall Street) as a fight against the ruling class and described the current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations". Obviously, this proves that Putin is Satan. No more need be said about it. 

The report also declares that RT alleged "widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality and drone use" along with alleging "Wall Street greed." Those snakes over at MSNBC did the same thing, thus revealing their true intentions. Chris Hayes is a four-eyes, wonky piece of RED SCUM! 

And finally, the Clapper report's coup-de-grace was that RT had attacked our democracy by "running anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts of public health." Josh Fox, I have bad news comrade, you have been compromised! Abort mission, ABORT!! Light all of America's water on fire and head back to Moscow!

After re-reading Brennan's testimony and Clapper's report I realized the overwhelming enormity of the Russian conspiracy to destroy American democracy. The list of unwitting traitors committing treason against America at Russia's behest is gargantuan. The list includes but is not limited to, CBS, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, McNeil AND Lehrer, nearly every major news outlet in the country, third party candidates, third party voters, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Environmentalists, Bernie Sanders, Josh Fox, all liberals, all progressives, most democrats, people of conscience, and the ring leader, Dan Rather, who instigated the entire operation simply by uttering the code word implanted in all of our brains by our Russian overlords…"Courage". 

After discovering the true nature of this vast conspiracy I sat down to catch my breath, only to be overcome once again with dread. If I and the rest of my comrades were the unwitting treasonous traitors that Clapper and Brennan said we were, who else is in on it? How far had the Russian contagion spread? As I pondered this question, an ominous feeling came over me, for the answer was right in front of my nose. 

James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, lied to congress in 2013 about mass surveillance of Americans by the NSA. When Clapper was asked if the NSA was collecting data on millions of Americans he replied, "No…not WITTINGLY". OH…MY…GOD. Clapper is in on it. As is the entire National Security Agency. Those sneaky Rooskies have really done it this time!

Thank goodness that we still have good, honorable Americans who will fight this scourge of Russian inspired treason, men like former CIA director John Brennan, the man who instigated my entire investigation. But wait…Brennan and his CIA spied on the Senate when the Senate was investigating and writing the Torture Report that implicated the CIA. Was Brennan a witting or unwitting traitor when he did that? And was it at the behest of Dr. Evil, Vladimir Putin? The answer is obvious…Brennan artfully plied his trade craft during his testimony to congress yesterday, only a conniving Russian can be such a master spy. Brennan, I am sorry comrade, but you have been compromised. 

Sadly for me, my in-depth investigation reveals that in my role as a Manchurian Op-Ed Writer, I am not as pivotal as I thought I was in the Russian takedown of American democracy. Do I play a part? Yes, but I am no James Clapper or John Brennan. I am just some fool looking for the truth. My dreams of being a "useful idiot" are eclipsed by the work of Brennan, Clapper and the media. I return, crestfallen, to my previously held position of "use-less idiot". Damn...I really had my heart set on that jet ski. 

©2017

Theatre of the Absurd : Road to Damascus Edition

Estimated Reading Time : 6 minutes 12 seconds

 

CIRQUE du TRUMP AND THE MEDIA CLOWNSHOW IN FULL EFFECT

It was just a little over a week ago when reports, followed by horrific images, of a chemical weapons attack in Idlib, Syria danced across our television sets here in America. Since then, of course, we have seen our brave and noble media search long and hard in a righteous quest for the Truth of this sad story...Oh…wait…no we haven't…quite the contrary in fact, we have seen our mendacious media shovel lie after lie onto the furnace of our war loving culture.

Trump's reactionary and retaliatory lobbing of cruise missiles onto an airfield in the middle of nowhere Syria a few days after the chemical attack was like a double shot of Viagra for the chronically flaccid "liberal" media, who quickly stood at attention and saluted their brave Commander in Chief and the "beautiful weapons of war" he unleashed. Does this sound absurd to you, well it should, because it most assuredly is.

This same media has been ranting since the election that Trump is unfit to serve as President, and is unhinged and dangerous, if not compromised by the Russians, but the second he uses force and kills people he magically becomes presidential? What the hell is going on here? The short answer…the media is in the tank for the deep state in all its forms (the military industrial complex, the surveillance state, Wall Street, the corporatacracy, etc.), and Trump got played by the Deep State's national security wing and now they have him securely in the boat - hook, line and sinker.

The result of this will be that we will see more muscular military interventions in Syria and we may see a large military action, if not full out war in North Korea in the very near future. The Deep State beat Trump like a drum, he was the proverbial guy who brings a ham sandwich to a chainsaw fight, and now they will use him to get everything they want…more war, more empire, more surveillance, more tyranny, more globalism. 

LACK OF EVIDENCE

The Syrian chemical weapons attack was certainly gruesome, and the blame for it was quickly assigned to Syrian leader Bashar Assad, and then, conveniently, Russian President and Assad ally, Vladimir Putin. The problem with that is that there has been zero evidence or proof shown that Assad or Putin were behind the attacks. The US says it has undeniable proof, but won't share it, which is a pretty strong indicator the evidence is either weak or non-existent. Take a quick read of the Intel report on the subject and try not to hurt yourself looking for anything substantial. Talk about Theatre of the Absurd!!

As is the custom regarding these types of things, the MSM conveniently avoided or ridiculed anyone who questioned the "official" narrative of Assad and Putin being to blame for the Sarin gas attack in Idlib. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's assistant during his infamous 2003 Iraq WMD presentation at the U.N., went on All In with Chris Hayes this week and questioned the official story, saying it was nonsense and spoke openly about a false flag attack by anti-Assad rebels trying to lure the U.S. into the Syrian civil war. Wilkerson knows of what he speaks, as he has openly admitted being an unwitting aid in the hoax that led to the ill-fated U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Hayes was silent during Wilkerson's Syrian false flag claims and never follow up on the topic and quickly changed the subject. Once Wilkerson was off air though, Hayes told his next guests that Wilkerson was way off target and totally wrong, it was unquestionably Assad who is to blame for the sarin atrocity. This was a cowardly and cheap trick by Hayes to avoid having to answer tough questions about the chemical attack claims being made by the U.S. government. Hayes should have jumped all over Wilkerson and had a thorough going over of the case, but he didn't, probably because he knows the case is paper-thin if not non-existent. Hayes' failure to cross examine Wilkerson was cowardly, and his back stabbing him when he wasn't there to defend or debate was the height of cheap shots. 

Another bit of absurdist disinformation put out there by the deep state and its national security wing, was when former presidential candidate and CIA agent, Evan McMullen, claimed on Bill Maher's HBO show that Assad isn't fighting ISIS, but rather is allied with ISIS. This is a typical maneuver out of the deep state playbook, muddy the waters and obfuscate the truth to such a degree that up is down, and reality is impossible to discern. McMullen is, like his sleepy-eyed Intel agency cohort and MSNBC darling, Malcolm Nance, a complete and total bullshitter.. McMullen and Nance play the roles of serious men, but they consistently spout nothing but absurdities, be wary of everything either one of them claims.

HISTORY OF FALSE FLAGS BY SYRIAN REBELS - EXHIBIT A

There is a lot of mention in the corporate media of a 2013 chem attack in Syria as further proof of Assad's guilt in the most recent attack, but there is never any mention of the facts about that 2013 attack, which are very different than the MSM would have you believe.

The 2013 attack was the one that "crossed the red line" that Obama had set about Assad using chemical weapons. Then, as now, the media were quick to jump on the flimsiest of Intel assessments that stated that the Assad regime was to blame. The problem with using this 2013 attack as proof of Assad being guilty now is that the opinion about who is to blame for the 2013 attack has shifted away from Assad and to the rebels due to investigative reporting (Links HERE , HERE , HERE , HERE). The U.N. representative investigating the 2013 claim believes that anti-Assad rebels used Sarin gas in order to draw the west into the Syran civil war. Not a bad plan…and it almost worked…and it might even work this time since we are much more primed for war with Syria and Russia by our repugnant press.

Seymour Hersch was the one who really broke the 2013 story wide open. I highly recommend you read his piece about that attack and where the chemical weapons came from, it would be highly insightful in understanding the current Syrian situation. 

The key take away from Hersh's reporting is that the 2013 chemical weapons attack was a false flag attack by Turkish intelligence and the anti-Assad rebels. This is pretty important information to have if you want to understand what is happening now. Of course, the MSM and the Establishment will ridicule and belittle anyone who says such things, even rising star congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and label them as "unserious" or worse still, "conspiracy theorists", but that doesn't mean they are wrong. 

A big clue as to what the Establishment is up to is that no one ever mentions the 2013 attack as a false flag. It is either held up as proof of Assad's depravity or it is ignored. This is a glaring red flag that we are being sold a "Gulf of Tonkin" level bill of goods regarding this recent chemical weapons incident. 

HISTORY OF FALSE FLAGS BY SYRIAN REBELS - EXHIBIT B

Another intriguing topic that gets no mention in regards to this current attack and the Syrian rebel forces, is the Richard Engel false flag kidnapping. If you are not aware of the story, which wouldn't be surprising since the MSM wants you to not be aware of the story, it is a remarkable one. The short version is this, NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel, was kidnapped in Syria and his captors said they were Pro-Assad Shiites. The brutalized him and his compatriots and then a group of anti-Assad Sunni rebels saved him. Engel went on NBC continuously and told the story of his brutal Iranian trained, Shiite captors and his heroic Sunni rebel saviors. The only problem was…it was all a ruse. Engel, PROBABLY wasn't in on it and was the dupe, but it turns out the anti-Assad rebels kidnapped him and made it look like Assad forces did it. it was a propaganda piece, from start to finish…and Engel, NBC, and America bought it. Doesn't this Engel kidnapping, combined with the Sarin false flag attack in 2013 give ample evidence to at least question the "official story" of this most recent chemical weapons attack? Wouldn't the most prudent thing to do is BE SKEPTICAL? 

In one of the more remarkable exchanges that highlight the absurdity of msm coverage of this situation, NBC's Brian Williams, who is a well known liar who has no business being on television or reporting on anything, interviewed Richard Engel. Of course, Williams, his trousers still tented from the "beautiful" missile strike by US forces against Syria, never mentioned Engel's false flag experience in Syria, they both just traded smiles and serious looks about how guilty Assad and Putin obviously were.  If Brian Williams were a real journalist, he may have asked something along these lines..."Richard Engel, you were the victim of a scary kidnapping that was a ruse in order to drum up support in America for the Anti-Assad rebels, is there any chance this chemical weapons attack and the subsequent news coverage out of that area, are a similar disinformation campaign meant to stir the west in general, and the US in particular, to act on behalf of the down trodden rebels?"  Instead we got little more than hot and heavy breathing about our presidential leader and the brave men and women lobbing missiles from hundreds of miles away at an enemy they will never see. Typical soft-serve bullshit from Brian Williams and the impotent gang at NBC.

LACK OF CONTEXT

Two final points you won't hear discussed by the MSM regarding Syria that are a dead giveaway that they are shoveling nothing more than disinformation and propaganda. The first is the complete lack of any historical context. Like the fact that Assad, who every talking head says is a monster, was our ally in the war on terror. Did you know that? Did you know that we sent prisoners to him to be tortured? Assad is certainly a monster, but he has been our monster, and to try and pretend like our hands are so clean regarding this guy is outrageous. And it is even more despicable when we take the moral high ground in regards to Putin and Russia and their support of Assad. You hear a lot of "how could they?" from the dipshits populating cable news. Maybe we should look in the mirror to answer that question. 

And finally, along the same lines, there has been an evolution in the Syria chemical weapons attack story that is entirely predictable…that it is all Putin's fault. Putin has become the scapegoat for everything wrong in the world. It is beyond absurd, and our getting high and mighty about it is the height of hypocrisy. Does anyone remember Iraq and Saddam Hussein using chemical weapons on his own people, the Kurds, and in his war with Iran? Do we all suffer from such a severe form of historical amnesia? Saddam, our ally, used our chemical weapons, with the aid of our Intelligence agencies and military, to gas his own citizens and Iranians. We had no problem with it back then, but apparently now we are horrified by such outlandish behavior.

Of course, years later the MSM and establishment conveniently forgot the details of the Saddam situation and only highlighted his use of chemical weapons. That worked out well for them in deceiving the ill-informed public and successfully making the case to invade Iraq in 2003.

Our newfound horror at middle eastern tyrants using chemical weapons, and our anger at nations who support those tyrants, is the most historically illiterate and obnoxiously hypocritical stance imaginable. This doesn't strengthen our standing as a moral and ethical beacon for the world, it only highlights how full of shit we are. 

By the standards that we blame Putin for Syria, we ourselves are to blame for the innumerable atrocities taking place in Yemen right now at the hands of the Saudis, where millions are on the verge of starvation and have been subject to the most heinous of war crimes. Will we hold ourselves to the same standard we hold Putin and the rest of the world? of course not, because we are absolutely, 100% full of shit. 

WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING HERE?

What I think is really going on in Syria is something you will never hear anywhere in the establishment media. What I think is actually happening will be ridiculed as being "unserious" and "conspiratorial", which is fine. But here is my assessment of the situation. 

The Syrian civil war is a proxy-pipeline war. Russia and Iran want an Iranian gas pipeline to go through Syria into Europe, while the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia want a Saudi pipeline to go through the Syria in to the European market. Russia and Iran want to weaken Saudi Arabia and the U.S., and the U.S. and Saudi Arabia want to weaken Russia and Iran. It is a geopolitical and business chess game. 

Secondly, and this definitely gets me labelled "unserious", but I think that the U.S. created ISIS in order to attack and bring down Assad and wreak havoc in the middle east. Our war on ISIS is little more than Kabuki theatre. We trained, armed and supported them from day one. If we had really been trying to destroy them, they'd be destroyed. Russia entered the Syrian civil war to defeat ISIS and shock of shocks…they are actually doing it. The whole "arming moderate rebels" routine was a total charade, and that seems very obvious to me. We are fighting a war on terror and yet we are allied, arming and supporting both ISIS and Al Qaeda in their holy war (Sunni vs. Shia) against Assad. 

I think the Deep State is not going to let Syria go. We are going to get more and more involved in that war, and will try and lure Russia into even deeper involvement. The Deep State wants to destroy Putin and Russia at any cost. They started a coup in Ukraine and a civil war in Syria in order to distract and drain the Russians. It might very well work. 

This is what I think is going on in that part of the world. I realize some, if not most, people will think that is batshit crazy. That's ok. Who cares what I think, right? The reason I come to this conclusion is that when you understand the script the deep state plays by, you can see how they try to manage and manipulate the masses to get what they want. Syria and the chemical weapons attack is a great example…and frankly, so is the Russian hysteria sweeping the globe. 

Whatever the Truth is, we will probably never know for certain, especially since we are little more than slack-jawed fools sitting by, watching in awe as a Theatre of the Absurd production unfolds before our eyes. The best thing we can do, regardless of whether the topic is Syria, Russia, North Korea, China or anything else that comes up, is keep our eyes and minds open, and to always and every time demand proof of the claims that those in authority make. Do not trust, but verify. Every. Single. Time. 

UPDATE 4/14/17 : A great piece from top-notch reporter Robert Parry published just this morning is worth reading as it further fortifies my argument against the conventional wisdom regarding Syria. 

UPDATE 4/18/17 : An MIT weapons expert is claiming that the Syrian chemical weapons attack was staged on the ground and did not come from an air assault. He also says that the White House report contains "no evidence", both points further buttressing my argument against the "official narrative".

©2017

Through the Looking Glass : Truth and Lies in Week One of 2017

Estimated Reading Time : 8 Minutes 44 Seconds

Week one of 2017 is in the books and boy oh boy was it a doozy. This most bizarre week no doubt portends the strangeness of the year to come. We are only one week into this new year and we are already through the looking glass where up is down, left is right, lie is truth, good is bad and nothing seems to make any sense whatsoever. What am I talking about…well…let's recount the week and discover the ways our world has gone topsy turvy. 

The big news of the week was the "Russia Hacking" story. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before congress and assured everyone that the Russian government in general, and Putin in particular, were indeed behind the hacking of the election against Hillary Clinton. DNI Clapper followed that up by releasing a "report" by the CIA, FBI and NSA that was meant to prove his case for Russian hacking. None of that is very weird, but what was weird was how many republicans were skeptical of the intelligence community claims and how many democrats unquestioningly embraced the intelligence community claims. 

I have read the intelligence report, have you? Did you notice anything funny about the CIA report on Russian hacking into the election? Maybe I am crazy, but there is absolutely zero evidence in that report of Russian hacking or tampering in the election at all. Nothing. It is like the book reports I used to turn in in high school when I didn't read the book…which was always, because reading is for nerds. What would happen is that I wouldn't read the book and then I'd get the Cliff Notes, but I wouldn't even read those, just give them a half-assed skimming over the night before the report was due. Then I would just scratch a bunch of bullshit together in homeroom and hope to sneak by without anyone noticing I had no idea what I was talking about….sort of like what the Intelligence community just did with their hacking report. DNI Clapper turned in one hell of a whopper of a book report the other day and boy is he hoping no one actually reads it with a critical eye. What the Intelligence community did was make a bunch of assumptions, toss in some innuendo, and then played it off as some shocking new information of official Russian guilt and then let the media, and democrats, run with it. The media, of course, excitedly exclaimed that not only is this report proof that Russia hacked the election for Trump, but that Putin himself was the one who ran the whole operation…Dr. Evil style!! This entire episode is utter madness. Anyone who believes that evidence-free report needs to have their head examined. The intelligence community has been deceiving, propagandizing and fooling the populace for decades and yet the democrats cling to their every word because it means they didn't really lose the election!! 

Democrats jumped at the chance to take Clapper at his word without any evidence because it means they aren't as huge a train-wreck of a party as they fear they may be. See it wasn't their shitty candidate, or their shitty campaign, or their vacuous ideas, or their myopic political vision, no it was Putin and the mustache-twirling Russians fault that they lost. I warned democrats against embracing this Russia hacking story because it was too good to be true, and I stand by that. And if democrats would actually read the declassified report, they might not be so enamored with the intelligence community and their conclusions as to who is an enemy of the state. Let's go through the report quickly to see what I am talking about. 

First off, as I already stated, there is zero evidence presented. This report is simply a piece of paper that is meant to make "official" the leaks, which are nothing more than innuendo, that have been published across the media for weeks. The media are treating it like it is manna from heaven, but it is really regurgitated nonsense that contains nothing new. In addition to presenting zero evidence, the "sources" the document provides for their background information are embarrassingly absurd. The report uses an open source document from the internet to make their case that Russia had intent to hack the election. I am not kidding, go look at it.  The "Annex A" section (starting on Page 6, ironically enough) spends the majority of its time attacking the television channel RT (Russia Today) and blaming it for being such an effective propaganda tool for Putin to destroy American democracy. The majority of the report, in fact, is analysis of RT, which takes up 7 of the 25 pages of the report, in contrast to the actual meat of the report which takes up 5 pages.

RT is a lightning rod for the establishment as they often report on things the mainstream media would just as soon ignore. Anytime the mainstream media mention RT, they always describe it as "Kremlin controlled RT" or "Kremlin financed RT" or "Kremlin backed RT", which is pretty funny. I wonder why they don't describe the BBC as "Westminster financed or backed or controlled", or the US networks as "Washington financed, backed or controlled" or the cable channels as "Wall Street financed, backed or controlled"? Any time you hear a talking head describe RT as "Kremlin backed" immediately dismiss them as they are shoveling propaganda. Another sure fire sign of a propagandist is if they describe Putin as "former head of the KGB Putin". Yes, Putin was formerly the head of the KGB, but George HW Bush was formerly the head of the CIA, and yet no one describes him as "former head of the CIA George HW Bush", and they do not describe his son as "son of the former head of the CIA George HW Bush".  It is a simple propaganda ploy to trigger fear and distrust in the viewer and taint the story.

Getting back to the report…if democrats or liberals who are supporting it haven't read it yet,  they really should. The report gives a variety of examples of how RT attacked and undermined America's beloved democracy, the funny thing is though that many of those examples are from 2012, not 2016. Here are some of the more entertaining ones. The report states that in the lead up to the 2012 election RT introduced a new show, "Breaking the Set", hosted by Abby Martin, which "overwhelmingly focused on criticism of US and western governments". See you cannot criticize the US or western governments, that is an attack on America and democracy. Another way to look at it is that Abby Martin committed the crime of journalism. Shame on her! The hysterical part of this whole "Breaking the Set" thing being put in a report about Russian interference in the 2016 election is that "Breaking the Set" stopped airing two years before the 2016 election. Someone please buy James Clapper a calendar…and a TV Guide.

The next section of "Annex A" tells us that RT, in the lead up to the 2012 election, not the 2016 election, had the temerity to report on "alleged US election fraud and voting machine vulnerabilities". Can you believe the gall of a news agency reporting on the possibility of election fraud and voting machine vulnerabilities in the lead up to an election? RT is out of control!! You know who else reported on voting machine vulnerabilities, except unlike RT it wasn't in relation to the 2012 election, but the 2016 election? CBS and PBS just to name two. I wonder if they are Russian spies too? Probably…commie bastards!!

In the next part of Annex A, the report tells us that RT, in an effort to "highlight a lack of democracy in the United States" had "broadcast, hosted and advertised third party candidate debates". What monsters!! The lesson here is that when you are through the looking glass, more candidates, more debate and more democracy actually is an attack on democracy. According to the intel community, war is peace, slavery is freedom and ignorance is strength!!

Another section of Annex A will come as quite a shock to liberals and democrats…but in the lead up to the 2012, again, to be clear, this is not the 2016 election but the 2012 election, RT aired a documentary on Occupy Wall Street that the report described like this…"RT framed the movement (Occupy Wall Street) as a fight against the ruling class and described the current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations". Is there any rational and un-compromised human being on the planet who would describe the US political system any other way?

Some other parts of the Annex A section of the report say that RT "alleges widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality and drone use" in America. Another part says that RT is attacking the US by criticizing "alleged Wall street greed." Let that one sink in for a minute. I hope liberals and democrats are starting to understand how this report, and the intelligence community that prepared it, are not your friends, not by a long shot. Neither are they friends of Truth. 

And finally, the report claims that RT is attacking US democracy by "running anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts of public health." That is just outrageous!! How many liberals or democrats have seen Josh Fox's excellent documentary "Gasland"? Probably a lot of them. Well, they should realize that the intelligence community that they are so enamored with right now, thinks JOSH FOX IS JOSEF STALIN!! In essence, the intel community thinks Josh Fox will kill you and eat your children!! HBO is a tool of Putin!!

So, according to this report on election interference by the Russians in the 2016 election, the intelligence community writes a report that cites a russian news channel's reporting FROM 2012, that is basically in line with liberal or left leaning political positions. And democrats and the media are falling all over themselves to praise this report for its thoroughness and seriousness and attack anyone, even Glenn Greenwald, who questions in it the least. Rachel Maddow was nearly orgasmic when the report was released this week, and interestingly enough she said you should go read it, but she curiously told her viewers to only read the meat of it, which is 5 pages, and skip the "sources and methods" section, because that is longer and boring and confusing. Annex A is the sources and methods section where they only talk about RT. In other words, there are no sources, and there are no methods, there is only old speculation and assumptions. The Intel community, just like me in high school, didn't read the book or even skim the Cliff Notes, and yet the media are determined to make you not notice that. Do democrats and liberals not know this stuff? Have they not read the report? Maybe they should read it before embracing it. Dear liberals, please go read the report. Know what you are signing on to when you endorse this report. What you are signing onto to is the criminalization of your own beliefs and your own eventual demise.

It isn't only Rachel Maddow's coverage of the report and Clapper's testimony that has been both breathless and despicable.  On MSNBC the consistently deplorable Joy Ried, who is such a vacuous dimwit that she has quickly shot up that hapless network's ladder in record time, asked some bumpkin republican congressman from Nowheresville, USA whether he believed the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper or Julian Assange in regard to the Russian hacking allegations. It was an obvious "gotcha" type of moment that cable tv lives for…and watching this dope squirm was what was intended. There is just one problem with Ms. Reid's question and premise…and that is that any rational, sane human being would believe Julian Assange over DNI Clapper in a heartbeat, you know why? Because Julian Assange has never lied to them. Never. You may dislike what he has done, but he has never lied. Clapper? Clapper can't open his mouth without a swarm of lies flying out. Clapper lied to congress, which is a felony, just a few years ago in relation to the Snowden material. Has everyone lost their minds and memory all at once? Apparently the answer is yes. Assange has, at great personal expense, exposed US war crimes, Clapper, at great personal reward, has covered up his own and other war crimes. And I know it is in style at the moment to dismiss and demean Assange due to personal distaste for him, but those sex crimes charges against him reek of Intelligence community handy work.  If you think the US intel community wouldn't try and frame someone  by any means necessary, that they see as a mortal threat, you are incredibly naive.

And then there is the highest ranking democrat in the country, the loathsome Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer. Schumer went on Rachel Maddow's show last week and said that Trump better be careful because the intelligence community has "six ways to sunday to get back at you if you cross them." Think about that statement for a second. Democrats are holding up the intelligence community as the bastion of professionalism and patriotism and in the same breath are claiming the Intel community will circumvent the constitution and extra-judicially "get back" at their political enemies. If I said that same statement people would call me a conspiracy theorist and dismiss me out of hand. The ranking democrat in the country, Chuck Schumer, just said that the intelligence community will exact revenge on President Trump if he challenges them and no one bats an eye. Want to know two presidents who got on the wrong side of the intelligence community? Kennedy and Nixon. Remember how their presidency's ended? Kennedy's brains were splattered all over Jackie's nice pink suit in Dealey Plaza, and tricky Dick ignominiously gave us the "v" for victory sign and then flew off into historical oblivion after resigning. Both Kennedy's assassination and Nixon's impeachment had intelligence agency fingerprints all over them, and even some of the same intelligence operative fingerprints (I'm looking at you E. Howard Hunt). But of course thinking that, never mind saying it out loud, gets you labelled a "conspiracy theorist" and taken off the "serious person" list. But now we have the ranking Democrat directly saying it out loud on national television as a threat to the president-elect of the United States. I do not know how exactly this will play out, but I guarantee you that it will not end well. 

Speaking of repugnant Senators, John McCain and his common-law wife,  Senator Lindsay Graham aka The Southern Dandy, of course are banging the war drums claiming Russia's alleged hacking is an act of war. McCain and Graham are hawks who have never meet a war they didn't love. Democrats and liberals are empowering the war party by embracing this evidence-free report. You want a war with Russia, keep on taking the intel community at their word and I promise you will get one. It is what they want and they have convinced you that is what you want too.

Fake news has also been a major talking point of the media and even the intel community in the last week. As with the Russian hacking story, the fake news story is most bizarre. The mainstream media has claimed that fake news is what lead to Trump beating Clinton, as voters were misinformed as to the real facts and stories. The media have used a plethora of polls that say that Trump voters were terribly misinformed about the election, for instance overwhelming numbers of Trump voters believe he won the popular vote. As we know, this is not true, and so the media have used this point to say that fake news tainted the well so to speak. Of course, the media fail to mention their own part in misinforming the populace and how that is reflected in the media. For instance, there are polls that show how Clinton voters now believe that Russia actually hacked voting machines and changed votes in Trump's favor. This is untrue, even by the flimsy intel report standards, but the media would never blame themselves for this mis-information. 

In addition, the main generator of fake news, is the mainstream media. Just in the last few weeks the Washington Post has published the fakey-ist of fake news stories which much fanfare, but only after time and attention has passed have they sent out little noticed retractions. The WaPo stories were about the alleged fake news generated by Russian propaganda sources about the US election. The  PropOrNot Russian propaganda website lists made by an unnamed and unchecked source, which the Post published without questioning, is total nonsense. The other story was about Russian hacking as well, this time about how the Rooskies hacked into the Vermont power grid!! The story was absurd on its face but that didn't stop everyone from re-tweeting it and spreading it and shouting form the mountain tops about it. Of course, when the story turned out to be untrue, the Post didn't hype that fact, they sheepishly put a small disclaimer on top of it. The damage was done already…which is how fake news works. It is all about manufacturing consensus, consent and content…which is exactly why the Russia hacking the election story is fake news as well. The lack of evidence and proof don't matter to people because the story tells them what they want to hear, and the damage is done. Truth has no meaning in an empire of lies, and we are the ruling empire at the moment.

Speaking of truth, there has also been a great deal of talk about how with Donald Trump as president we now live in a post-truth world, where Truth or facts don't matter.  That may be true, but it isn't entirely Trump's doing…as the Washington Post keeps proving over and over again. Even the aforementioned Joy Reid, a vociferous attack dog against fake news and post-truth Trump, is guilty of spreading fake news and not correcting to fact. Ms. Reid, and the ludicrous "Russia" expert, the sleepy-eyed, charlatan Malcolm Nance, spread the lie pre-election that the DNC emails were proven to have been tampered with and altered. This is factually untrue, but Ms. Reid and Mr. Nance have never retracted those statements. Just like Trump, they have little regard for Truth.

The bottom line is this regarding the intel report, fake news and our post-truth world, if you take anything at face value you are a fool. Only a dupe or a dope, or both, would believe a word the intel community tells them. A brief look at recent and not-so recent history shows us that the American intelligence community are professional liars who will do anything and everything to obscure and destroy the Truth. Remember Clapper lying about surveillance? Remember the Iraq War? Remember the torture report and all the dirty tricks surrounding it? Remember the Gulf War? Remember Iran-Contra? Remember Nicaragua? El Salvador? Venezuela? Brazil? Argentina? Cuba? Iran and the Shah? Vietnam? Laos? Cambodia? I mean, c'mon, how dumb do you have to be to fall for the intel community bullshit again?

And in terms of Russia and Putin, it is most certainly possible that they hacked the election. I have no illusions about Putin being some saint, but regardless of that, what I demand in relation to any news or charges is evidence. I have yet to see compelling evidence that Russia shot down MH-17, or invaded Ukraine or committed war crimes in Syria or hacked the US election. That doesn't mean they definitely didn't do those things, only that I have not seen compelling evidence that they did. And until I see evidence I will not believe those claims, and neither should you. 

This past week is a wonderful launching pad for the chaos, disorder and madness to be unleashed in 2017. The media is abysmal, do not trust a word they say. The intel community are professional liars…never believe them…ever. Trump is incapable of telling any truth, ignore everything he utters. Trust nothing and no one. If someone makes a claim demand to actually SEE the evidence, not some report that is meant to appease people who will never read it and is void of any proof. Demand to see actual, tangible evidence, or consider it a lie.

And finally, if you are dismayed about the post-truth world we now inhabit, make it a practice to be loyal to the Truth above all else. Be loyal to the Truth above ideology, political party and even country. The Truth shall set you free, so stop being a slave to the lies and disinformation coming from "official sources". We are through the looking glass here people, we need to cast off wishful thinking and anchor ourselves to Truth or all will be lost. The road ahead is going to be very disorienting, I mean just last week Sarah Palin wrote an apology to Julian Assange and told people to go see Oliver Stone's Snowden… we are most definitely through the looking glass. Maybe if we can hold onto the Truth for dear life, we might just be able to make it through all of this madness.

©2017

Election 2016 Post-Mortem : Crossing the Rubicon and Chickens Coming Home to Roost

ESTIMATED READING TIME : 9 MINUTES 11 SECONDS

I TOLD YOU SO

On the night of Tuesday, November 8th, I watched the 2016 U.S. presidential election unfold before me just as I predicted it would. I sat bemused flipping from one cable news channel to the next and heard all of the talking heads spouting out as if they suffered from Tourette's Syndrome, "no one saw this coming!" over and over. On MSNBC an apoplectic Chris Matthews incredulously asked his sullen panel of insiders, "did anyone see this coming?" I sat on my couch and raised my hand because unlike the collection of mopes at 30 Rock, I did see it coming. Mr. Matthews didn't see me raising my hand because, sadly for me since it would be fun to show these talking empty heads how I really feel about them, my tv isn't a two-way watching device, but he, and the rest of the political and media establishment, didn't see me and my election forecast because they couldn't be bothered to look. Regular people like me are invisible to the establishment. The political/media establishment myopia caused them to fail to heed my prescient warning, in addition it also caused them to failed to see all the "white working class" people who voted for Trump in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, because like Narcissus, they were too busy being enamored with their own perceived brilliance reflected back to them in the pool of their own group think.

As I explained in my pre-election post, the warning signs of a Trump victory were all there flashing in neon, if people only had the will and vision to see them. The most obvious was Brexit…but there were more recent ones as well…the Pirate Party victory in Iceland, Duterte in the Philippines, hell…even the "Bundy ranchers" being acquitted in their recent trial in Oregon. The anti-establishment sentiments are just in the air right now, as I explained in my earlier post when I spoke of historical waves, and Trump floated to victory upon this one. But the political and media establishment were blind to the reality staring them in the face. I saw it, so why didn't they? George Orwell once said, "to see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." You're damn right, George!! It is even more difficult to see what is right in front of your nose when your livelihood depends on you not seeing it, hence no one working in the main stream media will ever go against the agreed upon group think orthodoxy, whatever that may be, whether it is the lead up to the Iraq War, the housing bubble, or Trumpism.

Not only is that the case in the media but also in the political class of America. No one in the establishment pundit/political class actually thinks for themselves, they only regurgitate the tired old talking points that keep discourse and debate confined in a very narrow ideological space. This makes me think of the late Tim Russert of NBC who when asked how he missed the glaring faults and lies in the Bush administrations case for the Iraq War said in effect he 'wished someone with information suggesting the nuclear claims were false would have picked up the phone and called him.' Mr. Russert wouldn't have taken my call back during the Iraq War debate, just like the rest of NBC news wouldn't take my calls in the lead up to Tuesdays election. And so the election of Donald Trump becomes the political equivalent of the Iraq War, a debacle for establishment institutions, the media in particular, that are incapable of thinking critically and avoiding the infection of group think.  And just like when the establishment was wrong about the Iraq war, no one who was wrong, be they in the media or in political life, will lose their job or their standing for their lack of insight and intelligence. Interestingly enough, as an outsider, I was able to see the reality of both the 2016 election and the Iraq war (not to mention the housing bubble…or Chris Kyle for that matter) better than anyone working in the establishment. And yet, I think it wise for me to not hold my breath waiting for their phone call.

POLITICAL MALPRACTICE

The Democrats got their asses handed to them on Tuesday night, and rightfully so. The party in general, and Hillary Clinton's campaign in particular, committed some of the most egregious acts of political malpractice in recent memory. Clinton's campaign was such an exercise in tone-deafness it was like a Britney Spears show without the auto-tune on.

Here are a few examples of their political malpractice…the first is the slogan "Love Trumps Hate". This is the most moronic and self-defeating slogan imaginable. Think about what that slogan says…"Love Trumps Hate". You can read it the way they intended which means that your "Love", love being a noun, will "Trumps", Trumps being a verb meaning overcomes, "Hate", Hate meaning the "hate" Donald Trump embodied. It can also be read another way, the way that we as a culture have been conditioned by years of advertising to read it… namely that we should "Love Trump's Hate"…in other words the campaign slogan is not so subliminally telling people to "Love", love being a verb, "Trump's", meaning the candidate Trump's, "Hate", meaning the hate that Trump is spewing. That slogan is literally telling us to love Hillary Clinton's opponent and his hate. And yes, I know there is an "S" in the Hillary poster and an "apostrophe S" is needed to make my point. In response to that I ask you to do a little exercise to make my point…stand up and shout "Love Trumps Hate" and then shout "Love Trump's Hate". Could you hear the apostrophe? 

How they could not see this is beyond me. Any dope with half a brain in their heads could see this…but not the Clinton campaign. We are a consumerist culture, we are conditioned to be told what to do by advertising, not what to think, hence lawn signs that say "Vote Obama" or billboards that say "Drink Coke". We are conditioned to be the passive consumer who is being told what to do by advertising. "Just Do It", "Think Different", you get the idea, these are advertisements that assume our passivity and encourage us to ACT. The Clinton campaign ignored this fact of our conditioning and put out a slogan that in essence was endorsing their opponent, Trump, and undermining the argument they made to people about why they shouldn't vote for him, because of his "Hate". What an incredible level of blindness and lack of self-awareness on the part of the campaign. In addition, the slogan "Love Trumps Hate" has their opponents name in it and not their own candidates name. This is like Pepsi having the slogan "don't DRINK COKE!!" 

Another thing Hillary did that was shocking to me as well and I think also rises to political malpractice, is that she refused to acknowledge the suffering of regular Americans. What do I mean by that? Well, whenever Trump would say he would "Make America Great Again", Clinton would respond by saying "America IS great!!". Well, there are millions of people suffering and feeling left out and disaffected in this country, and when you say "America IS great" it comes across as "Everything is fine!!" Everything isn't fine. This "America IS great" approach was shocking to me not only for its tone deafness but also because it was the same trap George HW Bush fell into when it was set in the 1992 election by Mrs. Clinton's husband Bill. Back in '92 Bill Clinton would talk about what was wrong with America and how people were suffering, "I feel your pain", and Bush countered with some Reagan-esque optimism in the form of "America Is Great!!", which fell flat for a nation that was stuck in neutral at the time. It is amazing to me that in 2016 the Clintons did not see the error of their ways considering they had so masterfully used this bit of political jiu jitsu to get into the White House in the first place back in 1992.

One final piece of political malpractice on behalf of the democrats was the act of nominating Hillary Clinton in the first place. As I said in my pre-election piece, Bernie Sanders would've beaten Trump silly. Trump defeated Hillary by outflanking her to the left on economic issues with an old school populist democratic economic message. Bernie would've cut him off at the pass. All those working class whites in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan who voted for Obama twice, would've voted for Bernie because he speaks their language. Clinton is a center right corporatist and her efforts to connect with working people rang hollow after a career of kissing Wall Street behinds and allowing unfettered free trade to decimate the manufacturing base in America.

A closer look at the democratic primary, and the Wikileaks emails, shows that the primary was essentially rigged for Clinton, it just was. If the Democrats had allowed the truly open primary election that the Republicans did, Bernie would've won, and then he would've gone on to trounce Trump. Bernie brought with him working class legitimacy and grass roots enthusiasm. Clinton brought with her working class skepticism and a dull sense of the inevitable, which ended up being not-so-inevitable. 

Both the democratic party and the Clinton campaign were mismanaged to such an outstanding degree it is amazing to think that there were professionals running the show. But then you think about the nepotism and corruption that has infected American politics and it becomes much more easy to imagine how all of this malpractice could have happened. 

RACE AND THE RACE

I have a simple observation when it comes to race relations in America…Once something becomes about race, it stops being about anything else. The establishment in America wants there to be ethnic and racial strife and distrust. The establishment knows that if things stop being about race and start being about class, then they are in very serious trouble. Race warfare strengthens the status quo whereas class warfare is an existential threat to the establishment. For example, Malcolm X was a lightning rod in the civil rights struggle for Blacks in the early sixties, but when he expanded his horizons beyond just race and recognized the importance of class in his struggle, he was assassinated.  The same can be said of Martin Luther King, who was very successful in the struggle for civil rights for Black Americans, but when his message went from being about race to being about economics, class and war, he too was assassinated. The Black Panthers were a group of Black activists who crossed racial lines and understood they were in a class struggle as opposed to simply a racial one. Their free breakfast program was open to under privileged children of all races, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover called it the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States of America. Not surprisingly, The Black Panthers were systemically assassinated or imprisoned. 

If you make things about race you play into the hands of those that wish to and do oppress you. So when people say Black Lives Matter in relation to police brutality, they immediately lose potential allies in the White, Latino, Asian and other minority communities. Michael Brown was shot and killed in Missouri in 2014, on the same day an unarmed young White man, Dillon Taylor was shot in the back and killed by a Black cop in Utah. This was a tremendous opportunity to make the police brutality debate about government power and violence against the poor and working class, but instead it became about race. And once it became about race, that ensured that nothing would change. Look, I am not arguing that Blacks don't face very specific problems in regards to police violence, they do, but what I am saying is that when racial battle lines become drawn, potential allies are divided and thus a stalemate takes place where the status quo continues to reign supreme, just as the establishment likes it. 

Which brings us to the aftermath of the 2016 election. There have been many, if not most, democrats and liberals who have called Trump voters racist and have blamed Clinton's loss on racism. While there are certainly people in Trump's coalition who are blatantly racist, like the KKK for example, calling all Trump voters racist is not only factually incorrect though, it is extremely shortsighted, childish and counter productive. In addition, calling Trump voters racist is a short cut to thinking and intellectually lazy. In recent years liberals have fallen into the pattern of lazy debate when they simply label their opponents as racist. This tactic does nothing but shut down open discussion and stifle debate while antagonize potential allies. It is foolish beyond words. The "white working class" voters who went for Trump in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania this year actually voted for Obama in the two previous elections. Were they still racist in 2008 and 2012 when they voted for a Black man? And how do you think they feel when you call them stupid and racist because they voted for their perceived economic interests? They have suffered under the brilliance of the Clinton's free trade corporatism before, they would've been foolish to fall for it again. Instead they rolled the dice on Trump, which will probably not work out very well for them either, but in their eyes they have nothing to lose. Do you think these folks will be open to your arguments in the future after you've belittled and offended them by calling them stupid and racist just for voting in what they perceived to be their best economic interests?

The cry of "racism" post-election is just more proof of the emotionally driven "thinking" that permeates our politics. In my opinion, the racial divide in this election is a case of the chickens coming home to roost for the democrats. The party has made a point of using identity politics in order to gain an advantage with minority communities. They target Black and Latino voters and cater their message to them. Of course, the problem is, you can't use identity politics in regards to Black and Latino voters and then cry foul when White voters embrace identity as well. And while it is always amusing to hear some pundit tell me that in 2050 America will be a minority-majority country, I wonder if they don't own a calendar. It ain't 2050…its 2016…and it is easy to forget while living in an urban area, but white people aren't just the majority in America, they are the overwhelming majority in America. Which is why it is so egregiously foolish for the democrats to call White Trump voters racist now, as you may very well lose them for a generation, when the truth is you could easily sway them back to your side with a genuine populist message that cuts across all racial divides if you weren't insulting and offending them.

If democrats want to be successful in future elections they need to grow up and think rationally and not emotionally. So yes…there may certainly be "racist" people who voted for Trump, but that doesn't mean everyone who voted for him is racist. To democrats I will quote the great American philosopher Dr. Phil,  "do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?" And to working class people of all races I tell you that identity politics is a tool used by the establishment to separate people and make them weaker and more easily manipulated. They've been doing it forever and will continue to do so as long as you let them.

SPRINGSTEEN VOTERS

Speaking of those "white working class" voters from Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, or as I call them, "Springsteen voters", who went for Trump this year but in years past have voted Obama, they have a pretty terrible track record when it comes to voting in their own interests. This year they went for Trump in order to try and get their manufacturing jobs back. If you look at their voting history, it is littered with bad decisions.  Let's take a quick look at their recent decisions and how awful they ended up being. 

1. In 1980 the "Reagan Democrats" were born when white working class union voters who usually went democrat voted for Reagan. They followed suit in 1984. Reagan even co-opted Bruce Spingsteen's "Born in the USA" to entice these folks, even though the song was actually about how white working class people were continually shit on in America…but no one noticed.  Reagan essentially broke the backs of unions in America when he fired all the striking air traffic controllers right after taking office. Private industry used his get tough model on their own workers and unions were devastated. But the reality of this time was that white working class voters were enticed and blinded to their own economic interests by a waving flag…not a good sign of a group's judgement.

2. in 1992 and again in 1996, Springsteen voters voted for Bill Clinton. The scales had fallen from their eyes after 12 years of Reaganomics so these folks rolled the dice on a slick southern boy who charmed them but good. Of course, Clinton then went on to govern as a corporatist from the center right and sold the North American free trade agreement to U.S. voters as a way to bolster trade and manufacturing in this country. Of course it had the exact opposite effect. NAFTA made the wealthy even wealthier, and made the working class even poorer. America hemorrhaged manufacturing jobs to third world nations that didn't have to worry about pesky workers rights or unions. Reagan broke union backs, but Clinton put the nail in their coffins with NAFTA.

3. After falling for "Slick Willie's" bullshit, Springsteen voters went for Bush in 2000. The thinking was, he was the type of guy you could have a beer with…which is ironic since Bush is a recovering alcoholic who doesn't drink beer….but lets not get caught up in details. Springsteen voters were in for a double whammy with Bush, he not only continued Reagan and Clinton's economic holocaust upon them, he added a meat-grinder of a war in the Middle East for good effect. It was Springsteen voters and their sons and daughters who, whether out of economic necessity or patriotism or both, went and fought and died and were physically and emotionally maimed over in the sands of Mesopotamia. And when those men and women came home from war they were met by communities that had been ravaged by twenty years of economic war and neglect. At the end of Bush's two terms he gave them a parting gift of the economic collapse of 2007 and 2008. So, whatever savings Springsteen voters could scrape together was lost and they were in great peril of losing their homes. Their neighborhoods went from decaying to being ghost towns.

4. In 2008 and 2012, after the disillusionment of the Bush years, Springsteen voters elected Obama. Springsteen voters bought into Obama's campaign message of "Hope and Change". After 8 years of Obama, these Springsteen voters are left with little hope after getting no change. Obama had the chance to change things, especially after the collapse of 2008, but instead he went center right and back to business as usual.  From day one he staffed his administration with the same people who had allowed the collapse of 2008 to happen under their watch and guidance. Instead of bailing out ordinary Americans, Obama bailed out the corporate class. Springsteen voters were left behind again, with no hope in sight. As a parting gift Obama came up with a new free trade agreement, the TPP…which Trump has vowed to demolish.

5. Which brings us to The Donald. Springsteen voters went for Donald Trump because he wasn't Hillary Clinton. Springsteen voters had seen the Clinton movie before and didn't like how it turned out. So they rolled the dice on Trump. No doubt Trump will fuck them six ways to Sunday, but these Springsteen voters are nothing if not persistent, and they will probably re-elect him in four years. Part of that has to do with "not changing horses mid-stream" and part of it has to do with being belittled and called racist by democrats. Trump will be a disaster for Springsteen voters, but in their eyes, at least he will be a new disaster.

In regard to Springsteen voters I keep hearing lots of pundits tell me that those manufacturing jobs that Springsteen voters have lost are "not coming back". That may very well be true…but you know what else isn't coming back? Trust in the institutions of American life. Which brings us to...

THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF TYRANNY

A lot of people are very afraid of a Trump administration. They fear that he is an unstable and vengeful man who can't be trusted with the ultimate power that presides in the presidency. Those fears are very legitimate, but the people to blame for the situation are not Trump voters who got conned by a con-man, but rather establishment Republicans and Democrats who spent the last 16 years building the infrastructure for tyranny which a demagogue could now exploit. It was establishment Republicans and Democrats who dismantled the constitutional restrictions placed upon the executive by our founders and instead turned to putting their faith in the men who hold the office. Our nation was built on laws, not on faith in men in power.

What do I mean by that? Well, it was the imperial presidency of George W. Bush that expanded the powers of the executive office far beyond what had been previously acceptable. Bush put in place the policies of preemptive war, torture and mass secret surveillance. Establishment Republicans and Democrats did nothing to stop him, in fact, they emboldened him. In regards to surveillance, when it came out that he was breaking the law, they simply voted to make it legal. And as for pre-emptive war, it was Republicans AND Democrats who voted in support of the war in Iraq.

Things only got worse when Obama came into office as he expanded secret surveillance and added to it drone strikes that killed American citizens without any due process. They even killed the 16 year old son of an alleged American terrorist, and their explanation was that "he should have had a more responsible father." Chilling. And no one, not the Republicans or the Democrats did anything to reign in the Obama administration and its expansionist view of presidential powers

So even before Donald Trump ever sets foot in the oval office, our nation has "normalized" the policies of preemptive war, torture, warrantless wiretapping, intrusive surveillance, extra-judicial killings of American citizens and maintaining a kill list of Americans. Think about that for a second. Now think about giving all of those expansive powers to Donald Trump. Donald Trump will now have those powers and will have no oversight, because Congress has abdicated its oversight responsibilities. The checks and balances of our government have been neutered and we are left with the imperial presidency, more emperor than president, who can kill, torture, spy and wage war without any obstruction from other branches of government. If you are a Democrat who is afraid of Trump's presidential power, guess who you have to protect you? The highest ranking democrat in America is Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. Feel better? I didn't think so. Schumer is as loathsome a creature as you'll find in politics and he will do nothing to curb Trump's imperial urges.  Remember brave Chuck Schumer is the guy who voted to abolish Glass-Steagall, voted for the Patriot Act and the Iraq War and supports uninhibited surveillance and torture. I am sure Senator Schumer will be a stalwart for freedom and the working man during the Trump presidency, just like he has been during his lifetime as a politician. 

And it isn't just the establishment Republicans and Democrats in government who are to blame, it is media establishment as well. The trust in the media has evaporated just as it has for congress, and rightfully so. The New York Times, the paper of record in America, which is an alleged liberal bastion, is the same outlet that was used as a propaganda mouthpiece for the invasion of Iraq. It is the same media outlet that when they discovered the Bush administration was illegally surveilling Americans, they held the story for over a year so as to not seem to be taking sides in an election. This is the same newspaper that refused to use the word "torture", and instead decided to torture the english language and logic by using the term preferred by the Bush administration, "enhanced interrogation". 

Of course, the Times wasn't alone, every other major media outlet was right with them being in step with the imperial presidency of Bush. And when Obama came into office, little if anything changed. Whether it be the Washington Post, NBC, Fox or CNN, the media has been nothing but lapdogs to power for the last 16 years. So it is doubtful they will be very effective, or believable when they dare to question Trump for exercising the same expansive executive powers that Bush and Obama used. And most importantly, they have lost all credibility in the eyes of the public because of their egregious behavior for the last 16 years.

Whether it be politicians, or the media or any other wing of the establishment, they have all lost their credibility. The Iraq War was the turning point for the establishment as it was so spectacularly wrong on all counts regarding the conflict. They were wrong about the reason for the war and the execution for the war. The establishment was eviscerated by its own arrogant, myopic group think. If we lived in a more just society, there would have been a lot of people in the establishment committing seppuku after Iraq. But we don't live in a just society, and these clowns are still roaming the halls of power and influence.

Speaking of justice, one of the most egregious forms of neglect that will have enabled Donald Trump in his power, was the failure of the Obama administration to hold the Bush administration accountable for war crimes. Obama wanted to "move on" and "look forward", but what he ended up doing was becoming an accomplice after the fact and enabling future presidents, maybe even Donald Trump, to commit even more heinous acts that the Bush administration did. Obama allowed Bush to be above the law, just like Ford did with Nixon. The pardon of Nixon by Ford is seen by many as being a way for the country to heal and move forward, but it was the exact opposite. The wound America suffered under Nixon was never healed because he was never held to account for his crimes. There can be no healing without forgiveness, and no forgiveness without repentance, and no repentance without justice. The power of truth, transparency and justice are disinfectants against tyranny. America's Nixon wound never healed but only festered, and the infection grew and spread through the Reagan and Bush 43 administrations in particular because many of the people who worked for Nixon also worked for Reagan and again for Bush 43. Cheney and Rumsfeld, two war criminals, learned their craft in the Nixon administration. They honed their trade during the Reagan/Bush years and became masters during the Bush 43 years. Obama may have had new faces in his administration, but the Nixon infection spread to them as well as they fully embraced the expansive executive powers that were conjured by Nixon's, Reagan's and Bush's minions. And now Donald Trump walks into the White house with the infrastructure of tyranny already in place for him. Republicans and Democrats who bemoan this fact have no one to blame but themselves. 

NOSTRADAMUS READS THE TEA LEAVES

I think Donald Trump will be a terrible president because he is a terrible person, and a terrible business man. But I also think Hillary Clinton would've been a terrible president.  No matter who got elected, according to my historical wave formula that correctly predicted the election results (not to mention the financial crisis of 2008), we in America are in for a very difficult stretch. What I think we have in store for us in the next four years is going to be very, very bad. According to my calculations, I think we are going to have a large economic earthquake at some point in the next two years that will be just as devastating as the 2008 collapse. I also think that we will have a major terror attack at some time over the next four years that will be as catastrophic as 9-11 in effect if not scale. I do not think Donald Trump is well equipped to deal with either of those impending calamities. I do think he will be re-elected in part though, because of them, as counter-intuitive as that may seem. 

Trump will become a war time president and all of his bombastic and bellicose instincts will be called to the forefront. And as "tough" as he will try to appear to our external enemies, he will actually be much tougher on what he perceives as his internal enemies. When Trump's vengeance is unleashed, his political opposition will face a scorched earth campaign against them that is unimaginable. This will only become even more heightened when any attempts to reign him in, impeach him or, God forbid, assassinate him takes place. I want to be really clear here so I don't get a knock on my door from the secret service, I am not calling for anyone to try and harm Donald Trump at all. My fear and my thought is, that someone may very well try to harm him and that someone could be a lone nut, a jihadi terrorist or an agent of the "deep state" who is defending deeply entrenched interests. These are dangerous and erratic times we live in, and when that danger becomes personal to Trump, whether it be from a foreign or domestic enemy, he will be at his most lethal. And when that happens the downward spiral of America will increase at a rate dramatically faster than its already solid and steady pace.

And to be clear I don't think that the coming economic collapse or terror attack is Trump's fault, I think that those events would happen regardless of who was in office. But what I do think is that Trump will react very poorly and destructively to these events, especially considering all of the constitutional constraints upon the presidency that have been removed over the last 16 years. And I think Trump's reaction to these and other world events will cause a further political and cultural splintering of America which will, eventually way on down the road, lead to an actual splintering of America…a Balkanization if you will. 

Ok…so now that is what I think will happen. Maybe I am wrong, I certainly hope I am wrong. But with that said, I think Trump's election is a crossing of the Rubicon for America. Caesar is on the throne and while business as usual may appear to go on for a while, things have changed irrevocably on a much deeper level. The American Republic/Empire is officially over, and Trump's election will hasten the crumbling of the world order with America on top. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, quite the opposite in the long run, but it will be a very dramatic and traumatic thing for Americans and people across the globe. Some empire's go quietly into that goodnight…and some don't. I don't think the American Empire is going to go quietly at all. Buckle up…things are about to get even more interesting. We are down the rabbit hole here ladies and gentleman, expect the unexpected.

©2016

Snowden : A Review and Commentary

****THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW!! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ZERO SPOILERS!!!****

ESTIMATED READING TIME : 12 MINUTES AND 39 SECONDS

MY RATING : 3 out of 5 Stars

MY RECOMMENDATION : If you saw and liked Citizenfour, see Snowden in the theatre. If you don't like Edward Snowden, or are indifferent, see it on Netflix or Cable.

Snowden, written and directed by three-time Oscar winner Oliver Stone, is the story of famed NSA whistelblower Edward Snowden. The screenplay is based upon the books The Snowden Files by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena. The films stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Edward Snowden, with Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Melissa Leo, Rhys Ifans and Nic Cage in supporting roles.

Director Oliver Stone, like Edward Snowden, is a controversial figure, despised and ridiculed by those in the establishment, which is a pretty good reason to like the guy. Stone has spent his career sticking his finger in the eye of those in power and their sycophants in the media. Stone and his films have been an important cultural counter weight to the prevailing winds of his time. During the height of conservative rule and thought in America during the 80's, when the nation was all too happy to forget its sullied not too distant past and corrupt present, Stone reminded America of its unresolved hubris with his Vietnam films (Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July) and his indictment of then U.S. foreign policy in Latin America with Salvador and the economic ruse of the times in Wall Street. In the early 90's, while the nation was still basking in the warm glow of sunlight from Reagan's "morning in America", Stone pulled back the veil and tore off the scab to reveal the rot at America's core underneath the flag waving veneer with his films JFK, Nixon and Natural Born Killers.  Stone's insistence that America look at and acknowledge its true self was never warmly welcomed by those who need to deceive in order to succeed, thus the Washington and media establishment have always loathed him. All the more reason to admire the man and his work, which certainly struck a raw nerve for those in power.

Edward Snowden is also quite a controversial figure to say the least. As the marketing of the film tells us, some people call him a traitor, like those in the establishment and media, others call him a hero. The film Snowden itself is probably a rorsharch test for viewers, with those who think Edward Snowden a hero liking it and those thinking he is a traitor hating it. The reality is that if you already think Snowden is a traitor, you probably aren't going to go see this film anyway. The people who believe Snowden is a hero are the most likely ones who will go and see this film.

With that context in mind, director Oliver Stone surprisingly pulls a lot of his punches in the film. In Snowden, Stone "bottles the acid", to quote Judge Haggerty from JFK,  and never goes in for the kill shot on the intelligence community, which is very out of character for the rebellious director. Considering Oliver Stone's past work, I found his indictment against the intelligence community in Snowden to be rather tame. That said, Stone certainly shows Edward Snowden in as positive a light as he can, and there is never any doubt as to Snowden's moral and ethical superiority throughout the story, but the scope, scale and magnitude of the evil being perpetrated by our intelligence community, and the impetus for Snowden to act, is under played and never fully fleshed out to satisfaction.

All that said, Snowden, while not a great film, it certainly is a good one. It is without question the best Oliver Stone film of the last twenty years or so since Nixon in 1995. The only other film of note from Stone during the second half of his career is 2008's W., which like Snowden, is also a rorsharch test to viewers and is a good but not great movie. Both Snowden and W. pale in comparison to Oliver Stone's genius work during the first half of his career, when he made a bevy of tremendous films such as, Platoon, Salvador, Born on the Fourth of July, Wall Street, JFK, Nixon, The Doors and Natural Born Killers. When I speak of the futility in the second half of Stone's filmmaking career I am not counting his documentaries which can be quite good. His Showtime series Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States is extremely well done and should be mandatory viewing for any citizen.

As for Snowden, as much as I enjoyed the film, the greatest issue I had with it was that it failed to use Stone's signature visual and editing style (think JFK) to tell the complex and mammoth tale of the various surveillance programs that Ed Snowden uncovered and revealed. This is the crux of the story as it shows why Snowden risked so much in order to inform the public as to what was being done to them and in their name to others. Stone does try to personalize the snooping that the programs do, but while that sequence is effective it isn't quite enough. Stone also underuses actual news footage and cutting between it and the dramatic narrative of Snowden. Stone used that technique to great effect in JFK but fails to utilize it enough in Snowden, much to the detriment of the film. Stone's masterful work on JFK showed how to take an enormous and complex subject and wittle it down so that people could understand and digest it, he needed more of that approach in Snowden, not less. Oddly enough, Snowden almost feels like it was directed by someone other than Oliver Stone, as the film lacks his visual and storytelling trademarks.

As for the acting, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance is simply miraculous. Levitt's work is meticulous, detailed and vibrant. Levitt perfectly captures Snowden's unique vocal tendencies and looks strikingly like the man, so much so that in some shots I was wondering if that actually was Edward Snowden and not the actor. Snowden is not an easy character to take on, he is an enigmatic man, probably somewhere on the autism spectrum, who is both self conscious and self confident, sometimes all in the same moment. Levitt creates a genuine, complex human being with all of his intracies and inhabits him fully, never letting the character slip into caricature or imitation. Levitt's Snowden is multi-dimensional and is a truly remarkable piece of acting work, proving Levitt to be among the best actors of his generation. In comparing Levitt's performance as Snowden to other actors in previous Oliver Stone films, the thing that is strikingly obvious is that other actors in Oliver Stone films were actors in "Oliver Stone films". For instance, Born on the Fourth of July is an "Oliver Stone film", not a "Tom Cruise film", the same can be said for Charlie Sheen in Platoon or Kevin Costner in JFK or Anthony Hopkins in Nixon, these actors all did solid work but were overshadowed by the talent and vision of their director Oliver Stone, hence they were in "Oliver Stone films" and not in "Sheen/Costner/Hopkins films". The very high compliment I can pay Joseph Gordon-Levitt is that Snowden is, without question, a "Joseph Gordon Levitt film", and not an "Oliver Stone film". Levitt outshines his director, which is a tribute to him as an actor, and a recognition of some creative slippage on the part of Stone the director.

The supporting cast is hit and miss. Shailene Woodley does a solid job in the terribly underwritten role of Snowden's girlfriend Lindsay Mills. Woodley is a strong actress, approachable and artistically honest, who has an undeniable charisma that lights up the screen. On the other hand there is Nic Cage, who is simply a dreadful actor of epic proportions, and frankly, contrary to popular opinion, always has been. Cage is in some very crucial scenes but is so distractingly bad that those scenes and the highly critical information they convey, get scuttled, much to the detriment of the film. It feels like Cage is in one of those god-awful National Treasure films and not a serious Oliver Stone film.

Zachary Quinto, Melissa Leo and Tom Wilkinson all do solid work as the documentarians and reporters Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill. The scenes with Snowden and the reporters in the Hong Kong hotel room are surprisingly compelling since they are scenes we have already seen in the documentary Citizenfourthat is a credit to the actors.

Snowden reminds me of two films, one, Citizenfour is pretty obvious. Snowden is a very nice companion piece to Laura Poitras' Academy Award winning documentary Citizenfouras it dramatizes and expands on what was revealed in that excellent film.

The second film I was reminded of is much less obvious, at least on the surface. That film is American Sniper. Here is the round-a-bout way in which Snowden reminded me of American Sniper. As I walked out of the theatre post-Snowden, I was wondering if Oliver Stone has simply lost his fastball as a filmmaker and was not able to land his punches quite as crispy and effectively as he was twenty five years ago in films like JFK, Platoon, Wall Street etc. Then I wondered if maybe Stone had just grown weary of the cultural battle to which he has dedicated his life, which seems never ending and futile at best. I thought this because of Stone's surprisingly conventional storytelling in Snowden, punctuated by an upbeat ending that, in my opinion, defies the reality we find ourselves in, in regard to surveillance and what the intelligence community is up to. And then I wondered if…and this gives a big benefit of the doubt to Oliver Stone, who, frankly, with the stellar filmography of his earlier years has earned that benefit, Stone had made a truly subversive film with Snowden, but it was hidden beneath the surface of the rather tepid bio-pic it was buried under. It could be that Snowden is Oliver Stone's answer to American Sniper, right down to mimicking its flaws?

Here is my theory…that Oliver Stone intentionally made Snowden to undermine the propaganda of American Sniper and reduce its power on the American collective unconscious.  Snowden the film and the man, are counter-myths to Chris Kyle and American Sniper. Like American Sniper, Snowden is structured as a standard bio-pic, almost hitting the same exact beats and with the same exact rhythm as American Sniper. Also like American Sniper, Snowden ties the dramatic film to the actual, real-life man in it's final scenes, blurring the lines between what is dramatized and what is real. That said, one real life difference between the films is that unlike with the Kyle family and American Sniper, Edward Snowden had no say or final approval of the final script, and received no money for Snowden.

I don't think those structural and narrative similarities between American Sniper and Snowden are accidental. If Oliver Stone is anything, he is a true-blue subversive and it is a stroke of genius to make Snowden a parallel to American Sniper. Oliver Stone has spoken of his masterpiece JFK as being a counter-myth to the prevailing myth of the Warren report. The only difference between the Warren report and JFK is that JFK readily admits it is a myth, while the Warren report holds onto the illusion and delusion that it is factual. And so it is similar with Snowden and American Sniper, as Stone sets out to counter Clint Eastwood in his bootlicking, ass kissing, myth making, propaganda with a counter-myth meant to celebrate the thoughtful, rebellious, principled subversive in the form of Edward Snowden.

Why do I think Oliver Stone is intentionally taking shots at American Sniper in Snowden? I think that because Stone has cast the remarkably wooden actor Scott Eastwood, American Sniper director Clint Eastwood's look alike son, as Trevor James, an NSA middle management type who never questions, or thinks, about what he is tasked to do, or much of anything really. It was seeing Scott Eastwood in the film that made me connect American Sniper and Snowden, and I think that that was not an accident. Stone could have cast a million other actors in that role, but he didn't, he cast Clint Eastwood's kid. Scott Eastwood being cast is not because of his superior talent (God knows) and it isn't a business decision, it is a creative and symbolic decision, and it is deliciously stealthy bit of cinematic intrigue.

Stone subtly and surreptitiously shows that Trevor James is, just like his father's American Sniper muse Chris Kyle, an unquestioning and unthinking fool who fights for tyrants and tyranny, as opposed to Snowden, who selflessly risks his life for the truth, and nothing else. That is what stands out the most to me in Snowden as a contrast to American Sniper, namely that Edward Snowden is smart and insightful enough to recognize the true enemy of America is within in the form of Bush, Obama, Clinton, Petreaus, Hayden, Clapper, the intelligence/political and media establishment et al. Stone is showing that Chris Kyle, like Trevor James, is a dupe, a sucker and a fool, who gives his life as a pawn for the powerful to exploit the weak, the stupid and the gullible. If Chris Kyle were a real man and the true American hero he has been sold to us as, he would not have gone to Iraq to keep us safe from phantom enemies a world away, he would have used his substantial sniping skill on the only actual threat to America that exists, namely the same tyrants who were sending him to war for their own benefit. Of course, Oliver Stone would be excoriated if he came out and said what I just wrote, and it is hard enough to sell movie tickets to a film about Edward Snowden, the man our country and culture has labelled a traitor, already, considering we live in a nation of propagandized flag waving dupes, dopes and dipshits who don't have a single clue between them and are as happy as pigs in shit about it. So Stone made a subtle and ingenious dig at Clint Eastwood, Chris Kyle and American Sniper, that only those cinematically savvy enough would be able to catch and I, for one, give him great credit for that.

One other thing to keep in mind in regards to Snowden and some parallels with American Sniper, namely that both of them may very well be pieces from the same propaganda puzzle brought to us by our power and control hungry friends who operate in the shadows (and are unaware of their own shadow - psychologically speaking!!). There is a part of me, and there is substantial evidence to back this up, that believes that The Legend Chris Kyle was created as a propaganda tool out of whole cloth. His story and his rise into public consciousness is very suspect to say the least, as we've seen from the revelations about his less than truthful depiction of his life and military career. The other thing to keep in mind though is that Snowden, as much as I admire what he did, he may very well be just another piece of counter intelligence propaganda meant to spread disinformation and to manipulate the masses. The reason I say that is because while Snowden revealed a great deal of government illegality, yet no one has ever been held to account for these crimes, which is quite convenient. One result of Snowden's revelations are that the public has become numbed into a shoulder shrugging apathy in regards to government surveillance. So with Snowden's revelations, the intelligence community gets to have the cover of being forced to  "come clean", meanwhile they can continue surveillance without anyone noticing or more importantly, caring.

In keeping with the intelligence communities playbook, right after Snowden's revelations the media went into hyper-drive to destroy Snowden personally. The usual suspects at the Washington Post and New York Times and all the television outlets painted him as a self serving, smug, fame hungry man trying to harm his nation for his own advantage. Even ferret faced "comedian" John Oliver got into the act. So now, any other whistleblowers will be reticent to come forward, and any other revelations of government criminality will be ignored. The cavalcade of information that Snowden revealed has been masterfully manipulated into having the effect of creating apathy in the general public and giving immunity to the intelligence community from any crimes committed.  Snowden may not have been a part of the bigger propaganda and counter intel project, but he was certainly useful to it. Add to that that Snowden seemingly came out of nowhere…his life story reeks of someone who was snatched up by the intel community and groomed to be an asset. He never finished high school? Failed out of the Army Rangers? These are odd things for someone so obviously intelligent and highly functioning. To tie things back to Oliver Stone, Snowden may be a modern day Oswald, nothing more than a patsy. (Oswald too was a high school drop out and was seemingly much more intelligent than he seems at first glance, for example he allegedly taught himself to be fluent in Russian.)

The reality is that if I am to be suspect of Chris Kyle's story I need to be equally suspect of Edward Snowden's story, as both of them are littered with red flags, some waving higher than others. A giant red flag for both of them is that their stories were made into major motion pictures. Hollywood is a very useful tool to the intel community to shape culture and perception. The idea that Snowden is an intelligence asset meant to obfuscate the truth rather than reveal it may be a stretch to some people, but we must understand that nothing can be taken at face value. If you want to be a well informed human being, you have to be skeptical of everything you come across. Manipulation of the masses by the powers that be is as old as civilization, and one must always be vigilant against one's owns prejudices.  

The intel community could use Snowden's revelations to divert attention and distract us from what they are really up to, which is probably a hell of a lot more heinous than we can ever imagine. Maybe that is why Oliver Stone made such an un-Stone-like film. Maybe Stone had an inkling that not all was as it seemed in the Snowden story, and so he used the film as an opportunity to subtly undermine the military-industrial-propoganda complex by taking shots at American Sniper while telling a tepid version of the Snowden tale. Maybe…just maybe…Oliver Stone's Snowden is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Or maybe my tinfoil hat is on too tight…who knows?

One final odd contradiction coming from people like Chris Kyle and his flag waving and ass kissing supporters, is that they are usually either republicans or conservatives, and often times both. They dislike and rail against government, determined to reduce it to a size where they can drown it in a bathtub, but they fail to realize that the military, the intelligence services and law enforcement are all part of the government. In fact, military/intelligence/law enforcement are often times the most expensive form of government and the most dangerous to the things that I, and alleged conservatives, say we hold dear, namely, the constitution and our individual, GOD-Given liberties. As republicans and conservatives like to tell us, and as I certainly believe, government didn't give us our liberties, God did. So why are conservatives in general, and republicans in particular, so infatuated with government power, violence and secrecy? It is odd. And don't get me wrong, the democrats are usually just as awful as republicans on these issues…look at the superstars who have been my Senators and representatives over the years, Jane Harman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton…they are like a murderer's row for the military/Intelligence industrial complex and against civil liberties.

Which brings us to another point made in Snowden, albeit only in passing. Namely that all of these surveillance programs run by the intelligence community aren't meant to stop terrorists at all, they are meant for corporate and government espionage, and to scuttle civil unrest and protest. In the film, Nic Cage's character Hank Forrester describes to Snowden how he had developed a much better, much more accurate and much cheaper surveillance program than the one the CIA and NSA currently use, but they chose not to use it because they wanted to fill the coffers of the military industrial complex by using a bigger, less effective and more expensive by billions program. This sounds exactly like our trusted government in action. Even applying the most basic, luddite logic, one would understand that the more information you sweep up, the less usable information you will actually be able to focus on. When you expand the haystack, needles don't get easier to find, they get harder.

This is proven by the fact that the NSA and CIA have never used these surveillance programs to stop a terror attack. They have CLAIMED to have stopped terror attacks using these surveillance programs, but there is absolutely no proof whatsoever that is true. Like the overwhelming majority of police work, these surveillance programs, at best, give the intelligence services something to do AFTER an attack, but never before. So what are these programs really about? These surveillance programs aren't about security, they are all about power.

If the U.S. government were so interested in stopping terrorists, then why do they bend over backwards to protect the home and heart of terrorists, Saudi Arabia. Bush's bestest hand holding buddy Saudi Prince Bandar, has been proven to be an accomplice and paymaster to the 9-11 hijackers, as was his wife. And yet, Bush and his successor Obama have moved heaven and earth to protect the Saudi's at all costs and to protect that information from coming to light…why? The Saudi's have been proven to have supported the 9-11 hijackers…think about that. Saudi Arabia was complicit in 9-11, where three thousand Americans were killed. 9-11 has been used as the catalyst and excuse for all of the intrusive (and illegal) surveillance the government has undertaken, and yet, that same government has no interest in pursuing justice in regards to the Saudi's. In fact, not only are they not holding the Saudi's accountable, they are actively arming and protecting them. Any rational human being could, in the light of this information, see the War on Terror for the Kabuki theatre that it is.

Further strengthening the case against the alleged use of surveillance in the war on terror is the fact that the U.S. is also actively working with, arming and supporting terrorists in Syria. ISIS and Al Qaeda are being used by the U.S. as weapons in their war against the Assad regime and its Russian benefactor.  We are doing the same thing in Ukraine where we supply and arm jihadists in the war against Russian nationalists in eastern Ukraine. We play our little public game of charades and pretend to deplore terrorists but behind the scenes we do everything we can to arm and empower them in Syria, Ukraine and across the globe. Is this the act of a nation so desperate for security that they would trample the Constituation and our civil liberties in order to stamp out terror? 

In conclusion, I have an opinion of what Edward Snowden that is probably right in synch with Oliver Stone's, thus I enjoyed the film. I think it could have been much better, but in the final analysis I think it was good enough. I am sure people on the other side of the argument will loathe the film. I believe that if Edward Snowden is the man he says he is, this is the type of man we as a nation should celebrate and hold in the highest regard. It is a sign of our culture's decadence, intellectual indifference and moral and ethical decay that Edward Snowden has successfully been labelled a traitor and an enemy by those in the establishment. He may be an enemy of the state, but he is undoubtedly a hero for the people. If we plan on getting our country back from the oligarchs, aristocrats, corporatists and military industrialists who currently reign over us with their Eye of Sauron intelligence apparatus, the people will need to wake up and fight back. The film Snowden is not perfect, and seeing it will not be a cure-all for the fear, weakness and stupidity that cripple us as a people, that said, seeing it would be a small and positive step in the right direction. 

©2016

 

Jason Bourne, Projecting the Shadow and the Technological Hunter : A Review and Commentary

ESTIMATED READING TIME : 12 MINUTES 27 SECONDS

****THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW!!! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ZERO SPOILERS!!!****

My Rating : 2 out of 5 Stars.

My Recommendation : Skip it in the theatre. See it on Cable or Netflix.

 

THE BOURNE REDUNDANCY

Jason Bourne, written and directed by Paul Greengrass, is the fifth film in the iconic Bourne franchise (The Bourne Identity 2002, The Bourne Supremacy 2004, The Bourne Ultimatum 2007 and The Bourne Legacy 2012) and the fourth starring Matt Damon in the lead role. Jason Bourne is the direct sequel to the 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum which was the most recent Matt Damon starring film in the franchise. Besides Matt Damon in the lead, Jason Bourne boasts Academy Award Winners Alicia Vikander and Tommy Lee Jones in major supporting roles.

The Bourne movies have always been the Rolls Royce of action films in large part because of quality work from Matt Damon and their wise choice of directors in Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) and Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum and Jason Bourne). Bourne films are better than Bond, better than Mission Impossible and better than Fast and the Furious (God help us all). The franchise tried to spin off with another lead actor, Jeremy Renner, in 2012's underwhelming The Bourne Legacy helmed by Tony Gilroy, which was the most recent film in the Bourne series. Renner, a good actor, showed how great an actor Matt Damon really is by simply not being able to live up to the standard of Damon's work in the earlier Bourne movies. The studio made the decision to fork over the cash and switch back to Damon for Bourne film number 5,  Jason Bourne, in an attempt to salvage a big money making franchise.

While the move to Renner didn't work and the move away from him was wise, the return to Damon, while good, just isn't good enough in comparison to the first three Damon led films. One wonders if this franchise has simply run its course and run out of creative steam. For a variety of reasons, Jason Bourne feels like a bridge too far in terms of asking audiences to suspend their disbelief once again for Bourne to go through the same ordeal he always seems to be going through, namely searching for his lost/stolen past.

When the Bourne franchise began, Jason Bourne was a man without a memory. The main driving force for Bourne throughout the earlier films was to find out the truth about himself and who he really was and how he got into this business of being Bourne. Those questions maintain very little dramatic currency or urgency as we come to the fourth go around of trying to answer them, since for the most part they have been answered already. With the big Bourne questions having already been answered, what remains is little more than window dressing. The reality is that Bourne, and the audience, know enough about him that answering more questions about his murky past is not dramatically imperative, thus leaving this latest cinematic adventure to be little more than an echo of previous better ones.

What made the earlier Bourne films so good were that they had a stylistic hyper-realism to them. Every punch thrown and received is excruciatingly realistic, every fight a grueling battle, with magazines, pens and other everyday items given new life as weapons. Bourne exists in the real world and that is what made the character and the films so compelling. Bourne isn't a superhero, at his core Bourne is a man, just like us. There is a Bourne potentially lurking in every man and woman sitting in the audience, which is why it is easy to project ourselves onto him as we watch.  And in everyone's home or office there are everyday items, like those previously mentioned magazines and pens, which we may, deep down in our secretly Bourne trained psyche, already know how to use in order to kill our enemies! At least that is the fantasy that the Bourne films have successfully sold to us. 

Sadly, in Jason Bourne, the franchise veers a little too wayward into the realm of the fantastical and away from that trademark hyper-realism. It doesn't entirely go away from that realism, but it does venture far enough out into the neverland of Hollywood action film land to scuttle the franchise's signature core of hyper-realism. The main problem with Jason Bourne is in the second half of the film when the story goes to Las Vegas. The Vegas section of the film is pretty terrible. Lovers of big, Hollywood action movies will love it, but lovers of Bourne hyper-realism will cringe. Bourne lovers go to see Bourne films to get away from the mindless destruction of the average Hollywood blockbuster. Bourne is usually the thinking man's action movie, but not here. The Vegas fiasco could be taken from any run of the mill, shoot 'em up, Hollywood action flick, and Jason Bourne suffers greatly because of it. 

What makes the Vegas section of the film so disappointing is that the opening portion of the film, set during an outbreak of civil unrest in Athens, is so remarkably well done. Director Paul Greengrass' trademark frenetically intimate camerawork is on full display in the Athens section of the film, and it is glorious. The Athens scenes are riveting and breathtaking. This is the Bourne franchise at its best, using the real world, and real events, as the back drop for this story hidden beneath the surface that goes unseen by the masses. Bourne having a fight and chase in the midst of civil unrest in Athens doesn't just make for interesting cinema, it makes us watch the news differently. We become aware that a whole host of things could be going on behind the scenes of the stories we see and read, and we have no idea what the truth really is beyond the images on the news. That is what makes the Bourne series so much fun, it awakens our imagination and lets us bring it out of the theatre with us and into our everyday life. (To go back to an earlier point, we will never look at a rolled up magazine quite the same way after having watched Bourne beat somebody's ass with it.)

As good as the Athens section is, the Vegas section is equally bad. It feels like two different films spliced together, the first half a Bourne film, the second half a Fast and Furious film. Greengrass is a very talented director, his Bloody Sunday is an absolute masterpiece, but here he seems to have run out of ideas in the later portions of the movie and gone back to the old "Hollywood action movie playbook" to find an ending.

The acting in the film is uneven as well. Matt Damon does his usual solid work. Much has been made of the fact that Bourne speaks about twenty lines in the entire film, or something to that effect, meaning Damon was paid a million dollars a line. But to be frank, he is worth it since it has been proven that no one else could play the part better. Damon has a charisma and magnetism on camera that serve him incredibly well in these films. His comfort in not talking is a rarity for actors, and is an under valued and unappreciated great skill. 

A terrible disappointment in terms of the acting is Academy Award winner Alicia Vikander as Heather Lee, head of the CIA Cyber Ops division. Vikander is a very good actress, of that there is no doubt, but here she struggles mightily. The biggest issue with Vikander's performance is that she butchers her American accent. Vikander is Swedish and British, so speaking with an American accent is no easy task. Sadly, she falls into the trap that many foreign actors in general, and British actors in particular fall into, namely that they mimic what they think the Ameican accent is rather than actually understanding it from the inside out. What I mean is that learning an accent doesn't just require you to re-train your vocal instrument, the mouth, tongue, vocal chords etc., but it requires you to re-train your ears. In order to really do an accent well, you must be able to hear it properly. Most British actors hear American speech through British ears, which makes for a disjointed and poor imitation of an American accent. Vikander does exactly that in Jason Bourne and you can hear it very clearly because she makes the technical error of putting her voice too deeply into the back of her throat and speaking in too low a register. Firstly, this does the opposite of what I assume she was trying to do, it doesn't make her voice sound more grounded and powerful, it makes her voice sound muffled, flighty and weak. Secondly, and this happens a lot of the time with Brits, is that she loses the subtle rhythm of the American voice. The British accent is so wonderfully sing-song to the American ear, and it has a distinct rhythm to it that is easy to pick up. The American accent, on the other hand, sounds terribly flat, dry and dull to the British actor, and so they think it has no rhythm to it all. They are wrong, the rhythm is there it is just much more difficult to locate if you don't know how to listen for it. Thus the issue with hearing an accent in your native voice and trying to translate from there…you cannot do it, or better said, you cannot do it well. Vikander falls prey to this trap, which is a shame since she is such a wonderful presence on screen, but that is undermined here with her distractingly bad American accent.

THE HUNTER MYTH CYCLE

Coincidentally enough, right after seeing Jason Bourne I read the book, Projecting the Shadow : The Cyborg Hero in American Film by Janice Hocker Rushing and Thomas S. Frentz. The book is wonderful and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in cinema, myth and Jungian psychology. In the book, the authors examine from a Jungian perspective, six films and their relationship to the evolution of the archetypal hunter myth, from The Indian Hunter to The Frontier Hunter to The Technological Hunter as seen through the modernist, post-modernist and "trans-modernist" view. The six films they look at are JawsThe Deer HunterThe Manchurian CandidateBlade RunnerTerminator and Terminator 2. The book was published in 1995 so the Bourne films weren't "born" just yet, but I couldn't help but think of them in terms of the authors intriguing premise. 

According to Hocker and Frentz, there are three types of hunter myths, the Indian Hunter, the Frontier Hunter and the Technological Hunter. The Hunter Myth Cycle is seen as circular in that it evolves from one myth (I.E. Indian myth) to another myth (I.E. Frontier myth) to another myth (I.E. Technological myth) and then back to where it started (I.E. Indian myth). It is interesting to examine the character Jason Bourne in relation to this hunter myth cycle. The Bourne character is a weapon used by men in suits in offices back in the Pentagon and C.I.A., so he is a no different than a drone, or a smart bomb. He was created, much like the man/weapons of The Manchurian Candidate, to do the killing from which the post-modern man wants to consciously dissociate. The Bourne character is also similar to the Manchurian Candidate, in that he is a human but has had his true identity and memory, markers of his humanity, taken from him in order to make him a near perfect robotic killer.

Bourne's personal place on the archetypal Hunter Myth scale is that of The Frontier Hunter, yet he is also just a weapon of his C.I.A. overlords who are Technological Hunters, thus giving the film two myths in one. Rushing and Frentz describe the Frontier Hunter in part, "Since Indians as well as wild beasts occupy the land he wants, he slaughters both indiscriminately, gaining a decisive advantage over his human prey because of…his sophisticated weaponry, and his lack of spiritual restraint. Although his frontierism converts "savagery" to "civilization", the white hunter himself cannot reside in society without losing his individualistic heroic status and thus does not return from the hunt…". Things always get interesting in the Bourne films when Jason Bourne must fight against another one of the human weapons of the Technological Hunters in the C.I.A. in the form of an opposing Frontier Hunter. Two men/weapons with "sophisticated weaponry and lack of spiritual restraint" fighting each other is a key to the successful Bourne formula.

Rushing and Frentz describe the Technological Hunter Myth as follows, "…Because he is so good at making machines, he now uses his brains more than brawn, and he prefers to minimize his contact with nature, which can be uncomfortable and menacing. Thus he creates ever more complex tools to do his killing and other work for him. Having banished God as irrelevant to the task at hand, the hero decides he is God, and like the now obsolete power, creates beings 'in his own image'; this time, however, they are more perfect versions of himself - rational, strategic, and efficient. He may fashion his tools either by remaking a human being into a perfected machine or by making an artificial "human" from scratch. "

In cinematic terms the Bourne character falls somewhere between the dehumanized human weapons of The Manchurian Candidate, "remaking a human into a perfected machine", and the humanized robot-weapon "replicants" of Blade Runner, "making an artificial 'human' from scratch". The replicants in Blade Runner are tools and weapons for humans, just like Bourne, but they also yearn to be human, as does Bourne, who aches for a return to his long lost humanity while his Technological Hunter overlords yearn to make him ever more robotic, or more accurately, devoid of humanity. The problem with both the replicants and Bourne, is that their humanity, their need for love and connection, is their greatest weakness and their greatest strength.  Bourne and the Blade Runner replicants, yearn to Know Thyself, which is what drives them toward freedom from their makers and yet also makes them erratic and at times vulnerable weapons for the Technological Hunter. This inherent weakness of humanity, the need for love and connection, is removed entirely in the later films that Rushing and Frentz examine, Terminator and Terminator 2, where humans have created super weapons, cyborgs, that are completely inhuman, and of course as the story tells us, turn on their creators like Frankenstein's monster and try to hunt and torment mankind into oblivion.

In many ways, Bourne is the perfect post-modern hero in that he is so severely psychologically fragmented. He was intentionally made that way by the Technological Hunter Dr. Frankensteins at the C.I.A. because eliminating his humanity (past/memory/love and connection) is what makes him so effective as a weapon. Originally in the story, the people in power calling the shots back in Washington are using Bourne to clandestinely hunt their enemies. But now that Bourne is off the reservation and out on his own, he has become the archetypal Frontier hunter, searching for his soul/memory which was stolen by those D.C. Technological Hunters. This is the normal evolution in the hunter myth cycle…the weapon turns on its creator, as evidenced by both Blade Runner and the Terminator films, and now by the Bourne films.

LIVING IN THE AGE OF THE TECHNOLOGICAL HUNTER

What does this talk of post-modernism and the technological hunter have to do with anything? Well, in case you haven't noticed, we live in an age of the post-modern technological hunter. The films examined in Projecting the Shadow show us the road that may lay ahead for our culture. Our inherent weakness in being human, both physical and emotional, and our intellectual superiority has forced us to become technological hunters. From the first caveman to pick up an animal bone and use it to bash in another cave man's head (hat tip to Mr. Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey), to the drone pilot who sits in an air conditioned office in Nevada and kills people half a world away with the touch of a button, we have removed ourselves from the direct conscious responsibility for killing because it is too psychologically and emotionally traumatic for our fragile psyches. Or at least we think we have removed our psychological responsibility. Like consumers of meat who would rather not know where it comes from or how it is treated, we as a society have removed our direct conscious involvement in the killing done in our name by creating a cognitive dissonance (cognitive dissonance is defined as  a "psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously") and an emotional distance from it. Whether it be the drone pilot who goes home for lunch with his wife and kids after having killed dozens, or the politicians and citizens who cheer at the shock and awe of "smart bombs" and munitions dropped from miles overhead on defenseless human beings, we have become Technological Hunters all. Rushing and Frentz describe the Technological Hunter as one who…"prefers to minimize his contact with nature, which can be uncomfortable and menacing", that is us. The "nature" we want to minimize contact with is the killing we have done and our moral, ethical, psychological and spiritual responsibility for it. That is why we create "ever more complex tools to do our killing". We need those tools to give us an emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual distance from the the killing we do. 

The distance between thought, impulse and deed in regards to killing is shorter than ever for the technological hunter, it is just the push of a button away, but with our cognitive dissonance, we are able to consciously detach from the results of those actions and make them feel ever more remote. While they may feel consciously remote, the unconscious ramifications of those actions are felt deeply and personally in the psyche of the collective and the individual. The drone pilot may believe he is merely playing a realistic video game when he kills people half a world away, but his psyche and soul are being torn to shreds without his conscious knowledge of it, as is our collective psyche and national soul.

PROJECTING THE SHADOW

The U.S. soldiers and Marines, Frontier Hunters all, sent to the middle east to be the weapons of their Technological Hunter superiors in the Pentagon, continuously come back psychologically, spiritually and emotionally fragmented beyond recognition, perfect symbols of the post-modern age in which they fight. This psychological fragmentation brought about by the trauma of these wars leaves these soldiers and Marines wounded and maimed in invisible and intangible ways and often times leads to them killing themselves. The suicide rate of U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars is that of 22 a day. This horrendous torment, and the desperate suicides attempting to get away from it, are the price paid for the cognitive dissonance we as a culture enable and embrace in regards to the killing of other people done in our name. Since we as a culture cannot embrace or acknowledge our killing, we stuff it into our collective shadow, or as I call it the "killing shadow", and force the less than 2% of the population who serve in our wars (and even fewer who kill in those wars) to carry our killing shadow for us. The psychological shadow in general and the killing shadow in particular, brings with it an enormous amount of powerful psychic energy, which is why it does such tremendous damage to those who bear its burden, and why it is imperative for us as a culture to reduce that burden on the soldiers and Marines carrying our killing shadow energy.

As our Technological Hunter culture evolves, in order to remove the psychological and emotional cost on the human beings sent to fight these wars, we won't decide to stop fighting future wars, but we will decide to stop using humans to fight them. No doubt at this very moment, somewhere in the Pentagon they are developing robotic, amoral, emotionless warriors who will do all our dirty work for us. The problem will arise of course, when that same amoral, emotionless warrior technology figures out that they are stronger, faster, bigger and better than us. And once they realize they can replicate themselves, we weak humans will become entirely unnecessary. This is the story told in the Terminator films. This will just be another form of our culture ignoring their killing shadow and projecting it onto another, in this case our cyborg weaponry. Except our shadow will not be ignored, and it will lash out at its deniers by any means necessary, in this case by using our technological weapons to strike out at us to force us to acknowledge our own killing shadow.

SHOCK AND AWE - MUST SEE TV

Until we can create these perfect, robotic killers though, we are left to wrestle with our own spiritual and psychological weaknesses, namely, our thirst to kill and our desire to not feel the emotional and spiritual turmoil that comes with killing. It is interesting to notice how in our time we fully embraces the technological hunter myth completely unconsciously. An example of this was the overwhelmingly giddy joy and exuberance shown for the first Gulf War in 1991 and its made-for-tv technological bombardment with smart bombs upon Iraq. Never before had war been brought into the living rooms of Americans as it was happening, and yet, here was the war in all its technicolor glory except without any conscious connection to our responsibility for the devastation and death that we were watching unfold.

The same occurred with the start of the second war in Iraq in 2003 when the U.S. unleashed the cleverly marketed "shock and awe" bombardment. The dizzying display of devastating munitions were a sight to behold, like the greatest fireworks display imaginable, but our conscious connection to the devastation being wrought was minimal. This is another example of our culture being unwittingly under the throes of the Technological Hunter Myth. In contrast, our cultural shock and visceral disgust with the terror attacks of 9-11, where barbarians used primitive box cutters to kill innocents and then turn our technology (airplanes) against us, were signs of our unconscious detachment from the Indian Hunter myth and more proof of our deep cultural connection to the Technological Hunter Myth.

Another example of our cultures post-modern Technological Hunter Myth is the fetish among the populace for Special Operations Forces (SEALs, Special Forces, Delta force, Army Rangers and Marine Force Recon). These Special Ops forces have become the favorite go to for any talking head on television or at the local bar or barbershop, to proclaim who we should get to handle any military issue. ISIS? Send in the SEALs!! Al Qaeda? Send in the Green Berets!! Not long ago I saw everyone's favorite tough guy Bill O'Reilly opining on his Fox news show that we should send in ten thousand Green Berets into Syria and Iraq to wipe out ISIS. I guess Bill isn't aware that there are only 11,000 Special Operators deployed around the globe at any moment in time, not to mention that most of those Special Operators are not Special Forces (Green Berets). This sort of thing happens all the time where people see a problem and say, 'well let's send in these Special Operations supermen to deal with it.' This is more proof of the Technological Hunter Myth in action, as Rushing and Frentz describe it, "...the hero (the technological hunter) decides he is God, and like the now obsolete power, creates beings "in his own image"; this time, however, they are more perfect versions of himself - rational, strategic, and efficient. He may fashion his tools...by remaking a human being into a perfected machine". We as a culture are Technological Hunters who have made these Special Operations forces in "our own image", but only better. The Special Operations forces are "more perfect versions" of ourselves, "rational, strategic, and efficient." We believe we have remade these ordinary men into "perfected machines" for killing, and then we have projected our killing shadow (our responsibility and hunger for killing) onto them.

In our current Technological Hunter Myth, these Special Operators are, like Jason Bourne, nothing more than extensions of ourselves in the form of weaponry, no different than the drone or smart bomb, or in the future the cyborg, and looked upon as just as mechanical. And we have no more genuine connection to them or their work or the massive psychological toll it will take for them to carry the burden of our shadow than we do that of the drone or the smart bomb or any other machines we created.

HERO OF THE DAY

When we examine our Technological Hunter Myth in the form of Special Operations forces, we can see why our culture is drawn to certain things and repulsed by others. For instance, the greatest hero and biggest symbol of our most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the cultural militarism surrounding them has been Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Kyle, who alleged to be the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, wrote a best selling book, "American Sniper" and the movie of the same name based on that book broke box office records. People went absolutely crazy for the story of Chris Kyle. In terms of the Hunter Myth Cycle, Chris Kyle was a weapon used by the Technological Hunter. And interestingly, he was a sniper, a man who kills his enemies from great distances. This is not to diminish the skill it takes to be a great sniper, or the utility of that skill, but it is to point out that a sniper being the heroic symbol of a post-modern war speaks volumes to where we are as a culture. The reason people could admire Chris Kyle is because on an unconscious level they could symbolically and mythologically relate to him. Chris Kyle, like the rest of the culture, killed people from a distance and removed the conscious emotional and psychological responsibility for those kills from himself and from the culture.

The act of looking through a scope mounted on a sniper rifle gives the shooter much needed psychological and emotional distance from his killing. In the case of the sniper, he is twice removed from his kill, once by the scope and once by the weapon itself. The psychological distance of the sniper with his scope is in some ways similar to the emotional distance and cognitive dissonance created when people sitting on their couches watching CNN see smart bomb after smart bomb eviscerate some Iraqi city. Whether it be the sniper scope or the television camera, seeing something through a lens or screen gives the viewer a detachment from what they see, and with that detachment comes the ability to maintain a cognitive dissonance from the horrors seen and any moral or psychological responsibility for them.

In thinking about our current age, and our evolution from the age of the Frontier Hunter Myth of World War II, where our soldiers fought the savagery of the Nazi's and the Imperial Japanese in order to preserve western civilization, to the post-modern, Technological Hunter Myth of today, it is easy to see why an accomplished sniper like Chris Kyle became such a celebrated symbol of the wars we are waging. In comparison to our current culture's example of "The Sniper", Chris Kyle, being the hero for the Iraq war, think of World War II and the hero and symbol of that war, Audie Murphy. Murphy became revered and beloved in his time just like Chris Kyle did in our time, and like Kyle, Murphy also had a successful film about his combat exploits. Murphy, though, fought and killed his enemies in close quarters, without the scope and distance of the sniper. Back then, Murphy was fighting under the predominant myth of the time, The Frontier Hunter Myth, while Chris Kyle fought under our current myth of the Technological Hunter Myth. This doesn't make Murphy better than Kyle or vice versa, it just shows how cultures unconsciously choose their hero's based on the myths they currently embrace.

Another point of note showing how we are currently under the spell of the Technological Hunter Myth, is that there are other warriors who could've become the cultural icons and symbols of our current wars, but didn't resonate quite as much with the public as much as sniper Chris Kyle did. The late Pat Tillman, the former NFL football player who became an Army Ranger, is one example of someone who easily could've become the iconic hero of the war on terror but didn't.  Marcus Luttrell, the Navy SEAL of the book and movie Lone Survivor fame is an even better example. Luttrell did became famous for his story, but, for some reason, he didn't resonate anywhere near as much with our culture as Chris Kyle did. I believe the reason for this is our cultural and collective unconscious attachment to the Technological Hunter Myth. Simply put, Luttrell and Tillman were just as worthy of adulation as Kyle, but they weren't snipers. The sniper is the perfect symbol of the emotional and psychological distance we as a culture like to keep from the people we are killing. The current cultural celebration of the sniper also enables us to maintain our cognitive dissonance with relative ease and keep any conscious psychological and emotional turmoil brought about by the killing we do at bay.

The need for psychological and emotional distance between the person wanting to kill and the actual killing is a signature of the Technological Hunter Myth. At the behest of his superiors in Washington, the drone pilot in Nevada pushes a button and kills dozens in Yemen or Pakistan. The drone pilot is, through his drone, twice removed from the actual killing, once by the button he pushes and once by the missile fired,  and is also detached from it by the screen he watches it on, thus giving him a conscious distance from the killing. His superior in Washington is thrice removed, once by his phone used to call the pilot, once by the pilot himself and once by the missile used. The B-2 pilot, who at the behest of those same Washington superiors drops his payload from a mile up, never sees the people he is obliterating, enjoys the same distance and assures himself of the same cognitive dissonance as the drone pilot. The Special Operations forces that are covertly sent to Pakistan to assassinate a terrorist leader under the dark of night and the cloak of secrecy are the closest yet to the actual killing, but even they are twice removed from their kill because of the weapon they shoot, and the night vision goggles they see through, creating that technological hunter myth distance for which western man yearns. The conscious distance from the killing through the use of technology is vital in creating and maintaining our cognitive dissonance and the illusion of conscious emotional and psychological well being.

In contrast, think of the terrorists in ISIS who behead their captives. They kill directly, no distance between them and their victims. The act of beheading, like the atrocity of 9-11, gives us in the west a visceral, guttural reaction, one of pure revulsion. There is something utterly barbaric, savage and repulsive about cutting a defenseless persons head off. Yet if innocents are decapitated by drone strikes or smart bombs we somehow aren't quite as repulsed by that. What this speaks to is our current enchantment with the Technological Hunter Myth. For in western culture, we have created technology which gives us a safe distance from the barbarity of the acts done in our name. Decapitation by smart bomb feels much less barbaric to us because our technology gives us a moral, emotional and psychological distance from that barbarity and aids us in maintaining our cognitive dissonance. 

I HAVE BECOME COMFORTABLY NUMB

In American foreign policy killing has become something other people, or things, do, and anyone who directly kills, like ISIS, are reprehensible savages. In our post-modern age and the Technological Hunter Myth which has come with it, the extensions of man are his weaponry in the form of machines (drones/smart bombs) and human machines (special operations forces). Either way, whether with a manufactured machine or a human one, our culture is able to consciously detach and distance itself from the violence it perpetrates, regardless of the righteousness of that violence, and this is a recipe for a cultural and psychological disaster as we numb ourselves to the damage we do others and our selves.

In bringing this back to Jason Bourne, the Bourne films have resonated with our culture to such a great extent because Bourne is the perfect human weapon in the age of the Technological Hunter Myth. Like we imagine our Special Operations Forces, Bourne is " made in our own image", but is a 'more perfect version of ourselves - rational, strategic, and efficient."

We can watch Bourne kick-ass in a world that is just like ours thanks to the franchise's trademark hyper-realism, and so we are able to project ourselves onto him and live vicariously through him. The Bourne character gives us one more lens, like the snipers scope, or the camera, or the television screen, through which we can see the horror of our world, that lens is the mind's eye…our imagination. This added lens of imagination means we can watch actual, real-life civil unrest in Athens on our television and not only detach ourselves from our responsibility for that unrest, but also create even more distance by imagining the drama going on underneath the surface of that unrest, and imagining how we would, like our "perfect version of ourselves" Bourne, thrive under those circumstances. This is the final stage of the Technological Hunter Myth, where the technological hunter is so far removed from the actual killing that he/she is forced to use their own imagination in order to envision how they themselves would really behave if they were actually in the scenario where the killing took place. The end stage of this type of evolution, or devolution as the case may be, would be The Matrix trilogy, where humanity is reduced to being prisoners of their own imagination and being used as little more than captive batteries to their shadow, the Technology they once created to fight for them. Once that Technology became self aware and understood that humans were intellectually and physically inferior, it simply conquered and enslaved humanity for its own benefit. 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, at the current stage of the Technological Hunter Myth we find ourselves in, we have been so far removed from our primal instincts and detached from our collective psychological shadow, that the tide may turn and we may eventually begin to yearn for an acknowledgment of our most ancient and primitive psychological drives. The need not just to eat an animal, but to kill it, courses through the deepest trenches of our psyche. The need not just for our enemies to die, but for us to feel their last breath on our faces, is alive and well and living in our killing shadow. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, these type of instincts are the gateway to a return to a respect for the earth, respect for life, respect for our enemies and respect for killing in general.

Killing and war will never cease to be, they are eternally part of the human condition, but one can only hope that the anti-septic form of war/killing currently enjoyed by the west, where we shove our darker impulses and our unequivocal guilt and responsibility into our shadow, where it festers and grows as we ignore it, will be transformed back into the more simple, if equally brutal form of killing of the Indian Hunter Myth, where respect for prey, enemy and the act of killing return. What I am saying is that if we are to kill we must do it consciously, take full responsibility and be fully aware of what we have done. If we continue to psychologically fragment and cognitively dissociate from the killing we do, that impulse will become our killing shadow, unconscious and angry. When those impulses are cast into the shadow they do not disintegrate, they only disappear from consciousness and grow more and more powerful until they simply refuse to be ignored. When the killing impulse is ignored and forced into the shadow, it eventually will strike out with a vengeance, often destroying the fragmented and cognitively dissociated psyche which ignores it. Twenty-two veteran suicides a day is the damning proof of the consequences of our cognitive dissonance from the killing we do and our moral and ethical responsibility for it. 

Our only hope for the healing of our fragmented psyches, and the reclamation of our humanity is to make our killing impulses and acts conscious.  We must take full mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual responsibility for the killing that we do.  Sadly, with our culture thoroughly numbed through technology and medication, this seems terribly unlikely. The more likely scenario? Go watch the Terminator and Matrix films to see what happens when humanity is unable to carry and acknowledge its killing shadow. It will give you something to watch while you wait for Jason Bourne to come out on cable or Netflix, because you shouldn't spend a dime going to see it in the theatre. And if you really want to spend your time wisely, I highly recommend you go read Projecting the Shadow : The Cyborg Hero in American Film.

©2016

Citizenfour : A Review and Random Thoughts

ESTIMATED READING TIME :  23 MINUTES

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act " - George Orwell

Citizenfour is the Academy Award winning documentary that chronicles whistleblower Edward Snowden's release of classified National Security Agency materials to journalist Glenn Greenwald and the ensuing NSA spying scandal. The film is directed by Laura Poitras and co-produced by Steven Soderbergh.

Edward Snowden, in case you don't know, was at the time of filming in 2013, a twenty nine year old U.S. citizen who worked as a system administrator for the National Security Agency under a sub-contract with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. It was at his job at the NSA that he surreptitiously obtained thousands of classified documents that exposed massive government spying and data collection programs. Once Snowden had taken possession of these documents, he then anonymously contacted director Poitras, and later journalist Glenn Greenwald, then of The Guardian newspaper, and set up a rendezvous in Hong Kong where he revealed the classified documents and explained their meaning and significance. The first face to face meeting took place on June 3, 2013 in Snowden's Hong Kong hotel room and the meetings continued for the next week. These meetings were filmed and make up a significant portion of Citizenfour.

In trying to disseminate the information he had gathered, Snowden had originally tried to reach out to Greenwald, but when they could not find a secure way to communicate, he contacted documentarian Laura Poitras, using the codename "Citizenfour" to protect his identity, hence the title of the film. Snowden couldn't have chosen a better film maker to document his story. I had not seen any of Poitras' work prior to Citizenfour. After seeing the film and being blown away by the sublime skills of the filmmaker, I eagerly searched out her earlier work. Both My Country, My Country (2006), about the first Iraqi election post-Saddam and The Oath (2011), about a pair of terrorists and their divergent paths, are remarkable documentaries and make up the powerful first two-thirds of what Poitras describes as her "post 9-11 trilogy" which she completes with Citizenfour.

Poitras, unlike many documentarians of our time, is notable in that she disappears behind the camera and never interjects her presence into the unfolding story. Her filmmaking confidence is highlighted by her lack of a need to direct action or explain circumstances. Poitras' minimalist presence creates documentaries that make the viewer feel like they themselves are behind the camera and, oddly enough, are eavesdropping and prying into the lives of the film's subjects. Even in Citizenfour, where she IS a part of the story, she never makes herself an obvious part of it,  but rather treats herself as just another character in the unfolding drama.

Poitras masterfully creates an ominous sense of menace lurking throughout the story of Citizenfour. This foreboding sense of menace is palpable, as is the tension. The tension building was so effective that there were times in the film when Edward Snowden would walk over and stare out the window of his Hong Kong hotel room and I wanted to yell at him "get away from the god damn window!!" While Snowden's story naturally has tension and hidden menace within it, Poitras adroitly enhances them with her use of camera framing, color scheme and temperature, and Trent Reznor's moody and eerie soundtrack.

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." - Thomas Jefferson

Citizenfour also excels at conveying to the viewer how colossal and invasive the surveillance and spying programs the government employs truly are. As Snowden tells us in the film, every piece of communication or information traveling over the internet or by phone is collected by the intelligence community of either the United States or the United Kingdom. Internet history, Skype, Facebook, emails, texts and a whole host of other information, are all collected, spied on and tracked. That information, including physical location through the use of cell towers, can be used to show where you have been, who you have been with, what you have done and what you have talked about. This surveillance is done in close collaboration with the technology and telecom companies. And to be clear, this is not just "meta-data" as it has been portrayed elsewhere in the media, but rather, this surveillance and data collection scoops up content as well as meta-data, and not just of foreigners but of United States citizens.

The spying programs, with names like Tempora, Prism, Special Source Operations, Boundless Informant, Stellar Wind and X-Keyscore, may seem benign or passive yet they are anything but. The scope and scale of the spying is so invasive, the intelligence gathered so vast and the government ability to misuse that information so gargantuan, that it is inconceivable to even think of ever reigning the behemoth of the surveillance state back in line. As Snowden says in the film, "This is about state power versus people's ability to oppose that power." And that is why the state will never willingly relinquish this near-omnipotent spying power. History teaches us that once a state takes a power, it never peacefully gives that power up. It will use it's ever expanding power to insure its continued existence and dominion over those who would dare dream to oppose it.  Governments and government power only expand, and never peacefully contract. This is the lesson that our founding fathers knew all too well, but it is one that our current society has forgotten in our distracted and disgraceful civic sloth.

Edward Snowden presciently says while in Hong Kong, that the media strategy against him will be to make him the story, in order to distract from the rampant government spying he has revealed. Snowden knows the playbook of the establishment and their lackeys in the media all too well.  And sure enough, when Glenn Greenwald's story breaks and Snowden shares his identity, the usual suspects in the establishment press and government come out in droves with old rusty knives drawn. By employing the tactic of focusing on his personality, the government and its lapdogs in the press hope to obfuscate and undermine the legitimacy of the information he has exposed. The establishment is all too eager to make this an emotional issue and not a rational one. They do this by trying to convince us that Snowden is simply a narcissist out for attention, or a troubled man with a checkered past, or a loser with a history of failure behind him and last but not least, a traitor, who hates and betrayed his country.

Many Americans bought into these foolish narratives hook, line and sinker, and still do. I doubt many of those opposed to Snowden would sit down and watch Citizenfour since the media has already told them what to think about the man and the situation, which is a terrible shame. The film is a powerful antidote to the venomous disinformation and distractions spewing forth from the government and establishment media. In the film, Snowden comes across as a person who loves his country very much, but doesn't trust his government. To me, that is the mark of a civic-minded, sane, reasonable, rational and logical person. Snowden seems to be an intelligent, fiercely principled and genuinely decent person, which is in stark contrast to the shills in the government and establishment press who attack him and question his motives and integrity (in my opinion, anyone working in government or establishment media questioning the integrity of ANYONE, no matter what they are accused of doing, is the height of comedy).

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." - James Madison

 Keith Alexander, "Maybe if I put my hook in front of my mouth I will stop lying."

Keith Alexander, "Maybe if I put my hook in front of my mouth I will stop lying."

The government claims that this vast amount of surveillance is necessary for national security and to stop terrorism. Snowden and Greenwald make a convincing case in the film  that the spying isn't just for national security but also for political, industrial and economic reasons.  For instance, the U.S. has spied on its allies, including but not limited to, officials and citizens from Germany, Brazil, France and Spain. It was even revealed that the NSA tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone for a full decade starting in 2002, even before she ever became Chancellor.

 James Clapper, "My conscience is this big!"

James Clapper, "My conscience is this big!"

In regards to surveillance keeping us safe from terrorists, National Security Agency General Director Keith Alexander has claimed that 54 terror plots have been thwarted through these spying programs. Of course, a closer look at Alexander's claims proves them to be false, and at best, maybe one terror plot was discovered by this vast spying. Keith Alexander was lying with the 54 plots-stopped claim, but that shouldn't be a surprise, Keith Alexander is a liar, it's his job to lie. He has lied to congress and the American public, but he isn't alone, lying is par for the course for those in the government and the intelligence community when it comes to surveillance. So many intelligence agencies and officials lie about so many topics, one wonders why anyone besides their stenographers in the establishment press ever believes a word that comes out of their mouths. 

"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice." - Charles de Montesquieu

 CIA Director John Brennan, "I care about the rule of law… this much !"

CIA Director John Brennan, "I care about the rule of law…this much!"

Joining Alexander in lying to congress, which is a crime punishable with prison time by the way, is Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who lied to congress about surveillance. Will Alexander or Clapper be held to account for their criminal conduct? No, of course not. And neither will CIA director John Brennan, under whose leadership the Central Intelligence Agency spied upon the senate for having the temerity to actually investigate it. And neither will George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bush gang for ordering torture. And neither will Barrack Obama for ordering "extra-judicial killings" of American citizens. None of these people will be held to account because the law doesn't apply to people like them, only to people like us, proving America is no longer a nation of laws, just a nation with laws. When you hear those in power pontificate about "law and order"what they really mean is "ORDER and law". To those in power, laws are meant to not only keep other people in order, but to keep the order of things where they are the ones atop the hierarchy. In their minds, "Laws and punishment for thee, but not for me!!" 

 David Petreaus, "A slap on the wrist? I'll drink to that!"

David Petreaus, "A slap on the wrist? I'll drink to that!"

One final example of the two-tiered justice system for the elites is the recent case of General David Petreaus. Petreaus, if you remember, was the four-star darling of the neo-cons, the hawks and the mainstream media for his "surge" in Iraq, although his popularity probably had more to do with his "surge" in media glad handing and public posturing than in any battlefield success. Petreaus was then appointed the Director of the CIA, and proceeded to have an affair with his biographer with whom he shared troves of highly classified notebooks. For sharing classified materials, including the identity of agents, for no other reason than foreplay, Petreaus got a slap on the wrist in the form of losing his job but getting no jail time. But Edward Snowden reveals a massive government conspiracy of criminal spying on innocent American citizens and we get government officials openly talking about assassinating him or executing him. And people question why Snowden won't return to the U.S.?

"Speak the truth but leave immediately after" - Slovenian Proverb

Another favorite distractionary tactic by the establishment is to imply Snowden is a spy or a coward for not returning to the U.S. to face the charges pending against him. President Obama, Hillary Clinton and others have said that Snowden should have just gone through the chain of command at the NSA with his concerns and he would have gotten whistleblower protections by doing so. This is false. First, because Snowden says he did bring his concerns to his superiors and was either ignored or told to keep quiet. And secondly, because Snowden was under a sub-contract, and not an employee of the federal government, meaning he was not eligible for whistleblower status.

The other issue regarding Snowden and getting a fair trial, is that due to the law used against him, he cannot defend himself by claiming the government was committing crimes. The law, the Espionage Act, was originally meant to be used against spies, but in recent years has been used to prosecute people who have withheld information or shared information with the media. In fact, Obama has used the Espionage Act more than twice as much as all the other presidents in history…combined. What makes this all the more despicable is that Obama has used the act against whistleblowers and not spies. So much for Obama's pre-election pledge to be more transparent. It is obvious that Snowden could not get a "fair trial" under the law used to charge him, he could only give the government the opportunity for a show trial.

And as for the "spying" allegations, there is no credible evidence whatsoever that Snowden has turned over any classified information to any foreign government, including the Russians and Chinese.

"Truth is treason in an empire of lies" - Ron Paul

On Saturday, July, 20, 2013, British intelligence officials stormed The Guardian newspaper in London and demanded that the hard drives which contained the Snowden material on them be destroyed. In an act of monumental cowardice, The Guardian submitted to the request and destroyed the hard drives in front of the impatient intelligence officials.  The Guardian explained the reasoning behind their acquiescence was because of a "threat of legal action by the government". Oh no, NOT THAT!! Why not let the legal process play out? Why not force the government to actually have to prove their case in court. Even if you lose the case and have to destroy the hard drives, you still maintain your adversarial relationship with government and, more importantly, the public's trust in your journalism.

The Guardian aren't the only ones the intelligence community has bullied. Glenn Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was detained using an anti-terrorism law at Heathrow airport by British Intelligence for nine hours and was not allowed any legal representation. Even upon Miranda's release, British officials refused to return seized possessions, including his laptop, cellphone and USB sticks.

Citizenfour director, Laura Poitras, was repeatedly held by U.S. custom officials after her film My Country, My Country came out in 2006. During the filming and editing of Citizenfour she moved to Germany in order to escape the strong arm tactic of the intelligence community.

The treatment of Miranda, Greenwald and Poitras has paled in comparison to the whistleblowers who have stayed in America and faced trial.  For example, torture is a crime according to U.S. law, but the only person prosecuted in regards to torture is the whistleblower who confirmed it, John Kiriakou, who spent nearly two years in federal prison. Other whistleblowers have been arrested and charged too, like Thomas Drake and Bradley Manning (who was sentenced to 35 years in prison and later became Chelsea Manning) as two examples, while none of the crimes and war crimes they exposed were ever prosecuted. And just note that Kiriakou, Drake and Manning were all charged under the aforementioned Espionage Act.

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." - Edmund Burke

In the United States, "Good Citizens" allowing the police or intelligence agencies to spy upon them is anathema.  To be not only a good citizen, but a patriot, one MUST resist government intrusions. This isn't optional, it is required. According to the Declaration of Independence, it is their duty, "when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government"To use a more recent quote, from V for Vendetta, "People shouldn't fear their government, governments should fear their people". 

There are those who tremble at the sight of every jihadi video and threat, and run to government to protect them from the boogie man of the day, be it God-fanatic terrorists or back in the day, God-less communists. These people should understand one thing, government is not here to protect them, it is here to protect itself.

The reality behind this instinct to defer to authority is one that has been deeply ingrained in us as children. Children rely on authority, in the form of their parents, to keep them safe, fed and alive. That hard wiring of the brain during its development in infancy, is a difficult thing for people to overcome even once they have grow up. Stanley Milgram, a psychologist at Yale University, did some famous studies on the psychology of obedience in 1963. In a nutshell, Milgram's experiment tested whether regular people, when prompted by an authority figure, would give electric shocks to other people in the context of a test if they gave the wrong answer to a question. Milgram's basic conclusion states, "Ordinary people are likely to follow orders given by an authority figure, even to the extent of killing an innocent human being. Obedience to authority is ingrained in us all from the way we were brought up. People tend to obey orders from other people if they recognize their authority as morally right and/or legally based. This response to legitimate authority is learned in a variety of situations, for example in the family, school and workplace."

Milgram's work is in many ways relevant to this issue in that it shows people's strong, unconscious tendency towards obedience to authority. Milgram's experiments in obedience help us to understand the deep seeded psychological need some of us have to defer to authority and why some may reflexively defend government spying and decry Snowden for revealing it. 

Another psychologist, Abraham Maslow, came up with the "hierarchy of needs" theory in 1943. This theory states that people are motivated by the impulse to fulfill an unmet fundamental need. In Maslow's theory, he created a hierarchy of five needs, and one of the most important foundational needs is "safety". According to Maslow, people are motivated to satisfy their need for "safety". This "need for safety", or more accurately stated in relation to our topic, this "need for a feeling of being safe", may be another one of the psychological reasons for people to be so obedient to authority when it comes to surveillance.

In previous posts I have written about social psychologist Jonathan Haidt's excellent book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, which may also shed some light on the "obedience to authority" issue as well. In the book, Haidt hypothesizes that people can be divided in their political thought due to differing moral priorities. A few examples of the moral priority categories Haidt describes are Authority, Liberty and Fairness. So according to Haidt's approach, some people may have Authority as a greater moral priority than Fairness or Liberty. If someone is hard wired that way, it is easier to understand why they would find Snowden contemptible because he challenged and usurped authority and undermined the hierarchy. And, of course, the opposite is true as well, if someone has Liberty or Fairness as higher on their moral priorities than they would be less inclined to see anything wrong with Snowden revealing incriminating evidence against those in authority. 

In addition to Milgram's, Maslow's and Haidt's work, our old friend cognitive dissonance rears its head once again when we look at the obvious contradictory thought involved in the war on terror and civil liberties. Cognitive dissonance, if you'll recall from previous posts, is defined as "psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously" . The contradiction, or "incongruous attitude", at the heart of the war on terror is that people in power tell us that we must give up some rights, liberties and freedoms in order to protect ourselves from terrorists...who want to take away our rights, liberties and freedoms. We are told "they" (the terrorists) hate us for our freedoms, and in order to counter their attack upon our freedoms, we must reduce those freedoms. On its face this idea is absurd, to preempt a tyranny we fear so much with our own self-imposed tyranny. In order for this illogical premise to survive even the most basic scrutiny of reason, one must either contort oneself with extraordinary dexterity in order to create a willful blindness to it, or be under the unconscious sway of both cognitive dissonance and the psychological need for security in the form of Maslow/Milgram's work we touched upon previously. As a culture, it seems we would rather follow our more primitive impulses, and embrace authority and self deception in the search for that feeling of being safe, rather than the more psychologically difficult yet more evolved task of looking at these issues with the rational mind rather than the emotional one.

"It takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen " - Homer Simpson

There are also those people who defend the NSA by saying "if you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about". This whistling past the graveyard is little more than a short cut to thinking. Spying isn't about what you may or may not be doing wrong. Spying is about control. Spying is about defanging, declawing and defeating any and all dissent and protest. Government tyranny sees no political ideology or party. Surveillance kicked into high gear under Bush and it has gotten even worse under Obama. According to the material Snowden released, The U.S. government has over 1.2 million people on its watch listI would be willing to bet that that government watch list includes a considerable number of people from "Occupy Wall Street" AND the "Tea Party". And if pro-spying citizens think they are safe by being "good government bullshitters"*, guess again. As history shows us, the playing field will shift, it always does, and they will eventually be on the wrong side of the goal posts.

An important thing to remember is that the intelligence community is not an elected branch of government. But they are very capable and more than willing to spy upon our elected representatives, who, of course, are outraged when it happened to them, but not so much when it happened to us. I am speaking about both my former congresswoman, Jane Harman, and my current senator Dianne Feinstein. Both of whom have spent their political careers as little more than shills for the intelligence community, but who were incensed when they learned they were on the receiving end of the surveillance they so supported when it was directed at regular citizens. In Harman's case (linked above), she showed tremendous political and moral flexibility by aiding and abetting not only the criminality of the U.S. intel community but also the Israeli intelligence community. 

"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." - Thomas Jefferson

The intelligence community now has the capability to bully and blackmail elected officials who try to exercise their Constitutional role of governmental oversight. How can a democracy flourish when there is an unelected, unaccountable, extremely powerful group (the intelligence community) running roughshod over the Constitution which is meant to keep them in check? Technology has outpaced the ability for oversight of the use of that technology. Corruption, the human impulse for power and self preservation in government officials, make a "just trust us" approach to government powers in general, and surveillance powers in particular, an obvious act of futility, if not outright insanity. 

With an overly muscular and aggressive intelligence community and a neutered congress with no interest in oversight and a subserviently compliant establishment press, we are left with government only as an act of theater. In the final analysis, we only have the appearance of a democratic republic but not the actual practice of one.

If, as a citizen, your instinctive response is to always and every time defer to authority and mindlessly "OBEY", then you are one of those fools who have given up liberty for security, and you deserve, and will get, neither.  One should never confuse their government for their country as so many often do. "A waving flag is a blindfold for the fool." - Me

"Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it" - Emily Dickinson

Some call Edward Snowden a traitor, others a hero. Some call him a leaker, others a whistleblower. Regardless of what you call him, thanks to Edward Snowden, willful ignorance and blindness is no longer an option in regard to government surveillance. Our republic can survive another heinous terrorist attack, no matter how awful, but it cannot and will not survive the obliteration of the liberties and freedoms upon which it was built. Sadly, if the United States government continues to trample the most basic principles upon which it was founded, it does not deserve to survive, and it most assuredly will not. Snowden's decision to bring to light the crimes of the government was a last ditch effort to save the republic from itself.

In the United States of America we now have "First Amendment Zones" where protestors are 'allowed' to voice their dissent away from eyes and ears of their political representatives and fellow citizens. Government officials openly break the law by lying to congress and face no punishment. The Intelligence community spies on American citizens and other branches of government and no one is held to account. Civil liberties, which our Constitution tells us are granted by God, are now little more than a nuisance and punch line to those who have sworn to defend them. We have an executive who uses imperial powers in the form of extra-judicial killings of American citizens. Not only have we tortured and killed people in our charge, we openly celebrate the torture and the war criminals who committed it. 

Everything chronicled in the previous paragraph and in the film Citizenfour, from the spying to the lying to the lack of legal accountability, sounds like something that would happen in some backwoods banana republic or a despotic, tyrannical dictatorship. Which brings us to the only rational conclusion possible once we study all of the facts presented to us, and that is that those who still think the United States of America is a force for moral good in the world, a "shining city on a hill", have lost their mind or moral compass or, very likely, both.  One must disabuse oneself of the notion that the United States of America is anything other than, at best, an amoral imperial kleptocratic aristocracy/oligarchy or, at worst, a mentally deranged, immoral, evil empire. To think anything else in the face of the current reality is an act of extraordinary self delusion, albeit an unconsciously self preserving one in terms of psychological health. The hard, brutal truth is that America is not a "shining city on a hill" anymore, it is a plague spreading its imperial disease across the globe, suffocating freedom and liberty in its wake.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever " - George Orwell

In conclusion, Citizenfour is an extraordinary documentary well worth your time. It would also be worth the effort to watch Laura Poitras' other films My Country, My Country and The Oath. As great a film as Citizenfour is, one can't help but feel overwhelmed by the stark and bleak reality of the dystopian world it reveals to us. The government spying leviathan will not return to its lair in the deep and its slumber any time soon. It is wide awake, voraciously hungry and here to stay. Americans, and the rest of the world, must try to navigate this perilous world under the surveillance beast's watchful eye. We will be at its cold, bureaucratic mercy for the foreseeable future. As George Orwell presciently said, "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever ". Thanks to our insidious intelligence community, and their chicken-shit apologists in the form of weak kneed politicians, access addicted establishment 'journalists' and a pliable electorate populated by feeble-minded dupes and dopes, we better get very used to the taste of boot leather. We are going to be having more than our fill of it in the years and decades to come.

© 2015

*Goodfellas

For further reading on the history of all things Edward Snowden and NSA spying. Please check out The Guardian, which has a full primer on the NSA spying including the actual files that are here and Glenn Greenwald's Guardian work here . Also check out Glenn Greenwald's new website The Intercept.

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