How the Emperor rules

consistent theme here is the course of Empire. The US military domination of the world at the service of the international oligarchy is, for me, a self-evident truth that needs little demonstration, so it’s often hard for me to understand how so many of our citizens are seemingly oblivious to this state of affairs.

Friday’s postfrom Caitlin Johnstone, the Australian writer I’ve been reading for a year or so now, contains one of the best explanations of how people are lulled into the illusory view of the US and its allies as the champions of freedom and democracy. It also is an excellent summary of historical and current events that illustrate just how accurate the notion of Empire is for characterizing our world.

Occasioned by the installation of the torturer-in-chief as CIA head, the article is not an easy read, as it catalogs CIA’s techniques in stomach-turning detail, but it lays out the case for understanding all that’s happening these days as the course of Empire, the consolidation of power in the hands of the oligarchy, and the refining of the narrative that keeps our folks cheering on their own enslavement.

It really couldn’t be more fitting that the US now has an actual, literal torturer as the head of the CIA. It also couldn’t be more fitting that it has a reality TV star billionaire President, an Iraq-raping Bush-era neoconservative psychopathas National Security Advisor, a former defense industry directoras Secretary of Defense, a former Goldman Sachs executiveas Secretary Treasurer, and a former Rothschild, Inc. executiveas Secretary of Commerce. These positions have always facilitated torture, oppression, war profiteering and Wall Street greed; the only thing that has changed is that they now have a more honest face on them.

And — which makes it worth slogging through the horrors — she manages to find a way to see all this as an encouraging development, in that it signifies the loss of control of the narrative, which makes it possible that eventually our folks will wake up!

We can only hope that it’s not too late when it comes.

[If that link doesn’t work, as Medium is a big churlish sometimes, search for her title “The Friendly Mask of the Orwellian Oligarchy Is Slipping Off” by Caitlin Johnstone. I highly recommend her writing on the political machinations of the current regime, as she seems to have a brave and unbiased approach to the whole thing, partly perhaps on account of living in Australia where the shenanigans are obvious but there’s a little less danger in speaking your mind.

Human values

Ah, what we have lost!

This society, this world and its “economic” systems, have lost all sense of the true value of human life, all sense of what true human values are.

In his Labor Day column on Medium, the writer Yonatan Zunger delineates the deeper meanings of this in a very insightful way. A telling quote:

Yet when we hear the language of free markets, it’s almost invariably to talk about their virtues, and the very real fact that most of the most important trades the average person makes are not even remotely free gets papered over. The fact that some people can walk away from a deal, while other people can’t, is covered up with words about “job markets” which hide the fact that buyers and sellers of labor aren’t having even vaguely similar conversations.

The whole piece, “the radical idea that people have value”  is worth reading. It’s on Medium, which is sometimes hard to navigate, but this link should work. If not, here’s the full address:

View story at

View story at

View story at

Black kids know gun violence

Even on the AP and other mainstream news media, the message is getting out that there’s a twist to the anti-gun activism that’s getting such exposure now.

While I am certainly in favor of legislation to limit gun availability and establish some reasonable standards for who gets them, we need to realize that it’s a slippery slope and if these things are taken uncritically, we could find ourselves in worse shape.

One of the clear indicators of what’s wrong with this process is that it’s pretty much limited to upper class white kids. The black kids who’ve been suffering from gun violence for generations have never been listened to, and are not likely to be factored in to the equation now.

Difficult analysis is required to see that gun violence is a product of complex social distortions generated primarily by the violence at the heart of the Empire. One of the most telling memes going around about this now says “Police violence is gun violence.”

Do the work of sorting that out for yourself and you’re well on the way to understanding the complexities of this issue.

Too much.

I think the idiot in the white house has stepped over the line with his latest comments about “shit-hole” countries.

Even though there is no longer a line, or at least we thought there was no longer a line to step over because he had obliterated all expectation of decency or even rationality from the person who supposedly represents our country.

But, for me there is a line. He has stepped over my line.

I can no longer sit and remain silent in the presence of anyone — anyone — who countenances him as worthy of respect or even as worthy of being given the benefit of the doubt. I will say, and repeat, to anyone who may still be in that state of delusion — are there still people that stupid and deluded? — I will say to them, he is an idiot and a crass, ignorant asshole of the highest degree.

I suppose this is particularly offensive to me because I have friends from Haiti, wonderful people who I know are hurt by such ignorant comments.

I think it may be over lots of people’s lines as well, since several mainstream commentators are calling him on it.

For one, Anderson Cooper said, “Not racial. Not racially charged. Racist… The sentiment the President expressed today is a racist sentiment.”

Cooper also called the president “woefully ignorant” about the contributions of Haitians and Africans and other non-white countries of the world.

Esquire’s Jack Holmes also sees the comment as “a crystalizing moment for observers.” He laments the “continued damage this disgrace of a presidency is doing to the image and reputation of the United States…” and points to comments from other world leaders to support this.

Cooper also quotes my recent favorite writer, James Baldwin, as saying that “ignorance allied with power is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

And Holmes says this quote has never been more prescient.

Yes, Mr. Holmes, Baldwin is our most profound critic and prophet.

Holmes also indicts the president for his idiocy.

Holmes said, “The president is profoundly ignorant in any number of ways. He is almost completely incurious about the world. He has no real knowledge or expertise, and often disdains those who do. He does not read books—or newspapers, or much of anything else—and before he became president, he rarely traveled abroad despite his substantial means. He is wary of the world outside of own properties, and possibly afraid of it.”

Which sums it up nicely. In fact, perhaps too nicely.

There’s ignorant and there’s willfully ignorant.

I think the president falls into the latter group.

As Holmes says, it’s the president’s racism that leads him to these conclusions and allows him to “dismiss the contributions of people who come to America from these countries and their children. Just take Haiti: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roxane Gay, Wyclef Jean, and Mia Love (the first black female Republican elected to Congress) are all Haitian-Americans. Do their stories and accomplishments count for nothing because we have elected a president who simply doesn’t know anything, and cares less?”

In an even more detailed and explicit exposure of the extent of the ignorance of the president and his defenders, Jonathan Katz, who has written a book about Haiti, lays out the history and the complicity of the “white” nations in creating the poverty that plagues Haiti today.

Katz, who tweets as #KatzOnEarth, laid it out in a thread Jan. 11:

“In order to do a victory lap around the GDP difference between, say, Norway and Haiti, you have to know nothing about the history of the world. That includes, especially, knowing nothing real about the history of the United States.

You have to not understand anything about the systematic theft of African bodies and lives. And you have to not understand how that theft built the wealth we have today in Europe and the US.

You’d have to not know that the French colony that became Haiti provided the wealth that fueled the French Empire — and 2/3 of the sugar and 3/4 of the coffee that Europe consumed.

You’d have to not know how rich slave traders got off their system of kidnapping, rape, and murder.

You’d have to not realize that Haiti was founded in a revolution against that system, and that European countries and the United States punished them for their temerity by refusing to recognize or trade with them for decades.

You’d have to not know that Haiti got recognition by agreeing to pay 150 million gold francs to French landowners in compensation for their own freedom.

You’d have to not know that Haiti paid it, and that it took them almost all of the 19th century to do so.

You’d then have to not know that Haiti was forced to borrow some money to pay back that ridiculous debt, some of it from banks in the United States. And you’d have to not know that in 1914 those banks got President Wilson to send the US Marines to empty the Haitian gold reserve.

.@RichLowry would have to not know about the chaos that ensued, and the 19-year US military occupation of Haiti that followed (at a time when the US was invading and occupying much of Central America and the Caribbean).

He and others have to not know about the rest of the 20th century either—the systematic theft and oppression, US support for dictators and coups, the US invasions of Haiti in 1994-95 and 2004 … the use of the IMF and World Bank to impose new loans and destructive trade policies, including the now-famous rice tariff gutting that Bill Clinton apologized for but had been a policy since Reagan, and on and on …

And you’d have to understand nothing about why the US (under George W. Bush) pushed for and paid a quarter of the UN “stabilization mission” that did little but keep Haiti’s presidents from being overthrown and kill 10,000 people by dumping cholera in its rivers. Etc.

In short, you’d have to know nothing about WHY Haiti is poor (or El Salvador in kind), and WHY the United States (and Norway) are wealthy. But far worse than that, you’d have to not even be interested in asking the question.

And that’s where they really tell on themselves …

Because what they are showing is that they ASSUME that Haiti is just naturally poor, that it’s an inherent state borne of the corruption of the people there, in all senses of the word.  And let’s just say out loud why that is: It’s because Haitians are black.”

I think this pretty well indicts as racist anyone who defends the president to any degree.

Katz nails the argument:

“If Haiti is a shithole, then they can say that black freedom and sovereignty are bad. They can hold it up as proof that white countries—and what’s whiter than Norway—are better, because white people are better.

They wanted that in 1804, and in 1915, and they want it now.

So if anyone tonight tries to trap you in a contest of “where would you rather live”—or “what about cholera” or “yeah but isn’t poverty bad?”—ask them what they know about how things got that way.

And then ask them why they’re ok with it.

Which is what I’m committing to do.

Joe Kloc | Harper’s take on the tax reform

Joe Kloc of Harper’s Magazine has a pretty funny bit on the recent tax “reform” passed by Congress and gloated over by the Prez.

It’s done in the Harper’s Weekly Review style, which juxtaposes facts with little commentary needed to make the humor and/or inanity obvious. Clearly, this whole thing is just another move in the establishment of Empire.