The Discarded Wisdom of America’s Founders

Eric Zuesse

A good example of the discarded wisdom of America’s Founders is George Washington’s Farewell Address to the nation, delivered by him not orally but instead solely in printed form, published in Philadelphia by David C. Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, on 19 September 1796, and distributed to the nation. The following extended excerpt from it is the most famous part of it, and is being blatantly raped by today’s U.S. Government, and therefore it might indicate the necessity for a second American Revolution, this one to disown and throw out not Britain’s Aristocracy, but America’s aristocracy. America’s Founders had done all they knew how to do to conquer Britain’s aristocracy, and they embodied in our Constitution all that they knew in order to prevent any aristocracy ever from arising in this nation; but the Founders clearly had failed in this their dearest hope, because a domestic U.S. aristocracy has arisen here and destroyed American democracy, as this nation’s Founders had feared, and as Washington in this document effectively affirms — and, by these words, proves — to have happened (they’ve taken over this country, in and by both of its Parties, and so we have here a profound and scathing, blistering, criticism of today’s American Government):

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils? Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. Europe has a set of primary interests which to us have none; or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves by artificial ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people under an efficient government, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing (with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them) conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our “Prosperity” Is Now Dependent on Predatory Globalization

So here’s the story explaining why “free” trade and globalization create so much wonderful prosperity for all of us: I find a nation with cheap labor and no environmental laws anxious to give me cheap land and tax credits, so I move my factory from my high-cost, highly regulated nation to the low-cost nation, and keep all the profits I reap from the move for myself. Yea for free trade, I’m now far wealthier than I was before.

That’s the story. Feel better about “free” trade and globalization now? Oh wait a minute, there’s something missing–the part about “prosperity for all of us.” Here’s labor’s share of U.S. GDP, which includes imports and exports, i.e. trade:

Notice how labor’s share of the economy tanked once globalization / offshoring kicked into high gear? Now let’s see what happened to corporate profits at that same point in time:

Imagine that–corporate profits skyrocketed once globalization / offshoring kicked into high gear. Explain that part about “makes us all prosperous” again, because there’s no data to support that narrative.

What’s interesting about all this is the way that politicians are openly threatening voters with recession if they vote against globalization. In other words, whatever “prosperity” is still being distributed to the bottom 80% is now dependent on a predatory version of globalization.

Let’s rewind to the era of truly free trade, from the late Bronze Age up to the Roman Era. In the late Bronze Age (circa 1800 to 1200 B.C.), vigorous trade tied together the ancient empires and states of the Mideast and the Mediterranean. In the Roman Era, trade in silk and other luxuries tied China, India, Africa, the Mideast and the Roman Mediterranean together in a vast trading network.

In the good old days, merchants paid for goods in gold or silver, as the value of the precious metals were known to all and relatively easy to transport and verify.

Nowadays, trade and “prosperity” are dependent on currencies that are created out of thin air via borrowing or printing. The problem with gold, in the view of predatory globalization, is that it can’t be printed or conjured out of thin air. That won’t do, because predatory globalization’s primary export is newly printed currencies: dollars, euros, yen and yuan.

This puts every nation that can’t print a global reserve currency at an extreme disadvantage. While the U.S. can conjure “money” out of thin air and trade it for goods, other nations must cough up resources and goods in exchange for the “money,” and borrow it at hefty rates of interest if they want to use the global “money” for development or investment.

That leaves them highly vulnerable to foreign exchange fluctuations which can raise the cost of their interest due in dollars, etc. to punishing heights while devaluing whatever they built with the dollars, etc. they borrowed.

Then there’s a financial crisis of loan defaults and those who created and loaned out their global reserve currency demand the debtor nation sell all its assets and resources at bargain prices. Being a member of the European Union didn’t save Greece from this fate; no peripheral nation can protect itself from the predatory powers who can create currency at zero cost and send the value higher by restricting its issuance after other nations have loaded up on loans denominated in the reserve currency.

This is how “free” trade works in predatory globalization: The only thing that’s free is the cost of issuing trillions in global reserve currency. Everything else will cost you dearly. 

My new book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition.

Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump to Netanyahu: Palestinians Must Be Completely Conquered

Eric Zuesse

The Washington correspondent of Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Amir Tibon, headlined on the night of Tuesday, August 14, “Trump Administration Wants to See a Gaza Cease-fire ‘With or Without the Palestinian Authority’,” and he reported that, “The Trump administration wants to see a long-term cease-fire in Gaza, with or without the support of the Palestinian Authority, a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council told Haaretz on Monday.”

In other words: U.S. President Donald Trump is not angling for Palestinians to become ruled by the more moderate of the two political entities that are contesting for control over Palestine — he’s not favoring The Palestinain Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, over Hamas, Ismail Haniya. He is, instead, aiming for Jews inside Israel to conquer completely the non-Jews, not only inside Israel, but also in the adjoining areas, Palestine.

Trump has now officially placed the United States on the side of Israel’s Jews, for them to conquer and subdue Palestine, for Jews to rule over Palestinians, and for the residents in Palestine not to be allowed to participate in Israel’s elections.

This will be very good for American firms such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and General Dynamics, which depend wholly or primarily upon sales to the U.S. Government and to its allied governments, including Israel, for their profits and their net worths, their stock-market valuations. More war is essential for these firms, which sell only to these governments — governments which seek to control more land, regardless of what the residents there want, and which need to buy more weapons in order to do it.

Trump’s foreign policies have been very effective.

Trump’s biggest success, thus far into his Presidency, has been his sale of $400 billion (originally $350 billion) of U.S.-made weapons to the Saudi Arabian Government, which is owned by its royal family, after whom that nation is named. This sale alone is big enough to be called Trump’s “jobs plan” for Americans. It is also the biggest weapons-sale in all of history. It’s 400 billion dollars, not 400 million dollars; it is gigantic, and, by far, unprecedented in world-history. Consequently, anyone who would allege that he has been anything other than an extraordinary success for his constituency, the people who will be funding his 2020 re-election campaign, would be wrong. America is controlled by dollars, not by people; everything is geared to maximizing the return on investment, for the people who have invested in Trump. Increasing their net worths is his goal, and he has been stunningly successful at achieving it.

The individuals who control those corporations are also in control of those governments, via political corruption, such as the “revolving doors” between ‘government service’ and the private sector. If they can’t control those governments, then they can’t control their own finances. But if they do control those governments — and especially their own Government, the U.S. Government — then they control the very source of their own wealth. They are totally dependent upon the U.S. Government. Trump has, regarding U.S. military and diplomatic policies — the Pentagon and the State Department, and the intelligence agencies — been just as effective as the neoconservatives, the people who actually run both Parties on behalf of those firms, for those firms’ owners, could have hoped. This does not mean that they won’t in 2020 back an opponent of Trump, but only that Trump is issuing as many IOUs to these people as he can, and as fast as he can, and that he has been remarkably successful (unprecedented, actually) at doing that. Whereas Democrats such as Joe Biden and Eric Swalwell might contest against him for their support, no one can reasonably say that Trump has been a disappointment to the proponents of American conquest and control over the entire world — the people commonly called “neoconservatives,” and all other agents of what Dwight Eisenhower called “the military-industrial complex.” While those people might criticize him in order to push him even farther to the right on foreign affairs than he has been, he has been very effective for them, and he clearly is hoping that, at least regarding military policies, in America’s militarized economy, those people will be satisfied for him to remain in power. That’s his hope. That’s his goal. It’s shown by his actions, not by his mere words.

America’s alliance with Israel is almost as important as America’s alliance with the owners of Saudi Arabia, the Saud family. Both of those allies want the Palestinians to be conquered. And so does Trump. And, of course, so too do the people who are rotating constantly through those revolving doors, the other agents for America’s rulers.

On August 9th, as reported by Amjad Jaghi of 972 Magazine, “the Israeli Air Force bombed Al-Meshal, one of the Gaza Strip’s most important cultural facilities. They claim that the building — which comprises two theaters, three large halls, and a department serving the Egyptian community living in the Strip — was being used by Hamas.”

On August 14th, Reuters headlined “Israeli minister confirms Netanyahu met Sisi over Gaza” and reported that “The two leaders discussed the easing of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, rehabilitation of its infrastructure and terms for a ceasefire.” Israel said that “everything that will happen in Gaza will be done with Egyptian mediation and involvement.” This means that the setting-up of Israel’s control over Gaza will “be done with Egyptian mediation and involvement,” but the operation of Israel’s control over Gaza won’t be — it’ll be 100% Israeli.

For example, Sisi might be able to get Netanyahu to agree to increase the current, 85 truckloads of food daily into Gaza so as to raise Gazans’ food-intake above its current “subsistence” level. Although he might try, Israel’s record of violating its international agreements is even stronger than America’s record for that is. But to serve PR purposes, Sisi might try. Ever since 2007, when Israel was allowing into Gaza 106 truckloads daily, that number was reduced down to this “subsistence” level.

On 1 January 2008, was secretly issued from Israel’s Ministry of Defense, a document “Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip – Red Lines”, in which the Ministry of Health informed them that the then-current 106 trucks daily was too much for “subsistence”:

“The Ministry of Health is conducting work for calculating the minimal subsistence basket based on the Arab sector in Israel. The ‘minimum basket’ allows nutrition that is sufficient for subsistence without the development of malnutrition.”

“The Ministry of Health estimates that the new basket will be 20% lower than the current basket [85 trucks instead of 106].”

And so it was, until 2010, when “Israel has not imposed any restrictions on the entrance of food to the Gaza Strip.” And, after that, as of at least 2012, “the current policy remains shrouded in secrecy.” However, (as shown at that link, where is printed a “Table 1. Entrance of trucks into Gaza”), the actual count of trucks, during the second half of 2010, was around 150 per day.

A U.N. publication “Gaza Ten Years Later”, issued in July 2017, reported that:

Import of goods to Gaza also dropped significantly with the imposition of the blockade in mid-2007. By 2008, the monthly average of truckloads entering Gaza had decreased by 75%17. The amount of imports slowly increased as import restrictions were gradually relaxed, with the number of trucks entering in 2015 and 2016 reaching levels similar to those prior to 2007. It is difficult to draw a parallel between 2015/2016 and 2007 however, given that due to the vast needs for post-hostilities reconstruction as well as recovery of Gaza’s deteriorating infrastructure, coupled with rapid population growth, demand for import into Gaza was much higher in 2015/16 than it was prior to 2007.

The needs today are even higher than that.

Sisi might be able to win some voters if he can brag to them that he has gotten Israel to increase that number above whatever it currently has been, but it will be only for show, anyway.

Egypt is heavily committed both to the Saudi regime and to the American regime. To say that the fate of the Gazans is in the hands of Israel and of Egypt, would be to say that it’s in the hands of the rulers of America and of the rulers of Saudi Arabia (the Saud family, who own that country). The rulers of Israel won’t have any international backing, at all, if they don’t have America’s rulers supporting them. For Donald Trump to tell Benjamin Netanyahu that not only will Israel be allowed to ignore Hamas but it will even be allowed to ignore the Palestinian Authority, means that Netanyahu now has America’s support no matter what Israel might do to the Gazans — and to the non-Jewish inhabitants of the West Bank.

This is excellent news for the holders of U.S. ‘Defense’ stocks. The more that America’s ‘enemies’ suffer, the better it is for America’s owners. This is how capitalism actually functions. Inequality is natural. That’s true not only between nations, but within nations. In the natural world, losers get eaten. Justice doesn’t naturally occur anywhere. To the extent that it exists anywhere, it is imposed, by the public, against the aristocracy. Within nations, justice is almost non-existent. Between nations, it is entirely non-existent. For examples: were George W. Bush and Tony Blair executed for invading and destroying Iraq in 2003? Of course not. Neither of them was even imprisoned. Nor were Obama and Sarkozy and Cameron executed for invading and destroying Libya in 2011. Those are only examples, of the basic reality.

This news-report is written so as to place a news-event into its actual context, not divorced from that, as is normal. In other words: it’s news instead of propaganda (the latter of which, avoids the relevant context behind the reported event).

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curing Fascism

Fascism is a disease, a delusion, a toxic worldview. It’s encouraged and manipulated by propaganda. Its characteristics are numerous and to various degrees widespread and long-lasting. At what point their combination in sufficiently extreme degree rises to the level of fascism, as opposed to moderately fascistic tendencies I’m happy to leave to others to decide.

Fascism is not a tendency born into subhuman monsters who threaten the purity of our anti-fascist homeland, as one might suspect when reading posters like “The only good fascist is a dead fascist” at anti-fascist rallies.

Fascism is not easily eliminated and not best eliminated by simply any random opposition to it, even opposition that much resembles it. Eliminating fascism and how best to do it is a reasonable topic of discussion which necessarily involves opposing some tactics as less effective than others. This means that it is possible to oppose an anti-fascist act without being a fascist — although not without getting called a fascist.

Jason Stanley’s new book How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them analyzes the elements of fascism in a very valuable way, even if I disagree with some bits of it as a result of the most anti-fascist behavior there is: independent thinking.

Fascism, Stanley tells us, using numerous recent and historical examples, creates a mythic past. Yet if I consider the view of U.S. high school history books found in Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen or Founding Myths by Ray Raphael or other similar books, the fascism of U.S. schools has long extended to much more than pledging allegiance to a flag, and the struggle to teach the truth about the past can be called an anti-fascist struggle.

Fascism, Stanley writes, demands patriarchal families, in large part as a metaphor and training for an authoritarian government. Blind obedience to authority and belief in something larger than yourself are traits shared by religion and fascism, though Stanley does not characterize fascism as religion. Again, this tendency has been around for centuries.

Fascism is Orwellianism, says Stanley. That is, it markets corruption as anti-corruption, irrationality as reason, and suppression as freedom of speech. Its version of anti-corruption is total trust in the most corrupt figures around. Its idea of reason is barbaric bigotry announced as arrived at by reason and evidence and inevitable obvious natural laws. Its conception of free speech is armed rallies. These behaviors are extreme versions of common mainstream practices, but here it’s easier I think to figure out where the fascist line is crossed.

Fascism is anti-intellectualism, anti-education. It substitutes unreality for intelligent observation and deliberation.

Fascism favors hierarchy, racism, and union busting (because in unions people join together across race or other lines, as well as because they make more money).

Fascism adopts a passionate stance of victimhood. “You will not replace us!” they shout at marches in Charlottesville.

Fascism demands so-called law and order, that is: racially biased official abuse and violence. Stanley discusses the rise of U.S. mass incarceration under the regimes of various U.S. presidents from both of the two major parties. Nobody would call everyone involved a fascist, but the fascist tendency is clearly just that: part of what makes up full-blown fascism.

Fascism fears sex and rape and the mixing of the races. Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and wanted innocent black kids in New York murdered for alleged rape not for any sensible reasons, but perfectly in line with this element of fascist propaganda as Stanley describes it.

Stanley’s examples of each of the patterns above come from, among other places, Germany, Italy, and more recently Poland, Hungary, India, Turkey, Russia, Myanmar, and the United States — never Ukraine, I notice, but one sentence on Israel surprisingly made the cut!

Stanley makes a strong case that when Trump says he wants to make America great again, the answer to when was it great is the 1930s. Trump’s model may be Charles Lindbergh, a fan of “America First” and of fascism.

Running through Stanley’s analysis is the idea that fascism divides “us” from “them.” I would add that central to fascism is belief in the power of violence. Of course, both of these tendencies are extremely widespread beyond that constellation of horrors that we take to make up fascism.

At one point in his book, Stanley addresses the question of “having to regard women as equals in the workplace or on the battlefield.” This acceptance that there must be wars, and the old-timey myth that wars take place on battlefields, is in line with the belief in violence that I see as central to fascism, even though no American would call a casual reference to battlefields fascist.

Stanley defends freedom of speech while denouncing people who have been convicted in European countries for the crime of holocaust denial. I agree with the denunciation, but some acknowledgement of the problem such laws are for free speech is in order.

Stanley’s book is in some ways a particular part of the answer to the question plaguing Democrats and pundits for the past nearly two years: “How did Trump win?” So, it makes sense that this book is less heavily marred than many by Russiagate. Yet Russiagate does rear its head. Stanley does not address the problems of unreality, of ridiculous accusations against U.S. journalists, of shouts of “Putin lover!” or of claims of new Pearl Harbors. Instead he claims, without offering any evidence, that the intention of the unnamed schemers (dare I say conspirators) who created Russia TV was to undermine trust in so-called democracy by drowning out “objective truth” with a “cacophony of voices.” Stanley also claims that this has succeeded, for which he offers no evidence and not even a citation of anyone agreeing with him.

When, on the following page, still discussing Russia TV, Stanley gets around to offering an example of this scheme in action, the reader could not be blamed for believing he’s offering an example from Russia TV. Yet, if you check out the show he uses in his example, it’s a show produced by the Family Research Council, an organization dedicated to opposing gay rights. So the example of this show’s host having claimed that climate scientists are promoting homosexuality is actually an example of that network’s central viewpoint, not an example of including numerous viewpoints in order to damage democracy, and not an example from Russia TV at all. Nor is it obvious to me why multiple viewpoints don’t benefit democracy, unless they’re largely slanted toward the sort of fascist propaganda of this example.

Stanley, like virtually every other person on earth, is eager to oppose “conspiracy theories.” He provides some excellent examples of ridiculous and damaging Trumpian and fascistic “conspiracy theories.” But, like everyone else I’ve ever read on the topic, he declines to develop any workable definition of what a “conspiracy theory” is. Dictionaries all define the concept as something similar to this:

“A theory seeking to explain a disputed case or matter as a plot by a secret group or alliance rather than an individual or isolated act.”

But that definition is demonstrably useless. If I suggest that the Democratic National Committee secretly plotted to hurt the primary campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders, I’m stating both a dictionary-definition conspiracy theory and the established undisputed facts. And if I suggest that Donald Trump and the Russian government and WikiLeaks secretly plotted to win Trump the election by exposing Democrats’ emails about cheating Sanders out of the nomination, I’m stating a dictionary-definition of a conspiracy theory and, in this case, something for which no public evidence yet exists, but by general media consensus simply not a “conspiracy theory.”

Liberal activists are clapping themselves on the back for having persuaded Facebook and Twitter to ban Alex Jones for being a “conspiracy theorist.” Why they couldn’t ban him for advocating violence is not clear to me. Perhaps it’s related to the extremely widespread acceptance of violence. But once you ban him for believing that sometimes two or more people act together in private, you’ve opened a door to banning anyone else on the same ground.

I think we’d be better off dropping the term “conspiracy theory” entirely, and instead using such distinctions as “speculative” vs. “well-founded” or “false” vs. “true.” These and similar distinctions have done great duty for centuries and are really not at all worn out.

But how do we wear out fascism? Do fascists in elected office not have to make anyone better off to maintain their support? Is it enough to just be fascist? To some extent, that must be true. But pointing out the failure to make anyone better off and what would make them better off can be part of the cure. As with Curing Exceptionalism, curing fascism can begin with understanding how one is manipulated into it, resenting that manipulation, and testing out the benefits of a richer, more encompassing worldview.

Photo source.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Ilhan Omar for Peace

Ilhan Omar is the second person this year to win a Democratic Party nomination for Congress in a Democratic Party district with a platform advocating peace in a way not seen inside the Beltway. The first was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York City, whose advocacy for peace I wrote about. Ilhan Omar has just won the nomination from Minnesota’s Fifth District.

I am making zero predictions as to whether having peace on a campaign website will, in the case of Ocasio-Cortez or the case of Ilhan Omar, translate into serious advocacy and action for peace in office. I’m well aware that our choices for Congress are usually either lifelong mediocrities or promising candidates who immediately become dedicated mediocrities. Omar’s predecessor in that seat, after all, is Keith Ellison, who wanted to impeach George W. Bush until the very moment he was elected and became Captain Humanitarian Wars. I’m also aware that any good cause in Congress would require a couple of hundred Congress members, not two.

But the evidence is overwhelming that you are more likely to get decent behavior out of someone who campaigned on it than someone who did not. Almost nobody now in or running for Congress has ever campaigned on the sort of platform put forward by Ocasio-Cortez or Omar. The two of them ought to hear our support and encouragement, our preferences for where they put emphasis. And other candidates ought to see that support every time they raise their eyes from their donor call lists.

Here’s Ilhan Omar’s platform:

Promote Peace & Prosperity

We must end the state of continuous war, as these wars have made us less safe. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed, entire countries have been destabilized, and we are currently in the midst of an extreme global migration crisis. Meanwhile at home, there have been increasingly cuts to spending on healthcare, infrastructure, education, and housing. We must scale back U.S. military activities, and reinvest our expansive military budget back into our communities. Once this happens, we can begin to repair the harm done, repair America’s broken image, and invest in diplomatic relationships.

She points out that the wars are counterproductive on their own terms, endangering rather than protecting. Servants of the weapons dealers do not do that, no matter how they vote on legislation. She begins with the central evil, the mass killing, and she gets the numbers right. And she cites the wars as a cause of the refugee crisis. That’s all almost unheard of, even in the peace movement completely outside of electoral campaigning, where the habit is to focus on financial cost or harm to U.S. troops. She notes the financial tradeoffs as well. I wish she didn’t say the money all needed to go to U.S. domestic spending. I don’t think she’ll see the sense in saying that once she finds out how much money it really is.

  • We spend by far the most on our military budget, and more than the next seven countries on the list of top spenders combined

  • In 2017, the United States spent over $700 billion dollars—well over half the country’s discretionary budget

  • The Pentagon has spent $400 billion dollars on the F-35 fighter jet program, and will eventually spend over 1 trillion dollars in costs and maintenance

  • American intervention in democratically-elected governments has contributed to the migration crisis

  • The executive branch has escalated U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, with no authorization from Congress

That’s as close to accurate on the money as I’ve seen from any candidate. She also names a particular war, that on Yemen. The focus on Congressional “authorization” rather than immorality or illegality is disappointing from someone from the hometown of Frank Kellogg of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. But it’s a start. Now read this:

Vision and Policy Priorities

End funding for perpetual war and military aggression

We are currently engaged in a number of wars that have no end in sight—Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. These wars have destabilized regions, created massive humanitarian crises, and continue to hurt our image across the world. We must end these wars, and we must avoid military-use as a last resort in the future.

She just named six of the United States’ current wars and advocated ending all of them. And for serious honest moral reasons. That’s unheard of. One can tolerate the delusion that there can be such a thing as “military use as a last resort” from someone willing to help end its use in six actual current cases.

  • Reduce total spending on the military from its projected FY 2019 levels of $886 billion and reinvest that money into healthcare, education, housing, jobs, clean energy, and infrastructure

  • Cut the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) that has been called the Pentagon’s ‘slush fund’. In 2017, the OCO budget increased by 41% to $82.4 billion.

  • Eliminate wasteful military programs like the F-35 fighter jet program, saving taxpayers $1 trillion dollars total

  • Scale back the number of US military bases across the world

She’s got the right focus: cut the military funding. Just saying that is the rarest of rarities. It’d be nice if she’d say by how much, but it’s a heck of a start. Naming one particular weapon to eliminate is much more than most candidates offer. And proposing to close foreign bases is a terrific place to begin.

Repeal harmful sanctions and oppose all U.S. intervention into democratically-elected governments

Sanctions and economic blockades have been used to hurt the economies of countries outside of the U.S. sphere of influence. These measures hurt working people in other countries and foster animosity towards our government.

  • End sanctions and embargoes against countries, which ultimately only hurt the working families of those countries

  • Support diplomatic solutions to the conflicts in both North Korea and Iran, and avoid military conflict at all costs

  • Support the JCPOA, and advocate for a deal that does not disproportionately impose economic sanctions on the people of Iran.

This sounds like a Congress member willing to back some of the obvious steps to avoid new wars.

Renegotiate harmful free trade agreements

Free trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) were passed on the promise that they would help workers across the continent. However, the opposite happened. Jobs have left the United States, multinational corporations exploit working people and lobby against any labor and environmental protections.

  • Invest in a robust Trade Adjustment Assistance program that provides support for workers who have lost their jobs due to the impact of trade
  • Eliminate NAFTA’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) that empower corporations to attack environmental and public health protections
  • Add strong, enforceable environmental and labor standards to the core text of NAFTA’s agreement
  • Require governments to prioritize policies that minimize climate pollution by including a “climate impact test” for policy making

Fully fund programs to care for our veteran population

We must ensure that veterans who have returned home from conflict-zones are taken care of. It is unacceptable that politicians have send soldiers to fight in wars, and refuse to fund the programs they need when returning home. We must ensure that all veterans are housed, have access to healthcare, and mental health care services.

  • Eliminate homelessness among veterans by expanding the HUD-VASH program and Supportive Services for Veterans Families
  • Oppose the privatization of the Veterans Affairs healthcare system and expand funding for physical and mental healthcare for veterans

Support a peace that affirms the safety and rights of both Palestinians and Israelis

Stability in the Middle East depends on the establishment of a lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. But without justice, there will never be peace. The United States must work with the international community, and not unilaterally, to work towards a solution. I will use my voice in Congress and work with communities on the ground to center the ultimate goal of self-determination and peace.

  • Fight against efforts from the Trump administration to undermine the peace process, and support the autonomy for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to define what a solution looks like

  • Uplift the voices of Palestinians demanding an end to the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and end the siege of Gaza

  • Oppose the killing of civilians in Gaza and the expansion of settlements into the West Bank

If that last position survives the first month in Washington D.C. we’ll know this is an incorruptible advocate for peace. I’m not predicting it. I’m not holding my breath. I’m suggesting that we do anything we can to try to help make it happen.

Posted in General | Leave a comment