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   The United States has placed, and continues to place a great deal of geopolitical importance on the Middle East.  The problem is that, as the record shows, everything they touch turns to ash or is reborn as a even greater threat to America and American interests world wide.

Recent events have not done much to dissuade me that the American conflict in the Middle East is only going to get more intense, more bloody, and have greater ramifications for not onyl the US, but the rest of the world.

Of course, with the Commander in Cheetoh Chief at the helm of the American military, the situation is unlikely to get better.  Case in point being the thought (and the following actions) that adding a cruise missile strike into an already chaotic civil war situation, is somehow going to make things better.

(?)

“Without any recourse to international law or the United Nations, the Trump administration has embarked on an act of international aggression against yet another sovereign state in the Middle East, confirming that neocons have reasserted their dominance over US foreign policy in Washington. It is an act of aggression that ends any prospect of détente between Washington and Moscow in the foreseeable future, considerably increasing tensions between Russia and the US not only in the Middle East but also in Eastern Europe, […]”

It’s like, hey we had really shit results with this whole intervention strategy, what can we do.

*insert institutional black memory hole* .

Oh! Hey!  Let’s intervene with military strikes in Syria, what could go wrong?

*The noise of near infinite headdesking & facepalming from the rest of the world*

” […] only the most naïve among us could believe that this US airstrike against Syria was unleashed with justice in mind. How could it be when US bombs have been killing civilians, including children, in Mosul recently? And how could it be given the ineffable suffering of Yemeni children as a result of Saudi Arabia’s brutal military campaign there?

No, this US attack, reportedly involving 59 Tomahawk missiles being launched from ships in the eastern Mediterranean, was carried out with regime change in mind, setting a precedent that can only have serious ramifications for the entire region.”

And they will welcome us as liberators and greet us with flowers…

“Trump has proved with this unilateral military intervention that he can easily be dragged into conflict. Just a few days after his administration confirmed that regime change in Syria was off the table, that its focus was on defeating terrorism, he unleashes an airstrike that will only have emboldened the very forces of terrorism whose defeat he had stressed was the focus of his foreign policy previously.

So what now?

   Clearly, this military action places Russia in a very difficult position. Since joining the conflict in Syria at the end of September 2015, at the behest of the country’s government, Moscow had been working tirelessly to bring about a negotiated settlement, one involving opposition forces and parties deemed moderate relative to the Salafi-jihadi fanatics of ISIS and Nusra, etc. It is a diplomatic process that has just been dealt a shattering blow, with the opposition now undoubtedly convinced that regime change is in the offing via Washington and therefore encouraged to work towards this end.”

From the dynamo that is George Orwell in his grave:

“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.” 

“On a wider note, the lack of short-term memory in Washington is staggering to behold. Fourteen years after the disastrous US invasion of Iraq, which only succeeded in opening the gates of hell out of which ISIS and other Salfi-jihadi groups emerged, and six years after turning Libya into a failed state, in the process sparking a refugees crisis of biblical proportions, here we have yet another act of aggression against a sovereign state in the Middle East by the US.

Destroying countries in order to save them is the story of every empire there has been. But as history reveals, every empire carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction. Donald Trump is now on course to end up going down in history as a leader who rather than save the US from itself, may only have helped speed it down the path to its ultimate demise.”

[Source:Counterpunch – John Wight]

 

 

 

 

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I’m wondering when (if) the US will join the rest of the industrialized world in offering Universal Health Care for the American people. It seems like such a basic need, even a human right, depending on who you ask.  Not having the stress and anxiety over having to constantly navigate a hurly-burly bureaucratic maze just to access healthcare would improve the lives of so many people in the US.

Why isn’t this a slam-dunk.

Because the wrong people would benefit from a single payer, universal healthcare system.  And we certainly cannot have that.

 

“Already federal, state and local governments pay for about half of this gigantic sum through Medicare, Medicaid, the Pentagon, VA, and insuring their public employees. But the system is complexly corrupted by the greed, oft-documented waste, and over-selling of the immensely-profitable, bureaucratic insurance and drug industry.

To those self-described conservatives out there, consider that major conservative philosophers such as Friedrich Hayek, a leader of the Austrian School of Economics, so revered by Ron Paul, supported “a comprehensive system of social insurance” to protect the people from “the common hazards of life,” including illness. He wanted a publically funded system for everyone, not just Medicare and Medicaid patients, with a private delivery of medical/health services. That is what HR 676 would establish (ask your member of Congress for a copy or find the full text here. (Conservatives may wish to read for greater elaboration of this conservative basis, my book, Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.)

Maybe some of this conservative tradition is beginning to seep into the minds of the corporatist editorial writers of the Wall Street Journal. Seeing the writing on the wall, so to speak, a recent editorial, before the Ryan/Trump crash, concluded with these remarkable words:

“The Healthcare Market is at a crossroads. Either it heads in a more market-based direction step by step or it moves toward single payer step by step. If Republicans blow this chance and default to Democrats, they might as well endorse single-payer because that is where the politics will end up.”

Hooray!”

 

Hooray indeed Mr.Nader.  Let us hope that the failure to pass Trumpcare is the crack in policy needed to advance the single payer agenda.

[Source:Counterpunch]

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.

Here are 20 lessons from across the fearful 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You’ve already done this, haven’t you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don’t protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of “terrorism” and “extremism.” Be alive to the fatal notions of “exception” and “emergency.” Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don’t fall for it.

6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don’t use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps “The Power of the Powerless” by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.

[Source]

Timothy Snyder, a Yale history professor and historian of Eastern Europe, originally published this on Facebook. He is the author of “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.” Twitter: @TimothyDSnyder

Dear US citizens who want to move to Canada because of the election,

Recently your country has elected Donald Trump to be your president for the next four years. This concerns a great deal of us up here in Canada (and conversely there are some up here that think it’s a great idea). I’m sure it concerns many of you too. In fact I know it as it is hard to escape this reality. The blogosphere, Facebook, Reddit, and even the coffee room is abuzz with this. #Notmypresident is a thing now. People are talking about impeachment before Trump has served a day in office. I get it, people are upset. However I have a few talking points I would like to convey to you at present.

First off, Canada is not a consolation prize, it is a privilege to live here and one that is very difficult to achieve. Just because you don’t like the outcome of your election doesn’t mean we want you here. Quite frankly, we don’t have room. I mean if we even take half of the people who voted for Clinton then we would double our population. But to be honest, we don’t really want you here. We like being your neighbours, but we don’t really want you to move into our house when your left hand is upset with your right hand.

Second, I think you are needed in the USA. Honestly. I really do. Someone has to undo the damage your Democratic Party has done to its base. What they did to Bernie and his supporters is beyond the pale. Actively working against one candidate and for another when they were supposed to be impartial, gaslighting Bernie’s supporters when they complained, impugning their integrity after Wikileaks proved you worked against them, telling them you could win the election without them and you were better off without them. Give your head a shake. You need to make up with these people and then you need to come up with a way to join together. Otherwise what you are looking at in your home is going to become a very familiar story.

Third, you need to get over the delusion that things were that much better under Obama. Obama also has been bombing the shit out of brown people, more so than Bush ever did. He gave you a shitty healthcare option that only gave the health insurance companies more power when he could have pushed for single payer when the democrats owned the Presidency, the House and the Senate. He never did close Guantanamo nor did he even stop the torture that was happening there. Then there was the incident where that man literally went to Flint, Michigan and drank poisonous water and declared it safe. Sure, harm was very unlikely to come to him from drinking such a little amount however is sure as fuck was and still is, to this day and beyond, to all the residents of Flint whom are still there being forced to deal with what I would describe as Hell. If you think I’m being facetious about Flint, think again. If you were the mother of a small child in Flint and are without means, your options are to knowingly poison  your children and let them die a slow death or to deny them water and let them die a fast death. The icing on this Hell Cake is when the guy who is supposed to be on your side, Obama, the President of the people, comes to Flint, and you get your hopes up that he’s going to fix this mess but then he not only doesn’t but he almost literally stabs you in the back instead. So Trump might be a lot of things but to date I don’t think he’s ever actually perpetuated the poisoning of an entire community.

Fourth, and finally (not because I couldn’t go on, but because this is getting too long to retain the reader’s interest) you have one of the biggest privileges known to man in this word, that being having citizenship in the most powerful country in the world. With that citizenship you can actually get involved in the democratic process and be the change you want to see. Bernie supporters, this goes double for you. You need to double down and get involved in the party you were so motivated  to elect Bernie to just a few months ago. Bernie always said he couldn’t do this alone, that he needed people like him to be elected in all the different offices aside him for him to do the things he wanted to do. This remains true today. And it is now, the “quiet” periods of politics where these shifts really happen. If you want the revolution that Bernie offered then now is the time to go out and make it happen! It certainly won’t happen if you run away to a different country.

Eugenedebs

From Wikipedia:

“Eugene VictorGeneDebs (November 5, 1855 – October 20, 1926) was an American union leader, one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies), and five times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States.[1] Through his presidential candidacies, as well as his work with labor movements, Debs eventually became one of the best-known socialists living in the United States.

Early in his political career, Debs was a member of the Democratic Party. He was elected as a Democrat to the Indiana General Assembly in 1884. After working with several smaller unions, including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, Debs was instrumental in the founding of the American Railway Union (ARU), one of the nation’s first industrial unions. After workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company organized a wildcat strike over pay cuts in the summer of 1894, Debs signed many into the ARU. He called a boycott of the ARU against handling trains with Pullman cars, in what became the nationwide Pullman Strike, affecting most lines west of Detroit, and more than 250,000 workers in 27 states. To keep the mail running, President Grover Cleveland used the United States Army to break the strike. As a leader of the ARU, Debs was convicted of federal charges for defying a court injunction against the strike and served six months in prison.

In jail, Debs read various works of socialist theory and emerged six months later as a committed adherent of the international socialist movement. Debs was a founding member of the Social Democracy of America (1897), the Social Democratic Party of America (1898), and the Socialist Party of America (1901).

Debs ran as a Socialist candidate for President of the United States five times, including 1900 (earning 0.63% of the popular vote), 1904 (2.98%), 1908 (2.83%), 1912 (5.99%), and 1920 (3.41%), the last time from a prison cell. He was also a candidate for United States Congress from his native Indiana in 1916.

Debs was noted for his oratory, and his speech denouncing American participation in World War I led to his second arrest in 1918. He was convicted under the Sedition Act of 1918 and sentenced to a term of 10 years. President Warren G. Harding commuted his sentence in December 1921. Debs died in 1926, not long after being admitted to a sanatorium due to cardiovascular problems that developed during his time in prison. He has since been cited as the inspiration for numerous politicians.”

Fascinating article by Thomas Barker- here is the conclusion.  Find the rest on Counterpunch.

[…]

Conclusions

As with so much of the racial tension in the United States, the origins of the present situation can be traced back to slavery. In his ground-breaking work on the American slave system, the historian John Blassingame has suggested that black passivity in the antebellum South existed primarily in the minds of whites—on the one hand, to justify white paternalism, and, on the other, to dispel the fear that they felt toward slaves: ‘Like a man whistling in the dark to bolster his courage, the white man had to portray the slave as [passive].’ Although, of course, much has changed since the transatlantic slave trade, there is no reason to suspect this ideology has been altogether vanquished. The underlying cause, it seems, is still fear – a fear which drives liberals to identify black victimhood only with the passive. However, fear does not only manifest itself as whistling in the dark, or in the lies told to maintain high spirits, but also in the clenched fist – poised, ready to defend. The liberal media’s bitter condemnation of black radicals as mindless killers is the expressive form of this anger, of this perceived insurgent threat. And so they should feel threatened – they have no stake in eliminating racial oppression. It is, simply put, not in their class-interest.

Though, of course, the Eric Garners and the Trayvon Martins of history are deserving of immense respect, and their murderers bitter condemnation, we must not be fooled into canonizing only those who the liberal media consider to be true victims. In the fight against racism in the US, it is frequently those who fight the hardest, who in every respect give their lives to the struggle, that are excluded from the liturgy of black victims. Indeed, such individuals are frequently portrayed as the opposite, as perpetrators of unjust violence. The ideology of black victimhood which predominates in the liberal media would have us believe that only the helpless can be victims – on the contrary, I argue that those who use violent methods in the struggle against racist oppression are victims nevertheless, and worthy of remembrance. To be sure, it is only through an appreciation of such individuals that a legitimate strategy for racial equality will emerge.

Remember Garner, yes. But also remember Little Bobby Hutton, Fred Hampton, and Malcolm X.

 

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