DIVIDED, WE FAIL

14 03 2021

I promised in January to take a “deep green look” at the Capitol riot. In February, the weather intervened, and so now we’re looking at the Capitol riot from two months out. I’m glad to have had that time to put it in perspective, because the more I examine the riot, and its roots, the more I understand the devious ways our ruling class works to keep us divided and at each other’s throats, rather than united and going after theirs. That may seem like an odd conclusion to reach about a bunch of right-wing Republicans making a clearly hopeless attempt to prevent the formal recognition of right-wing Democrat Joe Biden as our duly elected President. Understanding the connections I am going to make involves nuanced thinking, at a time when we are being heavily propagandized to see events, people, and beliefs as either good or bad–not that that propaganda campaign is new. The only way to keep from being taken over is is to take active control of our own minds.  Widespread ignorance of our ability to do this is the main reason why so many Americans are so easily hoodwinked by lying politicians and media–and I’m not just talking about Republicans and Fox News. Adam Schiff, MSNBC, and a whole lot of other “liberal”  people and news outlets, I’m lookin’ at you.

I’m not going to pay much attention to the second Trump impeachment and all the questions around that, because I think that focusing on Trump misses the point that what happened is not some weird anomaly that can be prevented from ever happening again if only we disqualify Trump from ever running for office again. I’ve pointed out plenty of times that he’s a symptom, not the source of the problem, and that, absent Trump, our diseased system will just present us with somebody a lot like him, but who has learned from his mistakes, and who will be that much harder to stop.

So, why do we have a society in which the Capitol riot was the logical next step for so many people? I think the proper place to start is with some statistics about income that I ran across on Charles Hugh Smith’s Of Two Minds blog, summarized in this chart, which, for the benefit of my radio audience shows “a relentless 50-year decline in wages’ share of the economy’s total income” from a high of nearly 52% in the early 1970’s to its current low of 43%.

Here’s what Smith has to say about the meaning of the decline:

1. Wages’ share of the national income has continued a five-decade downtrend. …. National income since 1973 has shifted from labor (wages) to capital and more specifically, to debt and speculative gaming of the system, a.k.a. financialization.

Total household income in the U.S. in 2018 was $17.6 trillion. The decline in wages’ share of the national income from 1973 to 2018 is about 8.5%, which equals $1.5 trillion, the sum shifted from labor to capital every year.…..

No, this is not a typo….. $50 trillion has been siphoned from labor (the lower 90% of the workforce) to the Financial Aristocracy and their technocrat lackeys (the top 10%) who own the vast majority of the capital (i.e., stocks)….


2. Within the workforce, wages have shifted to the top 10% who now earn 50% of all taxable income. ….. Financialization and globalization have decapitalized the skills of entire sectors of the workforce as automation and offshoring reduced the human capital of workers’ skills and experience and the value of their social capital. When the entire industry is offshored, skills and professional relationships lose their market value.

In a fully globalized economy, every worker producing tradable goods/services is competing with the entire global workforce, a reality that reduces wages in high-cost developed nations such as the U.S.

Financialization has heavily rewarded workers with specialized gaming the financial system skills and devalued every other skill as only the skills of financialization are highly profitable in a globalized, financialized economy.

He then explains more of what this means for the average American in flyover country: Read the rest of this entry »





“WHY DO YOU SPEND SO MUCH TIME CRITICIZING THE DEMOCRATS?”

10 01 2021

First of all, I want to say a few words about last week’s events in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, which occurred too close to show time for me to pull together a story about them. I see several underlying causes for the polarization that has had such gut-wrenching manifestations as what happened in Washington, and will have something to say about them for next month’s show.

 

As a Green,I get into heated discussions on Facebook and MeWe sometimes, and there are a couple of questions that the people I debate pose fairly often. I think they’re worth a response that isn’t written on the fly in the middle of one of those intense internet threads, where the format, in some ways, limits the level of detail and nuance that can be expressed.  Let’s face it–both Twitter, with its length limitations, and being on the internet on your phone, with its small screen, have the effect of shortening their users’ attention spans. That relates to a subject in that I’ve been meaning to address for some time–why I don’t have a so-called “smart phone.” For now, however, I want to focus on these two questions. They are inter-related, so I think it’s important to answer them together and show their connection.

The first question is, “Why do you spend so much time criticizing the Democrats–more, it seems, than the Republicans?”

The second is, “Why do you insist on voting for Green Party candidates who aren’t going to win?”

To answer the first question, we have to look at the overall political spectrum, understand what its two ends are, and locate the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Greens on that spectrum. The right end of the spectrum is anchored in the notion that the most important functions of government are protecting its borders and protecting the wealth of its citizens, or, in practice, the wealth of its wealthy citizens. On the left end of the spectrum is the view that government’s function is to ensure the wellbeing of society as a whole in its broadest, most ecological sense–i.e., human wellbeing seen as one facet of a healthy planetary ecology. This includes making sure that nobody lives in poverty. The most radical way to end poverty is, first, by redistributing the wealth and power amassed by the few, and then mandating that the best-paid people in a society cannot earn more than, say, ten times what the lowest-paid people in a society earn. Why should somebody who’s flipping burgers full time make less than $30K a year? What is a surgeon or a movie star going to do with more than $300K  a year? The wealth and power of the few should be, in the view of the left side of the spectrum, socialized–i.e., the wealth should be used for the benefit of society as a whole–and  the power, too, should be redistributed to create an economy based in democratically-run worker, user, and consumer co-ops, rather than our current regime of managerial dictatorship. Read the rest of this entry »





RE-ELECTING HERBERT HOOVER

13 12 2020

Suppose that, in 1932, in the depths of The Great Depression, a fascist demagogue had contested Herbert Hoover’s re-nomination as the Republican Presidential candidate, and succeeded, thrusting Hoover aside? Suppose, in 1932, the Democrats had decided that, with the country in such perilous shape, New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt’s proposals for social programs and some kind of pie-in-the-sky “New Deal” seemed just a little too, well, socialist? So, instead of nominating Roosevelt, who was wildly popular, the Democratic leadership smeared him as “Moscow’s favorite,” and gave the party’s nomination to Hoover, endorsing his conservative strategy of stimulating the economy by offering financial stimuluses to banks and large businesses, and avoiding large-scale government handouts to impoverished families and individuals. Suppose that, in spite of their disappointment with this choice, a majority of Americans voted for Hoover over the demagogue, even as they hoped that Hoover, once in office, would see the wisdom of Roosevelt’s approach? Does this scenario sound at all familiar?

(Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

I’m not going to take that metaphor too much further, but what I will do in this essay/talk is lay out some of the many ways Biden has always had fairly Republican policy goals and intentions,look at the conflicts this will engender and whether they might cause any kind of reassessment, and try to lay out a scenario or two about where all this could be leading us.

So, here we are. We’ve just re-elected Herbert Hoover, er, elected Joe Biden. In  either case, we’re looking at a President whose policy priorities are Republican. I’m not the only one who sees that–there’s a whole website devoted to demonstrating its truthThat website starts with his record on Social Security, and goes on from there:

  • 1983 Joe Biden floats the idea of raising the retirement age.

  • 1984 Joe Biden partners with Republicans to co-sponsor a freeze on social security.

  • 1995 Joe Biden says he’s tried four times to freeze Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits.

  • 1995 Joe Biden votes for Balanced Budget Amendments that cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’s benefits

  • 1996 Joe Biden floats the idea of chained CPI cuts to Social Security.

  • 1997 Joe Biden votes again for Balanced Budget Amendments that cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits.

  • 2007 Joe Biden brags that he’s proud of his support for a Social Security age increase.

  • 2007 Joe Biden tells NBC’s Meet the Press that cuts to Social Security and Medicare should “absolutely” be on the table.

  • 2018 Joe Biden says Social Security and medicare “still need adjustments.”

So, we have a President who, while spouting rhetoric about making things better, seems firmly committed to doing things that will make matters worse. The country is incredibly polarized, not just between the privileged few and the dis-empowered many, but between those whose response to our difficulties is to retreat into authoritarianism (as long as the authority shows some deference to them), those who envision a better way, and those who want to stick with what we’ve got because it would work if you ne’er-contents would just stop your complaining and drop your perfectionism and be grateful for what you get. Yes, that’s a three-way polarity. American politics tends to be extremely bipolar, but reality does not, which may help explain why our political system seems so poor at figuring things out. Read the rest of this entry »





AND THE WINNER OF THE UNPOPULARITY CONTEST IS……

8 11 2020

As Donald Trump prepares to have his servants pack his bags and sends scouts out to locate a nice villa in Brazil, there are a couple of distinctions and numbers in which he can take some satisfaction. One is that he won the unpopularity contest, not just for this election season, but, at least so far, for all time: a record-breaking seventy-three million Americans, and counting, do not want him to be President any more. On the other hand, he can take some comfort in being the third most-popular Presidential candidate in American history, and the most popular Republican Presidential candidate of all time,  with only Biden this year and Obama in 2008 ahead of him, as the votes of a not-quite record-breaking sixty-nine million, and counting, Americans, attest.That’s eight million more votes than he received in 2016. But Biden, um, scared up the support of eleven million citizens who hadn’t voted in 2016–or should we say Trump scared them up for Biden?

It’s worth noting that the real winner of the election was “neither of the above.” Election turnout is estimated at around 67%, which means that eighty million eligible voters didn’t vote, down from a hundred million in 2016. That’s the base we in The Green Party are attempting to tap into. We’ve got a long way to go. Howie Hawkins received around 330,000 votes, making him a very distant fourth in the Presidential race. Considering the complete media blackout and the big push to hold your nose and vote for Biden, even in “safe” states, that’s actually pretty good, far better than the Green Party did in the years between Ralph Nader and Jill Stein.

Speaking of he Green Party…I just played “Solidarity Forever,” and I have no doubt that, if any Democrats who know me bother to read or listen to this, they are shaking their heads in disgust, saying I’ve got some nerve playing “Solidarity Forever” after stiffing all their arguments, pleas and threats to me to get in their One Big Tent and vote for their candidate. So many other “leftists” and “socialists” did, after all! What’s wrong with me? Am I some kind of privileged purist? Read the rest of this entry »





CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER

18 10 2020

Last month I concluded with these words:

Survey after survey reveals that the peoples’ wishes are far more radical, and fair, than what our corporate parties are willing to enact. These tensions, and others, are building to a pitch in the US, and I am not the only one who sees our current situation as tending towards a civil war, if not an outright revolution. The November election this year, far more than in most years, is looking more and more like a doorway into unknown territory rather than a solution to the national debate, no matter whether Trump or Biden wins, orif  the outcome is debatable. That’s a complex topic, but I’m out of time for this month. Unless something breathtaking occurs between now and mid-October, let’s take that as the starting point for next month’s show.

Well, here we are, five weeks later, two weeks and a few days ahead of Election Day, and sure enough, yet another black swan has landed, introducing a twist I, and others, are calling “The Republican Party’s Masque of the Red Death.” If you are not familiar with Edgar Allan Poe’s 1842 tale, it’s the story of a prince who, with a large contingent of his uninfected friends, isolates himself while a plague ravages his country. In the midst of a big costume party, an infected individual breaks into the castle and, with incredible stamina, lives long enough to infect, and kill, the prince and all his friends.

Our current version of this tale has two twists–the first being that the plague involved is rarely fatal, although it does seem to come with debilitating long term effects in many cases. The other is that, in our case, it is the prince himself who is infecting his friends, as he tried to bully his way through  a dangerous, highly infectious illness while promoting his Supreme Court nominee, who has exactly three years of judicial experience and who seems to have stepped out of the pages of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. She has also already had covid, meaning she is unlikely to be reinfected, but Trump succeeded in infecting enough of the Republicans involved in her nomination process to slow it down, but not to stop it–unless there are further unforeseen developments, of course.

There’s a lot going on here. In the last year of the Obama government, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority leader, declined to move forward on Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, “because it’s too close to an election.” But, when a Republican President makes a Supreme Court nomination right before an election which it’s starting to look like he could lose, it’s vitally important to damn the torpedoes and ram the nomination through, even knowing that it’s enraging millions of voters (who weren’t going to vote for Trump anyway) and possibly contributing to a Biden victory in November.

The Trump regime’s notably inept handling of the virus in the US has been a world-wide scandal that, unlike many of his violations of common sense, seems to be turning some voters off on him, but his egregious carelessness in infecting members of his own staff and the leadership of the Republican Party  may well have cost him dearly in the eyes of voters. And, win or lose, there is a good chance that he, as an older, overweight, high-blood pressure coronavirus victim, may encounter, according to The Mayo Clinic, “organ damage to the heart, lungs, and/or brain,” “blood clots and blood vessel problems”, and “problems with mood and fatigue.” They warn

Even in young people, COVID-19 can cause strokes, seizures and Guillain-Barre syndrome — a condition that causes temporary paralysis. COVID-19 may also increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

So, our bull elephant of a President is now a wounded bull elephant. If he dies, or becomes obviously incapacitated, and Mike Pence becomes the GOP standard bearer, before or after the election, win or lose, we’re looking at several different uncharted territories. To deal with this, the Democrats have been playing “war games” as part of what they call “The Transition Integrity Project.”  According to Microsoft News, Read the rest of this entry »





TRUST ISSUES

9 08 2020

One of the big headline stories  recently is that Dr. Anthony Fauci and his family now need bodyguards because there are people making credible threats against them. The covid epidemic has sparked a lot of distrust and division. Some people call it “the planned-demic,” a tool that the Democrats are using to make Trump look bad, that Dr. Fauci and others are inflating the danger in an attempt to demoralize the country (thus the death threats), and thus the right thing to do is to ignore all the warnings about wearing a mask. “It’s killed 0.04% of our population,” one commenter on my Facebook feed wrote. “Yeah, this is getting serious.” Yeah, it’s only about four times as many Americans as got killed in the Vietnam War, but instead of being drawn out over a decade, it’s in the last five months. Nothing serious. But the point is, a whole lot of people don’t trust that the government and the media are telling them the truth about what’s going on.

Their distrust is both irrational and rational. First, here’s the irrational part. If you step back far enough to take in what’s going on all around the world, it’s clear that covid is a real threat, and that our government has botched its response, and that botched response has been amplified by the skepticism of so many Americans. But their distrust is also rational, given that the American medical system and its advocates in media and politics have told us that it is the best medical system in the world, even though it’s clearly failing us right now. Even before the current crisis, there was widespread awareness of the many faults of our system–wildly inflated prices, overtreatment and overbilling, misdiagnosis, a tendency to focus on minutiae and miss the big picture.

At the same time, America’s medical system is the most expensive in the world, and has used its wealth to prevent any kind of universal health insurance coverage, let alone a national health system that would lower the cost of that health coverage by removing the profit motive. The US is the only “developed country” in the world where one of the most common side effects of a cancer diagnosis is bankruptcy. Indeed, this is the only country in the world where “medical bankruptcy” is even an issue, and where chronic disease is a pretext for the extortion of wealth from the sick person and their family to doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and other already fabulously wealthy “health care providers,” such as, here in Tennessee, the Frist family and Phil Bredesen.  So gee, why would anybody distrust the word of the medical establishment?

Along similar lines, there is strong bipartisan support among the people of this country for some kind of universal-access public health system. The Democratic Party has had to pull out all the stops to prevent an advocate of universal single payer health care, and a lot of other very popular reforms of our society, from becoming its Presidential candidate. So, does the Democrats’ platform acknowledge this incredibly popular, demonstrably helpful idea? No, in large part due to the influence of money from for-profit medical businesses. The Dems nominated a candidate who is not afraid to state publicly that he would veto “Medicare for All” if Congress, by some miracle, passed it. And Bernie Sanders, the guy who campaigned so valiantly for “Medicare for All,” says he will support that vetoer, the burned-out husk of Joe Biden, for President. Yet another reason not to trust the medical establishment or our political system–or even alleged “insurgents” in our political system.

If you are African-American or otherwise of non-European origin, or if you are a low-income Euro-American, you know you can’t trust that the police will not, at any moment, swoop in and kill you. There was a story on the news as I was writing this about an African-American family that included an autistic young adult, Kobe Dimmock-Heisler.

Kobe Dimmock-Heisler

Kobe’s mother

His grandfather called 911 for help because Kobe was waving a knife around. By the time four police officers showed up, he had calmed down, and the family told the police they didn’t need their help and asked them to leave. The police didn’t leave. They forced their way into the house, which got Kobe agitated again. In response, the police shot him a total of six times, murdering him in the presence of his horrified mother, grandfather, and other family members. Read the rest of this entry »





POLICE AND THIEVES

14 06 2020

A couple of months ago, I was talking about “black swans” coming in for a landing here in America, and, since then, lo and behold, one I didn’t mention has come in for a very splashy landing, as the police murder of George Floyd, an unarmed, co-operative, African-American suspect in a misdemeanor case proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and unleashed a flood of anti-police, anti-racism protests around the country and around the world, protests that frequently turned violent, resulting in major damage to several US cities.

floydmurder

Is this the way to treat somebody over $20? That’s the police in the street, but George Floyd was not a thief.

The violence, as it turns out, was mostly initiated by police and police-supplied provocateurs, as well as by right-wing armed resistance groups who decided that the police riots at demonstrations against police oppression of African-Americans was a good cover under which to step in and institute their own brand of anti-state violence, in hopes of sparking a widespread armed uprising. An article on Bellingcat noted:

On the Facebook page, Big Igloo Bois, which at the time of writing had 30,637 followers (when I checked, it was up to 32,000+), an administrator wrote of the protests, “If there was ever a time for bois to stand in solidarity with ALL free men and women in this country, it is now”.

They added, “This is not a race issue. For far too long we have allowed them to murder us in our homes, and in the streets. We need to stand with the people of Minneapolis. We need to support them in this protest against a system that allows police brutality to go unchecked.”

One commenter added, “I’m looking for fellow Minneapolis residents to join me in forming a private, Constitutionally-authorized militia to protect people from the MPD, which has killed too many people within the last two years.”

These exchanges offer a window into an extremely online update of the militia movement, which is gearing up for the northern summer. The “Boogaloo Bois” expect, even hope, that the warmer weather will bring armed confrontations with law enforcement, and will build momentum towards a new civil war in the United States.

I think that “the Boogaloo Bois” are missing an important point. The main thrust of the demonstrations  is not about fighting the police, it’s about the much more radical demand that American cities end policing as we know it, so there’s nobody to fight. More on that a little later.

Screenshot_2020-06-13 Convulsing in protest, US cities brace for more unrest following George Floyd death

Police defending their right to murder as they see fit. Note heavily armed protestor. Another thoroughly appropriate response from our law enforcement officers. Police in the streets, alright, but the young man with the flowers is not one of the thieves, who appear in our next illustration, but rarely in the streets…

As the protests grew and spread, things reached such a pitch that Our Dear Leader threatened to declare martial law, although everybody was careful not to call it that. In yet another surprising development, so many of our country’s top military officers publicly disagreed with that call so that the Trumpster had to walk it back. A near-coup?

One result of such widespread police violence against people who were peacefully protesting police violence is that the United States no longer has any moral authority whatsoever to criticize other countries over their handling of anti-government protests.

Read the rest of this entry »





“PLANET OF THE HUMANS” –IMPERFECT, BUT VITALLY IMPORTANT

13 05 2020

Depending on who you’re reading and your own viewpoint, “Planet of the Humans,” the new movie from Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs, is either a bomb or a bombshell.  Numerous prominent, well-respected climate activists have characterized the film as “BS” and called for it to be removed from circulation, saying  the film contains

“various distortions, half-truths and lies” and that the filmmakers “have done a grave disservice to us and the planet by promoting climate change inactivist tropes and talking points.”

Others, such as Richard Heinberg, offer a more nuanced view of the film, writing that it doesn’t always do justice to its subject, a critique of our response to the climate change we have provoked, but that, while

Planet of the Humans is not the last word on our human predicament. Still, it starts a conversation we need to have, and it’s a film that deserves to be seen.

So far, over seven and a half million people have seen it since it debuted on YouTube on the day before Earth Day, and it is, indeed, starting some conversations. I had an overall positive response to it, and have been surprised at how many, and who, among my friends have not shared my appreciation. This post/broadcast will be devoted to why I think it is a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion about how, or perhaps whether, we are going to keep the planet’s climate within bounds that will allow human beings to be part of its ecosystem, along with my criticisms of it, and my response to others’ criticisms of it. Read the rest of this entry »





WHEN THE BLACK SWANS COME HOME TO ROOST

12 04 2020

Here in Nashville, our county-wide governance body has district representatives, whose main job is to be the intermediary between the citizens of their district and the city, and “At-Large” council members, whose serve more of an oversight function, kind of like deputy mayors. In 2015, I ran for  that office, largely on a platform that the city was acting like the good times were just going to keep on rolling, but that was not really the case, and we had better do everything we could to prepare for the collapse that was coming. Two of my suggestions were  that we ought to foster local food production and create co-operatively run local industries that would produce a great many of the essentials of life that now come from far away, like shoes, clothing, and tools. I’ll talk about the relevance of those planks of my platform a little later.

I confess that I didn’t campaign very hard. I showed up at the candidate forums, figuring that I was unlikely to win, but it was important for the winning candidates to hear what I had to say, and figured I would get my message out to the general public in an interview with The Nashville Scene. The Scene, unfortunately, chose to belittle my candidacy and mostly dwelt on what a peculiar guy I am, rather than on what I had to say.

I chose not to run in the most recent Metro Council election. I had thought about this a good deal in the years since the previous election, and realized that, given the genuine technical legal complexities of writing legislation, if I were going to run again, part of my platform ought to be that I would spend much of my salary to hire a lawyer to assist me in framing my proposals appropriately. But I don’t know any such lawyer, and, even if I did, it seemed to make more sense to cut out the middle man–me–and just help the lawyer run for office. So, I contented myself with expressing my concerns to all the candidates, and got fairly sympathetic responses back from several of them, as I detailed at the time. I figured it was preferable to have council members in office who are at least aware of our long-term possibilities, and was gratified that most of those who won the multi-seat election were candidates who had responded somewhat sympathetically to my concerns.

Let’s fast-forward to our current situation. Although I have mostly been staying home (which is what I usually do anyway), last Monday afternoon at around five o’clock I found myself driving on some of Nashville’s major commuting routes, which are usually jam-packed with cars at that time of day. There was hardly anybody on the road. I stopped by “The Produce Place,” a locally-owned store that specializes in selling local produce. It was closed, because the store has cut the hours it’s open due to the pandemic. I picked up a very skinny copy of “The Nashville Scene,” no longer fat from entertainment and restaurant ads, and read that the free paper is on the ropes financially and was hoping its readers would form a financial support group so it could stay in business. The Scene, which once prided itself on tweaking the sensibilities of “the bizpigs,” as the editors called the city’s elite, is now owned by one of the wealthiest people in town, and caters to “the bizpigs,” a phrase that has not appeared in The Scene since long before they dissed my Metro Council run. I’m not sure whether I should be sympathetic to their plight or not.

But, I digress….From our home, we can often hear the roar of rush hour traffic on another major thoroughfare. Not lately. We live a couple of miles from the private-plane airport in Davidson County, and are used to having frequent low-flying small planes in our soundscape. They have grown rare. Of course, another factor there is that a tornado blew through the airport a few weeks ago and did millions of dollars worth of damage, destroying hangars and the airplanes parked in them. The upshot is, private air travel, like automobile travel, is way down. I’m glad. I’ve often wondered why it’s OK for one person in a private airplane to destroy the peace and quiet of the thousands of people who have no choice but to hear the noise.

I certainly didn’t foresee that the economic shutdown of Nashville would be due to a pandemic, but here we are, right where I ‘ve been saying we’re going. Such an unforeseeable, catastrophic event, is called “a black swan.” One definition of “black swan” that I read says that “they are obvious in hindsight.” It’s true that worldwide flu epidemics have become an accepted part of modern life, although they have never been this severe before, so yes, we should have seen this coming. In fact, disaster planners in our government did see it coming, but were ignored for the same reason the concerns I raised in my Metro Council candidacy were brushed aside:  anybody who suggests that there’s anything dangerous in our future, whether it’s a pandemic, an economic collapse (which might be set off by a pandemic),nuclear war, or climate disaster, gets short shrift from those who run our society, who are engrossed with making money and exercising power nowWe are a species that is wired to deal with immediate threats and gratification, not the long-term results of our short-sighted actions. We are going to have to change that to survive as a species. In the interest of raising human consciousness, this post is going to examine the effects of this particular “black swan,” and also note a couple more that seem to be circling and getting ready to come home to roost. Read the rest of this entry »





revisiting TRUMP, LOOSE NUKES, THE RUSSIAN MAFIA, SEYMOUR HERSH, AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING LINK

8 03 2020

Recently, I went looking for something authoritative about Russia during “the lawless years” that followed the fall of the USSR. After doing some internet searching, I found that Seymour Hersh, whose reputation is reasonably impeccable, had written a story, entitled “The Wild East,” on that subject in 1994. Yes, I know there are those who attack Hersh, but if you’re reporting on things that annoy those in power, or who aspire to power, you will be attacked. Hersh has won plenty of recognition for his work, and this particular piece was published in The Atlantic, which, in those days, at least, did not put its support behind dicey reporting.

The page was so discouraging to look at that I almost gave up without reading it. It was in that old-style 90’s internet format–wall-to-wall words, no margins, no pictures, no skipped lines between paragraphs. At the top of the page were an underlined 1 and a 2, indicating that it was the second page of an article, since the 2 was black and the one was blue. Might as well start at the beginning, I said to myself, and jumped to page one.

Hersh began his story with an account of the unsolved murder of a staff member of the American Embassy in Moscow:

On November 13, 1993, Michael Dasaro was brutally murdered in his apartment in a fashionable neighborhood in central Moscow, a ten-minute walk from the American embassy. Dasaro was on the verge of being a classic American success story. He grew up poor and streetwise in a public-housing project near Boston and managed to escape, with the aid of a scholarship, to Harvard University, where he became immersed in Russian studies. It seemed inevitable, after his graduation in 1981, that he would find his way to the Soviet Union and put his love of Russian culture and his fluency in the language to work. By the late 1980s he was a valued and much respected contract employee in the economics section of the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Last fall he was hired——at high pay——by one of the many American accounting companies now administering State Department contracts and Agency for International Development (AID) privatization programs throughout Russia and the former Soviet republics.

MoscowEmbassyCmpd

The US embassy in Moscow

Then Hersh broadened his focus to the way “law and order” had deteriorated in the former Soviet Union, to the point where the country’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons and fissile materials might be sold by desperate military personnel (who were not getting paid, or getting paid so little that it amounted to not getting paid). Here’s a part of Hersh’s transition from the specific to the general: Read the rest of this entry »








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