Sunday, March 26, 2017

I Am Not There

Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep 

By Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die. 

Mary Elizabeth Frye (1905-2004)

Meanwhile Back In The Year One

Ice Skating (Painting By Robert Harrington)

Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day 

By Jethro Tull

Meanwhile back in the year One,
When you belonged to no-one,
You didn't stand a chance son,
If your pants were undone.
'Cause you were bred for humanity
And sold to society
One day you'll wake up
In the Present Day
A million generations removed from expectations of being who you really want to be.
Skating away, skating away,
Skating away on the thin ice of the New Day.

So as you push off from the shore,
Won't you turn your head once more
And make your peace with everyone?
For those who choose to stay,
Will live just one more day
To do the things they should have done.
And as you cross the wilderness,
Spinning in your emptiness:
You feel you have to pray.
Looking for a sign that the Universal Mind has written you into the Passion Play.
Skating away, skating away,
Skating away on the thin ice of the New Day.

And as you cross the circle line,
The ice-wall creaks behind
You're a rabbit on the run.
And the silver splinters fly
In the corner of your eye
Shining in the setting sun.
Well, do you ever get the feeling that the story's too damn real and in the present tense?
Or that everybody's on the stage, and it seems like you're the only person
Sitting in the audience?
Skating away, skating away,
Skating away on the thin ice of the New Day.
Skating away, skating away, skating away

(Songwriters: Ian Anderson
Published By BMG Rights Management US, LLC)

Jethro Tull (Circa 1974)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Un-Articulated Is Forever Lost

Dexter, Michigan

And so I was back in my friend’s house in this most tranquil, on the surface, country town. Outside was a young cherry tree with three bowling balls at its base, one for each dog buried beneath. A roofer’s ashes had also been scattered over its branches, but nothing remained of the short-lived man. Before my 74-year-old friend, Rudy, reclaimed the house, the roofer lived here.

A drunken fall off a friend’s deck during a July 4th party made the roofer miss a year of work, and got him hooked on painkillers. A second fall from a roof finished the always groggy man. He was but 33.

Behind Rudy’s house was a tiny trailer formerly occupied by a lonely fellow who collected rocks and pebbles. Sworn off alcohol decades ago, he only smoked weed. After living peacefully there for years, the nearly invisible 52-year-old had to move out when a neighbor decided to rat that the trailer had no plumbing, and thus illegal. Now, the rural hermit showed up just once a week to feed his old cat, the trailer’s only resident.

Down the road was a 72-year-old farmer who wouldn’t retire because farming was what he loved best. When a thresher shattered his left leg recently, the old man calmly drove himself to the hospital, and was back to cultivating within a month. He had spent nearly his entire life within a 20 mile radius, with just one trip to Chicago. Ann Arbor was alien enough, with Detroit, another planet. Each long day over, he could barely pay attention to Fox News. He voted Trump.

On the way in, we drove past a homemade sign, “BUILD BRIDGES NOT WALLS.” Other than that, I saw no other political statements during my five-day stay in Dexter.

Rudy’s three children were grown and gone, so the house was mostly empty. I had the entire second floor to myself. Each dawn, I looked out at the paling window to see a grain silo and a red barn. It was good to be away from so much concrete and so many bricks, and to wake up to utter silence. In the corner of my shower homesteaded a spider, and there was also a lady bug on the wall. Winking at me, she smiled.

Rudy’s marriage had been troubled for more than decade, his health was crashing and, each day, he could hear less. Serenely, Rudy spoke often of suicide, so I shouted, “Before you do that, Rudy, come visit me in Philadelphia! I’ll show you around! We’ll have a good time! Then you can commit suicide! You can even do it in Philadelphia if you want!”

Pondering his dwindling options, Rudy chuckled and shook his head.

If I don’t holler, Rudy can’t hear shit. At Dexter Pub on the town’s thriving and wholesome Main Street, there’s a sign warning against cursing, and last year, I accidentally shouted a few bad words while chatting with Rudy.

The obscene is saved for the men’s room, where there’s a poster of a blonde, bikinied babe, “Perfect Woman… Perfect Attitude.” Among the sayings of this ideal woman:

  • "That was a great fart! Do another one!"
  • "I've decided to stop wearing clothes around the house."
  • "Your mother is way better than mine."
  • "Shall I drop you and your friends off at the lap dancing club?"
  • "Why would I need more than three pairs of shoes?"
  • "Pubic hair! I hate those tight curls, I'm clean shaven."
  • "I signed up for yoga so that I can get my ankles behind my head just for you."
  • "God... If I don't blow you soon, I swear I'm going to explode!"
  • "Listen, I make enough money for the both of us. Why don't you retire forty years early?"
  • "Let's subscribe to Hustler."
  • "Honey... our new neighbor's daughter is sunbathing again, come see."
  • "Say, let's go down to the mall so you can check out women's asses."
  • "Oh come on, not the damn mall again. Let's go to that new strip joint."

Though Dexter Pub was a very soothing place to enjoy pints of Two Hearted, Rudy declined to go there with me on this visit. “I’ve seen what the humans do. I don’t care anymore.”

“It’s all futile!” I piled on.

“You’re right.”

“I’m already tired, Rudy! And I’m only 53!”

Our degraded culture and politics disgust Rudy. Jewish power and Israel make him retch. When Rudy was young, chemtrails didn’t seed the sky.

Even the educated could barely write, Rudy rued, “I know a lawyer who writes ‘u,’ the letter, instead of ‘you.’ Soon, we’ll have a post-literate society!”

Unable to read or write, we will still have to obey innumerable rules. At a supermarket, the cashier asked near-death, stooping Rudy for his ID as he bought beer. “It’s the rule,” she lamented.

“They’re getting so intrusive.”

“I know.”

“And prayers aren’t going to help.”

“I agree.”

“Maybe a gun will!”

“I’m with you.”

They both laughed.

Back in the car, Rudy added, “Not only do they care what you do, but pretty soon, they will tell you what to do, and observe that you’re not doing it. It’s that bad.”

Dexter Township is 97.5% white, while adjacent Dexter City is 92.7% vanilla. Together, they have just over 10,000 souls. During the first decade of the 21st century, Dexter City grew 73.9%, and one can assume that its whiteness is a prime attraction for newcomers. With no violent crimes, graffiti or loud music from passing cars, the only civic discomfort seems to be the longish wait at the Dairy Queen on summer evenings.

In the middle of town is a handsome, four-sided clock on an iron post, standing on a well-tended flower bed, and on the side of the Riverview Café is painted, white on indigo, “GOD BLESS AMERICA.”

Dexter High School’s mascot is the Dreadnought, and its most famous alumnus in recent years is Mark Koernke, a militia leader. Son of a sheriff’s deputy, Koernke joined the Army Reserve then worked as a janitor at the University of Michigan for 15 years. In the early 90’s, he started to broadcast on shortwave radio, gained a following, then achieved national prominence when he was mistakenly identified as the mastermind behind the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Now broadcasting over the internet five times a day, five days a week, each Koernke show opens with a Thelen Paulk poem solemnly intoned, with slight variations, over ominous drum beats. It’s a state of the union and indictment of our government:

    I had a dream the other night that, well, I didn’t understand.
    A figure walking through the mist, with flintlock in his hand.
    His clothes were torn and dirty, as he stood there by my bed,
    He took off his three-cornered hat, and speaking low to me, he said:

   “We fought a revolution, to secure our liberty.
    We wrote the Constitution, as a shield from tyranny.
    For future generations, this legacy we gave,
    In this, the land of the free and home of the brave.

   “The freedoms we secured for you, we hoped you’d always keep.
    But tyrants labored endlessly, while your parents were asleep.
    Your freedoms gone, your courage lost, you’re no more than a slave,
    In this, the land of the free and home of the brave.

   “You buy permits to travel, and permits to own a gun,
    Permits to start a business, or to build a place for one.
    On land that you believe you own, you pay a yearly rent,
    Although you have no voice in saying how the money’s spent.

   “Your children must attend a school that doesn’t educate,
    And your Christian values can’t be taught, according to the state.
    You read about the current news, in a regulated press,
    And you pay a tax you do not owe, to please the I.R.S.

   “Your money is no longer made of silver nor of gold.
    You trade your wealth for paper, so your life can be controlled.
    You pay for crimes that make our nation turn from God in shame.
    You’ve taken Satan’s number. You’ve traded in your name.

   “You’ve given government control to those who do you harm,
    So they can burn down churches, and cease the family farm,
    And keep our country deep in debt, put men of God in jail,
    Harass your fellow countrymen, while corrupted courts prevail.

   “Your public servants don't uphold the solemn oaths they've sworn,
    And your daughters visit doctors so their children won’t be born.
    Your leaders send artillery and guns to foreign shores,
    And send your sons to slaughter, fighting other people’s wars.

   “Can you regain the freedom for which we fought and died?
    Or don’t you have the courage or the faith to stand with pride?
    And are there no more values for which you’ll fight to save?
    Or do you wish your children to live in fear and be a slave?

   “O sons of the republic, arise! Take a stand!
    Defend the Constitution, the supreme law of the land!
    Preserve our great republic and each God-given right,
    And pray to God to keep the torch of freedom burning bright!"

    As I awoke he vanished, in the mist from which he came.
    His words were true. We are not free, but we have ourselves to blame!
   For even now as tyrants trample each God-given right,
   We only watch and tremble, too afraid to stand and fight.

    If he stood by your bedside, in a dream while you were asleep,
    And wondered what remains of the freedoms he fought to keep,
    What would be your answer, if he called out from the grave?
    Is this still the land of the free and the home of the brave?

    God bless you, and God bless this republic!

Though nearly everyone avoids poetry like bad breath, this poem has gained currency among many Americans who are convinced their government has been hijacked by entrenched criminals, with the only solution an armed revolution. Koernke and his listeners believe they’re languishing on occupied land.

Whereas the militia is only concerned with the defense of home and hearth, the professional military, as wielded by Washington, is an instrument for global crimes and, soon enough, also for domestic assault and control, so hammers Koernke, “It’s not the militia that ran Abu Ghraib. It’s not the militia that ran the rendition operations all over the world to torture people by cutting on their private body parts, or disemboweling them, or using electricity on them, or drowning them. That’s all government and regular military.”

The day before I landed in Dexter, I was in Manhattan as a guest on Chris Hedges’ Russia Today show, On Contact. Among the points I made was that nationalism or nativism will enjoy a resurgence in both the US and Europe, for people need to have control over the constitution of their nations and cities.

The control freaks in DC won’t allow this to happen, however, so this is how it’s going to go down, according to Mark Koernke:
Everyone knew the conflict was at hand, and the open battle for the republic was about to begin. The dagger war has been raging for many, many years, with victories and defeats on both sides. Some had thought that Waco would be the boiling point, but it had not gone as any had foreseen. The 90’s had its skirmishes, and the militias had performed well but restrained themselves in the hope that some other solution would present itself. It had not. With each passing day, the pressure continued to build. The globalist agenda had been based upon lies, and the people knew it. Some were still trying to formulate a peaceful solution, but the system had its own plan, and treachery was the centerpiece of that plan. With the first play drawn, and blood spilt, there would be no turning back. In a time of its own choosing, in a place no one expected, the dance of swords would begin. 
The bat faggots, combined with whatever Homeland Security bottom feeders, mostly mercenaries, are going to pick somebody […] to use as an example. That action is going to be a face off, and it’s gonna actually, you know, initially be casualties for those who are surprised. It’s going to happen that way. They’re going to get caught off guard a little bit, but not much, because everybody can sense it, feel it, taste it, touch it. What’s going to happen is people are going to call on others, and there’s a lot of people who are going to mobilize. The other side is going to do the same thing. They have all their technology, but, trust me, we’re pulling out all the stops […] At some point, there’s going to be a column of goofs in black uniforms, idiots, mostly pea brains… In fact, 99.9% pea brains in their spiffy, little black uniforms, with all their spiffy, little alphabet letters on them, and that column [will meet] a column of militia, mechanized, or light mechanized, and armed up, already cocked, locked and ready to rock and roll. The bottom feeders in the black uniforms will be screaming their profanities, and they’ll be screaming and screaming and screaming, and the other side won’t be screaming a whole lot. Somebody’s going to pull the trigger, and it’s gonna be one hell of a popcorn exchange. From a distance, it’s going to sound like somebody opened up the popcorn pan from hell.
Sounds like a national suicide or, rather, the climax to the ongoing national suicide.

Until that fireworks, there are plenty of little suicides, all over. As I mellowed in Dexter Pub, a text reached me from Philly. Jason, a 38-year-old acquaintance, had just died after a week-long drug binge. The accompanied video showed him on the floor of his brother’s house. “Just look at him,” the brother spat, “laying there next to the cat litter! Just a moment ago, he was fixing himself something to eat, too. Now, he’s passed out and even peed on himself! See that yellow stuff? That’s piss that I will have to clean up!” Likely high himself, the brother didn’t realize his rudderless sibling was already dead.

A young woman said to me recently, “I want to shoot myself in the face, but have enough consciousness left to arrange my teeth and chunks of my flesh,” so the need to give even the messiest order to one’s predicament is constant, for anything that’s captured is partially redeemed and dignified, while what’s unarticulated is forever lost. In a country driven into the ditch, some compose.

Perfect Woman, Perfect Attitude

From Postcards From The End Of America (March 6, 2017)

The Worldwide Loser In Sports

The Top 5 Reasons ESPN's Ratings Are in Freefall

In March, several outlets gleefully reported that ESPN was near collapse as a network. Conveniently, several of these reports came from competitors to ESPN who hope to capitalize and gain market share. Nonetheless, it is true that ESPN will be cutting $100 million in salaries -- most from very recognizable on-air talent -- in a cost-cutting move to shore up their bottom line.

This new report comes mere months after a report showing that ESPN is losing subscribers at an alarming rate. In November 2016, ESPN lost over 600,000 subscribers, its worst month ever. ESPN has historically been a workhorse performer, one of the most successful cable channels of all time. Driven by live events, previously unavailable sports updates, an offbeat delivery, and compelling content, ESPN reached must-watch status and stayed there for a couple of decades. At the height of their popularity, in 2011, ESPN was available in over 100 million homes. A few years ago, however, the tide began to ebb. As of December 2016, that number had dropped to 88.4 million -- a steady, inexorable decline.

This has resulted in a precipitous drop in ad revenue at ESPN and its corporate parent company, Disney. This is what is driving the next round of layoffs.

The reasons for this collapse are multifaceted. Let's examine the top reasons for the decline of ESPN.

1. Cutting the cord

The phenomenon of television consumers refusing to pay cable giants for original content is real, and it's growing. Over one million American households cut the cord in 2015, opting for one of several options -- free over-the-air TV, inexpensive streaming options such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Fire, or simply opting out of live television altogether. ESPN has done next to nothing to penetrate the streaming content market, which leaves them out of a large segment of younger consumers who will find other options. Until ESPN changes this approach, this will limit the number of new, young, potential lifetime consumers available to them.

2. Bad programming

ESPN has struggled for many years to find new, compelling content to draw in new viewers while keeping their existing viewers engaged. These efforts have yielded mixed results. Their 30 for 30 franchise has met with fantastic success, culminating in the Oscar for Best Documentary, awarded to OJ: Made In America. However, other series have been less successful, owing to demographic shifts and changes in tastes regarding their on-air talent. The signature sports news show, SportsCenter, has seen a dramatic drop in ratings in recent years.

Once an anchor for ESPN programming, ratings have plummeted 27% since 2010, and a whopping 36% among the all-important 18-34 demographic. Creating more debate shows wherein two talking heads yell at each other for half an hour, mirroring cable news networks, has done little to stem the apparent fatigue with the format. This leads into the next problem with ESPN's programming ...

3. Agenda-driven programming

The brass at ESPN has taken a decidedly leftward tack in its programming. They either deny that it's happening, or deny that there is anything wrong with expressing tolerance and diversity. (Says SportsCenter host Jemele Hill, "I would challenge those people [on the right] who say they feel suppressed. Do you fear backlash, or do you fear right and wrong?") But gone are the days when ESPN kept politics out of its programming and deliberately avoided alienating half of its audience.

One of the most vocal critics of ESPN's embrace of progressivism is Clay Travis, a national radio host on competitor Fox Sports Radio. Travis is no conservative himself, having worked on Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000. Travis has nonetheless been relentless in his criticism of ESPN in both his on-air broadcasts and on his blog, Outkick The Coverage. He wrote in February that "ESPN decided to become a social justice warrior network, treating all liberal opinion makers as those worthy of promotion and casting aside all those who had the gall to challenge the new Disney world order. ESPN became MSESPN." Or as a friend of mine puts it, they have become ES(JW)PN. When you alienate half of your potential consumers, why should you expect their uninterrupted loyalty?

4. Overpayment for rights fees

ESPN has grossly overpaid for rights fees for the NFL and NBA, and is locked into those deals for several years. The model currently at work has made the NFL and the NBA and their players super-duper rich, but will lead to financial ruin for the network. Not enough TV consumers are compelled to sign up for cable just to get ESPN and watch the live sporting events for which they have the exclusive rights. Fans can just tune in to the over-the-air network NFL games available on Fox, NBC, and CBS. Free over-the-air TV still has a vastly larger audience than cable. Sunday Night Football -- available for free on NBC -- has eclipsed Monday Night Football on ESPN (for an expensive subscription) in importance and viewership.

Eventually, as Clay Travis notes, the decline in subscribers combined with the exorbitant rights fees will turn ESPN from a profit machine into a significant money loser. Ad revenues have already plummeted and will continue to do so as ESPN is unable to wriggle out of their current contracts. ESPN and Turner Sports signed a contract extension for the NBA that kicks in this season that is truly exorbitant -- 9 years, $24 BILLION. That means ESPN is locked into their NBA rights -- which they can't transfer to their over-the-air partner, ABC -- until 2026. Their contract with the NFL is equally crazy: $15 BILLION through 2021. In both cases, ESPN outbid itself, paying significantly more in rights fees than previous contracts.

5. Ratings for live sporting events are down

Ratings for Monday Night Football dropped 24% in 2016. The blame for this is shared equally by the NFL and its corporate media partners. The NFL product has become as uncompelling as I can remember as a lifelong football fan. Primetime games last season were terribly boring, which has dampened the excitement leading into Sunday. The league has also overly complicated the rule book, leading to awful refereeing. This creates a strong sense of fan dissatisfaction. The NFL and their corporate media partners have also attempted to market outside their core strengths, trying to bring in fringe fans by sacrificing the base fans. They have lost sight of the fact that the game is inherently dramatic. In my opinion, the NFL should concentrate on putting that drama on full display, instead of making up fringe narratives that nobody but casual fans could possibly care about.

From PJ Media (March 21, 2017)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Is Criticizing Neocon Thuggery Anti-Semitic?

(((Max Boot)))

Neocons As A Figment Of Imagination 

We have a president who is belligerent towards Iran, who is sending “boots on the ground” to fight ISIS, who loves Israel passionately and who is increasing already bloated defense budgets. If one were a neoconservative, what is there not to like, yet neocons in the media and ensconced comfortably in their multitude of think tanks hate Donald Trump. I suspect it comes down to three reasons. First, it is because Trump knows who was sticking the knife in his back during his campaign in 2016 and he has neither forgiven nor hired them. Nor does he pay any attention to their bleating, denying them the status that they think they deserve because of their self-promoted foreign policy brilliance.

And second, Trump persists in his desire to “do business” with Russia. The predominantly Jewish neocons always imagine the thunder of hooves of approaching Cossacks preparing to engage in pogroms whenever they hear the word Russia. And this is particularly true of Vladimir Putin’s regime, which is Holy Russia revived. When not musing over how it is always 1938 and one is in Munich, neocons are nearly as unsettled when they think it is 1905 in Odessa.

The third reason, linked to number two, is that having a plausible and dangerous enemy like Russia on tap keeps the cash flowing from defense industries to the foundations and think tanks that the neocons nest in when they are not running the Pentagon and National Security Council. Follow the money. So it is all about self-interest combined with tribal memory: money, status and a visceral hatred of Russia.

The hatred of Trump runs so deep that a leading neocon Bill Kristol actually tweeted that he would prefer a country run by bureaucrats and special interests rather than the current constitutional arrangement. The neocon vendetta was as well neatly summed up in two recent articles by Max Boot. The first is entitled “Trump knows the Feds are closing in on him” and the second is “WikiLeaks has joined the Trump Administration.”In the former piece Boot asserts that “Trump’s recent tweets aren’t just conspiratorial gibberish—they’re the erratic ravings of a guilty conscience” and in the latter, that “The anti-American WikiLeaks has become the preferred intelligence service for a conspiracy-addled White House.”

Now, who is Max Boot and why should anyone care what he writes? Russian-born, Max entered the United States with his family through a special visa exemption under the 1975 Jackson-Vanik Amendment even though they were not notably persecuted and only had to prove that they were Jewish. Jackson-Vanik was one of the first public assertions of neoconism, having reportedly been drafted in the office of Senator Henry Jackson by no less than Richard Perle and Ben Wattenberg as a form of affirmative action for Russian Jews. As refugees instead of immigrants, the new arrivals received welfare, health insurance, job placement, English language classes, and the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship after only five years. Max went to college at Berkeley and received an M.A. from Yale.

Boot, a foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012, networked his way up the neocon ladder, including writing for The Weekly Standard, Commentary, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. He was a member of the neocon incubator Project for a New American Century and now sits on the heavily neocon Council on Foreign Relations. Boot characteristically has never served in the U.S. military but likes war a lot. In 2012 he co-authored “5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now.” He is a reliable Russia and Putin basher.

Max Boot’s articles are smears of Donald Trump from top to bottom. The “closing in” piece calls for establishment of a special counsel to investigate every aspect of the Trump Team/Russian relationship. Along the way, it makes its case to come to that conclusion by accepting every single worst case scenario regarding Trump as true. Yes, per Boot “Putin was intervening in the presidential election to help Trump.” And President Barack Obama could not possibly have “interfered with the lawful workings of the FBI.” As is always the case, not one shred of evidence is produced to demonstrate that anyone associated with Donald Trump somehow became a Russian useful idiot, but Boot assumes that the White House is now being run out of the Kremlin.

Max is certainly fun to read but on a more serious note, the National Review is working hard to make us forget about employing the expression “neocon” because it is apparently rarely understood by the people who use the term. Plus its implied meaning is anti-Semitic in nature, something that David Brooks in an article pretty much denying that neocons really exist suggested thirteen years ago when he postulated that it was shorthand for “Jewish conservative.”

National Review actually searched hard to find a gentile who could write the piece, one Kevin D. Williamson, who is described as a “roving correspondent” for the magazine. His article is entitled “Word Games: The Right Discovers the Deep State.” Williamson begins by observing that using “neocon” disparagingly in the post-9/11 context acts either “as a kind of catalyst enabling a political reaction that revived a great many stupid and ugly myths about Jewish bankers orchestrating wars for profit…” or serves as a standby expression for a “Jew with politics I don’t like.”

Interestingly, I have never heard the “Jewish bankers” theory or disparagement of Jewish “politics” from the many responsible critics who have been dismayed by the aberrant U.S. foreign policy that has evolved since 2001. I don’t know how much money Goldman Sachs has made since the World Trade Center went down and that is not really the issue, nor is the fact that Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic, which is a party that I don’t particularly like. Williamson dodges the increasingly held view that America slid into the abyss when Washington declared war on the entire world and invaded Iraq based on a tissue of lies, in large part to benefit Israel, which is what matters and why the enabling role of the neocons is important.

And one might reasonably argue that U.S. policy since that time has nearly always deferred to Israeli interests, most recently declaring its prime mission at the U.N. to be protecting Israel, then acting on that premise by forcing the resignation of a senior official who had prepared a report critical of Israel’s “apartheid” regime. I recognize that relatively few American Jews are neocons and that many American Jews are in the forefront in resistance to Israel’s inhumane policies, but the reality is that nearly all neocons are Jewish. And they are in your face every time you turn on the television or pick up a newspaper. Abrasive and abusive Professor Alan Dershowitz recently proclaimed that Jews should never apologize for Jewish power, saying that it is deserved and granted by God, but I for one think it is past time for a little pushback from the rest of us to make Washington protect American interests instead of those of Israel.

The neocon cult has been behind the promotion of Israel as well as the serial foreign policy misadventures since 2001. Do the names Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, Abrams, Edelman, Ledeen, Senor, Libby and Nuland in and around the government as well as a host of others in think tanks and lobbies like AIPAC, AEI, WINEP, PNAC, FPI, FDD, JINSA and Hudson ring a bell? And do the loud voices in the media to include Judith Miller, Robert Kaplan, Charles Krauthammer, Jennifer Rubin, Fred Hiatt, Bret Stephens, Bill Kristol, the Kagans and the Podhoretzes, as well as the entire Washington Post and Wall Street Journal editorial pages, suggest any connivance?

They are all Jews and many are connected in terms of their careers, which were heavily networked from the inside to advance them up the ladder, often to include moving between government and lucrative think tank and academic positions. They mostly self-identify as neoconservatives and all share some significant traits, notably extreme dedication to Israel and embrace of the doctrine that the U.S. should not be shy about using military force, so it is interesting to learn from Williamson that they really do not constitute a cohesive group with shared values and interests as well as excellent access to the media and the levers of power. When did you last see an “expert” on the Middle East on television who was not Jewish?

Having made his pithy comments and dismissed neoconservatism-phobes as bigots, Williamson then wanders off subject into the Deep State, which, like neoconism apparently is some kind of urban legend being propagated by the poorly informed, whom these days he identifies as Trump supporters. He argues that the entities that are frequently cited as the Deep State, including the neocons, actually have quite divergent interests and it is unlikely that those interests should become “identical or aligned” to enable running of the country in an essentially clandestine fashion.

It is perhaps inevitable that Williamson is confused as he does not recognize how the American Deep State differs from that in most other countries – it is perhaps better described as the Establishment. Unlike in places like Turkey, it operates largely out in the open and ostensibly legally along a New York-Washington axis that constantly revitalizes itself through the revolving door allowing the entry of politicians and high government officials who create and enforce the legislation that benefits Deep State interests. Its components do indeed have different motives, but they come together in preserving the status quo, which benefits all parties, while little dissent comes from the Fourth Estate as the process plays out, since much of the media and many of the proliferating Washington think tanks that provide Deep State “intellectual” credibility are also part of the same malignancy. And yes, quite a bit of today’s Establishment is Jewish, most particularly financial and legal services, the think tanks, and academia. Many of them support or are part of the neocon persuasion and frequently also of the Israel Lobby.

The existence of a Deep State means that many issues that impact on the citizenry never are discussed as part of the political process, leading to jokes that the United States has only one political party with two wings. Issues like the relationship with Israel, though hotly debated by some of the public, are never really debated and are dealt with by consensus crafted by the politicians and the media. Significant policies like those relating to war and peace, healthcare and immigration were rarely seriously challenged prior to Trump because there is a broad agreement regarding what the Establishment will allow to take place. That is how the Deep State operates.

When it comes to foreign and national security policy the neocons are most definitely an integral part of the Deep State, using money and access to politicians to influence what is taking place without anyone seriously challenging their role. They are an essential cog in a system that is completely corrupt: it exists to sell out the public interest, and includes both major political parties as well as government officials. And it is so successful because it wins no matter who is in power, by creating bipartisan-supported money pits within the system. Monetizing the completely unnecessary and hideously expensive global war on terror benefits the senior government officials, beltway industries, and financial services that feed off it. Because it is essential to keep the money flowing, the Deep State persists in promoting policies that enrich its constituencies but otherwise make no sense, to include funding the unending and unwinnable wars currently enjoying marquee status in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan and the gift of $38 billion to Israel.

Max Boot spews the kind of bile that is commonly seen or heard when the neocons zero in on their enemies. The National Review meanwhile provides cover for Max and others by suggesting that only anti-Semites or the demented could possibly have it in for neoconservatives or be wary of zany concepts like a Deep State. Together they generate the fog that makes it impossible to challenge certain aspects of the status quo. Maybe, just maybe, what Donald Trump has been saying about his predecessor’s Deep State inspired machinations are true. And just possibly there is a largely Jewish cabal within that Deep State, call it what you will, that works very hard behind the scenes to favor Israel while also pushing for a state of perpetual war, from which it benefits personally. I know that thinking that we Americans are on the receiving end of a vast and very effective conspiracy makes many uneasy, but history has taught us that sometimes our worst nightmares are actually true.

From The Unz Review (March 21, 2017)

Also See: Addicted To War.

Landmines Everywhere

Obama Administration Loyalists, Government Insiders Sabotage Trump

The Obama administration worked in its final weeks in office to undermine the incoming Trump administration and continues to do so, according to multiple sources both in and out of the White House.

Behind the effort, these sources say, are senior government officials who previously worked under President Obama and remain loyal to his agenda. These individuals leak negative information about the Trump White House and its senior staff to a network of former Obama administration officials who then plant this information in key media outlets including the Washington Post and New York Times.

Meanwhile, holdovers from the Obama administration are working to undermine the Trump administration's agenda through efforts to alter official communications, a number of administration officials confirmed in conversations with the Washington Free Beacon.

Multiple sources expressed concern over what they described as an unprecedented effort by the former administration to subvert President Donald Trump's team. These sources would only speak on background because they were not officially authorized to publicly discuss the situation, which is said to have fostered a level of discomfort and distrust in the West Wing.

The Free Beacon first reported on several portions of this effort earlier this year, including separate campaigns to undermine current CIA Director Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, both of whom were subjected to leaks aimed at undermining their credibility.

"We have members of the former administration at the highest levels who through their actions after January 20 have demonstrated their refusal to recognize the results of the general election," one senior administration official told the Free Beacon. "They have pursued, organized, and managed a comprehensive subversion of the new administration."

In one instance, Trump administration officials found evidence that the administration's executive order banning travel from certain Muslim-majority nations had been selectively altered to bring it more in line with Obama-era talking points.

Several hours before the orders were set to be signed by Trump, officials noticed that language concerning "radical Islamic terrorism" had been stripped from the order and replaced with Obama-era language about countering violent extremism.

West Wing staffers quickly scrambled to rewrite the order to bring it back in line with Trump's rhetoric, sources told the Free Beacon. The alteration of these directives is said to have spooked some senior officials working on the issue.

A series of targeted leaks also has fostered concerns that Obama administration holdovers are seeking to handicap the new administration.

Several weeks before his resignation, former national security adviser Flynn requested staff assemble an in-house phonebook that included contact information for senior White House staff. Before Flynn signed off on the effort, the phonebook was leaked to the press.

Additionally, the previous administration permitted staff to accrue substantial amounts of vacation time in its last year in office. As soon as team Trump entered the White House, it was obligated to pay out all of these hours. White House sources say the cost was in the millions of dollars.

The payout prevented the Trump White House from hiring key staff in its opening days due to insufficient funds, according to those familiar with the situation. Flynn, for instance, was able to hire only 22 people to work on the White House National Security Council, which topped around 420 staffers under Obama.

"They put landmines everywhere," according to one senior administration official.

Outside of the White House, meanwhile, a team of former Obama administration officials is working to subvert Trump's agenda.

Former Obama administration officials such as Ben Rhodes, the architect of Obama's pro-Iran press operation, and Colin Kahl, a senior national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, have engaged in public efforts to "purge" the current White House of officials they disagree with.

Earlier this month, Kahl admitted on Twitter that he is seeking to provoke the firings of Trump's handpicked team "in the West Wing," including senior advisers Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka, and NSC leaders Michael Anton and KT McFarland.

As part of this effort, Kahl, Rhodes, and others have leaked damaging stories about these officials to allies in the media.

The latest target, Gorka, has been falsely accused of being a Nazi sympathizer and an Islamophobe. The campaign against Flynn unfolded in a similar manner and sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter speculated that these leaks will continue.

"They have a network of journalists for whom they have served as sources and they have fed stuff to these journalists," one senior U.S. official told the Free Beacon. "That's what pretty obviously is going on. I've never seen this happen before. I've never heard of it happening throughout history."

Putting the current White House in a permanent state of defense is a key objective of this strategy, according to one senior Republican foreign policy operative who is close to the White House.

"Part of this campaign, of course, was the media operation of selective leaks, many of which were illegal and directly targeted the staff and officials of the incoming Trump administration," the source said.

Asked to address the issue, a White House spokesman told the Free Beacon the administration takes "these leaks very seriously."

This targeted media campaign is similar to the method used by Rhodes and others to push the Iran nuclear deal.

"You can tell what's clearly going on because many of the same media outlets who formed crucial parts of Ben Rhodes' Iran Deal ‘echo chamber' are springing to launch coordinated attacks on Sebastian Gorka today," said one longtime political consultant who is close to the White House NSC.

"The way it works is, one highly partisan journalist goes out on a limb in dishonestly characterizing the target. That dishonest story is used to build on the next, in which the original lie is taken as fact, and then repeated in an echo chamber until it becomes conventional wisdom."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Trump And The Revival Of American Economic Nationalism

President Donald Trump Speaks At the American Center for Mobility In Ypsilanti Township, Mich. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Donald Trump, Rosie The Riveter, And The Revival Of American Economic Nationalism

By Virgil

Sometimes big ideas get small coverage.  Unfortunately, that was the case with President Trump’s March 15 trip to Michigan, in which he raised an important idea—arguably the most important economic-policy idea in U.S. history—and yet his words received almost no attention.

Perhaps that was inevitable, because, as we all know, White House reporters these days have been focused on the healthcare bill, and the new proposed budget, and various allegations about hacking and tapping. 

Yet here’s a Virgilian prediction: Long after the sound and fury about those other controversies have passed away, Trump’s big point on the economy will be remembered.  Indeed, it’s likely that the pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-profits alliance that Trump espouses will become permanently embedded in Republican thinking—and, quite possibly, Democratic thinking as well. 

So what, exactly, did Trump say in his brief speech at Willow Run, the former factory site in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan?  What was the larger message to the leaders of the Big Three automakers—Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors—as well as the head of the United Auto Workers, the governor, and other luminaries?

Trump started out by taking his listeners back to a time when America was at the zenith of its power.  That was World War II. Back then, Americans were more confident and more united; they were all in this together, aiming to defeat Hitler abroad and, at the same time, defeat the Depression at home. 

And no state better epitomized that “Can Do” ethos than Michigan.  The Wolverine State was the manufacturing hub of the country, which meant that it was the manufacturing hub of the world.  And it was that manufacturing strength, of course, that enabled us to defeat the Axis powers in less than four years.  Trump recalled those years of American strength, and even included a wistful note about the manufacturing mojo that’s been lost in recent decades:
Great Americans of all backgrounds built the Arsenal of Democracy — including the legendary Rosie the Riveter, who worked here at Willow Run. . . .  Seventy-five years ago, during the Second World War, thousands of American workers filled this very building to build the great new airplane: the B-24 Liberator.  At peak production–listen to this, it’s not the country that we’ve been watching over the last 20 years—they were building one B-24 every single hour.
Without a doubt, Willow Run was an immense achievement.  In June 1941, it was just a field, 30 miles outside of Detroit.  And yet by September of the the following year, it was producing B-24 Liberator bombers, each with 488,193 parts, capable of delivering four tons of ordnance on a target nearly three thousand miles.  By 1945, Willow Run had produced nearly 9,000 of these fearsome birds of war.  And oh, by the way, it employed 42,000 men, and women, at its peak—including Rosie the Riveter (even if Rosie’s story is, shall we say, clouded by legend). 

Henry Ford Observing Production At Willow Run Plant, 1944. (Source: The Henry Ford/Flickr)

Women riveting a B-24, Willow Run Plant, 1944. (Source: The Henry Ford/Flickr)

Jane Wanley and her sister Martha Rohder riveting at the Willow Run Plant, 1943. (Source: The Henry Ford/Flickr)

Men assembling the cockpit of a B-24 at the Willow Run Bomber Plant, 1942. (Source: The Henry Ford/Flickr)

The B-24 assembly line, Willow Run Plant, 1943. (Source: The Henry Ford/Flickr)

Actress Jeanette MacDonald signing a B-24 Liberator at the Willow Run Bomber Plant, March 1943. (Source: The Henry Ford/Flickr)

Yes, Willow Run is a stirring tale of get-up-and-go war production, and yet it is just one of many.  In WWII, the overall American industrial war effort also produced, for example, more than 100,000 armored vehicles, 300,000 airplanes, and 41 billion rounds of ammunition.  It takes nothing away from the courage of our fighting men in WWII to say that their job of victory was made infinitely easier by the typhoon of steel that they could unleash on the enemy. 

B-24 Liberator bombers of the U.S. 8th Air Force flying towards their targets in occupied Europe on Aug. 12, 1943. (AP Photo)

A B-24 flying over a burning oil refinery at Ploiești, Romania, during Operation Tidal Wave, August 1, 1943. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A B-24 Liberator of the U.S. Army 8th Air Forces bombs a vital oil refinery at Wedel-Schulau, in the outskirts of German port and city Hamburg, on December 1, 1944. (AP Photo)

So how did Uncle Sam achieve that miracle of production?  The most obvious answer is that we had the industrial resources in place before the war, and so it was simply a case of ramping them up during the war.  In 1939, for example, we produced twice as much steel as Hitler’s Germany, and our advantage grew during the war years, in no small part because B-24s, and other bombers, were smashing Nazi factories.

And yet as the complexity of the B-24 reminds us, effective production is more than just gross aggregates; each weapon, each airplane, must be designed and assembled properly.  And so as we think about the nearly half-million components of a B-24, we can learn a lot from the 1956 memoir of Charles E. Sorenson, a top Ford Motor Company executive who became the chief of Willow Run.  In that book, Sorenson outlines what it was like to build and operate what was then the largest shop floor in the world. 

As an aside, we can note that the title of Sorenson’s tome, My Forty Years with Ford, takes us back to another facet of that bygone era, when a well-paid employee was loyal to a company and the company, in turn, was loyal to the employee.  It’s in such a context—that is, a rich “corporate culture” that nurtures talent—that employees tend to do their best for their company, and for their country.  

Of course, for every motivated white-collar executive, there were thousands of skilled blue-collar workers, and they were key, too.  We can say: This is how quality manufacturing gets done—that is when employers and employees are so invested that they both work extra hard to improve the product. 

The point here, to be sure, is not to sugarcoat that era; along the way, there were plenty of strikes, slowdowns, and other kinds of workplace trouble.  And yet the proof is in the pudding: The B-24s got built, and we won the war.  

So now we can see why Trump was smart to invoke the glory days of Willow Run. 

Even seven decades later, the story of Detroit during WWII impresses and inspires.  

In fact, that same productive spirit continued after the war, when Willow Run was converted to domestic auto production; that was the beginning of the post-war boom—that is, when factories for wartime production instantly becoming factories for peacetime production.

The last B-24 bomber made at the Willow Run Plant, June 28, 1945. (Source: The Henry Ford/Flickr)

It’s been estimated that the U.S. government spent a trillion dollars, adjusted for inflation, to build all those defense plants during the war, and yet after VE Day and VJ Day, those now-surplus facilities were sold off to private manufacturers for just pennies on the dollar.  Critics complained that it was a giant giveaway to corporate America, but consumers were just happy to have new cars, toasters, and TV sets.

Another decisive moment in the building of the post-war American Dream came in 1950, when the United Auto Workers settled a labor dispute with General Motors.  It was a generous deal, setting a pattern of high wages for high productivity; it came to be known as the “Treaty of Detroit.”

History tells us that the Treaty, and others like it across the country, were a success.  In those years, the American economy demonstrated that high wages, high growth, and high profits could go hand in hand.  So perhaps it’s little wonder that Trump has cited the late 1940s and 1950s as one of his two favorite periods of U.S. history.

Indeed, as a look at historical data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve  shows, in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, GDP growth was routinely three or four percent a year, or more. 

By contrast, in the fourth quarter of 2016, growth was just 1.9 percent; as many observers have noted, Barack Obama was the first president in U.S. history never to have achieved three percent growth in a single year of his time in office.  And according the Atlanta Fed, growth in the first quarter of 2017 could be just .9 percent.

So what happened?  Where did our manufacturing mojo go?  And what about our prosperity?  As we survey the causes of damage, probably the biggest single culprit is globalization.  It was globalization that broke up the old alliance of capital and labor. 

To be sure, that alliance might not have always seemed like an alliance—it was uncomfortable at times, even hostile, on both sides. Yet it was always based on a blunt reality; the two sides were stuck with each other, and there was no other place else to go.

But then, with the coming of worldwide free trade and outsourcing, capital discovered, to its delight, that it had a new option: It could locate or relocate factories anywhere in the world.  (And to its further delight, capital discovered that the U.S. military would likely protect its overseas investments, too.)  

Thus it is that today, the U.S., having led the world in vehicle production for most of the 20th century, now finds itself ranked fourth in total passenger car production, producing less than 20 percent of the number of autos as China.

In the meantime, this data from the Economic Policy Institute underscores what happened to workers as a result: Whereas from 1948 to 1973, productivity and wages moved up rapidly in lockstep, since then, productivity has continued to grow, and yet wages have grown hardly at all.  Thus we can see the result of globalization on the U.S.: slower economic growth, as value-adding manufacturing has fled, and yet for immobile workers, the impact was worse—a severe stagnation of wages. 

Trump’s White House strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, nailed it in an interview last November: “The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia.”

So now comes President Trump, determined to undo the ill-effects of globalization by invoking, once again, the winning spirit of American nationalism.  As he said in Willow Run:

You’ve heard me say the words, and I’ll repeat them, right now:  Buy American and Hire American.   It’s not just a motto, it’s a pledge.  It’s a pledge to the working people of this country. 

In fact, as we all know, even before entering the White House, Trump was deeply engaged in successful efforts to keep jobs in the U.S.

The March 17, 2017 full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal on behalf of the 7 million American workers in the automotive sector.

Yet of course, helping the economy, and workers, requires more than just ad hoc efforts, valuable as those might be.  It also requires better policies, which the Trump administration is pushing, and important stakeholders are taking notice:

On March 17, the two largest motor-vehicle trade associations took out a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal, thanking Trump for ordering the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation to stop escalating the red tape on fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards.  As the ad says, “7 Million Thanks to President Trump”—that being the number of American workers in the automotive sector.

In addition, Trump is working on the problem in ways that transcend the usual issues of taxes and regulation.  Indeed, it’s fair to say that Trump seems to be moving toward a new philosophy for the economy.  As he said in Michigan:

We must embrace a new economic model.  Let’s call it the “American Model.”

Okay, maybe it’s not quite a new model;  maybe it’s better to say it’s a classic model.

To Virgil’s ear, Trump’s use of the phrase “American Model” sounds a lot like an earlier expression of U.S. economic nationalism, “American System.”  And that, of course, was the coinage of Henry Clay (1777-1852), who, after Alexander Hamilton, stands as the greatest champion of American industry in the 19th century. 

Yet let’s let Trump himself describe what he has in mind:

Under this system, we will reduce burdens on our companies and on our businesses.  But, in exchange, companies must hire and grow in America. They have to hire and grow in our country.  That is how we will succeed and grow together–American workers and American industry side by side.

We can note immediately that the third word Trump used was “system”; it’s obvious that Clay’s American System is very much in the mix.  Indeed, Trump’s idea of owners and workers joined together recalls a once-hugely influential 1851 book by the economist Henry Charles Carey, The Harmony of Interests: Agricultural, Manufacturing, and Commercial.

Of course, some might wonder if economic ideas from two centuries ago are still relevant.  Yet in fact, they are very relevant. 

Yes, the basics of the Hamilton-Clay-Carey vision are timeless.  Why?  Because a country needs manufacturing at home, not only for its prosperity, but also for its security.  After all, in a time of crisis or war, the U.S. needs to be self-sufficient; that is, we wouldn’t be able to rely on imports for needed materiel.

Yet to have the needed manufacturing at home, a country needs all the basics: a good trade policy, yes, but also, a positive business climate, a strong workforce, and robust infrastructure.  

Furthermore, as Trump suggested in Michigan, a country also needs a spirit of common purpose and patriotism that inspires owners and workers to pitch in to help each other.  These were the lessons of WWII, and Trump deserves great credit for bringing  them to the fore—even if the Main Stream Media didn’t seem to notice or care. 

So yes, it’s true: Trump’s “American Model” has yet to be truly fleshed out, let alone implemented.  And yet Virgil is optimistic about the idea’s future, because, as we have seen, it has such a glorious past. 

Indeed, Virgil rather suspects that smarter Democrats will seek to grab hold of the same economic-nationalist idea; it’s in their political heritage, too: It was, after all, a great Democratic president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was on hand in 1942 to kick off the beginning of Willow Run’s production line.

Henry Ford and President Franklin Roosevelt touring Willow Run Bomber Plant with Charles Sorensen, September 18, 1942. (Source: The Henry Ford/Flickr)

In the meantime, to cite a pair of bad counter-examples, we might ask ourselves: Will any Democratic president in the future be as aloof as were Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on the issue of American jobs going overseas?  Answer: Probably not.  Virgil’s bet is that Trump has so demonstrated the political value of hands-on action for jobs that future Democrats in the White House will follow his precedent.

Yet whether the Democrats are on board or not, Republicans should think hard about the vision Trump is putting forth, even if it is at odds with the doctrinaire globo-libertarianism that has so long predominated.  

For America, the stakes are high.  Ultimately, both our prosperity and security as a country depend on our willingness to come together around the idea of revived domestic production. 

To be sure, as a nation, we’re a long way from where we need to be.  Yet in the meantime, if we need inspiration for the trek ahead, we can think about Willow Run, its leader, Charles Sorenson, and its most famous worker, Rosie the Riveter. 

Back then, as a team, they knew how to work together to win.

From Breitbart (March 17, 2017)