Saturday, June 15, 2019

Is Trump the Democrats' Target?


Is Trump the Democrats’ Target?
P. Schultz

            Frank Bruni has written an article in the NY Times entitled “Donald Trump Will Pick the Democratic Nominee” in which he argues that the Democrats are so focused on defeating Trump that even if Trump loses his “DNA will linger.” And he argues that “Trump gets credit for the Democratic primary’s defining aspect, which is the sheer number of candidates — 23.” This has little to do with the clashes within the Democratic Party and everything to do with “his underwhelming approval rating [so] that if ever a sitting president looked vulnerable and if any year appeared ripe for a Democratic takeover, that president is Trump and that year is 2020.”

            Seems to make a lot of sense except for the fact that the Democratic Party is in the midst of an uprising by “insurgents” like Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and even Mike Gravel. And as Bruni unintentionally points out, so much of what is happening may be seen as the result of the mainstream Democrats like Pelosi, Schumer, and Biden trying to hold on to their control of the party. To wit:

“… the congested field is suffocating qualified aspirants who would otherwise find oxygen. It’s putting an extra premium on viral moments and supersize conceits. It’s privileging celebrity. All of that will factor into who prevails, and all of that is because of Trump.”  

            Moreover, Joe Biden, apparently the leading Democrat for the nomination, is talking like all he wants to do is restore “the good old days” in the party: “the essence of Biden’s strategy and message . . . boil[s] down to this: Electing me would mean that the past four years were a bad dream, like that kooky season of the 1970s television series “Dallas.” It would restore Obama (in absentia), resume the arc and renounce this dance with the devil, who could no more drain the swamp than tell the truth. Nostalgia is the new revolution.”

            So, it may be said, as Bruni says, that the Democrats’ behavior is suffocating “qualified aspirants,” read “insurgents,” and their leading contestant for the nomination wants a restoration. A restoration based on what? Nostalgia. And it is worthwhile to ask: Is this behavior aimed at Trump, who of course presents no threat to the rule of Pelosi, Schumer, et. al., or is it aimed at those like Bernie, et. al., who would, if successful, take control of the Democratic Party? For me, it is the latter that makes the most sense.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

American Politicians: The Good? The Bad? The Ugly?

American Politicians; The Good? The Bad? The Ugly? 

Do most Americans have any conception how despicable, how ugly their politicians are and have been? In what is called “the Age of Trump” reminders are needed.

Here’s what happened after Ted Kennedy drive off a bridge near Martha’s Vineyard and let a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne drown: “The Kennedy political operation went into high gear, spiriting the party attendees off the island before reporters could find them, and forming a hedge around Kennedy himself. He secluded himself at the family compound in Hyannis Port while an army of advisers and lawyers spent days plotting how to respond.” [Camelot’s End, p. 69]

Then Kennedy addressed the nation and made himself out to be the victim: “I was overcome, I’m frank to say, by a jumble of emotions: grief, fear, doubt, exhaustion, panic, confusion, and shock.” Poor guy! “All kinds of scrambled thoughts - all of them confused, some of them irrational, many of them which I cannot recall, and some of which I would not have seriously entertained under normal circumstances - went through my mind during this period.”

Thoughts, many thoughts, he can’t recall but knows he had! All his thoughts “confused”! Some “irrational!” Poor guy! So victimized by letting a young woman drown! Has Trump ever surpassed this sniveling, whining, self-pitying statement by Ted Kennedy? He probably has. But let no one say Trump, although thoroughly despicable, was our first major politician to be so.

Americans, like other human beings, can turn away from how ugly their society has become. So it is good to remind them of this ugliness, to remind them there is nothing, absolutely nothing extraordinary or exceptional about them or their society.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Trump and Russia: Why Doesn't Trump Get Real?


Trump and Russia: Why Doesn’t Trump Get Real?
Peter Schultz

            President Trump is more than willing to call Russiagate a hoax, composed of essentially baseless accusations that are being used to undermine his administration. Nothing surprising here. But it is surprising that Trump has not said what would make his claims even stronger, viz., that Russiagate is just a continuation of a neo-conservative project to render Russia a relatively powerless nation that could have little impact in the world and especially in the Middle East.

            As Max Blumenthal has argued in his latest book, The Management of Savagery, charging that Russia was “a foreign evil that supposedly controlled the White House,” the Democratic Party was turned “into a paranoid war party,” thereby serving to facilitate “a quiet neo-conservative campaign set in motion over a decade before” whose goal was “to encircle the largest and most militarily powerful nation in Eurasia and gradually transform it into a toothless, economically dependent vassal of the United States.” [276-77-] This project began with “the wholesale looting of [Russia’s] state assets by ‘the Harvard boys,’ who were imposing “shock therapy” under the watchful eyes of Lawrence Summers. Boris Yeltsen was the “American-installed president” and Russia’s poverty rate rose from 2% to 40%, which eclipsed that of the Great Depression in the US. The looting was hailed in D.C. as “free-market reform” and “liberalization,” but was stopped once Vladimir Putin took over from Yeltsen.

            This led to increased pressure in D.C. “for a confrontation with Putin’s Russia” and “while Americans were transfixed by Bush’s ‘war on terror’ drama, a bipartisan coalition was quietly coalescing to confront the resurgent Russia menace.” [279] With the approval of vice president Cheney, Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia, “sent troops into the semi-sovereign Russian territory of South Ossetia, claiming it as his own.” [279] The invaders were clobbered by the Russian counterattack. But this led to a bipartisan congressional denunciation of Putin for having the gall to resist what was essentially a NATO aggression. And to make matters worse from D.C.’s viewpoint, Putin was only too willing to call out the U.S. and its proxy war for regime change in Libya where, according to Putin, “under the pretext of protecting civilians. . . it’s the civilian population who dies during airstrikes against (Libyan) territory.” [280] And more generally, Putin charged the U.S. with being the cause of “global destabilization” and with creating “new human tragedies and new centers of tension.” [278-9]

            The neo-cons continued their project, arousing war fevers when Putin annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea, where the population had voted to join the Russian Federation. Fighting broke out and the Pentagon supplied the Ukrainian military quietly but the neo-cons knew, as William Kristol pointed out, that “All that’s needed is the rallying. And the turn around [among the people] can be fast.” As Blumenthal says: “That moment would arrive amid the 2016 general election, when allegations of Russian hacking dominated headlines and triggered Democratic Party outrage.” [283] The rest is history, as we know and, of course, as it continues.

            But why doesn’t Trump put this hoax in its political context? It is puzzling insofar as it would allow Trump to strengthen his case that Russiagate is a hoax or is part of a political project that should be considered, at the very least, controversial. But perhaps it is the controversial aspects of the neo-cons “Russia project” that Trump does not want to bring up insofar as that would necessitate making American imperialism controversial. Better to go on acting like an insecure, somewhat addled old white male than to take on and rattle our Orwellian oligarchy.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Memorial Day 2019: The Republic Is Dead


Memorial Day 2019: The Republic Is Dead
Peter Schultz

            The United States republic is dead, its need for secrecy being the cause of death. This need began in the midst of the assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK, and RFK, along with the massive COINTELPRO program run by the FBI, which also centered around the assassinations of the Black Panthers, et. al., and the American Indian Movement. Also to be included is the American war in Vietnam, begun covertly, expanded surreptitiously, and included a massive assassinations program, the Phoenix program, that killed thousands of Vietnamese civilians. Of course the invasion of Iraq in 2003 required secrecy as well as there was no real cause of war. And it too included assassinations as one of its most important tools during the surge and otherwise. The assassinations and secrecy continued ala’ Obama’s drone “wars.”

            Accompanying this deadly secrecy, the American people are encouraged – and expected – to “rally round the flag” by honoring our “heroes” who do the killing, thanking them for their “service.” This is what passes for patriotism today, and is pretty much indistinguishable from blindness to the fact that the republic is dead. Along with some “subversive” Americans and many foreigners, the republic has been assassinated. All it needs is a proper burial. Memorial Day would be a good day to start the republic’s funeral by remembering that those who have died for the republic have, contra Lincoln, indeed died in vain.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Today America Has Become the Nightmare


Today America Has Become the Nightmare
Peter Schultz

            In reading L. Fletcher Prouty’s book, JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, I read this quote from Arnold Toynbee, written in the NY Times in 1971, but still and maybe more relevant today.

“To most Europeans…America now looks like the most dangerous country in the world. Since America is unquestionably the most powerful country, the transformation of America’s image within the last thirty years is very frightening for Europeans. It is probably still more frightening for the great majority of the human race who are neither European nor North Americans, but are Latin Americans, Asians, and Africans. They, I imagine, feel even more insecure than we feel. They feel that, at any moment, America may intervene in their internal affairs, with the same appalling consequences as have followed from the American intervention in Southeast Asia.
            “For the world as a whole, the CIA has now become the bogey that communism has been for America. Wherever there is trouble, violence, suffering, tragedy, the rest of us are now quick to suspect the CIA had a hand in it. Our phobia about the CIA is, no doubt, as fantastically excessive as America’s phobia about world communism; but in this case, too, there is just enough convincing guidance to make the phobia genuine. In fact, the roles of America and Russia have been reversed in the world’s eyes. Today America has become the nightmare.” [pp. 230-31]

            Suffice it to say about Prouty’s book that it is concerned with arguing that John F. Kennedy was aware of these dangers and sought to corral the CIA and the US policies of waging limited war throughout the world. And as a result, Prouty argues, Kennedy was assassinated. Seems rather extreme to me but then so does how the US behaves today throughout the world.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Politics 101: Trump, the Democrats and Impeachment


Politics 101: Trump, the Democrats and Impeachment
Peter Schultz

Politics 101: Of course, Pelosi won't comment on impeachment because (a) the last thing the Democrats want to do is impeach and remove Trump from office but (b) they have to leave it out there as a distraction and incitement. It's just part of the 2020 presidential campaign and a way for the Dems to distract from their own flawed, oligarchic policies, policies that will be continued by whatever "centrist" the Dems nominate for president, perhaps with the help of their "superdelegates." The Dems no more want Trump impeached then the Republicans wanted Clinton removed prior to the 2000 presidential election because if they had done that Gore could have run as an incumbent president and even seek two full terms. And (c) listen as the talk about impeachment ramps up, becomes louder and louder, taking over the political arena. But Trump will not be impeached or removed. All of which Mueller's report was drafted to facilitate: "Well, he might have done something but then we don't know that he did or didn't but it wouldn’t matter anyway because he's president."  

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/pelosi-declines-to-comment-on-possibility-of-trump-impeachment/ar-BBW60wB
 

Monday, April 15, 2019

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been: Castro, Kennedy, and the Dance of Nations.


What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been
Peter Schultz

            Once it becomes apparent that the United States is an oligarchy, that is, governed by the wealthy few for their own benefit, it also becomes apparent that almost everything mainstream politicians do is geared to preserving the oligarchy’s power, their power. Consider for example American foreign policy and, specifically, US foreign policy toward Cuba after the Cuban revolution when Castro overthrew Batista and took control of the Cuban government.

            What did our oligarchs do? Well, to put it simply, they did everything to make Cuba look like our enemy. In this they had help from Castro, as he too was doing things to make the US look like Cuba’s enemy. It was like a choreographed dance the two nations were performing, a dance choreographed to ensure that the two nations acted like, became enemies.

            For example, on the US side, nothing was done to show support to those Cubans, the moderates in Cuba, who were happy Batista was gone but were not all that enamored of Castro. If the US had shown some support for the revolution, instead of treating it as a Communist plot supported by the USSR, these moderates would have been able to oppose Castro without seemingly undermining Cuba independence or the Cuban revolution, without seeming like traitors. However, once the US decided to punish Cuba for its revolution, these moderates were forced to support Castro because, otherwise, they would be acting like traitors to Cuban independence. Once the US decided to become Cuba’s enemy, then even Cubans opposed to Castro had to support him or risk being charged with treason to the revolution, to Cuba.

            Why did the US then make Cuba an enemy? The conventional wisdom is that this happened only when it was apparent that Castro was a communist. But even if he were, and it isn’t clear that he was, this does not explain why the US reacted as it did, why US policy intended to create a war like situation between the two nations. But this war like state benefitted the Eisenhower administration just as it benefitted Castro’s regime by making both seem strong, by making both seem properly concerned with “national defense.” Both Eisenhower and Castro were seen as protecting the “homeland” and, therefore, worthy of support by all who weren’t “traitors,” “capitalist dogs,” or “pinkos.”

            Both regimes were then strengthened domestically by creating a war like state between the two nations. There was “political gold” in such a situation for the prevailing political classes in both nations. And US policy served Castro well by helping him secure his revolution. He became a national hero by facing down the “giant from the north.” And Eisenhower looked less like the grandfather golfer he seemed to be. And with an election approaching, Richard Nixon could look like the “cold warrior” he wanted to be. He would “take care” of Castro.

            This state of affairs led, first, to the Bay of Pigs invasion and, secondly, to the Cuban missile crisis, when the game almost got out of hand and went nuclear. It was never the intention of either the US or Castro to start a full scale or nuclear war between the US and the USSR as this would lead to the annihilation of millions of human beings. And then, of course, all that “political gold” that each side got as a result of the war like state between the two nations would be lost or would lose its value. The same could be said of any attempt by Castro to assassinate JFK, as some have charged. Castro needed Kennedy, as much as Kennedy needed Castro, to solidify their credentials as “leaders.” The same could be said of killing Castro, which helps explain why the attempts by the CIA to do so repeatedly failed and seemed so inept. To reap the “political gold” available the US needed Castro in power, just as Castro needed to ensure that the US remained Cuba’s enemy, while avoiding a full-scale war. A state of war without a full-scale war was best for both nations; that is, for protecting the regimes governing both nations, the oligarchs in the US and the communists in Cuba. US oligarchs and Cuban communists were, as intended, “indispensable enemies.”

            And after the assassination of JFK, LBJ saw that it was incumbent on him to derail any attempts to pin the blame on Castro, as that would have meant in all likelihood full-scale war with Cuba and then with the USSR. Hence, the need for the Warren Commission and for the fairy tale that Oswald acted alone and was not part of any conspiracy. Moreover, it had to be shown that the assassination itself was not the result of any conspiracy, especially one pointing to Castro and Cuba. And as a result the Warren Commission was an invitation to conspiracy theories because it was so ineptly concocted to reach the conclusion that Oswald acted alone.

            More generally, could it be that the Cold War itself was dramatized, choreographed to allow the oligarchs in the US and the communists in the USSR to reap that “political gold” the US and Castro reaped as a result of the war like state between the two nations? While a big topic, obviously, let it be said that with very few exceptions the US and the USSR – and China – never got close to full-scale war, those exceptions being the Korean War and the Cuban missile crisis. Otherwise, the dance of these indispensable enemies continued in ways that created a war like situation without creating full-scale, that is, nuclear war. And both US oligarchs and Soviet and Chinese communists benefitted.

            If so, that would be an interesting situation.