Archive for media analysis

Obama’s Vision and Legacy: A retrospective look at the Obama presidency – before we lose all sight of recent history, as our culture is wont to do

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2016 by jtoddring

 

Here are three short articles which I wrote between 2011 and 2015 which sum up the Obama presidency, and the Obama vision and legacy. We should remember, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Let us review now the torturous two terms of “Mister Hope and Change” – the man who escalated and consolidated the Bush-Cheney program of intensified imperial warfare abroad, and the building of a police state at home – and all with a smiling face, and lofty, pious speeches proclaiming noble, lofty things.

I must say, as an aside, that the following articles were written and posted as comments, via Discus, to certain “alternative media” sources; and they present a scathing, and justifiably, fact-based, and much-needed, scathing critique of the alternative media.

In short, the alternative media, so called, and with only a handful of exceptions, provided a gloss to Obama’s presidency, and lent cover to his high crimes and his war crimes, for the first seven years of his presidency. Only recently has a sliver of critical commentary about the Obama administration begun to flow out of these generally hollowly pretentious “news” sources.

And secondly, almost all of them failed completely with regards to honest and thoughtful reporting on the crisis in Ukraine, and instead of serious journalism, simply mouthed the standard narrative, and gave further life and credibility to the lies and propaganda that the mainstream media routinely present as “the news”.

So in short, the alternative media failed utterly and completely, with only rare exceptions on the part of a few writers and a few websites, in regards to two of the biggest geopolitical subjects of the past decade: the US presidency under Obama, and its global and domestic implications; and the growing US-Russian cold war.

Having said that, and having lost most of my trust and confidence in these media sources, The Real News Network has seriously upped its game, and I would say, from what I have seen, that it is now one of the best sources of news and analysis in the Western world.

So there is hope for the alternative media. They simply have to have the courage to admit when they were wrong, and to stand up, and speak the truth, regardless of how popular or unpopular the truth may be.

And it is also helpful here for us to remember – and not just the alternative media, but also the broader public, who were, by and large, also duped by Mister Hope and Change – the words of Emerson:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

Let us be willing to admit when we were mistaken, and learn from our mistakes, and let us learn from our history, before we are doomed to repeat it yet again.

*

We should also note that Obama’s legacy includes, not only expanded imperial wars overseas, and an accelerated pace of the Bush-Cheney project of turning America into a police state, but also under Obama, we saw the crash of 2008, from which the US and the world in general have yet to recover. (See Paul Craig Roberts: There Was No Recovery, and There Will Be No Recovery.)

The warm and fuzzy propaganda and spin continues to stream out of the White House and the corporate media, telling us everything is rosy, but the figures speak for themselves, and tell a different story. The middle class is being driven under and is sinking, and shrinking, and as a result, consumer spending is crashing, which means that the global economy continues to sink. It’s not rocket science. A 10 year old could understand it. It just requires a willingness to deal with the facts, and that seems rare these days.

The middle class is being wiped out, while poverty and inequality soar, and only the rich are doing well – extremely well, in fact. This is another part of Obama’s legacy – he presided over the continued and accelerating process of the rich devouring the poor, the middle class and the world. And most critically, he acted as the lead PR man to cover over and hide what is really going on, and tell us that everything is fine, while the people and the planet continue to be eaten alive. I think he should sell snake oil. It would be a more honest job.

“In order to have a thriving middle class, we need good paying middle class jobs.  Unfortunately, our economy has been bleeding those kinds of jobs quite rapidly.  For example, Halliburton just announced that it is eliminating 5,000 more jobs after getting rid of 4,000 workers at the end of last year.

During the Obama years, good paying middle class jobs have been getting replaced by low paying service jobs.  At this point, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

And there is no way that you can support a middle class family with children on $30,000 a year.

We have an economy that is in the process of failing.  We can see it in the explosion of subprime auto loans that are going bad, we can see it in the hundreds of retail stores that are shutting down, and we can see it in the tens of thousands of good paying energy jobs that are being lost.

During the Obama years, interest rates have been pushed to the floor, the Federal Reserve has created trillions of dollars out of thin air, and the size of our national debt is getting close to doubling.  Despite all of those desperate measures, our economy continues to crumble.”

– Economic Recovery? 13 Of The Biggest Retailers In America Are Closing Down Stores
By Michael Snyder, February 25, 2016

Hallelujah. Praise be to the profits.

And let them eat cake.

JTR,
February 25, 2016

 

Obama’s brilliantly successful, and disastrous vision

A recent article by Andrew Bacevitch
which was published by Moyers and Company laments that Obama has
failed to accomplish anything of substance since taking office. This
is not true. Obama has continue the Bush-Cheney war on democracy,
freedom, civil liberties, human rights, the Bill of Rights and
Constitution at home, while carrying on with the noble work begun by
the Bush administration of creating a police state in America; thus,
hopefully, securing the wealth and power of the elite at the expense
of the great suffering and diminished wealth, security, dignity,
rights and freedom of the other 99% of the population. So yes, Obama
has accomplished a great deal. He simply accomplished all the wrong
things. And he did so, because he was working for the wrong people.
He has been working for Wall Street since the beginning. The people
simply failed to see it.

The article is excellent, but for this
point, and one other important point. The author states that Obama
has no foreign policy vision, and never did. That is untrue.

Obama inherited and fully embraced the
foreign policy vision of the neocon Project for a New American
Century and the Bush-Cheney cabal: that is, intensified imperial
warfare abroad for the sake of maintaining global hegemony in a time
of an empire in rapid decline – and, of course, for the ever-present
ultimate objective, which is ever higher corporate profits and wealth
for the super-rich, ruling elite.

So Obama has a vision – it’s just not a
vision which accords with the great majority of Americans, or people
anywhere in the world. But it is a vision which is favoured, and
fiercely, rabidly, aggressively pursued, by the foreign and domestic
elite who rule over Washington and decide its policy choices and
agenda.

Has Obama’s vision succeeded? Well, the
rich are richer, aren’t they? Corporate profits are high. Trillions
of dollars have flowed from Main Street to Wall Street, via the US
government and the US Treasury. And the billionaire class now has an
even more formidable military-industrial-security complex, and police
state apparatus, with which to protect itself from the rabble. Obama
has succeeded brilliantly, at least for the moment – he simply had
the wrong vision: and for that, we should all lament deeply. The
people were duped.

J. Todd Ring,

February 7, 2015

Discussion on Chris Floyd – Empire Burlesque 26 comments

 

And here is my response to another article from the “alternative media” which also helped to give Obama a fresh gloss and a patina of legitimacy:

New Obama Campaign Commercial Is BRUTAL!

prajnaseek

prajnaseek 4 years ago (2012)

The amazing shelf-life of Obamamania:

Half rotted, to say the least; made as appealing as possible by a dedicated PR
machine;
and now highly distasteful to a growing majority –
yet still being hocked by “progressive” media outlets nation-wide.
What gives?!

I am increasingly amazed that otherwise thoughtful, well-informed and
intelligent individuals and media outlets such as AlterNet, who seem to have
both brains and integrity, continue to support Obama. Do we have to recount his
record of actions over and over again? He presented himself – with the aid of a
powerful, multi-million dollar PR machine – as a populist, a democrat, a man of
peace, and a man of the people. I warned people before he was elected in 2008 that he
was none of the above, but merely another shill for Wall Street. His actions since
his election have proven this is in fact the case, and proven it abundantly, beyond
any shadow of a doubt. Shall we at least glance at the record? Do the facts
matter, or are we utterly swayed and won over – deluded – by the mesmerizing
powers of rhetoric, spin and pretty speeches? Do the facts matter or not?

A populist? Obama was put into office through the major backing of Wall Street,
then of course, returned the favour – “donations” from the reigning
plutocratic elite do not come free, nor without strings attached, as David
Sirota said of Obama and his backers: returned the favour by stacking his
government with his Wall Street buddies, and then handed over hundreds of
billions of tax payer dollars to his Wall Street banker friends, as part of the
greatest mass transfer of wealth from the American people to the financial
elite in history. To cap it all off, he aggressively pushed for legislation
that would permanently make his Wall Street criminal friends immune from any
future prosecution or legal action. (See Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibi for an
honest accounting of Obama.) Populist? No, Obama is Wall Street’s man – or one
of them. He is no friend of the people.

Democrat? Obama voted twice for the Constitution-, Bill of Rights- and
civil liberties-shredding Patriot Act; the second time, voting to make 14 of
its provisions permanent. He has done nothing to overturn the quite literally –
by any legal definition – fascist legislation brought in by Bush, and has in
fact greatly extended and increased it. The Military Commissions Act has not
been overturned, and Obama has not even attempted to do so, and this act alone
defines the United States now, in strict legal terms, as a fascist nation. (See
Keith Olbermann on the Military Commissions Act, for an honest and unflinching
assessment – and remember, Obama has continued to support it since Bush left office.)
Under the NDAA, which Obama also signed, the President, or Chief Executive
Officer on hire to the ruling financial elite who own the country, can now
imprison anyone indefinitely, and has sweeping unchecked powers beyond that,
including execution or assassination without trial. (Obama even brags of his
ability to kill anyone with his fleet of killer drones.) These legal undoings
of constitutional democracy, the Constitution, Bill of Rights and civil
liberties, along with the extreme and unchecked powers now aggregated to the
executive, by any reasonable or legal definition constitute fascism, and Obama
has supported and furthered this slow strangulation of democracy, freedom and
civil liberties, every step of the way. He has defended the use of
“extraordinary rendition,” CIA black sites, torture and
disappearances, systemic wire-tapping and a global surveillance state. To call
this man a democrat would be the most insane, or else Orwellian statement
possible. He is a crypto-fascist in populist liberal democratic disguise – and
the disguise is so thin by now that only the wilfully blind cannot yet see
through it.

Peace-lover? Obama made rosy speeches about vague sentiments and even more
vague goals, such as “hope” and “change,” but as the New
York Times said before his election, it was hardly likely he would change
anything in terms of foreign policy, and his foreign policy is, as the Times
predicted, virtually indistinguishable from that of Bush. In fact, his foreign
policy record has been worse than Bush’s, as Chomsky and others have pointed
out. He positioned himself as a man of peace, and then went on to expand the
wars in the Middle East, and to launch new wars in Northern Africa. He is now
sabre-rattling with relation to Iran, and gearing up the propaganda and
rhetoric for an attack on Iran, which would be utterly insane, as well as a war
crime under international law, since Iran is in a military and economic
alliance with China and Russia, two nuclear super-powers, and hence, attacking
Iran literally risks the start of WWIII. Anyone who would attack Iran under
such circumstances must therefore be certifiably insane, as well as criminally
negligent in the highest magnitude describable. But even aside from the
question of Iran, Obama is already, and again, quite literally, guilty of war
crimes, by strict definition of international law, and crimes against humanity,
as well as guilty of simply expanding and perpetuating the obscene and
bankrupting wars of empire, and continuing the multi-decade policy of
subservience and service towards the military-industrial complex. This is no
man of peace. This man is owned almost as much by the industrial-military
complex and the war-profiteers as by Wall Street.

So why are there still articles on AlterNet and other seemingly, and often
genuinely intelligent media outlets, coddling and massaging Obama’s image and
PR face, if not outright supporting him? If someone at AlterNet cares to
answer, I would love to hear the response.

It is 1931 Germany in the USA, as I have been saying for
some time, as a growing minority and possibly by now a majority of Americans
are aware, and as your better writers and commentators have also noted. Why
then does anyone still pretend that Obama is anything but a crypto-fascist
puppet on hire to the ruling corporate and financial elite? Why?!

Enough! End this nonsense now, and let’s get on with real
change, and the healing of this world.

Hope and change will come from the people. The leaders –
so-called – of both major parties have betrayed the people. Let’s face the
facts, and get on with it. Lead yourself, people. It’s time for a revolution.

J. Todd Ring
(prajnaseek on Twitter)

P.S.: AlterNet editors: If you wish to retain any
credibility as a progressive, or even an independent media outlet, then strip
out the references to AlterNet here – I don’t wish to single out AlterNet,
which is excellent in other regards, since the problem is widespread in the “progressive”
media – and publish this article. You
can contact me via Twitter to let me know your response. If it is silence, then
I will know where you stand: and if that is the case, as I hope it will not be,
then I must conclude that either you are blinkered partisan zealots, or else
are owned by the same plutocratic and oligarchic forces who own Obama. I am
sorry to put the matter so bluntly, but democracy in America is being drowned,
and Obama has been, and continues to this day, to be an active and willing
accomplice in that most heinous and grotesque of crimes. The time has long
passed for the mincing of words. I await your response. Please exercise courage
and thoughtfulness. It would be a shame to see your legitimacy and your aid die
along with all former hopes for Mister Hope and Change.

 

And one last response to yet another “alternative media” gloss of Obama:

The GOP’s CIA Playbook: Destabilize Country to Sweep Back Into Power | News & Politics

prajnaseek

prajnaseek mmckinl 5 years ago (2011)

Well put – straight to the point. Here is my response to Parry’s “critique.”

Obama:pseudo-populist, crypto-fascist, corporatist, globalist

A rebuttal to Robert Parry’s glowingly pro-Democrat, slavishly partisan diatribe

Nice story line – for a fantasy novel… Excellent analysis, and totally one-sided: can anyone think critically about both wings of the party of the corporate elite – the Democrats and the Republicans? Some few can, but it seems rare.

Robert Parry’s article, “The GOP’s CIA Playbook: Destabilize Country to Sweep Back Into Power” is a fair enough analysis of the Republican party machine, but it breathes not a peep of criticism of the Democratic party apparatchiks or the Obama administration, and expresses not even a whisper of critical thought with regard to the latter. We are forced to conclude that either he is a completely blinkered partisan, or else a willing tool of the ruling elite, playing the same old game of divide and conquer in order to maintain the hegemony of the ruling class. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume for the moment that his highly counter-productive “critique,” which further divides the people, thus thwarting any possibility of real change, is a product of his being simply out to lunch.

“Pseudo-populist?” What do you think Obama is? He’s also pseudo-democratic, pseudo-progressive, pseudo-anti-war , pseudo-pro-civil liberties and pseudo-constitutional, in case anybody still hadn’t noticed. He’s expanded war in the Middle East, stood up for CIA “extraordinary renditions” and torture, failed utterly to even attempt to repeal the literally fascist and
completely unconstitutional Patriot and Military Commissions Acts, and instead
continued to support them, to name but a few points showing him to be anything
but a democrat – and he backed the biggest transfer of wealth in history from
ordinary people to the super-rich with the Wall St. banker “bail-out.”

Spell it out: this is by definition a crypto-fascist corporatist. (As Mussolini himself defined fascism, it is the merger of the powers of big business with the powers of the state: it is corporatism.) Just
how thick does anyone have to be to still think that Obama is a democrat, a populist, a man of the people, an anti-war activist, or anything other than a whore to the military-industrial complex, the Wall St. Banking elite, and the global corporate empire? Please! This is getting rather tiring.

Nearly 60% of Americans now believe Obama should not be re-elected. Also fortunately, the majority of Americans have also lost faith in the Republican establishment as well. Fortunately, the Republican establishment destroyed its credibility with most Americans under the Bush
administration, and the Democratic (sic) establishment has destroyed its credibility with the majority of the people since taking power in Congress and the White House.

Fortunately, such wilful ignorance – of believing that either the Republicans or the Democrats are the saviours of the nation, or even the friends or allies of the people – is waning in the land. There are a few Democrats and Republicans with integrity, such as Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, but the two big party machines are, by all indications of an overwhelming body of evidence, bought and owned, and run by and for, the corporate elite. Of course there are rival factions among the ruling elite, but the fact is that they share a highly similar corporate agenda – “the vile maxim of the masters,” as Adam Smith called it: “all for us, none for anybody else.”

The hard reality in the United States today is that it is a one-party state: a corporatocracy run by the super-rich and the corporate and banking elite, with the nearly complete complicity and eager
servitude of both wings of the party of the corporate police state. The polls have been showing for some time that there is a deep and growing popular awareness of this fact. The crisis of legitimacy is now nearing critical mass, and will quite likely explode into revolution within a short period of time, as the CIA has also predicted.

Unfortunately, if it is a violent uprising, the ruling elite will use this as a justification for repression, and to dispense with every last remnant of democracy, freedom, human rights and civil liberties. If this happens, the Corporate Police State will have arrived in full, hideous flowering.

People are beginning to realize more and more that the corporatocracy rules both major political parties in the U.S. Real change will happen when more people drop the stunned state of denial, and face the undeniable and overwhelming evidence of this fact. When will this happen? Sooner
than one might think.

Let us hope that awareness grows quickly, the people unite in defence of their country and future against a very Machiavellian corporatist order, and the response of the people is along the lines of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi, and not unthinking violent reaction.

The future is in our hands. Clarity of mind is the first step to securing a better future however. We must first know where we stand. The battle line is not between Republicans and Democrats, it is between those who value constitutional democracy, justice and freedom – true (small d, small r) democrats and republicans – and an entrenched and power hungry elite who wish for unchecked and unfettered power and hegemony over all. In short, the people must unite, or we are lost. Build bridges now, or kiss your country and your freedom goodbye.

J. Todd Ring,
June 10, 2011

Prospects for America: Sanders vs Civil War

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2016 by jtoddring

(And that is not a threat, of course, but a prediction)

An analysis of the present state and future prospects of the nation

~

An open letter in response to Daily Kos,

and to anyone concerned with either justice, or peace

The article I recently wrote and published on Daily Kos, Prognosis for America: Sanders or Civil War, (January 26, 2016) seemed to cause quite a stir, and quite a backlash. I will repeat again, to clarify, that I merely made a prediction, based on sound evidence, and what are, to me, obvious and undeniable facts.

What I said was that the US now has such extreme and growing levels of inequality and internal divisions, that tensions are high and mounting, and that if real positive social change is not soon forthcoming, the country is at serious risk of descending into a nightmare of civil war.

This may be shocking to some, but anyone who is paying attention to what is going on should not be shocked in the least. These things should be obvious. Even members of the corporate elite are warning of it. They too are afraid that the country could explode into civil war.

And they should be afraid. Civil war is a horror which any sane person should wish to avoid. But it is heading for the US, I believe, if real change continues to be blocked, and long-standing and legitimate grievances among the people are not addressed.

I clearly did not, and do not advocate civil war, but urged that it be recognized as a serious risk, and that it be averted. I clearly did not say that either Bernie Sanders or his supporters are going to launch a civil war – something that should not need be said.

What I said was that the popular movement that is now coalescing around Bernie Sanders’ Presidential candidacy represents the only serious hope for real social change on the present horizon, and if that route to change is blocked, or does not bear fruit, then the country could be in real danger, due to its own unaddressed and growing internal tensions.

To repeat, I believe the tensions within the United States have reached such a high degree, that only three options present themselves.

One is revolution – and I am speaking here of the kind of revolution that Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. would launch or advocate: bold, passionate, determined, but strictly non-violent. That is the most intelligent option for the American people at present, I would say, given the circumstances, and given the fact that the corporate elite and the billionaire class of de facto oligarchs have taken over the political process, the government, the economy, most of the media, and the nation in general.

That is the response which I have been passionately urging for a long time now. But, unfortunately, I do not see evidence to believe that the American people are ready for it yet. So that option, at the present moment, appears to be closed. Things could change quickly, but for the time being, I do not think that revolution, at least in the near term, is something we should count on.

The second option is reform. And by reform, I do not mean pretty speeches that lead to no real change. Nor do I mean merely changing the window dressings. I mean real social change that comes about by political, economic and social reforms, such as bringing about serious election financing laws, invoking serious anti-trust legislation to break up the big banks and other corporate cartels and oligopolies, removing big money from politics, and returning power to the people, and thereby, at the same time, restoring some greater degree of equality and justice in the land.

There are many people, many movements, and many organizations working to accomplish such goals, but again, at present, the only serious hope for accomplishing such mild, moderate, but extremely important and urgently needed reforms in the short term, in any way that is at all commensurate with the scale of changes needed, is with the movement surrounding Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton is not going to do these things. That is perfectly clear, or at least it should be. Hillary is owned by Wall Street, to put it frankly and most bluntly. And nor do I see any other person or any other movement that at present has enough popular backing and popular power to have any hope, at least in the near term, of accomplishing these goals, other than the movement surrounding Bernie Sanders.

I do think the Green Party and also the Occupy movement, along with the co-op movement, the re-localization movement, and other popular movements for social change, show great promise; but they still do not have the necessary support of a wide enough or impassioned enough popular backing to create the necessary changes of the necessary magnitude – not yet. Maybe they will soon, and I hope they do, but at present, Bernie Sanders and the movement that is building around his leadership, is our best, and probably only hope, for real, substantial change in the short term.

The third option for the United States is to continue on its present course, without revolution, and without any serious reform, or any real change. That option will, I guarantee you, lead to disaster.

So yes, I stand by my premise and my prediction, which is, that if serious change does not occur very soon in the US, either by revolution or by reform – and Bernie Sanders’ campaign and the popular movement surrounding it, being the only real hope for serious reform at present – then the US faces a very real and growing risk of descending, or even exploding, into civil war.

*

Sometimes uncomfortable truths must be spoken. Sometimes controversial statements must be made. In 2001, it was controversial to say that invading, bombing or otherwise attacking Afghanistan or Iraq, would be morally unconscionable, a violation of international law, a war crime, and furthermore, a disaster. But these were the facts of the matter, and they had to be said, whether or not the speaking of the truth made a great many people uncomfortable. And of course, it turned out that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were all of these things, and they were a disaster in moral, fiscal and human terms.

When Henry David Thoreau wrote his landmark essay, On Civil Disobedience, in the 1830’s, it was controversial to say that slavery was an abomination, and one which must be abolished. But these controversial statements, of course, had to be made, whether they were viewed by some as controversial or not.

And and ever since that short, great essay of truly monumental import and significance, and still to this day, it has been and continues to be controversial to say that there are times when the law must be broken and civil disobedience becomes a moral obligation, because both the law as well as the norm, are in not only in the wrong, but further, it is unconscionable to obey them. And yet, it is vitally necessary that we speak such controversial thoughts, and demand that laws and norms which are unethical in the extreme be disobeyed, and civil disobedience be undertaken as a matter of moral principle.

During the Suffragette Movement, it was controversial to say that women deserved the right to vote. But it had to be said, and today most people would agree that it had to be said, and said with passion, until the message was heard and acted upon.

During the Civil Rights Movement, especially at the early stages of it, it was controversial to say that racial segregation was morally repugnant, as well as socially divisive and destabilizing, and therefore had to be overturned and abolished. But these things had to be said in any case – even if they were controversial, and even if there was a violent backlash against such statements of simple truth.

From the birth of the environmental movement, in the 1950’s and ’60’s, until the present, and especially in the early stages of the movement, it was controversial, and to many people it remains controversial, to say that human beings are affecting the earth, and all life on it, in disastrous as well as highly unethical ways. And yet, these truths needed to be spoken, and still need to be spoken today, be they controversial or not.

The movement to end racial discrimination and racially-based police violence – a movement which has long and deep roots, but which is now coming to a greater prominence – has extremely important things to say, but much of what it has to say is viewed as controversial by many people. And yet, these things must simply be said, whether or not they make some people uncomfortable.

And in the present moment, the same is true with regards to my warning that the US is in serious danger of descending into civil war. It makes people uncomfortable to say such things. It is controversial, perhaps, to some minds at least, to say such things. But it is an uncomfortable truth which must be spoken nevertheless.

Believe me, a warning is much less discomforting than a full-scale disaster – and that is what we are facing, hurtling towards us at 100 miles an hour, if we do not make major changes, and now.

“… an open society may also be threatened. … from excessive individualism.

Too much competition and too little cooperation can cause intolerable inequities and instability. …

The present situation is comparable to that at the turn of the past century. …Yet the free-market regime that prevailed a hundred years ago was destroyed by the First World War. …

How much more likely the present regime is to break down unless we learn from experience!”

– Toward a Global Open Society, by George Soros

Atlantic Monthly, January 1998

As the Dalai Lama said, “If the poor become too envious and too frustrated, the frustration turns into anger, and that anger turns into violence.” Again, this should be obvious to all. We are headed for disaster if we do not address the rising levels of poverty and inequality in our society, and in the world more broadly, and very, very soon. These are the simple facts of the matter, whether we like it or not.

*

I like what my favourite monk had to say about writing, and it is relevant here.

“If you’re afraid of writing something that might offend someone,

why write anything at all?”

– Thomas Merton

And by the way, simply because someone says something that is controversial, does not mean they are “trolling” for a fight. They may be simply saying something that is controversial, but which needs to be said.

I despise bickering, quarrelling, rancour, and especially, thoughtless divisiveness – which the popular internet expression, “troll” represents: a term that is often justly used, but at other times, frequently thrown about in a thoughtless or reactionary manner, in which case it has the effect, either intended or unintended, of deterring and thwarting any serious discussion, or expression controversial statements or views diverge from the standard media-driven narrative.

It was not “trolling” for a fight to simply speak my mind, but merely a moral obligation, to me, in the face of such extreme injustice, human suffering, and great dangers facing the people. Smarmy and smug, sardonic comments are not helpful to our discussion, nor to the people of the United States or the world. Hurling accusations of “troll”, at least in this case, simply shows that the attacker has no intelligent argument to bring to bear, but must instead resort to hurling insults. Let us try to rise above that.

If we want to look at controversial statements that could be labelled as “trolling” – and mislabelled as trolling, since they were simply sincere statements, representing an attempt to spark thoughtful reflection and discussion, here are a few by some truly great Americans which we would do well to consider. Compared to these statements, the statements I made in the above essay were very mild indeed.

“The First Law of Journalism: to confirm existing prejudice, rather than contradict it.”

– Alexander Cockburn

“I sometimes despair of getting anything accomplished by the help of my fellow men. Their minds would first have to be placed in a kind of powerful vice, to squeeze their old ideas out of them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“If the Nuremberg laws were applied today, every US president since WWII would be hanged.”

– Noam Chomsky

“Today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that

takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government

owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.”

– Teddy Roosevelt

“I hope we shall crush the new moneyed aristocracy in its infancy, for it already bids defiance to our laws, and bids a contest of strength with our democratic government.”

– Thomas Jefferson, 1812 (Note that he said this in 1812!)

Let us try to keep things in perspective. Not everything can be sugar coated, dumbed down, skirted or perennially avoided. Sometimes we have to speak the frank and honest truth, even if it is painful to hear, or to say.

Nor do I find my predictions for, or analysis of, the United States, to be hyperbole of any sort. I think it is quite shocking – or it would be shocking, if I did not know that many people are deeply steeped in denial – that the statements I made would shock anyone. Have a great number of people been living under a rock for the past three decades? Apparently so. The United States is not what it used to be, and it is in great danger – from its own internal divisions, above all, as well as from the corporate elite who are rapidly devouring it, along with the world, the middle class and the poor.

If stating obvious truths, or simply making controversial statements, makes some people uncomfortable, and perhaps very upset, I am willing to live with that. That goes with the territory.

But if stating obvious truths, or even simply making controversial statements, gets me banned from Daily Kos, then this journal, this forum, has some serious problems with freedom of speech and openness to diverse and thoughtful discussion – and that is quite dismal.

I suspect that the problem here, with regard to Daily Kos banning me on my first day as a member – maybe a new record – was simple partisan politics: Daily Kos is by an large a dyed in the wool and staunch supporter of the Democratic Party establishment, from what I can see, although there is some dissent within the broader forum. Hillary is the anointed candidate of the Democratic Party establishment. Any serious challenge to the Democratic Party’s chosen candidate by more genuinely democratic political movements or voices, are frowned upon, at the least, and possibly even banished from Daily Kos, as has apparently happened before. But that is beside the point. The editorial actions of Daily Kos remain a gross violation of the principles of free speech and free and open debate, and as such, are repugnant, no matter what the motivation or rationalization may have been.

In fact, if the editors at Daily Kos are going to ban me from this forum, which they did, and they have yet to rescind or reverse their decision, then not only do they have serious failings with regards to free and open discussion, and basic freedom of speech, but they do not qualify for the term “progressive”, much less the high and vaulted self-annointment of presenting themselves as the leading voice of progressive America.

But we are facing much bigger and far more important issues than the editorial policies or current state of Daily Kos, of course.

*

During the Great Depression, FDR, who I believe was a man of conscience, came to realize that there was not only a moral crisis facing the United States, but also a social and political crisis. It was realized then by the ruling elite, that tensions were high, and if serious changes were not made to address the people’s legitimate concerns, then there was a serious risk of revolution.

The political elite, and at least a portion of the business elite, knew that concessions had to be made. Smedley Butler had blown the lid off of The Business Plot, so the corporate-led fascist coup which was planned, and which Congress documented after General Butler’s testimony, seemed to no longer be an option, at least for the moment; and so, concessions were viewed as necessary and unavoidable.

(See my essay, Smedley Butler and the Business Plot, on WordPress.)

That was the beginning of The New Deal, and the beginning of major programs and initiatives to address poverty and inequality in America. And today, once again – after four decades of rising corporate powers, not only effectively having taken over the political process, government, finance and the economy, but also, rolling back many of the gains that had been made by the people over the past several decades and more – poverty is high and growing, inequality is higher than at any time in history, tensions are high, and if serious political, economic and social change is not made soon, the results are very likely to be a conflagration of one kind or another.

Again, I think these things should, by now, to obvious to just about everyone. The Occupy Wall Street movement was just the beginning. Real change is coming, and as John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

And that is not a threat. It is a prediction, and it is a virtual certainty – if we fail to make the needed changes in time. Neither JFK nor myself were making a threat: it was simply an observation of the obvious facts, and a very sound and reasonable prediction based on the facts.

I have written about these things before, and extensively, and my writing and analysis is based upon thirty years of intensive research, study and reflection. (And I will freely mention my other writing here, and quite legitimately, because it is relevant to the subject at hand, above all; and because it has merit, because it should be widely read, and because I do not have a PR or marketing firm working on my behalf, or even an agent, and so, must, by necessity, promote my work myself, if it is to have the kind of positive impact I hope for it, or any impact at all.) My recent essay, Pre-Revolutionary France and America:1785 and Now; and my recent book, Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium, cover the subject in greater depth.

Remember also, that I predicted the economic crash of 2008, at a time when virtually everyone was saying that things are just rosy, and would remain so for the foreseeable future. There is good reason, therefore, to take these present predictions as to the current dangers facing the United States, quite seriously, and with all due thoughtfulness.

We should note also, that people as diverse as billionaire financier George Soros, who single-handedly brought the British Pound to its knees, before finishing his breakfast one fine morning; along with South African tycoon Johann Rupert, the fifth richest man in Africa; and multi-billionaire Nick Hanauer, who recently penned an open letter addressed, “To My Fellow Zillionaires”, warning, The Pitchforks ARE Coming…For Us Plutocrats; to David Sirota, the progressive democrat, veteran journalist and activist, and author of the book, The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington; to Jacques Attali, leading intellectual in residence to the French elite, and author of the book, Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World Order, among many others, have all warned essentially of the same thing: a great confrontation and great turmoil is brewing in America, if not also the world, and it is plain to see for anyone who cares to look. To me it has been so plainly obvious for so long, that, again, it is almost shocking that some still cannot see it. The writing is clearly on the wall.

Peaceful change through political, economic and social reforms is urgently needed, and world-wide, or we will face a crisis of truly terrible proportions – and the US is in the lead in terms of rushing headlong into disaster, if these changes are not made quickly, and now. This should be so plain as to go without saying. It is a testimony to the fact that large segments of the population remain asleep, or stubbornly and foolishly in denial, that such things need to be stated at all.

Let’s hope serious positive change comes to the United States, or rather, is actively brought about in the United States, and soon, is all I can say. People can take these warnings, and heed them, or brush them aside. But if they choose to ignore them, I assure you, it will be at their peril.

*

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, at another time of rising crisis, “We must face the fierce urgency of now…..There is such a thing as being too late.”

Two hundred years ago, the business elite backed the democratic revolutions of France and America, because they rightly saw it as a means to break the back of the ruling monarchy and aristocracy. But ever since, they have been, at best, ambivalent about democracy, and have sought an undeclared oligarchy, with themselves as the new ruling god-kings, pharaohs or tsars. (Chomsky documents this very well, in what is perhaps his most important book, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control In Democratic Societies – a book should be considered essential reading for every informed person.)

And today, after two hundred years of exponentially rising powers, the business elite is not only the principle obstacle to real and authentic democracy, and rule of the people, by the people, for the people; but they are, in fact, engaged in an aggressive and determined war against democracy, as with the people and the earth.

The business elite, who are now firmly in control, both in the United States and in most nations around the world, foolishly believe that they can have a grand global showdown against the people, and win. I would remind them that any such foolish notions and foolish responses to a very real and growing social crisis, will not end in peace, and nor will they end quickly. Such an attitude will result only in a long and protracted state of civil war, in which the toll on all sides is truly horrific, and devastating.

The stubborn, and quite foolishly smug refusal among the business and political elite to embrace change, must be overcome. And even more importantly, the excessive docility and obedience of the majority of the people, and their continued insistence on voting for the candidates of the business elite, such as Hillary Clinton, must be overcome.

I realize that there are some very thoughtful critics of Bernie Sanders’ policy platform, and I also realize that his proposed policy changes are not thorough enough or radical enough for some people. But I will say again, that Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy, and more essentially, the popular movement for social change that is coalescing around it, is the best hope we have for real, substantive change at this time. And at least at this time, I think it is probably true: we have a choice between a Sanders’ presidency, or civil war for America.

Let the voters decide. But let us realize, the hour is very late, and change is needed urgently, and now.

In hope and in peace,

J. Todd Ring

February 10, 2016

 

Further reading:

“The pitchforks ARE coming” – A billionaire warns his fellow Oligarchs what is coming down the pipe

By MinistryOfTruth – Daily Kos, Friday Jun 27, 2014

“The pitchforks are coming . . . for us Plutocrats” – Nick Hanauer, Politico Magazine, 6/26/2014

Luxury Goods CEO Billionaire Warns Of Imminent Violent Uprising Of The Poor

By Joe Clark, July 15, 2015, Liberal America

http://www.liberalamerica.org/2015/07/15/billionaire-ceo-warns-of-imminent-violent-uprising-of-the-poor/

Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World – August 20, 1991
by Jacques Attali

http://www.amazon.com/Millennium-Winners-Losers-Coming-World/dp/0812919130/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455111111&sr=1-2&keywords=Jacques+Attali+millennium

 

The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington,

by David Sirota, 2008

http://www.amazon.com/The-Uprising-Unauthorized-Populist-Washington/dp/B006Z39Q4W

 

Six Responses To Bernie Sanders Sceptics – An excellent, short, three minute video by Robert Reich

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/02/08/6-responses-to-bernie-sanders-skeptics/

 

Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think,

Scientific American,

By Nicholas Fitz, March 31, 2015

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/economic-inequality-it-s-far-worse-than-you-think/

 

Davos’ Blind Eye: How the Rich Eat the Poor and the World

https://canadiandimension.com/articles/view/the-davos-blind-eye-how-the-rich-eat-the-poor-and-the-world

 

 

 

CBS South Carolina Poll: 100% of 18-29 year-olds think Bernie is honest and trustworthy,

Daily Kos, February 14, 2016

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/2/14/1485191/-CBS-South-Carolina-poll-100-of-18-29-year-olds-think-Bernie-is-honest-and-trustworthy-Nice

 

Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium: Volume One: Introductory Essays in Political-Economy, Social Analysis & The State of the World

By J. Todd Ring

http://www.amazon.com/Enlightened-Democracy-Millennium-Introductory-Political-Economy/dp/1481074776/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455111715&sr=1-1&keywords=ring+enlightened+democracy

“The News” – Jefferson, Chomsky, propaganda, and alternatives

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 26, 2016 by jtoddring
As I keep saying, stop watching, reading or listening to “the news.” It is misinformation, disinformation, propaganda, distortion, lies and illusions, mass distraction and mass manipulation – psychological warfare, to put it in the terms of the “intelligence” community – mixed together with a healthy dose of sheer trivia, sensationalism and fluff ( also largely a form of psychological warfare).
Thomas Jefferson was right, “He who does not read the newspapers is better off than he who reads them, because it is better to know nothing, than to have your mind filled with lies, half-truths and illusions.”
Chomsky also summarized it perfectly well. The mass media acts as a propaganda system, working on behalf of the ruling elite, by a great number of well-trained, deeply indoctrinated, self-censoring individuals along with simple liars, creating “necessary illusions” and “manufacturing consent” so that the business elite who rule the society can keep the masses controlled, alienated, divided, demoralized and distracted, while they rob and pillage the nation and the world.
If you want to know what’s going on, go to the library, and read a book. If that doesn’t seem enough, which it is, and more than enough, if the books are well-chosen, then go to CounterPunch, Global Research (Centre for Research on Globalization), the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Trends Research Institute or Gerald Celente. Unlike the vast majority of media outlets, journalists and commentators (including most of the so-called “alternative”, “progressive”, and “independent” ones), they don’t lie and they don’t have their heads up their asses. They will tell you what’s really going on. With only a rare few exceptions, virtually all of the rest are pure drivel at best.
JTR,
January 26, 2016
See:
Necessary Illusions – Chomsky
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Mass Media
and my own recently released work:
Enlightened Democracy: Visions For A New Millennium – on Amazon now.

 

Bernie Sanders: The backlash is on – surprise, surprise!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2016 by jtoddring

Bernie Sanders was effectively silenced and blacked out of the media, by and large, for a long time, until he became too popular and too prominent to ignore. Now, the only candidate who is not a Wall Street hireling, hack or shill, the only candidate who is willing to take on the central problem of our society, which is its take-over by big business, has become prominent and powerful enough that the business elite and their loyal prostitutes in politics and the media are gunning for him. And of course, many among the bleating herd – including many seemingly intelligent commentators, pundits and members of the public – will simply believe anything they are told, and will trot along in obeisance to the growing propaganda/disinformation campaign that is being mounted against the only true progressive – or democrat, for that matter – in the US presidential race. But, fortunately, too many people have retained or recently rediscovered the lost art of thinking for oneself. Bernie will not be easy to defeat. In fact, he just might win.

Go Bernie.

J. Todd Ring,
January 26, 2016

CNN lies, distorts, while its own polls tell the truth: Bernie won the debate

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2015 by jtoddring

CNN’s own polls show Bernie Sanders won the Democratic presidential debate last night, Tuesday, October 13, 2015, hands down. When CNN polled, and asked “Who won the debate?” 83% of people said Bernie Sanders. 83%. Yet, CNN headlines are splashing the big, bold message, Hillary wins debate by landslide. Can the media be any more Orwellian – and blatant about it? Better said, and more to the point, can they be any more disgusting?

Not only is CNN completely distorting, misrepresenting, and flatly lying about the public response to the debate, proclaiming, utterly deceitfully, that Hillary won – when their own polls show the opposite is undeniably true; but they are shamelessly and blatantly slathering support on Hillary, in an open demonstration of extreme bias. The corporate spin in favor of the (Democratic) candidate for corporate America could not be more stark, or more brazenly obvious.

This is why, by the way, CNN has been hemorrhaging viewers, along with the rest of the corporate media – because more and more people see through the propaganda, spin and distortion, and are sick of it.

By the way, C-SPAN also reports that its own polls indicate Bernie won the debate by a landslide.

So it is clear: Bernie has a tremendous and rapidly growing support from the people – far more so than Hillary, who is widely viewed with suspicion, and deep skepticism, and as a Wall Street hack – which, of course, she is; but the corporate media, surprise surprise, don’t support the populist candidate who has declared a war on Wall Street, and the billionaire class who have taken over the political process (as well as 90% of the US media). The network media supports the candidate most favored by big business and corporate America, the candidate who is awash in corporate political “donations”, Hillary Clinton.

None of this should be surprising, but the popular support which is confirmed, and unequivocally confirmed by the public response to last nights debate, for Bernie Sanders, is heartening, and hopeful; while the pathetic display of manipulation, spin, and sheer corruption of the media, is dismal indeed, and in fact, deeply sickening.

The Republican candidates are fringe candidates, frankly, and it is hard to deny – they are lunatics from the extreme right wing of (corporate-driven) American politics. And they have only a slim support among the people. On the Democratic side, three of the candidates have now destroyed their chances of winning after last night’s debate, leaving only Hillary and Bernie, effectively, in the running.

83% of Americans feel strongly about the need to get big money out of politics. It is the single hottest issue in the country. And that includes an overwhelming majority of both Republicans and Democrats who feel this way. Bernie’s central message, and his central campaign platform, is to reign in Wall Street, break up the “too big to fail” banks, which the great majority of the American peole also support, and get big money out of politics. So Bernie is resonating with the American people in a deep and broad, powerful way – and with people from across the political spectrum, including liberals, conservatives and progressives. Meanwhile, Hillary is widely viewed as just another politician: a poser, a mouth piece, a shill, a PR machine with a hair-do – not all that dissimilar to Donald Trump (another hawkish war-monger and cheerleader for the agenda of corporate America the billionaire class), but more polished, and with a better hair stylist and PR handlers.

“We have seen a rapid movement in this country toward oligarchy, toward a government owned and controlled by a handful of extremely wealthy families. We need public funding of elections [as Norway has, for example], which will enable any candidate to run for office without being beholden to powerful special interests.” – Bernie Sanders

Hillary has picked up a good deal of Bernie’s talking points, and is now trying to paint herself as a progressive, but the polls show that people remain sceptical about her – and rightly so. Hillary is awash in corporate money. Any talk she makes about getting big money out of politics would be supremely hypocritical and hollow, and everyone knows it. As the Christian Science Monitor said, prior to the debate, all the candidates have something to prove. Hillary had to prove she has integrity and honesty, Bernie, that he is electable. Well, the polls showed clearly, after the debate, that Bernie is definitely electable, with 83% of CNN poll respondants saying Bernie won the debate. Hillary, on the other hand, blurted out in the midst of the debate, “I represented Wall Street”. Her credibility and integrity in the eyes of the people remain shaky at best, and more likely dwindling.

As I say, Bernie’s message of getting big money out of politics is resonating with the people across the nation, while Hillary’s trustworthiness is seen as questionable at best. This is why Bernie’s support has soared, from him being virtually unknown across the US just six months ago, to leading Hillary in key primary state polls of Iowa and New Hampshire, to clearly winning the Democratic debate by a landslide, according to CNN and C-SPAN polls, while Hillary loses ground the more she opens her mouth, and the more the people get to know who Bernie Sanders is.

The tide is turning. I would say, in fact, that it has already turned. The first true populist President of the United States in a very long time, the first true President for the people, and not for Wall Street and the super-rich, in a very long time, is about to arrive. His name is Bernie Sanders.

Go Bernie. The groundswell of popular support will not be stopped, no matter how hard the corporate media tries to kill it.

J. Todd Ring,
October 14, 2015

Update, October 22, 2015: CNN has now deleted its own poll from its website

Who actually won last night’s debate? It’s difficult to tell because for every poll you see showing Bernie had a massive win, you have a headline on a newspapers saying Hillary won.

Did Media Declaring Hillary Won Debate Influence Polls?

What Bernie Sanders ‘Won’ in the Debate:

The news media consensus is that Clinton came out on top. Here’s why she didn’t.

My top 6 sources for reliable news and analysis

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 16, 2014 by jtoddring

Here are my top six sources for reliable news and analysis at present. Any one of them puts the mainstream media completely and utterly to shame.

If you want to know what is really going on – and with the war drums sounding, the war on democracy, civil liberties and freedom escalating, and with the planet, as well as the 99.99% of the people on earth who are not among the ruling corporate and financial elite, now under attack, you most definitely should – then have a look at these sources.

Gerald Celente – Trends Research

Max Keiser – The Keiser Report

Chris Hedges – Truthdig

Noam Chomsky – Z Magazine, Z Net

Michel Chossudovsky – Global Research.ca

Paul Craig Roberts – CounterPunch

It should be noted here that Gerald Celente, Max Keiser and Paul Craig Roberts are all respected by conservatives, liberals and progressives alike – and that is a tremendous strength, in addition to their great, and unfortunately rare level of integrity, lucidity, honesty and courage.

(Paul Craig Roberts was not only an editor at the Wall Street Journal, but also Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury under Reagan.)

Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky and Michel Chossudovsky may be viewed by some on the right side of the political spectrum as lefties who can’t be trusted – even though their credentials are impeccable, and their character and intelligence of the highest levels – but the former three, Gerald Celente, Max Keiser and Paul Craig Roberts, cannot be so easily dismissed: even by frothy-mouthed and blinkered, jingo-addled partisan ideologues. The fact that their appeal cuts across the political spectrum and they are widely respected by the saner and more alert elements among both the grassroots right and left of the populace, is of extreme importance.

We must unite the people now, or we are lost. The battle is no longer between left and right, but between the ruling corporate oligarchs and the other 99.99% of the world’s population. This is critical for us to understand now.

Remember, in closing, I must say, and remind us all: even the best sources can go astray, be co-opted, or simply make mistakes – always think for yourself, do your own research, and double-check everything of any major significance.

Be well, and enjoy the digging. There are a lot of horrifying things happening in the world, but there are tremendously positive trends and greatly hopeful, inspiring signs of positive social change as well.

Life, as well as the world, is what we make of it. Be informed, join with others, and take action – now.

JTR,
April 16, 2014

 

What is happening in Venezuela? It’s certainly not what the mainstream media is telling you

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2014 by jtoddring

“Much of the reporting by the mass media gives the impression that Venezuela faces a national rebellion. The reality, says Miguel Tinker Salas, is that the protests have been restricted to mostly middle and upper middle class neighborhoods, not entire cities.”
  – Truthout, What is happening in Venezuela?
(Many, many thanks, to the honest journalism presented here, in this article, and in general at Truthout.)

Yes, as with the situation in Ukraine – and as is the usual norm, the truly pathological and dysfunctional norm under the rule of Western plutocracy and the corporate state – the people are being systematically lied to with regards to recent events in Venezuela.

What is happening in Venezuela? The left has won 18 out of the past 19 democratic elections, and the right wing, which used to rule the country, before Chavez changed all that – the right wing which is supported almost exclusively by the minority who are rich or middle class – is furious. That is what is happening in Venezuela.

“There is no evidence that broad sectors of society, especially the urban poor who provide the most support to the government, have joined the protests initiated by middle and upper class sectors. This division led one Colombian commentator to state, “Venezuela is an odd country, the only place were the rich protest and the poor celebrate.” It is doubtful the opposition can sustain the present level of protests. By seeking Maduro’s ouster through undemocratic means and without majority support, the opposition has once again entered a “callejon sin salida,” a political dead end…. The opposition will find it difficult to save face after this round of protests and many question their commitment to democratic principles and their ability to unite all of Venezuela.  Having radicalized their base, they now face the daunting task of demobilizing their followers if they are to salvage any credibility in future elections.”
   – Miguel Tinker Salas, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Truthout, March 6

Reading the mainstream media, you are given the impression, as you are meant to, that there is a national rebellion going on that has broad popular support. It doesn’t.

Municipal elections we recently held across the country, and the left won 70% of the vote, confirming that the democratic socialist government of Venezuela has broad and deep support among the people – as it has since Chavez took power through free and fair elections.

The same thing happened between 2002-2004, when the right wing staged a coup, and when that failed, staged “popular” protests, trying to destabilize the government and force a crisis of ungovernability, in order to overthrow the democratically elected government.

But Washington and the big corporations, including the corporations which control 90% of US media, despise both socialism and democracy, and especially when they are combined – and worst of all, when they prove it to be an illusion and a lie that socialism and democracy are not compatible, or even that democratic socialism must be a tyranny of the majority, as the right wing often likes to sloganeer about.

Venezuelan democracy is more populist, more grass-roots-based and more constitutionally based, not to mention far more free and fair and robust, than US politics have ever been, even before Wall Street consolidated its hold over the US “democratic” process. If we want to point to an anti-democratic tyranny, we don’t have to look very far. It is right here, in North American society, where the business elite rule, and democracy be damned.

Chavez re-drafted the Venezuelan constitution – not to give himself more power, but to write into the constitution, the right of the people to hold a presidential re-call vote, and to remove him or any other president from power. What dictator re-writes the constitution so that he can be removed from power by the people at any time? More to the point, which of our “democratic” and “freedom-loving” political elites – or prostitutes to the super-rich and the corporatocracy, I should say, to be more accurate – would even tolerate, let alone initiate, re-drafting the constitution to allow them to be removed from power at any time? Very, very few. In sum, Venezuela has been made, not only more prosperous, not only more equal, but also more free and more democratic under Chavez and his democratically elected successor, Nicolás Maduro.

Arguably, Venezuela is more democratic than the United States, which by every single measure, is run by and for Wall Street and the plutocratic, rabidly anti-democratic, quite literally fascist corporate elite. Washington should hang its head in shame, and bow low before the positive actions and the courage being demonstrated by the Veneuelan people and their elected government.

The rich, the right wing, Washington and the global corporate giants – and especially the oil giants, who do not like having to pay higher royalties to the Venezuelan people now, for the privilege of extracting the black gold from the country – are livid. But the people of Venezuela, aside from a rabidly anti-democratic and frequently violent, rich minority, support the democratic socialist government.

With Iraq, the US invaded – for the sake of the oil. In Ukraine, the US just staged a successful coup, as former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has made clear, and as Illinois professor of international law, Francis Boyle, also corroborated – in part, to gain control of gas pipelines supplying energy to Europe. In Libya, Washington staged a coup using Al Queda forces as their hired thugs – for oil. In Venezuela, Washington is backing the extreme right, in efforts to overthrow the democratically-elected government. So far, the people of Venezuela have held strong against such anti-democratic attempts to overthrow their widely supported and much-loved, elected government. I pray they will continue to succeed, and I believe they will. With the strength and solidarity of MERCOSUR, the powerful and fast-rising Latin American trade block, and with solidarity from people around the world, they will continue to win, I hope, I pray, and I do believe.

That is what is happening in Venezuela.

That, and the steady reduction of poverty and a fairer sharing of the wealth that comes from the country’s massive oil reserves (which are among the largest in the world), among other economic sectors as inequality shrinks, and constitutional, populist democracy is enshrined.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Canada and Europe, poverty and inequality are rising fast, while freedom, civil liberties and democracy are under attack. And who is pointing the finger at whom?

Really now. The hypocrisy of the Western, or rather, the North-Western media of North America and Europe, along with that of the political and business elite, would be shocking, if it were not so routine to have become banal. But it is certainly sickening and nauseating, nevertheless.

 

An aside: Routine media distortions, illusions and lies

I just read – or read as much as I could stomach – the CBC’s “in-depth analysis” of the situation in Ukraine. It was titled, “Ukraine in crisis: key facts, major developments.” Well, they failed to report any of the truly central facts, and they completely misrepresented and distorted all of the major actual facts and the truth of what is happening. So much for honest journalism in Canada. For the real key facts on the situation in Ukraine, see the article I wrote yesterday: http://jtoddring.com/2014/03/06/ukraine-cia-coup-geopolitical-analysis-and-wwiii/  – Ukraine: CIA coup, geopolitical analysis, and WWIII.

(CBC is Canada’s most-watched television news network, a state-run corporation that is widely, and very confusedly believed to be liberal to centre-left, neutral, objective, free and fair – as it presents itself. Some “necessary illusions” die hard. The CBC may compare favourably to, say Fox News, MSNBC or CNN, but that is a pretty low bar to surpass – you really have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to do worse than them.)

CBC, in terms of international news, you are a complete write-off, I am sorry to say. As Thomas Jefferson said, “I look upon my fellow countrymen with commiseration when they believe that by reading the papers they have learned something about the world. Those who never read the newspapers are better off than those who do, for it is better to know nothing, than to have one’s head filled with lies, half-truths and illusions.”

Better to shut off the mainstream corporate and state-run media altogether. What a wasteland of lies, distortions, falsifications and misinformation. Shut it off. Turn off the morphine drip. The mainstream media, the corporate and state-run media, have become the opiate of the people. Pull the plug.

For the real story, turn to Truthout, the Centre For Research On Gloobalization, Gerald Celente of Trends Research, Z Magazine, Democracy Now! and The Real News Network, or other carefully chosen independent media. Many people are already fed up with the mainstream media, and all the figures show it: the major media are losing their audience in droves. For the rest of the population, who still tune into the old guard media, I would suggests the alternatives mentioned above – here, real journalism lives, and the truth can be told, and spoken freely.

The world needs our help. If we are not informed, then it will be difficult for us to help anyone, or even to help ourselves. Stay informed, and get the real news. Change the channel, if you haven’t already.

J. Todd Ring, March 7, 2014