Friday, August 28, 2015

New Orleans: It Wasn't a Natural Disaster, It Was Homicide

New Orleans: I'm Not Celebrating

by Greg Palast

This week, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, The Palast Investigative Fund is offering my film, Big Easy to Big Empty: The Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans as a FREE 
  download.

 
 It wasn’t a natural disaster, it was a homicide.
 
 This is the story you’re not supposed to know. Get it, and pass on the link.

Screw the celebration. New Orleans hasn’t “come back.” That is, there are still the Bourbon Street bars serving “Hurricanes” to sloshed tourists and Mardi Gras when white Americans can catch trinkets from floats floating over the ghosts of the drowned.





New Orleans is back to 79% of its pre-flood population. Why am I not cheering? Because the original residents—that is, the majority of the pre-flood Black residents—are still wandering in America’s cruel economic desert.

And the pols of Louisiana love it. Louisiana had a Democratic governor. The purge of the voter rolls by flood has changed that forever.

Watch my film and meet Stephen Smith, who couldn’t swim, but floated on a mattress from rooftop to rooftop to save the lives of his neighbors. Smith brought them to a bridge over the rising waters. They waited for four days without food or water, as helicopters buzzed overhead. Undoubtedly, one was President Bush’s copter, heading to his self-congratulatory press conference.

Stephen saved a grandpa and his family. Almost. The grandfather gave his water bottle to his grandkids. Then the old man died of dehydration. Waiting.

Stephen returned to New Orleans, to kick around the rubble that was his home. He was bussed off to Texas—and now an immigrant has his job at the Marriott in the French Quarter. He was desperately trying to connect with his children, bussed to another state.

There are heroes in my film. In July 2005, Professor Ivor van Heerden of the Louisiana State University Hurricane center warned on British TV: “In one month, this city could be under water.” In one month, it was. For warning of the future – in fact, for calling the White House before the storm to warn them, van Heerden was fired.



He was fired because Chevron Corporation was deeply unhappy that Dr. Van Heerden fingered the culprit in the city’s drowning. It wasn’t Katrina, he explained, Katrina turned 35 miles east of the city. It was the oil industry—the killer drillers who, with greedy abandon, chopped and slashed away dozens of miles of Nature’s protective barrier of bayous which once kept the Gulf from entering the city.

And there’s Malik Rahim (pictured above), the African-American community leader, who seized and rebuilt housing over the objection of New Orleans’ landlords. He looked over the Lafitte Homes and other choice property that developers had long coveted. He told me, “They just wanted them poor niggers out of there.”

And they got what they wanted. New Orleans without the New Orleanians.

* * * * * * * * *

Download Big Easy to Big Empty for FREE, or get the DVD with extras including my interview with Amy Goodman.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller Billionaires & Ballot Bandits which includes a 48-page comic by Ted Rall, Palast's other bestsellers are The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Rise and Crimes of the Neo-Cons

The Case for Pragmatism

by Robert Parry - Consortium News


Crashing global stock markets – punctuated by the bracing 1,000-plus point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the start of Monday’s trading before a partial bounce-back – are a reminder about the interdependence of today’s world economy and a wake-up call to those who think that the neocon-driven ideology of endless chaos doesn’t carry a prohibitively high price.

President Barack Obama talks with Russian
President Vladimir Putin at the International
Convention Center in Beijing, China,
Nov. 11, 2014. (White House Photo: Pete Souza)

The hard truth is that there is a limit to the amount of neocon-induced trouble that the planet can absorb without major dislocations of the international economic system – and we may be testing that limit now. The problem is that America’s neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks continue to put their ideological priorities ahead of what’s good for the average person on earth.

In other words, it may make sense for some neocon think tank or a “human rights” NGO to demand interventions via “hard power” (military action) or “soft power” (economic sanctions, propaganda or other non-military means). After all, neocon think tanks raise money from self-interested sectors, such as the Military-Industrial Complex, and non-governmental organizations always have their hands out for donations from the U.S. government or friendly billionaires.

But the chaos that these neocons and liberal interventionists inflict on the world – often justified by claims about “democracy promotion” and “human rights” – typically ends up creating conditions of far greater horror than the meddling was meant to stop.

For instance, the Islamic State butchers and their former parent organization, Al Qaeda, are transforming Iraq and Syria into blood-soaked killing fields. But the neocons and liberal hawks still think the higher priority was and is to eliminate the relatively stable and prosperous dictatorships of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

There is always a fixation about getting rid of some designated “bad guy” even if the result is some “far-worse guys.” This has been a pattern repeated over and over again, from Libya to Sudan/South Sudan to Ukraine/Russia to Venezuela (just to name a few). In such cases, we see the neocons/liberal hawks release a flood of propaganda against some unpleasant target (Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi/Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir/Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych/Russia’s Vladimir Putin/Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez or Nicolas Maduro) followed by demands for “regime change” or at least punishing economic sanctions.

Anyone who tries to provide some balance to offset the propaganda is denounced as a “(fill-in-the-blank) apologist” and pushed out of the room of acceptable debate. Then, with no one in Official Washington left to challenge the “group think,” the only question is how extreme should the punishment be – direct military assault (as in Iraq, Libya and Syria), a political coup d’etat (as in Ukraine and almost in Venezuela) or economic sanctions (as in Russia and Sudan).

For many Americans trying to do international business, it can be confusing as to where the legal lines are, who is or who isn’t on some black list, what kinds of transactions are allowed or forbidden. I know of one counselor who helps people overcome stuttering who had to reject Skype lessons with a prospective patient in Iran because it wasn’t clear whether that might violate the draconian U.S. sanctions regime.

Spreading the Chaos


Arguably some narrowly focused sanctions against a particularly nefarious foreign leader might make sense. Even a limited military intervention might not upset the entire world’s economy. But the proliferation of these strategies has combined to destabilize not just the targeted regimes but nations far from the front lines and is now contributing to global economic chaos.

In tracing these patterns, you can go back in time to such misguided fiascos as the CIA’s huge covert operation in Afghanistan in the 1980s (which gave rise to the Taliban and Al Qaeda). However, for argument’s sake, let’s start with the neocon success in promoting President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003. Not only did that war divert more than $1 trillion in U.S. taxpayers’ money from productive uses into destructive ones, but it began a massive spread of chaos across the Middle East.

Add in President Barack Obama’s 2011 “humanitarian” interventions in Libya (via Western bombing operations to topple Muammar Gaddafi’s regime) and in Syria (via covert support for rebels and sanctions against President Assad’s government) – and you have two more Mad Max scenarios in two once relatively prosperous Arab states.

These human catastrophes have sent waves of refugees crashing into other Mideast countries and into Europe where the European Union was already stumbling economically, still trying to recover from Wall Street’s 2007-08 financial crisis. After tasting the bitter medicine of austerity for years, Europeans now find their fairly generous welfare systems stretched to the breaking point by refugees seeking asylum.

Having just returned from a visit to Europe, I was struck by the intensity of feelings about the refugee crisis. Some EU nations are throwing up anti-migrant barriers while everyone seems to be squabbling over who should foot the bill at a time when there are financial crises in Greece and other southern-tier countries, which coincidentally are bearing the brunt of the refugee problem.

Toss into this volatile mix of a Europe seemingly close to explosion the Obama administration’s “neocon/liberal interventionist” policies toward Ukraine, where neocon holdover Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland helped orchestrate a 2014 coup to remove democratically elected President Yanukovych after he was demonized in the U.S. mainstream media as corrupt.

Citing “democracy promotion” and “anti-corruption,” the Obama administration backed the creation of a coup regime that has relied on neo-Nazi and Islamist militias to serve as its tip of the spear against ethnic Russian Ukrainians who have resisted the ouster of Yanukovych. Thousands — mostly eastern Ukrainians — have died. Of course, all this was explained to the American people as a simple case of “Russian aggression.”

After the coup, when the ethnic Russians of Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, that became a “Russian invasion,” justifying harsh economic sanctions against Moscow, with the Obama administration strong-arming the Europeans to forgo their profitable trade relations with Russia to punish the Russian economy. But that also added to the pressure on the European economy.

As this madness has escalated, the neocons and their liberal-hawk pals now envision destabilizing the Putin government in nuclear-armed Russia. They don’t seem to recognize that the guy who might follow Putin may not be some obliging Boris Yeltsin but a hard-line ultranationalist ready to brandish the Kremlin’s nuclear arsenal in defense of Mother Russia.

Misguided Interventions


While these various U.S. “hard” and “soft” power interventions are justified by the principles of “human rights,” they often end up working against that goal. A discrete example is the case of Sudan and South Sudan, a crisis that traces back to the demands for a “humanitarian intervention” over Sudan’s alleged genocide in Darfur in 2003.

That horrible conflict was painted in stark black and white colors in the U.S. press, innocent good guys versus evil bad guys, but was actually much more nuanced than what was shown to the American people. The war was touched off by Darfur rebels, but the Sudanese army struck back brutally. The “human rights” community settled on Sudan’s President Bashir as the designated villain, who now faces an indictment in the International Criminal Court.

So, there was great sympathy for carving South Sudan away from Sudan in 2011 and making it an independent country (although oddly Darfur remained part of Sudan). But South Sudan, which possesses significant oil reserves, could sustain itself only if it could get its oil to market and the pipelines went north through Sudan.

And, since the United States and other countries were busy sanctioning Sudan for not turning over Bashir to the ICC, oil companies were unable to assist South Sudan in exploiting its valuable resource, which in turn caused hardship in South Sudan and contributed to a bloody civil war pitting one tribe against another. That led to, you guessed it, calls to sanction South Sudan.

The ongoing tragedy of Sudan/South Sudan is horrific enough, but it is only emblematic of the unintended consequences of rigid neocon/liberal interventionist ideology, which rejects negotiations with “bad guys,” insisting instead on “regime change” or endless punishment of entire populations through sanctions even when those “solutions” inflict more hardship and death.

But now these destructive strategies are going global. They are threatening the economic well-being of the entire planet – taking their place along with other misguided theories such as “free-market” absolutism and “austerity” in the face of recessions. The cumulative impact from these various follies has been to put the West’s Middle Class under severe pressure regarding income and purchasing power, which finally has slowed China’s growth and prompted a crash of its financial markets.

That, in turn, is reverberating back across the rest of the world’s stock markets, erasing trillions of dollars in wealth and further reducing the savings of the Middle Class. As this vicious cycle starts spinning, that could mean even less consumer spending and further economic retrenchment.

The prospects for a global recession, if not a full-scale depression, can no longer be ignored. And such economic hardship would only contribute to more death, devastation and destabilization.

Pragmatic Solutions


So what can be done? As dark as the gathering economic storm may be, one silver lining could be that Americans and other Westerners will finally begin pushing back against the powerful neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist fellow-travelers.

Perhaps, instead of President Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal being a one-off affair that may barely survive a determined neocon assault in the U.S. Congress, it could become a model for pragmatic approaches to other international crises. The core of this pragmatism would be that one doesn’t have to love or even like the leadership of another country to cooperate on global concerns, whether they are economic, geopolitical or environmental.

There also should be a recognition that no country has all the answers or a monopoly on morality. American self-righteousness is not only hypocritical – given the many flaws in the U.S. political system from the buying of our campaigns to our repeated violations of international law – but it is self-defeating, requiring the endless expenditure of blood and treasure to act as self-appointed global “policeman” whether the world wants it or not.

If pragmatism replaced exceptionalism as the focus of U.S. international relations, there would be some obvious moves that could reduce world tensions and alleviate some of the economic dislocations that are contributing to the deepening economic crisis.

For instance, instead of a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, what’s wrong with the eastern Ukrainians receiving more autonomy and the right to keep their Russian language? Why shouldn’t the people of Crimea have the right to break their political bonds with Kiev and renew them with Moscow? Why has President Obama bent to the neocon prescriptions of Assistant Secretary Nuland when a little give-and-take could make life better for Ukrainians, Russians and Europeans?

Similarly, why can’t the United States accept a compromise in Syria that includes power-sharing for whatever moderate Sunnis remain and accepts at least the temporary continuation of President Assad’s rule as part of a secular state protecting the lives and interests of Christians, Shiites, Alawites and other minorities? Why not a joint U.S.-Russian-Iranian effort to stabilize the war-torn country, block the expansion of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, and ease the refugee crisis in the Mideast and Europe?

Yes, I realize that geopolitical pragmatism is anathema to many power centers of Official Washington, particularly the influential neocons, their benefactors in the Israel Lobby and the Military-Industrial Complex, and the many self-interested NGOs of the “human rights” community which favor “humanitarian wars” and seem to care little if their purity leads to even more suffering.

But – as the world’s economy teeters and global markets tumble – the American people no longer have the luxury of intervening willy-nilly around the globe. International pragmatism, including working with adversaries, may be the only way to prevent the swelling geopolitical pressures from building into a devastating financial crash.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

An Enduring Hatred: Despising the Wronged

Anti-Social Media: Wealthy NY Wankers Bash the Poor

by Chris-Floyd - Empire Burlesque

As the old joke goes, “the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.” Or another variant: “America will never forgive blacks for slavery.”

Oppressors and abusers (and the beneficiaries of past abuses) often project their own guilt, self-loathing and dehumanization onto their victims, then hate them for being evidence – the living (or dead) proof – of the abusers’ moral rot. So it is with the rich and the poor, as a new story at Alternet demonstrates.

Tana Ganeva’s story focuses mainly on a Facebook page, “Third and 33rd (and Beyond),” put up by “residents of Murray Hill and Kips Bay, predominantly wealthy neighborhoods on the east side of midtown Manhattan, where buildings have doormen and British-sounding names like the Wiltshire, the Sycamore and Windsor Court.” These wealthy denizens seem to spend an inordinate amount of their incalculably valuable time prowling their neighborhoods looking for homeless people upon which to pour their digital vitriol. And, of course, bashing Mayor Bill de Blasio for actively encouraging such “dangerous scum” to pollute their classy surroundings and drive the city as a whole straight into the gutter.

I won’t excerpt the story here, but do give it a read. Especially the part where Ganeva goes in search of the “scum” being shamed not only by UCTs (Upper Class Twits) on social media but also by big-time blunderbusses like Fox News and the NY Post, and, shockingly, finds a collection of actual human beings instead.

The story is good, but unfortunately there is nothing new about the theme. Every time a Democrat is elected mayor of NYC, the city suddenly becomes a hellhole of crime and filth where the lower orders are turned loose by hateful liberals, who shackle the noble NYPD whenever it tries to impose order and protect the propertied.

And every time a Republican is elected, NY is suddenly transformed into a sleek, clean, efficient city where people know their place and cheerful cops keep the “bad people” in line. It doesn’t matter what the actual statistics are, what the actual realities might be: the same perceptual dynamic plays out over and over.

Then again, it’s ALWAYS been this way in NYC, pre-dating today’s Dem-Rep split. The wealthy NY elite and their servitors in the press and the business world have always railed about the “degeneration” of the city at the hands of one grubby, grasping minority or another. The Irish, the Italians, the Jews, the Hispanics – and of course, the African-Americans, who have been the eternal scapegoat of NYC’s ruling class since the days when those elites were buying and selling black people in the slave market on Wall Street – all have had their turn in the pillory.

But this story is a nice encapsulation of what our modern elites are thinking, and how much so many of them utterly despise all those who have been damaged, lost, hobbled or destroyed by our unjust and inhumane system – or by personal tragedy, psychic demons and the “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” Their pitilessness is breathtaking; and sick-making.

Blockading Lelu Island, Defending the Last of the Wilds

First Nations occupying Lelu Island, blocking early Petronas LNG work

by Damien Gillis - Common Sense Canadian

The battle over Malaysian energy giant Petronas’ controversial LNG terminal in the Skeena River Estuary is intensifying, as local Lax Kw’alaams First Nation members are setting up camp on Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert – the site of the proposed project.

A barge carrying equipment related to geotechnical work for Petronas’ proposed Lelu Island LNG plant (facebook)




“Basically we’re going to be occupying our traditional land, exercising our rights, harvesting whatever natural resources we have” says Joey Wesley, a member of the Lax Kw’alaams band.



A recently-launched facebook page spearheading the campaign has garnered over a thousand likes in just a few days.

Members of the Lax Kw’alaams recently rejected $1.15 Billion in promised economic benefits and a large parcel of crown land – offered in exchange for signing onto the project – over concerns of its potential impacts on wild salmon.

The occupation of Lelu Island, led by several hereditary chiefs, was sparked by recent sightings of a barge carrying equipment into the area for investigative work by Petronas’ contractors (pictured here).

“The work at Lelu Island investigating geotechnical conditions there is beginning imminently, and Pacific Northwest LNG has indicated that it will continue through to November,” confirms the Port Authority’s Michael Gurney – as reported by local CFTK TV.

“We are here to protect Flora Banks and Lelu Island from development from LNG company – namely Petronas,” states Hereditary Chief Sm’oogyet Yahan (Don Wesley Sr.) in the above video by Skeena Wild, as fellow community members work on constructing the camp. He notes that the Island has been used as a homestead by his people for over 10,000 years.

“The people of Lax Kw’alaams have unanimously voted ‘No’ against the project because of devastation it would cause to Flora Banks. It’s a habitat for juvenile migrating slamon, crabs, eulachon, halibut.”
 
“We have had people on Lelu Island doing looking for sites for test drilling…We are here and we’re telling the people of Canada and British Columbia that we’re not giving up Flora Banks.”

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon - working with many environmental organizations in BC and around the world. He is the co-founder, along with Rafe Mair, of The Common Sense Canadian, and a board member of both the BC Environmental Network and the Haig-Brown Institute.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Migrant Waves Rock EU's Foundation

Migrant Crisis Tests EU’s Foundations

by Finian Cunningham - SCF

The influx of migrants into the European Union could be dealt with humanely and practicably – if EU members worked together in solidarity. But the haphazard influx is inciting tensions between member states precisely because of the lack of EU solidarity. Germany – the biggest destination for refugees – is showing its exasperation with other states, which is in turn eroding the very foundations of the 28-member bloc.

The freedom of movement for European citizens between European Union member states is one of the foundational rights of the bloc since it declared itself a Single Market back in 1987. So, the latest warning from Germany that it may withdraw from treaty provisions that afford this right is a blow to the heart of the EU and its outward image of «unity».

Germany’s interior minister Thomas De Maiziere was speaking after latest figures show that his country was projected to receive a record 800,000 migrants seeking asylum this year. That is four times the number that Germany processed last year, according to Eurostat figures cited by the BBC.

«Germany's interior minister says he cannot rule out suspending participation in the agreement allowing passport-free travel between most European states», reported the BBC.

De Maiziere was referring to the Schengen Agreement which enshrines the right to unrestricted travel within much of the EU for its citizens.

He made a swipe at other EU members whom he inferred were passing the burden of migrant numbers on to Germany. He also called on Britain and other European countries to share the responsibility for accommodating the influx of migrants from outside the EU region.

«If nobody sticks to the law, then Schengen is in danger. That's why we urgently need European solutions», De Maiziere said.

The seamless travel arrangement known as the Schengen Agreement came into operation in 1995. Of the current 28 EU member states, 22 are signatories to the Schengen Treaty, which permits travel of citizens from one «Schengen country» to another without the requirement of border controls or presenting of passports.

Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and Greece, for example, are part of the system, as are Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Four countries that have free-trade association with the EU – Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland – are also in the Schengen Area, making 26 participating states in total.

EU members Britain and Ireland are not signatories to Schengen, while four other EU states – Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia – are being assessed for eventual participation in the arrangement.

Under the EU’s asylum application rules, the country where a migrant enters the bloc is obligated to process the asylum claim.

But, clearly, the surge in the European migration crisis over the past two years has placed an extraordinary burden on so-called frontline states like Italy and Greece. Numbers of migrants reaching the shores of those two countries have escalated to the point where local authorities say that they are overwhelmed and cannot cope with accommodating hundreds of thousands of would-be asylum seekers. Greece’s own economic collapse over its national debt crisis has exacerbated the problem for the Athens government.

Both Italy and Greece have warned the rest of the EU that if special financial assistance is not forthcoming from Brussels, or if other EU states do not step up to the plate to help with domiciling migrants, then they – the frontline states – would effectively loosen travel restrictions across their borders.

That means that migrants are able to board trains and buses in Italy and head north, while from Greece the refugees can cross into Macedonia, and from there into Serbia, Hungary and beyond.

Most migrants that arrive in Italy or Greece appear to view northern Europe as a better prospect. Germany and the Scandinavian countries are commonly invoked as favoured destinations, owing in part to the perception of strong economies and employment opportunities. Britain, too, appears to have a strong draw for migrants, probably because English language is more accessible for many of them, thus increasing their prospects of assimilation.

Last year, Italy was forced into cancelling its national maritime rescue program, Mare Nostrum, for the thousands of migrants who venture across the Mediterranean on rickety boats from Libya. That program was costing the Italian government about €120 million a year to run, but other EU members, Britain in particular, were reluctant to contribute to the facility, and so Rome was obliged to terminate it.

Meanwhile, Greece has been railroaded with draconian economic austerity policies by an increasingly high-handed Berlin.

On both scores, European «solidarity» – another one of the bloc’s supposed founding principles – has not been much in evidence, as far as Italy and Greece are concerned.

No wonder then that those two countries are less than meticulous when vetting migrants passing through their borders and on to their preferred destinations in northern Europe.

One could call it a form of natural justice. If southern EU countries are not being given adequate support for what is described as the worst migration crisis in Europe since the Second World War, then why should they scrupulously enforce rules over asylum applications?

The Schengen Agreement is strictly speaking a right only for European citizens. But the seamless travel arrangement between member states under Schengen makes it easier for non-EU nationals to likewise journey without interruption.

Germany appears to be bearing the brunt. Last year, according to Eurostat figures, Germany processed some 200,000 asylum applicants – which was by far the biggest in the whole EU. Second highest was Sweden, dealing with about 80,000 applicants. Next most accommodating was Italy, France and Hungary. Britain was ranked sixth, taking in about 35,000 asylum applicants – or only about 17 per cent of Germany’s intake.

The evident rancour now being felt by Germany is understandable, especially with regard to Britain, as De Maiziere alluded to.

United Nations’ figures show that most of the migrants coming into the European Union are from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, where war and violence are the main driving forces pushing refugees toward Europe. In all three cases, Britain, along with the United States, has turned those same countries upside down with illegal wars, both overt and covert.

Britain’s Conservative premier David Cameron is responsible too for ransacking Libya militarily with the NATO-assisted coup against Muammar Gadaffi at the end of 2011. France – another key member of the NATO regime-change operation in Libya – also bears culpability for the ongoing turmoil in that north African country which consequently transformed into a gateway for desperate migrants to Europe.

Yet when it comes to taking responsibility for the humanitarian repercussions of those wars – in the form of massive refugee flows to Europe – Britain has especially shown a supercilious»fortress mentality « in keeping migrants out of its territory, leaving it up to others like Germany to shoulder the burden.

Germany, however, is not blameless in the migrant conundrum. Berlin’s heavy-handed treatment of Greece over the Euro debt wrangle has fuelled deep enmity in Athens, where allowing passage of refugees to northern Europe can be seen as a response to EU-imposed financial woes.

The migration problem facing the EU is in a very real way a problem of its own making, or at least by certain members of the EU – Britain and France in particular, owing to their reckless and lawless military interventions in the Middle East and Africa.

But what it is adding to the EU’s strain in coping with the challenge posed by the surge in refugees into the bloc is the all-too apparent lack of solidarity between members, illustrated by the way Greece has been financially hung out to dry, while Italy’s appeals for help have been largely shunned.

The tensions being stoked between EU members is in turn rebounding to undermine core principles of the bloc. Germany’s questioning of a fundamental treaty on the free movement of people shows that the EU’s constitutional fabric is being eroded.

Angry street protests over the weekend in Dresden by extremist anti-immigrant groups, in which some 30 German police officers were injured in violent scuffles, will serve to heighten annoyance in Berlin that Germany is being left to carry the can by other EU member states, most notably Britain.

Interior minister De Maiziere’s pleading for «European solutions «betrays the contempt that Berlin is harbouring toward Britain and other EU members who are perceived as leaving Germany in the lurch to deal with the migrant problem.

Britain, not being a member of the Schengen Agreement, may argue that is has a legal defence to block the flow of refugees across it borders. But from a moral standpoint, Britain’s hard-nosed attitude seems indefensible.

The European Union has a combined population of over 500 million citizens. While the influx of non-EU migrants over the past two years is certainly a dramatic escalation in numbers, those numbers are minuscule compared with the total size of the bloc. Therefore a rational, fair distribution of asylum seekers across the EU would seem to be a practicable and humane solution.

But the thorny challenge is exposing nationalistic rivalries between EU members, making a European solution elusive. If the right to free movement is abandoned then that further exposes the shaky foundations of the EU.

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Matt Kasper, Ted Rall, Janine Bandcroft Aug. 26, 2015

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com


Last week, Stephen Harper fired another salvo in his long-running war against Canadian scientific research; this time binning the library at Alberta's Agriculture and Agri-Food Lethbridge Research Centre. This 16th governmental science library gutting under Harper follows a pattern set by US-based Think Tanks and industry associations. Those fellow-travellers have been busy down south attacking not only government science and scientists, primarily on climate heating, but more recently taking runs too at renewable energy policy.

According to the recently released report, 'Attacks on Renewable Energy Policy in 2015' by the Energy and Policy Institute, the largely fossil-fuel industry-funded attacks reflect a growing fear within the extractive sector about the booming renewable energy field's threat to its future.

Listen. Hear.

Matt Kasper is a fellow at the Energy and Policy Institute whose focus is on defending government policies that help develop clean energy alternatives to greenhouse gas emitting sources. He previously worked as Research Assistant with the Energy and Environment Policy Team at the Center for American Progress, served as a fellow for Organizing for America in Indiana, and spent time interning in the Connecticut state legislature. His research work has featured online at Climate Progress, Greentech Media, and the Huffington Post, among other places.

Matt Kasper in the first half.

And; went down to the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of history's most heinous act(s). Here's how the organizers explain the annual Lantern Lighting event: Hiroshima-Nagasaki memorial This year’s lantern ceremony marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan Thursday August 6th 7:30 pm Esquimalt Gorge Park 1070 Tillicum Road, south of Gorge Rd. Lantern making starts at 7:30 pm, with words and songs of peace at 8 pm, followed by floating the lanterns in the Gorge.

Remembering the bomb in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of what's good going on on our streets and beyond there too. But first, Matt Kasper and blunting the extractive industry's desperate attacks on Renewable Energy Policy.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca.  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/
G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Appalachia Requiem: King Coal is Gone (and he took the mountain with him)

Coal Dethroned: In Appalachia, the Coal Industry Is in Collapse, But the Mountains Aren’t Coming Back

by Laura Gottesdiener  - TomDispatch 


In Appalachia, explosions have leveled the mountain tops into perfect race tracks for Ryan Hensley’s all-terrain vehicle (ATV). At least, that’s how the 14-year-old sees the barren expanses of dirt that stretch for miles atop the hills surrounding his home in the former coal town of Whitesville, West Virginia.

“They’re going to blast that one next,” he says, pointing to a peak in the distance. He’s referring to a process known as “mountain-top removal,” in which coal companies use explosives to blast away hundreds of feet of rock in order to unearth underground seams of coal.

“And then it’ll be just blank space,” he adds. “Like the Taylor Swift song.”

Tomgram: Laura Gottesdiener, The King Is Dead!

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Let me start with a note of both sadness and pride. As you all know, a great civil rights leader, Julian Bond, died recently. I’ve just discovered that in one of his last speeches at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington in May, he took up the issue of protesting America’s wars, from Vietnam to the present, and in the process quoted from two TomDispatch pieces, Rory Fanning’s “Why Do We Keep Thanking the Troops?” and Christian Appy’s “‘Honor’ the Vietnam Veteran, Forget the War.” That was an honor indeed.

With Laura Gottesdiener’s latest trip to a fossil-fueled trouble spot in America (and Michael Klare’s first guest introduction), TomDispatch’s summer is over. While they say that there’s no rest for the weary, we are at least taking a brief break. Our next article will be published on Tuesday, September 8th, beginning what’s sure to be an action-packed fall. In the meantime, in these last leisure days of summer -- as for me, I’ll be editing the next Dispatch book, among other things -- take a gander at the various offerings at our donation page. Included among them, for instance, is Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa. It’s a book that’s strikingly ahead of events and on target when it comes to Washington’s next moves in its endless “war on terror.” Of it, Noam Chomsky writes: "Nick Turse’s investigative reporting has revealed a remarkable picture of evolving U.S. military operations in Africa that have been concealed from view, but have ominous portent, as he demonstrates vividly and in depth.” For a contribution of $100 (or more), Nick will personalize and sign his book for you, as by the way will both Rory Fanning and Christian Appy, whose books are also available on our donation page. I know I sound like a broken record, but your donations really do keep this website afloat! Have a good two weeks and let’s hope the same for our wobbly world. See you in September. Tom]

On August 5th, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey banded together with 15 other state attorneys general to demand that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suspend the implementation of new rules devised by the Obama administration to slow the pace of climate change. The regulations, announced just two days earlier, sought to reduce power plant emissions of carbon dioxide -- a major cause of global warming -- by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. Because the rules are likely to fall most heavily on coal-fired power plants, which emit more carbon than other forms of electricity generation, states that produce and burn coal (mostly led by Republicans) are adamantly opposed to them. Because West Virginia is especially dependent on coal production, it has been selected by Republican leaders and industry lobbyists to lead the charge against the new rules.

“These regulations, if allowed to proceed, will do serious harm to West Virginia and the U.S. economy,” Morrisey said. “That is why we are taking quick action to bring this process to a halt.”

Although pleading the case for West Virginia, which has suffered a sharp rise in unemployment due to the closing of many of its coal mines, Morrisey is clearly acting as the mouthpiece for a larger alliance of coal producers, power utilities, and Republican strategists who seek to sabotage any progress on climate change. As the New York Times revealed recently, this alliance (don’t call it a conspiracy!) originated at a meeting of some 30 corporate lawyers, coal lobbyists, and Republican strategists at the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington last year.

“By the time Mr. Obama announced the regulations at the White House on [Aug. 3rd],” theTimes reported, “the small group that had begun its work at the Chamber of Commerce had expanded into a vast network of lawyers and lobbyists ranging from state capitols to Capitol Hill, aided by Republican governors and congressional leaders. And their plan was to challenge Mr. Obama at every opportunity and take the fight against what, if enacted, would be one of his signature accomplishments to the Supreme Court.”

This process gained further momentum on August 13th, when Morrisey and 14 other state attorneys general petitioned a federal court in Washington to block action on the EPA rules, in the first of several expected legal challenges to the Obama administration measure.

As Laura Gottesdiener demonstrates so graphically in today’s post, many West Virginians are indeed suffering from the decline of the coal industry. But if they allow themselves to be used as pawns in a struggle by King Coal, corporate lobbyists, and Republican hard-liners to fight progress on climate change, they are doing themselves (and the rest of us) an enormous disservice. Nothing can save the coal industry in the face of market forces -- especially the boom in natural gas extracted from shale deposits via fracking -- and the relentless advance of climate change. If Morrisey and his cohorts had West Virginia’s true interests at heart, they would be petitioning for federal funds to turn the state into an innovation center for clean energy -- the only sure path to economic growth in a climate-ravaged world. In the meantime, let TomDispatch regular Gottesdiener take you on a tour of what’s left of King Coal’s once mighty domain. Michael Klare 

Coal Dethroned: In Appalachia, the Coal Industry Is in Collapse, But the Mountains Aren’t Coming Back

by Laura Gottesdiener

Skinny and shirtless, Hensley looks no more than 11 or 12. His ribs and collarbones protrude from his taut skin. Dipping tobacco is tucked into his right cheek. He has a head of cropped blond curls that jog some memory of mine, but I can’t quite figure out what it is. He’s pointing at a peak named Coal River Mountain. These days, though, it’s known to activists here as “the Last Mountain,” as it’s the only ridgeline in this area that's still largely intact. 

We continue picking our way along a path on topless Kayford “Mountain,” a few miles from Hensley’s hometown (population 514, according to the 2010 census), as he resumes chronicling his adventures on ATVs. Nearby is the Seng Creek mine, still semi-active and one of Hensley’s favorite racing spots. Active mines are always the best race tracks, he assures me, since you get the added thrill of outrunning security guards and watching explosions, which sound, he tells me, like hundreds of dump trucks emptying their loads all at once.

As we walk, we’re careful to step over crevices known as “mine cracks" -- deep narrow drops into the earth most often formed by the caving in of old underground mines. Hensley stops to peer into one crack filled with broken Bud Lite bottles and I joke that it leads straight through to China.

But Hensley knows better. At his young age, he’s already an expert on everything about mountain-top removal: how companies blast the peaks with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil -- the same chemical combination that Timothy McVeigh used to detonate the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. He knows that the process fills the air with toxic coal dust, benzene, and carbon monoxide, while contaminating nearby streams with arsenic.

However, Hensley doesn’t know and can hardly imagine what this region -- his home -- was like before the peaks were removed. “I wasn’t alive when those mountains were there,” he observes a few hours later. And even though the industry in West Virginia is in the grips of an unprecedented collapse that threatens to dethrone King Coal once and for all, this 14-year-old and all the other children growing up in the shadow of these “blank spaces” will never see the decapitated peaks return to thickly forested mountain tops.

The King Is Dead


In the first half of this year, at least six domestic coal companies filed for bankruptcy. In February, West Virginia’s Covington Coal fell, followed by Xinergy and Grass Creek Coal in April, Patriot and Birmingham Coal & Coke in May, and A&M Coal in June. In August came the biggest announcement of all: the $10-billion coal giant Alpha Natural Resources had entered the bankruptcy sweepstakes, too.

Only four years earlier, Alpha had secured its position as one of the world’s largest coal outfits by purchasing the Appalachian company Massey Energy for $7 billion and expanding its operations to 60 mines, many in Appalachia. But its reign would prove short-lived. The price of coal has been plummeting as utility companies shift to significantly cheaper shale gas, extracted through the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to produce power. This April, for the first time since the U.S. Energy Information Administration began collecting data in 1973, gas surpassed coal as the nation’s number one producer of energy.

By late July, the New York Stock Exchange announced that it had suspended trading of Alpha Natural Resources’ stock because it was worth next to nothing.

In August, the inevitable occurred. Alpha submitted a bankruptcy filing which read in part: “The unprecedented changes facing the coal industry run deep and are occurring at a frenetic and unpredictable pace...The U.S. coal industry as currently structured is unsustainable.”

By now, the funeral was underway and the first obituaries were appearing. Headlines in various papers not only announced Alpha’s demise, but offered autopsies for the entire industry. As the New York Times put it in its headline three days after the filing: “King Coal, Long Besieged, Is Deposed by the Market.”

Causes of death: the explosion of cheap natural gas, the rising costs of new environmental and worker safety regulations, and a simple geological reality -- the industry has already mined out the majority of all economically recoverable coal.

This energy version of regime change had been long in the making. The coalfields are filled with now-abandoned company towns, where the industry once employed hundreds of thousands of men to work in underground mines. The extraction process generated massive wealth, at least for the mine owners. In the late 1880s, Bramwell, West Virginia, was reputedly home to the highest concentration of millionaires per capita of any town in the United States. Today, its high school still boasts of that legacy through its teams’ nickname: the Bramwell Millionaires.

In the second half of the twentieth century, many of those towns all but evaporated as the industry turned to strip mining, a mechanized process that uses heavy machinery rather than muscle power to carve away rock and expose seams of coal running along hillsides. The town of Kayford, which sits at the base of its namesake mountain, is one such example. Once a company town for men employed in the mines, its main road is now lined only with poplars, sycamores, and basswood, a few poured-concrete foundations, and a crumbling single-story brick wall. The town’s last building is said to have burned down toward the end of the 1970s.

The former town is still, however, home to an active strip mine called Alpha’s Republic #1, which employs few people but has managed to extract a considerable amount of coal. In 2012, organizers with the climate justice group Mountain Justice formed a human blockade to shut down work traffic going in and out of the site. It was just one of dozens and dozens of blockades, “tree-sits,” and other direct actions Mountain Justice has executed as part of a decade-long campaign, which has won regulatory improvements to reduce water contamination, shielded schools in the coalfields from the worst health impacts of mining, moderated flooding caused by that mining, and demanded the industry do more to replant trees and grasses on old mine sites. That campaign also helped inspire almost all the major environmental activism in the nation today -- from the university divestment movement to tree sits in Texas to block the Keystone XL pipeline to the arrest this month of people seeking to halt the construction of the first commercial tar sands mine in this country.

In many ways, however, Mountain Justice's protests were among the least extreme in the state’s long history of organizing. Drive farther up the mountain and you'll find concrete bunkers built by hired guns from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency sent in to quell a powerful miner's strike in 1912-1913. Less than 10 years later, as many as 10,000 armed miners from West Virginia would launch the largest labor uprising in the nation’s history.

The Mountains at the Center of the World


Even higher up the mountain, past the bunkers, lies Stanley Heirs Park, a 50-acre swath of land surrounded by the final stage of coal extraction: mountain-top removal.

In the 1970s, as more and more of the readily available coal was extracted from West Virginia’s underground mines and ridge lines, companies decided to take strip mining to its logical conclusion: they would simply blast away the entire tops of mountains to get at the remaining coal. The results are visible in the flattened, barren mines that surround the park, including the Seng Creek mine where Ryan Hensley likes to ride his ATV.

Hensley and dozens of others converged here for an annual Fourth of July celebration, an event hosted by the family of the late Larry Gibson, a prominent organizer against mountain-top removal. His family has lived here on Kayford Mountain since the late 1700s and this section alone has remained unblasted because Gibson turned the family plot into a land trust in order to fend off the industry.

Before his death in 2012, Gibson was much hated in the area for taking on the coal companies, so his friends and neighbors tell me as we share fried chicken and Budweiser. His house was riddled with bullets. His dogs were poisoned or shot. But he succeeded in protecting at least his small plot of land from the explosives. Now, as his family points out, the land that used to lie in the shadow of surrounding taller peaks has become, after 30 years of mountain-top removal, the highest site in the area.

Few know more about the impact of the mining industry than Elise Keaton, a 30-something native West Virginian with the enthusiastic, commanding voice of a camp counselor. Years ago, she did what many of the state’s residents do if they can: she left. She earned a law degree in Texas and later helped with disaster relief in post-Katrina New Orleans.

“But being from West Virginia is like having a fishhook in your heart,” she tells me. So she returned and, following Gibson’s death, took over the role of educating newcomers about Kayford. Standing at the edge of the Seng Creek mine, owned by the now bankrupt coal company Patriot, Keaton explains that the surrounding mountain peaks have been reduced by at least 400 feet, if not more. The removed earth -- known in industry parlance as the “overburden” -- was dumped into the nearby valleys, where it covered streams, reducing the region’s fresh water supply.

Before coal companies came along, Appalachia had been “burdened” by these mountains for more than 400 million years. They were formed by the same collision of tectonic plates that produced the single supercontinent Pangea. The Appalachian mountain range then lay at the heart of the world’s only unified landmass.

Today, the unblasted sections of West Virginia’s mountains are blanketed by a temperate forest so diverse that researchers are still discovering new species, including a reddish-orange crayfish that was plucked out of the water in 2013 and dubbed Cambarus hatfieldi -- a Latin play on the name of the famed West Virginia family, the Hatfields, who feuded with their neighbors across the river in Kentucky, the McCoys.

Keaton recently invited a forest expert to visit Kayford Mountain and survey the decommissioned mines. The coal companies have made only the most meager efforts to reclaim this devastated land by planting quick-growth pine trees, black locust, grass seed, and other plants that can live with high levels of acids in the soil. Keaton wanted to know how long it would take for these stands of identical pines to be transformed into a diverse rainforest, so she took the expert to one of the ridges and asked him when the real forest would grow back.

“And he said,” Elise recalled, “‘About 100 million years.’”

Before his death, Gibson dubbed the entrance to the Seng Creek mine “Hell’s Gate,” since for many years this site looked out across a vast expanse of gray broken only by the movements of massive machines and those explosions, which occurred every day of the year. A writer for Smithsonian Magazine who visited Kayford in 2009, while this mine was still being blasted frequently, wrote that “entering a mountaintop site is like crossing into a war zone.”

Now, few are the explosions at Seng Creek, but the nothingness remains.

There’s almost no sound down in the mine itself except for the muffled rush of the wind unshielded by trees. Heaps of sandstone and fragmented shale rock stretch for what looks like miles. Much of the surface dirt has been packed down into undulating wide roads by the giant wheels of coal trucks. Most of the birds long ago left this desolate spot, although you can hear the occasional singing of meadowlarks from nearby reclamation sites. (“We’ve never had meadow larks here before,” Keaton later tells me, as she stands on a nearby ridge overlooking a decommissioned mine seeded with grass. “But this is more like a meadow now.”)

I walk to the far edge of the mine, sit down, and peer into some of the cylindrical holes, about 11 inches in diameter, that workers once drilled into the shale rock as places to pack full of ammonium nitrate. I recall what one of the festival’s musicians said about coal -- that he liked to think of it as old sunlight trapped inside rocks as long decomposed organic matter. Maybe it would be simpler, he added, just to use new sunlight, as the weekend’s solar-powered event was, in fact, doing.

Finally, hours later, I conclude that there is very little else to be written, at least by me, at the edge of a mountain top that’s been transformed into blank, dead space. After all, I’m new to West Virginia, which gives me something in common with Ryan Hensley: I never saw the mountains here, either. And I never will.

The Life That's Left


This state’s longest-serving governor once famously asked: “Why does everything bad happen to West Virginia?”

His question gibed well with the sense I ran into that the state’s history is a tragic one and that the coal industry’s collapse is its grim final act. Indeed, it’s unclear just what West Virginia’s future will hold. Coal has been the region’s mono-industry for so long that it’s hard to imagine anything else. Elise Keaton points out that the region’s rich coalfields were a major part of the reason President Abraham Lincoln approved a controversial Act of Congress in 1863 to carve out West Virginia as a new state. It was one of only two states created in the midst of the Civil War and even some of Lincoln’s advisors deemed the move unconstitutional. But annexing the region was militarily expedient. It gave the north all those rich coalfields and the prized Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, which hauled Union soldiers south to the front lines and Appalachian coal north from Charleston to stations in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City.

In other words, West Virginia was created, as Keaton puts it, as a resource colony.

Perhaps, in the end, the death of coal will spell not doom but liberation for the state, freeing it from the energy needs of the rest of the nation. These days, as the coal industry crumbles, West Virginians are rallying in support of what’s being called “transition work” -- the building, that is, of a new economy based on agriculture, local arts, wineries, and the like.

Indeed, if West Virginia is able to build these alternative economies, if the state is able to do more than simply pivot from being a coal colony to becoming a shale gas supplier, it will provide evidence that any region can be transformed as the planet’s industrialized nations hurtle into a post-fossil fuel future, kicking and screaming every step of the way.

Such a transition will require not only building anew, but also healing old wounds.

Hours later, Hensley begins pleading for one more expedition in Stanley Heirs Park, so we set off for Hell’s Gate with a handful of others. As we walk, I suddenly realize just whom his cropped blond hair, which has felt so eerily familiar, brought to mind: a young worker I met in North Dakota’s fracking fields in the summer of 2014, shortly before he was beaten to death outside a bar. In that moment of recognition, I find myself pleased that Hensley will have, at best, a slim chance of finding a coal job when he’s older, but then I begin to worry about where the need for work will carry him if new industries haven’t sprung up in time.

Another member of our group is Charles Lee Williams, a former miner who lives a few miles away. Forty-six years old, Williams has a round head and small, deep-set blue eyes. He’s a man who knows about death in the coalfields better than most. He worked for coal giant Massey Energy until 2010, when a series of explosions ripped through subterranean tunnels at his worksite killing 29 of his co-workers -- and nearly getting him, too. The force of the blasts, he tells me, was so powerful that it felt as if his skull were being sucked out of his head.

Now, Williams spends most nights dreaming of the ghosts of those men. He sought treatment once for the resulting PTSD, but the pills prescribed for him only seemed to make the nightmares worse. In them, he tells me, his former co-workers usually appear headless.

After we’ve returned from Hell’s Gate, Williams confesses that it’s his first time surveying a mountain-top removal site from above -- despite living so close to mines that the explosions sometimes shake his house.

“It feels like there’s nothing alive left over there,” he says. Then he pauses and adds, “That’s what it feels like in the mornings, too. That there ain’t no life left in me, neither.”

Laura Gottesdiener is a freelance journalist and a news producer with Democracy Now! The author of A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home, her writing has appeared in Mother Jones, Al Jazeera, Guernica, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and frequently at TomDispatch. Special thanks on this piece go to filmmaker Jordan Freeman and Mathew Louis-Rosenberg.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2015 Laura Gottesdiener

Idiot Republic: America's Proud States of Stupidity

The United States of Stupidity

by Ted Rall  - CounterPunch


Americans are dumb.

That’s what people say. Especially foreigner non-American people.

But lots of Americans think that Americans are stupid. Not them, of course. They think other Americans are stupid.

It will not, even if you’re an idiot, come as a shock when I admit here that one of the Americans who think Americans are intellectually challenged is me.

Moronitude exists everywhere, of course. What makes stupidity in America stand out is that most Americans — the dumb ones — don’t think it’s bad to be dumb. Far from being ashamed, they’re dumb and proud. To the contrary — the dumb ones make fun of the small-and-constantly-shrinking population of intelligent ones: the “nerds.”

Want to study astrophysics? You’re a geek. No prom date for you!

I haven’t been everywhere, but I’ve traveled a lot, and what historians have documented as the tradition of anti-intellectualism in America seems to be pretty unique. Even Australia, land of our cultural Anglo-Saxon brethren, where dwarf-tossing was a thing (and for all I know may still be), never had an actual political party called the Know Nothings. We did, and not only that, but when historians reference the Know Nothings, no one ever chortles in derision. They nod knowingly. Maybe.

Flat affect. That’s what we do.


From “The Simpsons” to Green Day’s punk rock opera “American Idiot” to the semi-banned Mike Judge movie “Idiocracy,” our cultural commentators have taken repeated stabs at our “dumb and proud” national attitude. Yet it doesn’t change.

This, after all, is a country in which smart people have to pretend, in the words of an old ’80s song by Flipper, to “act stupider than you really are” in order to fit in.

Reality TV and televangelists aside, nothing epitomizes the national cult of stultification more clearly than our electoral politics. On the Republican side, well-read men and women of considerable accomplishment and with impressive educational credentials that belie what I am about to describe find themselves pretending to believe in things they and everyone else with half a brain can’t possibly believe to be true — because so many of the voters they need are just that damned stupid.

This is how we get Ted Cruz, no dummy he, pretending not to believe that climate change is caused by humans. Not to mention a bunch of governors and senators — senators! — claiming to think the earth is about 6,000 years old because: Bible. And to believe in “God.”

Just last week, a friend who hung out with George W. Bush told me something I’ve heard often enough before to believe: the guy is actually smart.

In a way, this comes as a relief, because: launch codes. Also Yale and Harvard. Even a legacy admit shouldn’t be half as much of the colossal idiot brush-clearing hick Bush pretended to be his entire political life.

There were hints of Bush’s non-stupidity. Every now and then, his aw-shucks cornpone veneer would flake off, the Connecticut Yankee inflection of a grandson of Prescott Bush peeking out like the cobblestones and streetcar tracks of an old paved-over road after a hard winter. That stupid accent — all fake!

Which reminded me of something Bush biographer Kitty Kelly reported: after losing a local election in Texas, Dubya swore, Scarlet-like, to never get out-countrified again. And he didn’t. And it worked.

How depressing.


Given how much I beat up Generalissimo El Busho while he was bombing and Gitmo-ing and bank-bailing, it’s only fair that I point out: he’s one of many. Obama and Hillary both apply a reverse-classist downscaling filter to their locutions, and Jesus H. W. Christ, it’s so over-the-top phony, am I the only one who can tell?

Speaking of which, I attribute all of the Bernie Sanders-Donald Trump surge to the two outsiders’ surprisingly unscripted authenticity, part of which derives from their unspun, startling, old-school New York accents. Platform planks have taken a back seat to reality. Which says something.

Not that the two mavericks of right and left aren’t forced to breathe the sludgy water of stupidism through their previously pure gills.

The Donald and The Bern: both men are smart (despite the former insisting on saying it about himself, it happens to be true). Despite “The Apprentice” and the Ivana mess, Trump has to dumb himself down still further (i.e., the “Make America Great Again” baseball cap). So far, the socialist senator from Vermont has refrained from talking American. But for how long? So many pundits, so few who enjoy a Marx-inflected class analysis, I fear he’ll succumb.

Burying the lede as much as I possibly can — in a nation where the life of the mind is valued, this is not considered a vice — this brings us to: Why?

Why are we dumb and proud?


I blame our schools. We learn facts, but not how to think. Rhetoric, debate, logical reasoning are after-school activities. So we grow up believing that everyone is entitled to their opinion, each as valid as any other, even though this cannot possibly be true.

But I could be wrong.

U-S-A! U-S-A!
Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net, is the author of the book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower.

Israel's Undiplomat to the UN

Israel unleashes its diplomatic thug on the UN

by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth


The appointment by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of one of his most hawkish and outspoken rivals as Israel’s new ambassador to the United Nations has prompted widespread consternation. As one Israeli analyst noted last week, Danny Danon’s appointment amounts to a “cruel joke” on the international community. The new envoy “lacks even the slightest level of finesse and subtlety required of a senior diplomat”.

Last year Netanyahu sacked Danon as deputy defence minister, describing him as too “irresponsible” even by the standards of Israel’s usually anarchic politics.

Danon had denounced the prime minister for “leftist feebleness” in his handling of Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer.

Danon is a UN official’s worst nightmare. He is a vocal opponent of a two-state solution and has repeatedly called for the annexation of the West Bank.

Back in 2011, days before the UN General Assembly was due to vote on Palestinian statehood, Danon dismissed the forum as irrelevant: “Even if there will be a vote [in favour], it will be a Facebook state.”

On the face of it, Netanyahu’s timing could not be worse. Danon is to represent Israel as the Palestinians are expected to step up efforts at the UN to entrench recognition of their statehood. He will also be a leading spokesman as Israel tries to fend off war crimes investigations at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

The generally accepted explanation is that Netanyahu’s move is driven by domestic, not diplomatic, calculations. Danon is the Israeli right’s poster boy, one who makes the prime minister look too cautious and conciliatory.

The two faced off for the Likud party leadership last November. Danon lost but Netanyahu doubtless fears, as his party and the Israeli public shift ever rightwards, that his rival’s time is coming.

The posting removes Danon as head of the Likud’s powerful central committee, dispatches him to a distant land, and should provide him with opportunities aplenty to self-harm.

But that is not the whole story. Danon’s appointment reveals something more significant about Israel’s deteriorating relations even with its international supporters.

It is hard nowadays to recall that Israel once took the UN very seriously indeed. It had to.

In the decade following 1948, Abba Eban, the country’s foremost diplomat, sought to carve out international recognition and respectability for Israel at the UN.

Eban often used deceit and misdirection – he is reported to have avowed that “diplomats go abroad to lie for their country”. But he never forgot the importance of creating a façade of moral justification for Israel’s actions, even as it launched wars of aggression in 1956 at Suez and again against Egypt in 1967.

Reality caught up with Israel when the UN adopted a resolution in 1975 equating Israel’s official ideology, Zionism, with racism. The resolution was only revoked 16 years later, after the Soviet Union collapsed and the United States emerged as the world’s sole superpower.

Washington arm-twisted the General Assembly with promises that Israel would engage in a peace process with the Palestinians, culminating a short time later in the Oslo Accords.

But as Oslo slowly unravelled, and Israel’s leaders – not least Netanyahu himself – were exposed as the true rejectionists, Israel was forced on to the back foot again.

Today, the consensus in Israel is not only that the UN is a bastion of anti-Israel prejudice but that it is an incubator of global anti-semitism, much of it supposedly spawned by Arab states. Israel is blameless, so this story goes, but the world has fallen under the haters’ spell.

The parting shot of Danon’s predecessor, Ron Prosor, last week was to accuse yet again a leading UN official, Jordan’s Rima Khalaf, of anti-semitism for pointing out the untold misery caused by Israel’s near-decade blockade of Gaza.

Earlier this year, after stepping down as Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren went further, arguing that the plague of anti-semitism had infected even America’s leading Jewish journalists. Their critical coverage of Israel was proof of self-hatred, he claimed.

The need for such desperate diplomacy has grown as Israel’s moral image has tarnished, even for its allies. But the hectoring and intimidation by seasoned diplomats like Prosor and Oren has produced diminishing returns.

Danon’s posting is part of a discernible pattern of recent appointments by Netanyahu that reflect a growing refusal to engage in any kind of recognisable diplomacy. Confrontation is preferred.

The trend started with Netanyahu’s decision in 2009 to let the thuggish Avigdor Lieberman lead the foreign ministry and Israel’s diplomatic corps.

Notably, Netanyahu picked Ron Dermer, a high-profile partisan of the US Republican party, to replace Oren in 2013. Dermer is widely credited with engineering Netanyahu’s provocative address earlier this year to the US Congress, in an undisguised effort to undermine President Barack Obama’s talks with Iran.

Danon’s appointment, like Dermer’s, indicates the extent to which the Israeli right has abandoned any hope of persuading the international community of the rightness of its cause – or even of working within the rules of statecraft.

Just as Dermer has turned Obama’s White House into a diplomatic battlefield, Danon can be expected to barrack, abuse and alienate fellow ambassadors at the UN in New York.

An Israel that has no place for negotiations or compromise wants only to tell the world that it is wrong and that Israelis don’t care what others think. Danon is the right man for that task.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Plague on Both Your Houses: American Authoritarianism and the End of Civilization

The Plague of American Authoritarianism

by Henry Giroux - CounterPunch


Authoritarianism in the American collective psyche and in what might be called traditional narratives of historical memory is always viewed as existing elsewhere.

Image: Adbusters

Viewed as an alien and demagogic political system, it is primarily understood as a mode of governance associated with the dictatorships in Latin America in the 1970s and, of course, in its most vile extremes, with Hitler’s poisonous Nazi rule and Mussolini’s fascist state in the 1930s and 1940s.

These were and are societies that idealized war, soldiers, nationalism, militarism, political certainty, fallen warriors, racial cleansing, and a dogmatic allegiance to the homeland.[i] Education and the media were the propaganda tools of authoritarianism, merging fascist and religious symbols with the language of God, family, and country, and were integral to promoting servility and conformity among the populace. This script is well known to the American public and it has been played out in films, popular culture, museums, the mainstream media, and other cultural apparatuses. Historical memory that posits the threat of the return of an updated authoritarianism turns the potential threat of the return of authoritarianism into dead memory. Hence, any totalitarian mode of governance is now treated as a relic of a sealed past that bears no relationship to the present. The need to retell the story of totalitarianism becomes a frozen lesson in history rather than a narrative necessary to understanding the present

Hannah Arendt, the great theorist of totalitarianism, believed that the protean elements of totalitarianism are still with us and that they would crystalize in different forms.[ii] Far from being a thing of the past, she believed that totalitarianism “heralds as a possible model for the future.”[iii] Arendt was keenly aware that the culture of traditionalism, an ever present culture of fear, the corporatization of civil society, the capture of state power by corporations, the destruction of public goods, the corporate control of the media, the rise of a survival-of-the-fittest ethos, the dismantling of civil and political rights, the ongoing militarization of society, the “religionization of politics,”[iv] a rampant sexism, an attack on labor, an obsession with national security, human rights abuses, the emergence of a police state, a deeply rooted racism, and the attempts by demagogues to undermine critical education as a foundation for producing critical citizenry were all at work in American society. For Arendt, these anti-democratic elements in American society constituted what she called the “sand storm,” a metaphor for totalitarianism.[v]

Historical conjunctures produce different forms of authoritarianism, though they all share a hatred for democracy, dissent, and human rights. It is too easy to believe in a simplistic binary logic that strictly categorizes a country as either authoritarian or democratic and leaves no room for entertaining the possibility of a mixture of both systems. American politics today suggests a more updated if not different form of authoritarianism or what some have called the curse of totalitarianism. In this context, it is worth remembering what Huey Long said in response to the question of whether America could ever become fascist: “Yes, but we will call it anti-fascist.” [vi] Long’s reply indicates that fascism is not an ideological apparatus frozen in a particular historical period, but as Arendt suggested a complex and often shifting theoretical and political register for understanding how democracy can be subverted, if not destroyed, from within.

The notion of soft fascism was articulated in 1985 in Bertram Gross’s book, Friendly Fascism, in which he argued that if fascism came to the United States it would not embody the same characteristics associated with fascist forms in the historical past. There would be no Nuremberg rallies, doctrines of racial superiority, government-sanctioned book burnings, death camps, genocidal purges, or the abrogation of the constitution. In short, fascism would not take the form of an ideological grid from the past simply downloaded onto another country under different historical conditions. Gross believed that fascism was an ongoing danger and had the ability to become relevant under new conditions, taking on familiar forms of thought that resonate with nativist traditions, experiences, and political relations. Similarly, in his Anatomy of Fascism, Robert O. Paxton argued that the texture of American fascism would not mimic traditional European forms but would be rooted in the language, symbols, and culture of everyday life.

According to Paxton:

No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses. No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance. These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting the internal enemy).[vii]

It is worth noting that Umberto Eco in his discussion of “eternal fascism,” also argued that any updated version of fascism would not openly assume the mantle of historical fascism; rather, new forms of authoritarianism would appropriate some of its elements, making it virtually unrecognizable from its traditional forms.[viii] Eco contended that fascism, if it comes to America, will have a different guise, although it will be no less destructive of democracy.

The renowned political theorist Sheldon Wolin, in Democracy Incorporated, expanded and updated these views by arguing persuasively that the United States has produced its own unique form of authoritarianism, which he calls “inverted totalitarianism.”[ix] Wolin claimed that in the United States an emerging totalitarianism has appeared in form different from what we have seen in the past. Instead of a charismatic leader, the government is now governed through the anonymous and largely remote hands of corporate power and finance capital. Political sovereignty is largely replaced by economic sovereignty as corporate power takes over the reins of governance. The more money influences politics, the more corrupt the political culture becomes. Under such circumstances, holding office is largely dependent on having huge amounts of capital at one’s disposal, while laws and policies at all levels of government are mostly fashioned by lobbyists representing big business corporations and financial institutions. Moreover, as the politics of Obama’s health-care reform indicate–a gift to the health insurance giants–such lobbying, as corrupt and unethical as it may be, is now carried out in the open and displayed by insurance and drug companies as a badge of honor–a kind of open testimonial to their disrespect for democratic governance and a celebration of their power.

Rather than forcing a populace to adhere to a particular state ideology, the general public in the United States is largely depoliticized through the influence of corporations over schools, higher education, and other cultural apparatuses. The deadening of public values, civic consciousness, and critical citizenship are also the result of the work of anti-public intellectuals representing right-wing ideological and financial interests, a powerful corporate controlled media that are largely center-right, and a market-driven public pedagogy that reduces the obligations of citizenship to the endless consumption and discarding of commodities. In addition, a pedagogy of historical, social, and racial amnesia is constructed and ciculated through a highly popular celebrity culture and its counterpart in corporate-driven news, television, radio, and entertainment to produce a culture of stupidity, censorship, and diversionary spectacles.

The protean forces for creating an authoritarian state are in full play in the United States and extend far beyond the shadow of a debased and corrupt politics. A set of complex forces working in tandem is slowly, insidiously eroding the very foundations of a civic and democratic culture. Some of the most glaring issues are massive unemployment; a rotting infrastructure; the defunding of vital public services; the dismantling of the social safety net; expanding levels of poverty, especially for children; and an imprisonment binge largely targeting poor minorities of color. At the same time, a reign of lawlessness is overtaking the United States as police violence and state terrorism result in the killing of an increasing number of black men, women, and young people. But such a list barely scratches the surface. Institutions that were once designed to serve the public good now wage war against all things public. For instance, we have witnessed in the last thirty years the restructuring of public education as either a source of profit for corporations or an updated version of control modeled after prison culture coupled with an increasing culture of lying, cruelty, and corruption.

A culture of thoughtlessness now drives the predatory formative culture that allows a range of anti-democratic tendencies to flourish–tendencies that embody a new and extreme form of lawlessness and a theater of cruelty. Civic literacy in the United States is not simply in decline, it is the object of scorn and derision. The corporate controlled media have abandoned even the pretense of holding power accountable and now primarily serve as second rate entertainment venues spouting the virtues of balance, consumerism, greed, and American exceptionalism.

The seeds of extremism are everywhere. Instead of being educated, school children are handcuffed and punished for trivial infractions or simply taught how to take tests and give up on any vestige of critical thinking. Celebrity culture now works in tandem with neoliberal values to vaunt as models individuals who represent extreme forms of solipsism and a cultivated idiocy. The war on democracy by the financial elite and other religious and political fundamentalists is intent on defunding and eliminating every public sphere that serves the public good rather than moneyed interests. A war culture now shapes every aspect of society as war-like values, a hyper-masculinity, and an aggressive militarism seeps into every major institution in the United States including the schools, the media, and local police forces. The criminal justice system has become the default structure for dealing with social problems. More and more people are considered disposable and excess because they are viewed as a drain on the wealth or offend the sensibilities of the financial elite who are rapidly consolidating class power.

The spirt of aggression and the spectacle of violence permeates the culture and deeply imprints domestic and foreign policy. As Robert Koehler points out, “America is armed and dangerous—and always at war, both collectively and individually.”[x] The outcome of this unfolding nightmare will be not only a political and economic instability but this disappearance of public institutions to serve public needs, if not politics itself. At the same time, the destruction of a public culture that embraces and sustains democratic values and practices will be intensified. Surely all this points to what Hannah Arendt believed was the harbinger of totalitarianism–the disappearance of the thinking and speaking citizens who make politics possible.

What is particularly troublesome is the manifestations of totalitarianism in the discourse and proposed policy measures of the extremists that now govern the Republican Party and how this is taken up in the mainstream media. One finds in the rhetoric of Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and others a mix of war like values, expressions of racism, a hatred of women’s rights, unabashed support for the financial elite, a religious fundamentalism, a celebration of war, and a deep seated hostility for all things public. Chris Christie sells himself to the American public as a bully and believes that threatening violence is a crucial element of leadership. This was on full display when he recently stated that teacher’s unions “are the single most destructive force in public education in America [and deserve] a punch in the face.”[xi]

Threatening violence appears to be a powerful ideological register shared by many of the Republican Party candidates. Donald Trump comes close to supporting a form of racial cleansing by threatening to depart 11 million undocumented Mexican immigrants all the while demonizing them as rapists and criminals. This script has been played out before just prior to the genocide promoted in Nazi Germany. Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker want to abolish a woman’s right to abortion, and go so far as to argue that they would not permit women to get an abortion even if their lives depended on it. Huckabee takes this threat even further. When Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi asked Huckabee if he would send “the FBI or the National Guard to close abortion clinics,” he answered “”We’ll see when I’m president.”[xii] Huckabee is a real piece of work stating at one point that he would deny an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim.[xiii] This hatred of women and the need to control and domesticate them to the crudest forms of male hegemony and control is central to all fascist regimes.

All of these candidates, with the exception of Rand Paul, support the surveillance state and warrantless spying on American citizens. All of the candidates want to send troops to the Middle East to fight Islamic extremists, expand the military, and Trump goes so far as to claim he wants to seize the oil wells in Syria in order to appropriate their wealth–no apologies for naked imperialism here. Rick Santorum brags that if he is the next president of the United States he will be a wartime president, and add that he will also defend the “sanctity of life in the womb.”[xiv] John Dean in resurrecting arguments about the authoritarian personality argues that Donald Trump, though this applies to most of the Republican Party leadership, has four clear characteristics or traits that distinguish them as authoritarian: “They are dominating; they oppose equality; they desire personal power; and they are amoral.”[xv] This echoes the classic work by Theodor Adorno on the authoritarian personality.

Similarly, the mainstream media treats this group of extremists who promote a culture of fear, racism, and hatred as eccentric, odd, crazies, colorful, or simply toxic. All the while, they refuse to acknowledge that the extremism on full display among these politicians reveals a dark and more threatening side of politics, one that exposes the unapologetic register of totalitarianism and goes far beyond either the psychologizing of authoritarianism or locating it within the aberrant personalities of a few politicians. Totalitarianism is a complex systemic register that is deeply woven into American ideology, governance, and policy. It is present in the attack on the welfare state, the attack on civil liberties, the indiscriminate killing of civilians by drones, illegal wars, the legitimation of state torture, and the ongoing spread of domestic violence against minorities of class and color.

A few journalists have raised the specter of totalitarianism but they largely confine the charge to the bellicose Donald Trump. For instance, Connor Lynch claims points to Trump’s authoritarian discourse which is “full of race baiting, xenophobia and belligerent nationalism.” [xvi] Jeffrey Tucker goes further arguing that Trump’s popularity not only draws support from “the darkest elements of American life” but also mimics a form of neoliberalism in which economics is affirmed as a way of governing all of social life.[xvii] For Tucker, Trump is representative of a mode of totalitarianism that “seeks total control of society and economy and demands no limits on state power.”[xviii] Those on the Left, such as Norman Solomon, who raise this issue are largely marginalized.

What is useful about these critiques is that they acknowledge that democracy is dead in the United States and that the forces of tyranny and authoritarianism offer no apologies for their hatred of democracy and the culture of poverty, immiseration, and cruelty that they want to impose on the American people, if not the rest of the world. What they fail to acknowledge is that the anti-democratic forces at work in the new totalitarianism are not limited to the discourse of the new extremists. Totalitarianism is not merely about errant personalities. It is also about the ideological, political, cultural, and governing structures of society. These systemic forces have been building for quite some time in the United States and have been recognized by our most astute writers such as Sheldon Wolin and Chris Hedges. What is new is that they are not only out of the shadows but are enthusiastically embraced by a segment of the population and articulated in all of their fury by a number of politicians. Totalitarianism is not simply a personality disorder and is not limited to the power of a few erratic politicians; it demands and cannot survive without mass support—it is systemic, a desiring machine, a politics, a culture, and a distortion of power. And it is not limited to Republican Party extremists.

Take for instance the comments on CNN by the alleged liberal Wesley Clark, a former 4-star general and one-time Democratic candidate for President of the United States. Clark called for World War II-style internment camps to be revived for “disloyal Americans.” Clark unapologetically argued for people to be identified who are most likely to embrace a radical ideology stating that “If these people are radicalized and they don’t support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States as a matter of principle, fine. It is their right and it’s our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict.”[xix] Calling for domestic internment camps for radicals is more than chilling and suggests the degree to which a poisonous nationalism mimics the legacy of Nazi Germany.

As Bill Dixon has observed “We live in an era in which the conditions that produce totalitarian forms are once again with us.”[xx] A new form of authoritarianism is now shaping American society. What is equally true is that there is nothing inevitable about this growing threat. This dystopian politics must be exposed, made visible, and challenged on both the local, national, and global planes.

What is crucial is that the mechanisms, discourse, culture, and ideologies that inform authoritarianism must become part of any analysis that now addresses and is willing to challenge the anti-democratic forces at the heart of American politics. This means, in part, focusing on the ongoing repressive and systemic conditions, institutions, ideologies, and values that have been developing in American society for the last forty years, at the very least. It means finding a common ground on which various elements of the left can be mobilized under the banner of a radical democracy in order to challenge the diverse forms of oppression, incarceration, mass violence, exploitation, and exclusion that now define the authoritarian nature of American politics. It means taking seriously the educative nature of politics and recognizing that public spheres must be created in order to educate citizens who are informed, socially responsible, and willing to fight collectively for a future in which a radical democracy appears sustainable. This suggests an anti-fascist struggle that is not about simply about remaking economic structures, but also refashioning identities, values, social relations, modes of identification as part of a democratic project along with what it means to desire a better and more democratic future.

Hannah Arendt was right in stating that “the aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any,” suggesting that totalitarianism was as much about the production of thoughtlessness as it was about the imposition of brute force, gaping inequality, corporatism, and the spectacle of violence.[xxi] Totalitarianism destroys everything that democracy makes possible and in doing so thrives on mass terror, manufactured stupidity, and the disappearance of politics, all the while making of human beings superfluous. Yet, power however tyrannical is never without resistance. Dark times are not ahead, they are here but that does not mean they are here to stay.


Notes.

[i] See, for instance, Mabel Berezin, Making the Fascist Self: The Political culture of Interwar Italy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997).

[ii] Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York: 2001).

[iii] Marie Luise Knott, Unlearning With Hannah Arendt, trans. by David Dollenmayer, (Other Press: New York, NY. 2011, 2013), p 17.

[iv] I have taken this term from Zygmunt Bauman, Living on Borrowed Time: Conversations with Citlali Rovirosa-Madrazo, (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2010), p. 132.

[v] See Bill Dixon insightful commentary on Arendt use of “sand storm” as a metaphor for analyzing the protean elements of totalitarianism. Bill Dixon, “Totalitarianism and the Sand Storm,” Hannah Arendt Center (February 3, 2014). Online: http://www.hannaharendtcenter.org/?p=12466

[vi] Paul Bigioni, “The Real Threat of Fascism”, CommonDreams.org, (September 30, 2005). online at: http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0930-25.htm

[vii] Robert O’ Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism (New York: Knopf, 2004), p. 202.

[viii] Umberto Eco, “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt,” New York Review of Books (February 2010), pp. 12-15.

[ix] Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, (Princeton University Press, 2008).

[x] Robert Koehler, “Armed Insecurity,” Counter Punch, (July 24, 2015). Online at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/24/armed-insecurity/

[xi] Chris Christie, “Chris Christie: Apologize for Threatening Teachers,” AFT A Union of Professionals, (August 15, 2015). Online at: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/chris-christie-apologize-for-threatening-teachers

[xii] Matt Taibbi, “Inside the GOP Clown Car,” Rolling Stone (August 12, 2015). Online: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/inside-the-gop-clown-car-20150812

[xiii] Emily Atkin, “Huckabee Supports Denying Abortion to 10-year-Old Rape Victim,” Think Progress (August 16, 2015). Online: http://thinkprogress.org/election/2015/08/16/3692100/huckabee-paraguay-rape-abortion/

[xiv] Lou Dubose, “Ted Cruz and the Politics of Faith and Fear,” The Washington Spectator, (July 27, 2015). Online at: http://washingtonspectator.org/ted-cruz-and-the-politics-of-faith-and-fear/

[xv] John Dean, “Trump Is the Authoritarian Ruler Republicans—and Some Dems—Have Been Waiting For,” Alternet, (August 13, 2015). Online at: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-authoritarian-ruler-republicans-and-some-dems-have-been-waiting

[xvi] Conor Lynch, “Donald Trump is an actual fascist: What his surging popularity says about the GOP base,” Salon, (July 25, 2015). Online at: http://www.salon.com/2015/07/25/donald_trump_is_an_actual_fascist_what_his_surging_popularity_says_about_the_gop_base/

[xvii] Jeffrey A. Tucker, “Is Donald Trump A Fascist?,” Newsweek, (July 17, 2015) Online at: http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-fascist-354690

[xviii] Ibid. Jeffrey A. Tucker, “Is Donald Trump A Fascist?.”

[xix] Murtaza Hussain, “Welsely Clark Calls for Internment Camps for ‘Radicalized Americans.” The Intercept (July 20, 2015). Online: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/07/20/chattanooga-wesley-clark-calls-internment-camps-disloyal-americans/

[xx] Bill Dixon, “Totalitarianism and the Sand Storm,” Hannah Arendt Center (February 3, 2014). Online: http://www.hannaharendtcenter.org/?p=12466

[xxi] Hannah Arendt, “Ideology and Terror: A Novel Form of Government,” The Origins of Totalitarianism, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York: 2001). p. 468.



Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014). His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.