#23 A Brief Note on Politics; Free Speech Pt. V
This has been an exciting week, with Democratic Establishment insiders Donna Brazile and Elizabeth Warren admitting that the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged in Clinton’s favor. Well, I suppose Brazile is now saying that she did not explicitly say the primary was “rigged,” but her semantic quibbling doesn’t change anything (more on that below). Meanwhile, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has arrested a billionaire member of the Saudi royal family (billionaires don’t get arrested every day, do they?), along with dozens of other princes and ministers– on corruption and money laundering charges. People are now speculating about the connections the arrested Saudi individuals have to stateside politicians, and whether we will see some long-overdue justice related to the 2008 crony-capitalist bank bailouts as a result. [EDIT 11/6/2017: No one really knows what is actually going on in Saudi Arabia right now except for the people who are there, and meanwhile, the situation in Lebanon and Yemen is grave.]I think everyone already knew the DNC was shady in how it handled Bernie Sanders’ campaign, but it is nice to see the evidence pile up. As for the complex web of dealings between Saudis and Clintonists, the picture is not so clear. But as the world burns, we can at least take a modicum of solace in the fact that locally, the truth is slowly being exposed about Clintonist corruption in general.
By its textbook definition, counter-propaganda is based in fact. If it weren’t factual, it would not be effective against propaganda. The following short video, by Latin American counter-propaganda news outfit TeleSUR, is factual. But the Military-Industrial-Complex also serves as a perfectly good metaphor for the imploding Democratic party in America. Winning or losing is irrelevant; just keep the cash flowing in, and destabilize everyone else while you are at it! Yup, sounds like the Dems.
In my last few posts, I have been discussing how the new Red Scare has been used to justify censorship and warmongering. Just when it seems like it can’t get any more Orwellian and Matrix-y, the Establishment doubles down on the doublespeak. The Russian hacking narrative has been debunked, and the Facebook “influence on election” narrative is thinner than a monofilament fishing line, so what’s next? How about: let’s just make vague assertions that the Russians are “infecting” our minds with their ideas. A great example of this is The New York Times article published on Sept. 13, 2017 which weaves a ridiculously attenuated story about a girl who either was or wasn’t assaulted by Middle Eastern migrants. The NYT concludes that the Russian Federation was using the story to manipulate public opinion in Europe against Middle Eastern migrants.
Now really, let’s think about this. It would kind of make sense for Russia to point out to Europe the disadvantage of taking in millions of refugees from North Africa and Middle Eastern countries. When America and its allies unite to destroy the government in places like Iraq, Libya, Syria, or Yemen, it causes refugee problems. That is a plain fact. In Syria, a very strong case can be made that since it’s the rebels who started the civil war and who are culpable for wrecking the country– and since America has been arming those rebels, many of whom work hand in hand with known terrorists like al-Nusra (a re-branding of al-Qaeda)– America should bear some of the blame for the refugee problem.
Some people do not believe that the U.S. government literally built al-Qaeda (“the Database”) to counter Soviet efforts to prop up Afghanistan’s communist government in the 80s. (My metalhead readers may think of the Lamb of God song “Contractor” and its reference to our old buddies the mujahideen.) No matter. If you are not aware of the level of effort various non-governmental organizations are making to white-wash al-Qaeda in order to justify sending more American weapons to them, look no further than this October 24, 2017 statement by RAND Corporation, the “global policy think tank” that is funded by the Office of the U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. armed forces, and scores of corporations and foreign governments. While many think tanks are designed to influence U.S. foreign policy, RAND is more like the spokesperson for actual U.S. foreign policy:
“The moderate face of al-Qaeda… paves the way for its erstwhile allies to gain eligibility for military aid from a collection of external nations.”
Translation: it is okay to keep arming, supplying, and training terrorists.
If you are not completely positive that RAND is endorsing al-Qaeda in the above quote, bear in mind that the entire discussion is framed by how RAND views the allegedly “brutal” President Assad of Syria, as discussed in the third paragraph of the article.
Al Qaeda in Syria’s shift was not lost on Syrian Sunnis desperate to topple the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad. Now that ISIS has lost its capital in Raqqa, al Qaeda may be the only group viewed as militarily capable of challenging the Assad regime’s grip on power.
In the above article, RAND goes on to fawn over al-Qaeda like it’s their hot daughter’s 30th birthday:
The group has made course corrections based on trial and error and actively sought to amend previous errors in doctrine and strategy.
Next year, 2018, will mark the 30-year anniversary of al Qaeda’s founding. Its ability to establish widespread political legitimacy through a refurbished image could very well propel the group through its third decade and beyond.
In a different essay from Nov. 3, 2017, RAND propagandists openly argue that we can still do damage to Syria by using our control over the global financial order:
More than six years of efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have failed. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comment last week that “the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end” was divorced not only from reality but from U.S. policy, which is focused on fighting the Islamic State rather than the Damascus regime.
The effective abandonment of U.S. and allied efforts to change the Syrian regime militarily, however, does not mean they no longer have any possible influence in Syria or that the only option now is walking away. They do still have leverage, but it derives primarily from their ability to offer — or withhold — reconstruction assistance.
Don’t be shocked if I interpret the following paragraph (from the same article) as another way of pouring cash into terrorist coffers:
Our proposal does not depend on the United States providing aid to or through the Syrian government. It does depend on the United States employing its influence with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the European Union and other bilateral donors to allow reconstruction assistance to flow to both regime- and non-regime-held areas where the existence of representative local partners can be identified.
Source: RAND (emphasis added)
We already discussed who those local partners are.
Meanwhile, as we were busy sending weapons to terrorists and dropping bombs on Syria, Russia took Assad’s side and helped quell the terrorist rebellion. Let’s call it what it is– that’s being a good neighbor. Putin knows that the U.S. has had its eyes on a pipeline through Syria for a long time, not to mention the U.S.’s general objective of having footholds in the Middle East and in promoting Israeli interests. This classic interview clip featuring General Wesley Clark only takes two minutes of your time (though it is a dated with respect to Africa):
General Wesley Clark
Short update on Africa:
If Europe doesn’t want more refugees, perhaps it makes sense that it should push against America and N.A.T.O.’s involvement in deposing Assad– and whoever is next in Yemen or Lebanon or Iran (or Donbass for that matter). I don’t need Russia to tell me that. Nonetheless, according to the NYT article cited above, I hold this belief because “Russia has built the most effective propaganda operation of the 21st century so far.”
That NYT statement could be the most transparently stupid claim of the 21st century so far (no offense to Russia). But to be technical, the NYT claim is also an embarrassing and condescending form of doublespeak (and don’t forget projection!). Russiagate is the most effective propaganda operation of the 21st century so far. If anything, RT & co. are counter-propaganda detergent (somewhat to its credit, the NYT did publish an alternative take that suggests that maybe people can think for themselves).
The fact of the matter is that the U.S. government and its shadowy puppeteers (e.g. billionaire plutocrats, megacorporations, war-gaming generals, and that “special country”) don’t want you to know the truth about what they are doing in the Middle East. They already control the mainstream media in America (try to find anti-war articles in the WaPo or NYT), so their new strategy is to silence outside voices that tell the facts. The NYT article cited above, about Russians allegedly stoking anti-migrant sentiment in Europe, is classic neoliberal doublespeak. Mass migrations are (at least partially) a symptom of an underlying cause– Imperialist exploitation. It’s the NYT, not RT, that’s deflecting attention from the real issue.
There is a tactic that is ubiquitous among mainstream “liberals” (ideologically these Clinton-type people are actually center-right) in the United States: call your detractors racist and accuse them of being anti-Muslim. Never mind that the very root of the problem is the extremely racist and genocidal neoliberal policy of exploiting and bombing the shit out of the Middle East (or, “kicking the proverbial hornet’s nest”).
The cartoon below simultaneously illustrates the difference between Democrats and Republicans as effectively as it illustrates the difference between ”moderate rebels” and terrorists:
The neoliberal tactic to suppress dissent has multiple prongs. On the one hand, if you express misgivings over Muslim migration to Europe, they brand you a racist. On the other hand, if you decry Zionism, they brand you an anti-Semite. Meanwhile, the neoliberal elites (and this includes large swathes of both political parties in the U.S.) use their control of the mass media to give favorable coverage of overseas conflicts involving the U.S. and its allies.
A more recent, and disturbing trend, is bipartisan support for censorship of dissenting views on social media and the internet. Aware that people are gaining more and more information from these sources (including Facebook and Twitter, in addition to sites like Consortium News, Truthdig, Alternet, ZeroHedge, and Breitbart), Congress is conducting Inquisition-like hearings on the “dangers” posed by such alternatives to the mainstream press. They also have their targets on what is essentially counter-propaganda from foreign outlets like RT (Russia).
An article at WSWS basically says it all. Listen to this lunatic Clint Watts, former US Army officer and FBI agent, at the Senate Judiciary Hearings on October 31:
“Civil wars don’t start with gunshots, they start with words. America’s war with itself has already begun. We all must act now on the social media battlefield to quell information rebellions.”
The following video gives an example of the McCarthyist hearings going on in Congress. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) suggests on October 31 that any ad paid for in rubles must have been designed to subvert democracy. I don’t see the relevance to anything real in our world. Our country allows corporations to spend fortunes to influence our elections and to buy access to legislators via lobbyists. A Princeton study from a few years ago says “business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” The Red Scare is a red herring.
Our era’s Red Scare has mostly been promulgated by Establishment Democrats, but neocons like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were quick to jump on the censorship bandwagon and make violently overblown statements like “this is the national security challenge of the 21st century.”
In the following clip from the October 31 congressional hearings, Facebook lawyer Colin Stretch makes the astonishing admission that Facebook’s censorship decisions are based on the source, not the content of a statement. Commentators have argued that the line of inquiry by Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was calculated to highlight the absurdity of Facebook focusing on who is writing, not what is written.
Either way, censorship is not going to help us. I’ve seen two twitter accounts suspended because they effectively critiqued the Establishment Left from the Progressive Left (@angryberner aka Peter Douche and @politicspeach aka Charlie Peach— not the fake @politicspeach_ with the underscore, mind you).
The truth will set us free. But…
…Meanwhile, in the final days of the week, the Clinton camp used the potentially lightspeed transfer of information possible via viral tweets and fiber optics to sow a number of untruths about the beans spilled by Brazile. No one says it better than Glenn Greenwald:
There is ample talk, particularly of late, about the threats posed by social media to democracy and political discourse. Yet one of the primary ways that democracy is degraded by platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is, for obvious reasons, typically ignored in such discussions: the way they are used by American journalists to endorse factually false claims that quickly spread and become viral, entrenched into narratives, and thus can never be adequately corrected.
On Wednesday, Politico published a blockbuster accusation from Donna Brazile’s new book: that the DNC had “rigged” the 2016 primary election for Hillary Clinton through an agreement that gave Clinton control over key aspects of the DNC, a claim that Elizabeth Warren endorsed on CNN. The Clinton camp refused to comment publicly, but instead contacted their favorite reporters to publish their response as news.
The following day, NBC published an article by Alex Seitz-Wald that recited and endorsed the Clinton camp’s primary defense: that Brazile was wrong because the agreement in question (a copy of which they provided to Seitz-Wald) applied “only to preparations for the general election,” and had nothing to do with the primary season. That defense, if true, would be fatal to Brazile’s claims, and so DNC-loyal journalists all over Twitter instantly declared it to be true, thus pronouncing Brazile’s accusation to have been fully debunked. This post documents how quickly this claim was endorsed on Twitter by journalists and Democratic operatives, and how far and wide it therefore spread.
The problem with this claim is that it is blatantly and obviously false. All one has to do to know this is read the agreement.
DNC and Clinton allies pointed to the fact that the agreement contained self-justifying lawyer language claiming that it is “focused exclusively on preparations for the General,” but as Fischer noted that passage “is contradicted by the rest of the agreement.” This would be like creating a contract to explicitly bribe an elected official (“A will pay Politician B to vote YES on Bill X”), then adding a throwaway paragraph with a legalistic disclaimer that “nothing in this agreement is intended to constitute a bribe,” and then have journalists cite that paragraph to proclaim that no bribe happened even though the agreement on its face explicitly says the opposite.
Source: The Intercept
That’s just the beginning of item #1 of 4 in that article. You should read it and be mesmerized by the hypocrisy that Greenwald uncovers. Also read Caitlin Johnstone.
The Elitist Ones will do anything to keep control of the narrative. Let’s fight back.