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  Very happy to be in Canada for this particular emergency.  The US administration was all over the map has the pandemic started and is paying the price now for having a doofus as head of state.

 

Long-Simmering Realities

In many ways, the current crisis has, of course, just exposed conditions that should have been attended to long ago. Much that suddenly seems broken was already on the brink when the coronavirus appeared. If anything, the pandemic has simply accelerated already existing trends. As a December 2019 Century Foundation report on “racism, inequality, and health care for African Americans” concluded, “The American health care system is beset with inequalities that have a disproportionate impact on people of color and other marginalized groups.” In fact, in 2019, the London-based Legatum Institute’s Prosperity Index had already ranked the American healthcare system 59th in the world for its standard of services.

As bad as Donald Trump and his administration have been, the growing American coronavirus disaster can’t simply be blamed on them. Covid-19 has brought home to the rest of us how over here over there really was. And now, the pathetic White House leadership in this crisis has raised another possibility: autocracy.

The Trump administration’s failure to handle the crisis competently stems in part from the president’s perception that whatever he says, in autocratic fashion, goes — or, as he has often put it, “I can do whatever I want.” From his early assertion that the virus was destined to go from 15 cases to one or disappear in the warmth of April to his fantasy numbers when it came to virus testing or obtaining crucial medical equipment to his recent advocacy of ingesting disinfectants as an antidote for Covid-19, the leader of the United States has come to resemble a run-of-the-mill autocrat spreading disinformation in his own interests. It’s one thing to point to the power-grabbing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the underhanded machinations of the dictator of North Korea, or the ruthlessness of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. It’s quite another to have a power-hungry leader as our own head of state. Once again, we are not immune. There is here.

With Covid-19, the very idea of American exceptionalism may have seen its last days. The virus has put the realities of wealth inequality, health insecurity, and poor work conditions under a high-powered microscope. Fading from sight are the days when this country’s engagement with the world could be touted as a triumph of leadership when it came to health, economic sustenance, democratic governance, and stability. Now, we are inside the community of nations in a grim new way — as fellow patients, grievers, and supplicants in search of food and shelter, in search, along with so much of humanity, of a more secure existence.

The world, in other words, has turned upside down.

This excerpt from an interview with Marc Steiner from Real News

 

Noam Chomsky: Well, I’m old enough to remember, as a child, listening to Hitler’s speeches over the radio at the Nuremberg rallies. I couldn’t understand the words when I was six years old, but I could easily understand the mood. And it was frightening, the adoration of the screaming crowds, the ranting, and also seeing what was beginning to happen in the ’30s as fascism began to spread, and it seemed inexorably over much of the world with these hideous leaders in charge. And these memories do come to mind when I listened to one of Trump’s rallies, for example. There’s some similarity, the worship of the crowds, his very effective use of techniques of manipulation. So for example, the constant flood of lies and self contradictions and so on, which is very well designed to undermine the very notion of truth. It disappears, so you just listen to the great leader.

He’s doing very much the same, I presume, consciously, with regard to the coronavirus. If you look over his statements since January, they range all over the map, “It’s just the flu, don’t worry about it. It’s a terrible pandemic, and I was the first person ever to notice it,” and anything else. That’s a great technique. It assures that he’ll be vindicated. Whatever happens, you’ll find some statements he made that was accurate. When you shoot arrows at random, something’s going to hit the target. And when you have adoring crowds who grasp any word of the leader, when you have an echo chamber called Fox News, where they loyally repeat every bit of nonsense that he’s saying, then it’s a terrific technique of domination and control.

But before, there were people, including good scholars of fascism like Robert Paxton, who argue that we may be in danger of coming to something like fascism. Well there’s something to that. I think we should be reserved about it. Fascism was an ideology. It wasn’t just screaming and ranting at a door in crowds. It was an ideology of state takeover and domination and control of everything, of course, labor unions and so on, but also state control of business. [inaudible 00:04:49], it was called. That’s almost the opposite of what we have now. We have business-control of the state, under Trump, deepening. His primary constituency is wealth and corporate power, and he lavishes gifts for them. It was very striking at the Davos meetings in January, you know the meetings of the masters of the universe? They, very much, dislike him. The corporate executives, they didn’t like his style or anything else about him. He gave the leading speech. They liked it because he talked about his tax cut, a huge gift to the wealthy and the corporate sector, stabbing everyone else in the back. Yeah, they thought that was great.

So he understands how to serve is primary masters, how to keep the adoring crowds under control, but there’s no ideology. The ideology is simply, “Me. I’m a megalomaniac psychopath, and I just want what’s good for me.” That’s not fascism. It’s something pretty awful, but not fascism. With the coronavirus, it’s very important to… It’s a terrible crisis. We’ll recover from it at, maybe, horrible cost, but we will recover. And there are two things that are important to keep in mind. One is, there’s going to be more of these crises. Now this particular one has been predicted for 10 or 15 years, ever since the SARS epidemic, since there were corona viruses. So it was predicted, it was understood that something would come. Steps weren’t taken. It’s very interesting to look at how that works. If there’s time, I could talk about it. But it was understood that something was underway.

If we don’t look at the roots of this crisis and deal with them, there’ll be others and they’ll be worse ones because they’ll be compounded with something else that’s happening. This crisis, we will recover from. We’re not going to recover from the melting of the polar ice caps, and the other very significant impacts of the global warming crisis, which Trump is trying hard to exacerbate right into the middle of this crisis. While people are worried about getting by, he’s continuing on his relentless drive to destroy organized human life on earth. So on February 10th, well the pandemic was spreading over the US Trump, then Trump came out. Trump and his courtiers, it’s not just him. They came out with their budget proposals for next year. A lot of it was predictable, continued increasing cutbacks of every health related aspect of the government. He’s been doing that for years, so let’s continue to wipe out the health system and response system. Okay. That’s expected. Huge expenses for the bloated military and his ‘great wall’. Yeah. We expect that.

Anything that has anything of any use to human beings, we cut. But what was interesting is that he included subsidies for the fossil fuel industry to try to make the major crisis worse to furthermore his new EPA, which is corporate run. As you know, just a couple of days ago, announced the cutbacks in regulations for auto emissions that’ll have the welcomed effect of killing a lot more people from pollution, which is a major killer, but more important, expanding the race to the abyss with coming environmental crises. Now these are things we have to pay attention to. We have to think about the words of this [inaudible 00:09:12]. Now what can be done to prevent the next one? Which, very likely, will probably be worse.

Now we have to ask ourselves what we’re going to do about the truly existential crisis which is going to destroy human civilization? Not just my view, incidentally, a very interesting memo from JPMorgan Chase, the biggest American bank. The memo was quite interesting. It said that, their phrase, the survival of humanity is at risk if we continue on our present course, including the virtually genocidal commitments of the bank, his bank, their bank, to fund fossil fuels. It’s understood that the Davos men, they understand, the masters of the world understand it very well. We should understand it. We should not mince words. When I say genocidal, it’s correct. There is time. There’s not much, but there is time to deal with the crisis, even without a radical change of institutions. There are ways to do it, but not much time. Every day, every year we waste, it gets worse.

Every year we allow Trump and his accolades to expand the crisis, to accelerate it, it gets harder to deal with. If he gets reelected, I won’t say it’s a death knell for the species, but it’s a very severe blow. All of this should be right in the front of our minds as we’re thinking about this crisis. And we should recognize that it is in the front of the minds of the criminal class, the ones who are taking advantage of this crisis to ram through their programs of destruction and devastation, which, in their little sociopathic minds, are evidently dedicated to. These are not exaggerations, incidentally.

If we look at the Republican Party, we even know why they’re doing it. You go back about 10 years, John McCain running for president. Now he had the climate-change element in his platform. The Republican Congress was beginning to think about small ways to deal with the growing climate crisis, which of course they knew was coming. What happened? The Coke energy machine which had been working for years to try to keep the Republican Party on course, of supporting fossil fuels, went into motion, launched a juggernaut of bribing senators and intimidating them with threats to run alternative candidates, huge lobbying efforts, AstroTurf campaigns. They all [inaudible 00:12:30] in a moment. Ever since then, they’ve been deniers. That’s the world we’re living with. Now that has an effect. Now people listen to Fox News, which echoes what’s coming from the wealthy and powerful and their spokespersons in Washington.

The end result is, if you take a look at Republicans, its main source of information, so called, is Fox News, and about 25% of them think that it’s a serious problem, and it’s about the same number who think that humans are probably involved. This is a major crisis for the world, on that we’re right at the heart of it. Now there are things we have to do. You can learn a lot just by looking at the details of how this crisis arose. Back in 2003, it was understood by scientists that another epic pandemic, and probably a coronavirus pandemic, is not unlikely. There were things that could have been done and some things began to be done. So Obama did contract with a small company in California to produce high quality, low cost ventilators. That’s the bottleneck in the system right now, the reason why nurses have to decide who they’re going to kill. He did make the contract.

The company was quickly bought up by a large corporation, Covidien, which makes high cost ventilators. They sidetracked the project, probably because they didn’t want competition with their high cost ventilators. And pretty soon, they told the government they wanted to get out of the contract because it wasn’t profitable enough to produce what is desperately needed. It’s profitable, but you can make more money with fossil fuels. Same thing’s going with the fossil fuel companies and sustainable energy, they make profit from the sustainable energy corporations, but you make much more profit from destroying the world, so they killed this project. That’s called capitalism, and it’s particularly savage variant called neoliberalism, what we’ve been suffering from since Reagan. It has very harmful consequences.

So we come up to the present, let’s say last October, there was a high level simulation of a coronavirus pandemic showing how awful it would be. That was October. In December, China notified the World Health Organization that they were finding pneumonia-like symptoms with unknown etiology. On January 7th, they informed the World Health Organization that they, Chinese scientists, had identified the source as a coronavirus, had identified the virus, sequenced it, provided the information to the entire world. The US Intelligence knew. In January and February, they were the pounding on the doors of the White House, trying to get someone to pay attention. As one intelligence official put it, they couldn’t get Trump’s ear. For him, it was just a minor flu, “Don’t worry about it.” Finally, it comes, the recognition that it’s a big problem, so of course, he’s the first person who ever knew it was a pandemic, we go into that routine. And that’s where we are now.

It’s the epicenter of the crisis. The only major country in the world, the only one, that is so dysfunctional that it cannot even provide data to the World Health Organization on the number of possible cases. Every other major country can. Now that’s what we’re living with. Now we’re going to make a decision pretty soon as to whether to continue with it, or get rid of it and try to move back to some level of sanity. I should say, this is not the only case for worry. You mentioned the doomsday clock. It’s been moving towards midnight ever since Trump was nominated. This year, broke all records, the analysts abandoned minutes, turned to seconds, a hundred seconds to midnight.

One reason is what we’ve just been talking about, but there’s another one which nobody seems to want to talk about. Trump is tearing to shreds the last parts of the arms control agreement, which go back to Reagan and Eisenhower that have helped maintain the virtual miracle that there hasn’t been a nuclear war yet. Not only doing that, but doing it very blatantly, virtually appealing to other countries, Russia in particular, to find ways to destroy us. So last August, Trump, as you know, abandoned the Reagan Gorbachev INF Treaty, which had significantly reduced the threat of war. He abandoned it, but went beyond, immediately after abandoning it, the US launched a missile, violating the treaty. That’s virtually pleading with adversaries, “Okay. Try to develop means to destroy us as fast as you can.” Great for military industry. They were exalting huge new contracts to develop the new ways to destroy everything. And as they pointed out, down the road, there’ll be even bigger contracts to try to find some hopeless way to defend against the destructive systems that were now developing.

So for them, it’s wonderful. And for the rest of us, saying, “Yeah, we’re toast. They want to kill us all.” Now that’s the meaning of the decisions that are being taken about arms control. And the Russians have been calling for continuing the next major treaty, the New START Treaty. They say, “Let’s just continue it.” The US won’t respond. They don’t say anything. The time is getting short. Very little time for negotiations. That one will probably go. Also facing the ax is the Open Skies Treaty, which was suggested by Eisenhower. That’s under the ax. So anything you can think of that can harm people and destroy civilization, that’s a high priority. Is that an exaggeration? Unfortunately not. Is this the most dangerous administration and party in human history? I’m afraid so. It’s not an exaggeration when you think of the consequences. Those are the issues that we should be thinking about just as the gang of criminals is.

The interview is long and well worth a full read.

 

  There is a frighteningly large segment of the population of Alberta that thinks that what the Republican Administration down south is gang-busterly-amazing-awesome-fantastic (full disclosure – by exhibiting knowledge of uncommon adjectives I disqualify myself from said group).

The Republicans, led by Trump, are merrily deconstructing American civil society; whether through willful action or diligent buffoonery, it matters not, as the end result is the same.  The glimpses I’ve seen of the full throtle shit show going on in the USA should be serving as a cautionary tale writ large for the gentle-folk of Alberta.

The Republicans and Trump’s toxic corporatism burnished with a faux veneer of populism is poison toward the idea that society should be a place for everyone and that caring for your fellow human being is a good thing.

2020 isn’t coming fast enough for America and the rest of the world.

Apparently though, here in my home province of Alberta, Jason Kenny and the possibly united right wing parties have seen the dumpster fire that is the Republican administration and have decided – “Wow, we should do that in Canada! Stat!”

*blinks*

Finding words to describe the incredulity I’m experiencing is difficult.  Here in Alberta, we’ve just come out from some 40 years of right/centre right governance.  The people of Alberta decided to vote in a centre-left party (led by a woman, no less) and have given Rachel Notley and the New Democratic Party a five year term to run the province not explicitly beholden to business and the corporate class.

It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride, but things are going fairly well.  Rather than imposing austerity on the people of Alberta, the NDP government is running deficits to keep education and healthcare funded and spur employment in the public sector by encouraging civic projects and the like.  The last government of Alberta talked a mean game about diversifying Alberta’s economy, the NDP is making a bit of headway in that area introducing a carbon tax and providing incentives for businesses to get into the renewable resource sectors and technology.  The price of oil has for much too long dictated the overall welfare of the province.

A return to right-wing policies would be detrimental to the welfare of the policies.  The same could be said and more for the antediluvian, obtuse, and generally batshite-crazy that is currently passing for policy in the US.  We need less of this, not more.

I can only hope that the people of Alberta are more astute than our southern brethren.

The plan at the base of Trumerica is this.  Blame all woes on the other and then feed the 1% and military industrial complex money to solve problems they have no business trying to solve.

Menon summarizes the current administration quite succinctly:

“Trump also seems determined to stay the course on America’s forever wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Neither he nor his generals show any sign of abandoning the Obama-era strategy of whack-a-mole drone strikes and raids by Special Operations forces against terrorist redoubts around the world (as witness a recent failed special ops raid in Yemen and 24 drone strikes — half of the maximum number that the United States launched against that country in any preceding year). Trump has already deployed 400 Marines as well as Army Rangers to fight ISIS in Raqqa, Syria, and another thousand troops may soon be heading that way.  And General John Nicholson, commander of the US-led military coalition in Afghanistan, has called for “a few thousand” additional troops for that country.

So expect President Trump to dwell obsessively on threats that have a low probability of harming Americans, while offering no effective solutions for the quotidian hardships that actually do make so many citizens feel insecure. Expect, as well, that the more he proves unable to deliver on his economic promises to the working class, the more he’ll harp on the standard threats and engage in sabre rattling, hoping that a continual atmosphere of emergency and vulnerability will disarm critics and divert attention from his failures.  

In the end, count on one thing: voters who were drawn to Trump because they believed he would rein in interventionism abroad and deal with festering problems at home are in for a disappointment.”

Looks like good times ahead, let us hope the American people can keep their eyes on what is actually important as opposed to the crazed side show this administration is putting on tap.

 

[Source:Tom’s Dispatch]

  Yeah…soooooo…is Mars available for colonization yet?

 

  It must be recognized that economic Class, if we are to move against the corporatism that dominates our political landscape, must be acknowledged as a factor to bring a critical mass of people together to demand change.   The fragmentation of class interest has played a significant role in the rise of corporate power and the neo-liberal ideology that supports it.

This excerpt by Michael Hudson writing on Counterpunch:

 

“A new term was introduced to the English language: Identity Politics. Its aim is for voters to think of themselves as separatist minorities – women, LGBTQ, Blacks and Hispanics. The Democrats thought they could beat Trump by organizing Women for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), LGBTQ for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), and Blacks and Hispanics for Wall Street (and a New Cold War). Each identity cohort was headed by a billionaire or hedge fund donor.

The identity that is conspicuously excluded is the working class. Identity politics strips away thinking of one’s interest in terms of having to work for a living. It excludes voter protests against having their monthly paycheck stripped to pay more for health insurance, housing and mortgage charges or education, or better working conditions or consumer protection – not to speak of protecting debtors.

Identity politics used to be about three major categories: workers and unionization, anti-war protests and civil rights marches against racist Jim Crow laws. These were the three objectives of the many nationwide demonstrations. That ended when these movements got co-opted into the Democratic Party. Their reappearance in Bernie Sanders’ campaign in fact threatens to tear the Democratic coalition apart. As soon as the primaries were over (duly stacked against Sanders), his followers were made to feel unwelcome. Hillary sought Republican support by denouncing Sanders as being as radical as Putin’s Republican leadership.

In contrast to Sanders’ attempt to convince diverse groups that they had a common denominator in needing jobs with decent pay – and, to achieve that, in opposing Wall Street’s replacing the government as central planner – the Democrats depict every identity constituency as being victimized by every other, setting themselves at each other’s heels. Clinton strategist John Podesta, for instance, encouraged Blacks to accuse Sanders supporters of distracting attention from racism. Pushing a common economic interest between whites, Blacks, Hispanics and LGBTQ always has been the neoliberals’ nightmare. No wonder they tried so hard to stop Bernie Sanders, and are maneuvering to keep his supporters from gaining influence in their party.

When Trump was inaugurated on Friday, January 20, there was no pro-jobs or anti-war demonstration. That presumably would have attracted pro-Trump supporters in an ecumenical show of force. Instead, the Women’s March on Saturday led even the pro-Democrat New York Times to write a front-page article reporting that white women were complaining that they did not feel welcome in the demonstration. The message to anti-war advocates, students and Bernie supporters was that their economic cause was a distraction.

The march was typically Democratic in that its ideology did not threaten the Donor Class. As Yves Smith wrote on Naked Capitalism: “the track record of non-issue-oriented marches, no matter how large scale, is poor, and the status of this march as officially sanctioned (blanket media coverage when other marches of hundreds of thousands of people have been minimized, police not tricked out in their usual riot gear) also indicates that the officialdom does not see it as a threat to the status quo.”[1]

 

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