Friday, June 10, 2016

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

When I lived outside the United States, I learned that the view Americans have of their country on the world stage as an angelic entity that spreads love, peace, justice, democracy, financial support, and food is neither true nor shared by other people. In fact, what the US spreads is hate, war, injustice, tyranny, usury, and starvation. During the two years I lived in Colombia, I saw how the US actively sponsors combat against the guerrilla group, the FARC, not to interdict the supply of cocaine with which the guerrillas make themselves the richest and best equipped rebel force in the world, but to eliminate them as competitors in the drug business.

In the past twenty years, the US has been so successful in its takeover of the Colombian cocaine supply that something resembling peace has settled upon Colombia. This is good for Colombia, but it is bad for the US because agencies like the CIA are selling drugs to their own people. What's more, this practice did not change with the changing of the guard in the White House from Bill Clinton to George Bush that happened while I was in Colombia because the American cocaine trade is the business of power that transcends the presidency. Presidents do not make policy; they are technocrats and figureheads who execute it. Actual presidential power is limited to relatively trivial matters. This is only one example among many that show how American Control lies beyond the presidency, but it serves to show how, though there may be vast rhetorical differences between candidates, once elected (or hired?), the presidents works for a power he or she does not control.

Between 2000 and 2005 I lived in so-called Third World countries, including India, Colombia, and Ecuador, and I've traveled in a few more. Although I loved the people, cultures, and places that I visited, I was always saddened that the poverty of many places is sustained artificially by unfair trade practices and the subordination of poor countries' banking systems to a global banking system dominated by the G8. This is especially true throughout Latin America, which has been subordinated to the functional level of a continent full of US colonies—with minor exceptions like British Guiana and Belize, French Guiana, and Dutch Surinam—ever since the Monroe Doctrine nearly two centuries ago.

Between 2000 and 2002 I lived in Medellín, Colombia, where the view on the ground is beyond the average American's wildest dreams. US interests in Colombia center upon the export of cocaine to the United States. Operating out of a base just inside the Ecuadorian border, mercenary pilots contracted to the CIA regularly visit field labs throughout the growing regions to pick up the cocaine at an intermediate stage of processing called freebase. It is flown back to the base in Ecuador where the final stages of production create flake cocaine; then it is flown back to injection points in the US.

American involvement with cocaine began at least by the time of Ronald Reagan's secret war against democratically elected Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega. The CIA created an army called the Contras and funded it with cocaine sales to the Crips and Bloods in Los Angeles. This is no conspiracy theory. It was clearly documented in Gary Webb's book, Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Cocaine Explosion. Webb used the same journalistic methodology that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein used in their exposure of Watergate for the Washington Post. Unfortunately Webb worked not for the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times but the San Jose Mercury News when he did the investigative journalism that led up to a series serialized by the Mercury and eventually his book. Yet when time came around that the larger papers would have picked such a story up—through which the news would have trickled down to the rest of the papers in the country—the LA Times and the New York Times both turned him down.

(Although the US involvement in cocaine trafficking may have started only as late as the 1980s, Alfred W. McCoy's book, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, documents how it has been trafficking in other drugs, especially heroin, since WW2. McCoy is an award-winning and highly credible professor of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Among other things, McCoy's book reveals that the prime economic motive behind the Vietnam war was to avoid the shutdown of the opium supply by the anti-colonial Communists. Asian rejection of drugs foisted upon them by colonialists has long been a problem for Europeans and Americans in Asia, and it led to conflicts like two Opium Wars, the Boxer rebellion, and the Vietnam War, among others.)

In present day Latin America, a trail of terror reaches from the Rio Grande all the way to the cocaine production regions of Colombia, Bolivia, and Perú. This trail is the responsibility of the United States because it could, with one simple change of its drug policy, bring all the murder, gun battles, and bloody chaos to a halt in a matter of days. More importantly, this trail is the responsibility of the US because its demands for the drug spawn the violence among its accomplices and competitors. At its peak, the violence in Colombia claimed three thousand innocent bystanders per month. That's one 9/11's worth of deaths every month in a country with one-sixth the population of the US. The US is still smarting, as well it should, from the 9/11 attacks, yet that pain has not permeated the consciences of American presidents, who continue to oversee a government that has made a Mordor-like wasteland of parts of Mexico and most of Central America.

I've focused on the drug trade because I learned about this in my travels, but there are many other aspects that reveal that politicians in general and presidents in particular are liars. Beginning with the emancipation of slaves in 1865, escalating through the Great Migration in the 1920s, and culminating with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, farmers of the south gradually lost their workers. As blacks phased themselves out of the South's agricultural labor force to escape the peculiarly southern horrors of lynchings, Jim Crow laws, lack of opportunity and poverty, and segregation, the famers phased in migrant workers from Mexico. Migrant workers only needed to be maintained during the seasons when there was work, and they worked for less wages. Then some evil legal genius in the Reagan administration pointed out that, although they had been crossing the border informally since the late 1800s, they were technically illegal and could therefore be deprived of minimum wage, employment benefits, and due process of law, and they could be deported at will. These policy changes effectively created a neo-slavery from the lowest tiers of the labor force upon which the American economy depends. The propaganda campaign said illegal aliens were coming to this country to steal people's jobs, but those were jobs that had, before 1865, belonged to slaves. Nevertheless, a lot of dumb bubbas carrying AK-47s took the rhetoric seriously enough to start marching alongside the Tortilla Curtain with intention of killing whatever man, woman, or child he could that hopped over the fence.

Still, drugs and immigration are only two issues backed by lies. I feel a bit like the guy who slips his bonds in Plato's cave, slips beyond the US mind control system of media, and sees this country from the other side. Plato says I have a moral obligation to go back and tell the others that, though rhetorically different for the purposes of a campaign, Hilliary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump would be morally and functionally equivalent as presidents. But the people staring at the shadows on the cave wall must be watching Game of Thrones because, as you will see, they get quite upset with me for disturbing their fantasies.

Clinton and Trump will sustain the fictions of the American national mythology, which says the US spreads love, peace, justice, democracy, financial support, and food around the world, even as they oversee the greedy murderous global agenda of the US. Most of all they will sustain the illusion of democracy in America because it keeps people feeling enfranchised so that they will pay their taxes and send their children to war to protect the bank accounts of the wealthy. Because of this mass-imposed schizophrenia in which Americans live, people tend to believe that America is the greatest country to live in, when in reality, its GINI index and correlating indices of quality of life rank it just slightly better than Gabon, Russia, and Uruguay.

I knew very little about Sally Kohn when I tweeted my message to her. I admit that her writing about her daughter's fear of a Trump presidency concerned me a little—why scare your own kid with political horror stories?—but I was mostly concerned about Kohn's blind faith in Clinton. Kohn is a political commentator for CNN.

I recall that in December 1989 CNN covered the invasion of Panama live on television. I watched through an embedded camera as a platoon invaded the Papal Nuncio and found a scared little man pacing the floor in the library, and that was that. Of course the real reason for arresting Manuel Noriega wasn't that he was engaging in drug trafficking, but that he had gone over to the dark side in doing so. Noriega had befriended Pablo Escobar and was working with the Cuban-affiliated side of drug transport rather than the American side. Panama is the Switzerland of the drug world, and if you fly into Panama City you will see a forest of steel and glass skyscrapers that house banks. Those banks did not grow so strong and tall on bananas or the Canal. Panama is a former state of Colombia, and it is still a vital strategic land bridge between the cocaine production region and the consumption region in the north. Yet CNN hid one other horrifying fact out of that coverage: at 1 a.m. (ET) on 20 December 1989 when the invasions began, US forces "obliterated" (to use a word Clinton likes) a neighborhood called Barrio Chorrillo and many of the innocent men, women, and children in it.

According to Kohn anyone who doubts Clinton in the way I do is "irresponsible" and "dangerous." Yet she works for a network that hides the full story in a way that just happens to preserve the national mythology. Similar obfuscation happened the last time that Amber Lyon worked for CNN, and I'm sure those two examples are only a small part of the actual propaganda actions of the news network. It is quite appropriate that Kohn works as a commentator at CNN.

I entertain vague hopes that Bernie Sanders might have actually done something differently. Would he come out and say that the government needs to beg the people's pardon for sacrificing the lives of 58,000 American boys for the sake of heroin profits? Or that the theme that recurs in Afghanistan? Would he explain that the US is the most powerful and successful drug cartel in Colombia? Not likely, and I admit that, in the long run, I would likely be disappointed. But I would have registered to vote for the first time since the 1980s just to add my peep to the great cacophony of American politics. Yet Americans continue to live in this dream state where a media-propagated fantasy overrides reality. We have our personal devices, our cars with their tanks full of gas. We have Game of Thrones. We're like Saddam Hussein's kids in the 1980s—we live in utter bliss at all the toys we want for the asking, so who's gonna bother dad about gassing Kurds? Half of us might suspect that dad's up to no good, but who wants to look a gift horse in the mouth? The only hope lies in the deceptions and manipulations getting so bad that Americans finally stand up and demand truth and fairness.

Without further explanation, these words irresponsible and dangerous by themselves compose a mere ad hominem attack, and in the unwritten rules of internet flaming, he who stoops to flaming, ad hominem attacks, instead of addressing the substantial issue has lost. But of course dangerous implies that Kohn believes certain speech, particularly speech against her candidate should be illegal. In the administration that Kohn would create there would be no free speech nor, consequently, democracy. My only surprise is that in none of the replies that came in the wake of Kohn's tweet, none of them conformed to Godwin's law.

I was surprised to see anyone agree with me, especially since I didn't read this until I'd read the drubbing I'd taken from a hundred angry women for insulting their icon. Thank you, Ivan.
Again that unexplained code-word dangerous. Lacking any other explanation, it heralds the death of the First Amendment. Only unpopular speech needs First-Amendment protection, and if unpopular speech is "dangerous," and dangerous people are typically incarcerated, then we have a situation like that in Turkey where the president has filed charges against a comedienne for insulting him.

There's an interesting possibility.

I.e., yes it is dangerous and irresponsible.

Yes, indeed, as I wrote above, James, I went outside and went to South America and Asia, and I got a good look at the savagery that the US unleashes upon the world regardless of who the president happens to be at the moment. When I first got to Medellín in 2000, the murder rate there was 240 per 100,000 per year. By comparison, the murder rate in Texas, which is among the worst in the US, was about 7.1 per 100,000 per year. Three thousand innocent bystanders were dying every month because of the drug trade, in which the US has a big hand—one 9/11 per month. As bad as racism and violence and other indicators of the quality of life in the US might be, these indicators closely correlate to the GINI index, which measures the distribution of wealth in a country. On a global scale, the US stands in the middle of the list alongside some West African nations. Whereas Japan, for example, has an extremely low GINI index, and, as a result, the murder rate, for example, is a hundredth of what it is in Texas. Were the US to improve its GINI index, many of the problems to which you refer would lessen and some might even go away. Complaining about problems—or worse, blaming the poor for those problems—is like complaining about a headache while hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. Different countries have different GINI indices, so it's rather silly to elect a president who promises to make life a little more tolerable with the bad index we have—this is real politics where yet again there is no distinction between Trump and Clinton. You need to find yourself a president who will make a real difference by bringing about economic justice inside this country and stop abusing its power around the globe.

And privileged. Another buzzword of the power hungry cognoscenti. Did you learn that in grad school? Yes, I am privileged. I am privileged to have traveled literally around the world and to see the devastating effects that power mongers like you have on people of color everywhere. That was a privilege that you should claim for yourself someday.

If you've read anything I've written here you should know that I'm anything but a nihilist. I am a humanist. What motivates me against power mongers and supporters of this oligarchy is the cost that it exacts on human beings around the world. As long as you stay closed up in your little pedantic world, you will never realize the irresponsibility in which you share by participating in this democratic farce that is actually an oligarchy. Hillary Clinton is a lie. Donald Trump is a lie. And you live those lies. The blood is on your hands because it's you who's playing a game. Not I.

Yes, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" If you do, you will be shot.

No, quite the contrary. I'm trying to help the poor around the world by waking Americans from this dream state that they are in. That is a great attitude. No sarcasm requiredd.

Oh relax, my Canadian friend. I always figure that living in one of Canada's many cities near the border must be like living next door to a booming all-night disco. But don't worry: we change out DJs now and then, but the same old music keeps thumping.

I am greatly disturbed that when the US attacked Barrio Chorrillo during the Panamanian operation in December 1989, many children were killed. Even though Sally Kohn's network, CNN, covered the American incursion into Panama, they made no mention of the obliteration of a whole neighborhood. Yet eyewitness accounts abound. There's no question that it happened. It's just an inconvenient truth in the US, given the national mythology. That's just one example. I'm not eager to destroy the US, but Americans must wake to the fact that their current for-profit policies are killing children everywhere.

Huh. Yes, you should start counting a long time ago when the US took up invading countries as a hobby and subjugating them financially. What does it take to stop that? A lot of people wanted Auschwitz bombed to stop it—one of those nasty decisions of war.

Not really.
They like to play their cards and hang up their poster children. One time a reporter confronted GW Bush. He said, "We now know that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, which was the first reason you gave for invading Iraq, and you haven't found Weapons of Mass Destruction, which were the reason you gave for staying there. So why are we in Iraq?" Bush answered, "It's for the children. For the children." It's a lie, but you can't argue with it because it makes you look like you hate children.
Yes, Hillary carries a lot of dirty linen, but she has an army of cleaners marching up behind her.

I appreciated Brian Gerald Murphy's response to my tweet (as retweeted by Sally Kohn) because it was one of the few messages that dealt with the substance without attacking me as a person. That sort of maturity seems strangely rare. And you might be right. Left and right are relative terms, anyway. I once heard a Canadian commentator on the CBC observe that, from the Canadian perspective, the US appears to have only two political parties, both ultra-right-wing, and one just slightly to the left of the other.


The buzz word again, and again I hope that my explanations have shown that my desires are not based on my personal comforts (except that I have an intense preference for truth over any other quality), but on the devastation that the US propagates around the world.

Bernie Logic

Fomalhaut debris ring photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope. Public domain.
Angelina Libby had the most creative reply to my message. It had attached an animated gif of the eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings. I haven't reproduced that gif here because of copyright reasons, but instead I've used a photograph of a gas shell expanding from a star, Fomalhaut B, after that star exploded. After such things happen, the remains of the star, visible at the center of the picture, typically collapse to form some kind of dwarf star—in extreme cases, a black hole.

Libby unfortunately wasn't as ingenious with her reasoning as with her presentation. Her model doesn't fit the actual scenario. A more appropriate model would be one in which we all live in Mordor Annex and—this supposedly being a democracy—have been given a choice between Sauron-1 or Sauron-2 for our next leader. If Sauron-1 wins, the Shire will continue to propagate pain, hate, war, and starvation throughout Middle Earth. If Sauron-2 wins, the Shire will continue to propagate pain, hate, war, and starvation throughout Middle Earth. Fortunately for Hobbits, the decision is an easy one because Sauron-2 is short and has hirsute hypertrophied feet.

Libby's is the first among several tweets that say that my reasoning is typical of the logic used by any supporter of Bernie Sanders. Here are some of the others:

The false correlative abounds.


This is a hasty way to dismiss someone with whom you disagree. Let's suppose for a moment, just for the sake of argument, that I learn that there is some little known immoral quality to baseball. I don't just mean that a game is rigged, but that the whole game is somehow morally corrupt. Does it matter then whether I root for the Yankees or the Dodgers? What I'm more likely to do is leave the stadium. You might call that childish because you think I'm leaving because my team is losing, but you're wrong.


There was a scientific study one time that concluded that a person who labels dissidents crazy is himself or herself crazy. The Soviet Union did something like that. Everyone who did not fully support the Soviet government had to be either a criminal or crazy or both, so a lot of dissidents got locked up, many in insane asylums. Apparently I can look forward to this policy being implemented in America if Hillary Clinton wins the election.

The Political Apologist

Well, it's not that simple, but I do appreciate your efforts at diplomacy.

 Stupid (and not about me?)

I have heard "this isn't about you," and it never makes any sense to me. I never thought it was about me. My original statement had to do with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, not with me. And in the rest of this blog I've written about people who suffer at the hands of the US's global tyranny.

Am I Susan Sarandon?

Susan Sarandon would be horrified, but I'm flattered.


Not Quite Comprehensible

These sounded good, but I wasn't able to decipher the telegraphese of 140-character messages. But Case Wright is right: I haven't voted since the 1980s.