The Misinformation Mess

Exclusive: As Americans approach Election Year 2016, the crisis of misinformation is growing more and more dangerous. On issues from foreign policy to the economy, almost none of the candidates in the race appears to be addressing the real world, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman marvels at the right-wing extremism prevalent in the Republican presidential race not just from the “outsider” candidates but from the “establishment” favorites as well, doubling down on President George W. Bush’s economic prescriptions and foreign policies despite their record of disaster.

The media’s obsession with Donald Trump’s off-the-cuff candidacy “has in one way worked to the G.O.P. establishment’s advantage: it has distracted pundits and the press from the hard right turn even conventional Republican candidates have taken, a turn whose radicalism would have seemed implausible not long ago,” Krugman wrote on Monday.

President Barack Obama returning to the White House on Jan. 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama returning to the White House on Jan. 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

From escalating U.S. military involvement in the Middle East to slashing taxes again for the rich, the supposedly “mainstream” Republicans, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, are acting as if the catastrophes under Bush-43 never happened.

It would be fair to say that the Democrats are suffering from a similar disconnect from the lessons of the last quarter century, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bristling with hawkish rhetoric toward Syria and Russia while sending fawning salutations to Israel despite its contribution to the Mideast crisis by repressing the Palestinian people.

Even Clinton’s chief rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, can’t formulate a rational policy toward the Middle East, although to his credit he did oppose Bush’s bogus case for invading Iraq and favors prioritizing cooperation with Russia in defeating the Islamic State over demanding another “regime change” in Syria.

But Sanders simply wants to postpone the U.S. removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and he encourages Saudi Arabia to throw its military weight around more across the region, not noticing that the Saudis are backing many of the Sunni jihadists who have helped turn the Middle East into a killing field. Nor does Sanders explain why one would expect the Saudis to turn away from their obsession with fighting Shiites as they are currently doing in pulverizing Yemen because a Shiite rebel group, the Houthis, gained power in that impoverished nation.

In a rational world, Saudi Arabia would be viewed as a major part of the problem, not part of any solution.

On domestic policy, Sanders like Trump does seem to have touched a populist political nerve in their recognition that neo-liberalism (as preached since Bill Clinton’s presidency) has failed to protect America’s middle class. Though Sanders’s and Trump’s brands of populism offer sharply divergent remedies, they both speak to Main Street’s fear that it is being left behind by the high-tech globalized world that has diverted vast wealth to Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

The more traditional candidates whether Hillary Clinton or the establishment Republicans don’t address the heart of this problem. Instead, they choose to play it safe on the edges while embracing the “free market” orthodoxies that created the crisis.

A Propagandized People

But is it really possible to expect that the American people (as propagandized and misinformed as they are) could effect significant change through the electoral process, which is itself deeply compromised by vast sums of dark money from American oligarchs, while other super-rich Americans own the major media companies.

So, while there may be some logical responses to this combination of crises, the media/political system prevents them from being considered in any coherent way.

For instance, a rational approach to the Middle East would shift American alliances away from the reactionary Persian Gulf monarchies and Turkey and toward a more balanced approach that would invite greater involvement of Shiite-ruled Iran, which the Sunni-led monarchies view as their chief regional rival. There is little reason for the United States to take one side of a sectarian split within Islam that dates back to the Seventh Century.

By shedding its current pro-Saudi bias, the United States could finally get serious about resolving the Syrian crisis by shutting down the money and weapons going from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to the extremists not just in the Islamic State but also in Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and its various jihadist allies.

Since summer 2014, President Barack Obama and his “coalition” have been fighting a half-hearted war that has failed to face down the U.S. “allies” aiding the Sunni jihadists in Syria. Only when shamed by Russia in fall 2015 did the U.S. coalition join in bombing trucks carrying the Islamic State’s oil from Syria through Turkey’s open borders for resale in the black market. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “A Blind Eye Toward Turkey’s Crimes.”]

As for Syria’s political future, a reasonable approach would be to leave the selection of national leaders up to the Syrian people through internationally organized democratic elections. The voters would be the ones to decide Assad’s fate, not outsiders.

Yet, Official Washington finds itself in the crazy position of extending the bloody Syrian war and the resulting chaos across the region and into Europe because Obama and other Important People said “Assad must go!” and don’t want to lose face by dropping that demand. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons Object to Syrian Democracy.“]

A realistic approach to the Middle East also requires finally standing up to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, rather than letting him dance U.S. political leaders around the world stage like puppets on a marionette’s string. A balanced approach to the Middle East would allow for collaborating with Russia and Iran to apply pressure on the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to make the necessary concessions for a peace deal, imperfect though it would surely be.

The need to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin would also require rethinking the aggressive U.S. strategy regarding NATO and Ukraine. Instead of insisting that everything is “Putin’s fault,” the U.S. government could acknowledge its hand in exacerbating the political crisis in Ukraine in 2013-14 and admit that the U.S.-backed putsch on Feb. 22, 2014, was not the simple story of “our good guys vs. their bad guys” that was sold to the American public.

As part of all this reassessment, there needs to be a coming-clean with the American people regarding what U.S. intelligence knows about a variety of key events, including but not limited to the Aug. 21, 2013 sarin attack outside Damascus, Syria; the Feb. 20, 2014 sniper attack in Kiev, Ukraine, which set the stage for the coup; and the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine.

The fact that such events have been exploited for propaganda reasons to blame U.S. “adversaries” while the detailed knowledge of the U.S. intelligence agencies is hidden from the American people has deprived the public of an ability to make rational assessments about the larger policies. U.S. positions are driven by false or faulty perceptions, not reality.

The Disappearing Middle Class

Along with bringing rationality and reason back to U.S. foreign policy, a similar process of truth-telling could take place domestically. The core problem of America’s disappearing middle class is not just technology and globalization; it is that the super-profits from those developments have gone overwhelmingly to the extremely rich, rather than equitably shared with the population.

Thus, we see the rapid shrinking of the Great American Middle Class, a development that is destructive and dangerous because a prosperous middle class serves as ballast for an economy, preventing it from suddenly capsizing.

Plus, if most people can’t afford to buy the products that technology produces, then eventually the investment in that technology becomes unprofitable, a lesson well known since the days of Henry Ford who wanted his workers to earn enough to afford to buy his cars.

There is the trick question about what is the value of all the properties and hotels in “Monopoly” once one player has won by bankrupting all the other players. The answer is zero because no one has any money to visit the properties or stay at the hotels. They thus have no monetary value. A similar reality holds true in the real-world economy. Over-concentration of wealth is a threat.

The answer to this conundrum is also clear: since it is impossible to stop technological advancement and risky to start trade wars, the alternative is to tax the super-profits of the rich and recycle the money in the form of jobs to build infrastructure, educate the young, protect the environment, research ways to improve health, etc.

There is nothing wrong with having machines do more of the drudgery and give humans more time to enjoy life. The problem comes when the benefits accrue to a tiny minority and the rest of us are forced to work harder or face declining living standards.

But what prevents us from making the sensible move i.e., dramatically increase taxes on the rich and put that money to use putting people to work on worthy projects is Ronald Reagan’s propaganda message that “government is the problem.” The Right has built onto that theme the idea that government promoting the common good is against the U.S. Constitution.

Thus, you have extremists such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz posing as “constitutionalists” as they ignore the fact that the chief authors of the Constitution the Federalists inserted a clear mandate for the U.S. government to “provide for the general Welfare.” That authority was cited in both the Preamble and Article I, Section 8, which enumerates the government’s powers. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Right’s Made-up Constitution.”]

In other words, the “originalist” meaning of the U.S. Constitution was in favor of a robust and activist federal government. But few Americans know and understand that history. They have been sold on a false rendition that serves the interests of the rich who understandably don’t want the government to use its taxing powers on behalf of the broader population.

The Heart of the Matter

Which get us to the heart of the matter: Why is the American political debate so ill-informed and misinformed? Why was there virtually no accountability in the mainstream U.S. news media when nearly every important foreign-policy journalist and pundit bought into the WMD lies that justified the Iraq War? Why are the same kinds of “group thinks” continuing to prevail, with U.S. government propaganda accepted rather than questioned?

The answer to that conundrum is that Official Washington is dominated on foreign policy by neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks and on domestic policy by neo-liberals and government-hating conservatives. The old days when there were foreign policy “realists” who acted more from a perspective of American interests and politicians who remembered the Great Depression and the New Deal are gone.

The neoconservatives, who emerged as pro-Vietnam War Democrats in the 1970s and switched over to Reagan Republicans in the 1980s, have proved to be a formidable and effective force for a propaganda-driven foreign policy that sees American interests as indistinguishable from Israel’s and treats the American people like cattle to be herded.

That is why real information is as dangerous to neocons as water was to the Wicked Witch of the West. It is also why they have concentrated so much on getting control of the flow of news to the American people. If all the public gets is propaganda and if honest journalists and scholars are marginalized and silenced then the people will either support the latest neocon/liberal-hawk cause or end up in confused disarray, not sure what to believe.

The truth is that the neocons and their liberal-hawk allies now control virtually the entire mainstream news media, from The New York Times and The Washington Post to NPR and the major networks to Fox News and most of right-wing talk radio. Even esteemed journalist Seymour Hersh now must go overseas to the London Review of Books to get his important reporting published when it challenges the “group think” on Syria and other topics.

‘Free Market’ Capitalism

A similar situation exists regarding “free market” capitalism that is embraced by both neo-liberals and right-wing economists. For decades, in the major U.S. news media, it has been hard to hear a discouraging word about “free trade” deals even though labor leaders and some populist politicians warned presciently that these deals would cost millions of middle-class factory jobs.

Today, there is more skepticism about “free trade” as the social and economic impact has become undeniable but, again, there was no accountability for the misleading advocates of these agreements nor a serious effort to rewrite the deals. Renegotiation of the trade deals has been one of Donald Trump’s major proposals and applause lines.

But most Republican candidates favor more of the same: more unrestrained capitalism and less taxation on the wealthy. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton positions herself as a centrist, promising no “middle class” tax increases on people making $250,000 or less, a redefinition of the “middle class” to include families making about five times the median income.

Despite their other shortcomings, Trump and Sanders are the only candidates seriously addressing some of these key economic issues. For his part, Sanders advocates much higher taxes especially on the wealthy and the stock speculators to fund a broad range of social programs, such as Medicare for all, and to finance massive infrastructure rebuilding.

Yet, the central challenge for a possible political transformation in America rests on reliable information getting to the people, especially given all the sources of misinformation and the many barriers to the truth. That battle restoring the life-blood of democracy, an informed electorate remains the challenge of our time.

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).

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49 comments for “The Misinformation Mess

  1. Lynne gillooly
    December 28, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    The Plutocrats have been working hard since 1986 and the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine to control the message. This was one of the key strategies outlined in the Powell Memo. Sadly, the democrats never recognized the importance and power of AM talk radio once the Doctrine was repealed. I read somewhere that Joseph Goebbels said if you do 3 things you can control a people anywhere at any time. In essence they were
    1.Always have an enemy (Obama, illegals, Muslims, gays etc etc)
    2. Always be the UBER Patriot so if anyone disagrees with you they will be unpatriotic
    3. Always have the means to control the message. Saturate and repeat it and repeat it until it becomes the “truth”
    It took over 30 years to build this infrastructure and implement this strategy and sadly it has worked for the Plutocracy. The scary thing is that most Americans do not realize we no longer have a democracy. Our voices have no power.

    • Bart
      December 28, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      Here they are in all their mis-informing glory: http://www.toptalkradio.com

      Along with them are the conservative conglomerates that have bought local newspapers and TV stations.

  2. rosemerry
    December 28, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    I agree with most of the article and feel very sorry for “ordinary” Americans who still think they live in a democracy, although what they would like is very rarely in the legislation passed by the alleged Representatives of the People. None of the candidates for POTUS are likely to accomplish what to rational observers such as this writer is needed for a reasonable future for the USA and the globe, any better than the previous three POTUS.

    btw “the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to make the necessary concessions for a peace deal” surely does not mean the poor Palestinians should make any more concessions to the illegal occupation!!

    • Lara Sydney
      December 30, 2015 at 5:36 pm

      I don’t feel the least bit “sorry” for the majority of American adults who are so lazy, they can’t get on the Net to find sources like Consortium News (and many others). There is absolutely no excuse for their political and financial illiteracy. It’s the American people to blame as they hide in sand dunes to maintain levels of comfort.

      • bob
        January 3, 2016 at 7:37 am

        The irony is that their comfort is not reality based, but instead mere perception.

      • DaveK
        January 8, 2016 at 12:00 am

        Lara
        I get all my truth through the IHR which automatically sends articles like this every day
        They were firebombed by Zionist organization in 1985,but have come back better than ever.
        They are non profit and survive by contributions and book video sales.
        I often forward stuff to friends who rarely spend the time to read any of it.
        So disheartening that people depend on MSM, especially Fox (supposed Christians the worst)for their news

      • DaveK
        January 8, 2016 at 12:04 am

        Lara
        I get all my truth through the IHR which automatically sends articles like this every day
        They were firebombed by Zionist organization in 1985,but have come back better than ever.
        They are non profit and survive by contributions and book video sales.
        I often forward stuff to friends who rarely spend the time to read any of it.
        So disheartening that people depend on MSM, especially Fox (supposed Christians the worst)for their news

  3. December 28, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Read “Deer Hunting with Jesus” by Joe Bageant to learn about the means of misdirection. Adult language.

  4. Theodora Crawford
    December 28, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    An idea that has sadly languished for too long, but has been mentioned recently, is a “Financial Transaction Tax” (or “fee” — to assuage tax phobics). Simply apply a small percentage as a fee to financial transactions: for example, if one were to purchase 1000 shares of a stock at $10 per share, the total would be $10,000. A financial transaction fee of 1% would be $100. Not exorbitant. Indeed, probably much less than our current “sales” tax.

    Include similar fees for other transactions such as mortgages. The income would amount to a generous sum that could be used to fund federal government necessities: health care, infrastructure, etc.

    These would not be sales or other “taxes”; only fees when one made voluntary expenditures; for example investing in a financial commodity such as a share of stock, or a mortgage.

    Obviously, those who finance politics don’t like this idea because they would be the most likely to make such purchases and liable for the fees. Tragically, most of the American public won’t follow this simple suggestion,although it is surely in the general public interest. Where is that politician who really does care about the American people?

    • art guerrilla
      December 29, 2015 at 10:29 am

      *not* that your proposal isn’t fine, but the problem isn’t ‘they can’t think of a mechanism to raise funds by taxing the 1%’, the problem is ‘the 1% will smother that baby in the crib, EVERY TIME, and YOUR kongresskritter will be holding the pillow’…

      it donut matter HOW ‘fair’, ‘reasonable’, ‘measured’ and ‘minimal’ your proposal is, the 1% will NOT let that camel’s nose in the tent…
      THE nub of the problem is the 1% have a stranglehold on virtually ALL the levers of power, such that our supposed means of ruling ‘our’ (sic) gummint are lost to us…
      what to do, what to do…
      i know, kampers, let’s all vote ! ! !
      yea-h-h-h, that’ll work…
      *sigh*

      • David Smith
        December 29, 2015 at 12:29 pm

        “Propertied Class” is the accurate term. Every pseudo-middle class buffoon clutching a Powerball ticket “imagines” becoming part of ” The 1%”. The Means Of Production are owned by a small group of people who inherited ownership.

      • bob
        January 3, 2016 at 7:40 am

        The tragedy. Art, is that you happen to be spot on.

  5. Abbybwood
    December 28, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    It must be pretty freakin’ hard for the United States to declare that it is doing its best to “degrade and to destroy” Daesh when at the same time it REFUSES to give military coordinates to the Russians (who actually have a plan they are acting on to destroy Daesh):

    http://tass.ru/en/politics/847380

  6. JWalters
    December 28, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    A welcome statement of the sad situation in America’s thoroughly corrupt news establishment.

    Excellent on-going coverage of the New York Times’ corrupt dishonesty in reporting about Israel and Palestine is at Mondoweiss, an anti-Zionist, Jewish run website. For example,
    http://mondoweiss.net/2015/12/reports-differing-perspectives/

    Some routinely omitted historical facts about the entwining of corrupt money, news, and war is at:
    http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

  7. Pablo Diablo
    December 28, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Why waste billions of dollars on an election? Just have the Supreme Court “select” THE DONALD and continue the policies of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, W. Bush, Obama until they work.

  8. Abe
    December 28, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    We invaded Iraq because a powerful group of pro-Israel ideologues — the neoconservatives — who had mustered forces in Washington over the previous two decades and at last had come into the White House were able to sell a vision of transforming the Middle East that was pure wishful hokum […]

    The evidence for this causation is at every hand.

    […] this goes back to rightwing Zionism. It goes back to Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol launching neoconservatism in the 1970s because they said that the dovish policies of the Democratic Party were a direct threat to Israel– an analysis continued in this day by Norman Braman, Marco Rubio’s leading supporter, who says that the U.S. must be a military and economic power in order to “sustain” Israel.

    An Economist blogger wrote several years ago that if you leave out the Zionism you won’t understand the Iraq war:

    “Yes, it would be ridiculous, and anti-semitic, to cast the Iraq war as a conspiracy monocausally driven by a cabal of Jewish neocons and the Israeli government. But it’s entirely accurate to count neoconservative policy analyses as among the important causes of the war, to point out that the pro-Israeli sympathies of Jewish neoconservatives played a role in these analyses, and to note the support of the Israeli government and public for the invasion. In fact any analysis of the war’s causes that didn’t take these into account would be deficient.”

    Many writers, including Joe Klein, Jacob Heilbrunn, and Alan Dershowitz, have said the obvious, that neoconservatism came out of the Jewish community. And I have long written that the Jewish community needs to come to terms with the degree to which it has harbored warmongering neoconservatives, for our own sake.

    But America needs to come to terms with the extent to which it allowed rightwing Zionists to dominate discussions of going to war. This matter is now at the heart of the Republican embrace of the war on Iran. There is simply no other constituency in our country for that war besides rightwing Zionists. They should be called out for this role, so that we don’t make that terrible mistake again. And yes: this issue is going to play out frankly in the 2016 campaign

    The U.S. is at last facing the neocon captivity
    By Philip Weiss
    http://mondoweiss.net/2015/05/facing-neocon-captivity

    • Lincoln Thompson
      December 29, 2015 at 5:40 am

      Abe I agree with your comment, but wish you would not use Zionism and Jewish interchangeably. Zionism to Judaism is like Fundamental Islamist to Moslem. Jewish is NOT Zionist.

      • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
        December 29, 2015 at 1:38 pm

        What percentage of Jews support “The Zionist Jewish State”?…..(or in a different way, what percentage of “Jews” do not consider themselves “Zionists”?) I asked several Jews that question and the LOWEST number I heard was 95%……..If that is true then at least 95% of the total number of Jews in the world consider themselves ZIONISTS…….YES, very small number of Jews do not consider themselves Zionist but the very vast majority do………..Do you have better info on that?

    • alexander
      December 29, 2015 at 7:02 am

      Good one , Abe.

      You hit the nail on the head.

    • Peter Loeb
      December 29, 2015 at 7:18 am

      IS IT “APATHY” OR “COURAGE”?

      Robert Parry’s analysis above highlights a utopian
      “wish list” which will not ever be realized. I support the
      wishing but am then defeated by its illusory essence.

      I cannot in good conscience support US political candidates
      who will make the world bloodier.

      It is not productive to contemplate the machinations of a
      US political campaign.

      The more I study the Palestine-Israeli conflict, the more
      secure is my belief that the essential beliefs of Zionism
      itself are at the core of the conflicts. Until Zionism has
      disappeared entirely, there can be no justice
      (Michael Prior, CM). And Zionism only understands
      the langjuage of force (See Norman G. Finkelstein,
      IMAGE AND REALITY…especially on Oslo II).

      There is no way that Zionist Israel will meet any
      “Iron Wall” (V. Jabotinsky, Berlin, 1923.

      So where are we?

      It is as though we were watching the expulsion
      of Native Americans centuries ago. The indigenes
      had their civilizations, their rights, but they lost. They
      lost badly (yes, even before modern “technology”).

      Well-intentioned advocates for Palestinians fail
      to face these realities. Despite his blatent racism
      etc, Vladimir Jabotinsky understood this with frightening
      but accurate insight,. (As Norman Finkelstein points
      out, he was not a marginal terrorist but very much
      in the middle of the Zionist consensus.)

      The best chance is for opponents to increase
      economic pressure such as BDS. Another way
      is to hire a Washington lobbyist (or several)
      to initiate campaigning against selected
      targets including ads, videos etc. So far
      no advocacy organization has dared to
      confront “Jewish” monetary and political
      control directly. Efforts may be small at first
      and may not always be successful. There are
      Congressional and Senatorial elections in the
      US every two years.

      Israel does indeed understand the language of economic
      and political force. Of course, opponents will respond in kind.
      The more effective these actions may be, the nastier will
      be their responses. That has always been the case.)

      [Gabriel Kolko analyzed these realities—he was then commenting
      on opposition to the Vietnam war—in the Epilogue of his
      book, THE ROOTS OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY.., The
      Epilogue was titled “Reason and Radicalism”.]

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • dahoit
      December 29, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      Yes,Abe.I notice Mr.Parry won’t spell it out as you do,Zionism is our bane.
      Why does the MSM protect the Saudis?
      After 9-11,they must have come to Ziostan head in hand,ready to do any bidding of the monsters,from anti Iranian regime change and oil price cutting,which by the way,is killing American workers,but only “crazy” nationalists like Trump care.

    • sharonsj
      December 29, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Abe, we invaded Iraq for the oil. Lest you forget, Bush’s family was heavily into oil for many decades and Cheney ran Halliburton, which got billion-dollar contracts. In fact, all their friends got very rich from the Iraq war.

      And if you understood history and what’s really going on, you’d realize that being anti-Zionist is the same thing as being anti-Jewish.

      Finally, the reasons why most Americans are stupid are: the national news media doesn’t actually give you factual news unless it covers disasters and the weather; radio is nearly 24-hour conservative, hateful and misleading nonsense; and newspapers won’t spend the time and money for lengthy investigative reporting. It’s all because corporations control everything from communications to state and federal legislatures and the American public is too entertainment-addled to pay attention to how they are being screwed.

      • Chet Roman
        December 29, 2015 at 7:28 pm

        I don’t for a minute believe that the main driver of the U.S. invasion of Iraq was oil. As I remember it the oil companies were against it. Yes, many companies, like Halliburton, made fortunes from the war but it wasn’t from oil. It was from providing equipment, services, personnel and instruments of war at hugely inflated prices. Stolen Iraqi oil is now funding ISIS and prominent zionists have stated that they prefer ISIS to Assad. The zionist fifth column infested high levels of government and the military. The zionist controledOffice of Special Plans in the Pentagon was created to spew pro-war propaganda and zionist controlled media published the most blatent lies.

        The “creation” of Israel was a very long-term plan of the Zionists and with it was the eventual expansion of Israel and destruction of the Arabs. The Yonin Plan has been quite accurate. General Wesley Clark went public with what he heard from sources in the Pentagon about a plan to destroy Iraq, Syria.. etc., which was in lock step to the Yonin plan and, frankly, did not serve U.S. interests.

    • Abe
      December 29, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Michael Marder, Tariq Ali and other analysts have observed that the characterization of anti-Zionism as anti-Jewish is a political ploy used to stifle legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and actions.

    • Abe
      December 30, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      In a 2002 interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Israeli politician Shulamit Aloni said that charges of anti-Semitism are “a trick we use” to suppress criticism of Israel coming from within the United States, for criticism coming from Europe “we bring up the Holocaust.”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0kWAqZxJVE

      A supporter of Palestinian statehood and outspoken opponent of the Orthodox Jewish establishment in Israel, Aloni served as a Minister of the Knesset. She founded the Movement for Civil Rights and Peace (Ratz) party, and was leader of the Vigour (Meretz) party.

      Aloni served under Yitzhak Rabin as education minister from 1992-1993 and as science and arts minister from 1993-1996. In 2000, she received the Israel Prize, the country’s most prestigious national award, for her lifetime achievement. The committee cited Aloni’s “struggle to promote peace, to improve relations between Jews and Arabs on the basis of mutual respect and to end the state of Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people.”

      Aloni was a board member of Yesh Din, an organization focusing on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. She defended U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s use of the word “apartheid” in the title of his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Later, Aloni said, “I hate to cover up things that should be open to the sun.”

  9. LJ
    December 28, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Well, this is the truth and the kids coming out of the Universities don’t even want to ask questions either and they are the future. They are looking to get rich quick or are saddled with so much debt that they have no choice but to conform to the machine ASAP . So really there is little hope except maybe in a place like Scotland and maybe not even there. But this is why natural born demagogues like Hillary and Trump could be so dangerous in the Presidency. Basically we are already a Fascist state , the Military Industrial Financial Intelligence Complex, all we need is a dictator.. Good article but I’m worried that the Choir that Mr Parry is preaching to is shrinking and aging rapidly. Stay active and exercise folks. Remember to breathe and eat your vegetables.

    • December 29, 2015 at 6:59 am

      Great comment!

      I don’t know why you mentioned Scotland and not Bhutan (Gross National Happiness index) or Rojava. Gaddafi’s Jamahiriya with Basic People’s Congresses and General People’s Committees would have been a prime example, but it was destroyed by NATO for obvious reasons. What about Cuba?

      There are remote rural areas in Portugal, Greece, and many other countries around the world who are ignored (meaning left alone) by the central government and therefore have the chance to sustain a functioning local economy and a more gentle and caring social framework.

      As a matter of fact US society is a warrior society, built on the conquest of new territory, the genocide of Native Americans, and the slave labor of kidnapped Africans. This is a heavy encumbrance but the astonishing brain plasticity of humans enables them to reprogram themselves to overcome adverse legacies.

      Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon books and his radio show Prairie Home Companion paint a picture of small town America, which despite its pettiness and idiosyncrasies is likable and desirable.

      There are many grassroots community projects (Transition towns, co-ops), They blossom in secrecy to avoid attention of the corporate enforcers. When the time is right, they will be a blueprint for a new society.

      • dahoit
        December 29, 2015 at 1:09 pm

        Yes Americas history has been violent.But since the Zionists have absconded with our MIC,our violence has translated into ventures far from our shores,in useless and unproductive to American interest debacles,from Vietnam to the current day..
        The old Republicans were the isolationists,not this ziowhore duopoly of demoncrat and rethug slaves.
        Yankee come home,there is a multitude of ills to fix right here in river city.

    • Nick
      December 29, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Tres bien.

  10. December 29, 2015 at 12:30 am

    haikai no renga – of varying shapes and hues, but at the core still peas in the empire’s pod

    clinton carson trump
    bush rubio christie cruz:
    adept at chicane
    but scratch each and find below
    The Corporatists’ Wet Dream

    * * *

    © Gregory V Driscoll 2015
    http://picaflor1968.wordpress.com

  11. Jim Kemeny
    December 29, 2015 at 1:26 am

    The Saker points to the confusion among US strategists over how to react to Syria: http://thesaker.is/week-twelve-of-the-russian-intervention-in-syria-zag/

  12. December 29, 2015 at 2:23 am

    There is little doubt left among the middle classes that the 1% has now begun eyeing any wealth they have left. It is a very dangerous game for a nation with more guns in public ownership than people. And it seems something the government is well aware of to judge by the militarisation of the country’s police forces.

    One way of raising taxes from those who can most afford to pay them, US politicians will not be talking about in the run-up to elections, is an upward sliding scale of sales taxes on luxury goods.

    As a luxury sales tax wouldn’t affect choice – the obscenely wealthy could afford paying the increased taxes simply by buying the same stuff everyone else does – there can be no valid argument against it.

    When all’s said and done, the only justifiable reason for having so much wealth can be for the purchasing power it brings. Even if luxury goods were taxed at 1,000%, it is doubtful such a tax would cause much more than a dent in the wealth of the richest billionaires.

    But that’s too sensible a solution to merit consideration by any Western nation.

    • December 29, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      Fully agree the police state is well along in USA. The middle class is essentially gone, and was based on a manufacturing economy spawned by the industrial revolution. The wealthy got there because of education and focus on the information revolution, not because they took from the middle class….not close. We destroyed our educational system just when the citizens needed it the most, but you cannot morph uneducated citizens into information systems professionals….so we import them. Raising the minimum wage is just a way to artifically create a pseudo middle class with no staying power…..I offer no solutions, but a revolution is possible…we live in dangerous times.

  13. art guerrilla
    December 29, 2015 at 10:22 am

    “But is it really possible to expect that the American people (as propagandized and misinformed as they are) could effect significant change through the electoral process, which is itself deeply compromised by vast sums of dark money from American oligarchs, while other super-rich Americans own the major media companies.”

    um, no…
    end of story

    hmmmm, have the puppetmasters cornered the body-politic rat ? ? ?

  14. Brad Owen
    December 29, 2015 at 10:29 am

    We had better get real about what we, The People, us regular every-day folks, are facing. Those sponsors and architects of a New World Feudal Order have declared covert war upon the Middle Class-as-such. Not only is it “It’s the economy, stupid”; it is “It’s the Middle Class, stupid”.
    The ONLY THING that differentiates the Medieval Feudal Order from the Modern Middle Class Democratic Order IS THE creation of a Middle Class. The ONLY thing that guarantees the continuation of a Middle Class is a Sovereign Nation-State with a strong Central Government of, by, for The People, who give Their consent to be governed by ITS’ Representatives, and Toadies for wannabe-Oligarchs can be turned out.
    The Monopoly Trick Question is indeed a real consideration; but only if a democratic economy for a Middle Class is what is wanted by those in Authority to preserve or change Policy (there is no such thing as a free-market economy. Economies are broadly designed by rules&regs&taxes towards specific ends). If what the Oligarchs want is NOT a Henry Ford economy of a hundred-million Fords, but a Frederick Deusenberg economy of a hundred-thousand chauffeur-driven Deusenbergs, then a Great Depression/General Breakdown Crisis will be engineered by them, if they are not opposed by the people. The economic/manufacturing base will shrink accordingly (behind fortress walls patrolled by the Warrior Caste), and the people will return to peasant-status and horse-drawn buckboards (the Amish are well-suited for that societal shift). This result will actually be applauded by some environmentalists. If populations are to be reduced by the neo-feudal Oligarchs, then a General economic Breakdown Crisis is just what the doctor ordered; severe Austerities cancel out Healthcare, and vast plagues of easily-curable diseases will reduce a Republic of 320 million Citizens to perhaps 30-to-50 million traumatized Peasants (the Oligarchs and their Warrior and Technologist Castes will have the meds for this crisis). If the people lose this war being waged upon them, then a “Plan B” is needed, and we must turn to Localists, and people like the Amish, to relearn how to live again as Peasants of the Soil. I would rather The People win this war, but I’m not encouraged…so far. And I frankly don’t have the stomach for a Revolution. The super-rich aren’t monolithic though; maybe some can be turned back to The Republic, and turned away from the nightmare of a Neo-Feudal Empire. They must be rewarded accordingly to secure their loyalty to The Republic. FDR understood this. Marx did not.

  15. nick
    December 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Americans as cattle is right, and never more so than when getting, or being given, our information. Think cattle drive. If Hollywood got it right, it takes very few cowboys to control a very large herd. Just a handful telling the cattle where to go. (A shot here, a whip there.) Those cowboys would be the mostly-Jewish owners of our mass media. And the beauty of it is the herd isn’t even aware of the direction it’s going. For opposite examples, consider the recent warming of relations with Cuba, and the Iran nuclear agreement. Overwhelmingly the words the cowboys used for Cuba were positive (starting w warming) while the ones for Iran were uniformly negative (the non-stated but in-your-face presumption from the mass media being, who the hell does Barack Obama think he is doing something the Israeli prime minister disagrees with?).

    And lest we forget our John Ford movies: what frightens cowboys most? A stampede. The cattle not going in the direction they’re supposed to, the cattle being out of control. Who knows where it will stop??

    As for “the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to make the necessary concessions for a peace deal” — it seems Mr. Parry has fallen into a similar trap. Peace negotiations. We’re supposed to believe an occupied people bear some guilt for keeping the occupation going, for the occupation itself? When have an occupied people ever sat down with an occupier to discuss “peace” terms, the first term to be discussed the safety demands of the occupier?

    None that I can think of. But one. The Jewish state.

  16. December 29, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    This article touches many issues and would deserve a comment as long as the article itself but for the sake of clarity and brevity I want to comment on and add thoughts to just a few points:

    1. About propaganda, responsible journalism, and truth

    Every journalist, has an agenda and writes what she/he believes in or what she/he is payed for (this principle applies to everybody who writes or says something in order to convince other people). Therefore one could argue, that there is no objectivity, there is no truth, everything is propaganda.

    Misinformation, propaganda, indoctrination, brainwashing are nothing new, they are as old as human society. They were not invented by Edward L. Bernays in 1928, he only fine-tuned the methodology.

    Throughout history sages, philosophers, scholars, preachers convinced people to believe in religions, ideologies, philosophies, and superstitions. These beliefs or belief systems were often used by ruling elites to solidify power, to exploit and enslave.

    Journalists, reporters, correspondents, stringers are besides not being objective also limited in their perception: They will interpret what they see according to their individual belief system.

    One can compare, correlate, crosscheck reports from diverging sources and use common sense, logic, intuition, and the lessons of history to get an idea of what is going on. One has to remain skeptical, open minded, being aware of the limits of human sensory perception and cognition, being aware of the fundamental principles of epistemology.

    What does all that mean in regard to the article? Truth is elusive, is not absolute, depends on the viewpoint. The agenda, the mission, the personal ethics of the journalists, authors, analysts, commentators make all the difference.

    Journalistic conduct is mirroring prevailing social norms and values.

    2. About US foreign politics

    Ethical leaders (with empathetic feelings beyond their political constituency) would try to increase the wellbeing or at least reduce the suffering of humans. This cannot be achieved by producing weapons, to the contrary, the resources used for weapons are not available to social welfare and the weapons themselves cause unimaginable pain and suffering.

    Many areas of the Middle East will be devastated and become uninhabitable by persistent drought and global warming. Aquifers are depleted (Saudi Arabia), drinking water will run out in Sana’a, Yemen, the whole Arabian Peninsula will become too hot for humans. The deserts in Syria, Iraq, Iran continue to grow, Egypt will not be able to feed the rapidly increasing population.

    Hundreds of millions of people will look for a new place.

    What should the worlds richest nation do? Climate change and habitat destruction have to be diminished by stopping the use of fossil fuels and abandoning a wasteful and inefficient lifestyle (consumerism). The USA should fund programs to increase energy efficiency, replant forests, clean up and restore natural habitats. But first and foremost the USA should set a shining example by significantly diminishing energy and resources use — and Americans could reduce a lot because at the moment they per capita consume in average 8 to 10 times as much as the rest of humanity.

    But instead: The USA is the worlds biggest weapons producer. Not only that, it distributes more weapons than all contenders together, is sells or even gives freely to tyrants, warlords, criminals, and religious fanatics. The USA maintains and even modernizes its nuclear arsenal, forcing Russia and China to do the same. This is a monstrous flirt with armageddon.

    Which politicians discuss this savage crime, this monstrosity, this insanity? Which journalists write about it?

    3. About the US middle class

    The middle class get squeezed but what about the lower classes? Who cares about the homeless, the disabled, the down and out? Who cares about the children who grow up in desolate neighborhoods and are crammed into underfunded schools? Who cares about single mothers who have to work two or more jobs to make ends meet?

    Didn’t they tell us that the class wars are over? Couldn’t the poor need a little help in the “pursuit of happiness”? Is the extreme wealth of the Forbes billionaires ethically justifiable?

    4. Robert Parry writes “… it is impossible to stop technological advancement …” This is a minor point but it needs to be said that humans can focus on different kinds of technology. For instance on recycling and repairing, energy efficiency, small scale manufacturing, permaculture, no-till farming, biology, non-invasive and alternative medicine, neurology. Or, as it is happening now, on weapons technology, nuclear energy, space exploration, resource extraction, industrial mass production and industrial agriculture (GM foods).

    • Skip Edwards
      January 2, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      Wolf Mato, the extremely rich do not want to take action to help anyone but themselves. They care not about using wealth to help others rise a bit. The world being finite with finite resources can only support a certain number of people. Climate change through drought, flooding and wind will kill off many millions, and most likely billions, of people. The rich feel that they will survive, and most probably will survive, the coming climate disaster. The rich only need to survive and survive with enough people remaining on Earth to serve them. Serve them as consumers. Serve them as workers. Serve them as slaves. That way capitalism can survive. The rich are educated people for the most part. They know what is coming. They know the Earth can only provide resources for a certain number. How to whittle those numbers down without committing outright murder is the question. Human caused climate disaster is the answer. For them at least.

  17. Abe
    December 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Acknowledging that Syria’s ongoing conflict is the result of foreign aggression against Damascus would make the solution very simple. The solution would be to allow Damascus to restore order within its borders while taking action either at the UN or on the battlefield against those nations fueling violence aimed at Syria. Perhaps the clarity of this solution is why those behind this conflict have tried so hard to portray it as a civil war.

    For those who have been trying to make sense of the Syrian “civil war” since 2011 with little luck, the explanation is simple, it isn’t a civil war and it never was. Understanding it as a proxy conflict from the very beginning (or even before it began) will give one a clarity in perception that will aid one immeasurably in understanding what the obvious solutions are, but only when they come to this understanding.

    Syria: It’s Not a Civil War and it Never Was
    By Ulson Gunnar
    http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/28/syria-its-not-a-civil-war-and-it-never-was/

  18. Ralph Reed
    December 29, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    That nbc warfare has mostly remained potential while concentration of wealth accelerates indicates medium term plans have been big tent eugenics and technological determinist dreams of control of evolution. Having a dynamic between geological and/or nbc crisis and resource distribution allows the planners to retain a positive teleology mostly derived from Christianity.

  19. December 29, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    If I had to pick a Republican candidate, it would be Kasich. He helped to improve the economic condition of Ohio as their governor. Trump would only increase fascist control over the US, as would every other candidate, except Sanders.

    To be fair to Sanders, he wants to usher in Democratic Socialism. Under such a system, it will be the people, and not him, who determines foreign policy, as well as every other policy.

    Because of that, Sanders is the best candidate for president. He is the duopoly killa’.

    • December 30, 2015 at 1:34 am

      Sanders may call himself a democratic socialist but when he gives a more detailed explanation of his beliefs and ideas, those turn out to be an iteration of the “social democracy” we here in the US know better as the New and Fair Deals. He is not really a democratic socialist at all. The fact that he can run as a Democratic Party candidate belies such inaccurate characterization of him as a socialist, no matter the adjective attached thereto. He just wants to return to what he sees as the tried and true policies of the FDR years & legacy that existed up to the advent of the Republican wave of 1980, and which was in large part effectively toppled by the Clintons in the 1990s, and given the coup de grace by G. W. Bush and R. Cheney in first decade of the 21st Century.

  20. lynn faulkner
    December 29, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Speaking of misformation: Sanders did initially “oppose the Iraq war”, but then voted numerous times to fund it. His unconditional support of Israel over 3 decades has led to not only a disaster in the ME, and the genocidal occupation of Palestine, but to helping along the creation of ISIL. Further, he has never met a “Defense” bill he didn’t love. Duopoly killa? I think not. He is running on the DP platform and has pledged his support to whomever is the nominee. Eugene Debs is turning in his grave.

  21. Charles Taylor
    December 29, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Yet the witless narcissistic American electorate considers themselves wholly informed. Gander upon the profusion of bigheaded know-it-alls who permeate social media services. Their obdurately vulgar stupidity impels even the most forgiving minds to recoil. Unwashed craven illiterates spreading phony inventions like topsoil over a pasture of ignorant undergrowth; taking it all in, four baby words at a time. Hand in hand they dance through the brush like mephisto, eradicating all rationality that once flourished in a now thoroughly disordered field of public discourse. If they are misled, they are misleading themselves.

  22. LondonBob
    December 30, 2015 at 11:54 am

    The best forecaster on the effects of free trade was Sir James Goldsmith. Like Donald Trump you would assume his background would lead him to take the opposite position, but there are honourable folks in all walks of life.

    http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0504/article_480.shtml
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PQrz8F0dBI

  23. Abe
    December 30, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    In reality, decades of documented evidence reveal that the Saudis are the primary conduit through which Western cash, weapons, support, and directives flow into mercenary armies of extremists, indoctrinated by Saudi Wahhabism – a politically-motivated perversion of Islam – and sent to execute joint Western-Saudi geopolitical ambitions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and beyond.

    In fact, over the decades, one can see a direct relation to the increasing impotence of Western conventional forces and their ability to project power across the planet, and the rise of unconventional terrorist forces that reach into otherwise inaccessible regions in their stead.

    This does more than the West’s feigned ignorance and surprise to explain why, after a year of allegedly battling the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) in Syria, the United States made little progress and only after Russia’s recent intervention, has the terrorist organization’s existence been put in jeopardy.

    The rise of ISIS, turns out to be the premeditated machinations of the West and its regional partners. A Department of Intelligence Agency (DIA) report drafted in 2012 (.pdf) admitted:

    “If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

    To clarify just who these “supporting powers” were that sought the creation of a “Salafist” (Islamic) principality” (State), the DIA report explains:

    “The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.”

    The DIA report makes it clear that Saudi Arabia’s “coalition” is the source of all terrorism, not the solution, and that there already exists a coalition sincerely committed to exterminating the scourge of militant extremism in the MENA region – Russia, China, Iran, and of course Syria itself.

    Saudi “Anti-Terror Coalition” a Facade to Hide Yet More Terrorism
    By Tony Cartalucci
    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2015/12/saudi-anti-terror-coalition-facade-to.html

  24. Abe
    December 30, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Consider the implication of the phrase “groups claiming to occupy a middle ground between Mr. Assad and the Islamic State.” While this is classic corporate media faux-objectivity, the reality is that this is cleverly constructed misinformation designed to validate and legitimize an absolutely discredited notion, namely that there is a significant difference between the ideology of [so-called “moderate opposition” forces in Syria] and that of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). Indeed, the NYT here is unsurprisingly bolstering official Washington’s line that the US must support “moderate opposition” which, in the subtext of that phrase, is everyone who is not ISIS/ISIL. But real experts on Syria recognize that this is merely political window-dressing, that in fact the difference between Jaish al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate), and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is just words; these organizations compete for influence and control, but do not truly differ ideologically.

    Syria Rebel Leader’s Assassination a Major Blow to US-NATO-Saudi Agenda. Part 1
    By Eric Draitser
    http://gianalytics.org/en/269-syria-rebel-leader-s-assassination-a-major-blow-to-us-nato-saudi-agenda-part-1-

  25. Dennis Berube
    December 31, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    Really good article. The only thing I would say is that taxing the rich more alone is no good. There simply isn’t enough money there to seriously help the economy in it’s current state. The best answer is a 1% Wall Street Sales Tax on derivatives and other forms on insidious speculation that serves no common good. This would have the nice side effect of curbing this activity in addition to providing plenty of cash for shoring up Social programs and building infrastructure (Maglev 2.0 is best option economically speaking).

    Other than that, a great read for the New Year.

  26. Skip Edwards
    January 2, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    None of the candidates, none, seems to have any interest in discussing the military industrial complex. The bottom line is that with the continuation of endless war, the continuing maintenance of 1,000 military bases and “outposts” around the world and the continuing production of military assets of far more technological advancement than will ever be needed it doesn’t matter how the rich get taxed. That money is being wasted on war and spying to the extent that there is not much left over for any kinds of useful social spending. That does not even include money for any serious attempts to reduce humanity’s effects on climate. Taxes, or not, our nation is falling apart and we are taking the rest of the world with us. We have been subjugated by the corporate, oligarchic KING!! Not are being; it is have been.

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