Duping Americans on Healthcare and War

Exclusive: The American people have been sold a deadly bill of goods both for their lousy healthcare system and for their perpetual war machine – and there’s no end in sight, as Nicolas J S Davies explains.

By Nicolas J S Davies

President Trump and his wealthy friends have just discovered how complicated healthcare is in this country — for the rest of us that is. They will soon find out that U.S. militarism is just as complicated, and for many of the same reasons.

President Donald Trump delivering his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

Healthcare is uniquely complicated in the United States because the U.S. is the only wealthy country in the world where for-profit corporate interests have carved out such a dominant role in the sickness and health of its people. The lucrative role of for-profit insurance companies is unique in the entire world; prescription drugs cost many times more than in other countries; and for-profit corporations have taken over 21 percent of U.S. hospitals since 1965.

Every other wealthy country provides universal healthcare to its people mainly through its public sector, with smaller roles for private, usually non-profit entities. Drug prices are contained by the negotiating power of these large public healthcare systems.

These systems all face challenges as they try to maintain the quality of patient care amid the rising costs of new medicines and medical technology, but the basic structure of the healthcare system in each country is well-established and stable.

If people in other wealthy countries pay attention to the U.S. healthcare crisis at all, it must seem that we’re making a meal of this for peculiar cultural reasons. We must enjoy having these huge debates over healthcare every few years for the same reasons that we eat in our cars or play different sports than they do. Outside the U.S., it’s inconceivable that a rich country would really allow tens of thousands of people to die prematurely every year for lack of access to healthcare, or that the public lacks the political power to prevent this from happening.

Race to the Bottom

For the past generation, the U.S. has led a “race to the bottom” among developed countries to ensure that the rewards of advanced technology and increased productivity are allocated to wealthy investors and corporate executives, instead of to the working people actually developing, operating and maintaining these new technologies, in the U.S. and around the world.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin

A central element in this neoliberal counter-revolution is the expansion of the corporate for-profit sector into areas of life otherwise rooted in the public sector, like health, education, utilities, transportation and criminal justice.

Despite huge imbalances in market power between ordinary people and large corporations, the quasi-religious belief in “markets” as the most efficient mechanism for managing all aspects of society requires that even public services like healthcare and education be privatized and submitted to the “magic of the market.” U.S. political and business leaders are determined to prove that privatized healthcare can work, and then to export it to the rest of the world as part of the relentless expansion of U.S.-based capitalism.

But if public services like healthcare and education cannot be successfully abandoned to the vagaries of “the market,” even in the United States, then the public sector will have proven to be more essential than the architects of neoliberalism have claimed.

When the U.S. finally admits that its brutal experiment in privatized healthcare has failed and it is forced to hand the reins of this critical part of American life over to the public sector, it will be a powerful signal that the neoliberal project has passed its high point – and that the political pendulum has begun to swing back  toward a more rational and democratic future.

Deterrence or Aggression?

Like the privatized U.S. healthcare system, U.S. militarism is also uniquely complicated, in ways that the world is barely coming to grips with after 18 years of U.S.-led wars that have killed about two million people and left half a dozen countries in ruins.

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as “shock and awe.”

It is hardly a coincidence that our healthcare and warfare crises have some disturbing things in common, since they are products of the same unique political and economic system.

Our dysfunctional medical industry and our murderous war machine are by far the most expensive “healthcare” and “defense” systems in the world. Both are hugely profitable, but neither provides value for money in the form of a healthier or a safer society, the stated missions that justify their existence and their endlessly-expanding demands on our resources.

These are also the two areas of public policy in which bad policy predictably and inevitably leads to massive losses of human life. In terms of keeping people safe from disease and war respectively, U.S. “healthcare” and U.S. “defense” both fail catastrophically despite their ever-growing price tags. In fact, the huge amounts of money involved contribute to their failures by corrupting and distorting the non-commercial purposes they are both supposed to serve.

The Even-Worse War Machine

But U.S. militarism involves complications that dwarf even the ravages of the privatized U.S. healthcare system. While U.S. “news” media provide 24-hour “talking heads” coverage of the CIA and the Democratic Party’s accusations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election, American bombs are killing thousands of Iraqi civilians in Mosul, as they have been doing across Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries since 2001.

An Air Force sergeant waits to secure a load of cargo in a C-130H Hercules at Qayyarah Airfield West, Iraq, Feb. 3, 2017. (Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jordan Castelan)

 

In contrast to our endless healthcare debate, the contradictions of U.S. militarism have barely been debated at all. Politicians only discuss the purposes of the U.S. military in euphemistic terms, and any objective or honest appraisal of the death, violence and chaos we have unleashed in country after country for the past 18 years is strictly taboo across the political spectrum.

There is an inherent contradiction in trying to use weapons of war to keep the peace. I remember asking my father, a British navy doctor, how he resolved this contradiction, which was more glaring in his case as a doctor committed to “first do no harm.” He told me that he believed a strong defense was the most effective deterrent to aggression.

Apart from one day in June 1954, when his ship’s 6-inch guns “bombarded terrorist positions” on Kedah Peak in Malaya, my father spent his entire career in a shrinking peacetime navy as the sun set on the British Empire. The U.K. stayed out of Vietnam, aside from some covert operations, and no other country attacked the U.K., so my Dad’s view of his naval career as a deterrent to aggression survived largely unscathed.

Even President Trump subscribes to the view that the legitimate role of military power is as a deterrent to aggression by others. On Feb. 27, he declared his intention to add $54 billion per year to the Obama administration’s military budget, which already set a post-WWII record. But in a speech a few days earlier, Trump couched his promise to build a bigger, more expensive war machine strictly in terms of deterrence, as he did regularly throughout his election campaign.

“And, hopefully, we’ll never have to use it, but nobody is going to mess with us,” he said. “Nobody. It will be one of the greatest military build-ups in American history.”

Big-Stick Bullying

My father and our new president were both echoing Teddy Roosevelt’s warning to “speak softly and carry a big stick.” But there is an obvious distinction between carrying a big stick to let others know that you are prepared to defend yourself, and actually threatening and attacking other people with it.

Brandishing guns became a feature of many Tea Party rallies opposing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Many Americans keep guns in their homes to protect themselves against crime, but long-standing statistics show that guns in the home are about 20 times more likely to end up injuring or killing someone in a suicide attempt, domestic violence or an accident than in self-defense against a criminal intruder. (My wife and I were once almost shot in our own home when we returned home late at night and startled a house guest who hadn’t even warned us she was armed.) Could we be making a similar mistake on an international scale in our desire to maintain a “strong defense”?

The idea that U.S. diplomacy should be backed up by threats of force has become central to post-Cold War U.S. policy, but it is not long since this was seen as a risky strategy, even in official circles. After catastrophic wars in Korea and Vietnam, U.S. leaders were wary of war, and therefore avoided making threats that would drag the U.S. into new wars.

They did not renounce the use of force altogether, but waged it through proxy forces supported by small deployments of U.S. special forces in Central America and by the CIA in Angola and Afghanistan. These “disguised, quiet, media-free” military operations, as senior officers have called them, were shielded from public scrutiny by layers of secrecy and propaganda, yet they still met with resistance from a war-wary U.S. public and Congress.

The Credible Threat Problem

In heated debates within the Reagan administration, Secretary of State George Schultz argued that U.S. diplomacy should be backed up by the threat of force, while Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger warned against threats or uses of force that could lead to another disaster like the war in Vietnam. Weinberger’s view was shared by U.S. military leaders, many of whom had fought as junior officers in Vietnam.

President Reagan meets with Vice President George H.W. Bush on Feb. 9, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Presidential Library.)

After the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983, Secretary Weinberger publicly laid out a doctrine of limited war in 1984, in which he accepted the thrust of Schultz’s argument, but defined strict limits and conditions on U.S. threats and uses of force. The Weinberger Doctrine declared that the U.S. should threaten or use proportionate force only for clearly defined and achievable objectives, only when “vital” national or allied interests were at stake, and only with the support of the American public and Congress.

But the notion of a credible threat to support diplomacy is a dangerously seductive idea, and the Weinberger Doctrine became “the camel’s nose inside the tent” that was soon followed by the rest of the camel.

As U.S. leaders looked for ways to exploit the post-Cold War “power dividend,” hawkish officials and pundits suggested that General Manuel Noriega in Panama and President Saddam Hussein in Iraq had failed to surrender under threat of U.S. attack because they did not believe that the U.S. would follow through on its threats. The hawks insisted that, if the U.S. would only threaten and use force more readily and consistently, its threats would be “credible” and its enemies would give up without a fight.

The Deceitful Colin Powell

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Colin Powell was a former protegé of Weinberger but has made a career of covering up crimes and selling dangerous policies to the public, from his roles in Vietnam, Iran Contra and the First Gulf War to his misleading and treacherous performance at the UN Security Council in 2003. Powell embraced and promoted the “credible threat” theory in a Foreign Affairs article in October 1992, writing that, “threats of military force will work only when U.S. leaders have decided that they are prepared to use force… The president can only persuade an opponent of his seriousness when, indeed, he is serious.”

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presents a dummy vial of anthrax on Feb. 5, 2003, during a speech to the UN Security Council outlining the American case that Iraq possessed forbidden stockpiles of WMD.

At about the same time, in what one of his acolytes dubbed the “Ledeen Doctrine,” military-industrial propagandist Michael Ledeen put the “credible threat” theory more bluntly in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”

Obviously, it is not a legitimate purpose of diplomacy for powerful countries to bully or destroy weaker ones as Ledeen described. In fact it is illegal under the U.N. Charter, which was formulated expressly to try to prevent this kind of international behavior.

Twenty-five years later, we can see clearly that threats of force by the U.S. and its allies, however credible, have not persuaded any of our country’s adversaries to back down, and have served only as pretexts for catastrophic wars, or escalations of them, in country after country: Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria and so on.

Dooming Diplomacy

This is not because U.S. threats lack credibility, nor because our war machine is under-funded, as President Trump seems to believe. It is because threats undermine diplomacy by locking both sides into hostile positions that would be politically humiliating to back down from. When the side making the threats is a powerful, heavily armed country like the U.S., this effect is even more pronounced, not less, as the political pressure on both sides is even greater.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denouncing the fatal attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 12, 2012. (State Department photo)

To his credit, President Obama stepped back from the brink after threatening a devastating attack on Syria in 2013, because U.S. intelligence agencies doubted that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, the American public overwhelmingly told Obama and Congress that it was opposed to war, and Russia negotiated a diplomatic resolution.  But Obama’s retreat from the brink was so exceptional that he is still loudly condemned for it by hawkish U.S. officials and pundits.

U.S. leaders still claim that U.S. sanctions and threats “brought Iran to the table” over its nuclear program. But this does not bear serious scrutiny. In fact, during Obama’s first term, his “dual track” approach to Iran, conducting negotiations in parallel with sanctions and threats, was an abysmal failure. This policy only succeeded in spurring Iran to build 20,000 centrifuges to produce its own nuclear material, while sanctions punished the people of Iran for asserting their right to a civilian nuclear program under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

All the while, as a senior State Department official (and former U.S. Embassy hostage) explained to author Trita Parsi, it was the U.S. that refused to “take ‘Yes’” for an answer,” not Iran. The dispute was only resolved after John Kerry took over from Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State and began serious negotiations that were not undermined by new threats or sanctions.

The failure of U.S. post-Cold War diplomacy based on the threat and use of force would not surprise the American diplomats who drafted the U.N. Charter and witnessed its signing in San Francisco in 1945.  Article 2:3 of the Charter reads, “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.” In the very next clause, they backed this up with a prohibition, not only against the “use of force,” but against “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

After the two most deadly and destructive wars in human history, American diplomats of that generation needed no prompting to recognize that the threat of force more often than not sets the stage for the use of force, and that a world order based on the overriding necessity for peace must nip the danger of war in the bud by prohibiting the threat as well as the use of force.

Big Stick or Suicide Vest?

I hope this brief retracing of recent history illustrates what should be obvious, that there is a gaping chasm between the kind of “strong defense” most Americans believe in as a deterrent to war and the aggression of current U.S. war policy. In political rhetoric, there may seem to be a fine line between carrying a “big stick” to deter aggression and building a huge war machine to threaten and attack other countries, but, in practice, the difference is obvious.

President George W. Bush in a flight suit after landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln to give his “Mission Accomplished” speech about the Iraq War on May 1, 2003.

Our dangerous post-Cold War strategy of “credible threats” is finally, and predictably, bringing us into confrontation with countries that can defend themselves more effectively than the relatively defenseless countries we have attacked and destroyed since 1999. The U.S. and our allies have failed to decisively defeat lightly armed resistance forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, Palestine or Ukraine. Are we now “credibly threatening” to attack North Korea? Iran? Russia? China?

Like a gun in the home, the credibility of our threats has proved to be a double-edged sword that is ultimately as dangerous to us as to our enemies. We have twisted, “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” into something more like, “Threaten everybody and wear a suicide vest.”

It is time to take off the suicide vest, turn our backs on brinksmanship and war, and return to legitimate diplomacy that is not based on threats, credible or otherwise. The problem with our threats is not that other countries don’t think we really mean them. The more serious problem is that we do, and that this is a prescription for war, not a way to keep the peace.

I deliberately write “war,” not “endless war,” because every war does end, one way or another, and this one will too. But the escalating global war we have unleashed cannot possibly end well for our country or the world unless our leaders make a decisive choice to end it peacefully and diplomatically.

This would be a fundamental paradigm shift in U.S. policy, on a par with providing universal healthcare to all Americans. But the alternative should be unthinkable.

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.  He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

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78 comments for “Duping Americans on Healthcare and War

  1. John
    March 30, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Please tell me how this is possible…..The 1% rule over the 99%….Is this a joke or a bad dream…..

    • W. R. Knight
      March 31, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      It’s not a joke and it’s not a dream. It is George Orwell’s worst nightmare come true.

      • Roberto
        April 6, 2017 at 7:40 pm

        Actually I believe Karl Marx was saying many of the same things, back in his day. It’s the unending story.

  2. Tristan
    March 30, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Fine assessment of this situation Mr. Davies. I was thrown forward in time while reading this article, to a point in my mind where the human race had continued to survive and I then speculated on what historians might have written regarding the early 21st century on this earth, specifically the dealings of the then United States of America.

    “The judgement of the historians was not kind the U.S., as they were the children of those who had suffered the “Retribution” in the early 2020’s. As free market globalized profiteering expanded on a scale never imagined, the majority of people on the earth were either under a state of war, threatened by such instability, or were refugees from the impending doom from another cleansing, military or economic.

    “At the judgement time, the collapsing real economy, social structure, financial and fiat currency games which plagued the United States had only served to increase the incoherence of the policies of that government. Thus it was deemed to be led by a criminal government, whose blind subservience to profit, by war and financial games primarily, had brought the world to a point where there was nothing left to do but intercede on the behalf of humanity and end this criminal enterprise masquerading as a government.

    Imposing a martial regime to then control and eventually tame the temper of this massive beast on the rampage, lest the world were to be destroyed. This was considered the great achievement of 2037.” (Sorry, fantasy gets me sometimes.)

    • Stephen Sivonda
      March 30, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      Tristan…you may have missed you calling as a fiction writer. This is not to say that you may be correct in your thoughts and the circumstances you suggest can possibly be the outcome of our careening out of control government. As to 2037….that would not be applicable if the Neocons manage to push a nuclear conflagration on the world. Game Over !

    • Sam F
      March 31, 2017 at 9:33 am

      I agree with the article, and that the US is a “criminal enterprise masquerading as a government,” but it will take far longer than 20 years for the US to be isolated and embargoed. Like past colonial powers, the US gangs buy a puppet class in each country, by coups and buying elections and mass media, until local tyrants ally with the local rich to demand “independence.”

      The presence of balancing powers like Russia and China also provides demons allowing the US warmonger tyrants to demand domestic power as false protectors, and to accuse their moral superiors of disloyalty. The right wing gangs of each country need those of the “opposition” countries to create demand for their fake protection. So warmongering increases as they are surrounded with potential threats.

      I wonder what will happen when all great powers reveal that they have nuclear weapons under remote control, already located in or near the major cities and military bases of their opponents? They can pray that MAD will prevent reprisal, and use deniable proxies and false flags to deflect it.

      • Bill Bodden
        March 31, 2017 at 3:39 pm

        Militarism and extremes in wealth and poverty put the kabosh on other empires and may very well do the same on the American effort.

      • Rich P
        April 6, 2017 at 2:50 pm

        One of the effects of having so many US military bases in allied countries is that they pose a threat if any of those countries makes a radical decision to follow the objectives and principles of written international law, and impose minor sanctions such as severely rrstricting travel and trade between those countries, and making appropriate criticism in the UN and the international press.

        The big boys (and fewer gals) in charge of US “foreign policy” have a high fraction of people who are perceptive enough to understand this effect. I believe that for a long time, and likely the beginning, this has not just been a side effect but a major reason.

  3. Joe Tedesky
    March 30, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    I like too drive in total silence, but when I’m up for it I listen to our local talk radio. People like myself call in, and some of the callers blow my mind. For instance; when Republican governors like Scott Walker were beating up on Public Sector workers over Union Rights regular people were calling in on the side of Walker, or governors like Walker. This kind of going against your own kind, or interest, is fairly common. Seeing this as a rather popular trend among the electorate average folk I think of how well the system has conditioned us. Socialized medicine is looked upon like a communist cancer, that if we allow a Medicare for all then we will have opened up the gates to death panels, and from there caller in’s confuse Hitler Nazism Communist Mao & Rosie O’Donnell with everything bad and evil. How’s that saying go, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing? Well that maybe part of it.

    When it comes to America’s military strength I’ve said this before we are using that might all wrong, and wasting precious time while having it. Why think of being the biggest brute in the room, and being the one promoting peace. Disarmament should be our country’s opening line in all diplomatic encounters. Spending vast sums of money on feeding and clothing the world’s poor would be another way to lead the way, and yes other nations would follow. If America wants to end all war, then stop fighting them.

    • Joe Tedesky
      March 31, 2017 at 1:20 am

      Eric Zuesse gets in to where I was going. Zuesse lays out how the polls are designed to get the answer the controllers want to get. While the American people want more government help with healthcare, they also want a lot of government defense spending, but Zuesse then points out the overwhelming power the corporate owned MSM has over on the masses.

      http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/03/29/what-misinforming-us-public-has-produced.html

    • backwardsevolution
      March 31, 2017 at 2:38 am

      Joe – good post! “This kind of going against your own kind, or interest, is fairly common.” Amazingly, it is. People continue to vote AGAINST what might help them. It just blows my mind. I guess all the propaganda has conditioned them to think this way. Then again, do they actually think?

      Paul Ryan is going out of his way to ensure the American people don’t have single-payer. He’s even saying that he doesn’t want Trump working with the Democrats on healthcare either. From a Reuters article entitled “Ryan Opposes Trump Working with Democrats on Healthcare”:

      “In an interview with “CBS This Morning” that will air on Thursday, Ryan said he fears the Republican Party, which failed last week to come together and agree on a healthcare overhaul, is pushing the president to the other side of the aisle so he can make good on campaign promises to redo Obamacare.
      Carrying out those reforms with Democrats is “hardly a conservative thing,” Ryan said, according to interview excerpts released on Wednesday. “I don’t want government running health care. The government shouldn’t tell you what you must do with your life, with your healthcare,” he said.

      Unbelievable. One commenter said that Trump is going to let Ryan hang himself on this (and so he should). Trump has said previously that he’s not going to sign anything that isn’t good for the American people. I think if Trump could wave a magic wand, he’d bring in single-payer. I think he’s just waiting for Obamacare to implode because of higher costs. Sometimes you’ve got to wait until these things play out, so that people can actually see for themselves.

      Joe, read my post further down on just how the Democrats are doing everything they can to ensure that single-payer never sees the light of day. You just can’t make this stuff up, can you? Democrats who USED to be for the working people, for unions are now on the side of the insurance companies.

      • Joe Tedesky
        March 31, 2017 at 12:10 pm

        backwardsevolution I read your comments, and from where I sit I see all of Washington’s gerrymandered, bought by special interest, and somehow elected by the people politicians running around like confused little ants having hot water poured over them. Why these hacks are so confused on what to do they need the distraction of Russian interference to hide behind so as they can pass the Draconian laws that their masters want passed. Lots can be accomplished in the fog of political chaos.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if deep down Trump is leaning to single payer, because I don’t know the man. It seems pretty clear to see that Trump is not the cookie cutter politician that we normally see in our government. Either he will back a bill calling for single payer, or I’d picture he would want a healthcare provider system that is truly customer friendly and brutally competitive, like having regular insurance companies sell healthcare along with home, auto, and life insurance. Imagine the little gecko or Flo selling healthcare. I’m not promoting anything here I’m just scattering everything around that could be a collage of Trump’s musings on how healthcare insurance could be made to work…but then Trump too has to face the current healthcare lobby where Flo and the little Gecko isn’t no where’s near to be found.

        It’s hard to say what we the people want. The MSM does such a good job of keeping our public on topics which deep down don’t matter, or they scare us all with enough of stories where people want to kill us, so much so that we can’t focus as a society on just what exactly we should all be doing as a national community to fix anything to the way we all want it to work….this goes to not just healthcare, but anything. It would even seem likely that President Trump is as confused and misread as much as the citizenry of this country appears to be.

        We have as a country of people made our bed, and now because our bed is so uncomfortable we find we can’t sleep in it. There are so many things in our world that needs fixed, but by having an infotainment news industry such as the kind we now currently have I don’t know how anything can be worked out for the good. We need a news media which reports the news honestly, and from different views of perspective, so as to educate the discontented masses, and there is where we as a nation lack greatly.

        America needs an overhaul, and I’m hoping that with young politicians such as Tulsi Gabbard that overhaul is coming…but then again I’ve wished so much that my miles long wish list has overtime merely faded away just due to the pure scrolling length of it alone.

        • backwardsevolution
          March 31, 2017 at 12:48 pm

          Joe – agree with all your comments. “We need a news media which reports the news honestly, and from different views of perspective, so as to educate the discontented masses, and there is where we as a nation lack greatly.” Wouldn’t it make a world of difference if people like Robert Parry were on the nightly news? If he had guests on like William Binney and Ray McGovern? If people were educated on all sides of an issue?

          And you’re right, hearing an opinion different than your own is actually a good thing because it makes you think, makes you hash out the issue in your mind. Heck, I hadn’t even heard of the U.S.S. Liberty until I lucked upon you! YOU brought that to my attention.

          Yes, that Tulsi Gabbard is a gem. Too bad we couldn’t just cookie-cutter her!

          I think Trump would either go with a medical system whereby you pay for your own doctor visits with cash (the price would come way, way down) for things like a broken arm or the flu, and bought insurance only for catastrophic occurrences (which is what insurance is supposed to be for) – OR – single-payer. People need affordable healthcare.

          • Joe Tedesky
            March 31, 2017 at 1:45 pm

            Why backwardsevolution by you telling me how I opened up your eyes regarding the ill fated USS Liberty makes my comment life complete. When you and I among the many others post our comments I can only hope that some of us have enlightened more of us to carry forward. I’ve even wishfully hoped that possibly a politician or a Diplomate may have had a light bulb go off in their head, and that by some magical luck our comments would have helped them do the right think. Although I remain cautious to not becoming overly impressed with myself I do find it worth while to believe that just maybe someone took away something good after reading what one of us wrote here on this site…may Robert Parry always have a comment section.

            Yes I would change our media to be small independently owned entities. News bureaus which would have diverse reporting angles, and commentary based on objective readings of the facts. I’m tired of defense industry paid retired generals, and neo-based pundits, telling us how it is. How about a Ray McGovern 15 minute commentary after Meet the Press on Sunday, followed by a report from a 15 minute segment of Robert Parry. Why not allow Paul Craig Roberts or a Mike Whitney to editorialize in front of the camera?

            Like I said America is suffering from the bed we made for ourselves to lie in. When we talk about the public we all should remember how we here are all the public as well. I do believe that more of us do agree with the few of us, but that also is being obscured by the MSM blanket of noise and nonsense.

            The revolution does not need to start as much with we the people charging the Bastille, no we need to charge to get our media back (if we ever did have it) but get it to where our news educates our society. This must be done or we fail. One thing is for certain our MSM does keep us all separated from the deplorables to the snowflakes and they the media do a good job at that. The day our Establishment sees the snowflakes and the deplorables marching down the street in protest together will be the day the elite loss to the hungry masses.

      • March 31, 2017 at 1:08 pm

        ” Then again, do they actually think?” if you can call thinking , thinking only what the government has approved for you to think, is thinking well yes I guess they think but just like my dog thinks.

        Thats just it isn´t it? The propaganda machine has been so successful in the USA that people behave much like Pavlov´s dog. On the issue of a few key words they snap back into line. Why anyone would think that the entire wealth of a country should be owned by a few individuals is proof in itself of effective brainwashing. Despite getting hammered every day by the for profit system just a mention of the words communism or socialism is enough to bring all of those people back to attention and start to repeat the national mantra, even the ones who can clearly see the absurdity of the present system. So long as every public information source and entertainment source keeps drilling the for profit system good, general well being bad, nothing will ever change in the good old USA. Stupidity is as American as apple pie.

        • Joe Tedesky
          March 31, 2017 at 4:05 pm

          Dan a few years ago by invitation from a banker consultant friend of ours my wife I had a special tour of the CNN studios in Atlanta. As I rode the 196 foot 8 story escalator to where some of the sets were, I then understood how Sitting Bull must have felt seeing Washington DC for the first time. I mean by my getting to see the immense size of this news information center I was overwhelmed by the shear scope of it’s entirety. All I saw who looked like they worked there were good looking well manicured fairly young people, gone was the image of the baggy eyed over worked journalist. Yes I was intimated by CNN’s immense size, and my hope for a better media was dashed in that instant.

          Yes the people seem stupid, but are they? I mean where do we get the opinions of the masses from? Usually we hear what the people want from the very same people who serve us everyday with their lying about the facts, or leaving much of the facts out of the story when they fine it convenient to obscure what’s behind the curtain. Our MSM loves to capsulize what our society thinks, but aren’t these people the same pollsters who told us how Madam Hillary would win the presidency in a landslide? So why should we believe anything they tell us?

          Although Bernie wasn’t by far the communist the media sometimes made him sound like he was, Bernie with or without his flaws sure brought a lot of followers to his rallies. Remember how the MSM would hardly cover a Bernie rally? Imagine Bernie receiving 4.96 billion dollars worth of free media coverage as Trump did. All those Bernie followers weren’t under the age of 26 either. No in fact many of those $27 donations were from a very wide diverse group of voters. There again as the Wikileak exposures showed Podesta and the other Hillary hacks were busy writing the script for the media bobble heads to report….this should be considered a crime, but there again when do the elite ever suffer any consequence for what they did?

          I honestly believe the vast amount of citizens could be led to a place where many of us could live with compromise, and go from there. Most people I know want a peaceful world, everybody I know wants a better healthcare system, but if we are relying on our MSM to furnish us with the right news so as we may attain those things, then we have loss the battle. We need a couple or a few news agencies which aren’t beholden to the corporate masters of our world, and with that I will hope that this age of misdirection may come to pass and a responsible media will someday be born in USA.

          • Rich P
            April 6, 2017 at 3:09 pm

            On old time rumpled suit journalists versus the modern college educated press, William Greider had some excellent observations in his 1992 “Who Will Tell the People”. Journalists were not part of the elite back in the day; the field was not dominated by millionaires at the editor and below level. Even now ordinary reporters do not make that money, but in the big outlets those who control what gets published do, and that makes a huge difference in how they think and what gets presented to the public.

    • Skip Scott
      March 31, 2017 at 9:20 am

      Joe, you are absolutely right. Our only hope is to learn to wage peace in a multi-polar world. We have to somehow wrest power from the brutal oligarchs that control our government. It is either that or Armageddon right around the corner. I wish I had more hope; it takes a lot of courage to go through life without blinders on.

      • Joe Tedesky
        March 31, 2017 at 12:22 pm

        Come on now shipmate hang in there. Skip I’m like you worried about our getting into such a colossal screw up so bad that there is no turning back. It’s not like we don’t have the smartest people working on it…oh wait a minute that just might be the problem. When you have a top layer of the elite who doesn’t need to put their own physical skin in the game, well then you may get yourself knee deep into an alligator swamp. So Skip I’ll take my own advice and do everything I can to ‘hang in there’ with you.

        BTW correction to what I originally wrote;

        “Socialized medicine is looked upon like a communist cancer, that if we allow a Medicare for all then we will have opened up the gates to death panels, and from there caller in’s confuse ‘Single Payer with’ Hitler Nazism Communist Mao & Rosie O’Donnell and with everything bad and evil.”

        I though I’d post my correction with you Skip because us seafarers need to stick together. Funny how by leaving out one phrase or word can change the whole meaning of what you were trying to say…take care.

      • backwardsevolution
        March 31, 2017 at 5:20 pm

        Skip Scott – yeah, we need extra pay for knowing what we know! It’s a heavy weight to carry around with you.

    • Bill Bodden
      March 31, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      People like myself call in, and some of the callers blow my mind. For instance; when Republican governors like Scott Walker were beating up on Public Sector workers over Union Rights regular people were calling in on the side of Walker, or governors like Walker.

      Examples such as this demonstrate why living in the United States is so risky and bad for your health. We share this land with some of the most evil people on earth who are supported by legions of dimwits.

      Here’s the deal. We’ll develop a health care plan based on what the Brits, French, Swiss, and the Scandinavians have. Your costs will be cut in half, you’ll get better care, you won’t be at risk of medical bankruptcy, and children won’t be at risk of chronic illnesses or death for lack of care. No way, buddy. I don’t want the guvmint running our health care – and keep your guvmint hands of my Medicare.

      This article and comments help to explain why the people who created the war on Iraq are still in power instead of being dragged off to The Hague or Nuremberg despite that war proved, as many people warned, it would become the biggest disaster and crime, so far, of the 21st Century

      • Joe Tedesky
        March 31, 2017 at 12:52 pm

        It’s like my mother told me, one lie leads to another lie. In our case we have been misdirected so bad, and for so long, that we as a society are left in total confusion so much so that we lash out at the simplest and most sensible ideas that we in whole have evolved into just a stupid people. Good rational solutions have been replaced with red meat sound bites, and we the citizens fall for it everytime. If I had only one thing to pick from in order to make life better I would pick to change the format and environment of our news information media. This is where I would start.

    • rosemerry
      March 31, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      I find the individualism and lack of solidarity of many Americans to be a barrier to decent healthcare.People who have it provided by jobs or family luck do not want others to get it too.
      As for “defense”, besides the clever placing of weapons-production in strategic electorates all over the nation so that most Congress members will fight for jobs in their patch, the fear factor is vastly exaggerated by the fact that the USA has had so little damage from attacks from outside. Plenty of internal strife, violent TV programs, extreme religious influence in education add to the problem.

      • Joe Tedesky
        March 31, 2017 at 4:30 pm

        Here is what I think as a small business owner, and that is I wish my employees had come to be employed under my direction already having a healthcare plan. Why businesses don’t see the value in this, is beyond me. I believe in a hybrid of sorts, where socialism and capitalism are regulated in such a way as to work fine together inside of our society. I mean we see all the time in a strict communist style of governance there leaves a lot of diminished folk to be unaccomplished, or so they say. Whereas in a capitalist gone wild society there leaves a lot of folk left out of the wealth party, and this we know is true. So where do we go from here? I say that the FDR days may have had more promise than we today give credit too, and after saying that I would only hope that our society could move towards gaining a system such as I described earlier.

        The day the wars stop is the day we cut defense and security spending. That is also in combination with our being able to keep an eye on the unemployed spooks so as they don’t create false flags for their job security. Please reference an unemployed Allen Dulles after JFK threw his deceitful ass out of the CIA. Yes rosemary we need a lot of changes, and all for the better. Maybe by us somehow getting a decent news media this could happen…I would think!

  4. Stephen Sivonda
    March 30, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    The author is correct as to the duping of Americans on both fronts . But while similar the seemingly endless use of our military forces is the long term plan of the Neocons that have become endemic in our revolving door Government. This group had a plan for a “New American Century” many years back even had a hit list of sorts of 7 different Mid-east countries to overthrow by war. retired Gen. Wesley Clark has pointed that out to us on YouTube videos as to the rather casual way he came about the revelations. Look him up to watch his explanation The healthcare situation is entirely driven by the corporatization of the insurance industry, be it the “for profit hospitals” or the large corporate insurers ….their quarterly earnings must keep meeting Wall St. expectations , much to the delight of the CEO’s of those companies whose boards of directors show their appreciation and largesse by showering big bonuses and hand out stock options like penny candy at Halloween. The large pharmaceutical corporations mirror the health insurers and as mentioned in the article…we in the USA have the dubious distinction of paying many times more for “Medicine ” , pills if you will ….then anywhere else in the world. Big Pharma also makes out from some Govt. Welfare by a tie in with a lot of research being done by University labs on projects for hopefully the next big breakthrough in medicine . The results of years of extensive research and successful outcomes are then for the use of Big Pharma. There are NO COST Benefits given to the recipients of those NEW ….usually life saving medicines and the outrageous costs are left to the Evil Twin of US healthcare …the Insurers, to cover …but only in a way to maximize THEIR profits. PASS the penny candy please.

  5. Zachary Smith
    March 30, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    I have a couple of problems with this essay, so I’ll first address the “little” one.

    To his credit, President Obama stepped back from the brink after threatening a devastating attack on Syria in 2013, because U.S. intelligence agencies doubted that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, the American public overwhelmingly told Obama and Congress that it was opposed to war, and Russia negotiated a diplomatic resolution. But Obama’s retreat from the brink was so exceptional that he is still loudly condemned for it by hawkish U.S. officials and pundits.

    I’ll agree that the “retreat” was exceptional, but not that Obama deserves a speck of credit. Something or other happened to make the attack an operation which was no longer desirable from somebody’s standpoint, but I really really doubt that “somebody” was Obama. So far as I’m concerned the man was a smooth-talking figurehead and hack, and I’ve no reason at all to believe otherwise.

    The much larger problem is that the topic of the US going to hell in a hand-basket is just too large to be treated adequately in a brief essay. To properly cover the disintegration of the nation we once had would take – at a minimum – a few hundred pages. Doctoral dissertation, or book length.

    Even the brief mention (and a scary one!) of the guns would take several pages.

    There has been a class war, and the rich people won. It’s just taken a while for that reality to start sinking in.

    • backwardsevolution
      March 31, 2017 at 2:49 am

      Zachary – good post. Yes, Obama did step back from the brink, and Putin helped in this regard. He got Syria’s Assad to agree to hand over the country’s chemical weapons. Obama was left with no enemy and his mouth gaping open. Putin took the wind out of Obama’s sails and stopped any aggression dead in its tracks. Putin was very smart to do this.

      Yes, Zachary, this is most definitely a class war: the elite against the 99%. The game is not over, though. I believe the elite are on the ropes. Oh, they’re still fighting for control, but I sense some serious desperation in their actions and voices. People ARE slowly starting to wake up.

    • March 31, 2017 at 7:01 am

      I’ll put it simply. There was once a relative balance of power in the USA that allowed for the growth of national power and wealth distributed fairly well by historical standards. A series of events after WWII changed that balance starting with the National Security Act that gradually changed this balance as American oligarchs gradually grasped the usefulness of Empire. At the same time, the growth and rapid expansion of what I consider a mind-control program based in a mature advertising, PR, and propaganda industry brought oligarchs a power and control that was to seductive to ignore. So, in the end, we now live in a post-rational society where the public is entertained with spectacle and the oligarchs only have to battle for power within their ranks. Globalization allows them to ignore the needs of the public since they are no longer needed to maintain a thriving economy (for the oligarchs). I don’t believe this is a conscious “plot” but just what has emerged naturally from the situation. Everyone was kind of getting what they wanted. The international oligarchs are well-organized and understand that war is no longer necessary to grab power and is now only a source of profits and a way to settle minor disputes in poor areas of the world.

      Fortunately, at a certain point, the pendulum starts to swing in the other direction. The public now restive and ready for something new but lacking in the ability to reason and lacking character to act are slowly descending into chaos. The powerful now having won the class war are fighting among themselves because they, like the public, are in the thrall of unconscious forces they not only don’t control but do not grasp since the American intellectual class has degenerated even more than the general public and offers absolutely no guidance until it is reformed outside the institutional frameworks that once housed them.

      • Sam F
        March 31, 2017 at 9:46 am

        Indeed the public is “lacking in the ability to reason and lacking character to act” and its “intellectual class has degenerated … and [must be] reformed outside the institutional frameworks that once housed them.”

      • backwardsevolution
        March 31, 2017 at 12:57 pm

        Chris Cosmos – good comments! “I don’t believe this is a conscious “plot” but just what has emerged naturally from the situation. Everyone was kind of getting what they wanted.” I agree, the public was busy with gadgets and going into debt, and they left room for the oligarchs to take firm control. The only difference I see now is that the elite are fully conscious of what has occurred and is occurring at present, and they’re fully aware of what might happen if the public ever became conscious of this fact. They are desperately trying to steer the public anywhere (oh, look over there!) that doesn’t point back to them.

        Thanks, Chris.

    • zACHARY sMITH , ABOVE
      March 31, 2017 at 7:06 am

      ECONOMY MUST BE CENTRAL..

      “….The much larger problem is that the topic of the US going to hell in a hand-basket is just too large to be treated adequately in a brief essay…” —-Zachary Smith, above

      Essential points eloquently made by Jack Rasmus in his works must be central.
      “EPIC RECESSION:PRELUDE TO DEPRESSION”. Tax cuts for the wealthy,
      subsidies for large corporations, for speculative :shadow banks” and the
      mainstream philosophy of the market (voluntarily???) solving each and
      every problem will never work. This is the way Trump and his wealthy
      ilk think and they are not alone. Such views have been central for
      many decades!!!

      I am not in the mood this morning for a PHd thesis or book but
      there are zillions of factors indeed.

      Instead we will get photo-ops of people from West Virginia
      etc. celebrating the removal of government regulations as
      though it were a panacea for the coal industry.

      We also need more up-to-date resources (books available
      in ;public!) on the defense lobby as it is today. I have
      great books recommended by the late Chalmers John (in
      BLOWBACK) but while still valid, time has gone
      by.(Those sources date from the 1990″s)

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      • zACHARY sMITH , ABOVE
        March 31, 2017 at 7:19 am

        APPOLOGIES TO ZACHARY SMITH.

        Dear Zachary. Sorry. It is early in the morning and my comment
        above should, of course, have been under MY NAME.
        Not yours.

        PETER LOEB

        You are not responsible. You will not go to jail.

        “My bad!”

        Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • BannanaBoat
      March 31, 2017 at 10:10 am

      O was tharwted by Congress, USA public and British parliament refusing to approve of O illegally bombing Syria. If he had support he would have escalated his crime against the peace. A Lebanese newspaper wrote that the missiles fired at that time were Russian intercepting a USA missile, not as the Israeli claimed an Israel missile shooting its own in practice.

  6. Otto Schiff
    March 30, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    “Duping Americans” is a very good article.
    The whole thing is a total misunderstanding of capitalism.
    As Eisenhower commented,”Beware of the military industrial complex”.
    Making profits is more important than to follow moral behavior.
    We don’t need to be the Bully on the block.

  7. Wm. Boyce
    March 31, 2017 at 12:58 am

    The health care “system” in this country is a profit machine for insurance cos./Big Pharma. When the government can negotiate drug prices, and eliminate insurance companies and their inefficiencies, we will be closer to “Medicare for all.”

    I’m sorry the author conflated “defense” spending w/health care – it makes no sense.

  8. backwardsevolution
    March 31, 2017 at 3:05 am

    Up above I posted how Paul Ryan is fighting single-payer. But the following article is astounding in its description of how the Democrats are fighting it with everything they’ve got as well. From Jacobin, “Democrats Against Single Payer”:

    “The possibility of achieving single payer is “a bigger problem” than America’s already broken health-care system, according to one Democratic governor; it’s a boondoggle that would require a “massive tax increase,” says a Colorado senator; one liberal commentator charges that it “doesn’t make sense,” and shows an “indifference to real-world consequences.”

    The push for “Medicare for All,” one high-profile liberal pundit tells us, is simply based in “outrage that private insurers get to play any role,” and aims to “punish or demonize insurance companies.” Oh and by the way, it’ll “never, ever come to pass” anyway, according to the Democratic Party’s former standard-bearer. How times have changed. […]

    The particularly bizarre thing about many of these attacks on single payer from prominent liberals and Democrats is that they’re fundamentally conservative arguments: single payer is too radical and far-reaching a change; it’s too expensive; it’ll mean raising taxes; it’ll involve giving the federal government too much power. […]

    The party should thank its lucky stars President Trump remains tethered to a radically anti-government GOP which hates the thought of the government stepping in to help people in need. Were Trump allowed to run free — and were his commitment to economic populism authentic and not just a cynical appropriation of a few slogans — he might actually adopt some form of single-payer proposal himself…”

    Watch him. I think that’s what he actually wants. Trump appears to be the only one who isn’t bought and paid for by the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

    • Bill Bodden
      March 31, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Up above I posted how Paul Ryan is fighting single-payer. But the following article is astounding in its description of how the Democrats are fighting it with everything they’ve got as well. From Jacobin, “Democrats Against Single Payer”:

      At the oligarchy levels in our corrupt duopoly there isn’t much difference between the two right wings on the plutocracy’s bird of prey. They rarely had any concern for ordinary citizens. Nixon did manage to give us the EPA which is more than the Democrats and Republicans have done since. To the contrary, Trump and Congress are now waging war on this important agency.

  9. fudmier
    March 31, 2017 at 5:03 am

    The article fails to point out the power building and profit enabling features of monopoly laws and government in secret acts.
    Without man made laws that deliver monopoly powers to insiders, there would be no profit in private health care and without the monopoly in information held by nation state governments, there would be no nation with technology for its military or industry than any other.

    What are these laws and acts of secrecy that enable so much power to be concentrated in so few?

    Technology ownership is protected to a private owner by copyright, patent and license laws. Just like a deed in real estate, these are monopolies, technology is allowed to be privately owned; and its owners can use that technology to produce non competitive, monopoly profits. license is another law that protects a domain from competition or or manufacturer from the competition of other manufacturers. Weapons manufacturing is protected by access to government money to develop the technologies that make the weapons of one nation more advanced than the weapons possessed by another nation.
    Dividing people into nations is a means to keep secrets both from the domestic public of the nation state and from the people of all of the other nation states. Dividing people into nations (population of the world segmented by the nation state system) also “allows to pit” the people of one nation against the people of many other nations. Diving people by race (Apartheid) allows to pit the people of one nation against each other, and dividing people by religion (religious faith) allows to pit some of the people in every nation against some of the people in every other nation.

    The health care and military domains, and in fact many other less market size domains have power only because of the monopoly powers created by the laws elected to governments enact. Lobbyist convince lawmakers to pass law, that makes the client firm of the lobbyist more exclusive than all other industries in domain; then that one industry will soon become an industry leader. What industry leader means is some lobbyist has create a monopoly of some sorts by grant of law or policy made possible a lawmaker. In a capitalist society power is measured in dollars. Monopoly-grants-to-manufacturers, patent-copyright- licenses are all monopoly powered laws, Government in Secret Acts, laws and treaties all come down to those who are allowed to know can provide for the needs of the Military Industrial Complex, all others are not even aware of it.

    MGTM IPCL GIS ALT
    | | | | Access Law and Treaty (denies/allows; prohibits/enables)
    | | | Government (conducted) in Secret
    | | In Patent, Copyright, and License (Laws)
    |Monopoly Grant To Manufacturers

    so this topic of Health care and Military superiority is complicated.. Just comparing the differences is not enough to understand it.
    One must look deeper for the answers. And the answers are to be found in the monopoly powers granted by governments to private parties and public corporations. Republican Governments are the tools those who are already wealthy use to keep all others from becoming wealthy, capitalism is their excuse, but monopoly power is their secret..

    • backwardsevolution
      March 31, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      fudmier – your post is excellent. Yes, “monopoly power is their secret”. And if they don’t have an outright monopoly, they keep competitors away by surrounding their industry with so many regulations that the ordinary guy could never compete. Good comments, fudmier.

  10. john wilson
    March 31, 2017 at 6:48 am

    Duping the Americans? If you’re duped once fair enough. If you’re duped twice seems a bit like carelessness. However, if you’re duped every four years for the whole of your life, this sounds like crass stupidity. Voting for Trump may have seemed a good idea at the time, as he seemed to be independent of the swamp in Washington. However, once in the White House any new president is quickly worn down to the level of a ventriloquist’s dummy. He’s there to perform for his master and the iron hand within his entrails make sure of this!

    • Bart in Virginia
      March 31, 2017 at 8:05 am

      Would not a parliamentary system reduce the duping? It would certainly eliminate the costly overturning of the previous administration’s executive orders that is currently underway. Assuming that #45 will be either dead or out of office in four years, it will, as John says, soon begin again.

      • Bill Bodden
        March 31, 2017 at 1:30 pm

        Would not a parliamentary system reduce the duping?

        Britain has a parliamentary system, but it was little better than useless under Thatcher, Blair, and other slightly lesser evils. It is the quality of the people that is the deciding factor. In Britain and the U.S. the people who believe in civilized and humane policies are in limited minorities.

  11. March 31, 2017 at 7:15 am

    This is all a logical outcome of the system and was predictable. The ruling-class understood that mind-control works and that the public, properly understood, can be made to believe almost anything no matter how outrageous by simply repeating slogans. The American public has been softened up by a century of propaganda, PR, and advertising and the rapid degeneration of the American intellectual class both morally and intellectually has destroyed education and the ability to think critically such that we now live in a post-rational historical moment–and there is no going back, it seems. But this general decline in the strength of the public is reflected in the lunacy of the ruling-class who can only pursue power and money similarly without the ability to think rationally except in very narrow areas that the system allows. Thus we are moving into a time when “the system” the rule of algorithm rules both the ruling elites and the average person.

    However, I think many people have come to understand through a deeper part of themselves that “something” is wrong and they may not quite know what it is but are prepared to elect someone like Trump to be POTUS in the hopes that throwing a wrench in the works will create some kind of change and I suspect they are right. Trump, in fact, is following a path that will more sharply create contradictions not just in the political world withing the capital of the Empire but within the entire culture of the United States. I think we can see it now with the reaction on the part of the “left” (which is not the left) which is spiraling that demographic to the level of the Tea Party–this is a good thing because it is now obvious that those who thought of themselves as the rational adults looking down at the deplorables are themselves infected with the irrational spirit of the age. Things now can only get better.

    • backwardsevolution
      March 31, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Chris – great comments.

  12. mike k
    March 31, 2017 at 7:58 am

    When the US War Department was renamed the Defense Department in 1949, the Orwellian double-speak process was underway with such dubious slogans as “war is peace.”

    Unfortunately the well written reality based essay by Mr. Davis will not reach or convince the mass of the brainwashed public to open their eyes to the deceptions that the Oligarchy has convinced them of. The unconscious complicity of the masses in their own brainwashing is the huge inertial factor that must somehow be overcome if we are to live in a saner and more just world.

  13. spencer
    March 31, 2017 at 9:01 am

    god bless the new world order

  14. W. R. Knight
    March 31, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Modern American diplomacy is a far departure from Teddy Roosevelt’s “Speak softly but carry a big stick” diplomacy. The big difference is not so much the size of the stick as it is in loud, bellicose and belligerent threats that are used in place of soft speech.

  15. March 31, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Teddy Roosevelt wanted a national health care system, FDR’s New Deal would have put such in but the committee feared other aspects of the program would fail if national health care was included. The AMA had powerful influence, and bottom line the Lords of Capital have tried to undo the New Deal since day one. Even labor unions have opposed national health insurance as being “communist”.

    I worked in health care in the U.S. and got out of it. I was trained as a nurse, even worked in a health program in Peace Corps Africa, came back and came to clearly see that health care in U. S. is money driven. You are better off to be your own doctor, educate yourself so you eat healthily, exercise, get enough rest, etc., and stay away from doctors unless you break a bone!

    It would have been a natural extension of LBJ’s Medicare bill to incorporate national health insurance for all, but the moneyed interests prevailed. Paul Ryan, shown here, has been a fierce proponent of doing away with “entitlements”. I look at that photo of him and see dead eyes. His esteemed Ayn Rand ranted in her writings about parasitic do-nothings other than her vaunted capitalists, but when she got old and sick she went right for Medicare!

    On the military front, we all know that war is good for business. Those old men whose testosterone levels are flagging have to get it on somewhere, they need a “WARGASM” (get that, John McCain?).

    Many good comments here, the Lords of Capital are in charge. Those of us who are the black sheep among the flock of sheeple who choose not to be indoctrinated by the Military Industrial Complex have to make our own way. I do hear more and more that people are arming themselves, even among the sheeple.

  16. Trowbridge H. Ford
    March 31, 2017 at 10:11 am

    I certainly know that America’s health system sucks after I allegedly had a stoke on Xmas Day. and went to the Emergency Room and a rehab hospital for five and a half weeks at the cost oh around $7,000 without ever seeing a doctor.Just taking tests and pills.

  17. mike k
    March 31, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Arms are not the answer.

  18. mike k
    March 31, 2017 at 11:50 am

    I love your “WARGASM” comment Jessica. So true. So sad that so many have to pay dearly for McCain’s and other would be He-Men’s sadistic sex perversion.

  19. mike k
    March 31, 2017 at 11:52 am

    It fits well with the prevalence of rape in the military.

  20. Herman
    March 31, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Mr. Davies choice of health care and defense is interesting in that they are issues not clouded by divisive social issues. Both could be issues to build a national consensus around, for despite the formidable opposition to change, the arguments for change are clear. There is an opportunity for the coalescing of forces which divorce divisive issues(identity politics?) from the bread and butter issues, although defense spending is a bread and butter issue only that it is an obscene waste of resources which could be put to better use.

    Addressing just the two issues that Davies addresses would have an enormous impact on our society. Universal health care and a defensive military establishment would radically change our society.

    • Sam F
      March 31, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      Yes, and any increase of health care costs would be paid for by reducing military expenses, and increased health care employment would take care of military layoffs. But the better use of military budget cuts would be in foreign aid, which would bring far better security than militarism.

  21. mike k
    March 31, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    War is abuse. War makers are abusers.

  22. mike k
    March 31, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Paul Ryan is a zombie.

  23. mike k
    March 31, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    A zombie is a creature without a working human conscience. They are thus capable of unlimited destruction of human values. The head of the republican party is like that. It seems to be a qualifciation for the job.

  24. March 31, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you, mike k, I always get a lot from your comments. Paul Ryan is a zombie! It is pathetic that these evil morons have gotten control because of their god of money. They have created a sad reality for us. It seems to me, although I am not one to give up, that the odds to stop them seem nearly insurmountable. Right now I live in a little town in the mountains of New Hampshire, but I will be moving to a city in upstate New York for several reasons, among them that I feel it is necessary for people to organize against the madmen and madwomen. Even one of our NH senators, Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, had to get into the anti-Russia act by filing a bill to investigate the Kremlin propaganda sources of RT. I think she needed attention. How about the official CIA organs, the New York Times and Washington Post? Oh, no, that’s vital information! Being a fan of classical music, I use it to calm me down, Sergei Rachmaninoff, the Russian composer my favorite. Music that touches the soul. I believe the people in the Beltway are living pitiful, impoverished lives, probably have no appreciation for such beauty.

    • backwardsevolution
      March 31, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Jessica K – here’s some beautiful music that I hope touches your soul. It does mine.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4huZYzOD8Q

      This is the music I’d like to write.

  25. March 31, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Your comment on rape in the military, mike k, just hit me in a new way, you’re right, it’s that bottled-up anger and frustration. The U.S. has shown itself to be the major rapist of the earth with no sign of letting up.

  26. March 31, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Apologies to Robert Parry and other obviously sensitive people in DC with my comment about impoverished lives, I mean that those in government spend too much time making rules and must have little time to enrich their lives. Their unwinding is probably at cocktail parties and having a few drinks (or many).

  27. Bob Van Noy
    March 31, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Great article Nicolas J S Davies combining America’s most pressing problems beautifully.

    I have long been fascinated by Economics but only in a sort of pragmatic way, never quide understanding the sort of “magic” behind it…how money is created. For many years I followed the practical wisdom of J.K. Galbraith, in doing so, I became aware of what seemed to me to be severe disapproval of his theories by Milton Friedman. I watched several segments of “Firing Line” where I would literally laugh out loud as Mr. Galbraith would dismiss Mr. Friedman’s arguments as being rather naive. Imagine then my surprise at seeing the Republicans under Ronald Reagan embrace supply side economics… Soon I realized that what seemed like the entire field of Economics became dominated by Chicago Style Economics. The world seemed up-side down to me! Then in 2007 Naomi Kline published “The Shock Doctrine” and answered, for me, the truly conspiratorial nature of our government policies via the “Chicago Boys”. After reading that book I have been nothing but skeptical about our government and everything has become, for me, much more understandable. Thanks to all for the thread…

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shock_Doctrine

  28. March 31, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Absolutely, Bob, The Shock Doctrine is among the most important books written in years, I’d even say since the death of JFK. I recommended that my sister in CA read it, but she said, “I won’t”. I limit my conversations on political topics with her, she can’t take the truth; prefers to watch MSNBC and pretend we live in a democracy.

    • Sam F
      April 1, 2017 at 7:05 am

      Yes, there you have the cause of the duping of the sheep: each “can’t take the truth; prefers to …pretend we live in a democracy.” H.L. Mencken said (approx.) that “The average man avoids truth [because] it is dangerous, no good can come of it, and it doesn’t pay.” Oligarchy can rely upon a combination of mass media repetition of nonsense and exclusion of criticism, and fearmongering. They also rely upon suppression of dialogue in the primary workplace venues of discourse, and threats to employment security.

      And of course oligarchy has the rewards that support the duopoly racketeers and their supporters. Most know that the path to wealth and power is adoption of the very rationales that enslave them.

  29. Bob Van Noy
    March 31, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks for the affirmation Jessica K, much appreciated.

  30. Vera
    March 31, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    I have lived in various countries yet have not encountered one that is so anti social as the US. So materialistic. So “me first”.

    • Bill Bodden
      March 31, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      As many Americans will tell you, we are exceptional. It’s just that they never tell others in what way.

      • mike k
        March 31, 2017 at 4:06 pm

        Bill, it is not just among the humans here on Earth that we feel ourselves to be preeminent. I am reading and recommend Derrick Jensen’s book The Myth of Human Supremacy. Very revealing of our unconscious assumptions about our place among all living Beings.

  31. March 31, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    And to Trowbridge Ford, I am so sorry to hear about your experience with our sorry health care system after your stroke on Christmas Day, truly a devastating experience. I hope you are doing okay since then. Unfortunately, after seeing the health care system up close for so many years, I have to say that it continues to get worse.

  32. mike k
    March 31, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Jessica I have a confession: I love classical Russian music too. I started to do my graduate studies on Russia, because of my love of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, etc. I guess that is all stuff now that I need to be investigated for!

    • backwardsevolution
      March 31, 2017 at 6:07 pm

      mike k – okay, I’m turning you over to the authorities! Kidding aside, I love them too.

  33. mike k
    March 31, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    The uneducated American mind projects onto Russia the worst aspects of it’s own narrow consciousness. With greater knowledge and more openness we could realize that there is much to admire in the Russian Culture and Spirit. These folks were the ones who at great sacrifice turned back the German juggernaut aimed at world domination. Could it yet be Russia that turns back the American Empire from it’s bid to dominate the world? Is that why we have turned down their offers of peace in a multipolar world?

  34. March 31, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    So true, mike, the Russian culture is incredibly rich and full of brilliant people, has a much longer history than American culture. It is a shame that American thinking has become so pitifully narrow. Russia could and should be an important contributor to the discussion about climate change, they have brilliant scientists.

    And to Trowbridge Ford, I am so sorry about your experience with our sorry health care system when you suffered your alleged stroke. It’s true, there are many misdiagnoses. And not even to see a doctor; if one just looks at you, it’s $350 (or more). I hope you are doing well since then. Unfortunately, after working in health care for many years, I can only say that it has gotten worse.

  35. Kozmo
    March 31, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Michael Ledeen would have felt right at home and cozy in Berlin in 1939.

  36. March 31, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Just reported now on NPR that “there are widening concerns from the Pentagon that the Russians are working with the Taliban”. Why, with all of this campaign against Russia, would Russia ramp up this mania by going into Afghanistan, especially after their long and failed Afghanistan experience? Looks like the Pentagon under Mad Dog Mattis is the same as under Ashton Carter!

  37. S. P.
    March 31, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    An excellent article; Healthcare Mess and Defense Spending – both are related. It begs the question. what is to done?

    In the speech accepting the nomination of Republican Party’s candidate to oppose Douglas for the Senate seat, Lincoln (June 1858, Springfield,Ill.) began:

    “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. . . .”

    Where are we now? We don’t have to think hard. Just imagine the entire media (MSM including PBS) establishment peddling this “Russia meddled into American Election” nonsense to the masses day and night. With a few exceptions like Tulsi Gabbard, just about the entire congress is peddling these lies. Same is true about Syria, and “Russia Threat” and so on; just about all the organs of Power are disseminating lies day and night. Not only here, this “Russia Threat” nonsense is being peddled in Europe too.
    Who owns the media?
    Rupert Murdoch’s Media Conglomerate Empire is the World’s second largest Media Empire: In U.S. he owns- Fox News, Boston Herald, WSJ, Twelvth Century Fox, Harper Collins . . . so on. In U.K. , Australia, New Zealand he owns about half of the Media in each country. And in 40 or so other countries, he has substantial holdings. Sumner Redstone (Rothstein) owns CBS (majority shares), Twelvth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures . . . . Same is true for other media. Treasury has been run by Wall Street insiders for a long time now. The whole Financial System which almost runs the whole world is in the hands of a very select group of people.
    The Military Industrial Complex, the War Making Machine is another big actor. it is frightening even to think of it.
    How it came to be where it is now with the election of Trump? No body thought,Trump would win. To the Masters of Neoliberal World Order and PNAC (Project For New American Century). It is like that an earthquake of magnitude 10.0 has struck them. They are in a panic mode (including the EU Establishment). They are frantic. Tony Blair has been running around from one place to another place since November 8, 2016 to stop this avalanche, by whatever mean possible. I think, they will win, Trump will be tamed or ousted.

    The Voters in small towns and cities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin who voted for Trump are not bad people. From my own experience in this country for fifty one years, having lived among them for ten years in Michigan, they are decent people. They are good people whose lives have been shattered and turned upside down by this Inhuman Neoliberal Economic Order. And their brains have been brainwashed by MSM. They do not comprehend it . Why?

    I came to this country more than fifty one years ago as a graduate student to University of Michigan. I grew up in a big agricultural village with a bustling bazaar in North India. My parents were rather poor, owned two acres of land. The village had an outstanding High school, built with the money sent by immigrants who had emigrated (illegally) to California and Vancouver (Canada) more than hundred years ago. It was the time right after Independence from British Rule in 1947; the Nehru, Gandhi Era. The high school had a drama club. There was a writers club in the village . After the ruling congress party, the second biggest party in India was Communist Party. So, there were debates in the media, in the village, and conversations in the homes about merits of each system – Capitalist, Socialist, Communist. The curriculum in the schools was still the same as during the British days; compulsory British History Paper in high school, British Literature Paper. British Institutions influenced my generation. We were deeply influenced by British Fabian Socialists, and the Parliamentary System. But India was a neutral country, also a friend of Soviet Union. During my college days I read Russian writers Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevesky, and Pasternak.

    We have been married for forty six years. I met my wife in Michigan. During our dating period, I was invited to my wife’s home for Easter dinner in 1970. At the dinner table, in a very non-political home, somehow during conversation, topic came up and I mentioned some Russia writer or something. I could see the reaction at the table. I never mentioned the name Russia again in their home for all the years which followed. To them even the Russia name mentioned , meant a person is communist or somebody dangerous. Like the other people in the Midwest, my wife’s middle class parents were good people. I think, starting in 1930’s (hysteria about the communist threat) and after the World War II, during the McCarthy witch hunt Era, nuclear scare, the population had been frightened by what the Media, and the Political Class was peddling to them. It is same with this Terror Scare now.

    So, that is where we are now. It is even much worse than it was during 1950’s. The Russian hysteria has been been built into such monstrous scale by MSM (24/7); that there is a grave risk in it for the population not only here, but for the entire world. The political class and MSM knowingly or unknowingly are spreading the flames far and wide.

    The only way to turn back the clock, to build a saner world, is somehow bring the Media under partial Public Control. Start with a mass movement or whatever else it takes to do it. People have to be re-educated.

    I know it has to be done, from what I see is happening in my own home:

    We have been lifelong active FDR democrats. Our first experience was the 1972 election, convassing for George McGovern. And worked for many elections since. We worked very hard for Obama’s Compaign in 2008. However Obama turned out to be very Slippery, Sophisticated, and Clever Conman, opposite of what we thought. After the destruction of Libya and start of Syria destruction, I quit. I did not vote for Hillary Clinton. I vote for our Republican congressman Dana Rohrbacher, who is one of the few in the Congress who are sane and want good relations with Russia. But my wife is still a Hillary devotee, and watching CNN and MSNBC the whole day. To her Hillary is a paragon of virtue, a woman’s candidate, a candidate for peace, . . .. We have other friends, supposedly educated, who believe that Hillary lost because Russians hacked DNC, and Podesta Emails, and some how influenced people’s minds through. So, you can see the Power of Brainwashing by the Media.

    To understand the current crusade (against Trump) by Neoliberal establishment and Associates, Media, and Political Class of the country, it is worthwhile to read:

    The End of History by Francis Fukuyuma – The national Interest, Summer 1989. It was a lecture delivered at University of Chicago by Fukuyama in 1989 after Gorbachev and German Chancellor Kohl had agreed to German Reunification.
    And the writings of Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, David Frum, Joseph Podhoretz, Dershowitz, Daniel Pipes, and others who are the founders and the supporters of PNAC, and Full Spectrum Dominance.

    The article “The United States of Cognitive Dissonance” by CJ Hopkins on “Counterpunch” Website, March 23rd. illustrates what is going on now with this media brainwashing. The article is on the mark, and very hilarious too.

  38. Plincoln
    March 31, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    All wars end to be replaced by other wars. Since our constitution was ratified I believe we have had peace for about 25 years with no end of war in sight as we approach our 250 year anniversary

  39. Anthony Jury
    April 5, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    I am a Kiwi, from New Zealand, a small Nation at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean. For those geographically challenged, we are located next to Australia! We are well known, throughout the World for having a innovative, decent & fairminded Society? As a people, we look on with horror, despair & dismay at the immoral & ludicrous way the American Government treats its own citizens with its terrible Heathcare system & it absolute abuse of Military power, throughout the World? For example, we only have a population of 4.5 million people, but we have always had a Government & Publicly funded Health Service that uses the single payer system controlled by our Govt. This system is entirely funded from Income Tax, rather than premiums from overpriced Insurance Companies? We also negotiate our Medication costs as a Govt single payer to keep costs low & we also have a no fault Accident insurance scheme that pays for accident costs & income compensation? There’s no reason why this system couldn’t work in the US, being a far richer Nation than ours? If the US Govt channelled a fraction of the money they gave to the Military Industrial Complex, they could totally fund a Public Health System like ours & 99% of other Countries in the World? It’s a absolute crime that the good people of America have to put up with this ridiculous, immoral Healthcare system by those in power, who would rather choose endless War & Military spending over the Health & wellbeing of its own citizens?

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