- THE DISGRACEFUL DEATH OF AMERICAN MAINSTREAM MEDIA
- THE VICTORY OF DONALD TRUMP AND AMERICAN NATIONALISM
- THE DEFEAT OF HILLARY CLINTON AND WALL STREET LIBERALISM
- THE LIBERATION OF ALEPPO
- THE LOUISIANA FLOODS
- THE DALLAS SHOOTING
- THE ORLANDO SHOOTING
- THE FLINT WATER SCANDAL
- THE NORTH DAKOTA PIPELINE PROTESTS
Given the launch of SP News at the beginning of the new year and after consultation with (being ordered by) my dear editor, we decided to begin this series of columns with everyone’s favorite journalistic guilty pleasure format: “The Top Stories of 2016.”
In this case, it is the top stories of 2016 but with insights and twists which our readers might not have encountered in other similar pieces. With that said, let’s begin this new year with a look at what was an extraordinary year by any standard.
THE DISGRACEFUL DEATH OF AMERICAN MAINSTREAM MEDIA
There is death - graceful, dignified, in peace, surrounded by loved ones. And then there is death - disgraceful, undignified, crazy, cardiac-arrest-naked-on-the-toilet kind of death.
The American mainstream media - television, newspapers, magazines - showed their real lying, sycophant, arrogant selves in 2016. This was particularly evident in three major stories: the presidential elections, the Syrian war and the Louisiana floods. I could add the police killings of young black men, the Flint water scandal, the Dakota pipeline story and all the others on our list as evidence, but these three are enough to make the point.
By “death” I do not mean that the mainstream media no longer exists, or that it has somehow disappeared or dissolved. By death I mean that it no longer has any credibility - not even with the so-called “dumb masses.” Nobody believes it anymore. Nobody listens to it anymore. For the mainstream media, this is death.
The important point is that this disgraceful death is the mainstream media’s, which includes the owners, editors, writers, presenters, experts, own fault. They lied, they behaved like sycophants and most importantly they could no longer hide their arrogant, visceral dislike of the “dumb masses.”
In the America of the early 21st century, the America of the very rich and the America of the very poor with nearly nothing in-between, they clearly showed their allegiance to the very rich outdoing each other in displays of sycophancy for the system of oligarchy that owns the news organizations that employ them and that owns the candidates that seek office. Or like some, they themselves are millionaires or even billionaire/celebrity/news anchors and scions of oligarchs with multi-million dollar homes in exotic locations. This makes “connecting with normal people” a bit problematic.
The billionaire oligarch who himself ran for office without needing “them” - neither the mainstream media to give him name recognition nor other billionaire oligarchs to finance him - “messed up” the whole racket.
You see, the mainstream media’s job in post-Vietnam America is to tell the “dumb masses” what to think and more importantly, what to feel, especially and particularly at election time and as it relates to foreign wars. The mainstream media are supposed to make you feel good about neoconservative globalism (mass murder of foreigners) and domestic neoliberalism (oligarchy in the US where none of us will ever be the oligarch).
This worked fine from the Reagan administration until the Obama administration, but you can only continue a lie for so long. In other words the essence, the substance of neoconservatism globally is essentially a lie, it does not conform to truth. The same goes for the substance of neoliberalism- “Wall Street liberalism”- domestically.
Domestically, the mainstream media tried to get Hillary elected at any cost and with total disregard of any journalistic ethics. I remember thinking to myself during the televised debates that if Hillary’s head began spinning continuously 360 degrees, and she began speaking in tongues while her eyeballs rolled back into her skull, and then she started spewing blood on the lectern, CNN would have still called the debate in favor of Hillary.
Globally in the Syrian war, the mainstream media became the knowing aiders and abettors of al-Qaeda, DAESH, Saudi Arabia and NATO intelligence services who were committing the most disgusting war crimes and crimes against humanity. They lied, misinformed, disinformed, created false videos, created false sources, purposely gave information out of context - in a word - propaganda at its worst and most shameful, with skills they honed during the Iraq war which was based on “fake news.”
Speaking of which, they told all these lies while the “dumb masses” had access to “real news” - funny how that sounds, through non-mainstream media, you know what these media criminals are now calling “fake news.” The mainstream media’s rigged monopoly on news, its iron-fisted occupation of news, was broken. In addition to all this real/fake news, the candidate of the Republican Party was calling the mainstream media out on their lies at every opportunity, particularly as it relates to the lies about the Syrian war and American complicity with DAESH there. This alone is a noteworthy moral and civic achievement by Donald Trump and his campaign for which they should be duly praised.
To these two stories, let’s add the absolutely disgraceful lack of coverage of the Louisiana floods by the mainstream media. Well, if you don’t want to tell the truth about some folks in a war thousands of miles away that’s one thing, but what about in your own country? Let me say it very clearly: When the mainstream media reports overwhelmingly more about a few hundred homes threatened by wildfires in California than about over a hundred thousand homes engulfed by floods in Louisiana at the same time, it is telling you which one of the two it truly cares about. The “deplorables” and “irredeemables” got the disgraceful message loud and clear.
Michael Moore said during the election that voting for Donald Trump would be the biggest eff-you have ever given to elites. If this is true than at least half of that outstretched middle-finger is directly pointed towards the disgraceful mainstream media, rather the media war criminals, the walking dead, zombie mainstream media, who have the blood of Syrian children and Louisiana senior citizens on their hands.
THE VICTORY OF DONALD TRUMP AND AMERICAN NATIONALISM
Beyond the person himself and as alluded to earlier, Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential elections is significant because it is a victory of what we can call “American nationalism” over neoconservatism and neoliberalism.
This two-headed neo-neo beast, this hellish conjoined twin, was, and unfortunately remains, the dominant view of nearly all American governmental elites since the end of the Cold War. Actually, the Bill Clinton presidency and the “New Democrats” was about getting the Democratic party into lock-step with this monster, similar to the Tony Blair and “New Labour” horror show in Britain.
Interestingly the very first social-democratic, left, labor party to undergo this transformation in the west was the old, venerable Socialist Party of Austria which in the late-1980’s went down this path during the chancellorship of ex-banker Franz Vranitzky. This is relevant because the reaction of the socially conservative relatively poorer working class Austrians who were the base of the socialist party, was to immediately start voting for a nationalist called Joerg Haider and his Freedom Party, a party that advocated strict immigration control and political and economic nationalism over pan-Europeanism and economic globalism. Sound familiar? It sure does to folks in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.
This was in the late 1980s mind you, but what’s more interesting is that years later when Joerg Haider, who enjoyed a mild personality cult among his voters, began turning socially and economically liberal as governor of the province of Carinthia (the neighbor of the new First Lady’s native Slovenia), the party and more importantly the voters on the national level rejected him and he was driven out of his own party.
Yes, the neoconservative and neoliberal viruses are trying to infect the Trump administration, because it is the nature of filthy, dirty viruses to do so, and so probably the biggest challenge for Trump will be to avoid being infected by them the way the Democratic Party was. We will be watching.
THE DEFEAT OF HILLARY CLINTON AND WALL STREET LIBERALISM
Some might ask, why are you rubbing salt into the wound, why is this a separate story? Isn’t this what you said before just with different words?
First, let me say that Hillary, her campaign and these no-good warmongering Wall Street liberals deserve to have salt rubbed into their wounds, and much more! Don’t get me started.
Second, they might say, well she won the popular vote, it’s not a defeat defeat! Well, let’s see. If Hillary had won the electoral college vote and Trump the popular vote, would they be saying the same thing? Probably not. Okay, so we can move on from this one now, right?
Third, this defeat is itself a separate story because of the sheer arrogance and totally unjustified assumption displayed by this bunch that this election would be a coronation for Hillary. How dare anybody seriously challenge the Queen! As they say, “when you assume, you make an…”
Also let us not forget the totally undemocratic methods of the Democratic Party in creating this fantasy creature called “super-delegate”- without whom maybe (well more than just maybe) the Democratic candidate would have been Bernie Sanders. Maybe Sanders would have then nominated Iraq war veteran Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii as VP candidate. So let’s see, Sanders/Gabbard versus Trump/Pence in the general elections - now that would have been a good one! How do you think that would have played out in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin?
Honestly, those dumb celebrity Hillary sycophants who condescendingly spoke down to Sanders supporters after the Hillary anointment, as punishment, they should have their shows suspended for a year or two and then be forced to watch Jeff Foxworthy and re-runs of Duck Dynasty while gagged, bound and dressed as Guantanamo prisoners (waterboarding included) which you know, isn’t “technically” torture. For the “deplorables” there is a bus load of top-notch jokes in all this, all at the expense of these glorified clowns with television shows.
Of course the most stupid of all of them in this whole story is none other than Bernie Sanders himself. And you can add Michael Moore to that as well. Wait, hear me out! So let’s be clear about what happened, you spend a lifetime and an incredible campaign successfully beating the life out of warmongering, Wall Street liberalism (a major accomplishment) and then after they steal the nomination from you, you endorse warmongering, Wall Street liberalism! Why? This is textbook stupid! Let me say it in a different way: On the economic matters which are the heart and soul of Sanders’ political life, Trump is actually better than Hillary! Let that one sink in slowly.
But unfortunately the matter is worse than this. What people like Sanders and Michael Moore have done (either knowingly but more likely as patsies) is offer honest, well-meaning, idealistic young people who otherwise might have thrown these warmongering, neoconservative Wall Street liberal scum into the Hudson river years ago, a “faux-socialism,” a chic, safe-for-the-oligarchy socialism and thus, let us be generous and say unwittingly, make sure that no serious challenge to the warmongering, Wall Street liberalism of the Clintons and Barack Obama could ever emerge. The best case is that they are dumb patsies.
And so the normal working class folks vote for Trump, including Michael Moore’s cousins in Michigan. Well, good for them with the likes of Sanders and Moore “defending” the working class and blowing historical opportunities such the one that was given to Bernie Sanders this year.
THE LIBERATION OF ALEPPO
I mentioned some points about the Syria war earlier which can put this discussion in context so I won’t repeat them here. There are some very important points as to why the liberation of Aleppo is a top story of 2016. And let me say more: The liberation of Aleppo is one the most important events and turning points of contemporary human history. That’s right, it is major.
First let us emphasize the word liberation. Yes , “liberation”, not “conquest,” “re-conquest,” “occupation,” “fall” or any other deceitful euphemism. Aleppo was liberated in the full meaning of the word. Ask the local Christians who are openly and happily celebrating Christmas this year, after years of not being able to, if you don’t get it. Merry Christmas indeed.
From whom? By whom?
Aleppo was liberated from the vicious, inhumane, brutal occupation of an axis consisting of DAESH, al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia (Wahhabi tafkiris), Turkey (confused), Qatar (whatever will guarantee the survival of the Emir), Israel (Zionists), the United States of America, France, and the United Kingdom (warmongering neoconservative liberals).
By whom? Aleppo was liberated by an alliance consisting of Syrian government forces (Arab nationalists), Russia (Russian nationalists), Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah and associated Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani volunteer militias (Shia Islamists).
So an axis of Wahhabi takfiris, Zionists, and western warmongering neocon liberal governments occupied Aleppo for years and this occupation came to an end when an alliance of Arab and Russian nationalists and Shia Islamists liberated the city? I’m purposely spelling the matter out clearly just so we are clear about the facts which the mainstream media war criminals don’t tell us.
The issue is so big that the President-elect of the United States repeatedly and very clearly sided with the Russians on this matter during the elections, against the incumbent administration, and still managed to win the elections. Something really strange is going on here! What is it?
What’s going on is that there is a country in the Islamic world which has established a model of governance which successfully allows it to be a modern-nation state - with all the material and moral consequences this entails - without having to get rid of its religion and traditional culture. This country is called the Islamic Republic of Iran. This successful model, despite the shortcomings that exist in Iran, like in any other country, is juxtaposed to the Saudi-takfiri model, the Turkish-Ikhwan model and the Zionist-apartheid model in Israel. These are the options that exist for folks in the region. You can guess which one looks most attractive to folks in the region.
Yes I know, you will be shouting, but what about the young Iranians who don’t like the system there? Answer: It’s all relative to the real existing alternatives, and the alternatives look really bad, including immigrating to Europe, the US or Australia which is actually not a real option for most inside Iran.
And if we forget about the youth for a moment and we ask any official in any country – any - who they would be rather dealing with - the Saudis, Turks, Israeli or the Iranians - again the overwhelming answer would be Iran. In other words, the future of the region and the Islamic world is Iran and the others in their current form are “on the wrong side of history.”
Now guess which side of history the United States of America is on as displayed so clearly for all to see in the Syrian war? Now guess which side the Russians are on?
I know all this goes against the indoctrination we get in the US - in school, in universities, in the media and from so-called experts. In sum, America is blowing it big-time in the Middle East and the Islamic world and has been since 9/11.
This reality showed itself clearly during the Syrian war and culminated in America and its allies’ dismal defeat in the battle of Aleppo. The basic problem is that even if American officials decided to strategically abandon Saudi Arabia and Israel in favor of Iran and Russia they couldn’t politically. Yes, Trump has said some truths about Saudi Arabia and in the beginning he even dared to hint at some matters regarding Israel. But in the case of Israel, he was quickly brought back in line and well anyway, how would the atmosphere be the next time the in-laws came for dinner if he dogs Israel too much, right?
On Saudi Arabia, the talk is still tough but as a businessman he understands that credit-ratings, liquidity of financial markets, dollar stability and the all-important arms industry need Saudi Arabia more than Saudi Arabia needs them. Not to mention Saudi financing and human resources for America black ops in various regions of the world, particularly in the Islamic world that shall not be reported to Congress through the legally mandated budgeting process. It’s a very dark and evil thing this relationship, which even Trump probably can’t end.
In the case of Russia, well you can see the open warfare between Trump and the establishment that’s going on at the moment.
So after the liberation of Aleppo, Iran and Russia will go from strength to strength and America will not because of the near-total corruption of its domestic political and intelligence system by Saudi and Israeli forces and the Russophobia that is an essential part of the DNA of the American national security caste.
THE LOUISIANA FLOODS
A storm dumps three times as much rain on Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina, close to 200,000 homes and millions of people are engulfed by flooding, a dozen dead and the mainstream media spend more time reporting about wildfires that threaten a few hundred homes in wealthy California suburbs.
President Obama visits, but not before completing his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. Hillary Clinton doesn’t visit in the middle of an election raising questions about her humanity, Mike Pence and Donald Trump visit (let’s be cynical and say because of the elections). For many people, this is where Hillary morally lost the elections.
THE DALLAS SHOOTING
The Dallas shooting is important because it ties together global and domestic matters in a way that might not be apparent at first glance.
A young African-American veteran of the so-called “War on Terror” starts picking off police officers in Dallas in such an expert fashion that police initially think they are dealing with three shooters.
The motives of the shooter are related to a wave of police killings of young black men across the country and the lack of legal punishment for the majority of the police officers involved. More than that, after returning from the war, he witnesses a militarized police force perceived as occupiers by many in his community, using techniques he was taught and technology he used as an occupying force in Afghanistan against terrorists.
In the end and for the first time in US history, he was “neutralized” by a police robot that was initially developed for the military to use in the war of terror against terrorists.
If we flashback to the 1940s, we see that one of the roots of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was African-American WWII veterans returning home to Jim Crow and American apartheid. Right now, it’s not exactly clear to me what will happen in our time, but something is definitely going on here.
THE ORLANDO SHOOTING
The closeted gay son of a former Afghan army colonel who was a CIA asset in America’s endless Afghanistan wars now living a suburban life in the US, enters a gay nightclub and shoots dozens of patrons, some of whom he had relations with previously, committing the largest terrorist attack in the US since 9/11. Wow, so many places that one could start on this one, but my guess is that Americans are no longer intellectually and spiritually capable of processing and understanding such complicated and twisted tales any more. Maybe that’s the real story here.
THE FLINT WATER SCANDAL
The Flint water scandal is the story of total post-industrial urban decay in America. In the US, when one region is done feeding the insatiable beast of profits, it is discarded like used toilet paper and the beast moves on to another frontier.
The city that was once the desired place to live and work for millions from around the US and the world as a center of industry and progress is today poisoning its children with lead-infested water. Again, remember Michael Moore’s cousins - actual and proverbial - who voted for Trump are locals.
Silicon Valley, take note.
THE NORTH DAKOTA PIPELINE PROTESTS
Evil oil companies with the help of corrupt local politicians, the feds and the Army Corps of Engineers want to build an oil pipeline over pristine sacred Native American grounds. A left-progressive’s wet-dream!
This, and other cases like it, always goes back to the issue of tribal sovereignty. The problem is and will always be that white progressive limousine liberals just can’t get themselves to support full tribal sovereignty because in the end they really love a powerful, central federal government, especially when the President is black and/or a liberal woman, who will “guide” the nation and world towards the equivalent of paradise on earth. It’s a sad tale and one can get a sense of it when one remembers that the late Russell Means ended up supporting the Libertarian party and abandoning the progressives and liberals because of these things.
In the end it is very unlikely that these United States will readjust the path of their sacred oil pipeline or cede the lands in the Dakotas under which the next holy oil boom lies and which will be the next fodder of the idol-beast of profits, to its real owners. It has never happened and they will be damned if it ever will!
As a child growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, I used to absolutely love to watch science fiction television shows. Especially the ones that were “safely” scary, like Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone in which my mind would be tickled without too much gore and violence. As I explore his Cabinet picks, who would have thought that fifty years later, I’d actually have a front-row seat with an intimate view in a real-life Twilight Zone called the Administration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump?
Trump Swearing In
Many who tuned in to see the swearing in of the 45th President of the U.S. thought it was the beginning of yet another U.S. Presidential Administration. But, this is not just any other U.S. Administration: the Donald J. Trump Presidency has already been declared in the media over 1,000 times as an uncomfortable episode in the 1950s US science fiction television series, The Twilight Zone.
“You unlock this door with the key with the key of imagination: beyond it is another dimension—the dimension of sound; the dimension of sight; a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the twilight zone.”
So begins one of the versions (I found three) that introduced the TV series. It is this intro that I read into the Congressional Record about the Presidency of George W. Bush. But, only a few days into his Presidency, I do believe that Donald J. Trump has even surpassed W. After his election win, there was much media speculation on how the spoils of war would be distributed—and who would get what plum positions. On November 15, Trump tweeted that only he knew who his finalists would be; therefore, all the wild speculation was just that. Now, one week into his Presidency, let’s just take a look at who actually got what, focusing on his Cabinet picks thus far.
Alabama U.S. Senator, Jeff Sessions, was President Trump’s first nomination, for the Attorney General slot, taking over leadership of the Justice Department from President Obama’s Loretta Lynch. Although he was the Trump’s first nomination, Sessions is yet to be confirmed by his Senate colleagues. Southerners who are “men of their times” are often dogged by allegations of being racist because they did not rise above that time. I personally know some of those making the most egregious allegations against the Senator whose judgeship aspirations were derailed due to the charges. This time, the Senator seems poised to take office in the Trump Administration—maybe before this month ends.
Next, Trump announced that he was considering General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as his Pentagon Secretary. Of course, I objected because of the doctrine of civilian control that Trump was just obliterating with his nominations. Then, Dr. Ben Carson was announced as Trump’s choice for HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and I complained because despite Dr. Carson’s obvious talents as a world renowned neurosurgeon, and despite his knowledge of health care and how the neoliberal health industry drains dollars from the public, but fails to demonstrate enough care about public care, it appeared to me that Trump had selected the Black man to deal with the Cabinet post perceived to deal with the issues of urban America—a euphemism in polite circles for Black and Brown people in the U.S. So, I tweeted back to Trump, “Why HUD and not HHS [Health and Human Services]??????” This is a classic way to pigeon-hole someone with the intent to “keep them in their place.” Tellingly, Congressman Dr. Tom Price from my home state of Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon, was selected by Trump to serve as his HHS Secretary. Trump nominated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s wife, and previous Secretar
y of Labor under President George W. Bush, Taiwan-born Elaine Chao, to serve him at the helm of the Department of Transportation.
In stunning fashion, Trump kicked off nominations on what seemed to be “Billionaire Week” when he selected billionaire Betsey DeVos (who is also the sister of Blackwater founder, Erik Prince) to serve as his Secretary of Education. He rounded out the week by tapping Wilbur Ross to become the country’s Secretary of Commerce; hundred millionaire Steve Mnuchin (who is registered to vote in both California and New York, according to Fortune) to serve as Treasury Secretary; and from a billionaire family, Todd Ricketts, to back up Ross as the second in command at Commerce. A few days later, Trump stuck with the hundred millionaire club when he nominated Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO at ExxonMobil, for Secretary of State.
Serving at Cabinet-level positions, while not formally being in the Cabinet, are Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Haley is already on the job representing the U.S. at the United Nations while President Trump is rumored to be considering an executive order threatening drastic cuts in current U.S. funding levels at the global body. Therefore, as of this writing, President Trump has only two Cabinet officials actually serving in office right now, other than his Vice President: Secretary of Defense General Mattis and Secretary of Homeland Security General John Kelly, who oversaw torture and illegal detentions at the U.S.-held prison at Guantanamo Bay on the island of Cuba. Thus, so far, the Trump Cabinet can be seen largely as a group of multimillionaires and billionaires and generals. Former Assistant Treasury Secretary Dr. Paul Craig Roberts says that President Trump needs strong personality types who won’t be pushed around by bullies in the press or in Congress. While that is probably true, too, still I wonder if this is the right mix of leadership to put the U.S. on the right track. And honestly, I wonder if people who have been so consumed with personal interest and bottom line corporate interest even possess the necessary character and personality ingredients to become servants of the public interest—a greater good than the bottom line. I wonder if generals who are trained and prepared to go to war at the drop of a hat should command offices like Pentagon Secretary; and if the general at Homeland Security is willing to work his way out of a job by abolishing that Bill of Rights nightmare after ushering in immigration reform and securing U.S. borders— whatever that means—when a clear and more present danger to the U.S. honestly exists within the U.S. Congress. But that’s another topic for another day. Therefore, I have to end this article exactly where I began it: on the outskirts of The Outer Limits (another popular TV show of the same genre and time period) and on my way to my ringside seat in The Twilight Zone.
Actually, it was a newspaper in Scotland that first intoned The Twilight Zone moniker for the Trump Presidency by publishing this: “After a long absence, The Twilight Zone returns with one of the most ambitious, expensive, and controversial productions in broadcast history.” It was writing about the Trump inauguration. But in an even stranger twist of facts, some intrepid social media maven was able to track down a 1950s-era TV show entitled Track down which focuses on the Wild West of the U.S. during the late 1800s. One particular 1958 episode is entitled “The End of the World.” And believe it or not, the star of this episode is a fellow by the name of Dr. Walter Trump who claims that by building a wall he can prevent the world from coming to an end by midnight at the end of that very day—November 14th. Robert Culp (1930–2010) plays the role of Hoby Gilman, the Texas Ranger charged with tracking down crooks and criminals—and in this episode, the crook is Dr. Trump. In the end, Gilman gets his man, arresting Dr. Trump for fraud. Yes, truth can be stranger than fiction—including science fiction. And every time I think about the Trump Cabinet of Generals and Billionaires, I can’t help but wonder if I’m a two-bit star in The Twilight Zone, The X Files, or The Prisoner.