All 34 cadets and three staff members at a West Virginia corrections academy are FIRED over Nazi salute photo

As reported in the DailyMail on December 30, 2019:

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice on Monday approved the firing of all the prison guard trainees who were seen making a Nazi salute in a class photograph that was made public earlier this month. 

In addition to the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Academy cadets, three staff members are also slated for termination following the release of the official report concerning the incident that has been completed by West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Secretary Jeff Sandy. 

Four other academy instructors have been recommended for suspension without pay for failing to report the photo. 

“As I said from the beginning, I condemn the photo of Basic Training Class 18 in the strongest possible terms,’ Justice, a Republican, said in a statement on Monday. ‘I also said that this act needed to result in real consequences – terminations and dismissals. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated on my watch in any agency of State government.

We have a lot of good people in our Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. But this incident was completely unacceptable. Now, we must continue to move forward and work diligently to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

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The response to this transgression was a perfect example of zero tolerance.

From Lefticon:

Zero tolerance – a policy of total intolerance applied to certain crimes, misdemeanors, behaviors, words, or symbols, resulting in a disconnect between the gravity of the offense and the severity, certainty, and inflexibility of the punishment.

Such policies pre-existed political correctness, but they multiplied in the postmodern era, a time of enhanced awareness of the rights and sensitivities of oppressed but politically powerful minorities. Inherently authoritarian, they are either acceptable or unacceptable based on one’s socio-political orientation. Many are a subjugation of individual rights for a higher collective good. Some examples follow:

Law enforcement. Unpunished minor crimes like littering, drinking in public, jaywalking, unsolicited windshield washing, “jumping the turnstiles,” and public urination had become common in pre-Giuliani New York City. During his tenure as mayor (1994-2001), Rudolph Giuliani eliminated those crimes using a policy of zero-tolerance policing, under the theory that enforcing the law at the misdemeanor level would reduce crime at all levels, which it did. New York City became cleaner and safer, a lingering effect which persisted despite relaxation of his policies by subsequent administrations. His methods were criticized for their disparate impact on the homeless and blacks, but they were offset by his record of equal treatment of white-collar, white criminals.

Hate crime. Any crime against a protected minority is prima facie a hate crime and deserves zero tolerance, unless it is committed by the same protected minority, such as black on black, or gay on gay. This exemption includes those who themselves are victims of internalized oppression and hate their own minority, e.g., self-hating blacks, unless the self-hating minority is also a police officer. Hate crimes are prosecutable by Federal law (Civil Rights Act of 1964) and the protection of double jeopardy does not apply. A defendant can be found not guilty of a criminal act in a state court and still be prosecuted for the same act as a separate hate crime in federal court and sued by the victim(s) in civil court. Hatred of a minority is so loathsome that extraordinary judicial and punitive measures are obviously necessary.

Hate speech. Any speech that shows hate, dislike, or disapproval of a minority individual or group is unacceptable and subject to zero tolerance, as is the failure to denounce hate speech committed by another. An acceptable denunciation must be immediate, vigorous, and repeated. A delayed denunciation is unacceptable. There is no possibility of forgiveness or redemption for use of the despicable N-word—or for that matter any racial slur or its equivalent—even when used in the distant past. Appropriate punishment, upon accusation, is termination of employment or expulsion from school, followed by blacklisting, ostracization, and otherization.

Sexual harassment and assault. Any offensive and unwelcome sexual behavior of an individual or group toward another (harassment), or nonconsensual physical contact with a person of the opposite gender (assault or abuse), is addressed with policies of zero tolerance in any setting, but especially in the workplace, school, or military. Appropriate punishment is termination of employment, expulsion from school, discharge from military service, blacklisting, ostracization, otherization, and criminal prosecution (for assault).

Drug crimes. The ongoing “War on Drugs” primarily targets the use of illegal drugs over their possession, transportation, importation, and sale. Zero tolerance policies, both state and federal, have resulted in non-discretionary, mandatory prosecution and mandatory-minimum sentences under judicial sentencing guidelines. Those most affected are low-level users and first-offenders, with an unintended consequence of disparate impact on racial minorities and a marked increase in our prison population.

Firearms and knives. Since firearms are a major cause of serial killings, mass shootings, suicides, murders, and accidental deaths, a zero tolerance of gun ownership in the general population is appropriate except for police and the SWAT teams of government agencies. The ideal solution would be gun confiscation, but because of conflicts with the Second Amendment of the Constitution, this is not possible. Accordingly, there is a need to bring about an aversion to the prevailing “gun culture” through gradual indoctrination of children, beginning in pre-school and continued K-12. Any child who plays war games, the game of “cowboys and Indians” (which is also racist), brings a toy gun or real gun to school, draws an image of a gun, or points his forefinger like a gun at a teacher or classmate, must be physically subdued and disciplined, with the assistance of law enforcement when necessary. Because knives can take the place of guns when the latter are unavailable, the same zero tolerance policies are also applied to knives.

Climate change denial. Anthropogenic climate change due to atmospheric pollution by carbon dioxide emissions due to industrialization in developed nations is a fact proven by computer modeling and the consensus of 97% of climate scientists. Global warming will inevitably lead to melting glaciers and polar icecaps, rising sea levels, the submerging of islands and coastal cities, the desertification of arable land, and the extinction of polar bears and penguins. The survival of the planet requires zero tolerance for any denial or questioning of these established facts and projections. Any doubt or denial could delay the required countermeasures that must be taken in whatever time is left.

Swastikas and the Nazi salute. The swastika is a geometric symbol widely used by many cultures and religions throughout the world since antiquity. It was also used as the emblem of the National Socialists in Germany (Nazis) and has become a symbol of anti-Semitism, for which there is zero tolerance. For that reason, any intentional display (as in graffiti) or inadvertent (such as doodling) of the detestable swastika is prima facie evidence of anti-Semitism and treated as hate crime or hate speech to the fullest extent of the law. The Nazi salute, with the right arm extended forward at a 45 degree angle, even when in jest, is equally offensive and unacceptable.

Holocaust denial or questioning. The twentieth century had many genocides, including the Armenian genocide, the Holodomor in Ukraine, dekulakization in Soviet Russia, the killing fields of Cambodia, the firebombing and nuclear bombing of major cities in Japan and Germany, and the Holocaust (Shoah), all of which have been certified by accredited historians. Of these, the only one questioned, by clearly anti-Semitic revisionist historians, is the Nazi murder of 6,000,000 Jews, known as the Holocaust. Clearly, a zero tolerance policy against Holocaust denial, or questioning the proven number of victims, became necessary. In some Western European countries, Holocaust denial or questioning became a criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment. This approach is not possible in the United States because of the freedom of speech guarantees of the First Amendment, though other remedies are available via the usual hate-speech countermeasures.

Gunman kills 2 at White Settlement church before 2 members fatally shoot him

This was reported in the Dallas Morning News on December 29, 2019. White Settlement is a suburb of Dallas.

White Settlement police were called about 10 a.m. to the West Freeway Church of Christ at 1900 South Las Vegas Trail, where three people were treated for gunshot wounds.

MedStar spokeswoman Macara Trusty said two of the wounded people — one of whom was the shooter — died at a hospital.

Paramedics resuscitated the third person, who went into cardiac arrest on the way to a hospital. That person remained in critical condition …

The shooting was captured on a live stream of Sunday’s worship service. In the video, which is no longer available on the church’s Youtube channel, a person stands and pulls out what appears to be a shotgun, then fires twice before someone toward the back of the sanctuary returns fire.

Some congregants holding guns rushed toward the shooter, while others ducked under church pews.

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This shooting took place in a church, which would be expected to be a gun-free zone.

From Lefticon:

Gun-free zones – public or private areas where firearms are prohibited, either as a political accommodation to gun-control advocates, or as “safe spaces” for those who fear guns.

Proponents of gun-free zones claim that they prevent gun violence. The logic of this position is irrefutable. Gun violence requires guns. If an area is gun-free, it cannot be the site of gun violence. All levels of government, from municipal to federal, have the legislative and regulatory powers to create and enforce gun-free zones as communal safe spaces that are off-limits to licensed gun owners.

Opponents of gun-free zones claim that they are an invitation to mass murderers rather than a deterrent. They note that firearm-related mass murders commonly take place in gun-free zones, such as schools, churches, theaters, government facilities, and military bases. They claim that such zones only succeed in disarming law-abiding potential victims, but not the non-law-abiding murderers who prefer places where they will not encounter return fire from a legally armed citizen.

Note:  The arguments against gun-free zones are clearly sophistic and based on a series of coincidences in high-profile cases. They are promulgated by lobbyists and propagandists of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and firearm manufacturers as part of their general opposition to gun control.

Newsweek reporter quits after editors block coverage of OPCW Syria scandal

As reported by Aaron Mate in the Grayzone, December 19, 2019:

Journalist Tareq Haddad explains his decision to resign from Newsweek over its refusal to cover the OPCW’s unfolding Syria scandal.

According to whistleblower testimony and leaked documents, OPCW officials raised alarm about the suppression of critical findings that undermine the allegation that the Syrian government committed a chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma in April 2018. Haddad’s editors at Newsweek rejected his attempts to cover the story. “If I don’t find another position in journalism because of this, I’m perfectly happy to accept that consequence,” Haddad says. “It’s not desirable. But there is no way I could have continued in that job knowing that I couldn’t report something like this.”

New leaks continue to expose a cover-up by the OPCW – the world’s top chemical weapons watchdog – over a critical event in Syria. Documents, emails, and testimony from OPCW officials have raised major doubts about the allegation that the Syrian government committed a chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma in April 2018. The leaked OPCW information has been released in pieces by Wikileaks. The latest documents contain a number of significant revelations – including that that about 20 OPCW officials voiced concerns that their scientific findings and on-the-ground evidence was suppressed and excluded.

This is, without a doubt, a major global scandal: the OPCW, under reported US pressure, suppressing vital evidence about allegations of chemical weapons. But that very fact exposes another global scandal: with the exception of small outlets like The Grayzone, the mass media has widely ignored or whitewashed this story …

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The OPCW is the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a once-prestigious intergovernmental organization based at the Hague, Netherlands. These recent disclosures reveal that it was involved in the coverup of a false-flag operation, the “poison gas attack” at Douma which was blamed on the Syrian government under Assad.

From Lefticon:

False flag – a traumatic event, real or staged, perpetrated by covert elements of a government on its own people, or a political organization on its own members, or a religion on its own believers, for false attribution to another governmental, political, or religious entity.

Of these, governmental false flags have had the greatest historic impact. They have been used to justify a preplanned war, rationalize joining one already in progress, dehumanize the enemy, portray weak leaders as strong leaders, inspire popular consent, create enthusiasm for a war or political agenda, stimulate the young to accept military recruitment and conscription, destroy evidence of high-level criminality, and get the masses to accept less freedom in the name of security.

According to conspiracy theorists, most of whom are on the anti-establishment right and rely on unaccredited sources in the alternative media, governmental false flag events have some combination of the following characteristics:

They are planned in secrecy at the highest level of power and executed by an intelligence or security service, military special operations units, and/or hired mercenaries. Event planning for major operations can take months or years and involve consultants, contractors, and the participation of domestic and foreign intelligence services at multiple levels. Such events are complex, and both the planning and execution are highly compartmentalized, with each component restricted to its “need to know.” Plausible deniability at all levels is necessary. The victims are innocent civilians, preferably women and children, or military personnel of one’s own country. Some events require real casualties; others are hoaxes with staged casualties and crisis actors playing the roles of victims and their grieving families. Supported by contrived evidence, false flag events are then blamed on another country as a pretext for war or regime change; on a political or religious organization; on “terrorism” requiring retribution and increased security measures; or on an inanimate object as “gun violence” requiring more anti-gun legislation. Or they can provoke chaos as a prelude to civil war or revolution, or simply maintain an existing state of fear in the populace to influence their support of an agenda.

Successful false flags require a complicit media, unquestioning acceptance of an official narrative, concealment or destruction of evidence, and the suppression of investigative reporting. All events require a credible scapegoat/perpetrator with an identity compatible with the false narrative. Funding for false flag operations is said to come from the clandestine (black) budgets of intelligence or security agencies or from charitable foundations and NGOs controlled by or in collusion with the same agencies. Major events can require prolonged investigation by an ad hoc Commission, with pre-determined final verification of the official narrative.

Since the ascent of the Internet, with its cadres of amateur investigative journalists, analysts, and conspiracy theorists, many false flags have been suggested, but none proven. Even the best-planned false flags, if such exist, can leave behind anomalies, coincidences, inconsistencies, and contradictions which invite conjecture. The explanations can range from the absurd to the probable. By conflating all under the label of conspiracy theory, it is possible to discredit all. Older events are consigned to the “dustbin of history” by certified historians.

Wounded FedEx Driver Kills Armed Robber During Shootout in Philadelphia

This was reported by David Chang on NBC 10 Philadelphia, updated on December 18, 2019:

A wounded FedEx delivery driver turned the tables on an armed robber who shot him, killing him during a shootout in Philadelphia, police said.

“Based on the preliminary story that was relayed it appears to be self defense: he was shot first, he fired back,” Acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter said.

The 32-year-old FedEx driver traveled to the 600 block of Unruh Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday to make a delivery. As he walked to the home he was approached by an armed robber who stole items from his FedEx truck, according to investigators. The robber then opened fire, shooting the driver in the abdomen.

The driver, who police said was armed with his own weapon, returned fire, striking the robber several times. The injured robber managed to escape with several stolen items. Meanwhile, the injured delivery driver got into his vehicle and drove away.

The wounded FedEx driver drove to the 6600 block of Oxford Avenue where he was found by police. The officers then took the driver to Einstein Hospital where he was listed in stable condition.

“We’re hopeful that he will be OK,” Coulter said.

Around the same time, police found a 27-year-old man, who they believe was the armed robber, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds in a rear alley on the 1400 block of Creston Street. Police said the man also had several items in his possession that were stolen from the FedEx driver.

The 27-year-old man was taken to Einstein Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8:27 p.m.

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From Lefticon:

Gun control – regulation and restriction of firearm ownership for the common good.

Gun control is one of the three “litmus test” issues—the others being abortion and gay marriage—that clearly separate the political left from the right.

Those on the right take refuge in the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which states:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

They also cite the Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which upheld an individual’s right to keep a gun at home for self-defense. They believe that the Second Amendment went beyond gun ownership for hunting or self-defense and had the primary intent of protection against the emergence of a tyrannical government, and secondarily as a deterrent to foreign invasion. The latter is illustrated in the possibly-apocryphal quote of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Second World War: “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.” While the origin of this quote is disputed, its truth is self-evident, with an armed citizenry being one of many reasons the US was not invaded in the two World Wars, the others being mostly geographic and logistical. It is why a Cloward-Piven strategy of induced socio-economic collapse makes more sense to the enemies of the United States than an armed invasion.

Those on the left believe that the Second Amendment may have been appropriate for another time and place, but not for the present. Firearms, they say, are intrinsically instruments of evil, with the sole purpose of inflicting death or injury on a living being. Clearly, the best way to prevent gun deaths is total disarmament of the population through gun confiscation, which is opposed by the right and their powerful lobbies. A next-best approach is gun control legislation aimed at legitimate gun owners, utilizing all available means of social engineering to make it prohibitively difficult to purchase and own arms and ammunition.

Right-wing opponents of gun control claim that states and other jurisdictions with the strictest gun laws have statistically the highest per-capita rates of gun violence. They also cite the experience of gun confiscation in the UK, which resulted in a marked increase in home invasions and knife-related violent crimes. These claims have been debunked by progressive fact-checking organizations.

Libya is Poised to Become THE Major International Crisis of 2020

Mark Leon Goldberg reports on December 16, 2019 in the UN Dispatch:

The crisis in Libya is about to get much worse. Nine months ago a renegade general named Khalifa Hiftar launched an attack on the internationally recognized and UN-backed government in Tripoli. That assault suddenly ended UN-brokered peace process that seemed to be on the brink of success.

In the ensuing months, the sides have been locked into a stalemate, with fighting mostly confined to neighborhoods on the outskirts of Tripoli. But, recently Hiftar’s foreign backers have stepped up their support. This includes Russia, which has deployed troops and equipment to Hiftar this fall. Meanwhile, Turkey is raising the possibility that it will send troops to defend Tripoli from Hiftar’s attack.

The situation is now extremely perilous. Outside forces, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates are fueling this conflict. Meanwhile, key diplomatic players in Europe and the United States are sending mixed signals about their preferred outcome. So, at the end of 2019 it could very well transpire that Libya descends into a crushing proxy war and civil war, of enormous humanitarian consequence.

According to b at Moon of Alabama (in a more detailed analysis), this conflict can lead to a war between Egypt and Turkey.

From Lefticon:

War – armed conflict between or within nations.

Wars are fought to resolve political disputes, repel invasion, expand territory, acquire resources, protect commercial interests, defend sovereign rights, sustain a defense industry, secure energy sources, honor a treaty, support an ally, exact vengeance, project power, change a regime, bring democracy, install an ideology, control overpopulation, keep the peace, protect from abuse, stop genocide, or liberate from oppression. The declared purpose of a war may or may not be the real purpose. Wars can be described in many ways:

    • A war between alliances of developed countries is a world war.
    • A war between opposing factions within a country is a civil war.
    • A civil war for regime change is a revolutionary war.
    • A revolutionary war against a colonial power is a war of independence.
    • A regional war fought by surrogates for one or both sides is a proxy war.
    • A color-coded proxy war for regime change is a color revolution.
    • A war fought by civilians against a conventional military is a hybrid, asymmetric, or guerilla war.
    • A war with deliberate targeting of noncombatants is a total war.
    • A war initiated by a massive first strike is a preemptive war.
    • A war to prevent a preemptive war is a preventive war.
    • A war using strategic nuclear weapons is a nuclear war.
    • A war approved by religious clergy or secular moral arbiters is a just war.
    • A war between theocracies or by a theocracy against infidels is a religious war.
    • A war to depose a genocidal dictator is a humanitarian war.
    • A war fought by computer hackers is a cyber war.

In addition, there are contests between nations that are not armed conflicts but are nonetheless called wars. A quasi-war fought with tariffs and quotas is called a trade war; one between competing economies, an economic war; if between opposing propagandists, a propaganda war. A large-scale quasi-war fought with propaganda, threats, posturing, blockades, and economic sanctions is a cold war. A quasi-war can provoke an adversary to a first-strike response to start a real war. If there is no response to real provocation, a staged episode (false flag) can be a casus belli (cause of war).

Wars and the threats of war are directly profitable for a segment of capitalism known as the defense industry or military-industrial complex (MIC), as well as its support system of intelligence agencies, legislators, lobbyists, regulators, media, and bankers. Closely related to the MIC, postwar reconstruction contracts can be highly lucrative and depend on the extent of residential, commercial, industrial, and infrastructure destruction.

The spoils of war can include the precious metals of the defeated nation’s treasury and their natural reserves of oil, gas, and minerals. The professed motives for war, however, are never commercial and always noble, virtuous, and humanitarian.

War can bring together the disparate political factions of a country, strengthening patriotic resolve and forging the unified national identity known as nationalism. It brings out the best qualities of strength, courage, loyalty, honor, and self-sacrifice in those who fight, but also the worst in the rape, plunder, pillage, and vengeance killings of the vanquished, or the slaughter and mass starvation of prisoners of war. It can incentivize political and military leaders to seek war for the historical legacy of greatness, and to fight a total war to win at any human cost.

Attempts to prevent war through diplomacy or arbitration have rarely succeeded. The League of Nations did not prevent the Second World War, and the United Nations (UN) did not prevent the many small but destructive wars since. The UN expanded the reasons for war in 2005 with its doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) against genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. The R2P doctrine can be applied selectively against countries with significant natural resources but uncooperative “genocidal” leaders. UN member states and peacekeeping forces wage war in the name of this “Responsibility,” often committing the same crimes against which they claim to be protecting.

Neither is religion an effective deterrent. Although the main monotheistic religions forbid killing, they endorse war and have incited or waged it in the past. Islamic jihad, for example, is an ongoing religious war, as were the Christian Crusades in the past. Israel, the Jewish state, wages and supports regional wars against Islamic states with the full support of evangelical Christians in the United States. Furthermore, nonprofit organizations of the major religions profit from government contracts to relocate refugees from the approved regional wars that their governments incite.

Curiously, the position of the Western left changed from strongly antiwar in the 1960-70 period during the Viet Nam War, to endorsement of armed interventionism in the 1990s. Neoliberals and neoconservatives united to support the various color revolutions and other wars for democracy and regime change. The doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) narrowed the left-right divide on the issue of humanitarian war. This policy adjustment of the establishment gave rise to the double-negative term anti-antiwar.

Note:  The word war is also used metaphorically to describe a political struggle against an abstract or categorical enemy, such as the wars on poverty, drugs, crime, guns, terror, cancer, smoking, saturated fats, women, obesity, and even the war on war.

Scandal of Historic Magnitude: Not Only for the FBI but Also the U.S. Media

Glenn Greenwald, reporting in The Intercept, does not conceal his contempt for the FBI and our corporate media.

Just as was true when the Mueller investigation closed without a single American  being charged with criminally conspiring with Russia over the 2016 election, Wednesday’s issuance of the long-waited report  from the Department of Justice’s Inspector General reveals that years of major claims and narratives from the U.S. media were utter frauds .

Before evaluating the media component of this scandal, the FBI’s gross abuse of its power – its serial deceit – is so grave and manifest that it requires little effort to demonstrate it. In sum, the IG Report documents multiple instances in which the FBI – in order to convince a FISA court to allow it spy on former Trump campaign operative Carter Page during the 2016 election – manipulated documents, concealed crucial exonerating evidence, and touted what it knew were unreliable if not outright false claims …

The focus of the first part of the IG Report was on the warrants obtained by the DOJ, at the behest of the FBI, to spy on Carter Page on the grounds that there was probable cause to believe he was an agent of the Russian government. That Page was a Kremlin agent was a widely disseminated media claim – typically asserted as fact even though it had no evidence. As a result of this media narrative, the Mueller investigation examined these widespread accusations yet concluded that “the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.”

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These events do not reflect well on either the security components of the deep state or the corporate media. Greenwald’s full report is well worth reading.

From Lefticon:

Deep State – a term with several meanings describing the hidden power structure of the federal government.

One meaning refers to career employees entrenched in the bureaucracy. Another refers to the inner core of its intelligence and security services. Still another refers to a secret supra-governmental plutocracy that controls all branches of government. The term “shadow government” can refer to any or all of these, but usually to the latter two working collaboratively.

In the United States, there are three established branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. The federal bureaucracy, however, has become de facto a “fourth branch,” with authority delegated by the other three branches or assumed by default. The bureaucracy has the power to write, administer, and enforce the rules and regulations which constitute regulatory law. It uses this power freely in the guise of civil service. While the term deep state refers mainly to the administrative bureaucracy of the executive branch, there is also a judicial bureaucracy of clerks, other lawyers, and paralegals who research and draft judicial opinions, injunctions, and the like. In addition, there is a legislative bureaucracy of career staffers who investigate, research, interact with lobbyists, and draft legislation …

The consequence of this employment structure is that a President, elected on promised policies of, say, smaller government and less regulation, must depend on a workforce that is committed to bigger government and more regulation. The latter are progressive principles, and along with the preference given to the hiring of minorities, it is hardly surprising that the great majority of federal employees concur with the entire progressive agenda. Thus, any policies of a center-right or right-wing President are rarely addressed with enthusiasm of execution.

Within the bureaucratic deep state, not all agencies are equal. The most powerful are those dealing with intelligence and security; the core operations, methods, and sources of information of those agencies are “classified,” which shields them from meaningful oversight and makes each a power unto itself. The oversight by Congress is token at best, and collaborative at worst.

There is, obviously, an inverse relationship between secrecy and accountability. For example, the so-called intelligence community of sixteen agencies has a yearly “black budget” of over $50 billion, most of which goes to the CIA, NSA, NGA, NRO, and DIA. The details of how they spend this tax-gotten money and how they allegedly supplement it with extralegal or illegal activities are conveniently classified (declared secret) and thereby shielded from public view.

An extended, third meaning of the deep state postulates a secret plutocracy—also called the powers that be (TPTB) and the hidden hand—controlling all the power structures of society inside or outside the government. The leadership of said plutocracy, if it exists, is well hidden and is likely a cabal rather than an individual. While some of its visible agents move effortlessly between high-level positions in government, industry, finance, foundations, think tanks, and academia, the identity of those at the highest level remains unknown and in the speculative realm of conspiracy theory.

Manufactured consent – agreement of the masses with the agenda of the ruling class, achieved through propaganda widely disseminated by the corporate media.

In their landmark exposé, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky described how the corporate media changed from seekers of objective truth to a propaganda model, generating popular support for the agendas of the government and corporate elites.

Published in 1988, their observations are still valid today if not more so.

Operation Mockingbird – a project of the CIA to control the content of the news media in the United States.

This operation took place during the Cold War in the 1950s to the early 1970s, as a reaction to similar Soviet efforts. It involved all the techniques of propaganda including disinformation, censorship, front organizations, and the clandestine involvement of over 400 accredited reporters of major news publications such as the NY Times, the Washington Post, and Time/Life. It was said to have ended after exposure by the Church Committee and other investigative agencies.

There are reasons to believe that Mockingbird never ended but continues to this day to use the corporate media to shape the opinions of the masses.

Will Pelosi have the Votes to Impeach?

In this commentary on OffGuardian, Renee Parsons summarizes the ongoing impeachment debacle.

Despite an inadequate performance last week by Constitutional law experts before the House Judiciary Committee, Chair Jerrold Nadler released a unilateral committee report on Saturday entitled “Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.”   The Report came the day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s press conference in which she directed the formation of Articles of Impeachment.

As has become apparent to any objective observer; that is one who prefers facts over fiction, the Democrats remain locked in an imaginary world struggling to maintain relevance, a stature of standing that no longer exists. 

Presumably with no Quid Pro Quo, no allegation of criminal conduct, no legally substantial evidence or factual basis and no bipartisan support, in defiance of previous impeachment norms, the Democrats are hell bent on making public jackasses out of themselves.

In a hearing with Constitutional legal experts expected to score big legal points in support of impeachment, the witnesses instead turned out to be smug, hyper partisan activists as they were consistently unpersuasive and unimpressiv.

All three displayed not a wit of objectivity or neutrality while touting their own personal political agenda with a foreign policy ax to grind, leaving the unmistakable impression that their testimonies were nothing short of conflated.

Condescending as if pontificating to a class of mediocre law students, Professor Noah Feldman had suggested in 2017 that Presidential tweets could be grounds for impeachment, indicative of the depth of his thinking as he repeatedly impressed himself with his own rhetoric. 

 Professor Pamela Karlan opened with a shrillness that grew into a hyperbole spewing divisiveness among the American people and went on to revisit the Russiagate and foreign electoral influence myth ad nauseam. Those dim witted Democrats on the committee repeated the mantra as if held in a spellbound trance whenever “Russiagate” was mentioned. There was no mention of Israel interference in US elections.

Stating that he had not voted for Trump in 2016, GWU Law Professor Jonathan Turley who is a registered Democrat (as is yours truly) opened with a brilliant statement as he set the tone for an extraordinarily compelling testimony throughout the day, carefully explaining to the Democrats why they had not met a credible legal threshold for impeachment …

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It should be noted that these impeachment proceedings are being carried out by politicians who demonstrate the related phenomena of partisanship and party politics.

From Lefticon:

Politician – someone who seeks or holds public office in the democratic election process.

Among all occupations, politician is unique in that, aside from citizenship and minimum-age restrictions, there are no entry barriers. Nor are there any of the usual job requirements such as training, education, aptitude, intelligence, knowledge, experience, or competence. Despite the politician’s responsibilities and power over others, there is no testing, certification, or licensure.

Many politicians enter politics after successful careers in law, business, academia, or the military and are motivated by an altruistic desire to serve the people and their community or country. Others are motivated by aggrandizement, empowerment, and enrichment of themselves; these often rely on personal appeal or identity politics for their voter support. Career politicians with no other skills or accomplishments tend to fall into the latter category. Both types, however, claim the same selfless motivation at election time to serve the people, country, city, or state.

Once elected, politicians soon learn that there is another layer of politics, besides the electoral kind, which is part of their world. It is much like the dirty kind of office politics or “playing politics” that takes place in less august settings. There is plenty of in-fighting and little tolerance for independent thinking or initiatives that go against a collective party platform or ideology.

At the legislative level, all the real work of crafting statutes is done by staff, consultants, and lobbyists. In addition to casting the final vote, the politician’s job is to go to meetings and sit on committees. Some committees debate and approve the legislation in progress, while others exercise oversight over the other branches of government. All are structured to be adversarial; any cooperation with the other party is seen as betrayal and compromise seen as weakness. The leadership of each party rewards compliance and punishes dissent through the power of committee assignments. Some committees are more publicity-generating and career-enhancing than others. There is a major incentive to go along with party leaders to be appointed to choice committees to get the publicity, name recognition, and action image helpful for re-election.

Those politicians who rise in stature as public advocates and defenders of a dissident position on contested social issues can become targets of “opposition research” with the exposure of their private lives, finances, and past indiscretions. They can be demonized by the media and get threats of death or bodily harm from less stable elements of the opposition. Their families can likewise be scrutinized and threatened.

Despite the drawbacks, there are many amenities which politicians enjoy, at least on a federal level. There is, of course, the adulation of their supporters during campaign appearances, rallies, or whenever they venture outside their homes or protected spaces; this sustains and reinforces the self-affirmation that comes from appearing to do what is good and necessary. For some, elected office is the highest paying job they could possibly get. Their health insurance benefits are the most comprehensive available, and they can retire on a generous pension with full vesting after a short period of service (like five years in the US Congress). Corporations, special-interest groups, and lobbyists court them with campaign contributions, gifts, and payments-in-kind for their favorable votes. Their access to corporate information and prior knowledge of legislation affecting business trends provide opportunities to make sound investments unavailable to the average investor. Finally, elected office is the ticket to even higher-paying positions as lobbyists, consultants, or executives to supplement their pensions once out of office.

Note:  Sometimes, politicians must choose between the political stance of their party on some key issues and their personal moral standards and religious beliefs. In those situations, politics usually overrides religion. An example is the support of “devout” Catholic Democrats for abortion and gay marriage; another is the support of both political parties for foreign interventionism and serial wars of questionable national interest.

Partisanship – unquestioning loyalty to a political party.

Partisanship places the good of the party above the good of the country. In a two-party system, it often prevents agreement or compromise on political issues between the two major political parties.

Conversely, agreement between the two parties is called bipartisanship.

Partisanship is strongest when based on devotion to an ideology, which can be as inflexible as devotion to a religion.

Party politics – strict adherence to the agenda of a political party; also called partisan politics.

Party politics is manifest when all members of a political party in a legislative body vote as a bloc on specific issues. It requires either like-mindedness (groupthink) on the part of individual legislators, or their submission to the judgment and will of the party leadership over and above their own judgment and values.

Note:  When party politics conflicts with religion, politics prevails, as when devout Catholic legislators support abortion and gay marriage.

The Daily Northwestern Apologizes to Students for Reporting News That Triggered Them

As reported in Reason on November 11, 2019:

The Daily Northwestern is the student newspaper of Northwestern University, which is home to the Medill School of Journalism, one of the best regarded journalism schools in the country…

[During a] a recent visit to campus by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions … Sessions addressed the College Republicans while student activists protested the speech, objecting to the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants.

Some of the activists were apparently dissatisfied with the way The Daily Northwestern covered the event, resulting in an editorial apology by The Daily Northwestern staff.

From the editorial:

On Nov. 5, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke on campus at a Northwestern University College Republicans event. The Daily sent a reporter to cover that talk and another to cover the students protesting his invitation to campus, along with a photographer. We recognize that we contributed to the harm students experienced, and we wanted to apologize for and address the mistakes that we made that night—along with how we plan to move forward.

One area of our reporting that harmed many students was our photo coverage of the event. Some protesters found photos posted to reporters’ Twitter accounts retraumatizing and invasive. Those photos have since been taken down. On one hand, as the paper of record for Northwestern, we want to ensure students, administrators and alumni understand the gravity of the events that took place Tuesday night. However, we decided to prioritize the trust and safety of students who were photographed. We feel that covering traumatic events requires a different response than many other stories. While our goal is to document history and spread information, nothing is more important than ensuring that our fellow students feel safe — and in situations like this, that they are benefitting from our coverage rather than being actively harmed by it. We failed to do that last week, and we could not be more sorry …

Ultimately, The Daily failed to consider our impact in our reporting surrounding Jeff Sessions. We know we hurt students that night, especially those who identify with marginalized groups …

Going forward, we are working on setting guidelines for source outreach, social media and covering marginalized groups. As students at Northwestern, we are also grappling with the impact of Tuesday’s events, and as a student organization, we are figuring out how we can support each other and our communities through distressing experiences that arise on campus. We will also work to balance the need for information and the potential harm our news coverage may cause. We met as a staff Sunday to discuss where our reporting and empathy fell short last week, and we are actively re-examining how we’ll address similar situations in the future and how to best move forward …

It is obvious that the offended activists were harmed by the emotional violence triggered by the cited reports, and the apology was an expected response.

From Lefticon:

Trigger – any word, phrase, or situation that brings about an unpleasant or uncomfortable emotional response (anxiety, anger, fear, hate, disgust), a relapse of an addiction, or memories of a past traumatic experience.

Trigger can also be used as a verb, as in, “The moderator’s use of a gender-specific term, ‘guys,’ triggered anxiety in one of the participants, while the cross-talk and clapping triggered unbearable sensory overload in another.”

Emotional triggers are common in all social interactions, usually unanticipated. They should be avoided at all costs, but when anticipated by the “triggerer” they should be prefaced with a trigger warning.

Violence – the infliction of physical or emotional pain.

Violence was once limited to physical force resulting in pain, injury, or death. But physical violence against minorities declined as the result of the civil rights movement, legislation, and indoctrination of the masses. It then became expedient to supplement physical with emotional violence.

The newer, more inclusive conceptualization of violence includes emotional pain, with or without injury. Since the political base of the left is a coalition of victim groups, this expanded definition was necessary to expand the political base. Hate speech and verbal bullying became violence, as did many of the forms of sexual harassment and workplace aggression.

Emotional violence – non-physical violence perpetrated by a victimizer on an individual victim or a victimized minority group.

Emotional violence often results in emotional pain which can be more hurtful and lasting than physical pain. Severe emotional violence can leave the victim with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, suicidal ideation, sociopathy, or homicidal rage. In some cases, it can trigger suicide or mass murder.

Bullying and shaming are forms of emotional violence prevalent in the playground, schoolyard, classroom, social media, workplace, and boot camp. They are usually unacceptable except in political discourse when directed at a privileged white oppressor.

Note:  The old adage, “Sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a quaint, easily debunked denial of emotional violence.

Who Is Making US Foreign Policy?

Professor Stephen F. Cohen calls attention to the anomaly of a philosophically non-interventionist president conducting foreign policy in an administration dominated by interventionist neoconservatives.

President Trump campaigned and was elected on an anti-neocon platform: he promised to reduce direct US involvement in areas where, he believed, America had no vital strategic interest, including in Ukraine. He also promised a new détente (“cooperation”) with Moscow.

And yet, as we have learned from their recent congressional testimony, key members of his own National Security Council did not share his views and indeed were opposed to them. Certainly, this was true of Fiona Hill and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Both of them seemed prepared for a highly risky confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, though whether retroactively because of Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea or for more general reasons was not entirely clear.

Similarly, Trump was slow in withdrawing Marie Yovanovitch, a career foreign service officer appointed by President Obama as ambassador to Kiev, who had made clear, despite her official position in Kiev, that she did not share the new American president’s thinking about Ukraine or Russia. In short, the president was surrounded in his own administration, even in the White House, by opponents of his foreign policy and presumably not only in regard to Ukraine.

How did this unusual and dysfunctional situation come about? One possibility is that it was the doing and legacy of the neocon John Bolton, briefly Trump’s national security adviser. But this doesn’t explain why the president would accept or long tolerate such appointees.

Read more

From Lefticon:

Neoconservatism – a form of conservatism that advocates a strong military and defense industry, serial wars for regime change, and intervention in the affairs of other nations when in the interest of Saudi Arabia or Israel.

Neoconservatives are comfortable with crony capitalism, neoliberal economics, big government, mass surveillance, free trade, mass migration, open borders, and the outsourcing of manufacturing. They are supporters of one world order in the sense of global governance under Anglo-American hegemony.

The founders of neoconservatism were originally Trotskyites and neo-Marxists. They were undoubtedly aware of the Trotsky method called “entryism,” whereby members of his Socialist Worker’s Party would join (enter) other socialist parties, worker’s unions, and various movements, attempting to take over their leadership. This method was easily applied to conservatism. Trotsky was also an advocate of constant revolution in many countries throughout the world, which conflicted with Stalin’s concept of perfecting communism in one country before attempting to export it. The neoconservative strategy of serial wars for regime change was clearly influenced by Trotsky and his Fourth International.

These ex-Trotskyites entered conservatism during the Gerald Ford era, became the dominant Republicans during the presidency of George W. Bush, and remain embedded in the leadership of the Republican Party, establishment conservatism, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Non-interventionism – a policy that prohibits meddling in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations.

Unlike isolationism, non-interventionism can coexist with normal trade and immigration relations.

The first President of the United States, George Washington, in his Farewell Address (1796), warned repeatedly of foreign alliances and intervention in foreign affairs. Two pertinent excerpts follow:

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

George Washington was clearly a non-interventionist; many if not most subsequent presidents were obviously not. His philosophy is consistent with classical liberalism, libertarianism, and paleoconservatism, but incompatible with neoconservatism, neoliberalism, and communism.

Why Apocalyptic Claims About Climate Change Are Wrong

In this article in Forbes, the noted climate activist and environmentalist Michael Shellenberger challenges the exaggerated and false claims of other activists.

Environmental journalists and advocates have in recent weeks made a number of apocalyptic predictions about the impact of climate change. Bill McKibben  suggested  climate-driven fires in Australia had made koalas “functionally extinct.” Extinction Rebellion  said  “Billions will die” and “Life on Earth is dying.” Vice  claimed  the “collapse of civilization may have already begun.” 

Few have underscored the threat more than student climate activist Greta Thunberg and Green New Deal sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The latter  said , “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”  Says  Thunberg in her new book, “Around 2030 we will be in a position to set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will lead to the end of our civilization as we know it.” 

Sometimes, scientists themselves make apocalyptic claims. “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that,” if Earth warms four degrees,  said  one earlier this year. “The potential for multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,”  said  another. If sea levels rise as much as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts, another scientist  said , “It will be an unmanageable problem.”

Apocalyptic statements like these have real-world impacts. In September, a group of British psychologists  said  children are increasingly suffering from anxiety from the frightening discourse around climate change.

From Lefticon:

Global warming – a hypothesis that the earth is warming because of the greenhouse (heat-trapping) effect of carbon dioxide produced by industrialized humans burning fossil fuels for energy.

Anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming is a political construct which is nonetheless supported by a reported consensus of 97% of climate scientists; the projections of computer models; the US Supreme Court which declared carbon dioxide a pollutant; temperature data from land monitoring stations, ocean buoys, and satellites; articles in peer-reviewed journals; the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency); the United Nations and its IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change); multiple NGOs and the legacy media; financial capitalism and carbon credit traders; Nobel laureates Al Gore and Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Greta Thunberg, and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Opponents, mainly of the alternative right, argue that consensus is not a scientific method and the 97% is unsubstantiated; the computer models are flawed (garbage in, garbage out); the temperature records were altered or fudged; and the articles in scientific journals were biased by lopsided research funding and the deliberate exclusion of opposing studies. Furthermore, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is too small (of the order of 200-400 parts per million) to have any effect on planetary warming, especially when overwhelmed by the main greenhouse gas, water vapor (200,000-400,000 parts per million).

For laudable political reasons (saving the planet), the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming persists despite credible evidence that there has been no warming for the past twenty years and diminished solar activity (a solar minimum) can be ushering in a period of global cooling.