Francesco Queirolo Il Disinganno, Naples, Sansevero Chapel 1753-1754 (the netting is also all marble)
I was thinking all day about Kherson, and how the re-capture of the city is presented in our media. Thinking, also, about the 2,500 kilometer (1,500 miles, give or take) frontline. And of course if you focus troops and material at any single given point along a line of that size, you can make some advances. But does that mean anything, really? Other than PR? Dr. D. today adds the historic etc. perspective to this.
The adagium is: never fight a land war in Asia. Napoleon and Hitler found this out, along with many millions of their young men. But Russia IS Asia. Which means they have no choice but to fight there, and also that they have – deep-rooted – experience. Those 1,500 miles, meanwhile, are an indication of why Russia called up 300,000 reservists.
At the heart of it: you can take some land, but you can’t take our men, they have much more value: “Land is utterly worthless without the men, and Slavic men are precious and few.” Something Russia and Ukraine appear to view differently.
Dr. D.: Out on a limb for Kherson. Anyone want to take up the issue that Ukraine will blow the dam if anyone gets in there? A human rights crime? They’ve been shelling it for weeks?
Okay, Russia moves across, with a huge plain in front and a river crossing in the back. They should just lazily do this? What’s the solution? General Armageddon said “he would make uncomfortable choices”. Withdrawing would seem to fit that bill. We’ve seen him non-stop, and perhaps even ham-fistedly attempt to feint the Ukrainians – actually, why bother? – Feint the Brits and Americans into attacking at points of his choosing, aka “A Trap”.
They have not jumped at them, but Kherson is the biggest wounded bird they’ve ever flapped. How can London ignore it? They MUST have it to make a mess of Crimea, but as it’s a Steppe on a river bridge, instead or Russia, London and the Poles would be in the artillery fire and dam floodplain. And this is a Russian defeat? At the same time, Putin isn’t taking a political hit for it, despite the wounded bird routine.
Wait: unless you BELIEVED what reporters, the news media said. They said it? Russian news, which is known to be the most Western infiltrated or influenced of any body in Russia? And you took what they said seriously? How’s this: “They said it, therefore it is a lie.” That better?
Russia is fighting A Land War in Asia. I don’t know how many times I have to say this. You do not use Kentucky rules, or Melbourne rules, who basically never fought a war. Russia has a tactic, had it for 1,000 years, and it always works so why change it? You trade men for territory. Because there is so much territory, the land is worthless. However, Slavs are few, and the front line is huge.
Over time, almost a year now, Russia instantly, constantly withdraws to cede territory in exchange for men. They lost so much doing this, they now own 1/4 of the country! Oh noes! Because with “A Land War in Asia”, there’s nothing out there. Just open plains. They only thing stopping any movement is 1) the other army 2) rivers. Once the army has no men, Russia can go wherever they like.
If Russia loses no men, because they trade land to save men, they can fight this for 500 years. Ukraine is doing the opposite: trading battalions to gain cow pasture. #Winning! Am I crazy here? What is the single Russian defense measure? That they have enormous territory between them and the idiots in the West who like attacking Russia and losing. That’s why they keep Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine in front of them, and exactly why NATO wanted to encroach all these countries and remove this safety. …While, as we just admitted, change to first-strike nuclear protocol.
Surely Russia would NEVER trade territory for men, always R E T R E A T before an advancing army? That would be LOSING, wouldn’t it?
History Lesson: Russia RETREATED East of MOSCOW for Napoleon. Napoleon had the entire empty city of Moscow for his leisure. It was sacked freely, Russia gave no defense. Yay Leon! Did they lose then? How was Napoleon doing? Do they speak French in St. Petersburg now?
No. The combined Western army of Napoleon, the entire combined forces of Europe minus Britain CEASED TO EXIST. That settled anyone going to war for a while and they didn’t try anything so stupid with Moscow for 100 years after.
If you have a Land War in Asia, trade Men for Land. Land is utterly worthless without the men, and Slavic men are precious and few. Russia agrees and is behind Putin on this move. They can only DREAM that London will be so idiotic and suicidal as to move their army into Kherson, where Russia can shell them at will from far across the river. If I can shell them, but they can’t advance and stop me, is that losing? How, exactly?
What would I do, retreating, getting my hyperventilating 5th column Russian Press to lose their minds at home? Like this: Ukraine moves forward. They have success, the shelling is not so bad! Surovikin amasses forces out of range but can’t cross the river. Russia is losing! All expected. Then because of the maneuvers and feints of two big armies, Surovikin is able to ACTUALLY amass an army without Ukraine “noticing” – a thing he could not do right now. This army is amassed to the north, above the dams, perhaps by Zap, floods through, and not only can’t be stopped, it therefore cuts off the now-amassed London army from Kiev and their supplies out of Poland. Depending on the men tied up, they reach Odessa from the center of the country, not the south. Either quickly — or more likely, eventually.
…For just one scenario. But you understand they can’t amass 300,000 Russians at Kherson without 1) Proving exactly what their plan is and 2) having the army be shot up more or less constantly as they attempt to trickle across the river…WHILE Ukraine definitely drops a dam on them. Was that your war plan and idea? Of what they should do, are required to do according to Anglos sitting safely 10,000 miles away? ‘Cause it sure ain’t mine. And apparently not General Surovikin’s either.
It’s just plain stupid. Russia is 10x Ukraine’s size. Spoiler alert: Russia wins. So should they be reckless, put half an army in harm’s way just because they’re annoyed, impatient and English bloggers tell them to? No. Get them the h– out of harm’s way, and keep on reducing home casualties, every day.
If only our Anglo armies would do the same. But this is Biden’s Slavic genocide, after all. Why help London by killing your own Slavs?
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With the coronavirus running rampant in Los Angeles and hospitals projected to overflow by Christmas, officials have fallen back on a familiar refrain: Stay home. “My message couldn’t be simpler: It’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week. “If you’re able to stay home, stay home.” Some 33 million Californians are now under a new regional stay-at-home order that began Sunday night, a last-ditch effort to turn the corner on an alarming rise in coronavirus cases statewide. The blunt messaging worked to bend the curve in the spring, when fear of the novel virus and the insidious ways it might spread kept many indoors. But nine months later, the words seem to have lost their meaning.
The percentage of Angelenos staying home except for essential activities has remained unchanged since mid-June — around 55% — despite pleas from health officials in recent weeks for people to cut down on their activities, according to a survey conducted by USC. A similar story has played out nationwide, as millions of Americans zigzagged across the country to visit family over the Thanksgiving holiday, flouting the advice of health officials. “It’s not because the public is irresponsible; it’s because they are losing trust in public health officials who put out arbitrary restrictions,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious-disease specialist at UC San Francisco. “We are failing in our public health messaging.” Health officials are up against a fatigued public, as well as a number of people who don’t believe in the danger of the virus, Gandhi said.
But she is also part of a growing number of experts who think there’s a better way to engage those who do want to take the pandemic seriously — by taking a lesson from the public health strategy known as harm reduction. Typically used to describe sex-education programs and needle exchanges for drug users, harm reduction aims to mitigate the risks of dangerous behaviors instead of trying to get people to cease altogether. When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, a harm-reduction approach would encourage masking and social distancing instead of demanding that people have no contact at all with friends or family they don’t live with. In other words, even during a pandemic, abstinence-only isn’t effective.
L.A., however, has adopted more of a “just say no” attitude. Last week the county became one of the only places in the nation to halt all outdoor gatherings among people who aren’t in the same household, prohibiting two friends from meeting up in a park or going on a hike with masks on. Gov. Gavin Newsom followed suit and included the ban in his regional stay-at-home order. California officials are desperate to reverse an unprecedented flood of new coronavirus cases up and down the state, and even their critics acknowledge the impossibility of the situation. But banning relatively safe outdoor activities risks alienating people who want to follow the rules but feel exhausted, disregarded and sometimes confused by them, Brown University health economist Emily Oster said. “Some of the things they’re telling you not to do are incredibly low-risk,” Oster said. “When you are so strict about what people can do, they stop listening.”
Nine out of 10 people in 70 low-income countries are unlikely to be vaccinated against Covid-19 next year because the majority of the most promising vaccines coming on-stream have been bought up by the west, campaigners have said. As the first people get vaccinated in the UK, the People’s Vaccine Alliance is warning that the deals done by rich countries’ governments will leave the poor at the mercy of the rampaging virus. Rich countries with 14% of the world’s population have secured 53% of the most promising vaccines. Canada has bought more doses per head of population than any other – enough to vaccinate each Canadian five times, said the alliance, which includes Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam.
“No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket,” said Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager. “But unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 for years to come.” Supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, approved in the UK last week, will almost all go to rich countries – 96% of doses have been bought by the west. The Moderna vaccine uses a similar technology, which also is claimed to have 95% efficacy, and is going exclusively to rich countries. The prices of both vaccines are high and access for low-income countries will be complicated by the ultra low temperatures at which they need to be stored.
By contrast, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, which has 70% efficacy, is stable at normal fridge temperatures and the price has been set deliberately low for global access. The manufacturers have said 64% of doses will go to people in the developing world. The campaigners applaud this commitment, but said one company alone cannot supply the whole world. At most Oxford/AstraZeneca can reach 18% of the world’s population next year. The alliance has used data from science information and analytics company Airfinity to analyse the global deals with the eight leading vaccine candidates. They found that 67 low and lower middle-income countries risk being left behind as rich countries move towards their escape route from the pandemic. Five of the 67 – Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine – have reported nearly 1.5 million cases between them.
January is going to be a mess. America’s small-time landlords, along with their tenants, are in trouble as safety nets are set to expire. Tenants haven’t paid rent in months, with a looming eviction moratorium expiring at the end of December. According to Reuters, the lack of rental income for landlords has also been troublesome, with many skipping mortgage payments, potentially resulting in a firesale of properties in the year ahead. For 12 million Americans and their families – this Christmas will be their worst – as the extended unemployment benefits that have kept many of them afloat are set to expire later this month. Then on New Year’s Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium expires, which could result in a massive wave of evictions in the first half of 2021.
At the moment, $70 billion in unpaid back rent and utilities are set to come due, according to a new report via Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi. Last month, Maryland utility companies began to terminate customers with overdue bills, many of which were unable to pay because of job loss due to the coronavirus downturn. New research from the Aspen Institute warns 40 million people could be threatened with eviction over the coming months as the real economic crisis is only beginning. According to Stacey Johnson-Cosby, president of the Kansas City Regional Housing Alliance, landlords are also in deep turmoil. She said more than 40% of the landlords surveyed in her coalition said they will have to sell their units because of the lack of rental income.
“They are sheltering our citizens free of charge, and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Johnson-Cosby. “This is their retirement income.” She said small landlords are frightened to speak out about non-paying tenants because social justice warriors and their “Cancel Rent” groups have attacked landlords. “What they don’t realize is that if they run us out and we fail, it will be private equity and Wall Street firms that buy up all our properties, just like they did with houses after the last foreclosure crash.”
In a novel legal strike, the state of Texas has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia, arguing officials in those four battleground states violated the Constitution by making changes to how ballots were cast and counted without legislative approval. The lawsuit filed late Monday night by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the justices to issue a temporary restraining order preventing the states “from taking action to certify presidential electors or to have such electors take any official action including without limitation participating in the electoral college.” The suit argues that changes made by the state’s governors, secretaries of states and election supervisors were “inconsistent with relevant state laws and were made by non-legislative entities, without any consent by the state legislatures. The acts of these officials thus directly violated the Constitution.”
“I’m worried about the credibility of elections, not just right now, but I’m worried about the credibility of elections going forward,” Paxton told Just the News on Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview. “I’m not making a fraud argument, I’m making an argument based on the Constitution. And what we know happened, which was that we know state law was changed by people other than the state legislature, which is the only constitutionally authorized changes that are allowed … My argument is that the law was violated, the constitution was violated. I’m not addressing whether there was 2 million fraudulent ballots cast in Pennsylvania. I don’t know, and there’s no way to know, the way the system got set up, the way the rules got changed.”
States are allowed in certain circumstances to appeal directly to the Supreme Court, bypassing lower federal courts, in disputes involving other states. Paxton argued the state of Texas was wrongly harmed by the unconstitutional acts of the other states. “These non-legislative changes … facilitated the casting and counting of ballots in violation of state law, which, in turn, violated the Electors Clause of Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution,” the suit stated. “By these unlawful acts, the Defendant States have not only tainted the integrity of their own citizens vote, but their actions have also debased the votes of citizens in Plaintiff State and other States that remained loyal to the Constitution.”
In a new lawsuit filed today, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block four battleground states – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, from casting “unlawful and constitutionally tainted votes” in the Electoral College. In the brief submitted to the Supreme Court, Texas includes a declaration from Pacific Economics Group member and USC economics professor, Charles J. Cicchetti, Ph.D. Dr. Cicchetti is the former Deputy Director at the Energy and Environmental Policy Center at Harvard University’s John Kennedy School of Government and received his Ph.D. in economics from Rutgers University.
According to Dr. Cicchetti, his calculations show the probability of Joe Biden winning the popular vote in the four states independently given President Trump’s early lead in those States as of 3 a.m. on November 4, 2020, is less than one in a quadrillion. Dr. Cicchetti’s analysis calculates that for Joe Biden to win all four states collectively, the odds of that event happening decrease to less than one in a quadrillion to the fourth power (1 in 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,0004). Stop and think about that. Given President Trump’s massive early lead on election night, the odds — according to Dr. Cicchetti — that Biden came from behind and beat Trump in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are so unlikely that it’s next to impossible. Dr. Cicchett’s work raises serious suspicions. How did Biden pull off this extraordinarily improbable win?
Rep. Eric Swalwell suggested Tuesday that President Trump was behind Axios’ bombshell report revealing that he was one of several politicians who was entangled with someone suspected to be a Chinese spy. Axios reported on Monday that a Chinese national named Fang Fang or Christine Fang targeted up-and-coming local politicians, including Swalwell, D-Calif. Fang reportedly took part in fundraising for Swalwell’s 2014 reelection campaign although she did not make donations nor was there evidence of illegal contributions. According to Axios, investigators became so alarmed by Fang’s behavior and activities that they alerted Swalwell in 2015 to their concerns, and gave him a “defensive briefing.” Swalwell then cut off all ties with Fang and has not been accused of any wrongdoing, according to an official who spoke to the outlet.
Swalwell, who was one of the most outspoken lawmakers who pushed the Russia collusion narrative since Trump took office, is now hinting that the president was behind Axios’ explosive reporting during an interview with Politico. “I’ve been a critic of the president. I’ve spoken out against him. I was on both committees that worked to impeach him. The timing feels like that should be looked at,” Swalwell said on Tuesday. Swalwell revealed that Axios first approached him about his ties to Fang in July 2019, which was also when he ended his short-lived presidential campaign. But the Democratic lawmaker seemed to suggest that intelligence officials involved in Axios’ reporting were trying to “weaponize” his cooperation with authorities.
“What it appears though that this person — as the story reports — was unsuccessful in whatever they were trying to do. But if intelligence officials are trying to weaponize someone’s cooperation, they are essentially seeking to do what this person was not able to do, which is to try and discredit someone,” Swalwell told Politico. According to Politico, Swalwell “refused to discuss his relationship with Fang” after Axios reported that she had sexual relations with at least two other politicians. He did, however, express confidence that he will maintain his seat on the House Intelligence Commitee. “As the story referenced, this goes back to the beginning of the last decade, and it’s something that congressional leadership knew about it,” Swalwell told Politico.
Last month, two progressive members of Congress sent President-elect Joe Biden a letter requesting that he commit to nominating a secretary of defense with no previous ties to weapons manufacturers. The letter, from Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., and Rep. Barbara Lee D-Calif., cited President Donald Trump’s Defense Secretary Mark Esper — a former lobbyist for Raytheon, one the country’s largest defense contractors — and called on Biden to adopt a different standard and find a nominee with “no prior employment history with a defense contractor.” But on Tuesday, Biden announced that he will nominate retired four-star Gen. Lloyd Austin III, once the top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, and now a member of the board of directors at Raytheon.
The company has been in the spotlight during the Trump administration in part because it supplies air-to-ground munitions for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, and Austin’s role with Raytheon could be central to his confirmation fight. Austin oversaw U.S. operations in the Middle East until March of 2016, a year after the Saudi-led intervention began. He retired from the military the next month and later joined the board of United Technologies, a defense contractor that merged with Raytheon earlier this year. In 2019, Raytheon proceeded with an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which included air-to-ground munitions. After congressional Democrats blocked the sale on human rights grounds, the Trump administration helped force the sale through by declaring a state of emergency.
“Raytheon manufactures the bomb components that are used in Yemen. He bears a direct responsibility,” Phyllis Bennis, who directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, told The Intercept. “He was making money as a board member of this company that is directly responsible for the death and destruction there.” William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, told The Intercept that picking Austin was “tantamount to making the position of Secretary of Defense the Secretary of Defense Contractors.” “The potential for conflicts is huge,” Hartung said. “Raytheon is deeply involved in controversial programs from unworkable missile defense projects to nuclear weapons — the new nuclear-armed cruise missile — to precision-guided bombs that have killed untold numbers of civilians in Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen. If Gen. Austin were to recuse himself from decisions on programs and policies involving Raytheon he could not carry out large parts of his job as defense secretary.”
A top Clinton insider has revealed that the former president visited the Caribbean home of notorious sex predator Jeffrey Epstein. In a long interview last week with Vanity Fair, longtime aide to Bill Clinton, Doug Band, noted that, contrary to the official line, his boss did indeed spend time on Little Saint James, the private island that the billionaire pedophile used as a base to traffick and rape women and children. Neither Band nor his interviewer appeared to realize the gravity of what he was revealing, the subject being touched upon only briefly towards the end of a wide-ranging 7,000-word conversation in which he noted that in January 2003, Clinton flew on Epstein’s notorious “Lolita Express” private jet to the island.
Band appeared to bring the incident up only as a way of distancing himself from the disgraced pedophile, who died under mysterious circumstances in a Manhattan prison in July last year. Band insisted that he knew nothing of Epstein’s misdeeds, but “got enough bad vibes that he advised Clinton to end the relationship,” refusing to travel aboard Epstein’s jet with his employer. Flight logs show Clinton made around two dozen trips on the infamous airplane. Band is certainly a source in the know. For years he served as Clinton’s most trusted aide and confidant, traveling by his side and arranging his appointments for him. The former president famously did not carry even a cellphone, meaning that everyone from journalists to even Hillary and Chelsea Clinton would have had to go through Band to speak to him.
Band’s testimony adds weight to others who have already said they saw him on the island. Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre previously stated that Clinton “strolled into” Epstein’s private villa with “two lovely girls” in his arms. “There was no modesty between any of them,” she said. “I remember asking Jeffrey what’s Bill Clinton doing here,” Giuffre said in an interview earlier this year, “and he laughed it off and said ‘well he owes me a favor.’” Epstein’s former IT and maintenance contractor also said he saw the former president on the island, an assertion that Clinton has denied. The former president was also photographed receiving a massage from Epstein victim Chauntae Davies while at an airport, on route via the Lolita Express.
While the press might be forgiven for focussing more on the pandemic and the election, the virtual silence from corporate media has been deafening. The bombshell that Clinton’s closest confidant — whom friends describe as being like a “son” to him — has been totally ignored by the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News, MSNBC, CBS News, and CNN, with no relevant results appearing in searches on their websites. ABC News, which for three years sat on information that could have resulted in an arrest, also did not cover the story.
These are things that might have been done earlier. During the last, flickering days of the Trump administration, activity is being witnessed across countries which have a US troop presence. Numbers are being reduced. Security wonks are getting the jitters. Is the imperium shrinking? Will President elect Joe Biden wake up and reverse the trend? With the Beltway foreign policy Blob advising him, most likely. In November, acting defence secretary Christopher Miller announced that the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq would fall from 4,500 to 2,500 and 3,500 to 2,500 respectively. Somalia has been added to the list of countries which will see US withdrawals in some number. The current troop presence stands at 700, tasked with assisting an African Union-backed peacekeeping force combat the al-Shabaab insurgency.
A good number are also there to train and support Danab, the Somali special forces with eyes on capturing and killing leaders of the insurgent movement. The ultimate objective of US Africa Command in East Africa, then, “is one in which terrorist organizations are not able to threaten the US homeland, US persons, international allies or destabilize the region.” This is a conflict that has a relentless air of eternity to it. Al-Shabaab counts itself as yet another, albeit more formidable militant group, that has thrived in Somalia’s unruly environment. Its claim to radicalised fame came with Ethiopia’s December 2006 invasion of the country. It was encouraged by the Somalian transitional government, with the intention of ousting al-Shabaab and the Islamic Courts Union from Mogadishu, captured by the fundamentalist alliance that June.
According to Robert Wise, the Ethiopian occupation transformed al-Shabaab “from a small relatively unimportant part of a more moderate Islamic movement into the most powerful and radical armed faction in the country.” Yet another salient lesson in the perils of foreign intervention. US administrations might have feared the messiness of the Somali scene. The death of 18 US soldiers in October 1993 in a failed effort to capture the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu stung. Cruise-missile humanitarians and interventionists would have to wait for the republic to find its feet again. The attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States furnished the moment, incarnating the global terrorist phenomenon and the pretext for an international deployment of US forces, officially and covertly. On March 19, 2003, the capture and interrogation of Suleiman Abdallah heralded the return of US troops to Somalia.
All right, that’s it. I’ve run out of patience. No more excuses. Where’s the Hitler? Yes, you heard me. I’m talking to you. You respectable journalists and political pundits. You Intelligence officials and politicians. You fanatical liberals. You pseudo anti-fascists. All you members of the GloboCap “Resistance” who have been hysterically shrieking that “Trump is Hitler!” since he won the nomination back in 2016. Well, OK, it’s November 2020. The show is almost over. When do we get Hitler No, do not tell me “any day now.” You’ve been telling us that for four straight years. Do we look like a bunch of gullible idiots that you can whip up into a four-year frenzy of mindless hatred and paranoia by screaming “Hitler!” over and over, and then not produce an actual Hitler?
Well, we’re not. We remember what you said. You promised us Hitler, and we want Hitler, or at least a decent facsimile of Hitler. And don’t even think of trying to pretend that you didn’t actually promise us Hitler. You did. You want me to prove it? OK. Remember back in 2016, when The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Guardian, the Washington Post, The Inquirer, and other such “leading respectable broadsheets,” and online magazines like Mother Jones, Forward, Slate, Salon, Vox, Alternet, and countless others, warned that Trump was sending secret anti-Semitic “dog whistle” signals to his underground army of Nazi terrorists by talking about “international banks,” “global elites,” the “political establishment,” and even “corporations” and “lobbyists” … all of which was supposedly code for “the Jews,” who he was going to exterminate if won the election?
I do. I remember that, distinctly. How about after he won the election, when The Guardian reported that “white supremacy ha[d] triumphed!,” and The New York Times, NPR, Keith Olberman, and other verified news sources warned that America had descended into “racial Orwellianism,” or Zionist Anti-Semitism, or the “bottomless pit of fascism,” or whatever? Or when Michael Kinsley in the Washington Post confirmed that “Donald Trump is actually a fascist”? Do you remember all that? Because I certainly do. Remember Aaron Sorkin’s letter to his daughter warning her that millions of “Muslim-Americans, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans [were] shaking in their shoes” as they waited for Trump to round them all up and send them to the camps, along with the “Jewish Coastal Elites”?
The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, today appealed to British authorities to immediately release Julian Assange from prison or to place him under guarded house arrest during US extradition proceedings. He made the urgent call 10 years after Mr. Assange’s first arrest on 7 December 2010, amid an outbreak of COVID-19 at Belmarsh prison. Reports say 65 of approximately 160 inmates, including a number in the wing where Mr. Assange is being held, have tested positive. In an opinion rendered in December 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that since his arrest on 7 December 2010, Mr. Assange had been subjected to various forms of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, including 10 days of detention in London’s Wandsworth prison; 550 days of house arrest, and the continuation of the deprivation of liberty in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London which lasted almost seven years.
Since 11 April 2019, Mr. Assange has been held in near total isolation at Belmarsh. “The British authorities initially detained Mr. Assange on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by Sweden in connection with allegations of sexual misconduct that have since been formally dropped due to lack of evidence. Today, he is detained for exclusively preventative purposes, to ensure his presence during the ongoing US extradition trial, a proceeding which may well last several years,” said Melzer. “Mr. Assange is not a criminal convict and poses no threat to anyone, so his prolonged solitary confinement in a high security prison is neither necessary nor proportionate and clearly lacks any legal basis.”
The progressively severe suffering inflicted on Mr. Assange, as a result of his prolonged solitary confinement, amounts not only to arbitrary detention, but also to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Melzer said. He expressed particular concern about Mr. Assange’s exposure to COVID-19 given his pre-existing medical condition. “Prison decongestion measures seen around the world in response to COVID-19 should be extended to all inmates whose imprisonment is not absolutely necessary,” the expert said. “First and foremost, alternative non-custodial measures should be extended to those with specific vulnerabilities such as Mr. Assange who suffers from a pre-existing respiratory health condition.”
Citing a desire to gain influence in Washington, the American people confirmed Friday that they have hired high-powered D.C. lobbyist Jack Weldon of the firm Patton Boggs to help advance their agenda in Congress. Known among Beltway insiders for his ability to sway public policy on behalf of massive corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Monsanto, and AT&T, Weldon, 53, is expected to use his vast network of political connections to give his new client a voice in the legislative process. Weldon is reportedly charging the American people $795 an hour. “Unlike R.J. Reynolds, Pfizer, or Bank of America, the U.S. populace lacks the access to public officials required to further its legislative goals,” a statement from the nation read in part. “Jack Weldon gives us that access.”
“His daily presence in the Capitol will ensure the American people finally get a seat at the table,” the statement continued. “And it will allow him to advance our message that everyone, including Americans, deserves to be represented in Washington.” The 310-million-member group said it will rely on Weldon’s considerable clout to ensure its concerns are taken into account when Congress addresses issues such as education, immigration, national security, health care, transportation, the economy, affordable college tuition, infrastructure, jobs, equal rights, taxes, Social Security, the environment, housing, the national debt, agriculture, energy, alternative energy, nutrition, imports, exports, foreign relations, the arts, and crime.
John Vachon Paramount Theater and dairy truck, 44th Street, NYC 1943
Like most of you, I too see an increase in the use of the term ‘fascism’ in the media, and it is -almost- always linked to the rise of Donald Trump in the US and various politicians and parties in Europe, Le Pen in France, Wilders in Holland, Erdogan in Turkey, plus a pretty bewildering and motley crew of ‘groups’ in Eastern Europe (Hungary’s Orban) and Scandinavia. I guess you could throw in Nigel Farage and UKIP in Britain as well.
And while I -sort of- understand why the term is used the way it is, and it’s not possible to say it’s used wrong simply because ‘fascism’ knows so many different interpretations and definitions, very few of which can be classified as definitely wrong, that doesn’t mean that just because you’re not definitely wrong, you’re therefore right, and certainly not comprehensive or complete. And there’s a story in there that deserves to be told. Who is really the fascist? From Wikipedia:
George Orwell wrote in 1944 that “the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless … almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist'”. Richard Griffiths said in 2005 that “fascism” is the “most misused, and over-used word, of our times”. “Fascist” is sometimes applied to post-war organizations and ways of thinking that academics more commonly term “neo-fascist”.
I’m inclined to venture that ‘terrorism’ is a good second for most misused word, but something tells me that once you get into economics and the way terms like ‘stimulus’, ‘unemployment’ and ‘inflation’ are used, this is an argument that would never end. Let’s stick with ‘fascism’ for now.
The prevalent definition -and public notion- of fascism today is connected first and foremost to Adolf Hitler, to the Holocaust, the SS and other German WWII ‘phenomena’. And it’s quite something to link Trump or Le Pen to that, even if they say things at times that may make you shudder. It seems at least a tad hyperbolic, no matter how much you may not like these people. Neither is responsible for the deaths of millions of people.
What’s more interesting, because it can provide perspective, is to look at what fascism is (or was) prior to, and beyond, Hitler and Germany. One man stands out in this: Benito Mussolini, Italian prime minister slash wannabe dictator from 1922 till 1943, who’s even often labeled the founder of fascism (though its roots go back much further). But for Mussolini, fascism was not what Hitler has made us define it as.
For Mussolini, fascism was much more about corporatism (or corporativism, or fascist corporatism), of letting corporations write, define and perhaps even execute a country’s economic policies. And have a strong man -he meant himself- coordinate these policies in government. Where civil servants would inflict them on the people. Mussolini’s idea(l) of fascism was very nationalistic, but also -surprisingly?- anti-conservative. It was “against the backwardness of the right and the destructiveness of the left”.
“Fascism, sitting on the right, could also have sat on the mountain of the center … These words in any case do not have a fixed and unchanged meaning: they do have a variable subject to location, time and spirit. We don’t give a damn about these empty terminologies and we despise those who are terrorized by these words.”
Hitler, in his early days, remained very close to Mussolini’s (and other people’s) definitions. Nazism stands for national socialism.
But what I’m really trying to get at is that if you look closer at these definitions and interpretations, you can made a solid case that it’s not Trump and Le Pen who are the fascists, but instead the present incumbents in our governments, as well as those belonging to the same political class and parties as them, and who aspire to one day fill their seats and shoes.
That the fact that politics and economics (‘politico-economics’) can no longer be seen as separate entities, as I argued recently in “The Only Thing That Grows Is Debt”, conforms pretty much one-on-one to Mussolini’s definition of fascism.
‘Politico-economics’ (a.k.a corporatism) is our present form of government, even of organizing our entire societies, and it’s the very thing people protest against when they vote for Trump and Le Pen (and against Cameron when they vote for Brexit). This would seem to put the claim that Trump is a fascist on its head. Trump is the reaction to fascism as defined by Mussolini, as are le Pen and Orban and Wilders and the others, even as they are accused of being fascists themselves.
Corporations, the elite, govern our societies, no matter that there is still a thin veneer of democratic rights -barely- visible. It makes no difference in the States whether you vote Democratic or Republican, they are the same thing – except for a few intentionally well-conserved minor details.
The same is true all across Europe. In Greece, left-wing Syriza governs in a coalition with very-right-wing Independent Greeks. In Holland, former adversaries from the left and right sit happily in a cabinet and nobody thinks that’s strange. That why people like Le Pen and Wilders and Trump can become what they are today. There is a politico-economic vacuum.
The former differences between parties don’t matter anymore because on major issues politicians have no decision-making voice, they simply do what they are told. And if they do that well, they get handsomely compensated for it. The ultimate paragons of this development are not Trump and le Pen, but Obama, Cameron, both Clintons, Hollande, Merkel, the list is endless because the corporatist takeover is well-nigh complete across the board.
These ‘leaders’ represent a society in which there is no dividing line between politics and economics. They, and their paymasters, have achieved Mussolini’s ideal, something he himself -ironically- never accomplished.
And we could take this argument a step further: even if you would want to talk about the ‘Hitler brand of fascism’, the violence, the large-scale murder, you still have Trump and Le Pen with zero kills to their name, while Obama, Cameron, both Clintons, Hollande, Merkel et al are responsible for hundreds of thousands of lives lost. Just watch what’s coming in the next batch of Clinton emails Wikileaks is set to publish.
In a next step, while we’re at it, we could hold up Mussolini’s fascism ideals and look at what they have in common with trade deals such as TPP and TTiP. Plenty, obviously. Though they are not in sync with the nationalist component of his definition, they do represent a much larger drive than anything that has preceded them in human history, to hand over -the last vestiges of- political power to the corporate sector.
And who’s in favor of these deals? The incumbent politico-economic classes that have taken over our governments. Even as resistance to the deals is surging, they are undoubtedly as we speak scrambling to find ways, legal or not, democratic or not, to push them through. Trump, Le Pen, Wilders want nothing to do with them.
Obviously, the sitting parties in Congress want nothing more than for Trump to be branded a fascist. Which is why Hillary Clinton not long ago compared him to Adolf Hitler. Through a wider philosophical and historical lens, there are two issues with that claim. First, Trump hasn’t killed anyone. Second, the person making the claim has.
The problem for Hillary is that a lot of Americans understand this. And that because of this such claims have started to backfire in a 180º turnaround. You can witness the same process in Britain’s Brexit debate, and in many other countries.
I’m not writing this to support Trump or Le Pen, they’re not my kind of people at all. But neither is Hillary. I write it to warn people away from vacuous claims and statements. Which are not only dishonest, they have started to support the very people they’re made against. The political climate is changing, because the economy is tanking.
And I write this to indicate that fascism may well already be amongst us, and it would be a good idea if we learned to recognize it. To suggest that perhaps, if we’re honest, Hillary is closer to Mussolini than Trump is to Hitler.
Look, we could talk our faces blue about the differences and analogies between fascism and racism, something the ‘new right wing’ seems to have plenty of, and something Muhammad Ali’s death and yesterday’s Orlando massacre should teach us yet another lesson about. And we could talk about what they might potentially do if/when they acquire political power. But none of that makes these people fascists. Whereas the other side of the equation, the incumbents…