Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Trump, the Marketer-in-Chief

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

If anyone seriously thought that Donald Trump was running for President out of high mindedness, you can give it up now. He was running to elevate his brand and market the Presidency for personal gain.

How so? 

Well, he just spent months on the campaign trail wearing a red cap with his campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again" on it. It became part of his campaign swag.

Every president in history, and any future president, would retire that cap and donate it to the Smithsonian Museum or feature it in their future presidential library. Not this guy. He fully intends to market the image and make a killing off of it. Expect to see some version of it for retail next Christmas while Donald Trump is sipping brandy in one of his Presidential palaces. Billionaires!

How much does this true-spirit-of-Christmas ornament go for this year?

It's yours for just $149 dollars and no "sense"! This is the sort of change I never expected, the selling of the Presidency by the President-elect himself. 

More than 45 million people, or 14.5% of all Americans, lived below the poverty line last year. I'm certain none of them can afford this overpriced campaign schlock. Perhaps the proceeds for this sale are going to fund food pantries or house the homeless over the holiday season?  Well, there is nothing mentioned in the advertising to suggest that.

Maybe this isn't really being marketed by President-elect Donald Trump. Maybe his business isn't really financially benefiting. Could it be that some other enterprising fool is cleaning up on his political success?

I thought of that, so I checked. According to the internet advertisement, the link to buy the "classic red MAGA hat" is DonaldTrump.com. It's his Trump store. To be sure there wasn't a mistake, I went to the Whois.com website and confirmed that the domain name is registered to THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION (see below). 


So there it is! "Get Yours" America! (If you can afford it.) Is this supposed to be our new normal? Do we really have a President who is a businessman for himself first and President for the people last? 

This Christmas you should grab a bottle of Trump wine and drown your sorrows, because no one at the highest reaches of government will be marketing your cares away. 
















Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) Failed the Party

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

The following brief excerpt is from a recent Huffington Post article:

New Pre-Election Poll Suggests Bernie Sanders Could Have Trounced Donald Trump

by Ryan Grim and Daniel Marans

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have beaten Donald Trump by a historic margin if he had been the Democratic nominee, according to a private pre-election pollprovided to The Huffington Post.



The national survey of more than 1,600 registered voters, conducted by Gravis Marketing two days before the general election, found that Sanders would have received 56 percent of the vote while Trump would have won 44 percent. The poll was commissioned and financed by outgoing Florida Congressman Alan Grayson, a Democrat who endorsed Sanders in the presidential primary.
The last election result that decisive was Ronald Reagan’s victory over Democrat Walter Mondale in 1984.

Of the result validity of these poll results I have no doubt. Bernie Sanders was to the Democratic Party what Ronald Reagan once was to the Republicans, except the DNC didn't allow a fair contest between him and their establishment pick. Instead the DNC made sure that the most establishment candidate the Democrats had would run against the most anti-establishment Republican candidate in history.

The twin phenomena of Trump and Bernie movements screamed its warning about the mood of the people, but the DNC thought it knew better. And if you think Hillary lost because she wasn't progressive enough, or effective enough, or because she was a woman, or because of the emails and FBI mess, then you still don't get it. Her problem isn't with her. It's much bigger.

Our government is far more broken than most of us are ready to admit. Many of the folks who voted for Trump know this in their heart. They feel it every day. They just don't know why government is broken and they have been lied to about it for years. Their frustration and anger was exploited by this demagogue who goes around blaming the wrong causes for our brokenness in order to divide us and gain power for himself.

We, the People, have long been dis-empowered. We have been rendered irrelevant by the wealthy elite and corporate power. This is the source of our broken government, and the road back to a healthy Republic just got a lot longer.

I do not disparage Hillary supporters at all. I love them for their ideals and courage. While I have differences of opinion with her, I respect Hillary Clinton as a person and a candidate. I agree she was the most qualified candidate on paper. Most of the terrible things people have said about her are nasty lies. I've been saying that for years now.

That said, she was still the wrong candidate to face Donald Trump this year. The difference between her and Bernie Sanders is not just by degrees of progressive policies. The real difference between them is a whole paradigm shift in governance. It is a paradigm that empowers citizens over businesses, power and wealth. This is what the pundits missed. This is what many Hillary supporters couldn't see. (New paradigms are difficult to imagine when our thinking is rooted in the context of an older paradigm).

One more point, if I may. A lot of Democrats defend the early actions of the DNC's loyalty to Hillary Clinton. They say she came so close the first time and deserved a second shot. But four years is a long time, and things change. It's like when military generals base their planning on the last war.

More importantly, loyalty is the opposite of democracy. Party loyalty to a "chosen" candidate is critical for a successful a presidential campaign, but democracy is still essential in choosing the right party candidate. That's why it is critical that the DNC always remain neutral and equitably support all candidates. Their role in the primary phase is to conduct a fair and free primary campaign, to let the people speak.

The DNC failed our party and we lost, not just the Presidency but many down ticket races. In fact, Democrats have been losing election cycle after cycle at every level because the DNC has been interfering in party democracy to effect a result that fits their ideology and keeps like-minded Democrats in power.

In short, the Republicans allowed a democratic process and nominated the democratically elected candidate, for which they have been rewarded. The Democratic Party interfered with democracy within the party and have been punished. The DNC's loyalty to Hillary Clinton was grossly premature.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Rural Republicans VS The Urban Bubble

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW
If you superimposed the Democratic v. Republican Party Map over the US Population Density Map you clearly see that the more urban, the more Democratic and the more rural, the more Republican. This strengthens a case that has been made that our political tensions also line-up between city vs. county lines. Cities are the seats of power. They are the drivers of culture and the economy. People living in vast stretches or rural America are mostly marginalized and largely ignored, even by the establishment wing of their own party. All political promises have been empty for decades. No one is helping them understand what's really happening to them as their jobs disappear, their wages shrink, their homes are foreclosed and their family life is disrupted. No one is lifting a finger to fix things for them. 

It was these areas where Trump's messages resonated most. It was the folks in these areas that came out to vote for him in record numbers, against the backdrop of the lowest overall voter turnout in years. This year, the rural vote mattered. 

All establishment politics is urban centered, so the anti-establishment sentiment that swept Trump into power is a wake-up call from rural heartland of America. People living inside our urban bubbles take note: Political inclusion isn't just something that needs to happen inside the urban bubble.




Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Concise Analysis of Why Trump Won


By Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Donald Trump won because the GOP allowed their party’s popular choice to be nominated even though he wasn't the establishments choice. Democrats lost because of the anti-insurgency bias against a popular anti-establishment candidate, a bias baked into the Democratic primary process.

I blame the DNC for its epic failure to read the mood of the country, for thwarting Bernie Sanders at every turn and for fielding an historically unfavorable establishment candidate. It is clear that the DNC completely underestimated how much Hillary Clinton is disliked, or how well Trump resonated with so many citizens. The electorate clearly wanted to send a message to the establishment. Thanks to the DNC that message has been delivered in it's most virulent form possible.

You can say she lost because she is a woman, and you are be partly right. You can say she lost because President Obama is black, and you are be partly right. But mostly she lost because no establishment candidate could have won. She and the Democratic Party failed to see or understand the lives of so many struggling, marginalized and forgotten families living below the radar, especially in rural America. She lost because she represents the very establishment that let so many American's before, during and since the Great Recession.

I have more to say, but not now. It’s all still too damn depressing.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Of Tax Breaks and Budge Holes

Dear Editor: 

I don't think most people in New Jersey get it yet. When politicians tell us revenue collected for a better 911 system had to go for other law enforcement priorities, they aren't being honest.  Their "spending priorities" mask tax revenue  lost to off budget deals for special interest tax breaks.  These special  tax breaks loosely translate into campaign donation or political clout for New Jersey politicians.

Special tax deals don't show up as a liabilities on a budget line. They show up as holes in the budge that must be plugged. They show up as insufficient revenue to pay for state pensions, or daycare assistance, or NJ Transit funding, or the Transportation Trust Fund.  Every time a dedicated funding stream is raided to plug a spending gap we should demand to know what created the revenue gap in the first place.

I believe we are intentionally distracted by dramatic spending conflicts to conceal the real action behind the revenue side of the ledger.  It's time to claw back all those special interest tax breaks and make the rich and powerful pay their fair share of taxes.  Let's require that all future budges contain a detailed accounting of all the tax breaks currently in effect.

Brian T. Lynch

Note: The readers of this blog are free to copy this letter or model their own letter after it to send to their own local newspapers.

A few other points that had to be left out:

1. The tighter the state or municipal budget the greater the disparity between those who pay the taxes they owe and those who cheat on their taxes or get special interest tax breaks. Unfair taxation is at the root of revenue shortfalls.

2. The article makes the point about wealthy corporations and the rich, because they have the means to make cheating on taxes legal (special interest tax loop holes). They also pay the least amout of taxes relative to their income and wealth. But the tax revenue drain also comes from a growing underground cash economy. Just the other day a buildings trade contractor told me he would lower an estimate if I paid cash (I declined).

3. No matter where people fall on the wealth and income spectrum they feel cheated by a tax system that allows others to pay less than their fair share. Everyone feels entitled to cheat a little on their taxes. Today, cleaver manipulation of the tax code to avoid paying even massive amounts of federal taxes is admired. This is a far cry from when the current progressive tax code was first implemented 101 years ago. Paying taxes was considered a patriotic duty. Considering how strongly people voice their support for our military, coupled with the fact that nearly 50 cents of every federal income tax dollar goes to the military, you would think that it would still be patriotic to pay taxes today.

OR AT LEAST YOUR FAIR SHARE OF TAXES






Monday, October 3, 2016

Tax Breaks are the Rigging of a Rigged System

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW
(A letter to the editor I submitted today. Please feel free to copy and send to your own local editors without attribution.)

Dear Editor:

Have we all lost our minds? Have we all forgotten that special interest tax loopholes are a tax burden for the rest of us? Are we so jaded that we no longer see tax breaks as evidence of political corruption?

Who among your readers would vote for a special tax break knowing it would raise their own taxes? If the majority ruled, as it should in our Republic, most tax breaks wouldn't exist.

While Trump and his supporters say how genius it is of him to so cleverly exploit these disgusting loopholes, wouldn't the financial gains of a corruptly created tax breaks also be tainted?

Muck money! Graft booty! We don't have a precise word for it, but exploiting ill gotten tax breaks for personal gain isn't honorable. It is unfair. It is the rigging in a rigged system. Tax loopholes may be legal but that doesn't make them respectable.





Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Undocumented Immigrant Wages and Impact in New Jersey

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW


I decided I can only respond to certain critics of my blog by breaking down their comments into smaller, more manageable chunks . And then I can only answer their questions that have actual, verifiable answers. Here is a small portion of one of my most recent critics comments from a blog post of mine entitled "America at the Crossroad of Crisis." His comment reads in part:
"The idea that migrants and even those who are here illegally are not taking away the jobs of “Americans” is superficial bull at best. When labor unions price the services of union members to a point that few can afford such labor then will that not create job opportunities for those willing to work for far less? What is the hourly wage for a carpenter in your state or general locality? What is the rate for an electrician or a plumber?"

First, a clarifying anecdote 

A few years back I hired a middle aged factory worker named Tony to mow my lawn. I mowed my lawn for many years but suffer allergic reactions every time. I finally got smart.

Tony has a part-time lawn service to supplement his factory salary. He hires kids to help him in the summer. He told me that he paid the last young man $12.00/hr to weed-wack and leaf blow. Several weeks into the summer his helper quit to take a part-time job flipping burgers for $7.25 per hours. The kid said landscaping work was too much work.

If you read my blog or articles you know that I am very concerned about the fact the US wages have been suppressed by big business for nearly 40 years.

The US median household income for a family of four is currently about $52,000 per year. Cost of living varies state by state and New Jersey has among the highest cost of living. It is also among the wealthiest of states. Consequently, the median income for a family of four in New Jersey is $71,637 per year.

Carpenters

The annual average wage for all carpenters (union or otherwise) is $37,000 per year in New Jersey. Annual carpenter wages range from a low of $28,000 to a high of $66,000 per year.

This means that even union carpenters in New Jersey straddle the US median family income, and all carpenters make below the state median income. Nearly half of all the New Jersey carpenters with a family are not financially independent. Either their spouse must work , or they must moonlight to make ends meet. On their own fulltime wages, many single income carpenters in New Jersey qualify for some form of taxpayer subsidy such as daycare assistance or housing assistance.

Electricians

The annual average wage for all electricians (union or otherwise) in New Jersey is $45,000 per year. Annual electricians wages range from a low of $16,000 to a high of $111,000 per year.

Most electricians are better off in New Jersey than are carpenters or plumbers. Even so, the average electrician in New Jersey makes less than the US median income and far less than the New Jersey median income. On their own fulltime wages alone, some single income electricians in New Jersey still qualify for some form of taxpayer subsidy such as daycare assistance or housing assistance.

Plumbers

The annual average wage for all plumbers (union or otherwise) in New Jersey is $26,000 per year. Annual plumber wages range from a low of $22,000 to a high of $102,000 per year.

Notice how close to the average plumber wages the low end of plumber wages are? That means most plumbers are making close to the lower end of the range in New Jersey. Plumbers do worse economically than carpenters or electricians. Most make far less than the US median wage and only about a third of the New Jersey median salary. On their fulltime wages alone, most single income plumbers in New Jersey qualify for some form of taxpayer subsidy such as daycare assistance or housing assistance.

Immigrant Annual Wages

It isn't easy to find solid data on the annual incomes of undocumented immigrants, but there are many independent studies and scholarly works that found undocumented immigrants are not taking away our jobs or costing us taxpayer money (references upon request). Even the very conservative US Chamber of Commerce agrees.

It is estimated that undocumented farm workers in the US make between $10,000 and $12,000 per year. The authors of that analysis also noted that, unlike most workers, wages for an undocumented worker almost never rise over time. This fact agrees with my own experiences. I have many acquaintances who are undocumented aliens. They live in the shadows, don't complain and don't get raises. It is almost certain that undocumented aliens makes less than $23,000 per year, and probably much less.  Note that minimum wage in New Jersey is the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hours. A person working 40 hours per week for 52 weeks would make just over $15,000 per year.

Another study in Chicago found that the average wage of undocumented aliens in that city was $7.00 per hour, which is $1.00 below that states minimum wage.  I haven't found a similar study for New Jersey's undocumented aliens yet, but suspect their average wage is at or near the minimum wage as well.

New Jersey has the fifth largest number of undocumented aliens in the county. Many work at minimum wage and many also work below minimum wage. Almost all work more than 40 hours per week, so their annual family incomes are not directly comparable to the annual family incomes of others who work more traditional hours. Also, the number of employable adults in immigrant household are often more than in traditional families. For these reasons, the household incomes of undocumented aliens is a skewed measure. What immigrants lack in wage rates they make up for in the number of hours the spend work.

Given the huge wage rate disparity between undocumented immigrants wages and the wages of even the lowest paid, non-union plumbers, none of whom work for minimum wage, it seem unlikely that foreign born workers are taking away many US jobs. It is my experience, living next to a town that is 75% Latino, that most undocumented immigrants have jobs that no one else born here wants for wages that most Americans would never accept. As a result of their discounted labor we enjoy discounted farm produce, discounted nursing home care, discounted restaurant meals, etc.
Immigrants in New Jersey

Immigrants and their children are growing shares of New Jersey’s population and electorate.

(Source: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/new-americans-new-jersey)

· The foreign-born share of New Jersey’s population rose from 12.5% in 1990, to 17.5% in 2000, to 21.6% in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. New Jersey was home to 1.9 million immigrants in 2013, which is more than the population of the entire state of Nebraska.

· 53% of immigrants (or over 1 million people) in New Jersey were naturalized U.S. citizens in2013 —meaning that they are eligible to vote.

Immigrants Economic Impact on New Jersey
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 5.8% of the state’s population (or 525,000 people) in2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center
  • The 2014 purchasing power of New Jersey’s Latinos totaled $46 billion—an increase of 415% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $46.3 billion—an increase of 727% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia. 
  • Immigration boosts housing values in communities. From 2000 to 2010, according to the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, the value added by immigration to the price of the average home was $3,730 in Bergen County; $6,121 in Middlesex County; $1,875 in Essex County; $2,050 in Monmouth County; $2,096 in Hudson County, $2,509 in Union County, and $1,896 in Camden County. 
  • New Jersey’s 67,755 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $29.9 billion and employed 115,024 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 68,374 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $10.2 billion and employed 48,059 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. 
  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 101,251 new immigrant business owners in New Jersey, and they had total net business income of $6.2 billion, which makes up 22.4% of all net business income in the state, according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz. 
  • In 2010, 28% of all business owners in New Jersey were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute. In 2013,35.3% of business owners in the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan area were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute and Americas Society/Council of the Americas. Furthermore, 49% of “Main Street” business owners—owners of businesses in the retail, accommodation and food services, and neighborhood services sectors—in the New York-Northern New Jersey metro area were foreign-born in 2013.
The other point here is this, it is much easy to make credible sounding claims on the internet disparaging other demographic groups of people than it is to research and debunk such claims. The person to whom I am responding will never accept the information I provided here for them to consider, but others who read this might be less inclined to believe everything anyone says about "illegal" immigrants in the future. (I hope)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

How Media Sells Us Wars of Choice

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

The mainstream "for-profit" media, which are owned by a handful of wealthy global corporations,  have become intentional sharpers of our public opinion on issues of war and peace. These corporations don't work for us. They work for the invisible government that Mike Lofgren identifies as the "Deep State" in his essay called Anatomy of the Deep State.

What follows below are excerpts from a paper by James George Jatra which builds on Lofgren's 2014 analyse.  The paper details the ways in which mainstream American media have become a tool to gain public support for US military actions and foreign policies that satisfy the ambitions of entrenched power.

The report is lengthy, so I created an excerpted version which I divided into two parts. Below is part-one, focused on what American news media has become. Part-two will focus more in the Deep State itself.

How American Media Serves as a Transmission Belt 

for Wars of Choice [Part 1]

by James George Jatra September 2016 


Introduction 
The propaganda of war is almost as old as war itself. But with the advent of modern communications, and especially in the digital age, war propaganda has reached an unprecedented level of sophistication and influence, primarily with regard to the international behavior of the United States. The formal end of the U.S.-Soviet Cold War in 1991 left the U.S. with no serious military or geopolitical opponent just at a time when the role of global media was undergoing a significant shift. Earlier that same year, the First Gulf War had featured the debut of CNN as a provider of ubiquitous, real-time, 24-hour conflict coverage, setting a standard for later hostilities. Also that same year, the Internet went public. The decades following 1991 saw a qualitative evolution in the role of media as not just a reporter of events but as an active participant. 

Belligerence of the Post-Cold War America Media 

The First Gulf War of 1991 marked a watershed both for America‘s propensity for military action and for the media‘s role in it. Claims of legality and righteousness from the administration of President George H. W. Bush regarding its decision to expel the Iraqi forces of erstwhile American client Saddam Hussein from Kuwait met with little dissent, least of all from major American news organizations. A similar media chorus of approval if not outright encouragement characterized Bill Clinton‘s interventions in Somalia (1993), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1995), and Kosovo (1999), as well as those of George W. Bush in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) after the 9/11 attacks. Even President Barack Obama‘s regime change operation in Libya (2011) benefitted from the same pattern.

In each of these episodes the media‘s uncritical repetition of government-issued ―information‖ and opinions was a key factor in setting the stage for war. In none of these enterprises was the territorial integrity or independence of the United States at stake. Each can be regarded as a “war of choice” requiring the creation and selling of a rationale not directly based on American national defense.

Deficiency of knowledge as the American norm

• Americans are poorly informed about events in the outside world, and younger Americans appear to be even more ignorant than their elders. This means that when policymakers cite the need for action in a given country and news feeds shift to “crisis” coverage, few people have a contextual reservoir of knowledge that may run counter to the official In none of these enterprises was the territorial integrity or independence of the United States at stake. Each can be regarded as a “war of choice” requiring the creation and selling of a rationale not directly based on American national defense. 3 narrative. This largely nullifies the target audience's capacity for critical evaluation.

• One feature of American TV news programming is a notable scarceness of substantive international news stories. It is not uncommon that an entire half-hour evening network news program will not feature a single event outside the United States.

Reliance on government sources,“ventriloquism,” and information incest

• The official media are less a watchdog over government than themselves part of the governing structure, a bulletin board for government propaganda.

• A vivid illustration of how government influence takes the form of a kind of ―ventriloquism,‖ with poorly informed, mostly young Washington-based journalists playing the role of puppet was given in a candid interview of Ben Rhodes, Obama‘s White House ―Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting. Rhodes [said]:
“All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus. . . . Now they don't. They call us to explain to them what's happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That's a sea change. They literally know nothing.” 

[Use of alternate media shills?]
"But then there are sort of these force multipliers," he said, adding, "We have our compadres, I will reach out to a couple people, and you know I wouldn‘t want to name them – " . . . "And I‘ll give them some color," Price continued, "and the next thing I know, lots of these guys are in the dotcom publishing space, and have huge Twitter followings, and they‘ll be putting this message out on their own." 

• Content of information used in the formulation of American global policy is dominated by a few hundred certified “experts” sharing a remarkable uniformity of opinion regardless of party affiliation. These experts, who inhabit a closed loop of Executive Branch departments and agencies, Congress, media, think tanks, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), are responsible for the generation of policy initiatives and their implementation. Centralized corporate ownership

• Corporate consolidation feeds the tendency toward ratings-based sensationalism, not critical public-interest programming. The large majority of American media are owned by six conglomerates:


• That‘s down from 50 companies that controlled that same share as recently as 1983. This also applies to online media: ―In raw numbers, 80 percent of the top 20 online news sites are owned by the 100 largest media companies. Time Warner owns two of the most visited sites: CNN.com and AOL News, while Gannett, which is the twelfth largest media company, owns USAToday.com along with many local online newspapers.‖ The average viewer ingests some 10 hours of programming daily from a seeming variety of outlets that the consumer may not realize have the same corporate owners.




Para-journalism,” “infotainment,” and “atrocity porn” as a war trigger 

• The major media‟s function as a conduit for government-generated content dovetails with chasing advertising dollars. Consumers are less informed than entertained with prurient images and messages that serve both Caesar and Mammon. The most important new form is the 'tabloid‘ news magazine, . . . They are not news shows that borrow conventions from entertainment television, but the other way around: entertainment programs that borrow the aura of news.

• The trends “are toward the sensational, the hype, the hyperactive, the tabloid values to drive out the serious.” The ultimate expression of sensationalized, entertainment content in the context of global conflict is known as “atrocity porn,” (especially, and obviously, in the case of stories describing rape and other sexual abuse) appeals to prurient interests to manipulate base impulses. . . . Authors of atrocity porn also cynically exploit the predictable reactions it will provoke from decent people.

• Atrocity porn has been essential for selling military action: incubator babies (Kuwait/Iraq); the Racak massacre (Kosovo); the Markale marketplace bombings, Omarska ―living skeletons,‖ and the Srebrenica massacre (Bosnia); rape as calculated instrument of war (Bosnia, Libya); and poison gas in Ghouta and ―Aleppo Boy‖ (Syria). Moreover, as blogger Julia Gorin has noted, the recycling of victim memes has begun, including prodding from governments:

[Example from Boznia the 1990's]
"The Clinton Administration made it clear: give us a ”trigger” in the form of a suitable atrocity, we‟ll give you a war. In due course, the “Racak Massacre” took place in Kosovo. That is when Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic followed through on Bill Clinton‘s suggestion that he needed to cough up at least 5,000 dead bodies if he wanted a NATO intervention on his side of a turf war against Serbs." 

Demonization “Hitler” memes

• Demonizing the intended target neutralizes objections to his removal. How can any decent person oppose getting rid of Hitler? Russia's Vladimir Putin has been characterized by name as another Hitler by Hillary Clinton and others. Among the prominent “Hitlers” since 1991 have been Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Slobodan Milosevic (Yugoslavia/Serbia), Radovan Karadzic (Republika Srpska), Moammar Qaddafi (Libya), and Bashar al-Assad (Syria). “

Weaponization” of media

• In weaponized media, information does not exist to provide insight into objective reality. Rather it is a tool that has meaning only with reference to its subjective purpose. Demonization of targeted countries and leaders fits into a broader narrative of conflict that builds upon the American penchant for understanding all conflicts as pitting the ―good guys‖ in white hats vs. ―bad guys‖ in black hats. Similar events can have a totally different moral character depending whether they are caused by the good side or bad side. Thus, U.S. airstrikes are “humanitarian,” our “collateral damage” is excusable, while others‟ strikes are criminal.

America and the “international community,” the “Free World,” and “American exceptionalism” and “leadership” 

• America, like any country, has its own distinctive history, culture, and traditions. Additionally, America's unique founding principles – consent of the governed, due process, division of powers, constitutional limited government – justly have been an inspiration to much of the world for over two centuries and are a valid point of American pride. However, neither of these venerable “exceptional” qualities has much connection to the much-used and abused bastard term (usually capitalized as “American Exceptionalism”) that describes contemporary U.S. global behavior, by which policymakers in Washington assert both an exclusive “leadership” privilege and unsupportable obligation to undertake open-ended, international missions in the name of the “Free World” and the “international community.”

• As noted by British journalist and academic Martin Jacques: “We all know what is meant by the term 'international community,'‟ don't we? It's the west, of course.” Indeed, more precisely than the simply “the west,” the “international community” means the geopolitical bloc of countries led (or less charitably, controlled) by Washington.

• You are either with us or against us: our actions are absolutely good by definition, not relatively good in comparison to the actions of other powers, which on some level are at best only conditionally legitimate to the extent the U.S. President regards them as such.

Disregarding “alternative” media, American samizdat

• As we will see at the end of this analysis, “alternative” media may be part of the eventual breakdown of the system we are describing. But currently the major media operating in concert with their government and corporate sponsors still are in a position to validate what appears in alternative sources by repeating it or to relegate it to a politically powerless realm by ignoring it.

•  Alternative information becomes reliable only when picked up and disseminated by the MSM, thus validating the information and its ostensibly “alternative” source. Unless and until that happens, alternative information and opinion is ignored and relegated to “conspiracy theory,” “internet chatter,” or even the dread label of “denier” of some established, obligatory truth.

“We never make mistakes,” “stay the course,” and “MoveOn-ism”

• American policy evidently has no rear-view mirror, no lessons are ever learned. Being right bestows no credit, giving birth to catastrophes incurs no costs.

• President Obama, in answer to the question of what was his biggest mistake as president, replied “not having done enough” in Libya after overthrowing Qaddafi. That “regime change” might have been a bad idea in the first place was not even a point of consideration.

• Even in the midst of an action abroad, it is difficult for American policymakers to readjust to mistaken assumptions. Instead, the preferred course is simply to redouble our efforts (William Astore, citing Professor Andrew Bacevich):
"Whether [under] a Clinton or a Bush or an Obama matters little. The U.S. can‘t help but meddle, using its powerful military as a more or less blunt instrument, at incredible President Obama, in answer to the question of what was his biggest mistake as president, replied “not having done enough” in Libya after overthrowing Qaddafi. That 'regime change' might have been a bad idea in the first place was not even a point of consideration. 17 expense to our country, and at a staggering cost in foreign lives lost or damaged by incessant warfare. And no matter how catastrophic the results, that national security state can‘t help but find reasons, no matter how discredited by events, to 'stay the course.‘"


[End of Part 1]

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