Bloomberg Was Stopped, Frisked and Bruised at Debate

Democratic Debate February 19, 2020 (Left to Right: Michael Bloomberg, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Senator Amy Klobuchar.)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

Source: Wall Street on Parade

Michael Bloomberg reaffirmed for those who have turned off the news since January 20, 2017 that no one, not even his own mock debate team, dares to tell a powerful billionaire what he doesn’t want to hear. And that’s one of the key reasons that billionaires are so dangerous to high public office – they hear only their own voice.

Bloomberg’s performance on the Democratic Debate stage last night was painfully embarrassing. It was like watching an overly-hyped downhill skier, in his first appearance at the U.S. Olympics, trip on his skies getting off the chair lift and slide down the mountain on his belly – making a few awkward groans on the way down.

Voters across the country who had been inundated with Bloomberg’s $409 million in advertisements (ten times what Senator Bernie Sanders has spent) were likely shaking their heads in amazement that such an amateur had made it onto the debate stage with three U.S. Senators and a former Vice President.

To give you a broader assessment of just how lacking in charisma and oratory skills the former Mayor of New York City was last night, Politico Magazine asked 14 political experts for their views on the debate. This is a sampling of what they had to say about Bloomberg:

Alan Schroeder, Professor, School of Journalism at Northeastern University in Boston: “In his ubiquitous TV ads, Bloomberg depicts himself as an Obama-like progressive with the passion and know-how to set the country on a correction course. But in his first debate, Bloomberg came off as something quite different: a bland, clueless billionaire with feet of clay. Despite extensive preparation, Bloomberg was totally unready for the rough-and-tumble of a presidential primary debate, unready even for issues he must certainly have known would come up. Democratic voters hoping that Bloomberg might swoop in and grab the nomination on the basis of charisma and superior performance skills instead ended up with one more name to cross off their list.”

Michelle Bernard, political analyst, lawyer, author, president and CEO of the Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy: “After 10 weeks of hype, millions of dollars spent on ads, endorsements from highly respected members of the African American community and a double-digit surge in the polls, we learned that Bloomberg does not deserve any of the African American support he has received to date. From stop and frisk to overt and unapologetic sexism, the former mayor appears to be nothing more than Trump bathed in blue.”

Larry J. Sabato, founder and Director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and contributing editor at Politico Magazine. “Bloomberg was the foremost loser. To be blunt, he was terrible. It’s been about a dozen years since his last debate, so I didn’t suppose he’d shine. But I never expected him to look timid and act nervous….”

John Neffinger, speaker coach, lecturer on political communication at Georgetown University and Columbia Business School, and former communications director of the Democratic National Committee: “Bloomberg, who had a case to make but was not prepared to take incoming fire, didn’t make a strong case for his progressive credentials and showed no charisma or spark—suggesting that it might be a dreary four years with him on our screens and radios every day.”

Jennifer Lawless, Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia: “To say that Bloomberg underperformed is to understate how poor the former mayor’s performance really was. He was disengaged, ill-prepared to respond to questions he was sure to be asked—from allegations of sexism to racism to classism—and seemingly unaware that he needed to convince Democrats that he could defeat Trump. He exhibited neither the fiery energy embodied in his recent tweets nor the acumen of a politician who needs to seal a deal.”

Read the full analysis at Politico here.

The worst moment of the night for Bloomberg came from Senator Elizabeth Warren who stunned the audience with this:

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’ And, no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg. Democrats are not going to win if we have a nominee who has a history of hiding his tax returns, of harassing women and of supporting racist policies like redlining and stop and frisk. Look, I’ll support whoever the Democratic nominee is, but understand this, Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another. This country has worked for the rich for a long time and left everyone else in the dirt. It is time to have a President who will be on the side of working families and be willing to get out there and fight for them. That is why I am in this race and that is how I will beat Donald Trump.”

Bloomberg has, without exaggeration, been attempting to buy his seat in the Oval Office by funding his own campaign out of his $61.5 billion net worth – the bulk of which came from leasing data terminals to Wall Street banks’ trading floors around the globe. (Curiously, the chat rooms on those Bloomberg terminals were the venue of choice for Wall Street traders engaged in rigging markets.) On Monday we reported on the questionable ways that Bloomberg is using his cash to tip the scales in his favor. (See Bloomberg Has Built a Star Wars Machine to Try to Steal the Democratic Nomination.) On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Bloomberg was paying hundreds of social-media influencers $2500 per month to “post regularly on their personal social-media accounts in support of the candidate and send text messages to their friends about him.”

After last’s night performance, it has become quite clear why Bloomberg needs to pay people to “like” him and call him cool.

Posted in corporate news, culture, Election Fraud, elites, media, news, Oligarchy, society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The War in Questions

Making Sense of the Age of Carnage

By Tom Engelhardt

Source: TomDispatch.com

My first question is simple enough: After 18-plus years of our forever wars, where are all the questions?

Almost two decades of failing American wars across a startlingly large part of the planet and I’d like to know, for instance, who’s been fired for them? Who’s been impeached? Who’s even paying attention?

I mean, if another great power had been so fruitlessly fighting a largely undeclared set of conflicts under the label of “the war on terror” for so long, if it had wasted trillions of taxpayer dollars with no end in sight and next to no one in that land was spending much time debating or discussing the matter, what would you think? If nothing else, you’d have a few questions about that, right?

Well, so many years later, I do have a few that continue to haunt me, even if I see them asked practically nowhere and, to my frustration, can’t really answer them myself, not to my satisfaction anyway. In fact, since 2001 — with the exception of the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq when America’s streets suddenly filled with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators asking a range of questions (“How did USA’s oil get under Iraq’s sand?” was a typical protest sign of that moment) — our never-ending wars have seldom been questioned in this country. So think of what follows not as my thoughts on the war in question but on the war in questions.

The Age of Carnage

In October 2001, in response to the 9/11 attacks, the administration of President George W. Bush launched a bombing campaign not just against al-Qaeda, a relatively small group partially holed up in Afghanistan, but the Taliban, an Islamist outfit that controlled much of the country. It was a radical decision not just to target the modest-sized organization whose 19 hijackers, most of them Saudis, had taken out almost 3,000 Americans with a borrowed “air force” of commercial jets, but in the phrase of the moment to “liberate” Afghanistan. These days, who even remembers that, by then, Washington had already fought a CIA-directed, Saudi-backed (and partially financed) war against the Soviet Union in that country for a full decade (1979-1989). To take on the Red Army then, Washington funded, armed, and supported extremist Islamist groups, some of which would still be fighting in Afghanistan (against us) in the twenty-first century.

In the context of that all-American war, a rich young Saudi, Osama bin Laden, would, of course, form al-Qaeda, or “the base.” In 1989, Washington watched as the mighty Red Army limped out of Afghanistan, the “bleeding wound” as its leader then called it. (Afghanistan wasn’t known as “the graveyard of empires” for nothing.) In less than two years, that second great power of the Cold War era would implode, an event that would be considered history’s ultimate victory by many in Washington. President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man who first committed the U.S. to its Afghan Wars, would, as last century ended, sum things up this way: “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”

Afghanistan itself would be left in ruins as Washington turned its attention elsewhere, while various local warlords fought it out and, in response, the extremist Taliban rose to power.

Now, let me jump ahead a few years. In 2019, U.S. air power expended more munitions (bombs and missiles) on that country than at any time since figures began to be kept in 2006. Despite that, during the last months of 2019, the Taliban (and other militant groups) launched more attacks on U.S.-and-NATO-trained-and-financed Afghan security forces than at any time since 2010 when (again) records began to be kept. And it tells you something about our American world that, though you could have found both those stories in the news if you were looking carefully, neither was considered worthy of major coverage, front-page headlines, or real attention. All these years later, it won’t surprise you to know that such ho-hum reporting is just par for the course. And when it comes to either of those two on-the-record realities, you certainly would be hard-pressed to find a serious editorial expression of outrage or much of anything else about them in the media.

At 18-plus years or, if you prefer to combine Washington’s two Afghan wars, 28-plus years, we’re talking about the longest American war in history. The Civil War lasted four years. The American part of World War II, another four. The Korean War less than four (though it never officially ended). The Vietnam War, from the moment the first significant contingent of U.S. advisors arrived, 14, and from the moment the first major U.S. troop contingents arrived, perhaps a decade. In the Trump era, as those air strikes rise, there has been a great deal of talk about possible “peace” and an American withdrawal from that country.  Peace, however, has now seemingly come to be defined in Washington as a reduction of American forces from approximately 12,000 to about 8,500 (and that’s without counting either private military contractors or CIA personnel there).

Meanwhile, of course, the war on terror that began in Afghanistan now stretches from the Philippines across the Greater Middle East and deep into the heart of Africa. Worse yet, it still threatens to expand into a war of some sort with Iran — and that, mind you, is under the ministrations of an officially “antiwar” president who has nonetheless upped American military personnel in the Middle East to record levels in recent years.

Of course, this is a story that you undoubtedly know fairly well. Who, in a sense, doesn’t? But it’s also a story that, so many years and so much — to use a word once-favored by our president — “carnage” later, should raise an endless series of disturbing and unnerving questions here. And that it doesn’t, should raise questions in itself, shouldn’t it?

Still, in a country where opposition to endless war seems constantly to falter or fade out amid a media universe in which Donald Trump’s latest tweet can top any war news, it seems potentially useful to raise some of those questions — at least the ones that occur to me — and perhaps for you to do the same. Isn’t it time, after all, for Americans to ask a few questions about war, American-style, in what might be thought of as the post-9/11 age of carnage?

In any case, here are six of mine to which, as I said, I don’t really have the answers. Maybe you do.

Here goes:

  1. When the Bush administration launched that invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in 2001 and followed it up with an invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, did we, in some curious fashion, really invade and occupy ourselves? Of course, in these years, across the Greater Middle East and Africa, the U.S. played a remarkable role in creating chaos in country after country, leading to failed states, displaced people in staggering numbers, economic disarray, and the spread of terror groups. But the question is: Did the self-proclaimed most exceptional and indispensable nation on the planet do a version of the same thing to itself in the process? After all, by 2016, the disarray in this country was striking enough and had spread far enough, amid historic economic inequality, social division, partisan divides, and growing anger, that Americans elected as president (if not quite by a majority) a man who had run not on American greatness but on American decline. He promised to make this country great again. (His declinist credentials were not much noted at the time, except among the heartland Americans who voted for him.) So, ask yourself: Would President Donald Trump have been possible if the Bush administration had simply gone after al-Qaeda on September 12, 2001, and left it at that? Since January 2017, under the tutelage of that “very stable genius,” the U.S. political (and possibly global economic) system has, of course, begun to crack open. Is there any connection to those forever wars?
  2. Has there ever been a truly great power in history, still at or near the height of its militarily prowess, that couldn’t win a war? Sure, great imperial powers from the Romans to the Chinese to the British sometimes didn’t win specific wars despite their seeming military dominance, but not a single one? Could that be historically unprecedented and, if so, what does it tell us about our moment? How has the country proclaimed by its leaders to have the finest fighting force the world has ever known won nothing in more than 18 years of unceasing global battle?
  3. How and why did the “hearts and minds” factor move from the nationalist left in the twentieth century to the Islamist right in the twenty-first? The anti-colonial struggles against imperial powers that culminated in America’s first great losing war in Vietnam (think of Korea as kind of a tie) were invariably fought by leftist and communist groups. And whatever the military force arrayed against them, they regularly captured — in that classic Vietnam-era phrase — “the hearts and minds” of what were then called “Third World” peoples and repeatedly outlasted far better armed powers, including, in the case of Vietnam, the United States. In a word, they had the moxie in such conflicts and it didn’t matter that, by the most obvious measures of military power, they were at a vast disadvantage. In the twenty-first century, similar wars are still being fought in a remarkably comparable fashion, Afghanistan being the most obvious.  Again, the weaponry, the money, everything that might seem to pass for the works has been the property of Washington and yet that ability to win local “hearts and minds” has remained in the hands of the rebels. But what I wonder about is how exactly that moxie passed from the nationalist left to the extremist religious right in this century and what exactly was our role, intended or not, in all this?
  4. When it comes to preparations for war, why can’t we ever stop? After all, when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended in 1991, the United States essentially had no enemies left on the planet. Yet Washington continued essentially an arms race of one with a finish line so distant — the bomber of 2018, Earth-spanning weapons systems, and weaponry for the heavens of perhaps 2050 — as to imply eternity. The Pentagon and the military-industrial complex surrounding it, including mega-arms manufacturers, advanced weapons labs, university science centers, and the official or semi-official think tanks that churned out strategies for future military domination, went right on without an enemy in sight. In fact, in late 2002, preparing for his coming invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush had to cook up an “axis of evil” — Iran, Iraq, and North Korea, two of which were mortal enemies and the third unrelated in any significant way to either of them — as a justification for what was to come, militarily speaking. Almost 20 years later, investing as much in its military as the next seven countries combined, updating and upgrading its nuclear arsenal to the tune of $1.7 trillion in the coming decades (and having just deployed a new “low-yield” nuclear weapon), and still investing staggering sums in its planes, tanks, aircraft carriers, and the like, the U.S. military now seems intent (without leaving its forever wars) on returning to the era of the Cold War as well. Face-offs against Russia and China are now the military order of the day in what seems like a déjà-vu-all-over-again situation. I’m just curious, but isn’t it ever all over?
  5.  How can Washington’s war system and the military-industrial complex across the country continue to turn failure in war into success and endless dollars at home? Honestly, the one thing in America that clearly works right now is the U.S. military (putting aside those wars abroad). We may no longer invest in domestic infrastructure, but in that military and the giant corporate weapons makers that go with it? You bet! They are the true success stories of the twenty-first century if you’re talking about dollars invested, weaponry bought, and revolving doors greased. On the face of it, failure is the new success and few in this country seem to blink when it comes to any of that. How come?
  6. Why doesn’t the reality of those wars of ours ever really seem to sink in here?  This, to my mind, is at least partially a question about media coverage. Yes, every now and then (as with the Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers last December), America’s forever wars briefly break through and get some attention. And yes, if you’re a war-coverage news jockey, you can find plenty of daily reports on aspects of our wars in the media. But isn’t it surprising how much of that coverage is essentially a kind of background hum, like Muzak in an elevator? Unless the president personally decides to drone assassinate an Iranian major general and prospective future leader of that country, our wars simply drone on, barely attended to (unless, of course, you happen to be in the U.S. military or a military spouse or child). Eighteen years of failed wars and so many trillions of dollars later, wouldn’t you have expected something else?

So those are my six questions, the most obvious things that puzzle me about what may be the strangest aspect of this American world of ours, those never-ending wars and the system that goes with them. To begin to answer them, however, would mean beginning to think about ourselves and this country in a different way.

Perhaps much of this would only make sense if we were to start imagining ourselves or at least much of the leadership crew, that infamous “Blob,” in Washington, as so many war addicts. War — the failing variety — is evidently their drug of choice and not even our “antiwar” president can get off it. Think of forever war, then, as the opioid not of the masses but of the ruling classes.

 

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs TomDispatch.com and is a fellow of the Type Media Center. His sixth and latest book is A Nation Unmade by War.

Posted in anti-war, Authoritarianism, black ops, CIA, corporate news, culture, Deep State, elites, Empire, Geopolitics, History, imperialism, media, Militarization, military spending, Neocons, news, Oligarchy, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, war, war on terror, wasted taxpayer dollars | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

State-backed Alliance for Securing Democracy disinfo shop falsely smears The Grayzone as ‘state-backed’

In painting critical reporting on the Iowa caucuses debacle as a Russian plot, a Western government-backed information warfare shop smeared The Grayzone and independent reporter Jordan Chariton, falsely claiming both are “state-backed media accounts.”

By Alex Rubinstein

Source: Grayzone

The Alliance for Securing Democracy, an online censorship initiative of the Western government-funded German Marshall Project, falsely and hypocritically characterized The Grayzone and independent journalist Jordan Chariton as “state-backed media,” smearing them for their factual reporting on the shadowy network behind the controversial app that undermined the integrity of the Iowa caucuses.

The Grayzone has exposed the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) in a series of investigative reports as a neo-McCarthyite outfit prone to spreading disinformation, staffed by counter-terror cranks and national security hustlers.

The ASD’s parent organization also happens to be bankrolled by the US government, numerous European governments, and the European Union, at the tune of millions of dollars — making these false accusations against The Grayzone and Jordan Chariton actual state-backed smears.

Chariton, who founded the independent progressive news outlet Status Coup, hit back at the ASD’s outrageous claims. “The days of faux democracy gladiators defaming journalists – whose factual work they seek to discredit –  as part of a Kremlin syndicate are over. It’s time to fight back,” he told The Grayzone.

On February 10, the ASD published a dubious analysis of a supposed Russian effort to spread conspiracies and disinformation around the Iowa caucuses. It honed in on the Russian-funded Sputnik News and three shows broadcast by RT. Those programs included “Going Underground,” which is hosted by British journalist Afshin Rattansi.

The post continued: “In addition, all the most popular tweets about Iowa retweeted in this time period by at least one monitored account pushed a narrative that the Democratic National Committee and/or the Democratic establishment more broadly seeks to undermine Sanders via nefarious means. Monitored accounts ‘Redacted Tonight’ (@redactedtonight) and ‘Watching the Hawks’ (@watchinghawks) are the primary accounts engaging directly with this material.”

On Twitter, state-backed media accounts spread various conspiracy theories about the Iowa caucus, many of which claimed the DNC, news media, and other candidates used “dirty tricks” to steal the victory from Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“Watching the Hawks” is hosted by American journalist and son of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, Tyrel Ventura. “Redacted Tonight” is a political satire show hosted by American comedian Lee Camp. Camp opens each show by welcoming his live studio audience to “the comedy show where Americans in America covering American news are called foreign agents.”

The social media managers for both “Watching the Hawks” and “Redacted Tonight” are US citizens.

Nonetheless, the retweeting by these shows of factual reporting by The Grayzone and Jordan Chariton set off national security alarm bells among the disinformation warriors of the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

The Grayzone article that the ASD took issue with exposed the role of pro-Israel billiionaire Seth Klarman in pouring his money into the Super PAC behind the faulty Iowa vote results app, while at the same time donating directly to candidate Pete Buttigieg – the candidate who benefited the most from the sabotage of the caucus results.

The Klarman Family Foundation also happens to be a major funder of the ASD.

On Twitter, the ASD muddled the distinction between The Grayzone, Chariton, and the RT-sponsored Twitter accounts that retweeted them. The outfit claimed that “state-backed media accounts spread various conspiracy theories about the Iowa caucuses, many of which claimed the DNC, news media, and other candidates used “dirty tricks” to steal the victory from Sen. Bernie Sanders.” Attached to the tweet was a screenshot of tweets by The Grayzone and Chariton, making no mention of either “Watching the Hawks” or “Redacted Tonight.”

The false accusation was subsequently retweeted by ASD founder Clint Watts.

The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal responded to the smear with indignation: “Neither Jordan Chariton nor The Grayzone are state-backed media, unlike your fiscal parent. And our reporting is 100% factual, unlike yours,” Blumenthal wrote on Twitter. “We are currently exploring options for holding your McCarthyite operation fully accountable for spreading malicious disinformation.”

After enduring a withering barrage of online criticism for its malicious falsehood, the ASD issued a weasely “clarifying point.”

The Alliance for securing media citations and grants from oligarchs

The Alliance for Securing Democracy is the most prominent of an array of information warfare initiatives that exploited public hysteria over supposed Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.

The group’s Hamilton 68 Dashboard claimed to have tracked 600 Twitter accounts supposedly “linked to Russian influence operations.” In the mainstream press, that dubious claim was stretched even further as the dashboard was touted as a tool for keeping tabs on “Russian bots.”

Among the widely cited claims of Russian covert influence campaigns was the #taketheknee trend inspired by blacklisted NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s high-profile protest of police brutality. The ASD’s cynical accusation, that a domestic protest movement against racism was being manipulated by the Kremlin, was reported uncritically by the New York Times.

The ASD has even claimed that Stars and Stripes,  a military publication operated out of the Department of Defense, was an outlet “relevant to Russian messaging themes.” It has made similar accusations against The Intercept.

Oddly enough, the sole proprietor of The Intercept is billionaire Pierre Omidyar, whose Democracy Fund is a major financial backer of the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

An ASD fellow who helped design its bogus bot tracker, Andrew Weisburd, has publicly fantasized about the murder of Intercept editor Glenn Greenwald, whom he branded a “traitor.”

Aside from Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, the ASD is backed by Craig Newmark, the namesake of Craigslist, and the Klarman Family Foundation. As The Grayzone recently reported, Seth Klarman is a major funder of pro-settler Israel lobby organizations. He is also a prominent debt vulture strangling Puerto Rico with austerity. And, again, Klarman is a top donor to Buttigieg, the self-declared winner of the Iowa caucuses.

Ascertaining a full picture of just who is backing the ASD is not possible, however, as the organization’s public list of funders “does not include any donors who do not wish to disclose their charitable giving.”

But besides the centrist billionaires that fund it, the group’s fiscal parent rakes in money from Western governments, including the US State Department.

Meet the real state-backed disinfo shop

While the Alliance for Securing Democracy claims to be independently funded, it shares major backers with the German Marshall Fund (GMF), including the Sandler Foundation.

Likewise, Omidyar’s Democracy Fund gave somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million to the GMF, while Klarman Family Foundation chipped in between $250,000 and $499,999.

According to the ASD website, the group is “housed at the German Marshall Fund.”

Unlike The Grayzone and Jordan Chariton, the GMF is a state-backed entity that faithfully pursues the agenda of its government funders.

In the 2019 fiscal year, the German Marshall Fund received $1 million or more from both the German and Swedish foreign offices, at least $1 million from the US State Department, and $1 million or more from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a primary arm of the US government for fomenting regime change abroad.

The European Commission — which is the executive branch of the European Union — supported the German Marshall Fund to the tune of between $500,000 and $999,999.

Additional supporters of the German Marshall Fund include branches of the German and US government, anti-communist billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, NATO, internet giants like Google, the European Parliament, oil companies like Exxon, big agro companies like Bayer, large banks, and an array of global arms dealers such as Raytheon and Boeing.

The Theranos nanotainer of Russiagate online initiatives

The Alliance for Security Democracy’s bogus dashboard was undoubtedly the most-cited authority on Russian bot activity in the media. But its credibility suffered a major blow following a series of revealing remarks by founder Clint Watts, who confessed to Buzzfeed, “We don’t even think [all the accounts we monitor are] all commanded in Russia — at all. We think some of them are legitimately passionate people that are just really into promoting Russia.”

Having banked his credibility on fighting the supposedly pernicious presence of Russian bots, Watts went on to concede, “I’m not convinced on this bot thing.”

The ASD’s faulty methodology was developed by J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan. The latter was involved in orchestrating a false flag influence campaign targeting Alabama’s Senate elections, and was banned from Facebook after it was exposed. New York Times reporter Scott Shane, who reported on the disinformation campaign, was also responsible for hyping up the ASD’s supposed findings on the “take the knee” hashtag.

But among the ASD’s cadre of national security hacks, Clint Watts is perhaps the most shameless hustler. As The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal previously reported, “Watts appears to speak no Russian, has no record of reporting or scholarship from inside Russia, and has produced little to no work of any discernible academic value on Russian affairs.”

In his published work, Watts has not only called for the US to “befriend” the “al-Qaeda linked group” Ahrar al-Sham; he also urged Washington to support “jihadi[s]” in order to deliver “payback” to Russia.

In testimony to Congress in 2017, Watts claimed Russia organized a massive bot attack on his Twitter account after his article urging support for al-Qaeda was published. The tale was not just hyperbole; it appeared to have been a fabrication. He also regaled Congress with a story about RT’s and Sputnik’s coverage of a stand-off at Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase that was completely false.

Clint Watts has admitted to running an influence operation for 15 years aimed at improving approval for US foreign policy in the Middle East, which he has said “had almost no success,” and came at a cost of “billions a year in tax dollars.”

While he hypes his work for the FBI, where he spent at most one year, Watts has spent much of his career at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a hardline neoconservative think tank founded by an open white supremacist.

And left unmentioned in Watts’ bio is his affiliation with the Central Intelligence Agency: the Agency has published an article he co-authored with former CIA director and current CNN contributor John Brennan.

Besides producing dubious analysis, Clint Watts has exhibited a tendency for paranoid Cold War fantasies. In 2017, he warned an audience that Russia was “trying to knock us down and take us over,” then claimed that his colleagues had seen their computers “burned up by malware” after they criticized Russia.

In response to supposed Russian meddling, Watts has called for interfering in Russia’s elections, “but do[ing] it in line with the founding principles of democracy and America.”

He has also called for a government-imposed censorship campaign inside the United States, demanding it “quell information rebellions that can quickly lead to violent confrontations and easily transform us into the Divided States of America.”

Even as the Alliance for Securing Democracy was exposed by The Grayzone and others as the Russiagate version of the phony Theranos nanotainer – with Clint Watts playing the Cold Warrior analog to Elizabeth Holmes – the state-backed neo-McCarthyite operation has forged ahead, rebranding its dashboard as “Hamilton 2.0” and rolling out an “Authoritarian Interference Tracker.”

Currently, the ASD is hyping up claims by NATO vassal state Estonia about Russian interference in their country, according to its “Authoritarian Interference Tracker.” Coincidentally, former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves sits on ASD’s advisory council.

He is joined on the ASD board by Michael Chertoff, the notoriously self-dealing former Department of Homeland Security chief; and by John Podesta, who workshopped ways to “stick the knife” into Bernie Sanders while leading Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016. Podesta was recently nominated to the 2020 Democratic Convention Rules Committee.

Also on the ASD advisory council is neoconservative extraordinaire turned liberal media’s favorite Never-Trumper Bill Kristol, who is widely acknowledged as the leading media and think tank influencer behind the US invasion of Iraq. Kristol has called for a deep state coup to depose Trump, and is rolling out a wave of ads to undermine Bernie Sanders.

Former CIA director Michael Morell, who offered unsolicited advice on killing Russians and Iranians in Syria during a televised interview, and the obsessively anti-Russian former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul also occupy seats on the council.

While the ASD couches its work as an attempt to counter Russian disinformation, a clear pattern has emerged of efforts to suppress domestic reporting in the US that doesn’t conform to the imperial foreign policy consensus.

As The Grayzone previously reported, senior German Marshall Fund fellow and neocon movement veteran Jamie Fly appeared to take credit for a purge of popular Facebook accounts of alternative media outlets including The Free Thought Project, Anti-Media, and Cop Block. He promised it was “just the beginning.”

Now, the Alliance for Securing Democracy has trained its guns on The Grayzone. And with its latest falsehood, this malign organization has targeted an independent journalistic organization that has done more than any other to hold it accountable.

Posted in Authoritarianism, black ops, censorship, CIA, civil liberties, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dirty Politics, Empire, freedom of speech, media, Media Literacy, Neocons, news, Oligarchy, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two for Tuesday

Ill Bill

Wise Intelligent

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Puppet Pete Says Revolution And The Status Quo Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source: CaitlinJohnstone.com

The world’s first laboratory-grown presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg met with boos and chants of “Wall Street Pete” at a recent Democratic Party event in New Hampshire for taking a dig at the revolution-minded rhetoric favored by Bernie Sanders and his supporters.

“We cannot risk dividing Americans’ future further, saying that you must either be for a revolution or you must be for the status quo,” Buttigieg said. “Let’s make room for everybody in this movement.”

This is a talking point that the tightly scripted and focus group-tested Buttigieg has been repeatedly regurgitating all month, so it’s worth taking a look at.

Claiming that it isn’t necessary to choose between revolution and the status quo is claiming that you can change the status quo without any kind of revolution. You are saying that the establishment which has created and reinforced the status quo can now suddenly, for some strange and mysterious reason, be counted upon to change it. That the status quo will change the status quo.

Anyone who has paid attention to US politics for more than a few years already knows that this is objectively false. From administration to administration, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office or who controls the House or the Senate, the status quo has been adamantly enforced along a rigid trajectory toward ever-increasing military expansionism, exploitative neoliberal economic policies, income and wealth inequality, police militarization, mass-scale imprisonment, Orwellian surveillance programs and increasing restrictions on journalism and free speech.

Change is not going to come from those institutions, it’s going to come from the people using the power of their numbers to force important changes that those institutions do not want to make. And Pete Buttigieg knows this. And so do the spooks and oligarchs who are backing him.

It is very appropriate that a military intelligence officer with ties to the CIA, who is beloved by intelligence/defense agency insiders and who appears to have been groomed by national security mandarins from the very beginning of his career, should be actively working to kill a revolutionary zeitgeist. After all, backing counter-revolutionaries is a favorite CIA activity.

Progressives already got suckered into forfeiting their revolutionary spirit in exchange for flowery prose and empty rhetoric the last time they elected Pete Buttigieg for president, back when Pete Buttigieg was named Barack Obama. It was literally the exact same script they’re trying to recycle with Puppet Pete: a plucky young underdog with a knack for sparkly verbiage overcomes the frontrunner in Iowa in a stunning upset, then rides the momentum from that initial victory on to the Democratic nomination.

And now we’re seeing the Democratic Party officially award Buttigieg the largest delegate count in Iowa, after a massive scandal and despite countless unresolved discrepancies in the numbers, and establishment narrative managers are now preparing their heartwarming David-and-Goliath stories about the small town mayor knocking out the big bad socialist frontrunner for a second consecutive time in New Hampshire in defiance of the odds and polling expectations. If that falls through they’ve got Nevada, where shit really started to get crazy in 2016, and where they’re preparing to implement a brand new caucus app which they keep trying to say is not an app but a “tool” made for iPads (which is the thing that an app is).

All this to install a man who has managed to pack an astonishing amount of corruption and scandal into a relatively brief, small-scale political career.

That’s what not choosing between revolution and the status quo looks like. It looks like continuing the status quo.

Which is why it’s so dumb when Buttigieg says “Let’s make room for everybody in this movement.” Movement? What movement? You don’t get to call it a “movement” when its entire agenda is to prevent any movement. Use a different word. “Let’s make room for everybody in this inertia,” or “Let’s make room for everybody in this stasis” or something.

As I’ve said many times before, I’m interested in this presidential election not because I am under the delusion that presidential elections tend to change things, but because the attempts to manipulate it, and the public’s response to those manipulations, could shake something loose that actually might. If enough people in the world’s most powerful nation wake up to the fact that they don’t have the kind of political system they were taught about in school, if they realize that everything they’ve been told about how their government operates is a lie, if they realize their lives have been made so unnecessarily difficult by a ruling oligarchic class with a vested interest in keeping them impoverished and distracted, well, then we’re looking at an actual transformative force.

Then we’re looking at the possibility of a real revolution. Not a violent revolution; those always result in a continuation of the same ills under a different system, and there’s nothing revolutionary about that.

I’m talking about a real revolution. One where people begin to open their eyes to the reality that their entire understanding of what’s going on in the world has been the result of mass psychological manipulation throughout their entire lives at the hands of the school system, the billionaire-controlled news media, and the political establishment. One where people open their eyes so wide to the power of narrative control that they become impossible to propagandize. One where people begin weaving their own narratives. Their own understandings of the world. Built not for the benefit of the powerful, but for the benefit of the people.

We’re seeing a lot of movement already in 2020, and it’s just getting started. I see the potential for a lot of light to reach a lot of new areas between the cracks which open up in that movement. And I see the guardians of the status quo having a harder and harder time maintaining the state of stasis. Their increasingly ham-fisted manipulations, such as installing a jarringly phony puppet like Pete Buttigieg, say a lot about their desperation.

Find ways of forcing them to overextend themselves and overplay their hand. Let’s show everyone what they’re hiding behind the puppet theater.

Posted in Authoritarianism, black ops, CIA, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dirty Politics, Election Fraud, elites, media, Media Literacy, Neoliberalism, news, Oligarchy, propaganda, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WUHAN AND HARVARD… AND JEFFREY

By Joseph P. Farrell

Source: Giza Death Star

I’m constantly amazed at the information that people email to me, but this one is a whopper doozie spotted by V.S. I’ve already blogged about the arrest of Dr. Charles Lieber of Harvard, and about this strange tie to the Wuhan University of Technology. But there’s more lurking in the background of that Harvard connection than meets the eye, and I just have to share this one:

There you have it. So it’s important to review what this article is saying: Dr. Lieber worked at the same university as Drs Church and Nowak, both known associates of Jeffrey Epstein and recipients of his largesse. Given the nature of their work, it strains credibility to assume that Lieber was unaware of their work or they of his. They are, after all, all faculty members working in more or less the same broad discipline. As they article makes clear, all were working in aspects of modifying biology and doing genetic engineering, all areas of obvious biowarfare implications. All of this raises some intriguing high octane speculations and questions:

1) Why would professors, who are recipients of government funds for research, also take private funding in the millions from Epstein? Did they need it? And was Epstein in fact laundering money for other interests in sponsoring this research? And does that mean that their are private interests trying to obtain a biowarfare capability? Their taking of Epstein money on an individual basis was quite probably entirely innocent. But it’s the overall pattern of a Harvard connection that I find highly odd.

2) Do these questions in their turn indicate that all of China is being turned into a biowarfare, economic warfare, and social engineering experiment?

In respect to these questions, the article itself asks a highly pertinent question regarding Dr. Lieber toward the end of the piece:

Why  would someone (Lieber) getting $10 million plus from the U.S. funding agencies go through the hassle of setting up a secret lab in another country and risk his entire life’s work for less money. What was he doing there exactly?

Indeed, and for whom was he really doing it? China? Harvard? Some private international interest?

Like the author of the article, I eagerly await for more details to come out. In the connection to the idea of some private international interest however, I’m reminded of a detail that occurred prior to 9/11, when Russian economist Dr. Tatiana Koryagina mentioned in Pravda, prior to the events of 9/11, that the US would shortly be attacked on its own soil by a private group with assets in the trillions of dollars. Recently, Harvard took its funding entirely black, and I have to wonder, in the light of this article, if it is one of the crucial “fronts” or “nodes” for some sort of private network. Would it be involved in such activities as a massive social engineering experiment?

Well, as I detailed with co-author Gary Lawrence in our book Rotten to the (Common) Core, another Harvard chemist – indeed, a former president of the institution – comes to mind: Dr. James Conant Bryant, and with him, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

See you on the flip side…

Posted in black ops, Conspiracy, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, elites, Geopolitics, Health, news, Oligarchy, Science, society, State Crime, Technology, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Primary Mechanism Of Your Oppression Is Not Hidden At All

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source: CaitlinJohnstone.com

I write a lot about government secrecy and the importance of whistleblowers, leakers and leak publishers, and for good reason: governments which can hide their wicked deeds from public accountability will do so whenever possible. It’s impossible for the public to use democracy for ensuring their government behaves in the way they desire if they aren’t allowed to be informed about what that behavior even is.

These things get lots of attention in conspiracy circles and dissident political factions. Quite a few eyes are fixed on the veil of government opacity and the persecution of those brave souls who try to shed light on what’s going on behind it. Not enough eyes, but quite a few.

What gets less attention, much to our detriment, is the fact that the primary mechanism of our oppression and exploitation is happening right out in front of our faces.

The nonstop campaign by bought politicians, owned news outlets, and manipulated social media platforms to control the dominant narratives about what’s going on in the world contribute vastly more to the sickness of our society than government secrecy does. We know this from experience: any time a whistleblower exposes secret information about the malfeasance of powerful governments like NSA surveillance or Collateral Murder, we see not public accountability, nor demands for sweeping systemic changes to prevent such malfeasance from reoccurring, but a bunch of narrative management from the political/media class.

This narrative management is used to shift attention away from the information that was revealed and onto the fact that the person who revealed it broke the law or misbehaved in some way. It’s used to convince people that the revelations aren’t actually a big deal, or that it was already basically public knowledge anyway. And it’s used to manipulate public attention on to the next hot story of the day and memory hole it underneath the white noise of the media news churn. And nothing changes.

We’ve seen it happening over and over and over again. The narrative management machine has gotten so effective and efficient that it’s been able to completely ignore the recent revelation that the US, UK and France almost certainly bombed Syria in 2018 for a completely false reason. A few half-assed Bellingcat spin jobs and an otherwise total media blackout, and it’s like the whole thing never happened.

What this tells us is that our first and foremost problem is not the fact that conspiracies are happening behind a curtain of government secrecy, but that the way people think, act and vote is being actively manipulated right out in the open. Government secrecy is indeed one aspect of establishment narrative control, but controlling the public’s access to information is only one aspect. The bigger part of it is controlling how the public thinks about information.

The reason people never use the power of their superior numbers to force real change, even though they’re being exploited and oppressed in myriad ways by the ruling class, is because they’ve been propagandized into accepting the status quo as desirable (or at least normal). The propaganda of the political/media class is therefore the establishment’s front line of defense. Its most powerful, and essential, weapon.

This is important for dissidents of all stripes to understand, because it means we’re not just passively waiting around for another Manning or Snowden or an Ian Henderson to give us information which we can use to fight the oppression machine. Those individuals have done a great public service, but the battle to awaken human consciousness to what’s really going on in our world is in no way limited to leakers and whistleblowers. It is not at the mercy of government secrecy.

If you are engaged in any type of media, you are engaging the narrative matrix which keeps the public asleep and complacent. It doesn’t matter if you have a Twitter account, a Youtube account, some flyers or a can of spray paint: if you are capable of getting any kind of message out there, you are able to directly influence the mechanism of your oppression. You are able to inform people that they are being lied to, you are able to explain why, and you are able to point them to where they can find more information.

This is extremely empowering. You do not need to wait around hoping that some bombshell piece of information makes it past all the various security checks and spinmeisters and triggers a real social awakening. You can be that information. You can become a catalyst for that awakening.

The key to turning this ship around does not lie hidden somewhere behind a veil of government opacity. It lies in you. It lies in all of us. We can begin awakening our fellow humans right now by attacking the narrative management of the propaganda machine that sits right in front of us, unarmored and unhidden.

Posted in Authoritarianism, black ops, censorship, conditioning, consciousness, Conspiracy, Corporate Crime, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dystopia, elites, media, Media Literacy, news, Oligarchy, Philosophy, propaganda, Psy-ops, Psychology, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Matinee: First Reformed

Synopsis by A24

Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church, Abundant Life, with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past, and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence. From writer-director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver; American Gigolo; Affliction) comes a gripping thriller about a crisis of faith that is at once personal, political, and planetary.

Watch the full film on Kanopy.

Posted in Art, culture, Film, Saturday Matinee, Spirituality, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment