Archive for the ‘PLUTOCRACY IN AMERICA’ Tag


John Chuckman


The Foundering Russia-gate ‘Scandal’


Thanks for re-publishing another honest and insightful piece from Robert Parry, honesty and insight being pretty rare qualities in American journalism. It inspires some thoughts.

Russia-gate arose from at least two impulses. Both of them are political, and no one in the establishment, which includes the important people of both parties, really wants to investigate either of them thoroughly.

It is important to say that America’s nearly ancient hostility (a good century old) towards the Soviet Union with all the propaganda and vehement rhetoric inspired by it provides even now a fertile medium for any negative accusation touching Russia. Americans are as conditioned as Pavlov’s dogs to have a certain response at just the mention of Russia.

The major impulse was a top-level, yet undisclosed effort to either stop or destroy Trump. There is no other way for senior officials of CIA and FBI to have worked and spoken in public about such matters without the support of President Obama, a fact which again demonstrates – again, as in Neocon Wars, the coup in Ukraine, and rolling tanks up to Russia’s borders – what a destructive leader Obama actually was, destructive even to his own country’s election principles.

And a very secretive leader, a president with an almost unparalleled drive for secrecy and a fierce enemy of all whistle-blowers and the truth. After all, he sent people to prison – Chelsea Manning, just one of several – and consigned others to a life of hell on earth – as we see in the case of Julian Assange.

By the way, Trump’s and the Republican Party’s attitudes and actions towards Julian Assange, a man who could clarify instantly so many controversial matters, screams at us about the true nature of America’s establishment. At a certain level in both political parties, all desire for truth and openness simply evaporates. It is at that level that they all effectively work together to keep America’s creaky sham of democracy going. Plutocracy, privilege, and empire come first for both parties, urgently and without question.

I think we will never get to the bottom of Obama’s scheme. He and his associates made sure he was well insulated, and the operation involved so many very high-level people, including of course Hillary Clinton – a politician with a different style, but a match for Obama’s secrecy and destructiveness in every way – that there is no way America’s establishment today will ever seriously dig into it.

Just the thought of damage to the reputation and security of the United States would prevent that from occurring. And Hillary Clinton’s name serves as a mighty defensive fortress because the Clintons have been one of the Democratic Party’s major conduits for immense campaign funds for over a quarter of a century. In American politics, you do not cross the big-money people.

Look at all the (appropriately) bad publicity in Britain around Prince Andrew’s association with the late Jeffrey Epstein. Even Buckingham Palace has not been able to protect him completely. Compare its extent and impact to that around Bill and Hillary Clinton. We know Bill Clinton was at least as important an associate of Epstein as the Prince. He made 26 flights on “the Lolita Express” according to the plane’s co-pilot and logs, and Epstein contributed to the Clinton Foundation and to other Clinton “causes.” Epstein even claimed a role in creating the Foundation that has served the Clintons’ personal interests so handsomely.

The American establishment is not inclined to attack the Clintons in the way they deserve. And just so, Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the Obama administration plots against Trump.

The notion is further supported by the fact that Hillary never was held accountable for the embarrassing disaster at Benghazi, Libya, which involved the killing of an American Ambassador, a side-effect of a dark program she oversaw as Secretary of State.

That program related to America’s involvement in destroying Libya’s government and in working to do the same to Syria’s. Benghazi was an unintended result of a State Department plan to scoop up weapons and thugs and have them transshipped through Turkey or Saudi Arabia for their final destination in Syria.

The weapons and thugs were everywhere in the collapsed ruins of Libya because the United States had worked hard to put them there for its hybrid attack on Gadhafi. No member of either establishment party wants to “open that can of worms” to public scrutiny.

That’s just how it works when you have an empire instead of a country.

So, people like the Clintons and Obama, having faithfully served imperial interests for years of dark and violent activity, effectively have “get out of jail free” cards good for all their shady pasts.

I read the other day that the Obamas just bought another home, one in prestigious Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, for nearly $12 million. This follows the small castle in Washington for which they paid over 8 million dollars when they left the White House, a small castle which received many costly upgrades.

Not bad financial results for a man who was an undistinguished, untenured university lecturer and who served about half a term as a United States Senator. The establishment takes care of you, handsomely, if you have served it well.

The topic of Hillary brings us to another motive for Russia-gate, and that is covering up the scandal of her behavior in the Democratic Party’s 2016 campaign for a presidential candidate. We know that Hillary’s forces cheated Bernie Sanders out of the nomination. They approached that goal in many different ways, and we have the best evidence in the Wikileaks documents released before the election and in the testimony of various people.

So, there already was an effort to “undermine American democracy” (don’t you just love that hollow phrase?) before there was Russia-gate operating against Trump. Russia-gate represents, in addition to its intent against Trump, kicking lots of dust into everyone’s eyes concerning Hillary Clinton’s political crimes in her own party, and “political crimes” is not too strong an expression for elaborate efforts to steal the nomination of a major political party, efforts which included every imaginable dirty trick right down to seeing huge numbers of ballots trashed.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not a defender of Trump. He is an appalling man by every measure, from his rudeness to his to his aggression, dishonesty, and ignorance. So many of the people bellowing on the Internet about the Constitution-violating treatment of Trump are his supporters. Unfortunately in America, political dialogue can almost never be subtle or sophisticated. It’s always black or white, for or against, when discussing the two political parties. That fact also helps disguise the most fundamental problems at work here.

Yes, Trump is appalling, but Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are equally so. A sense of Hillary’s violence and crudity long ago reached a good portion of the public’s awareness. She has a reputation, but her crudities are different in nature than Trump’s.

Trump is a man who can take pride and even smirk about law-breaking, whether stealing Syrian oil or giving away parts of Palestine. Hillary is no less a law-breaker, but she doesn’t usually boast about it. She likes wearing the platitudes of old-fashioned democratic principles, much as one of her favorite lipsticks.

Obama represents a different case. We see and hear no crudity, a nice smile, and a fairly pleasant voice, but he is a devious and secretive and murderous man.

Americans seem never to ask themselves, if they carry on abroad with covert wars, interventions, coups, all kinds of interference in the governments of others, even democratic governments, and hold no respect for the rule of law, what’s to prevent the same approach being applied inside their own country?

Well, the clearest answer is, nothing. Habits of mind long-set by practice, arrogance, lack of real accountability, immensely powerful agencies at your disposal, secrecy as a way of life, unlimited access to money – these conspire to give you what we see in American government.

It really should not surprise. The last President who actually tried to make the authority of elected high office prevail over an entrenched establishment left half of his head splattered in the streets of Dallas. You’ll perhaps note the fact that no President since has tried that again. Faithful to the establishment, every one of them.

There is no better study of the contemporary American state than the events of the last few years. The ugliness of America’s renewed aggression in the world is apparent to tens of millions in many lands, but the ugliness of America’s internal politics is less well understood. Plutocracy, money-saturated elections, establishment privilege, secrecy, lack of accountability, and behind-the-scenes plotting conspire to make the high school civics textbook version of Washington politics a parody.

It is all comparable to the sense of the Roman Empire going into its decline, yet a great many Americans remain able to conjure a mental image of their country as a modest Eighteenth-century Republic with a well-defined Constitution and Rights and a pervasive respect for law. Many of Washington’s privileged establishment are themselves able to lapse into such fantasies in the course of speeches.

In the deadly accurate words of the 1980s Cyndi Lauper song, money changes everything.

It may all be too complicated to explain to the general public, and America’s dog-loyal corporate press would never even attempt the job. Only here or there on some detail, from which a temporary political advantage might be extracted, do they genuinely report and analyze. They will never conduct an operation which reveals the putrescence inside the body politic of America because their own corporations are indeed part of it.

Posted December 13, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


John Chuckman



“The War on Assange Is a War on Press Freedom”

“The persecution of Assange is part of a broad assault against anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist news organizations.”


Wow, what an excellent piece of analysis.

I wouldn’t subtract or change a word.

I might add a point or two.

Chris Hedges includes the rot of money in American politics, but there is a lot more to be said about what is at the very heart of things.

The extent of it is not well understood by the average American and certainly not understood by observers abroad.

America has basically managed to create an elaborate political system with all the showy external trappings of democracy but almost none of its content.

America today is run by a relatively small number of people who control the levers in both parties because they control the money available, truckloads of it. These people are served by the American empire’s security-military apparatus and the politicians in Washington who are beholden to them.

The whole gang together, what I tend to call America’s power establishment, has an almost closed system serving themselves. That is why nothing beneficial or useful or even decent can get done in America anymore. And, of course, they do not like those who, like Assange, bring any light to the dark realities of American government.

The unquestioned power of that money-drenched American establishment is why there is now a continuous stream of wars which are not in the average American’s interest at all but are buried under thick layers, almost like stage make-up, of rhetoric about Patriotism and defending freedom.

There are almost no useful or effective rules governing the use of money in American politics. There are also no useful or effective rules governing the operations of America’s immensely powerful special-interest lobbies.

So, if I were a motivated young politician with some good ideas and intentions, I would virtually never stand a chance against the establishment candidate whose millions buy television ads, enable him to travel everywhere with elaborate support, and have the services of everything from a make-up man to pollsters and public relations flacks.

Of course, accidents do happen, and, once in a thousand times, a little guy does manage to win owing to some peculiar local set of circumstances, an event which will be jumped on by the establishment press as showing that things still work for the little guy in America. But such events are almost meaningless because their numbers are necessarily so small. They do not characterize the system because they cannot.

An individual little hero here or there, as a Bernie Sanders, means nothing in the big picture. Its just like a nice little bookstore trying to compete with Amazon or a local specialty soft drink maker trying to compete with Coca-Cola.

They can have their tiny local business, but they cannot dream of seriously competing with the monster corporation. And the truth is often that the monster corporation can put them out of business at any time it decides to do so, or it can buy them out, but it is usually not worth the effort.

Many people do not understand that marketing products has become a monstrous effort which includes everything from research and nonstop advertising to literally buying the shelf space for products from the local grocery store chains. You, as a small producer of anything, can often barely get space on the store shelves, will certainly not be able to get the favorable paid-for space at eye-level and easy-reach, and may indeed in some cases be closed out completely from getting space. That’s just part of the way corporate marketing works.

America has taken these proven practices from corporate business and applied them to politics. Every step in a modern political election campaign reflects the same kinds of efforts as Coca-Cola or Frito-Lay pushing their products, and it all costs a great deal of money. You need money just to recover from money spent on a tactic that proves not to work. And money itself acts as what economists call “a barrier to entry” against potential competitors. You are, in effect, not even allowed to play cards at the table without a very large stake.

The only way to stop this behavior in politics, so that candidates could have a fairer opportunity to talk about their actual ideas and views, would be to choke off the money, but no one with power is willing to do that because everyone of them benefits from the way things are run.

Note also that money not only closes off honest campaigning and exchange of ideas, it serves to discourage from running those who have sincerely-held independent views and a desire for changing something that is wrong. This way of doing things is responsible for pre-packaged candidates and lists of campaign phrases out of manuals. In those senses, too, it is closed system.

But the people putting up the large amounts of political campaign money – literally billions in every major American election – want things to be exactly that way. They don’t want surprises or significant change. They want what they want and what they pay for. It is easy to see the tendency for government to become plutocracy, no matter what nice words are written on pieces of parchment kept in museums.

When a country has become an international imperial force, such as the United States very much has, it is just not the money people who want things to remain as they are. It is the powerful groups running massive agencies like the Pentagon and CIA. They, too, spend vast amounts of money, most of it serving the interests of those same money people, and they do not want change.

Great bureaucracies always have a tendency to protect and perpetuate themselves. The values and intentions of huge forces like the Pentagon and CIA are not friendly to democratic principles, no matter what their charters may say. They are intrinsically authoritarian organizations, and the more they grow and influence a society, the less it becomes a free place, again no matter what the old words on parchment say.

They are, of course, the natural allies of the money people. They serve them abroad in the workings of empire and have a common interest in minimizing political change at home. It is easy to see why ordinary citizens come to feel politics is useless and unresponsive to them. It is.

Whether you vote for Democrats or Republicans, you get the Pentagon, the CIA, the money people, and a ruthless empire abroad, with just some differences in rhetoric. Here again the system operates much like great corporations with their promotional and marketing wars for McDonald’s or Burger King, Coke or Pepsi. Huge amounts of money are spent, and the result is a choice between products similar in most essential respects. Both corporations prosper and their vast walls of spending make it mighty hard for any new competitors to enter against them. That is pretty much what American politics is reduced to.

And this way of operating applies not only to political campaigns in America but to matters like major foreign policy. Take the example of the bizarre relationship America has with Israel, a country with a population the size of Ecuador’s. It is a relationship which causes great amounts of war and trouble in the world and truly works against the long-term interests of ordinary Americans, to say nothing of its spurning of all ethical principles.

The relationship is based on the same money-drenched methods which govern American politics. Israel, despite its insignificant size and greatly troubling behavior, is able to stay right at the forefront of things, to be on every politician’s lips, to be constantly mentioned (favorably) in the press, and to heavily influence American foreign policy through exactly the same mechanisms.

Some of its demands today are even going beyond foreign policy and into the internal affairs of the United States, as with the constant advocacy for laws making support for peaceful boycotts to influence Israel’s awful behavior illegal or the advocacy for laws in every state equating criticism of a powerful state actor like Israel with hate-speech. Just nasty, self-serving nonsense, but it goes on day after day with little attention paid.

Well, Washington’s establishment today just goes on and on about supposed Russian influence in America. It is unproved stuff serving powerful imperial establishment interests, but, even were there some bit of truth in the accusations, the underlying reality of Russian influence in America is a bad joke. Russia cannot even get a good word in the press and is treated unfairly in countless serious matters.

When I saw the silly Facebook stuff, about so many insignificant ads having been bought during the election by a few people in Russia, offered as evidence of influence, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Out of countless billions of dollars in advertising and advocacy on Facebook, the claim represented national concern about someone spitting into an ocean.

But here is Israel and its domestic advocates waging a vast and ongoing campaign to influence a great many matters inside America – from freedom of speech and peaceful protest action to foreign affairs and every national political campaign held – and we hear no complaints or concerns at all. And Israel’s influence in foreign affairs has been deadly, tumbling America into pointless wars time and again.

And it is doing so again, right now. Only recently, we have a recording leaked in Israel of Netanyahu bragging about how he is personally responsible for Trump’s destroying the Iran Nuclear Accord, an act opposed by every expert and most countries on earth, and an act causing dangerous tensions and threats of instability and hostilities.

Israel doesn’t have to worry because it is protected. But what about everyone else? The results of deliberately destroying a peaceful, smoothly-working international accord could be truly catastrophic.

A small country is able to leverage the United States in this unacceptable and dangerous way, against the wishes of almost every statesman and expert in the world, precisely because of the way America runs its national politics. Trump is looking to assure the success of his 2020 campaign, and everyone else on the planet is taxed with fear and threats so that he can feel secure politically. I think nothing better demonstrates the insanity of America’s laws about money in politics.

But we keep getting the silly distraction of what a threat to American democracy Russia is, simply an idiotic and unsupported idea. Meanwhile, Israel’s direct meddling in American politics threatens to bring an economic and military calamity down on our heads, and you will not find a word of criticism from politicians or the press.

Israel’s lobby in the United States is one of the best organized, best financed, and feared in existence. If you go along with it, you benefit with campaign money and good press and perhaps assistance from various experts and professionals. If you oppose it, those same resources will be applied to working against you and making you look bad in one way or another. It undoubtedly has information systems for tracking all political activities and attitudes that would be the envy of many large corporations.

It is easy to see that if the rules governing lobbies and campaign donations were changed, this would all come screeching to a halt. American policy in the Mideast could reflect fairness and decency and even most of America’s long-term interests. Wars and threats and terrible things like millions of desperate refugees created by those same wars would disappear.

But you will not see it changing any time soon in a country whose hideous Supreme Court – each member appointed by politicians benefiting from things just as they are – has ruled that money is “free speech,” just as it once ruled in favor of the rules governing slavery. No one with power in Washington wants change, just as the various estates (the great lords and churchmen) of the Ancien Régime in 18th century France wanted no change affecting their personal situations and privileges. And their unblinking selfishness ultimately brought catastrophe to France.

The model for Israel’s influence in American politics is the model for the general operation of the American government. The same elements are at work in every important matter. And that’s why there is continuous war, massive security and spying systems, gigantic corporations with no limits on their size and influence, and no attention paid to the pitiful rot and poverty so easy to find in a thousand places in America.

Men like Assange – and there are few of them, just as there are always relatively few brave and intelligent people who work to change what is wrong in the world (after all, gifted people can make a whole lot more money by going with the flow of things and working for a corporation) – become effectively “the enemies of the people” under the system. His work shed light on the rot and served as real investigative reporting, while the corporate press just functions as part of the system, defending it, avoiding investigating it, and almost never publishing anything adverse about it.

The corrupt nature of America’s national politics is nicely symbolized by Obama, a man so often regarded (wrongly) as liberal and principled. He came to politics as a second-rate lecturer in constitutional law, the kind of work that earns a moderate middle-class income and maybe a pension. Yet, he just left the presidency as a man worth literally tens of millions of dollars. His new home alone cost more than eight million dollars.

Doing the establishment’s work – which in Obama’s case involved killing hundreds of thousands of people abroad and supporting massive new intrusions into the privacy of Americans – is very rewarding. And that is pretty well the story of every major American politician.

Posted July 22, 2018 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,