This will be first documentary about Ruth Paine, a central figure in the JFK assassination, and one who has long kept her head way down (as has her husband/co-conspirator Michael Paine).
There’s only two days left in this Kickstarter drive to raise the necessary funds; so, if you want to see this film some day, please donate to this campaign now.
From filmmaker Max Good:
We’d like to introduce you to a new documentary project that explores the story of Ruth & Michael Paine and their intriguing connections to the JFK assassination. The Assassination and Mrs. Paine is a feature documentary that is now entering post-production after two years of filming. The project was recently announced with a trailer and Kickstarter campaign. You can see more here:
A longer synopsis:
The Assassination and Mrs. Paine is a provocative portrait of 84-year-old Ruth Paine and her inescapable connection to the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. The film juxtaposes Ruth’s personal experience of this tragedy against the wider cultural significance and controversy. Fifty-three years after the assassination, she is one of the few surviving central witnesses and her story offers an intimate window into this foundational event in American history.
At the heart of the film are the suspicions and accusations that have long beenaimed at Mrs. Paine and her former husband, Michael Paine. As benefactors of Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald, the Paines, became prime targets of conspiracy researchers, who view them as likely agents in a wider plot to frame Oswald. Ruth, in particular, is viewed as complicit in a vast and ongoing cover-up. Today, even as an anonymous resident of a Quaker retirement home in northern California, Ruth is still haunted by those who are convinced that she holds a secret to the crime of the century.
What a difference a century makes, eh?
100 years ago, the US government pulled off a propaganda masterpiece the likes of which America had never seen before—and so Americans fell hard for it, millions of them signing up to save poor France and Belgium from “the Hun,” and thereby “make the world safe for democracy.”
The propaganda was so slick, and so pervasive, that those boiling over with indignant fury at what Germany was doing Over There quite literally had no clue that those atrocities were largely fiction, or that that war was really NOT a great humanitarian crusade but an apocalyptic brawl between imperial competitors.
So off they went to that unprecedented slaughter, which turned out to be nothing whatsoever like the chivalrous adventure that those wide-eyed troops had been encouraged to expect, but an unimaginable clusterfuck comprising poison gas, machine guns, land mines, barbed wire, tanks and other grisly innovations that had somehow gone unmentioned by the president and everybody else who sold the people on that “war to end all wars.”
The shock was great; but since the USA was in that war for only some ten months, it was a lot less shattering for those Americans than it was for all the European millions who were massacred, disfigured, maimed, bereaved and/or uprooted throughout their four years of war: a trauma that birthed fascism Over There, while Over Here it “only” gave us the Espionage Act, a new cult of state secrecy, and a larger and more powerful FBI, while also fatally dividing the American left, putting a full stop to the Progressive Era, and—not least—teaching the elites in US government and business that smart propaganda WORKS, especially on those who don’t perceive it, and aren’t told anything about it.
So that’s what happened back in 1917, when Americans were so much easier to jerk around than we are.
A New Anti-Assad Propaganda Offensive
Exclusive: The mainstream U.S. media, including the “liberal” New Yorker, is reprising its propagandistic role before the Iraq War now in Syria with a new round of one-sided reporting, as Daniel Lazare explains.
By Daniel Lazare
Now that Syria’s “cessation of hostilities” appears to be crumbling and rebel forces are gearing up for a fresh offensive, the mighty U.S. propaganda machine is once again up and running.
A case in point is “The Assad Files,” an 11,000-word article in last week’s New Yorker that is as willfully misrepresentative as anything published about Syria in the last five years or so, which is saying a great deal.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Written by a young Columbia Journalism School graduate named Ben Taub, it tells of a Canadian political entrepreneur named William Wiley who, starting in 2012, persuaded the European Union and the German, Swiss, Norwegian, Danish and Canadian governments to give him millions of dollars so he could begin building a criminal case against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
To that end, Wiley hired lawyers, translators, and analysts and sent investigators into Syria itself alongside “moderate” rebels so that they could rifle security and intelligence installations in search of incriminating evidence. Once they got what they were looking for, they either squirreled it away locally or spirited it over the border to an undisclosed location in Western Europe where the documents could be scanned, bar-coded, and safely secured.
The upshot is a 400-page legal brief that Taub says “links the systematic torture and murder of tens of thousands of Syrians to a written policy approved by President Bashar al-Assad, coordinated among his security-intelligence agencies, and implemented by regime operatives.” It is “a record of state-sponsored torture,” he adds, “that is almost unimaginable in its scope and its cruelty.”
Taub fills his article with lots of J-school-style color, informing us that Wiley is “a field guy, not an office guy”; that he “handles the considerable stress of his profession with Cuban cigarillos, gallows humor, and exercise,” and that, at age 52, “he bench-presses more than three hundred and fifty pounds.” He describes in vivid detail one of Wiley’s associates negotiating his way through 11 rebel checkpoints while transporting a truckload of captured Syrian government documents. But for all his diligence, he manages to overlook the blindingly obvious problems that Wiley’s activities raise. For instance:
–He notes that no international judicial body has jurisdiction over Syrian war crimes and that, in May 2014, Russia and China specifically vetoed a UN resolution assigning the International Criminal Court such a role. So what’s the point of a 400-page legal brief if there’s no court to present it to? Is this a genuine pursuit of legal truth or just another propaganda exercise funded by the West?
–Waving such objections aside, Taub quotes Wiley as saying: “We’re simply confident – and I don’t think it’s hubris – that our work will see the light of day, in court, in relatively short order.” But what on earth does this mean? That Wiley has inside knowledge that Assad is about to fall?
Australia may not let unvaccinated children into childcare centers.
That makes sense. Why expose those vaccinated kids to illnesses that they can’t catch, since they’ve been vaccinated?
So it’s better to protect them, by keeping out those other kids, whose parents may then have them vaccinated after all, so that those children too will have to be protected from the kids who haven’t had their shots, thereby putting everyone at risk.
Thank God for governments that have the sense and decency to take a stand against “junk science.”
Australia Considers Banning Unvaccinated Kids From Childcare Centers
The Australian government is considering legislation that would ban unvaccinated children from preschools and childcare centers, with the prime minister warning that unvaccinated kids put others at risk. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for nationwide legislation to keep unvaccinated children out of centers where other children could be infected. Citing a recent case in which a one-month-old baby died of whooping cough—a disease for which there is a vaccination—Turnbull said vaccinations should be taken more seriously. “This is not a theoretical exercise—this is life and death,” Turnbull said. “If a parent says, ‘I’m not going to vaccinate my child,’ they are not simply putting their child at risk, they are putting everybody else’s children at risk, too,” he warned. Three states—Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales—already require children to be vaccinated to attend childcare centers. But a recent poll showed that about 5 percent of children still are not vaccinated, a figure that many believe is too high.
When ‘Disinformation’ Is Truth
March 13, 2017
Exclusive: Democrats and liberals have climbed into bed with the neocons to push the “Russia-did-it” conspiracy theory as a way to “get Trump,” but this New McCarthyism has grave dangers, writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
The anti-Russian McCarthyism that has spread out from the United States to encompass the European Union, Canada and Australia has at its core an implicit recognition that neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy have failed.
A scene from “Dr. Strangelove,” in which the bomber pilot (played by actor Slim Pickens) rides a nuclear bomb to its target in the Soviet Union.
When I recently asked a European journalist why this anti-Russian hysteria had taken root among mainstream European political parties, he answered with a question: “Do you think they can run on their success in handling the recession and the refugees?”
In other words, European voters are angry about the painful economic conditions that followed the Wall Street crash of 2008 and the destabilizing surge of immigrants fleeing from Western “regime change” wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.
So, like the Democratic Party that doesn’t want to engage in a soul-searching self-examination about Donald Trump’s victory, the European “establishment” parties need a handy excuse to divert criticism – and that excuse is Russia, a blame-shifting that has allowed nearly every recent criticism of an establishment government official to be sloughed off as “Russian disinformation.”
It doesn’t even matter anymore that the criticism may be based on solid fact. Even truthful information is now deemed “Russian disinformation” or Russian-inspired “fake news.”
We saw that in the Canadian mainstream media’s denunciations of Consortiumnews.com for running an article that pointed out that Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had misrepresented her family history to white-out her maternal grandfather’s role editing a Nazi newspaper in Poland that demonized Jews and justified the Holocaust.
Virtually every mainstream outlet in Canada rallied to Freeland’s side when she dismissed our article as Russian disinformation. Only later did a few newspapers grudgingly acknowledge that our story was true and that Freeland knew it was true. Still, the attacks on us continued. We were labeled “Russian disinformationists,” with no evidence needed to support the slander and no defense allowed.
Though arguably a small example, the Freeland story reflects what is happening across the Western mainstream news media. Almost every independent-minded news article that questions the establishment narratives on international affairs is dismissed as “Russian propaganda.” The few politicians, academics and journalists who don’t march in the establishment’s parade are “Moscow stooges” or “Putin apologists.”
Fully Sourced Executive Summary of Pizzagate Evidence
Posted on March 8, 2017 by State of the Nation
Note: If you want to copy and paste this to save locally, click “source” at the bottom and copy that, so the embedded links will be included. Also, be aware that this is a work in progress, and there is much evidence still to be added.
We do not advocate vigilantism, and suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.
Disinformation Warning: Beware “black propaganda”, a tactic used to disrupt and discredit our investigation. Black propaganda involves statements or actions which are made to appear to come from one side of a conflict, but actually come from the other side, like political ventriloquism. Disinformants, or “shills,” anonymously promote intentionally fake evidence and claims, which can then be used to paint our central thesis as false. People familiar with debate can think of it as a “straw man.” This is not to say that legitimate researchers do not make mistakes, but to caution all readers that disinformants are actively attempting to disrupt this forum’s efforts. However, all evidence included in this summary is directly verifiable through embedded weblinks.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND EXPLANATION OF PIZZAGATE
This investigation was sparked by strange emails leaked from John Podesta’s email account, some of which make bizarre references to food. One such email discussed a handkerchief Podesta left behind at a friend’s house. The handkerchief was described as having a “map that seems pizza-related.” Given the common pedophile code phrase “cheese pizza”, some readers suspected “pizza-related” may have been a reference to child sex abuse. The suspected use of “pizza” as a codeword led us to investigate a pizza restaurant mentioned in one of Podesta’s emails, namely Comet Pizza and Ping Pong, owned by an associate of the Podestas. We have found considerable evidence that Comet is a front for child sex trafficking.
- Exhibit A: Evidence Pertaining to Comet Pizza and Ping Pong
As demonstrated in Exhibit D, we have connected owner James Alefantis to accused child trafficker Laura Silsby, who was got off the hook by a fake attorney who was later convicted of sex-trafficking, and who was wanted for sex trafficking in four countries. Alefantis had a statue of Antinous as his Instagram profile picture. Antinous was the boy lover of a Roman Emperor, and is considered a symbol of pederasty. On his “jimmycomet” Instagram account, Alefantis posted a baby picture and made a clear pedophile reference. The brother of Jeffrey B. Smith (“werkinonmahnightcheese”), who commented on several of the suspect Instagram photos, referred to a friend as “my favorite pedo”.
Listed first on Comet’s website under “friends of comet” is the band Heavy Breathing, which performs at Comet. Heavy Breathing leader “Majestic Ape” wears a ski mask and sunglasses, and uses a voice modulator, hiding his or her identity. Majestic Ape joked about pedophile Jared Fogle and said “we all have our preferences, hee hee hee”. YouTube, bringing laughter from the audience. In another video, Majestic Ape talks about killing a babyYouTube. Majestic Ape also referenced pedophilia in a caption on a music video. Heavy Breathing’s website features art involving both children and sex.
An employee of Comet posted many images portraying pizza in a sexual way., further fueling our suspicion they are using “pizza” as it is commonly used by pedophiles: a symbol and codeword for sex with minors. Another example. An admitted pedophile on a dark-web pedophile forum acknowledged a trend of pedophiles using pizza parlors as fronts for child sex trafficking. Convicted sex offender Robert L. Robinson, who raped a 13-year-old girl, had a Flikr account with five pages of “favorite” pictures, half of which featured young girls, and the other half of which featured… Comet Pizza and Ping Pong.
Please examine these symbols designated by the FBI as pedophile symbols. Besta Pizza, which is three doors down from Comet, had a logo that is a near-exact match of the boylover symbol. Another nearby business, Terasol, had a girl-lover symbol on their website. No direct connection to Besta or Terasol has yet been uncovered, but the logos seem quite a coincidence. With that in mind, take a look at Comet’s logo. It also resembles a pedophile symbol.
General creepiness seems to surround Comet. Alefantis posted a photo of a child taped to a ping pong table. He also posted a photo of a walk-in cooler, to which he commented “#murder” and to which Jeffrey B. Smith commented “#killroom.” Alefantis also posted a picture of Tony Podesta’s sculpture modeled after a Dahmer victim and one of “spirit-cooking” queen Marina Abramovic. Comet had a painting of a man playing ping pong, to which graffiti had been added to show him ejaculating on the table and wearing a Satanic upside-down cross. Comet had murals of people with heads cut off, and the artist who painted the murals also painted adults decapitating children.
Pizzagate researcher Ryan O’Neal posted a YouTube video in which he claims James Alefantis threatened his life and the lives of his familyYouTube to bully O’Neal into removing a video about Alefantis’ “Pegasus Museum” from YouTube. O’Neal showed text messages, which appear to be from Alefantis, bullying him into calling Alefantis. O’Neal claims that when he called, Alefantis immediately began screaming at him and threatening him and his family. O’Neal filed a police report over the alleged threats.
New York University and the military-university complex
By Isaac Finn, 27 January 2017
Last fall, the New York University Student Activities Board (SAB) rejected the application submitted by the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) for club status. In its initial application, the IYSSE had stressed its goal of giving voice to the broad anti-war sentiments of students on campus. In the course of appealing the SAB’s decision, reached despite the fact that the IYSSE had collected the signatures of over 200 students supporting its application and met all other requirements for club status, the IYSSE was told by the SAB that it rejects nearly 90 percent of all groups that apply.
This arbitrary and undemocratic process is in large part aimed at vetting and restricting the political opinions to which students on campus have access. To launch its drive to obtain club status this year, the IYSSE is holding a meeting on Thursday, February 2 at 7 pm at Judson Memorial Church Assembly Hall. The address is 55 Washington Square South. The title of the meeting is “The way forward in the fight against the Trump administration.”
NYU’s close connection to the US war machine sheds light on why the university administration would want to prevent students from hearing a socialist anti-war perspective. The ties between American colleges and universities and the national security apparatus—financial, political and professional—are manifold and widespread. NYU exemplifies the US military-university complex in a particularly concentrated manner.
According to a 2015 report from VICE News, NYU is one of the most militarized universities in the country, receiving $16,282,000 in Department of Defense Research and Development funding in 2013, the last year for which data was available at the time of publication. The Defense Department gives funds in order to “achieve agency and national goals,” according to the Defense Department web site, and focuses on the development of new technologies for surveillance and weaponry.
For a significant portion of the NYU faculty, there is a revolving door between the university and the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, the FBI and various surveillance agencies. The university employs numerous current and former officials from these agencies, who play a major role in shaping academic programs and determining what students study.
One recent NYU jobs listing on a defense-related blog gives a sense of the university’s cozy relationship to the war machine of American imperialism.
The listing seeks a new employee for the NYU School of Law’s Center on Law and Security, whose purpose, the notice explains, is “to make our national security policies more effective, legitimate, and sustainable through its publications, student programs, and events.”
The notice points out that “in the past several months, the Center’s activities have included hosting US elected officials, the Deputy Director of the CIA, and a meeting of a Presidential commission.” It touts its close connections to “former government attorneys, including General Counsels of member agencies of the US Intelligence Community and senior federal prosecutors focused on cybersecurity and counterterrorism issues.”
My friend Pete Tucker just wrote a good piece defending Robert Kennedy Jr., against the charge that he’s “anti-vaccine.”
Pete wrote it for Huffington Post, posting it yesterday around 3:00 p.m.—and they took it down within the hour.
That’s the way it goes for real reporters here in the Exceptional Nation, where “our free press” routinely nixes any reportage that doesn’t suit the Powers That Be, and spikes or blacks out any bits that happen to sneak through.
Thus we get no truth about the most important stories, whether they concern the public health (like vaccine safety, Fukushima, and the real health risks of EMF and WiFi), or US foreign policy (like Russia, Syria, Ukraine, Honduras, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Israel—just to name a few), or civil liberties (9/11), or our democracy (those seminal assassinations, and election theft).
So what is to be done? We need the truth, because what we don’t know is killing us.
Please read Pete’s article, and send it far and wide:
Is RFK Jr. ‘Anti-Vaccine’?
Posted on March 8, 2017 by TheFightBack
News that President Trump may tap Robert Kennedy Jr. to head a commission on vaccine safety has not been well-received by the media.
Kennedy is a “conspiracy theorist” wrote the Washington Post; he’s an “Anti-Vaccine Activist” blared the New York Times, which condemned “Kennedy and his fellow travelers”; and on it went.
Kennedy is a leading environmentalist. He’s also the son of the former attorney general and senator, Robert Kennedy; and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy.
Having followed his work for years, I had a difficult time believing he could be on point on so many issues, and completely off-base about vaccines, as media reports suggest.
So I looked into it. I read a 2014 book Kennedy edited on thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in some vaccines. I also read his critics.
And here’s my non-medical-expert opinion: the media should stop the name-calling.
For starters, it’s a stretch to accuse Kennedy of being anti-vaccine.
“I am pro-vaccine,” Kennedy wrote in Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak:
I had all six of my children vaccinated. I believe that vaccines have saved the lives of hundreds of millions of humans over the past century and that broad vaccine coverage is critical to public health. But I want our vaccines to be as safe as possible.
This begs the question: What’s the definition of this term, “anti-vaccine”? If you question any aspect of any vaccine should you be stuck with this label?
“If patients have concerns, doubts, or suspicions — for example, about the safety of vaccines, this does not mean they are ‘anti-vaccine,’” writes Peter Doshi, associate editor of the British Medical Journal.
The label (or its derogatory derivative “anti-vaxxer”) is a form of attack. It stigmatizes the mere act of even asking an open question about what is known and unknown about the safety of vaccines.
Multi-dose vaccines, which are less costly to produce and store than single-dose vaccines, require a preservative to keep them sterile. The preservative protects the batch from being contaminated when a syringe is inserted to remove each dose.
For years, thimerosal has been one of the most common vaccine preservatives, although alternatives are increasing (at least in the U.S. – in the developing world vaccines still regularly contain thimerosal).
In the heavily-footnoted Thimerosal, Kennedy calls the preservative “a dangerous neurotoxin” due to its mercury content.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), among other health bodies, disagrees. Still the FDA“continues to work with, vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate thimerosal from vaccines.”
Thimerosal has already been removed from U.S. childhood vaccines, except in trace amounts. The removal followed a joint 1999 statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Service, which includes, among other federal agencies, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control. The joint statement recommended thimerosal’s removal, but stated its risk, while unknown, was likely slim-to-none.
Subsequently, numerous public health bodies, including the FDA and CDC, have reaffirmedthimerosal’s safety.
But Kennedy says statements from health agencies are not the same as scientific studies. Along with actor Robert De Niro, Kennedy is offering $100,000 to anyone “who can point to a peer-reviewed scientific study demonstrating that thimerosal is safe in the amounts contained in vaccines currently being administered to American children and pregnant women.”
While no longer in childhood vaccines, thimerosal is still found in some flu vaccines. This flu season, upwards of 35 million doses of the flu vaccine contained thimerosal.
The CDC recommends an annual flu shot for anyone over the age of six months, including pregnant women.
“In effect,” wrote the authors of Thimerosal, “the CDC has switched the main source of American children’s Thimerosal exposure from early childhood vaccines to Thimerosal-preserved flu shots, beginning in utero.”
Public health agencies don’t view this as a threat.
That doesn’t make him anti-vaccine.
It’s time for the media to stop the name-calling.
* It’s not a sure thing Kennedy will chair the vaccine commission, if it’s even created. Following Kennedy’s recent, sharp criticism of Trump’s anti-environmental measures, it’s hard to imagine the thin-skinned president appointing him to anything.
So that incorrigible dolt who keeps on saying the same damn thing no matter what you tell him/her—parroting the US propaganda line in spite of all the counter-evidence, and in the face of every counter-argument—may not exist.
From Josh Mitteldorf:
Here Brian Lynch says that political operatives (presumably in Homeland Security) have advanced from having an army of trolls leaving comments on social media and blog pages to having hundreds of thousands of robotic Facebook and Twitter accounts that respond personally to individuals, seeking to create the appearance of a consensus of like-minded response to a given news event, from a “synthetic community” that is algorithmically tailored to each targeted individual.
This is way beyond Orwell’s imagination, and takes “manufacturing consent” to a whole new level, IMHO.
Propaganda in the Digital Age – Mind Control on a Massive Scale
By Brian Lynch
“World War III will be a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” – Marshall McLahun
I noticed it during the 2016 election. My Twitter and Facebook accounts were awash in anti-Hillary comments. Many comments seemed to piggy-back on my own reservations about her. Other comments were wildly inaccurate and mean-spirited.
I was a Bernie supporter and not happy with the way the DNC and Democratic leadership conducted the primaries. Still, Hillary Clinton seemed the better choice in my view.
When anti-Hillary tweets and messages mirrored my concerns I sometimes “liked” the comments or added my own to support of my views. But then there were many outrageously false anti-Hillary claims. I mostly ignored these, but sometimes took issue. This often led to debate with some implacable troll on social media. I engaged them not to change their minds (impossible), but to make sure others would be exposed to a reasonable set of facts.
During these internet encounters I noticed a lot of respondents chiming in with “likes” or retweets supporting the opposition side. The longer the debate, the greater the number of these silent opposition supporters. sometimes as many as 20 or 30 different accounts. Some mute retweeters even continued to pile on days after the conversation ended, and they latched on to randomly stupid or other statements made by the original Hillary hater.
That’s when I realized something unusual was happening. I assumed these respondents were part of a coordinated system of trolls. I didn’t know I was experiencing a technically advanced propaganda attack. I managed to resist the feeling that the consensus was against me, but did start to wonder if I was talking to myself.
After the election, all these feverish Twitter and Facebook respondents suddenly disappeared. Did anyone else notice that?
Only now am I beginning to learn the full horror of this new cyber-based propaganda.
When many of us think of propaganda we think of what spies call “active measures” like dropping fliers from airplanes, broadcasting news on Radio Free Europe, writing op-ed pieces under pseudonyms or stealing and releasing classified documents to publicly embarrass adversaries. The Russian connection to the DNC email hacks and subsequent Wikileaks publication appears to be of this sort. It seems a little high tech because the theft was by hacking, but at its root it old-style propaganda. And media attention to it only serves to distract us to the whole new world of electronic propaganda unleashed during the election. New, covertly developed, military-grade propaganda techniques were used by private corporations, and perhaps foreign actors, to tip our election results on a scale never seen before. The internet was weaponized against us.
Too bad she wasn’t there to sound the warning when her father started Operation Cyclone, financing al Qaeda and the Taliban.
MIKA TEARFULLY TELLS VIEWERS OF TRUMP: ‘IF PEOPLE OUT THERE FEEL NERVOUS, WE DO TOO’
‘This is not funny, this is really bad’
President Trump’s wiretap tweets struck an emotional chord with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinksi. The morning anchor fought back tears as she told viewers that “we are all really nervous” about what the Trump Administration is going to do.
“This is not funny,” Brzezinski told her audience. “This is really bad. Just for the record, we are all really nervous. So if people out there feel nervous, we do too. We don’t think this is funny.”
The host also issued a direct appeal to Trump’s staff, asking them how they can look at themselves in the mirror.
“We are at a low point in American history and I don’t know how anybody can defend this president, even if it’s their job. Like you’ve got to have a job after this. You’ve got to look in the mirror after this. Sarah Huckabee or whoever is speaking out next. You have to look in the mirror and think about this country after this is over. You need to think of the end game here, because there isn’t one at the rate we are going.”
Wise words from Jackson Lears, about the Hobson’s choice that “our free press”
has helped to force on all the rest of us:
Donald Trump embodies a rogues’ gallery of cartoonish figures: the confidence man, the master of misdirection, the buffoonish big shot, the demonic clown. But he is a clown with a semiautomatic assault weapon. In pursuing terrorists, his predecessors in the White House have provided this president with the tools to pursue executive tyranny. Trump is up to the job; his temperament is oligarchic rather than managerial. His explosive mix of appetite and impulse makes him an embodiment of license. He gives a green light to eruptions of anger that menace the least powerful groups in our society. There are innumerable reasons to challenge his reign, but what seems most menacing to me is Trump’s eagerness to strengthen and deploy the militarized police state that has been emerging alongside the “war on terror.”
While previous administrations have sought to conceal or legitimate their abuses of power, Trump boasts openly of his bullying intentions—down to and including his eagerness to torture suspected terrorists. The targets of Trump’s emerging police state include our most vulnerable populations—Muslims, undocumented immigrants, and African Americans. But its shadow falls on everyone. As surveillance spreads and acquires legality, we all fall under suspicion. This is the atmosphere of permanent emergency that allows demonic clowns to flourish.
The institutional sources of opposition to Trump are various, and some are more promising than others. Since the rise of Reagan, Congress has been a rubber stamp for the expansion of executive power, especially when proposed as a response to imagined foreign threats. While not much is liable to change on that front, it is possible that Trump’s flagrant violations of the emoluments clause in the Constitution will provoke a successful attempt to impeach him. The judiciary is a little more promising. As of this writing, several federal judges have shown admirable independence in striking down Trump’s travel ban. Yet on Fourth Amendment (search and seizure) issues, the prospects are problematic, especially given the likelihood that a Trump Supreme Court will prove even more zealous than its predecessors in validating expansion of police power. State and local officials are also blocking Trump policies, including (to take a nearby example) Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s determination to continue prohibiting “stop and frisk” procedures by New York City police. Perhaps most important is the resistance of targeted populations themselves—indigenous people protecting their water rights, for example. The republican tradition of popular protest—“the people out of doors,” as they said in 1776—is more crucial than ever, especially given the failure of the Democratic Party and the press to pose any coherent alternative to Trump.
There was a historical moment, during the Vietnam War and the Watergate investigation, when the Democratic Party challenged the accumulation and abuse of concentrated executive power. Among the consequences were Nixon’s resignation and Senator Frank Church’s investigation into the crimes of the Central Intelligence Agency. These included the overthrow of democratically elected foreign governments, the actual and attempted assassination of foreign leaders, and the spread of “disinformation” in media at home and abroad. Disinformation, the planting of false narratives by anonymous officials to promote particular policy aims, was an earlier form of “fake news.” It remains the most insidious and influential, as reputable news organizations continue to endow unidentified government sources (unlike rumors on social media) with enduring legitimacy. Yet for a moment, the Church Committee helped to create an informed citizenry: its revelations may have marked a high point in public skepticism toward the national security state.
How times have changed. The Democratic Party has recoiled from Trump by embracing the CIA. Rather than re-examining the neoliberal economic policies that contributed to their defeat in Rust Belt states, rather than ousting their corrupt and self-satisfied leadership, the Democrats have retreated to a single rallying cry: the Russians, led by the villainous Vladimir Putin, hacked the election and stole it for Trump. The charge is based on a confused and largely fact-free “assessment,” produced by the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency (the last with only “moderate” confidence) in early January. The major media have accepted the charge uncritically and repeated it gravely, in effect serving as mouthpieces for the Deep State—a familiar role, to be sure. One need only recall the New York Times’s key part in legitimating CIA “assessments” of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.