Samuel Johnson's saying that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels has some truth in it, but not nearly enough.  Patriotism, in truth, is the great nursery of scoundrels, and its annual output is probably greater than that of even religion.  Its chief glories are the demagogue, the military bully, and the spreaders of libels and false history.  Its philosophy rests firmly on the doctrine that the end justifies the means--that any blow, whether above or below the belt, is fair against dissenters from its wholesale denial of plain facts.

H.L. Mencken, Minority Report

Listening to Donald Trump read his National Security Strategy speech was painful because he sounded like a third-grader performing for an audience of adults.  If was obvious that he did not write or even input into the speech's composition.  It also was quite plain that a choke chain had been placed on his neck so that he could not deviate from its contents or script.  Known in international circles for his lack of intellect and diplomacy, and his adherence to the principles that Steve Bannon instilled in his election campaign, it is easy for an astute person to read between the paragraphs and parse out what was meant for his sponsors and the propaganda meant for the his sponsors and supports: The Kochtopus and the Christian Right-wing.

As for the Kochtopus, Ronald P. Formisano in The Tea Party: A Brief History (2012) emphasizes the importance of the Koctopus.  Formisano posits that the only men in America richer than the Kochs are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Larry Ellison.  For decades Charles and David Koch operated under the radar, funding astroturf lobbying fronts, right-wing think tanks, books, magazines, and what must candidly be called propaganda efforts to advance a libertarian vision that relentlessly promotes their own economic interests.

The Kochs' relative invisibility as political activists and ideological warriors came to an end, however, with an investigative essay by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker (August 30, 2010).  "Indeed," Mayer wrote, "the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies--from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program--that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus."

Formisano declares that the Kochs are hardly alone as generous donors to right-wing think tanks, astroturf organizations, political campaigns and Tea Party activities.  Other prominent sponsors include the Coors beer family; the Walton of Walmart; the Olin foundation (one of the pioneers in creating a climate hostile to taxes, government, and all things progressive); Richard Mellon Scaife banker, publisher, and heir to the Mellon fortune; Rupert Murdoch of News corporation; and Phillip Morris and Exxon-Mobil.  Scaife, it should be noted, became well known in the 1990s when he funded any and all efforts to find damaging material on Bill Clinton's business dealing or personal life; [Robert Mercer, co-chair of Renaissance Technology and believer that the Clintons are murderers; and more importantly, Sheldon Adelson]. 

However, for me, the most important member of this cabal of the American "ruling class" is Rupert and his Fox News Corporation.  Formisano points out that Conservatives and reactionaries "wrongly assume that rolling back the power of the national government would liberate individuals to pursue their own ends instead of leaving them at the mercy of economic forces beyond their control.  Through their analysis of the problem may differ, the sense of lacking control over one's destiny engulfs Tea Partiers [that now controls Congress] and other Americans alike.  Similarly, the dysfunction of the national government dismays both the liberals and conservatives.  The impact of money on policy is all too evident, as is the power of lobbyists and special interest groups whose policy goals take precedence over those of majorities of citizens.

Among the multiple sources of dysfunction one must count the impact of politically inspired--to be frank, biased--media.  A large majority of Tea Party supporters [are Trump supporters]--63 percent--have said they get most of their political information and news from Fox News.  Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes created it precisely to frame news and information from a right-wing point of view.  While Fox News is hardly alone in contributing to the hyper-partisan political climate that so many Americans lament, surveys have often shown that its viewers hold more misconceptions about important issues than any other comparable group.  Many fox News viewers, for example, kept believing in the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq long after a majority had been convinced otherwise.  The Fox News engrossment in the Tea Parties as well as the Republican Party sets it apart because of the degree to which it contributes to ideological polarization.  [The late] Roger Ailes' network cannot claim uniqueness in blurring the lines between cannot claim uniqueness in blurring the line between "news" and entertainment or in failing to take the trouble to pursue deep-background, avowedly impartial news reporting or investigative journalism.  "Sensationalism," comments media critic Eric Alterman, "not substance, is what drive ratings."

It is nevertheless difficult to discount the influence of right-wing talk radio and the Fox Network's propaganda machine.  These media constitute a new and powerful weapon benefiting both corporate America and the Republican Party.  They materially help to create rage at government and progressive political policies.

Central to Trump's neo-nationalism, is Formisano insight that the Tea Partiers, finally are routinely referred to in the media as conservatives.  But their blend of astroturf and grassroots populism is more accurately labeled right-wing or reactionary populism.  Besides wholesale reaction against government, the movement also expresses a "heartland" ethos of ethnocentrism among older white Americans experiencing rapid change in the kinds of people who make up the nation.

"We the people" are changing, and the evidence suggest that Tea Partiers are in part reacting to increasing racial and ethnic diversity.  "Diversity" is a dirty word in the Trump administration.

Max Hastings in The Secret War: Spies, Ciphers, And Guerrillas 1939-1945 (2016) inadvertently discusses how closely Trump's behavior as a leader resembles Adolf Hitler's when receiving secret data or intelligence.  Hastings writes that Donald McLachlan, a British naval practitioner, observed: 'Intelligence has much in common with scholarship, and the standards which are demanded in scholarship are those which should be applied to intelligence." after the war, the surviving German commanders blamed all their intelligence failures on Hitler's refusal to countenance objective assessment of evidence.  Signals supremo Albert Praun said: 'Unfortunately throughout the war Hitler showed a lack of confidence in communications intelligence, especially if the reports were unfavorable to his own view.'

Good news for the Axis cause--for instance, interceptions revealing heavy Allied losses--were given the highest priority for transmission to Berlin, because the Fuhrer welcomed them.  Meanwhile bad tidings received short shrift.  Before the June 1941 invasion of Russia, General Georg Thomas of the Wehrmacht's economics department--produced estimates of soviet weapons production which approached the reality, though still short of it, an argued that the loss of European Russia would not necessarily precipitate the collapse of Stalin's industrial base.  Hitler dismissed Thomas' numbers out of hand, because he could not reconcile their magnitude with his contempt for all things Slavonic.  Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel eventually instructed the WiRuAmt to stop submitting intelligence that might upset the Fuhrer.

Hastings writes that the Germans had made themselves masters of Europe, and shown the Wehrmacht to be the most formidable fighting force in the world.  Yet, historian Michael Handel has written: 'Leaders in a democratic system are generally more inclined to consider a wide variety of options than those who have always functioned within authoritarian or totalitarian political systems.  In authoritarian countries, where the climb to the top is an unrelenting struggle for power, habits of cooperation and openness are usually less developed.  Tolerance for ideas that deviate from the "party line" are seen as personal criticism.'  These features of almost all dictatorships crippled German intelligence activities beyond the battlefield, and sometimes also within it.  Himmler's deputy Reinhardt Heydrich, for instance, was far more interested in using the RSHA (Himmler's own domestic security service) as a weapon against the Nazi empire's internal enemies than as a means of securing information about its foreign foes.  Hitler never wished to use intelligence as a planning or policy-making tool.  He recognized its utility only as a tactical level: the Nazis were strikingly incurious about Abroad.

In the first phase of the war until 1942, while the Wehrmacht was triumphant on the battlefields across Europe, these sources sufficed to tell its commanders all that they felt they needed to know about the world, and about their enemies.  Victories masked the abject hummint failures of the Abwerhr (German security agency).  As long as Germany was winning, why should anyone make trouble about imperfections in the war machine?  It was only when Hitler's armies started losing that hard questions began to ask about the Reich's abysmal political and strategic intelligence.  Hitler himself was, of course, much to blame, but Admiral Wilhelm Canaris exercised operational responsibility.

Nazi self-deception had become institutionalized.  In the summer of 1943, Himmler and Goebbels agreed that Hitler should no longer be shown the SD's monthly reports on the German public's mood, morale and responses to press and radio broadcasts.  Thereafter, these went no further than their own desks.  Meanwhile many neutral states, seeing Allied victory looming, adopted harsher policies towards Nazi residents and visitors. 


ALJAZEERA NEWS published a Donald Trump transcript: 'America First' on National Security Strategy delivered at the Ronald Reagan Building on Monday, December 12, 2017.  The following is a White House transcript of US President Donald Trump's speech on Monday on his administration's national security strategy:

We're here today to discuss matters of vital importance to us all: America's security, prosperity, and standing in the world. I want to talk about where we've been, where we are now, and, finally, our strategy for where we are going in the years ahead.

Tax Bill Could Be A Big Hit To Puerto Rico's Economy


Host Michel Martin talks with Armando Valdes Prieto, former director of Puerto Rico's Office of Management and Budget, about how the new tax bill might negatively affect the island's economy.

TRUMP: Over the past 11 months, I have traveled tens of thousands of miles to visit 13 countries. I have met with more than 100 world leaders. I have carried America's message to a grand hall in Saudi Arabia, a great square in Warsaw, to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and to the seat of democracy on the Korean Peninsula. Everywhere I traveled, it was my highest privilege and greatest honor to represent the American people.

Throughout our history, the American people have always been the true source of American greatness. Our people have promoted our culture and promoted our values.  Americans have fought and sacrificed on the battlefields all over the world. We have liberated captive nations, transformed former enemies into the best of friends, and lifted entire regions of the planet from poverty to prosperity.

John Higgs in Stranger Than We Can Imagine: An Alternative History Of The 20th Century (2015) explains the limits prosperity when he states that feedback loops rein in both the natural and man-made world, keeping everything from the speed of planes to animal populations within reasonable limits.  But in a corporate economy which actively promotes the pursuit of externalities, the natural feedback loops that would normally impede constant growth are severed, or simply ignored.  Infinite economic growth can only exist by becoming divorced from reality.

For a typical Western individual in the middle of the twentieth century, all this was brilliant.

Economically, the first half of the twentieth century had been grim.  It had been home to financial horror stories such as the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic, where a glass of beer cost 4 billion marks in 1923, and the Great Depression itself.  But the period from the end of the Second World War to 1970s looks, from the perspective of the early twenty-first century, like something of a Golden Age.  The immediate situation of the postwar world was bleak, and yet untold millions were lifted out of poverty over the decades that followed.  Malnutrition and starvation in the Western world were mostly confined to the pages of history.  Wages rose and people became acquainted with the term "disposable income."  Regular working people gained access to everything from motor vehicles to central heating.  Healthcare provision improved enormously, and life expectancy rose.  The average man in England and Wales was expected to live to forty-six in 1900, but that figure rose by over a third to seventy-three by 1990.  For women, the same figure rose from fifty to seventy-nine.  In 1957 the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan said, "Let us be frank about it--most of our people have never had it so good.  Go around the country, go to the industrial towns, go to the farms and you will see a state of prosperity such as we have never had in my lifetime--nor indeed in the history of this country."  From a contemporary perspective that statement seemed complacent, but from a historical viewpoint it was a fair comment.

The growth of corporations was a major factor in the rise in living standards.  The president of General Motors, Charles Erwin Wilson, was appointed to the position of secretary of Defense by President Eisenhower in 1953.  This was, with hindsight, a clear example of corporate influence on government.  When he was asked if his two roles represented a conflict of interest, he replied that he could not imagine a scenario that created a conflict "because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for general Motors, and vice versa."  General Motors was then one of the largest employers in the world and would become the first American corporation to pay a tax bill over a billion dollars.  Its well-paid employees had disposable income which they spend on consumer goods, creating growth in other industries.  This in turn crated an affluent society full of ready customers who wanted to buy GM cars.  Corporate growth had produced a virtuous circle, and society as a whole benefited.

This was a golden period for American industrial design.  It was an exciting time to be alive.  A rising tide of affluence benefited entire populations and suggested that the future could only get better.  The American Dream was the American reality.  The mix of individualism, advertising and corporate growth was a potent cocktail indeed.  But the, at some point in the 1970s, things changed.

Britain's Brexit And Trump America: Allies' Influence Threatened On World Stage


December 21, 20174:55 PM ET

Views: 63

Comment by mary gravitt on December 23, 2017 at 1:11pm

If you don't have time to read the text, read the pictures.  It is up to you to read between the lines because your life is on the line.  Merry Xmas.

Comment by mary gravitt on December 23, 2017 at 1:16pm

I forgot: This Post is Politics

Comment by moki ikom on December 24, 2017 at 12:49am

this post like others of yours is a thesis of proofs of the fact: 

we are led by fearmongering liars and capitalUSt$ scoundrels


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