#91 Landlords in a Rent-Seeking Scam

CongressModern Day Kings and Queens

History reveals that political rulers are as good as their ability to distribute gifts, booty, and other material rewards to their most valuable and loyal servants. Powerful men and women doled out titles of nobility, lands to faithful servants, and bureaucratic offices with hefty salaries to trusted advisors. Loyalty and assistance to the rich and powerful often come with many financial benefits. After all, these men and women can make their posse rich. 

Today’s kings and queens are the elected officials in Washington. They appoint or hire, sometimes for life, the faceless bureaucrats inside governmental agencies, commissions, panels, committees, and executive officers. These regime executives dole out jobs to loyalists and favored interest groups. They are the policymakers who rewrite laws and regulations that favor those who can offer the regime something in return.

The Prize – Getting Elected

H.L. Mencken described elections as an “advance auction of stolen goods.” 

In the United States, the federal government in 2020 controlled a budget of more than six trillion dollars, one hell of a treasure for Congress to allocate. Congress, by the way, has control over the regulations and statutes that can make or break businesses and households with one action.

It is no wonder that powerful corporations go to the regime seeking tax breaks, subsidies, and anti-competitive regulations. They hire pressure groups, lobbyists, and public relations consultants to secure wealth and favors from Congress.

The strategy is to manipulate public policy to create advantageous economic conditions to increase profits. Rent-seeking is the natural outcome in any regime that controls the budget. The riches go to the politically powerful, not to those who work the hardest or are the most productive. This cronyism is the crux of a corporate state.

Wealth re-distributed through a process of state coercion rather than through the voluntary market process results in a wealth flow in the direction of favored industries and firms and not competitiveness.  

To increase wealth without creating new wealth results in economic inefficiency, misallocation of resources, reduced wealth creation, lost government revenue, and an increase in income inequality. Collectively, these all have contributed to our national decline.

Politicians understand this system. They try to play both sides. In every election cycle, campaigns to get “big money” out of politics are common. Not surprisingly, their answer is in more government regulation. Their solution keeps the gravy train rolling.

Real Solution

Murray Rothbard wrote in his history of economic that centralized political power creates a system of state-building, state privilege, and state-monopoly capitalism.

Reduce the booty! This one action will reduce the power of the regime. Reducing the number of stolen goods available, the federal government suddenly becomes less of a target for lobbying, bribes, and other means of obtaining special favors. 

Cut the budget! Slash most of the 16 million full-time bureaucratic jobs that exist in Washington today. 9 of the 20 wealthiest counties in America are the suburbs of Washington, DC. It does not seem right.

#90 Israel – The Iron Dome

The Iron Dome – Anti-Semitic Style

The Iron Dome is an integral part of Israeli’s aerial defense system, which includes a system capable of intercepting rockets fired from short range up to striking long-range missiles from the atmosphere. It is time to scrutinize the Israeli political Iron Dome.

Israel commits war crimes and uses the Jewish people as a political shield to exploit the sensitivities about their historical suffering at the hands of non-Jews. This defensive strategy has proven to immunize itself from international opprobrium.

Please do not misinterpret my statement. Jews should be proud of their heritage and are in no way responsible for the actions of a government. However, the Jewish people cannot tie their identity to a state that systematically commits war crimes. The crux of the anti-Semitic issue is the allegiance to the Israeli government policies.

Demonstrations against war crimes are not antisemitic. They are in support of the fair treatment of the oppressed Palestinians. Community leaders of the anti-Semitic claims have been reacting to the growing public support for Palestinians against Israeli aggression. Social media and TV screens showing demonstrators chanting “Free Palestine” are not attack the Jewish Community.

The Israeli political Iron Dome defense creates a more favorable environment in which war crimes are acceptable. They exploit their influence to silence protests and manipulate public discourse with claims of antisemitism. It’s troubling when protests in favor of equal rights for Palestinians within Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, are portrayed as antisemitism attacks on Jews.

The Israeli Iron Dome, for political defense, needs an overhaul.

#89 – President Biden – Comfortably Numb

Is it their race, their religion, or geographic bad luck of existing in a region where their oppressors are U.S. allies? 

How about justice for the Palestinians? Equal justice in the Holy Land will be non-existent as long as the U.S. government sides with a specific party. In Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank American complicity in Israeli injustice has denied Palestinians living, breathing, and functioning as human beings.

The merciless Israeli bombing of Gaza has not changed Biden’s support for apartheid rule, “There is no shift in my commitment to the security of Israel. Period. No shift, not at all.” His political numbness is apparent by his support of a two-state solution as the “only answer” to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. “We still need a two-state solution. It is the only answer. The only answer.”

How about One Person One Vote? That is Democracy!

How can a “Two-State” illusion be made from this Swiss Cheese reality? (West Bank Map) https://www.aljazeera.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/settlements.jpeg 

#88 – Abetting Israeli Apartheid Rule

Militarily 

The United States has provided $146 billion in foreign aid to the Israeli state, much used for military-related purposes. Today the United States provides some $3.8 billion to Israel annually, accounting for 20% of its defense budget.

In the final months of the Obama administration, the United States and Israel inked an agreement to provide Israel with $38 billion in military assistance over ten years, the highest aid package in history.

The United States is Israel’s largest supplier of military hardware. It includes 362 U.S.-built F-16 warplanes and 100 other US military aircraft, including a growing fleet of the new F-35s; at least 45 Apache attack helicopters; 600 M-109 howitzers; and 64 M270 rocket-launchers. Last week Israel used many of these U.S.-supplied weapons in its bombardment of Gaza.

The US military alliance with Israel involves joint military exercises and joint production of Arrow missiles and other weapons systems. The US and Israeli militaries have collaborated on drone technologies tested by the Israelis in Gaza. 

In 2004, during the US military occupation of Iraq, the United States benefited from Israeli experience in Occupied Territories (Palestine). Israel provided tactical training for US Special Operations Forces confronted by popular resistance in Iraq.

The US military maintains a $1.8 billion stockpile of weapons at six locations in Israel, pre-positioned for future US wars in the Middle East. During the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2014, US Congress suspended some weapons deliveries to Israel while they approved handing overstocks of 120mm mortar shells and 40mm grenade launcher ammunition from the US stockpile for Israel to use against Palestinians in Gaza.

Diplomatically

The United States abuses its privileged position as a veto-wielding Permanent Member of the Security Council to shield its ally Israel. This unique power counters any efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable for its actions under international law.

The United States has exercised its veto in the UN Security Council 82 times, and 44 of those vetoes have been to shield Israel from accountability for war crimes or human rights violations. In every single case, the United States has been the lone vote against the resolution, although a few other countries have occasionally abstained.

The US diplomatic shielding of Israel encourages the inhuman treatment of Palestinians. With US abetment Israel has seized more Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, uprooted more and more Palestinians from their homes, and respond to any resistance from the Palestinians with force, violence, detentions, and restrictions on day-to-day life.

Political 

Despite most Americans supporting neutrality in the conflict, AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbying groups have exercised an extraordinary role in bribing and intimidating US politicians to provide unconditional support for Israel.

The roles of campaign contributors and lobbyists in the US political system make the United States vulnerable to the influence-peddling and intimidation by corporations and industry groups like the Military-Industrial Complex, Big Pharma, interest groups like the NRA, AIPAC: and lobbyists. In recent years, The Intercept and Al Jazeera have exposed the Israeli involvement in this corrupt system. 

Read the following article and video documentary. 

https://theintercept.com/2019/02/11/ilhan-omar-israel-lobby-documentary/

#87 Our House – Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza, Biden and Israel

Background History

Most of the evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem fall within the context of three interconnected and strange legal arguments of Israeli Law. The three are The Absentees’ Law, The Legal and Administrative Matters Law, and the Master Plan 2000. The Israeli government uses this nefarious legal fodder to evict, confiscate, and demolish Palestinians homes. The Palestinians are at a legal disadvantage. They live within a systematic ethnic cleansing program that began before the 1947 United Nations resolution.

In 1950 Israel enacted the Absentees’ Property Law 1950. The law has no legal or moral validity. It granted the properties of Palestinians (who were evicted or fled the 1948 war) to the State of Israel. Those absentee Palestinians were not allowed to exercise their right of return, a right recognized by international law. This law became a state-sanctioned wholesale land grab. It has ensured that Palestinian refugees do not return or attempt to claim their stolen properties in Palestine. It gives Israel a cover for permanently confiscating Palestinian lands and homes.

In June 1967, after the Six-Day War, Israel became the occupier of Palestinian East Jerusalem. Then, in 1980, it illegally annexed it, dubbing Jerusalem as the “eternal and undivided capital of Israel”.

In 1970 the Legal and Administrative Matters Law was enacted. According to the new legal framework, only Israeli Jews were allowed to claim lost land and property in Palestinian areas. The laws allow the State and the illegal settlement enterprise to confiscate more Palestinian properties.

The Israeli government approved the Master Plan 2000, published in August 2004, a detailed spatial plan for both East and West Jerusalem. The Master Plan became a blueprint for a state-sponsored ethnic cleansing campaign, which saw the destruction of thousands of Palestinian homes and the subsequent eviction of numerous families.

Present Day

2020 Israeli forces demolished over 176 Palestinian homes in occupied Jerusalem and approved 17,000 settlement units in the Holy City. Israeli occupation authorities have approved a forcibly evict of 400 Palestinians, including women and children, from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

In early 2021, the Israel District Court of Jerusalem, ruled in favor of the settler company Nahalat Shimon International, issuing eviction orders to 8 Palestinian families from the Karm Al Ja’ouni area in Sheikh Jarrah. Around 87 people including 28 children are at risk of losing their family home,

On March 10th, fourteen Palestinian and Arab organizations issued a joint urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Procedures on forced Israeli evictions in East Jerusalem.

In April, at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Israeli authorities banned East Jerusalem residents from congregating on the gate steps of Jerusalem’s Old City Damascus Gate. Damascus Gate is a social hub for many of the Old City’s Palestinian residents. It has been the setting of both civic and cultural gatherings and events.

Palestinian youth, not political factions, reacted to the placement of metal barricades to prevent entry onto the gate’s steps. Their nightly protests attracted groups of ultra-nationalist Jews marching through Jerusalem toward Damascus Gate, chanting “death to Arabs.” On April 25th, following twelve days of violent confrontation in East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities took down the barricades.

U.S. Congress Take a Stand

Three days earlier on April 22, the overwhelming majority of the U.S. Congress, 330 out of 435, signed a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee opposing any reduction or conditioning of U.S. monies to Israel. The letter was show-of-force from AIPAC and a repudiation of calls from some progressives in the Democratic Party to condition or restrict aid to Israel.

Meanwhile, many Palestinians angered over an Israeli Supreme Court ruling for a planned expulsion of four Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighborhood. (only part of a sweep of at least 27 other households yet to be carried out) Local Palestinians organized daily sit-ins to break the Ramadan fast and protest the expulsions.

On May 10th, these protests attracted the attention of ultra-nationalist Jews, who, accompanied by newly elected Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir, entered Sheikh Jarrah to disrupt and assault those who had gathered peacefully. Israeli police fired sponge bullets, stun grenades, and skunk water, causing hundreds of injuries.

Then on April 29th, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, announced he postponed legislative elections in the occupied Palestinian territories scheduled for May 22nd. Abbas may have feared his Fatah party would fare poorly but cited the postponement was because of an absence of Israeli assurances that East Jerusalem residents would be permitted to participate.

The Israeli authorities had disrupted election campaigning in East Jerusalem throughout April, arresting Palestinian politicians and their supporters. The detentions infuriated Palestinians across the political spectrum, as these actions threatened to obstruct their attempt at renewing their national institutions through the democratic process, as international actors had been encouraging them to do.

Re-supplies Will Be Needed For The Assault

On May 5th, honest Joe Biden notified Congress of its approval for Boeing’s sale of $735 worth of Joint Direct Attack Munitions to the Israeli regime. Sale is the wrong word because the Israelis do not buy them the US government gives them. The $3.8 billion in military aid to the Israeli government comes with a stipulation that it is used to buy American arms.

On the evening of May 7th, Israeli police clashed with young Palestinians and used force against worshippers at the Al-Aqsa mosque inside the walled Old City, injuring dozens. Police also closed the gates leading to the mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims after Mecca and Medina.

The police worsened matters further when they blocked busloads of Palestinian citizens from entering Jerusalem on May 8th, preventing thousands of Muslims from reaching Al-Aqsa for prayers on the holiest night of Ramadan. Israeli forces then attacked Muslim worshippers at the Holy Esplanade (Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount) that same evening.

The following day, Israeli forces breached the compound, firing stun grenades and tear gas canisters at worshippers, pushing their way into the mosque and attacking people inside. Scores of Palestinians were injured and many detained. On May 10th, Israeli soldiers staged another raid and confiscated the keys to the mosque’s main gates.

The events on May 10th coincided with what Israelis celebrate as Jerusalem Day, the reunification of East Jerusalem and the Old City with West Jerusalem. In reality, this is a celebration of Palestinian occupation and lands gained by the 1967 war.

The Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem had protested Jewish ultra-nationalist plans to march through the Old City toward Al-Aqsa. The Israeli authorities did redirect the march to avert further violence. Responding to the events in Jerusalem, Hamas’ military wing, admonished Israel to halt violence against Palestinians.

Plead to Stop

On May 10th, the Joint Chamber of Palestinian Resistance Factions in the Gaza Strip issued an ultimatum, declaring that Israel had until 6 pm local time to withdraw its forces from Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah and to release all those it had detained during these events. Shortly after the deadline expired, Hamas did as promised. They fired a series of rockets toward Israeli targets.

U.S. media attempts to portray the violence taking place currently as an even-handed struggle. It is not, Israel has been in control of historic Palestine for more than fifty years. It has the most powerful military in the Middle East. The Palestinians are unarmed, hitting Israel with “rockets” largely homemade and ineffective. The disparity in force is evident in the casualty count. More than 200 Palestinian Arabs (including 59 children) lie dead in Gaza, as do ten Israelis (including two children).

Give em Hell Joe

Jen Psaki, White House press spokesperson has provided Washington wisdom. She has announced Biden’s position on the ongoing violence in the Middle East is, “The president’s support for Israel’s security, for its legitimate right to defend itself and its people, is fundamental and will never waiver. We condemn ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups against Jerusalem.”

President Joe Biden has a long history of supporting and abetting Israeli crimes is clear. Insisting the latest massacre is justified by Israel’s “right to defend itself” and hoping that “this will be closing down sooner than later” is criminally negligent. His UN ambassador blocks a call for a ceasefire at the UN Security Council as he approves Direct Attack Munitions to the Israeli regime.

#86 Ukraine – Two Nations?

Ukraine is a bilingual and bicultural nation. Politically, culturally, and historically it is two nations struggling to remain as one. Ukraine is attempting to preserve its rule over its eastern Donbas region, the Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk Oblast.

Donbas lies along the Ukrainian border with Russia. Donbas culturally and historically has been closely aligned with Russia. Donbas is also one of the most Soviet and alien regions of Ukraine. It is bicultural, the percentage of the population that considered itself Russian is 34.5 percent, but the percentage of Russian speakers is 82.1 percent.

Despite being independent and very Russian, in 1991, 83.9% of voters in Donetsk Oblast and 83.6% in Luhansk Oblast supported Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union. However, they would once again prove their strong desire for sovereignty two years later.

In 1993, Donbas coal miners went on strike. An action described by historian Lewis Siegelbaum as “a struggle between the Donbas region and the rest of the country”. One strike leader said that Donbas people had voted for independence because they wanted “power to be given to the localities, enterprises, cities.” In other words, they opposed just moving the heavily centralized power, under Soviet rule, moved from “Moscow to Kyiv”.

The Donbas region was a region where both Russian and Ukrainian interactions are interchangeable. Donbas region identifies with Russian cosmopolitanism. It has rejected the ethnic nationalism that is popular in Kyiv and western Ukraine. Its Ukrainian identity is Russian in culture and Russian politics.

The Ukrainian constitution does not reflect Russian ethnicity. It reflects more of a Ukrainian nationalistic position. In the constitution, only the Ukrainian language is considered official. However, in the constitution proposed for the rebellious Donetsk People’s Republic, both Russian and Ukrainian are declared official languages.

It is no surprise that Ukrainian political divisions have followed these historical patterns. Voting in Donbas and Crimea stands out as being nearly the converse of those in western Ukraine. In the 2004 National elections, the eastern region of Ukraine supported Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian and former governor of Donetsk Oblast. Yanukovych was initially declared the winner.

Immediately allegations of electoral fraud and voter intimidation and widespread citizen protests in Kyiv Independence Square, known as the Orange Revolution. In response, the Ukrainian Supreme Court nullified the election and ordered a second runoff. Yanukovych lost this second election to Yushchenko.

In 2010 Yanukovych was elected president of Ukraine. In late 2013, Yanukovych rejected a pending EU association agreement, choosing instead to pursue a Russian loan bail-out. This move would guarantee closer ties with Russia. Protests and the occupation of Kyiv Independence Square ensued. The violent events were labeled the Euromaidan Revolution or Maidan (Maydan).

The Western Press billed this as a protest by proponents of aligning Ukraine with the European Union. In reality, it was a coup inspired and supported by the Obama Regime. This U.S. initiative is made clear in the leaked Victoria Nuland, Asst. Sec. of State for Europe, phone conversation U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine telephone(see Video).

The U.S., unhappy with the Yanukovych relationship with Russia and his rejection of an EU bail-out plan, backed the protesters that included far right-wing nationalist groups. Some of these groups had ties to the Nazi collaborators during WW2 and its Barbarossa Campaign.

In February, Yanukovych fled the country, the next day Ukrainian Parliament voted to remove him from his post. This peremptory removal of president Yanukovych violated the delicate balance of interests forged between Kyiv/Western Ukraine and Donbas.

After Yanukovych was ousted, a shift from a passive rejection to secession occurred. The people of Crimea and Donbas believed that the Maidan Revolt was a direct threat to the interest of Russian Ukrainians.

By mid-April, two-thirds of Donbas residents said they regard the Maidan as an armed overthrow of the government, organized by the opposition assisted by the West. In the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution referendums, in Crimea and Donbas were sought to legitimize the establishment of independent republics.

The Donetsk and Lugansk regions held referendums on their status, despite Kyiv’s resistance. The Donetsk referendum outcomes demonstrate the choice made by people. The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, election commission Roman Lyagin told journalists that 89% voted in favor of self-rule, with 10% against, on a turnout of nearly 75%. In the Luhansk Region, votes for independence were higher than in the Donetsk Region.

Many government buildings in towns and cities across Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts became occupied by separatists as the Republic expanded its territorial control. As a result, the Ukrainian government launched a counter-offensive against separatists in some parts of Donetsk Oblast. These sentiments are hardened by thousands of combat and civilian casualties of the Donbas people.

Ukrainian nationalists claim Donbas to be Soviet and alien. Bohdan Chervak, the chairman of Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, calls Donbas “not Ukrainian territory by content.”

Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko recently referred to both Crimea and Donbas as regions “where our language practically does not exist(Ukrainian), where our memory is nonexistent, where our church is absent, where our culture is absent.” Yushchenko concluded it to be an utterly foreign land.

Crimean first deputy prime minister Rustam Temirgaliev best describes the Donbas sentiment; “people in the Donetsk and Lugansk have chosen independence although the self-proclaimed Kyiv authorities tried to thwart the referendum. The residents of Donetsk and Lugansk have confirmed their wish to live in an independent, free, and peaceful republic that is independent of the Kyiv junta.”

In summary, the Ukrainian military campaign has entrenched views on both sides. Western Ukrainians are convinced of a Russian invasion and believe Ukraine should remain a unitary state, with Ukrainian as the only official language.

Eastern Ukrainians, by contrast, are now more convinced that the fault for this crisis lies in Kyiv, that the Russian language ought to have equal status with Ukrainian (at least in their regions), and are more receptive to the idea of separating from Ukraine.

In his interview of 4 March 2014, Putin had two demands for Ukraine: (1) that the population in the East and the South be safe, and (2) that they are part of the political process. The U.S. has been supporting the Ukrainian War in the Donbas region. Putin has stood by his “aggressive” demands.

Statements like; ”the U.S. government is deeply concerned over the situation that is developing near the borders of Ukraine and in every possible way supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” recently made by U.S. Army Colonel collaborates the Putin/Russian aggressor narrative.

The “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Ukraine is a regional issue, not an international, U.S., or NATO one. Ukraine and Russia need to negotiate diplomatically to resolve this issue. The Oliver Stone 2016 film Ukraine on Fire provides a fascinating history of the Ukrainian Orange and Maidan revolution.

#85 Ukraine – Who Is Intimidating Who?

Ukraine II

A few years ago, I wrote a blog on Ukraine; Ukraine – Who’s Zooming Who? In it, I reviewed the long history between Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia. In that article, I revisited the 2014 coup of the leading actors involved. The actors included are who is who of personnel in the Biden Administration. 

Today in 2021, Ukraine is a country looking for muscle to do its dirty work. NATO and the U.S. appear to be willing partners in a muscle-flexing contest with Russia. In a February White House statement, Biden reaffirms what he believes to be “a simple truth: Crimea is Ukraine.” 

The Biden statement is a lie, not a simple truth. The official result from the 2014 Autonomous Republic of Crimea was a 97 percent vote to integrate their region into the Russian Federation. The overwhelming outcome was the result of an 83 percent voter turnout.

Biden then proceeded to make a promise that resembles Article 5 of the NATO membership alliance. The article commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state, in Europe or North America, to be an armed attack against them all, to go to war on behalf of other member States.

Biden continued, “the United States does not and will never recognize Russia’s purported annexation of the peninsula, and we will stand with Ukraine against Russia’s aggressive acts.” Wait, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, or is it?

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been referring to a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP). Zelensky says that they are in the final stage of full membership. “We are committed to reforming our army and the defense sector, but reforms alone cannot stop Russia. NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbas. The MAP will be a real signal for Russia.” Could it be that this bellicose behavior a gang membership initiation?

Let the Flexing Begin

On March 15, 2021, U.S. Army Europe and Africa announced the iteration of its annual large-scale multinational war games in Europe, DEFENDER-Europe 21. The war games have begun and will continue through June. DefenderEurope 2021 

With its best cold war rhetoric, the Pentagon explained: “DEFENDER-Europe 21 is evidence of the ironclad U.S. commitment to NATO, is a prime example of our collective capabilities, and demonstrates that NATO allies and partners stand stronger together.” 

In other words: stand together for a war against an adversary. Russia is the only adversary that the Pentagon and NATO have identified on the European continent. By applying the transitive property of logic, this exercise is targeting Russia.

Ukrainian advisor Aleksey Arestovich described the purpose of DefenderEurope 2021 much clearer, stating; “a large-scale NATO exercise has begun” being conducted, “from the waters of the Baltic to the Black Sea, to put it bluntly, [for] armed confrontation with Russia.”

The commanding general of United States Army Europe and Africa, General Christopher Cavoli, confirmed this by emphasizing that DefenderEurope 2021 was building warfighting interoperability with “allies and partners in the strategically important Balkans and Black Sea region.” A quick look at a map shows that “strategically important” area to be in the Russian neighborhood and on the border.

Recently, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg “express[ed] serious concern about Russia’s military activities in and around Ukraine & ongoing ceasefire violations,” adding that “NATO firmly supports Ukraine’s sovereignty & territorial integrity.”

Russian Intimidation 

The Pentagon warns of Russian troop movements, in Russia, on or near the Donbas border. I repeat, warns of Russian troop movement inside Russia. While DEFENDER-Europe 21 will include 31,000 troops from 27 nations, an increase of over 50% increase of troops, and a 50% increased member involvement. 

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has informed reporters that “we have had contact with the U.S. administration on the situation in the Donbas, and we have exhaustively explained to their side what is happening.” 

Minister Ryabkov reflected grave concerns on the Russian side over what he deemed increasingly belligerent rhetoric from the U.S. and its NATO allies over Ukraine, warning that “Washington should be concerned about the consequences of this coordinated policy.”

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that any Moscow effort to intimidate Ukraine would be concerning to Washington. Price went on to indicate whether it occurred on Russian territory or within Ukraine. 

I asked again, Who Is Intimidating Who?

#84 – Ralph Nader – Raider of The Ark

Ralph Nader

I recently listened to an interview with Ralph Nader. I respect his focus on customer issues and his influence in changing the way we look at corporations and their responsibility to the public. In this interview, he lets his opinions and beliefs be known.

Nader Raiders

Since the 1960s, Ralph Nader has been a leading advocate for consumer rights. Everything from seatbelts in cars to the military budget and the failure to deal with a pandemic. In 1968, Nader recruited seven volunteer law students, dubbed the Nader Raiders by the Washington press corps. The Nader Raiders helped establish many advocacy organizations, most notably Public Citizen. Nader Raiders became involved with issues, such as nuclear safety, international trade, regulation of insecticides, meat processing, pension reform, land use, the Federal Trade Commission, and banking.

Nader won victories in Washington without ever electing anybody in Congress. If truth is known, his groups were grassroots lobbyists. In the sixties and seventies, “between elections, we put great pressure on key members of Congress who had leverage with other members of Congress.” His Raiders worked with influential members in Congress to adopt their regulation bills. Their tactics assured approval both in the House and in the Senate. 

Grassroots 

Nader appears to reflect on those days with bittersweet imagery. He points out that even though his advocacy groups beat back corporate crime, fraud, abuse, and corporate control over Congress. Eventually, his star waned. He believes that they were ill-prepared for the corporate counterattack. 

“After the battles were won the people went back home and the people that benefited from these health and safety regulations and some economic regulations, took too much for granted became satisfied and complacent. They didn’t do their homework on who they voted for or voted against. They didn’t strengthen the civic movements back in their own grassroots neighborhood. 

At the same time, the corporations watched the process play out and learned from it. “They beefed up their lobbying in Washington and vastly increased their political action committee contributions; they fielded their own candidates; they challenged good incumbents in the primary; they developed their own mass media right out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” He argues this is part of the system that we now live in, thanks to both political parties selling out to corporate interests.

The Duopoly

The interviewer asked Mr. Nader to assess his 60 years of being a consumer advocate and a public intellectual. Nader started with the ruling Democratic Party. “Well, one thing I’ve learned is that the Democratic Party is on an infinite journey of cowardliness. Because now they’re getting credit for a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, one hundred percent financed on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren, without a single effort–never mind success–to restore the gigantic Trump tax cuts.” 

“The Democrats now are so weak and cowardly that they can’t even protect what’s left of Medicare … they’re too busy catering to the corporate state. They’re too busy marginalizing progressive Democrats. They’re too busy destroying any kind of alternative political electoral competition. They’re too busy to clean up campaign finance corruption, which they benefit from just like the Republicans.” 

“When they gain the presidency and the Congress, they can’t seem to roll back enough of what the Republicans have done. In 2009 under Obama, they hardly rolled back anything. They expanded Bush and Cheney’s empire with more drone attacks and more lawlessness.”

Corporate Capitalism

Nader confirms that Washington is in a “stage that I would call a corporate state, that is exactly the definition of fascism conveyed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a 1938 message to the U.S. Congress. He said when private power takes over the government, that is fascism.” 

He continued by noting a very “important distinction: corporate capitalism is not capitalism. Capitalism is your ma and pa store on Main Street; corporate capitalism is basic corporate socialism. Because without socialism in Washington bailing out capitalism, capitalism would have collapsed a long time ago.”

Nader points out that Washington has a history of corporate bailouts. “Every time Wall Street gets in trouble, every time the banks overreach and speculate, Washington bails them out. Every time there is a major industry deep in trouble, like the auto industry, General Motors, Washington socialism bails them out.” 

“The big drug companies demand advance payment in the billions for producing drugs that make them a colossal profit with no price regulation. All over, they want bailouts everywhere, bailouts, handouts, giveaways, subsidies. It’s half of what Washington does every day, shovel out more of the money, the guarantees, the overblown contracts, to the military contractors. And it just keeps going. Boeing crashed a 737 MAX and got a huge bailout from Washington in a variety of ways.” 

Nader claims this government bailout money is wasted. Pointing out that the “money is used to buy back their stock, which is the closest to burning trillions of dollars over the last ten years to increase the metrics for their executive compensation. Doesn’t create a single job or create a single business.“

Congress

Nader believes that our corporate state is growing and getting more dominant with every four years of presidential election, and every two years of Congressional election. He marvels at the arrogance that some Congressmen displayed after January 6 when elected officials referred to the Capital as their house and elevated it to the symbol of democracy. Then virtuous signaling pondered how dare these rioters to desecrate this symbol, the core of democracy. 

But Nader appears to scoff at this assertion claiming that the symbol of democracy is actually “an institution run as a consummate autocracy, run by four people: the Democratic and Republican heads in the House, and the Democratic and Republican heads in the Senate.” With Nancy Pelosi as the commander in chief. “She is running a one-person rule in the House of Representatives, just the way McConnell was running a one-person rule, until he was displaced, in the Senate.” 

Pentagon

Nader points out that the U.S. has two revenue factors. One is the cost of the public infrastructure investments, the second being the military budget. At the expense of the aging and decaying infrastructure, the U.S. empire is blowing up other countries abroad with the military budget. The congressional priority is on guns and not butter.

Nader points at a Congressional taboo on the military budget. “There was a time when people like Senator Proxmire would hold hearings on military waste, fraud, and abuse. Now the largest operating budget in the federal government is not debated and not audited.”

“The Pentagon is violating a 1992 federal statute requiring them to submit an audited budget to the General Accounting Office, or Government Accountability Office as it’s now called, of the U.S. Congress.” This unaccountability has done nothing but continued to send funds for the empire to blow up other countries and kill innocent civilians.

Younger Generation

Ralph expressed his view of the younger generation directly. He contends that the young generation is unaware of what Washington is perpetrating. Nader states, “this young generation that calls themselves progressive and changed, or change agent, they just don’t have a clue. They don’t read. You don’t read, you don’t think. You don’t think, you don’t read. You don’t do those things, you don’t set the stage for social justice movements. We all know this, over the years.” 

They have been distracted enough not to know “of the corporate supremacists controlling our political economy, strategically planning every conceivable nook and corner. They’re commercializing childhood, they’re strategically planning higher education, they’ve planned our tax system, they’re strategically planning our electoral and political system, our public budgets, our military foreign policy. They’re strategically planning the public land and its disposition daily, one-third of America.” 

Giants of Tech

Nader continued with the distraction theme. “The necessities of life are not treated by Google, Facebook, and Amazon, and Microsoft and Apple. They don’t provide food. They don’t provide shelter. They don’t provide the mechanics of transportation. They don’t provide healthcare. They don’t provide children’s support services. They don’t provide for retirement income, based on productive factories that used to give pensions to their workers. What they do is control our time and shovel before us ways to shift around and search and look for information, which they make sure is never connected to power. “ 

“They provide the illusion. They provide a community in the internet, virtual reality, that has all kinds of corrosive dimensions to it, in terms of nastiness, slander, viciousness, intimidation. They don’t provide anything new here.”

Nader Remains Optimistic 

Nader remains hopeful about a resurgence of the power that real people can generate. He believes that people still have the opportunity to harness a government gone corporate. “Here’s the rub,” explains Nader, “it has never taken more than 1% active citizens scattered throughout the country representing [or building] the majority public opinion to change Congress on any number of agendas throughout history.”

Back a few years Nader wrote an article, “Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think.” In it, he points out how little it takes to make a change. “It took about one percent, active citizens, distributed throughout the country, representing majority public opinion, or building to majority public opinion, to change Congress on any number of agendas. You name it, throughout history. Even the Civil Rights Movement never had more than two and a half million active citizens all over the country. That’s about one percent of the adults in 435 Congressional districts.”

So, he asks, “why in the world aren’t all these demonstrators and marchers focusing on 535 men and women who put their shoes on every day the way we do?” Nader continues, “it defies credulity how all this effort–marches, demonstrations, protests–the energy goes into the ether instead of latching on to a laser beam focusing right on Capitol hill. It’s Congress that should be the focus. Congress is the only Constitutional authority that can control runaway corporate power, discipline it, break it up, challenge it, displace it with cooperatives and other economic institutions, and render it subordinate to the power of sovereign human beings.”

Nader’s Displacement Plan – Avoiding Serfdom 

“So you look at the future, and you see serfdom everywhere. Contract, fine-print contract serfdom, the courts being blocked by tort reform–wounded people can’t even get their day in court. And everywhere the doors are closing. So you say, OK, what door is still open?” The open door that Nader points to is Congress as one and consumerism as the second.

Nader calls for Congress to be subordinated Constitutionally to the supremacy of real people. Nader explains, “Members of Congress want to get reelected. They don’t get elected by corporations. They get funded by corporations to intimidate potential opponents. But we’ve seen that they can’t do a complete job of that. That you can pry open Congress in a whole variety of techniques and ways, from civic strategies to primary challenges, et cetera, to using the leverage of your hardcore supporters in Congress more effectively, and on and on.” Nader points to the Constitution as the only tool we have to turn this around.  

Nader states, “to turn around the federal government by the smallest but most Constitutionally strongest branch of government, the U.S. Congress–a branch whose names we know, unlike the judiciary or the executive branch?” 

“And unless we seize our sovereign power and then control Congress, which has a huge leverage effect on state, local, and national government, we will continue to be driven into the ground with over half the people in the country impoverished already, and with more and more corporations deciding that they are going to make money from money. Instead of investing trillions of dollars into productive enterprise and employment”

The second is consumerism. Real people choosing other economic institutions will displace the giant artificial entities. “Starting with consumers who don’t buy from Amazon, if they can avoid it. Who doesn’t buy from all these giant Walmarts and McDonald’s and so on, and start supporting local economies that are now in the tens of billions of dollars of operation? And they’re all around, and they’re much more accountable because you can highball them.”

“When you go to legitimate credit unions, you weaken Bank of America. When you improve your health with diet and exercise, you weaken the drug companies and the health so-called care companies. When you develop solar energy you weaken ExxonMobil. These are all displacements. It’s two things. Subordination under the Constitution of the artificial entities called the corporate entity, to real human beings. Corporations were originally chartered in the 1800s in Massachusetts to be our servants, not our masters; they were on a short lease they had to renew themselves. And now they’re our masters and we’re their servants.“

Local Community

“We have the community back in our neighborhoods, which we can displace whatever narcissistic fulfillment comes from desperate people who use Facebook to connect with other human beings in an ethereal manner. So what I’m trying to show the utter trivial but disastrous distraction and control of people’s time and minds by these Silicon Valley companies, whose basic research was almost entirely funded by the U.S. government.” 

“There are certain clinics in this country that are working very effectively on prevention, smoking cessation, obesity reduction, diet improvement. So we ought to work on those kinds of things that don’t need Congressional power. They need neighborhood organization, the rebuilding of community in ways that are favorable to the survival and prosperity of human beings, regardless of the labels they give themselves politically.” 

Corporatism 

“Expansion of local economies, which I describe as displacement of giant corporations. And the spread of food coops–that’s hardly a news item. Food coops are spreading around the country, where the consumers decide what they want to sell themselves. You know, and therefore they’re going to have a higher emphasis on nutrition. They’re not going to be so seduced by exciting packaging and special sales in these giant food supermarkets.” 

“What I’m saying is, we need to divide this economy into two parts: the internet virtual reality, and the necessity economy. We’ve been distracted by these illusionists. These corporations are illusionists. What is Facebook, in terms of economic history? What does Facebook do, in terms of any of the necessities of life? Nothing.”

“And these corporations, as we all know, are artificial entities; they have no sovereignty under the Constitution; they’re not even mentioned in the Constitution, the word company or corporation. The Preamble starts with, “We the people,” not “We the Congress” or “We the corporations.” 

Ralph Nader is an 87-year-old with a lot to say. His voice may have faded over the years his message remains clear. I am not a big fan of regulatory legislation. I support grassroots community-based actions. Ralph asks for the people to explore empowerment. Will we listen? Will we respond? Serfdom is at stake!

#83 – It’s Not About The Vaccine!

It’s Not About The Vaccine

In a January executive order, President Joe Biden directed federal agencies to “assess the feasibility” of linking a digital verification of vaccine to the existing international paper certificate.

IBM responded with a new blockchain-based vaccine management system that appears as friendly as the Uber app. “We’re at a time with vaccines that are a bit like hailing a cab a few years ago,” Chris Moose, a partner in the Healthcare and Life Sciences group at IBM Services, said in a recent interview with Industrious. “You used to just call a cab and know it was going to show up eventually. With all the apps, suddenly you knew how long it would be, who was coming, where from, you could communicate along the way. With COVID, that’s what we’ve needed, an execution engine.”

Exactly when you call for a vaccine passport app suddenly your data is openly distributed; height, weight, religion, political party, medical history, political ideology, along with vaccine information, not to mention the tracking abilities that are “communicate along the way.”

In December, IBM proposed an open-source vaccine management system built on the existing blockchain framework. Dr. William Kassler, chief medical officer of Watson Health, “We are challenged by not only the complexities of the cold chain, of multiple doses, of a mass vaccination campaign that has never been attempted. We are likewise challenged by an atmosphere of distrust and vaccine hesitancy, some of which has been building for years.”

Yah, an experimental substance, m-RNA protein, technically not a vaccine, injected into our body to reduce the symptoms of a viral infection with a pre-vaccine recovery rate between 97% and 99.75%. (Reported Aug 7, 2020) Yes, there may be some “distrust and vaccine hesitancy.”

“We can identify those populations where they live and what messages are likely to resonate with them,” Dr. Kassler said. “Do they trust doctors? Their peers? Their leaders and institutions? We can craft our outreach around that.” Thus empowering these agents to abuse trust, a human weakness, to deceive and manipulate.

“If we learned our lesson, if we make investments in technology and procedures and changes in practice, it can leave us stronger…for future emergencies and future pandemics, which will inevitably come,” Dr. Kassler said.

Lesson I


In 2001 investigative journalist Edwin Black in his book, IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and one of America’s Most Powerful Corporation, details the business dealings between the American-based multinational corporation IBM and the German government of Adolf Hitler. In the book, published in 2001, Black outlined the IBM technology that helped facilitate Nazi genocide through the generation and tabulation of punch cards based upon national census data.

The 1933 German census, with design help and tabulation services provided by IBM through its German subsidiary, proved to be pivotal to the Nazis in their efforts to identify, isolate, and ultimately destroy the German Jewish minority. The IBM Machine-tabulated census data greatly expanded the estimated number of Jews in Germany by identifying individuals with Jewish ancestors of past generations.

Lesson II


The United States Census Bureau, another data collection industry, also guaranteed confidentiality. It was their data that assisted the internment efforts by providing specific individual census data on Japanese Americans.

During World War II, the United States Census Bureau assisted the Japanese American internment efforts by providing confidential neighborhood information on Japanese-Americans. IBM subcontractor collected “standard demographic information” about age, sex, education, occupation, family size, medical history, criminal record, and other data.

The other data included categories that linked individuals to Japan, such as years of residence and education in Japan. In other words, data to make it easy for the War Relocation Authority to track and round up US-Japanese for internment camps.

Lesson III


How about a lesson on the political usage of the Census Bureau data? In 1918, the Census Bureau released individual information regarding several hundred young men to the Justice Department and Selective Service system for prosecutions for draft evasion.

A New York State of Mind


I am guessing that Governor Herr Cuomo is not a student of history. Cuomo and New York State are piloting a smartphone app called Excelsior Pass to verify vaccination status or recent negative COVID-19 test for entry into events at the Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden. The “Excelsior Pass” has been a partnership between New York State and IBM.

Excelsior Pass is herald as the next step toward a thoughtful, science-based reopening. What could go wrong? It’s “voluntary,” but New York State officials are making it clear that not participating in the program will result in an individual exclusion from societal events.

The “Excelsior Pass” mobile application will display a green checkmark if the person received a vaccination or tested negative for COVID-19. A red “x” means they have not met this standard. The app permits a user to download the confirmation of their vaccination or test collected from a network of providers.

The plan is that the digital card/passport gets scanned upon entry into a stadium, business, country, etc. Color coding and visuals have proven helpful when rounding up the misfortunate in society or shutting them out. Scarlet letters and the yellow star of David come to mind.

IBM – A New Leaf


Matt A.V. Chaban Content Producer, at IBM Industries, clarifies their mission, “And as data grows on who is getting the vaccine, it can be fed back into the system. Using cloud-based AI analysis, an organization could then determine the communities that are either missing out on the vaccine or resisting it.”

The word resisting indicates a push back on a required proposition or force. The word choosing refers to having options, also known as liberty. Mr. Chaban verbiage calls for unmasking and identifying those that are “missing out” or “resisting.” Unfortunately, Chaban’s view is the prevailing narrative heard from the federal and state governments, medical, media and general indoctrinated population.

The Tin-Hat Explanation


Naomi Wolf is an American liberal, feminist, author, and journalist. Wolf is considered a conspiracy theorist by multiple mainstream media sources. For my standard, that is good enough to listen to her ideas. She says what she believes, not what the “cathedral” preaches.

Wolf claims, “they’re trying to roll it out around the world. It is so much more than a vaccine pass. I can’t stress this enough. It has the power to turn off your life. Or turn on your life. To let you engage in civil society or be marginalized. It’s catastrophic. It cannot be allowed to continue.”

Medical passports would be another tool for governmental authority and surveillance. Requiring electronic proof of vaccination for everyday life functions, traveling, or admission is tyrannical. Disparities between those vaccinated and those choosing not will create a new threat to privacy and the liberty to participate in ordinary activities.

Wolf explains, “vaccine passports sound like a fine thing if you don’t know what those platforms can do. I’m CEO of a tech company, I understand what this platform does. It’s not about the vaccine it’s not about the virus it’s about data. And once this rolls out you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. What people have to understand is that any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform with no problem at all.”

Previous data collection/verification campaigns have proven disastrous for human rights. Data collection campaigns of 1918, 1943, and 1933 Germany precipitated imprisonment, relocation, and death. Las Vegas, odds are heavily stacked against liberty and freedom. I am still rooting for the underdog. It’s Not About The Vaccine!

# 82 – Highway 61 Revisited 

Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”

Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”

God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”

God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but

The next time you see me comin’ you better run”

Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”

God says, “Out on Highway 61.”

Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited 

Washington Revisited

In March, the U.S. Congress summoned; Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai to appear before them. (3rd time in 5 months) A House committee and two subcommittees badgered the tech CEOs, repeatedly demanding that they censor more political content from their platforms and vowing legislative retaliation if they fail to comply.

Zuckerberg and Pichai appeared eager to comply with the Congressional demands. Zuckerberg managed to meekly push back when he suggested that excessive content moderation can cripple free political discourse. However, Dorsey expressed a more open impatience for Twitter to do more to remove disinformation. He stated: “I don’t think we should be the arbiters of truth and I don’t think the government should be either.”

Not to worry, he too will comply because it is a good trade-off. The tech three giants get to maintain their Silicon Valley monopoly power in exchange for being the unofficial Congress and Executive Branch censorship police. 

It is appalling that arrogant government officials, for hours, can publicly demand censorship of political speech and then threaten punishment for failures to obey. It’s despotic!  

The public has become accustomed to governmental bullying. We allow political leaders to demand that social media companies censor the internet in accordance with their whims. Why do we allow these authoritarians are allowed to get away with this?

Where are journalists? Do they have something to say? No, because the corporate journalist is too busy, they have a different Congressional initiative to follow. Their mission it searches, destroy or deplatform all outlets that express an anti-establishment ideology. 

Today, the mainstream journalists have become a bunch of tattlers, a citizen surveillance corp. Its primary objectives are control, censorship, and the destruction of reputations of those that go over to the dark side. They censor independent journalists they cannot control and police the unfettered discussions on the new conversation apps. 

Their tactics work to intimidated many into silence and conformity. They know if they attempt to express their views, the agents will destroy their reputation. So they remain silent or pliant out of necessity. The result of their tactics is the repression of honest and open discourse.

The repression of rival thought has empowered them to control the flow of information. The corporate media does it for the hubris of an ideology. They believe their worldview is so indisputably that all dissent is inherently dangerous disinformation. They enroll for fun and vindictiveness because it appears they get aroused by destroying reputations and lives, no matter how powerless. 

The U.S. journalist is no longer the defender of free speech because their actions are destroying it. Whether they enroll for power, hubris, or just for fun, the journalist in our corporate media are the primary activists against a free and open internet and the core values of free thought. 

There are a few journalists that have remained free and true to their profession. They need to become more vocal and use what is left of their influence and power to expose these abuses of power, in Washington and in corporate media.