Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Monsters, Inc.

And yet another dark page is turned in the saga of humanity versus Empire. One monster attacks a smaller monster and other monsters join in, each vying for a place at a table of rot where the pie is being slowly polluted by industry, violence and greed. Big monsters, little monsters, monsters with nukes, monsters with barrel bombs, secular monsters, religious monsters, monsters with money, monsters with none.

And in the end its everyone else, the mothers, the fathers, the children, the elderly, the artists, the scientists, the teachers, the doctors, the nurses, the janitors, the addicts, the pious, the prostitutes, the sick, the poor, the mentally ill, who get bombed, who get gassed, who get tortured, who have their water supplies poisoned, or who get maimed by the state, or who get blown apart to smithereens.

This lament, and perhaps epitaph, is in regard to what a sad species we are if this is the best we can do.

(Photo is of airstrikes by the American Empire against Syria in the last couple hours, source is Reuters).

Kenn Orphan  2017

Resistance in an Age of Absurdity

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

 

From an incessant flow of paranoid tweets to bizarre statements about massacres that never happened or secret cameras fitted in microwaves, Donald Trump’s regime has ushered the unhinged spectacle of reality show television right into the Oval Office with stunning success.  Were this absurdity to be contained within the confines of a political thriller it might be mildly entertaining.  But in the real world, a world in which real civilians are being blown to bits by smart bombs, real children are starving to death, real refugees are being turned back to face certain death, and where the real biosphere is perilously close to the edge of catastrophe, this derangement is utterly terrifying.

 

Trump is a master at manipulating the corporate media via the manufacture of controversy and melodrama.  Of course the irony is that the very same broadcasting behemoths he routinely demonizes provide his unhinged theatrics with non stop coverage which, in turn, has given them unprecedented ratings and profits.  But behind the spectacle lurks a far more insidious method to this madness.  In a mere three months the Trump regime has managed to replace the heads of institutions like the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, with individuals who wish to dismantle them.  He has codified racist xenophobia through executive orders which ban Muslims and persecute undocumented immigrants. And through his elevation of white supremacist Steven Bannon to astonishing power, he has animated the latent white nationalist movement.

The Trump regime has also demonstrated its eager willingness to expand the war machine of American Empire, pouring billions of dollars into an already bloated military industrial sector while gutting social and medical services.   In this short time Trump’s militarism has empowered the Pentagon and has claimed the lives of scores of men, women and children from Syria, to Yemen, to Iraq, and it is only just ramping up.   There is also little to cast doubt on the prospect of wars and military conflicts involving China, North Korea and Iran in the not too distant future given the administration’s unhinged saber rattling and provocation.

 

His appointment of former ExxonMobil executive, Rex Tillerson, to the State Department signifies a blatant display of the influence of the fossil fuel industry in regard to US foreign and domestic policy.  Tillerson presided over the company in the 1970s, a period in which the oil giant launched massive campaigns to deny its own research which confirmed human caused global warming.  Trump’s recent executive order related to climate change delivered a blow to reason.  It was meant to.  His absurdist view that it is a hoax manufactured by the Chinese is a hallmark of his risible ignorance and, remarkably, still has currency in many conspiratorially minded circles.  But in this Age of Absurdity facts and the truth itself have become the first victims.

As a resurgent fascism stands poised to sweep over the West we can expect increasing brutality against dissent; and it would be foolish to think the repercussions of this would remain localized.  We will be increasingly asked to choose between compliance with monstrous state repression or bold resistance. The protests which have sprung up against the onslaught of misogynistic and xenophobic polices have been encouraging to see, but there are already a slew of laws in the works designed to stifle direct action. And the Democratic Party establishment is not interested, nor is it equipped to offer up any kind of meaningful resistance since it has acquiesced to the demands and interests of Wall Street, corporations and the war industry long ago. Their role has been one of normalizing the ruthless exploits of global capitalism.  Indeed, the Clinton and Obama administrations championed the brutality of neoliberal capitalism and weakened civil liberties and gutted social safety nets for the poor while deporting millions of undocumented immigrants and bolstering the imperialistic war machine.  

 

If there is anyone to look to in these dark times for inspiration it would be the ongoing struggles of Black Lives Matter, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), and Standing Rock Sioux which largely began during the previous administration and are international in scope.  These movements have endured and weathered police and state intimidation, brutality, violence and arrest; and it is their fortitude and integrity which offers us all a living example of how bold we will need to be in the face of an ever more oppressive tyranny.  They were born of the historic struggles of indigenous peoples against colonialism, police brutality and environmental racism.  And with the perilous times that lie ahead solidarity with them is needed now more than ever before.

Thanks to the convergence of a climate ravaged world and a fragile biosphere that is teetering on collapse and extinction, the global despotism rising today will be unlike anything we have ever seen before.  The flames of nationalism and xenophobia will be fanned by fascists who will ride a rising and unfortunate tide of climate chaos.   They will use famine, austerity and social unrest and uncertainty to justify brutal authoritarianism, repression and state violence; and they will have no problem employing chicanery, scapegoating and dehumanization to achieve their end.  Indeed, their embrace of absurdity, or its pretense, is their strength.

 

In The Origins of Totalitarianism Hannah Arendt said: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.”    The more fascists are permitted to make a mockery of justice, humanity and protection of the living earth, the more easy it will be for them to manipulate the deepest fears and prejudices of the public.  They will continue to launch mendacious smears against climate scientists, assault the poor and the most vulnerable, advance racism, expand war and militarism, disparage the press, and promote the inversion of reality to their favor even as the planet burns.   And if we continue to allow them to bend the arc of truth we will most assuredly see truth itself begin to die.   Our resistance to tyranny begins the day we refuse to allow this to happen on our watch.

 

Kenn Orphan 2017

Free Fall

Perhaps you can commiserate.  I keep having this recurring thought.  I am perched on a branch above a flooding stream. The muddy waters below me churn and swell.  The winds howl around me.  Torrents of rain beat down on my head. Others clamber up the tree near me. I reach out a hand only to watch them pulled away into the dark waters.  Then the branch on which I sit begins to crack and I realize I am in free fall. It is a helpless and desperate feeling.  It is the end of the world… the end of my world.

No, this recurring feeling I have had is not about the circus unfolding in Washington DC.  It is rooted in our collective predicament as a species.  I have said this several times before, but I believe more and more that we are at a place in human history where the status quo of almost everything is about to shift and the American political landscape is only one piece of this dire reality.  It is true that no one can predict the future with certainty, but it it is also true that many of us have a pretty good idea of where we are all heading.

floods-in-thailand-source-the-atlanticIn case you were off world and missed it, let me break it down: the climate is rapidly transforming in real time before our eyes.  Ice sheets in Antarctica, frozen for millions of years, are disintegrating rapidly and collapsing in a months time.  Massive wildfires and intractable drought on each continent have become a year round reality.  Biblical floods are a terrifying, new normal.  Soil depletion is widespread; and the integrity of biomass is greatly degraded and imperiled.  The planet’s oceans are acidifying with dead zones growing exponentially in size each year.   What we are witness to is the Sixth Mass Extinction, a human caused disaster that is sweeping over us like a tsunami.  In its insurmountable wake it is taking with it the earth’s largest living organism, a being visible from orbit, the Great Barrier Reef.  Petrifying it in a blanket of stark, white death.

Within mere decades many, if not most, of the coastal areas of the world will be inundated.  Drought is poised to cause widespread famine and disease will follow close behind.  Of course the poorest of the poor who have always suffered the most will suffer exponentially in the years to come.  A refugee crisis not seen before in human history is on the horizon, but Westerners should not kid themselves.  We are all in the same sinking spaceship; and at some point this global catastrophe will leave no one untouched.

Greetings from California by Joe Webb.The companion to this appears to be a collective lunacy among world leaders and the most powerful.  Armed to the teeth with life extinguishing nukes, they seem to have reduced our collective, existential predicament to a joust between failing empires.  They are bolstering a renewed, reactionary authoritarianism and stoking base prejudices among the masses.  The melting Arctic sea does not alarm them.  On the contrary, it presents them with new opportunities for exploitation of ever dwindling and harder to reach oil reserves, the earth’s poisonous primordial blood.  They look at the coming collapse with shrugged shoulders while they fill their coffers with coin.  And make no mistake, they will not cease this destruction voluntarily.  In the end the failing systems of the earth’s biosphere and climate and the impossible equation of infinite growth on a planet with finite resources will put a stop to their unhinged folly.  But what price will we all have to pay for their madness?
I Shop Therefore I AmAnd how, then, can we make sense of our predicament?   How do we live lives of dignity, purpose and meaning in the midst of a free fall of civilization and the biosphere?   I think it begins with disengaging from the dominant narrative of a profoundly sick culture.  It is a narrative which reinforces separation from nature and the universe itself.  It is a message center which controls how we see the world and all of its inhabitants.  It objectifies, commodifies and nullifies the inherent worth of all living things and replaces them with absurd facsimiles of life which end up both mocking and crushing the soul and polluting the verdant earth.  It is a culture responsible for war, poverty and avarice; and it is blind to its own imminent demise.

This age we live in reinforces alienation, denial, apathy and despair by hapless design.  If we are to reclaim our humanity and our place in this rapidly deteriorating world we must return to that most childlike of qualities: imagination.  We need to find the courage to place ourselves unashamedly into that dream time of imagining a world of connection with all that lives and the sense of wonder that comes with it.  We need to give ourselves permission to pry open the cultural locks that have constrained our soul in a prison of lies, and reject anything that devalues us or separates us from the other.  Perhaps then we can really begin to live the life we were all intended to live on this life drenched planet, even if we are in the last great epoch of our species.

refugees-seek-sanctuary-souce-the-vienna-reviewA growing number of scientists argue, and with compelling empirical evidence, that a free fall of the biosphere is already under way.  If this is true it will inevitably lead to the breakdown of complex societal systems and social order.  The increase in relentless storms, droughts, famines and disease will accompany the rise of authoritarianism, racist xenophobia and militaristic nationalism around the globe.  Truthfully, we are already seeing much of this happening today.  In fact, much of the world now deals with this uncertain brutality and barbarism.  But in the dark days that lie ahead no one will be spared the painful choices such a convergence will bring.

Many of us who have lived relatively calm lives in more affluent or stable societies will be increasingly asked to take uncomfortable stands that billions in poorer countries encounter daily.  These stands can result in the loss of social status, jobs or even relationships.  Many of us may endure unjust hearings, inquisitions or trials, or even face state or mob violence if we speak out against social hatred, defy repression, break unethical or inhuman laws, or provide shelter, sustenance or sanctuary to the foreigner, or the migrant, or the persecuted.  It will not always be straightforward and certainly not easy.  In the end. however, it has always come down to a fundamental choice between the better part of our humanity or in its rejection.  We must all find this part and grapple with these troubling things sooner or later, but for me the choice is a clear one.

 

Kenn Orphan 2017

The Enemy of Our Enemy is Not Always Our Friend

With the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the throne of the American Empire there has been mounting opposition from what has been referred to as the “Deep State.”  This is a term that refers to the idea of a shadow government which pulls the strings behind the scenes of the public face of the elected government.   The CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS, and DoD, among others, are often sited as the key players here and even a tertiary glance at history will attest to why this is so.   To be sure, this term has been over used by unhinged talk show hosts like Alex Jones, and it often provides cover for a thinly veiled and utterly reprehensible antisemitism.  But it isn’t a “conspiracy theory” to note the great power that these agencies and whom they represent have over American foreign and domestic policy.  Their opposition to Trump is not so much ideological as much as it is about influence.  To them Trump is an unpredictable, egotistical mess with mental instability on a grand scale.  This makes him virtually uncontrollable and that terrifies the elites.
donald-trump-and-the-deep-state-source-whowhatwhyThe Capitalist class has enjoyed the riches gleaned from neoliberal economic policies for decades; and Trump’s anti-globalism and xenophobic talk threatens their bread and butter.  To be sure, their thievery is as abhorrent as Trump’s coming kleptocracy; and both signal the death throes of global capitalism. But the Liberal class and even some on the Left, have been aligning themselves with the oligarchy in order to derail and depose Trump.  That they are inadvertently supporting increased militarism in a world where nuclear annihilation is still a menace, war profiteering for the wealthy elite, and the return of a new Cold War hysteria is of no concern to them.  One must wonder if they have really thought any of this through.

Let’s face it.  Trump is vile, but he is an easy target. His rise provides those of us on the left with a convenient, external decoy to lob all our fears and failings at.  And although he may be emblematic of the essential rot that typifies late stage capitalism the powerful institutional forces that are seeking to depose him wish only to do so in order to sustain the very machine from which he emerged.  A machine of absurd consumption of dwindling resources and war profiteering for the benefit of a few, on a planet whose biosphere is in a state of collapse thanks to the relentless marauding and pillaging.

It’s true that Trump has gathered around him a collection of religious extremists, racists, xenophobes, misogynists, science denialists, Islamophobes and militarists. But his overt bullying, déclassé style and grotesque vulgarity are really the only thing which distinguish him from the powerful elite whose plutocratic tyranny long preceded his infamous meteoric rise.  They have always championed the bloody plunder of the Capitalist order of things because it has maintained their hegemonic control and filled their coffers with untold fortune. Granted they generally did this with the veneer of respectability through exploiting identity politics; but this was a diversion they used to placate the sycophantic Liberal and bourgeois classes while they fattened up on ill gotten gain and carpet bombed the poor of the world.  Make no mistake, their Machiavellian machinations are one and the same with the orange tinted megalomaniac who is about to sit in the Oval Office.  It is his loathsome, distasteful and scurrilous demeanor they find most displeasing, not his love of Capitalism.

capitalism-source-rationalwikiIt is ironic to me that so many are looking to this very same corrupt establishment to lead the opposition to Trump and his band of thieves. Certainly politics makes strange bed fellows, but few seem to question what will happen should they succeed in deposing him.  Do any of them really think the CIA, DHS and all the other nefarious institutional players will cede power to the people, especially in a time of economic strife, ecological failure and geopolitical wrangling?  Do they remember who it was who has led wars and directed coups to topple democratically elected governments around the world?  Do they realize who it is these institutions really represent?  Do they care?  The answer is not too difficult to find.

An insidious and pervasive authoritarian fascism is embedded in every institution that controls or influences the US and it will not cede anything willingly to anyone. They protect the robber barons, industrialists and the aristocracy and their opposition to Trump is rooted in a defense of class privilege, not a love of democracy.  And the Liberal class has always stood as a bulwark of defense for this system, carefully guarding their own privilege to hold a seat at the table while casting crumbs to the grubby masses.  In desperation they will look to virtually anyone to protect this privilege against its inevitable decay.

Without a doubt the Trump regime is poised to speed up the unraveling of the American Empire.  The idea that a narcissistic buffoon like him could have such power would be comically absurd were it not so disastrous for the climate, the water and already marginalized and oppressed people.  But every administration, Democrat and Republican, in the last few decades has led us to the Age of Trump.  Indeed, President Obama created the conditions for a more aggressive fascism with the sweeping powers he granted to the Executive branch.

Now Trump will be able to detain or assassinate any American citizen without due process and will be able to crush dissent with impunity thanks to “anti-propaganda” measures designed to limit, intimidate and curtail freedom of the alternative press. Obama also led the way in deporting more undocumented people than the previous administration, prosecuting more whistleblowers than all US Presidents combined, increasing aid to belligerent regimes in Riyadh and Tel Aviv, supporting right wing coups like the one in Honduras which has caused the murders of scores of indigenous and environmental rights activists, and pulverized the poor in seven nations with over 26,000 bombs in his eight year reign. Trump will likely succeed him in this blood soaked legacy, but to sugarcoat this horrific past and its impact on the future would be both intellectually dishonest and ethically impoverished.

trump-protests-in-chicago-photo-source-nbc-newsTrump, his minions and the new brand of authoritarianism must be opposed and the Left needs to mobilize quickly.  But this cannot be done effectively unless the system which produced him is recognized as the real menace.  It is the global Capitalist class which are the “men behind the curtain” so to speak.  Aligning with the powerful to oppose the powerful will only end up serving their interests alone, and it will merely feed a machine that is hellbent on leading our species, and every other, toward certain destruction.   Indeed, this kind of tactic will be a no win situation for everyone.

 

Kenn Orphan 2017

 

Fake News in the Epoch of Propaganda

Since the fiasco of this last US Presidential election cycle the corporate press has been busy launching a crusade against “fake news” and scrambling to understand why it is that so many people despise and distrust them.   Unsurprisingly, they have many fingers to point, but not one of them is toward themselves.   In the last week we have endured self righteous, nauseating screeds by elitist blowhards like Dan Rather and Christiane Amanpour imploring the press to “step up” now that the fascist Trump has been swept to the throne of American Empire.  Their egregious lack of introspection is baffling given that only six companies own nearly 90% of all media and has been the mouthpiece for and defender of Corporate State sponsored plunder, murder and mayhem for decades.
six-companies-own-90-percent-of-the-corporate-media
Without a doubt Trump is horrifying.  And now this megalomaniac who wears his racist, misogynistic ignorance as a badge of honor, has sweeping powers granted to him from the Obama presidency.  So the question to them is where were they when President Obama was expanding these Executive Branch powers?  Where were they when he was drone bombing wedding parties and ambulances? Were they too busy boozing it up at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner and laughing at the President’s joke about using these drones to take out the Jonas brothers?  Where were they when he said he was “really good at killing people,” or when he codified the indefinite detention of American citizens by military tribunal, or when his regime was assassinating American citizens all without due process?
abdulrahman-al-aulaki-the-16-year-old-american-boy-murdered-by-one-of-obamas-drones-photo-source-common-dreams
somalia-drones-obamaWhere were they when his administration excused the torturing criminals from the previous Bush regime?  Or prosecuted more whistleblowers than all US presidents combined, like the mercilessly persecuted Chelsea Manning who exposed US war crimes?  Or deported more undocumented people than any other US President?  Or when the news of his “Kill List” surfaced?  Or when his Secretary of State pushed for decimating Libya and ghoulishly celebrated the gruesome murder of its president on one of their news segments exclaiming in true imperialistic form: “We came, we saw, he died?”  Their coverage of all of this was either weak as dishwater or buried in back pages, but they had no trouble reporting “news” related to celebrities or sports, or inflating crises and stoking paranoia as in the instance of the human tragedy of Ebola in West Africa.
hillary-clinton-laughs-about-the-brutal-murder-of-gaddafi

The same corporate news imploring the public to shun “fake news” had no problem peddling propaganda that led to the war on Vietnam and Iraq and Libya.  It downplayed the cruelty of the medieval kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and the decades long system of apartheid in Israel.  It has spent its lifetime being the mouthpiece for Empire, Inc. and made a career of manufacturing outrage, vapid celebrity obsession and paranoia, spinning the planet killing lies of the fossil fuel and war industries, and spreading Pentagon lies which have cost millions of lives and contributed to one of the biggest mass migrations in human history.  It has suppressed existential news related to Fukushima and climate change, virtually ignored systemic racism and the prison/surveillance machine, and is turning a blind eye to the unfolding atrocities at Standing Rock Sioux.  And yet somehow with all of this it has the gall to expect people of conscience to feel sorry for it, forget about these lies and omissions, and believe them now when they cry foul after that cloak of deception has been lifted.

The hubris of the powerful dances with willful ignorance in the most stunning of ways indeed.

Kenn Orphan  2016

The Omnicidal Madness of Empire

The atrocities being committed by militarized police on behalf of the Fossil Fuel Industry against the unarmed Water Protectors of Standing Rock Sioux is beyond appalling.  A horrifying page of history is being reopened which may signal a more radical fascist turn for the US in general.  With barely a peep from a weak and sycophantic corporate media, jackbooted thugs in armored trucks are firing water cannons on protectors in sub freezing temperatures, using flash grenades that can cause blindness and burns, and firing rubber coated bullets which have already maimed many.

water-cannons-used-on-water-protectors-at-standing-rock-sioux-in-subfreezing-temperatures-source-twitterThis hideous face of Empire is nothing unique.  It is the same banal, raw, aggression and power seen all over the world.  The militarized police of the Dakotas share their unoriginal brutality with the Israeli Defense Force in Palestine, and the Indian Army occupying Kashmir, and the Indonesian military forces against the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea.  The aim of Empire is always the same: to crush, exploit, rape and plunder the vulnerable of the earth and the living earth itself for the gain of power and coin for a select few.

President Obama’s tepid response to what is happening at this very moment at Standing Rock Sioux is nothing less than complicity in the crimes of Empire.  And it is chilling to think about a Trump regime which will most assuredly ramp up the violence and state aggression to a new and more horrifying level.  He can do this thanks to expanded powers the Obama regime has enabled and empowered.

standing-rock-sioux-water-protectors-attacked-source-news-unfilteredI would be saddened but not be surprised in the least if drones were employed by the coming regime.  Water protectors could easily be labeled with vague, all encompassing terms like “enemy combatants” and “terrorists” because they threaten “US interests,” code words for corporate industry plunder and exploitation via the State.  Targeted assassinations of US citizens are now completely legal thanks to the Obama administration.  In fact, US citizens have already been assassinated without due process.  Indefinite detention is also now completely legal and there is no reason to think that a Trump regime would not use these powers and even expand upon them.

This signals a major shift in the US that is nothing less than monstrous.  And it forces a choice on the rest of us. We must either stand on the side of the Water Protectors or we lend our tacit, albeit apathetic, support to the omnicidal madness of Empire.  This avarice fueled insanity will not stop at Standing Rock Sioux; and there is no middle ground when it comes to this.  Our fragile biosphere is imperiled like never before.  Water is life and we must passionately protect it.  Otherwise we will all suffer the immeasurable misery and self annihilation of doing without it, and that potential nightmare is sooner than anyone could ever imagine.

Kenn Orphan  2016

Trump Surprise?

Since Donald Trump began his ascendancy toward the throne of American Empire last week I have been increasingly  puzzled by the level of astonishment I have noted from a wide spectrum of people.  I mean really, is the rise of Trump that much of a shock to people?  It makes me think that most of the confounded have not been across the American continent in recent times and still hold fast to some sentimental flotsam of Disneyfied Main Streets as being hard truths.  I drove across the country, north, south and middle, with my sister in the process of helping her move this past year.  Trump’s rise is not a surprise to me, and it is not an enigma.  It is the logical end of economic neoliberalism, the final and most brutal form of capitalism, in living, albeit orange-tinted, color.

a-texas-townAs we drove I saw the economic malaise, demoralization and ecological degradation in town after town in the heartland caused by neoliberal policies championed by Democrat administrations.  Of course, the Republicans are the main political nest of capitalist robber barons, but the Democrats, once the party of working people (or so they claimed) promised something better.  Instead, they abandoned the working class by throwing unions to the wolves and embracing Wall Street banksters and corporate hucksters wholeheartedly.

The result of this was obvious.  Still holding a bucolic beauty, vast swaths of the nation have been sacrificed and hold an alienated landscape laden with misery where the core of each town is littered by payday loan shops, liquor stores, thrift stores and pawn brokers.  The church in these communities is frequently maligned and ridiculed by the wealthy, coastal, urban elite.  But, while it is often misguided and many times promotes a fevered bigotry, it is the primary refuge for many abandoned and downtrodden people, providing food, clothing and emotional support.  If a town is “lucky” it is bisected by an interstate which automatically inserts a corporate colony of banal mediocrity.  It is a familiar formula of disenfranchisement in ones own home, with a McDonalds, an Olive Garden and a Cracker Barrel flanked by a Chevron and a Quality Inn.  I say “lucky” because these are usually the only places for viable employment in such townships.

corporate-formula-by-kenn-orphan-2016Economic neoliberalism is a vague and elusive term for most people.  But it can be summed up in three words: privitization, austerity and deregulation.  These three words can also be vague, and that may be by design.  But it isn’t too difficult to dissect:

-Privitization means taking the commons, that which belongs to all people, that which is public, that which is sacred, and dividing it among a handful of wealthy investors.

-Austerity means taking the common wealth, that which has been accumulated by the hard work of the people, and dividing it among a handful of wealthy investors.

-Deregulation means taking the laws and statutes designed to protect the commons and their precious resources like air and water or protect the health and safety of workers, and watering them down or dismantling them to make it easier to privatize and impose austerity so as to accumulate even more wealth for a handful of wealthy investors.

poverty-in-the-us-photo-from-al-jazeeraYou see, it was the sold-out Democratic Party and Liberal Class elites who, in their slavish service to Wall Street neoliberalism, ignored the plight of non-urban, working class people.  They were expendable.  “Deplorable,” if you will.  And in promoting an establishment oligarch, one with a long career of pandering to Wall Street and war mongering on behalf of corporate interests, through party chicanery and outright deception they only succeeded in enraging the base of their own party and alienating further these people whose livelihoods and institutions were gutted and sacrificed on the altar of Wall Street greed.

Now some may ask how does this explain the racism? Or the xenophobia? Or the misogyny?

Let me tell you a short story…
In its rush to dismantle the commons which were intended to benefit All of the people, a relatively small group of very wealthy people decided to gut or make redundant all of the institutions that did not serve the purpose of creating capital (wealth) for them.  Colleges and universities became apprenticeships for industry and training schools for obtaining jobs only.  Critical thinking and study for the betterment of all society was not seen as useful for wealth accumulation for this handful of wealthy investors.  (Has anyone applied for university recently? Or graduated with a degree in the arts or humanities? Or didn’t graduate yet has a student loan to repay nonetheless? Debt is enormous and options for repaying them few. Neoliberalism does not countenance a thoughtful or enlightened electorate. It only seeks cogs for its machine, no others need apply).  But I digress.

Homeless Veteran NCHAll this in turn enabled the unchecked growth of a militarized police/prison/surveillance state which incarcerates and persecutes scores of non-violent debtors or drug offenders, mostly young, mostly Black or Brown, but many white, rural and poor.  And this system then marks them unfit for employment or for voting rights often for the duration of their entire lives.  When so many people are feeling alienated and disenfranchised from the society in which they were supposed to belong is it any wonder why racism and misogyny persists and is growing?

Neoliberalism also fueled the US imperialistic war machine which lined the pockets of profiteers and fueled a rapacious, xenophobic aggression.  This is the same machine which bamboozles young men and women with scant economic or educational opportunities into “defending US interests” – code words for being cannon fodder, a term buried by the ruling elite, or mercenaries for neo-imperialistic corporate power (see Vietnam, Laos, Iraq, the Balkans, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, and on and on and on).  Of course militaristic jingoism is nothing new in the US. It has played well for decades at nearly every single sporting event getting slicker with more techno flash every time.  With jets tearing the sky into shards over packed stadiums festooned with red, white and blue everything, crowds of young, disenfranchised white, straight males are encouraged to buy into the lie that bombing brown people elsewhere to smithereens will somehow defend their homeland.  The organized murder game is often their only option for employment or educational advancement.   But sadly most are forgotten when they return to the homeland damaged or in need.

New Orleans after Hurricane KatrinaWith scant opportunities and permanent debt enslavement these “deplorables,” as the vanquished Hillary Clinton dismissively painted them, have become easy prey for the chicanery of slick snake oil salesmen like Trump, et al.  If, and most likely when, these masses begin to realize they have been duped yet again, and this time by someone whom they thought was one of their own, their rage will be nothing less than terrifying.  With climate change poised to wreak untold havoc and misery on the biosphere and the economy we should all find this beyond sobering.

magazine-rack-at-walmartI say all of this not to dismiss the fears of many people, especially people of color, immigrants, women and Muslims. These feelings of fear many have are justified, but all of this is not due to the rise of an unabashed racist to the throne of the American Empire.  This is the very nature of American imperialism without the veneer of polite, Liberal class parlance to cloak it.  The notion that the United States was ever a pluralistic, multicultural society is a myth not founded in reality. Indeed, it would be ludicrous to suggest that any nation formed via the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population and built from the forced and coerced labor of other ethnic and racial groups could somehow transform itself into a different animal.  It is time to jettison these fallacious ideas while we still have time.
black-lynching-photo-from-atlanta-black-starIndeed, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence and several viable reports that suggest that there has been an uptick in white nationalist aggression. But truthfully, the culture of hypermasculine, white supremacism has always simmered under the surface of American society.  Keep in mind how the United States was founded.  Who was enslaved?  Who was dispossessed of their land?  Keep in mind that lynchings via white mobs and the forced internment of Japanese Americans by the US government were not so long ago.  In times of economic upset, social unrest, war and ecological crises this Lernaean Hydra, surreptitious in the best of times, emerges with gusto and especially so under a charismatic leader.

Is Trump that leader? Perhaps. I honestly don’t know. And I would not be so presumptuous to assume he and his minions are not capable of the most unimaginable horror, especially since he has not failed to surprise or even shock so many thus far. But his rise should not come as any surprise to anyone who dares to take an honest look at the American experiment. This not the first time that the tide of fascism has washed over American shores.  It has been here all along, and many of us have been sleeping while it was nourished by the neoliberal economic policies that hollowed out what was left of the commons, relegated millions to the margins of Empire, decimated entire nations in never ending wars of plunder, and made way for a vengeful and terrifying barbarism.  Trump’s rise is not an anomaly.  It is, indeed, the fulfilment of a long, despicable legacy that persists.  And until we begin to face that monstrous fact, and ditch the failing political structures which aided this legacy, he and his ilk will also persist until there is nothing left to save.

Kenn Orphan 2016

Where Were They?

I get the anger, the rage. I really do. Trump is vile and the aggressive racist and misogynistic culture he emboldens must be vehemently opposed. Pence may be even worse with his religious right nuttery. But I am forced to wonder if most of these Trump protestors would have stood with me when I protested with Occupy Wall Street? Or when people in passing cars hurled threats and middle fingers at me when I protested Israel’s murderous onslaught of Gaza supported by the US? Or when I marched for transgender equality amidst rising violence in America against that community?

I cannot help but wonder where many (if not most) of these people were when when the sitting President boasted about being “really good at killing people” or having a “Tuesday Kill List” or deporting more undocumented people or prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other US president? Or when his Secretary of State (the vanquished Hillary Clinton) pushed to decimate Libya and ghoulishly celebrated its leader being sodomized with a knife in the street by a mob? Or when Chelsea Manning was being mercilessly persecuted for exposing war crimes by the same administration? Where were most of them when the US backed the rightwing coup in Honduras or the CIA backed coup in Ukraine? Were these things simply not unjust enough because they happened under Democratic administrations?
trump-protests-in-chicago-photo-source-nbc-newsAre these same angry people uniting with Standing Rock Sioux? or Black Lives Matter? Certainly some are. But do the vast majority of them really want a representative democracy and the end of corporatocracy? Or do most merely hope for maintaining a miserable status quo and a facsimile of democracy designed and manufactured by the ruling duopoly and mainstream media?

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad to see that people are awakening to activism.  And I stand firmly against the brownshirt intimidation and violence emboldened by this frightful new day. But the weak as dishwater American Liberal class needs to take a good, hard look at themselves and their complacency at and complicity in the monstrous crimes of the ruling duopoly.  And they need to do it quickly instead of pontificating on how stupid everyone else is for not standing behind their awful selection for leadership.  The current protests only communicate a clear message to the reactionary right that the Liberal class only cares about electing a big “D” into office.

When this becomes a protest against militaristic aggression, capitalist plunder, apartheid, systemic racism, suppression of indigenous rights, ecological devastation and Empire itself, and not merely about the outrage of having a dimwitted narcissistic proto-fascist in the Oval Office instead of a war mongering corporatist I will join them with gusto.

Let me know when that happens.
Kenn Orphan 2016

The Day After

Donald Trump. Photo by Joe Raedle, Getty Images.This morning I woke up to a flurry of grief and panic on my newsfeed. The unlikely became likely and my prediction about the oligarchy sweeping their Queen of Wall Street Wars into power did not come to pass. Instead, a racist, misogynistic megalomaniac ascended the throne of the American Empire. When the mourning period is over perhaps the Liberal Class will take a good, hard look at the reasons for this without going to the all too easy standbys e.g. third party voters ruined it, or this is the fault of the radical left (of which I am a part) who criticized Clinton instead of supporting her, or some inane conspiracy theory regarding Russian interference.

The hard truth is that the Liberal Class sold out to corporatocracy and became fully invested in the neoliberal economic order, the last and most brutal form of capitalism, decades ago. In doing this they became drunk on their sanctimonious laurels while huge swaths of the nation languished, trade deals disenfranchised the working class and the social safety nets and public institutions were gutted. And yes, that all happened under Democratic leadership. They did not oppose the corruption within their own ranks and, as a result, became distrusted and reviled.

If the Liberal Class cannot see that “lesser evilism” is a failed tactic now, they never will. Hillary Clinton was one of the most detested candidates in Democratic National Convention history, but that did not stop DNC elites like Debbie Wasserman Schultz from propelling her into the spotlight through outright chicanery. To add insult to injury the DNC ridiculed, alienated and marginalized its base, including young voters and Bernie Sanders supporters. It is the Liberal elite who are to blame for this monumental loss. Only someone as reviled as Clinton could lose to a buffoon like Trump. Whether or not they will ever see this, however, is doubtful.

But we must move on from all of this, and quickly.  The coming Trump Regime will probably increase misery for Muslims, Latinos and Black and Brown communities,as well as for the press and whistleblowers.  They have all suffered greatly under corporate Democrats.  President Obama’s deportation record, prosecution and persecution of whistleblowers, and drone bombing history are a testament to this.  But Trump’s racist demagoguery has emboldened a whole host of latent frightening actors, from white nationalists to wannabe brown shirts, who now have a mandate to unleash an even more malicious culture of terror.  We must stand in solidarity with people of color, immigrants and other minorities, and protect them wherever we see injustice.   And we must also passionately defend independent journalism.  Deregulation of industry is also certain since it is clear he has no regard for the natural environment or safety in the workplace.   This is what makes environmental activism more vital than ever before.

Now comes the struggle to move beyond. We are facing the greatest challenges we have ever faced as a species. With increasing frequency, climate change, military aggression and biosphere collapse stand ever poised for utter calamity and sheer devastation. But the corporate controlled, war profiteering Democratic Party was unwilling to rise up to meet these monumental, existential crises with integrity and gusto.  It sided with Wall Street and war profiteers.  It has rightly been relegated to the dust bin of history. Let’s leave it there.

It is urgent that we build a new movement of real progressives, disillusioned liberals and leftist radicals like myself while there is still time left to do so. It is also time for Liberal Class elites to smack the smugness off their faces and build bridges of solidarity with Black Lives Matter and Standing Rock Sioux and Palestinian rights activists and Pipeline obstructionists and prison rights advocates and a whole host of radicals who have been working hard against the injustices of Empire.  The establishment politicians and ruling duopoly failed them, we must not.

The day after the period of mourning is over I hope you will join me. There is much work to be done and the time is quickening.

Kenn Orphan  2016

The End of the Charade

This is going to be a sort of political rant, so for those of you who are sick of or hate that sort of thing I encourage you to scroll on.

It is a rant regarding the charade which is finally coming to an end.  It is about the selected puppets of the ruling elite in the American Empire who will be paraded before the world a little more before its subjects are told that they have “chosen” one of them to lead.

Here is the deal.  I should be happy for the absurd theatrics finally being over, right? But the thing is, I’m not. I shouldn’t give a damn either, right? I no longer live in the heart of the most ruthless and powerful Empire the world has ever known. But the thing is, I do.  America IS, in fact, the most ruthless and powerful Empire the world has ever known. And its machinations have effects very far from its contested borders.

trump-vs-clinton-photo-newsweekI guess I fear what I know is coming next.  If Hillary Clinton is crowned those of us on the far Left who weep will be ridiculed, maligned or chided for not celebrating with gusto the first female President and the continuance of American aggression and dynastic rule. If in some bizarre anomaly the orange tinted creep sweeps to the throne those of us on the Left who denounced Clinton’s horrific war mongering and corporate loving record and refused to play the inane game of “lesser evilism” will be pilloried and blamed for enabling it all.

In all truth I will be thoroughly shocked if Clinton is not selected.  Even George W. Bush, the vile war criminal of the previous administration, has given tacit endorsement of Hillary Clinton in a letter condemning Trump. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, but it is remarkably simple to condemn that repugnant man with fire retardant flesh tone. And this letter speaks volumes because Bush knows full well that it will bolster Clinton in the neocon circles of the oligarchy. Scores of conservative newspapers have lined up endorsing Clinton also. So with Clinton nearly a shoe in, I know what else is coming.

 

With the Obama regime as historical precedent, it is safe to assume that white American liberals will shrug indifferent shoulders and fall asleep once more as their government drones children and grandmothers picking okra in their fields or subverts democratically elected governments in the Middle East or Africa or Latin America.  They will become champions of reactionary nationalism as a Clinton administration leads the nation into open conflicts with nuclear armed Russia.  They will once again turn their heads from the decades long Israeli apartheid regime as Clinton pledges even more support to the hard right despot Netanyahu.  They will stay silent in criticism of Clinton’s promotion of fracking or dismantling of social security, something which can be done without much protest under a Democrat.  But they can continue to post noncommittal memes on Facebook and Twitter expressing outrage or solidarity with black or brown or red people besieged by a racist system without demanding the dismantling of the very system of capitalist exploitation that is the source of their misery in the first place.

They will rest on the laurels in smug slumber since, in that case, a woman with a big “D” will be sitting in the Oval office. And we should all applaud that, right? First woman president of the American Empire and all?  Never mind that a woman named Jill Stein who, while far from perfect, had much greater progressive credentials. Never mind that Margaret Thatcher was also a woman, and one who had a remarkably similar neoconservative resume to Clinton.  Never mind that Ms. Clinton supported (and continues to support) a rightwing coup in Honduras that has taken the lives of scores of indigenous, environmental and LGBTQ people, including indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres.  Or pushed Obama into decimating Libya, once the richest state in Africa, and ghoulishly celebrated the gruesome murder of its president. Or in Haiti where she aided in the creation of a sweatshop economy on behalf of American garment corporations upon an already historically oppressed and humiliated people.

But really, who seriously believes that the privileged white Liberal class in America gives a rat’s ass about those foreign black and brown people?  How many white Liberals care about black, brown and red people here, the ones right at home labeled “super predators” by the Queen in waiting only a few years ago, or ignored by her at Standing Rock Sioux?

berta-caceres-murdered-by-the-right-wing-coup-government-that-hillary-clinton-supported-and-defends-to-this-day-photo-source-latino-rebels

libya-a-failed-state-photo-source-sean-kilpatrick

protests-against-clinton-in-haiti-photo-source-nytForgive me if I fail to celebrate with the Liberal Class if Clinton is anointed Empress. It is beyond question that Trump is a racist vile creature of narcissism and arrogant stupidity. But if self described “progressives” think the Bloody Queen will promote a left friendly agenda that will stop military aggression, the collapse of the biosphere due to blatant rape of the earth by corporations, and cease support for Wall Street then they have been drinking a Kool-Aid far more lethal than any flag waving, Trump supporting, walking head wound.

In any case, we on the true Left must somehow stomach it all and struggle on against militaristic imperialism for the sake of building a more compassionate and just world while there is still time left.  And I couldn’t be more serious about the “while there is time left” part.  We are running out of that one precious resource rapidly thanks to climate change, the ever present nuclear menace, global pandemic and biosphere collapse.  But after all, if we are still in possession of a conscience what else can we do?

End rant here.

 

Kenn Orphan  2016