Archive | March 2014

Are Democrats the “Spineless Sell outs” That They Are Made Out to Be?

The words we use to describe things or people matter. Not only do they reveal the thinking of the person who says them, but through repeated use, they promote and promulgate a certain mindset that is based on the meaning of those words that, at some point, were taken at face value and accepted as true, even in the face of an abundance of evidence that demonstrate their falsehood. Take the words “sell-out” or “spineless” or “no-backbone”, for example, that many liberals and even some on the left use to describe Democrats. The goal here is to distinguish Democrats, such as Obama, from their more right-wing Republican counterparts. That distinction, in the minds of those who use such adjectives to express their “disappointment” with the Democrats, mainly boils down to intent. It’s assumed that Democrats have the intent or purpose to be different, but lack courage and therefore “sell out” and “betray” the people that they’re supposedly representing. The meaning that gets conveyed is that they represent working people, but are incompetent or not bold enough to stand up to the Republicans who represent the other side, and who, in comparison, are much bolder. Such speech is not just a matter of false semantics, but indicative of – purposeful or not – confusion on and obfuscation of class alliances and affiliations. By misstating their class orientation, they put those politicians on the side of the people and do away with the need for class antagonism towards them. We don’t need to build a movement to oppose them, the thinking goes. We just need to defend and embolden them against the Republicans, and at most, pressure them to do “the right thing”, to do what “they were elected to do”. It doesn’t matter that you remind them that they were elected with the help of big money to do what they already are doing, which is representing those who helped them get elected and who dictate their agenda to them and that they don’t really represent the people. The words, through their implied meanings, do their job, despite your explanations. Implicit conveyance is more effective than explicit clarification.

In a recent thread on Facebook, the difference between the two imperialist parties was described as a difference in “ideology”. Although the meaning of this word, as with many others, is subject to interpretation, in my view, it is inseparable from class and must be understood in that context. If, for example, two people are allied with a particular class and speak up for that class, such as the super wealthy, for example, they both share the same “ideology” or worldview. That doesn’t mean they both have the same “ideas” as to how best to serve and promote the interests of their class. They share the same goal which ultimately is to preserve and ensure smooth and profitable functioning of the economic system that benefits them. What is different is their approach. This difference in approach does translate into policy differences, but only within the overall objectives and framework of the corporate empire that they both are beholden to. Elections are real with real policy ramifications, but only for the dominant and ruling class which gets a chance every four years to reevaluate its options, challenges and opportunities, in light of the current balance of forces and status of the class war, and decide which of its servile political parties would best and most effectively represent them, engendering the least amount of resistance by the people. Such elections also have the added advantage of giving people the impression of having a choice.

So, yes, there are differences between the two main parties. Heck, there are also differences between any two individuals, regardless of their ideology. But we must distinguish between qualitative, fundamental and ideological differences – those that distinguish one class from another – which are irreconcilable, except in an act of a revolution, where contradictions flare up and are resolved one way or the other, on the one hand, and differences in method and approach, on the other. Differences within the same class are reconcilable and within the same imperialist framework and agenda. Democrats are more farsighted and cautious which makes them seem more “concerned” about the welfare and well being of working people. Their concern, however, is not for the poor, per se, but for the longevity of the economic system. Their concern is not out of ideology and class sympathy, but a matter of self preservation and of a tactical nature. This is nothing new. Since the early days of capitalism, there were always industrialists and capitalists who advocated a more cautious approach in dealing with the working class, in order not to stir too much dissatisfaction that can result in costly revolts, which would bring down the hammer on them, revealing the antagonistic nature of the whole setup. Some dissatisfaction is alright and inevitable, of course, and so is a certain level of unemployment, which provides the “job creators” with a ready and willing pool of workers to choose from and keep wages down. Too much of it may be cause for concern.

The more aggressive sector of the capitalist class often sets the trend which the more cautious follow. When there is no unrest among the population, such as when a more “populist” sounding president who connects better with the poor and minorities is in office, the more cautious and less aggressive Democrats who are sometimes called “the lessor evil”, move further to the right and embrace the more aggressive policies of their Republican counterparts. They cautioned, for example, against President Reagan’s aggressive anti-worker and anti-poor policies, but, when they realized he “succeeded” in moving the agenda to the right, they embraced him and his policies. In fact, Reagan happens to be one of Obama’s favorite former presidents, whom he often mentions with much admiration. Bush, on the other hand, is criticized by Democrats, not for his policies which were mostly the same as Obama’s, but because the ruling class lost credibility under him, which Obama, due to the trust of the minorities in him, came to restore. The interplay between the two imperialist parties isn’t new, either. It’s the tried and tested “good cop, bad cop” exercise.

Class alliance and affiliation is also not limited to domestic policies or in dealing with the domestic working class. In fact, in the age of imperialism, class character is most evident in international affairs. That’s where the true class character of the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders reveals itself, since that’s where the empire’s cruelty and naked aggression is on the clearest display. WikiLeaks revealed that when the Haitian government tried to raise the minimum wage from 31 cents to 61 cents an hour, the Obama Administration intervened on behalf of Hanes and Levis and pressured the government to prevent the raise for the impoverished black population. The American working class must understand that the slaughter always starts on the other side of the border.

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While Chastising Russia Over Crimea, Obama Defends Iraq War Calling it Virtuous

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On April 3, in San Francisco, a federal judge will hear a lawsuit against key members of the Bush Administration: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rice and Powell, for waging a war against the people of Iraq. Obama is opposed to holding the prior Administration officials accountable for starting a devastating war based on lies and fabrications. Instead, he has repeatedly and strongly condemned Russia and has imposed sanctions on key Russian officials, as well as, on its economy, for having the residents of Crimea, which was historically part of Russia until Khrushchev transferred it to Ukraine and still has a majority of Russians, vote in a referendum to rejoin Russia. In comparing Crimea with Iraq, Obama made no mention of over hundred thousand Iraqi deaths (in some accounts close to a million) and total destruction of the country or the false pretexts on which it was based.

One of the claims of the US for being an “exceptional” country is that there is rule of law here: that if your deliberate, planned and calculated actions harm an innocent person, or a group of innocent people, such as by inflicting bodily or monetary harm, or worse, causing their death, you must be tried in court and punished. For starters, those who make this claim overlook that, at least some of the countries that they compare the US with, which make the US worthy of praise, in their eyes in comparison, happen to be where the US supports and keeps in power a corrupt dictatorship or otherwise maintains close and friendly ties with, and which owe their lack of respect for rule of law, at least in part, to the US. It’s like I impoverish someone by stealing his wealth and then compare myself to him and boast that I have more than he does.

But, that’s not the only reason why such a claim is baseless. In fact, if one were to list all the cases discrediting that claim, it would be too long for anyone to read. Suffice it to mention the incredible disparity in sentencing for same or similar crimes, based on race. Blacks are routinely sentenced to much longer prison terms for same violations than are whites. Also, someone who reveals an embarrassing fact about the US government, such as an atrocity committed overseas, is punished much more harshly, as was Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning who is serving a 35 year sentence, than many rapists and murderers. Bankers who defrauded millions of people weren’t even charged by Obama’s Justice Department. Twice in less than two years, a white man was acquitted for shooting and killing an unarmed black teenager on the grounds that he feared for his life, even though the killer was armed and the victim wasn’t. The Justice Department refused to take up either case. Compare those two cases with the case of Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, Florida, a black mother of two, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting a warning shot into the air to scare away her abusive ex-husband and where no one got hurt. So much for the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law, which was obviously written for and exclusively used by whites.

Police officers are routinely exonerated even when they kill an unarmed young man, especially if the victim is black or Hispanic or homeless. Black children are routinely tried as adults and are held responsible for their actions much earlier in their lives than whites.

An FBI agent shot an unarmed 27 year old Chechen immigrant at his home in Orlando, Florida, 7 times, one in the back and one in the back of his head, killing him, while interrogating him about a triple murder, because they said he threw a coffee table at the agent and grabbed a broomstick from the kitchen during the interview. It took over ten months to explain the killing, after giving conflicting accounts at first. They then “investigated” and exonerated themselves. Of the 151 murders the FBI committed since they began doing their self-investigation, in all 151 cases, they found themselves justified in the killing. How nice! Their report as to how and why the agent shot and killed the unarmed young man, in May of last year, including a shot in the back of the head, is taken by the Justice Department and the State Prosecutor at face value, the case is considered closed and there will not ever be any investigation or hearing on it, ever. The killer will never have to appear before a judge or jury and no one will hear his parents’ case that he was killed unjustly and unnecessarily. Or maybe I’m mistaken to think that Muslim men have parents, too, who should have their day in court.

President Obama likes to remind the world of US respect for the rule of law and due process, while he goes to war without authorization from the Congress, in violation of the Constitution, which he used to teach at Harvard. He also reserves the right to pick individuals from his “Kill list” – US citizens or not – and order executed, without due process. The US, also routinely violates international laws and Geneva Conventions. Invading and bombing countries that have not attacked and are not threatening to attack is also against the UN Charter, and keeping prisoners of war indefinitely in Guantanamo is against Geneva Conventions, not to mention keeping Guantanamo which is part of Cuba as if it were part of the US. Talk about annexation of part of your neighbor’s territory. So is kidnapping individuals in foreign countries and sending them to other countries to be tortured against international laws; so is imprisoning individuals in secret CIA prisons in foreign countries. So is unprovoked drone attacks. So is toppling and changing a regime in foreign countries. It is also against diplomatic protocols and rules to conspire with other governments to deny landing permission to a sovereign nation’s president’s jet, flying overhead, as the US did with its European allies against the President of Bolivia because they thought Edward Snowden may be flying with him.

When a former citizen of Iraq sues those responsible for causing so much death, destruction and suffering to her or his country and countrymen, the “rule of law and due process” president asks the judge to dismiss the case. That’s what he’s expected to do again on April 3rd in San Francisco when the judge is expected to hear the case. There are many ways in which this is an “exceptional” country. Being the land of the rule of law, due process and justice, isn’t one of them. From its number of military bases around the world to the frequency at which it attacks other countries, from its income and wealth inequality to its number of incarcerations, from how much it spends on its military to its infant mortality rate among industrial nations, and in its “race relations”, it is indeed exceptional, not to mention the incredible and mind boggling hypocrisy of its leaders.
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A Lesson in How Not to Do a Revolution

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According to Amnesty International, an Egyptian court has sentenced 529 supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi to death for the killing of a single police officer, in what Amnesty is calling the largest group death sentence anywhere in the world in recent years. Since overthrowing the Morsi government in July 2013, the Egyptian military has killed over a thousand people and jailed over 16,000.

In 2011, after 30 years of brutal military dictatorship, the Egyptian people rose up and in what seemed to be the biggest and most significant achievement of the Arab Spring, overthrew the Mubarak regime. Through their persistence and vigilance, they opened a new chapter in their nation’s history, ready to be written by the people and for the people, instead of by a corrupt, repressive and treasonous wealthy class allied with and supported by imperialism, which helped keep them in power, through naked repression. Their revolution had, for a brief period, opened the door wide open to a new set of laws and priorities, one in which, instead of the minority of the rich elite and foreign transnational corporations getting richer, the people in the millions could have their needs attended to and met, and instead of a bloody dictatorship imposed by the police and military, which was paid for, trained and maintained by US imperialism to preserve the status quo and prevent change, they could finally enjoy democracy. The door to such change did not open easily; it was pushed open by the collective force of millions of people who camped out in Tahrir Square and refused to back down. The regime did everything they could to resist the revolution that was in the making. They offered to replace Mubarak with his Vice President. They promised to make some changes in the constitution. And, of course, it wasn’t all carrots. They also tried, as hard as they could, to suppress the uprising. The Obama Administration, which stayed in close contact with the military leaders, defended Mubarak, at first. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton admonished the protesters and told them to go to their homes. Vice President, Jo Biden objected to calling the regime a dictatorship. Unlike in Ukraine, where they didn’t like the government because it wouldn’t ally itself with European Union and NATO and would not accept IMF-imposed austerity measures and NATO friendly “security” clauses that came with their offer of economic assistance, the US not only did not spend $5 billion to help the protesters overthrow the government, as they did in Ukraine, they continued to provide the tear gas, bullets and police and military equipment to the regime. Unlike in Ukraine where they were condemning the police for trying to push back Molotov cocktail throwing protesters who were trying to take over government buildings, in Egypt, they were condemning the protesters for creating chaos and disorder and disrupting the economy.

But, the people prevailed – at least for a brief period – and the regime fell and real elections were held for the first time in many decades and Muslim Brotherhood came to power. But, they too began to reveal their corruption, curtailed freedoms, embraced neoliberal policies, remained within the confines dictated by imperialism, made no socioeconomic changes and above all left the ruling class and their protectorate military intact. The military that was trained and funded by imperialism and therefore stayed loyal and continued to take orders from Washington, and which remained untouched by the revolution and, if anything, it actually gained an undeserved and unjust credibility, was not about to give up its class roots and affiliation. What compromises it did make when faced with the ire and demand of the people for change, it did because they were imposed on it. A military that was the main vehicle for Mubarak’s dictatorship for three decades, defending the rich few within the country and the interests of multinationals without, would not and did not suddenly convert to a democratic and populist institution willing to side with the people and their aspirations for democracy and social and economic justice. It remained at the ready to take back the freedoms won at the first opportunity it would get.

It didn’t take too long for that opportunity to come. A year of the Mosri regime was enough to make people realize that the MB was not what they made a revolution for and so they went back into the streets, in even larger numbers than when they revolted against Mubarak. This was the opportunity the military was waiting for. Not because Mosri had made any significant or major structural changes that they opposed, but, because people had won two things the military and their bosses in Washington were not happy about: the right to have an elected representative government with some level of guaranteed democratic rights, and even more importantly and more menacing to the ruling elite and imperialism, a sense of empowerment that they do have the power. In other words, the military did not come roaring back to take charge of the situation and begin taking back the gains of the revolution because there had been structural and socioeconomic changes, but because there hadn’t been any. Had the revolution dismantled this potent tool – what more potent than the armed forces – of the ruling comprador bourgeoisie and their allies in Washington, the gains would not have been reversed.

We will have our day here, too. History and other people’s experiences are there to guide us and show us the way forward. A revolution that keeps the police, the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Pentagon, and in short all the armed forces and all the myriad security and intelligent forces intact will fail and the 1% and the 0.1% will come back and resume where they left off.
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US Media Working in Concert with Empire, Beating Drums of Confrontation with Russia

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“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing” – Malcolm X

Samuel Berger, national security adviser to President Clinton said on Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC on Thursday about Obama’s latest sanctions on Russia: “These are good steps”, since they “cross the line” and escalate the sanctions from individuals “to key sectors of the Russian economy, such as mining and banking”. “But”, he added, “this is not sufficient and we must go further and impose more sanctions”. Ms. Maddow followed up by saying that “Putin thrives on world’s discontent”.

Let’s be clear about one thing here: inviting guests to the show to reaffirm the government policies and to reassure the public that the government is doing the right thing, and to repeat the words of the Administration is neither news, nor journalism, nor news analysis. It is but acting as the mouthpiece of the government and as their propaganda tool. The premise that they provide us with information and debate policy alternatives is nothing but a canard. There is no discussion on CIA or NED (National Endowment for Democracy) and other governmental and non-governmental activities in Ukraine, prior to the protests that toppled the government. There is no mention of $5 billion spent to bring about the regime change, as mentioned by US Undersecretary of State, Elizabeth Nuland, in December of 2013. There is no discussion on why Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whom she affectionately refers to as “Yats” was “our guy”, as she told US Ambassador to Ukraine, in a phone conversation that was intercepted and made public, and why he was chosen to be the new Prime Minister, long before the protesters were to overthrew the government. There is no talk of his background (former head of Ukraine’s Central Bank), or what he promised to do for the West that made him “our guy” (promised to accept the terms of the IMF loan that comes with austerity measures, as well as, “security” clauses imposed by the NATO), and, above all, what the long term US plans are in the region, or why Ukraine is important to the US and its allies, in achieving those long term goals.

Ms. Maddow who keeps telling us that President Putin is a dictator and “has lost his mind”, could have at least told her viewers what Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff of former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, said the other day, which was that taking the European economic offer, which “our guy” intends to do and announced on Thursday he would do, would be good for Ukraine’s wealthy oligarchy, but not its people. The neo-Nazis did not participate in the overthrow out of ignorance.

Ms. Maddow keeps asking what else the US can do to “stop” Putin, instead of why the US even needs to intervene. Crimea was a part of Russia before, with a majority of Russian inhabitants even today, who just voted to rejoin Russia. You can sense the awkwardness when US officials say things like: “you just don’t do that to another sovereign nation, in 21st Century”. Yes, it’s true: we intervened and invaded and toppled governments, many times ourselves, but those were in previous centuries. 1990’s and earlier years don’t count. Okay, we’ve done a few in 21st Century, too. Okay, more than a few. Okay, let me rephrase that: “you just don’t do that, unless you’re the US”. If every time the US invaded or attacked or bombed or sent the marines in or staged a coup or intervened militarily or politically in another country, other nations would impose sanctions on the US, the whole world would have to constantly boycott, impose sanctions on and embargo the US – constantly! (maybe that’s what it’ll take!)

But, you won’t hear Ms. “Progressive liberal” Maddow discuss these issues because that would not be within her job description. Unelected military officials draw up plans for the expansion of the Empire and presidents sign orders to enact those plans, such as spending $5 billion to topple the government in Kiev and to make “our guy” the Prime Minister and extend an IMF loan with US dictated conditions to them for bringing in the NATO. And if Russia reacts by sending in troops, impose sanctions on them and move weapons to Ukraine with the pretext of defending it against Russians. Either way, we’ll be moving closer to our goal of surrounding Russia with NATO forces: a win-win for the US and its allies. There’s a name for such activities: provocation. But, never mind all that. We’re supposed to be outraged and go along with their plans and ploys. And that’s where Empire’s news organizations come in. It’s things like this that make a dictatorship with aware and awake people preferable to a fake “democracy, with a brainwashed and asleep population.

It’s easy to shrug off such mass deception and one-sided mendacious propaganda as normal or natural for corporate news networks or insignificant in our lives. But, what’s particularly troubling, besides the economic price we pay and the social programs we lose, and in addition to making the world a more dangerous place to live in, is that gradually and through time, such persistent lies and brainwashing change our sense of what’s right and wrong, what’s fair and unfair and even our sense of what it means to be human anymore and how we ought to share the planet with others. This is akin to being in a military training camp, where we learn to hate and kill whom we’ve been told to hate and kill, without even knowing or caring to know why.

It’s impossible to literally take over the world through some 500 military bases in some 130 countries, complete with troops, weapons and heavily armed warships and bombers, and wish or work for peace or justice. It’s impossible to impose the will of the Empire and plunder the world and funnel billions into the coffers of giant corporations, by all means necessary, and have peace and stability and a safe and healthy future for our planet. It’s impossible to push and bully and threaten and overthrow regimes and take over nations and impose austerity on people everywhere and amass weapons at another nation’s borders, and have no blowback. And, it’s impossible to lower tensions, while doing everything to heighten them.

The sad truth is that the world is being pushed towards endless and ever bigger and more dangerous wars, while the environment deteriorates and millions of people go hungry and millions more struggle to survive and their standard of living falls, all for ever more profits and wealth accumulation for a few, while we remain oblivious and asleep, thanks to the most powerful and successful propaganda machine ever assembled.

Who’s the Crazy One?

Have you noticed how the US corporate media always tries to portray whomever becomes the target of US propaganda machine as crazy, unstable and out of his mind? It’s easier to convince people that someone is dangerous, if he’s gone mad. A “Madman” with “weapons of mass destruction” is indeed “dangerous” and “must be stopped”. On the other hand, US presidents who attack and invade countries and order carpet bombing with 5000 pound bombs and cluster bombs and depleted uranium bombs and turn an entire country upside down and leave it in utter devastation and destruction, killing a million people or more, are perfectly normal and stable and know what they’re doing. If it’s ever admitted, their wars are only a mistake, an error in judgement, stemming from wrong intelligence data.

Rachel Maddow of MSNBC seems particularly intent on convincing us that Putin is a madman and dangerous. I have a question for Ms. Maddow: what are you exactly after? I know you don’t advocate war with Russia? You know how I know that? Because you, and the Pentagon you defend on your show, know whom to pick a fight with. You don’t want war with Russia because you can’t fight them; otherwise, you would have already been in Moscow changing their regime, and you would be reporting about heroic US troops fighting there to protect our freedom here.

You see, I don’t buy the notion that reporters such as Ms. Maddow, who consider themselves progressive and anti war, are just trying to report the news, without a bias or agenda. I don’t buy it for the same reason I don’t buy the story about Santa Clause and his flying reindeers. Well, actually, flying reindeers are more believable. These so-called liberal reporters are among the slickest of Pentagon mouthpiece.

Ironically, the most sane and intelligent take on the events in Ukraine and Crimea came from Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Former Secretary of State, General Powel’s Chief of Staff, who said on All In With Chris Hays on MSNBC, yesterday, that the US should tone down its rhetoric against Putin and Russia and not escalate the tension any further. He replied to the question as to what “we” should do – as if it’s a given that “we” should do something – by reminding the audience that in 1989-1990, the US went to Panama, arrested the President and changed the regime. Of course, he didn’t mention many others like that, such as in Iran, in 1953, Guatemala, 1954, Congo, 1960, Chile, 1973, Granada, 1983, Kosovo, 1994, Haiti, 1991 and again in 2004, when US marines landed in the capital, walked into the President’s office and literally – I’m not exaggerating, Google it – kidnapped President Aristide, put him on a plane and flew him to Central African Republic.

Col. Wilkerson also rightly pointed out US policy towards Cuba, which the US has an economic and trade embargo on – which is an act of war itself – without any Cuban provocation. He could have also added the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, “a sovereign nation”, by the very sane President Kennedy who’s admired by liberals. Speaking of which, and speaking of who’s a madman and who’s not, when the former Soviet Union tried to station defensive missiles in Cuba, to prevent its invasion by the US, President Kennedy threatened to blow up the Earth with nuclear weapons. That’s when the “madman” of the time, President Khrushchev, ordered the missiles back, to avoid a nuclear war. But, when the US keeps pushing NATO further to East and to the borders of Russia and keeps placing missiles and other heavy arms in countries bordering Russia, and then goes into another and helps stage a coup d’tat, provoking Russian reaction, it’s Putin who’s crazy. I’m not defending Putin or his sending troops to Crimea, which was taken from Russia and annexed to Ukraine by the former Soviet Union and where the majority still are Russian and who just voted to join Russia once more. What I am saying is that, as Col. Wilkerson pointed out or implied, the problem is not Russia or Putin. The problem is the US meddling and aggression in the region by pushing NATO into the face of Russia, by doing regime change in former Soviet republics and allies and arming them and its threats and belligerence.

Obama announced today of additional sanctions against Russia, and I’m sure, as I write this, Rachel Maddow is busy preparing to tell us why we need more sanctions and discuss “what the US should do” on her show, this evening. She will not talk about Palestinians who are suffering and dying everyday because of US policies. She will not talk about dangerous Nazi elements who are in the current government in Kiev who have threatened Russians and Jews and who brought down the monument dedicated to Ukraine’s soldiers who fought against Nazis. She will not talk about CIA activities in Ukraine before the coup or US spending $5 billion to bring about the coup with the help of the neo-Nazis, or how the European Union’s offer of help to Ukraine had “security” provisions that would bring in NATO, or what the US goals are in the region. Instead, she will talk about how Putin is crazy and unstable and will ask what else the US needs to do about this egregious Russian aggression.

Hillary Clinton, who apparently is going to run for President in 2016 and seems to have the best chance of winning it, likened President Putin to Hitler. Some commentators rightly criticized her on the grounds that such comparisons trivialize and make light of the holocaust. But, that’s not the only reason her comparison is wrong and “crazy”. Her comment is also an insult to 20 million citizens of the former Soviet Union, most of them Russian, who died due to Nazi aggression. You want crazy? That’s crazy!

After President Bush invaded Iraq and killed hundreds of thousands of people, President Putin, who according to Rachel Maddow has lost his mind and gone crazy, described Bush as “a crazy man running around with a knife”. Hillary Clinton will be a crazy woman running around with a chainsaw.

US Empire And The Mafia Mindset

Phenomena such as the Mafia have been more common throughout human history than one may think. They have appeared in different times and places and on different scales, throughout the history and the world, and continue to exist now, as you read this. Though they all resort to violence, including assassinations, serial killings, threats, extortions, bribery, etc., which most people would consider criminal and atrocious and vile acts, not all are considered criminal, and not everywhere. Criminality is, as most other things, relative. Slavery used to be legal, so was businesses denying service to blacks, among many others. It depends on how big and powerful the group and its leadership is, and where it’s located. But, you can identify gangsters without much difficulty from their objectives and means for achieving them, as well as how they’re organized, alliances made, enemies dealt with and servants hired and kept in check. The goal is simple: expand your sphere of control, by any means necessary, which often takes force and violence or the threat of force and violence and then, through your exclusive and unchallenged rule, enrich yourself, as much as you can, at the expense of others. The organization is also easy to understand: a group, such as a leader and his family and close friends and relatives or associates, or those in alliance, hire and keep in employment, an army of loyal henchmen (the size can of course vary greatly), who take care of the dirty work for the leading family or group. The decision making process within the leadership can vary, as well as their power, size of the territory under their control and the size of their army of mercenaries and loyalists. Some have one brutal boss who makes all the decisions, though, he may also have a group of “advisors”, informants and spies that might help him with his decision making. Most kingdoms and empires of the past have shared these characteristics. The obvious difference with the Mafia, being, of course, the sheer vastness of such kingdoms or ruling capitalist classes that developed later.

The reason I use a much smaller grouping or organization such as the Mafia to explain kingdoms and capitalist ruling classes of today, is because most people understand the Mafia, as to what they were really about and what they did: imposing the rule of a a small group over many others and expropriation and usurpation of their wealth, by all means necessary, including violence, wars and terror.

As such gangs grew in power and territory, they developed into tribes, fought with one another and by conquering others and enslaving their inhabitants, grew into the huge kingdoms and empires we know about from history books. But, due to the influence these kings and their loyalists, or feudal and capitalist classes and their apologists have had on society, most history books glorify, rather than tell the truth about such oppressive, exploitative and brutal kingdoms, castes and classes. The only time one tells the truth about the past is when he or she doesn’t intend to repeat it for himself.

Although, it may sound like a stretch to draw an analogy between US empire and a Mafia-type group, in its nature and character, they’re basically the same: same principles, same objectives and same methods for achieving them. What’s different – and admittedly incomparable – is its scale and scope of operation. If in the ancient kingdoms, the ruler was the King, in the case of the US and others like it, it’s the wealthy class, namely, the class of the owners of capital or the corporations. The decision making is done, not by a King, but by the class and for the class, as a whole – through individuals who are “elected” to serve the class as a whole.

Like the rivalries amongst the different Mafia groups, competing over territories and resources, the ruling capitalist class of different imperialist countries, too, have been competing over territories and resources to plunder. Just as such rivalries would result in wars and massacres between Mafia groups, so the imperialist countries’ rivalry over looting weaker and less developed nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America, would engage in war – world wars – with monumental and devastating consequences for their respective peoples and the people of the nations they were fighting over.

The situation changed qualitatively, after WWII, with the US ruling class, largely unscathed from the devastating war, rising up as one of the two superpowers and amassing an incredible amount of military firepower, sphere of control and influence and windfall wealth for their class. Whereas before, the Europeans and Japanese were competitors and adversaries, they became subservient to US empire, content with what it left for them to take, as they, collectively, continued their brutal plunder of the less developed nations. Such changes and shift of power and influence also would occur within the Mafia.

Today, those rivalries have mostly been settled, with the US ruling class largely dictating its agenda for world domination, and with its only major challenger, the former Soviet Union, gone, it has no serious challenger. Though its allies in other imperialist countries, from Canada to Australia and from Japan to Germany, do share in the loots, the US has become, through its formidable military might and wealth, the de facto and indisputable Mafia boss. And, it is on a rampage all over the world to keep nations in line, as the gang collectively continues its plunder of the world, leaving the punishment of those who resist to the boss to take care of. This is not an abstract theory or speculation. One only needs to look at the flow of riches and wealth from Asia, Africa and Latin America, into the pockets of the super wealthy in imperialist countries, especially the US, widening the global wealth gap more by the day.

The US uses its military power and accumulated wealth to dictate its terms, not only to subject nations, but, also on its own gang, who are mostly located in Europe. Any nation, or more precisely, any leader of a nation, who dares to challenge its plans for total and complete domination and control, is dealt with and destroyed, much like the Mafia. And, like the Mafia, the boss hires brutal henchmen (dictators) to keep his or her people in check and subdued for the boss. Like the Mafia, it also does not trust even its own closest allies and constantly spies on them and intercepts and eavesdrops on their phone and other communications, and continues even after its allies find out about it. Like the Mafia, it will be friendly and generous with those it needs and when it needs them, individuals, who themselves are brutal and cruel killers who live a lavish life off their subject people, and when it has no need for them anymore, and especially if they turn on their boss, it will beat them to death and bury them in a shallow grave somewhere, or shoot them in the face and dump their body in the sea, as they did with Bin Laden, who once was their ally against the Soviet Union, or have him arrested and hanged, as they did with Saddam, whom they also used to have good relations with when it suited their needs.

We, the people, get no share of the blood soaked loot taken from toiling masses overseas. Nor do we want their bloody wars of conquest. We must not go along with them when they tell us who is, today, our latest enemy, that they want demonized, sanctioned and punished, nor should we accept their choice of friends and allies and turn a blind eye to their genocide because the empire wants it that way, as is the case of ongoing genocide in Palestine. Ours must be a different kind of world: one without violence and plunder and impoverishment of millions for the benefit of the few. We must reject the Mafia mindset and tyranny and exploitation imposed on us and on people everywhere. We must reject their wars, their alliances, their belligerence and Their rule. It is all possible by bringing back the Civil Rights Movement and finishing what Dr. King tried to do but was cut down before he could finish it.

Why Do We Always End Up With Liars And Hypocrites As Our Leaders?

After all the news about the events in Ukraine, which were followed by public and official condemnations of President Putin by the White House and the State Department for sending troops to Crimea, and then Obama coming out and expressing opposition to Crimeans voting on the future of the Peninsula, it became hard for some – though few – liberal commentators to avoid pointing out the glaring hypocrisy of US officials.

This was itself important news, as such admission of the hypocrisy of their leaders, who are normally presented as having good and noble intentions and a commitment to freedom and democracy, is rare, if not unprecedented. Military interventions, occupations and bombings are normally presented as an attempt at spreading democracy, or ridding a nation of a brutal dictator and liberating its people.

It’s only many years later when some of such lies and double standards are revealed and admitted to, if at all. It took 30 years for the US to admit that Saddam was using chemical weapons, given him by the US, against the Iranians, during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988. The US was siding with Iraq, even though, it started the war, by invading Iran. Not only did the US not protest that aggression, as they are now vociferously about Russian “aggression” in Crimea, which has caused no casualties, they were giving Saddam coordinates of Iranian soldiers’ positions, knowing they would attack them with chemical weapons. When the Iranian Ambassador to UN complained at a UN meeting, about the use of chemical weapons in the war, the US dismissed the complaint, even though they knew they were telling the truth. Yet, when they wanted to get rid of Saddam and get their hands on Iraqi oil, they made a huge deal of his stockpile of chemical weapons and his use against the Kurds. They did the same thing about Syria, when they decided it was time for Assad to go, too.

Even now, as they condemn Russians for their intervention in Ukraine, they’re trying to destabilize Venezuela, and while they were decrying the police violence in Kiev and demanding that they pull back from the the protesters’ positions, they were and still are quietly giving weapons and crowd control equipment and ammunition to the dictator of Bahrain to crack down on protests for democracy, which still continue. Unlike the police in Ukraine, not only Bahrain police does not pull back from protesters, they shoot and kill and even go to hospitals where the wounded are treated and beat and arrest the nurses and doctors for treating them.

The US also admitted recently, after 60 years, their role in the 1953 coup in Iran against a democratically elected Prime Minister. But, just as they were admitting to that, they were pouring $5 billion into Ukraine, as revealed on December 5th, 2013, by Undersecretary of State, Victoria Nuland, in order to accomplish regime change. It could not have been a coincidence that the “guy” mentioned by Ms. Nuland as “our guy” for the Prime Minister’s position, ends up to be the Prime Minister, once the government is toppled. Yet, they decry Russia’s intervention. And while all the media, including MSNBC hosts, mock and dismiss Russia’s concern for the safety of Russians in Crimea, none, including MSNBC, mentions that Reagan’s stated pretext for invading Granada in 1983 was to protect the lives of American students at the University who were never threatened. To them that, which is not ancient history and they all know about, was not a laughable excuse. When four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, all in the last few years, Iran blamed it on the most likely culprit, namely, the US. How many years will it be before they admit to those cold blooded murders, too, which will be, if they do at all, long after people have forgotten about them? And what other assassinations will the government of the time be involved with as they admit to those?

None of these and many other double standards that I did not mention here, have been pointed out by major news networks. Admission in the media to such hypocrisy as was done in the last couple of days is very rare, indeed. But, now that people have caught a glimpse of it, it’s interesting to see their reaction to it. Some react by saying: “yes, that is hypocritical of them, but, others are worse, or yes, that’s true, but, …” and they go back to focusing on their newly found “enemy”, Putin. Still others react in an apathetical manner by saying: “that’s how politicians are”, as if that’s the norm and how it’s supposed to be. It’s as if some “invisible hand”, hand-picks them for the job and puts them in office. They fail to understand what it is that requires politicians to be liars and hypocrites, not to mention why we have to accept that. They fail to see the connection between such individuals and the socioeconomic system that requires and produces them.

The fact is: every socioeconomic system produces the kinds of individuals it needs for its continued functioning. A system that requires lying, will pick out, train, encourage and produce liars. If it’s predicated on wars of plunder and conquest of weaker nations, it will promote war, making it acceptable and the norm. And, if it relies on deception of the public, it will find, promote and put into office politicians who will do that. Lying and duplicitous politicians are the direct and necessary byproduct of a system that plunders the poor of the world to enrich a tiny minority of super rich. It couldn’t have been otherwise. It could never work with honest, just and compassionate individuals who care about people. Leaders of such a twisted system have no choice but to constantly lie and deceive. Capitalism picks the worst among us, promotes them to high offices, and then brings out the worst even in those it picks who are already cut out for the job. Dick Cheney who comfortably and without hesitation would lie and lie often when Vice President, was not an exception, but the rule. He was a typical company CEO, as all other company CEO’s who are now dictating policy to their President Obama. And so are the CEO’s of major banks who defrauded and are still defrauding consumers, while still getting their huge bonuses. The culprit is not the individual, but the economic system that creates and promotes and places in a leadership or decision making position individuals who will serve its interests.

The fact that the revelation of our leaders’ hypocrisy and duplicity can be shrugged off and accepted as the norm or natural is itself very telling about the kind of twisted world we live in. How logical is it to accept that our leaders upon whom depend our and our children’s future, our livelihood, our health and our well being and the future of the planet and who decide on matters of war and peace, will naturally be liars and frauds? Why is such a thing acceptable? Would we trust known rapists and murderers to babysit or teach our children?