No Tea for the Tillerson

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Former Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, was on Capitol Hill yesterday for confirmation hearings before Congress. Given the general hysteria over Tillerson’s business ties with Russia, I thought at first he’d be a good pick. Nothing is more important than repairing America’s damaged relations with Russia. It’s a powerful country, rich in resources, with an educated population and a shared opposition to Islamic terrorism. Most importantly, it has nuclear weapons, so to attack it would be suicidal.

Unfortunately, the US government is lousy with “exceptionalists” who deny that Russia has the right to defend its own interests. They’re apoplectic that Moscow has opposed the illegal installation of hostile regimes in two of its former allies, Ukraine and Syria. The neo-conservative anti-Russian crusade is not about “human rights.” If we cared about that, we wouldn’t support countries like Saudi Arabia that murder gays and enslave women.

As for Tillerson, he’s more of a war-hawk than his detractors thought. He supports our pointless sanctions on Russia as if either Crimea or Aleppo was any of our business. Furthermore, the accusations of Putin “hacking” the Presidential election are just that, accusations, unsupported by credible evidence. Even if the Kremlin DID hack the Democratic Party’s server, the released information was true and relevant to the voters’ decision, so the leak was a public service.

Perhaps Rex is repeating this neo-conservative rubbish so the clowns in Congress will confirm him. I hope that’s the case, but I have my doubts after hearing his belligerent remarks about China. What gives us the right to tell a sovereign nation what it can and cannot do in its own coastal waters? Open navigation in the South China Sea is critical for Beijing’s survival. Despite that fact, Rex insists that China must stop building artificial island bases and threatens to send our Navy to kick them off.

Is this man insane? It’s acceptable to make war for our own national defense, but not to attack the vital interests of another country. China has every right to defend itself and having come late to the party, there are no leftover islands for it to occupy as bases. To Beijing’s credit, these built-up shoals were not inhabited. They’re not conquering and coercing native peoples as we did with Guam, Samoa, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Even Diego Garcia, which the US rents from the UK, was stolen from its native population.

Why do so many powerful Americans continue to frame other nations’ defensive moves as aggression? It must be psychological projection because the US is second to none at portraying imperialism as defense. We needn’t accept this nonsense. Congress should reject Tillerson’s nomination, not because he’s (allegedly) soft on Russia, but because he’s unhinged, unfair, and unbalanced on China. We don’t need another conflict, especially one that could escalate into a nuclear war.

If you like political intrigue, you’ll enjoy my novel Centrifugal Force.

FREE SPEECH FRIDAY: Honoring an American Hero

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“There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights.”

— General Smedley Darlington Butler

On this Veteran’s Day, I’d like to remember one of America’s most decorated veterans, Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler. He was one of 19 men to be awarded the Medal of Honor twice. He was also one of America’s bravest truth-tellers, author of the 1935 classic War is a Racket. This book is available in digital form on Amazon for 99 cents.

Butler participated in American military actions in several countries, including the first World War. He did not become outspoken until after his retirement. One of his most controversial actions was coming to Congress with information about the so-called Business Plot, a conspiracy to overthrow President Franklin Roosevelt and replace him with a military dictator. All the alleged conspirators denied it, of course, but a Congressional committee verified at least some of his testimony.

I highly recommend reading Butler’s book. It’s quite short and can be read in a few hours. Though written shortly before WWII, it nevertheless seems to mirror current events, as Butler writes about all the extravagant profits earned by various “patriotic” industries, from steel to leather (for cavalry saddles.) He also condemns the use of the US military as an enforcer for corporate interests in other nations, such as United Fruit Company’s abusive, monopolistic practices in Central America.

Butler didn’t live to see the second World War that he was warning the nation about. He died of cancer in 1940 at the age of 58. Besides “War is a Racket”, he wrote books about military actions in Mexico and Paraguay. Some of his speeches and letters have also been compiled and published. One of his co-authors was Arthur J. Burks, a marine colonel and a fascinating character in his own right. Burks wrote numerous books and stories in the adventure, detective, and sci-fi genres.

If you’re an admirer of Smedley Butler, you’ll enjoy my political sci-fi novel Centrifugal Force, because he’s mentioned in it.

Remember, Remember: Guy Fawkes, V for Vendetta, and Anonymous

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Tomorrow is Guy Fawkes Day, a British holiday which commemorates the foiling in 1605 of an anti-royalist conspiracy to blow up the House of Lords. Traditionally, it was celebrated with bonfires and burning effigies of the treasonous Fawkes. It’s ironic that the image of this historical villain has been transformed into a heroic symbol of anarchism and the liberty movement.

This is because in V for Vendetta, the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, the anti-government protagonist wears a Fawkes mask to hide his identity. This work and its popular movie adaptation led the hacker group “Anonymous” to adopt the Fawkes mask as its symbol. In a case of life imitating art, they have staged protests with masked members, just like in the movie. This brings up the question of extralegal political action. When is it justified and in what fashion?

On one end of the spectrum, we have violence against people, including political assassination. While this may be justified in the case of a Hitler or Stalin, it is almost always counter-productive. As the Who put it, the “new boss” will be “same as the old boss.” Terroristic and retaliatory violence is similarly flawed. If an organization is willing to sacrifice innocents in order to gain power, how will it behave after the battle is won? If we expect them to change, we will surely be disappointed.

At the other end are peaceful protests, including the non-violent civil disobedience advocated by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Such tactics are more likely to achieve lasting change, but they may require members of the movement to sacrifice their freedom or even their lives. Furthermore, nonviolence is less effective against authoritarian governments, which is why Iran’s “Green Movement” did not achieve its goals.

In the middle, we have destructive but non-violent action, such as sabotage, computer hacking, and release of secrets. This may be the only option when peaceful and legal channels are blocked. In the US, the release of state documents by Wikileaks has done tremendous good in revealing the machinations of the power elite. Cyber-attacks against institutions that kill innocents and violate our privacy, such as the CIA and NSA, would also be morally justified. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that hackers could win those battles. This is why the rebels have focused on easier targets such as corrupt politicians and thieving bankers.

I believe that extralegal action is sometimes necessary, even in a “free country” such as ours, because democratic systems are prone to capture and manipulation by the rich and powerful. Those who participate in such actions must be aware of the risk. Consider, for example, the steep price Chelsea Manning is paying for blowing the whistle on US atrocities in Iraq. Violent actions, such as Fawkes’ “Gunpowder Plot” are not just wrong, they are damaging to any positive goals one might have.

If you’re a “V for Vendetta” fan, you’ll love my books. Check them out on Amazon.

Image is from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_%28group%29

Vladimir Putin’s Seven Smartest Moves

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Next to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the most vilified figure in America today has got to be Russian President Vladimir Putin. The media portray him as the next incarnation of Hitler, the man behind all the evil in the world. As Charles Goyette recently joked on lewrockwell.com, if someone spills their coffee at Starbucks it has to be Russia’s fault. Yet Putin consistently gets over 80% approval ratings from his own people. Clearly, there’s something the mainstream media isn’t telling us. As an avid reader of international news sites, I have a different view. I see Putin not as an evil dictator, rather as one of the most capable leaders of this century. The following are seven reasons why I think the man’s a genius.

1. Russian Renaissance
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia was decimated, its industries failing, its people unemployed and hungry. Life expectancy and birth rates fell precipitously, while alcoholism and suicide rates soared. To make things worse, the vultures of Western capitalism swooped in, looting Russian national assets for kopeks on the ruble. As the 1990’s came to a close, the Russian people elected Vladimir Putin and his party, United Russia. Putin put a stop to the hemorrhage, re-acquiring some of those stolen Russian assets and deporting or imprisoning those oligarchs who wouldn’t play by the rules. If only we had this kind of leadership in America – not only do our financial criminals escape prison, we reward them with bailouts.

2. Trashing the Terrorists
While American financiers were busy subjecting Russia to economic “shock therapy,” America’s intelligence apparatus, cheered on by neo-conservative pundits, was attacking Russia’s Islamic underbelly. Jihadists fighting for Chechen independence committed numerous acts of terror, including the horrific 2004 shooting of hundreds of innocent schoolchildren in the town of Beslan. Putin’s subsequent crackdown on Chechnya was harsh, but Russia could not afford to have a hotbed of Islamic terrorism on its southern flank. Unlike France and Germany, Russia has the will to deal with radical Muslims who attack their host country.

3. Reclaiming Crimea
Speaking of subversion, the 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine, in which the popularly elected pro-Russian President Yanukovych was replaced by pro-Western Poroshenko, was a typical plot fomented by the CIA and its “civil society” puppets. One of the new government’s first actions was to stir up trouble by passing laws discriminating against Ukraine’s ethnic Russian minority. No doubt Putin realized that America’s main goal in instigating this putsch was to deprive Russia of its strategic naval base in the Crimean port of Sevastopol. He took the logical step of annexing Crimea, which is a historic part of Russia with an overwhelming majority of ethnic Russians. It did not “invade,” as Russian troops were already stationed there. Nor was the change unwelcome; in a referendum, about 90% of the voters favored rejoining Russia. Despite the presence of international observers, Western officials called the election a sham. They saw no parallel with America’s meddling in Serbia and the “independence” of the province of Kosovo against the wishes of the Serbian people. No, that was entirely democratic.

4. Surviving the Sanctions
After the so-called “invasion” of Crimea, the US quickly imposed economic sanctions on Russia and pressured its European allies to do the same. The American media could hardly contain its delight about the suffering of the Russian people, which would surely cause them to reject the evil Putin. They could not have been more wrong. The Russians rallied around their leader and his popularity increased. Furthermore, the sanctions were a wake-up call which led Russia to develop its own financial infrastructure and forge closer ties with China and Iran. This tough period will benefit the Russian economy in the long run while hurting America’s allies, especially the Germans, who had enjoyed a profitable trading relationship with Russia.

5. Banning the Bastards
One of the dirty tricks in the play book of the American Deep State is the non-governmental organization or NGO. Supposedly harmless and neutral, they often help foment disorder and plot “color revolutions” in any nation that opposes American hegemony. Ukraine is a prime example, along with other countries on Russia’s fringes such as Georgia. In 2015 Putin decided that enough was enough, and banned such busybody organizations as George Soros’ “Open Society Foundation” and the so-called National Endowment for Democracy from operating in Russia. By the way, Russia does have a political opposition, part of which is pro-Western and anti-Putin. Political freedom is still alive in Russia, just not for organized foreign subversives.

6. Saving Syria
The American propaganda war against Russia has hit a new low with allegations of Russian “war crimes” in Syria. Yet it was America that stoked the flames of rebellion in the first place, tearing apart a nation that was once peaceful and prosperous. Not coincidentally, Syria was an important Russian ally on the site of the nation’s only military base outside the former USSR. At the verge of defeat by the fanatics of ISIS and al Qaeda, the Syrian government requested Russia’s help in defending itself. Unlike the busybody Americans, Putin did not seek regime change, merely to restore peace. In September 2016, the US destroyed the hard-won truce by “accidentally” bombing a Syrian Army position, allowing ISIS terrorists to gain territory. Now Russia is working to end the siege of Aleppo by helping the Syrians defeat the Islamic terrorists that infest the eastern half of the city. American leaders weep crocodile tears at the inevitable civilian casualties while ignoring the much more terrible crimes that their ally Saudi Arabia is currently inflicting on its impoverished neighbor Yemen. It is not Putin who should face a war crimes tribunal, but our “friend” King Salman.

7. Minding His Own Business
The last in the list is something that Putin most likely did NOT do, despite the hysterical claims of the US government and its lapdog media. They have accused the Russia government of hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee and plotting to influence the upcoming Presidential election. Putin has denied any involvement, and in my view, he’s wise to stay out of it, since such interference would probably backfire. Of course, the media offers no real evidence, just  the allegations of a private security firm called CrowdStrike, hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate the breaches. Interestingly, CrowdStrike’s CTO Dmitri Alperovitch is a member of the Atlantic Council, a well-known neo-conservative (anti-Russian) think tank. Many people believe that the American establishment is inventing these allegations out of whole cloth to provide a scapegoat in case the election does not go the way they want it to.

I’m not saying that Putin is right about everything, nor am I denying that Russia has problems. For example, there are reports of bigotry and violence against gays, though nothing like the death penalty they face in Saudi Arabia. I would personally not choose to live in Russia because of its censorship of pro-gay speech, and its banning of “offensive” words and memes. All thing considered, however, it’s probably not much more restrictive than the suffocating political correctness that muzzles America’s corporate media.

Vladimir Putin is no Hitler. He is a democratically elected politician, not a tyrant. In the context of Russian politics, he’s a moderate, walking a fine line between pro-Western and hard-line influences. Under Putin’s tenure as President and Prime Minister, Russia has returned from the brink of being a failed nation to once again be a proud world power.

Thanks to the following off-beat, alternative, and deplorable sites for their enlightened and unbiased coverage of Russian issues: lewrockwell.com, antiwar.com, thesaker.is, consortiumnews.com, voltairenet.org, theduran.com, zerohedge.com, unz.com, and alternet.org. Thanks also to wikipedia.org, whose article on Putin was less biased than I expected it to be. Putin meme from http://knowyourmeme.com/videos/33177-vladimir-putin.

If you admire Vladimir Putin, or if you despise him, you’ll like my books. Check them out here.

The Alt-Right is Alright!

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Some of my favorite Alt-Right villains: Vox Day’s Vile Faceless Minions

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” – Barry Goldwater

Hillary Clinton is at it again, smearing Donald Trump and those who support him as racist extremists who shouldn’t be taken seriously. The Alternative Right, or Alt-Right, is a hotbed of Trump support and thus suspect. It’s important that, rather than taking Clinton’s extremely partisan word for it, we take a look at these so-called Alt-Right-wingers and what they really stand for.

The Alt Right are a loose collection of pundits, bloggers, and activists, mostly former conservatives or libertarians, who have “come out of the closet” with their true politically incorrect opinions. As the “social justice” leftists who dominate the media continue to restrict the range of acceptable thought, many Alt-Rightists believe they must speak out now, lest the “hate speech” police silence them forever.

The Alt Right exists because mainstream conservatives – whom they hilariously call “cuckservatives” – have given up the battle and surrendered to the “social justice” warriors without a struggle. They’ve caved on every significant issue from the Rebel flag to unisex bathrooms.

Alt Rightists refuse to parrot the “social justice” nonsense that polite society espouses. They include such figures as immigration patriot Pat Buchanan, #Gamergate figure Vox Day, human biodiversity guru Steve Sailer, gay free-speech activist Milo Yiannopolous, and South African expat Ilana Mercer. These people speak out for truths that should be self-evident  but are now deemed heretical. Below are ten examples of unspeakable Alt Right truths.

  • Campus “rape culture” is a myth propagated by angry anti-male feminists.
  • There are only two sexes, and wanting to be something one is not doesn’t make it so.
  • So-called “white privilege” ended fifty years ago and is not a valid excuse for anyone’s personal troubles.
  • Islam is not a “religion of peace” or tolerance; the proof is in the Koran itself.
  • Western civilization is the current peak of human accomplishment and is well worth defending.
  • The USA has no “responsibility to protect,” help, or democratize people in other countries, only to leave them alone.
  • Traditional gender roles exist because men and women are different, with different priorities, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Diversity is not “our strength,” it’s irrelevant at best, and the mindless pursuit of it leads to arbitrary, divisive quotas.
  • Immigration to the USA is a privilege, and we Americans have the right to choose whom we will welcome.
  • White middle-class voters are not angry about the rise of minorities, but because government and big business have stolen their savings and shipped the best jobs overseas.

My personal theory as an Alt Right sympathizer is that the “one percent” have endorsed political correctness because it’s an effective way to divide the rest of us into warring camps. Fussing about unisex bathrooms and gay wedding cakes diverts our attention from the good hard screwing we’re getting from the IRS, the banks, and the insurance companies. That’s why the progressive media is so hysterical about Donald Trump. I don’t agree with everything he advocates, but his opposition to corporate-sponsored trade deals like NAFTA and the TPP are in my opinion, sufficient reason to support him.

I’ll end this with a surprising note. I’m going to thank Hillary Clinton for her “Alt Right is evil” speech. Any publicity she gives to the movement, even hysterical criticism, will help make it stronger in the end.

P.S. I just heard Hillary say that Trump would abolish the “bedrock Constitutional principle” that makes the children of illegals born in America into citizens, A.K.A. “anchor babies.” I say, what other nation tolerates this kind of nonsense? Go Trump!

 

Denialism: Conspiracy’s Rabbit Hole

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Above: the classic illustration by John Tenniel from Alice in Wonderland.

The word denial conjures up many images in our minds. Besides its association with Twelve Step philosophy, which is not the subject of this article, it usually refers to the refusal to believe in certain events or phenomena, such as the Holocaust or climate change. The latter is not my subject either, as it refers primarily to the future. I am talking about the delusional rabbit hole of historical denialism, of which Holocaust denial is just one example.

Although I agree that Holocaust denial is offensive, I oppose all laws that criminalize such speech. It’s better to counter a lie with truth, rather than to censor speech, which the crazies will spin as proof of the “worldwide Jewish conspiracy.” Holocaust denial is wrong, and not just for its anti-semitic implications. Hitler’s regime also murdered gypsies, gays, and the handicapped by the millions. Denial is cruel because it is because it fails to recognize the suffering and death of the victims, and marks the survivors as liars, adding insult to injury.

Here in America, denialism was a fringe form of lunacy until after 9/11. Then, along with the more mainstream conspiracy theories about possible government foreknowledge of the attacks, there were rumors that the passengers of some or all of the doomed planes didn’t die. Supposedly they were whisked away an unknown location. Or perhaps the planes themselves were holograms, projected on the Twin Towers to draw attention away from the explosives planted within.

These ideas were so loopy, they didn’t get much traction, but they gave support to politicians who claimed the 9/11 Truth Movement was disrespectful to the families of the victims. This claim is, of course, false, since it was victims’ families who pushed the government into doing an investigation. Truthers do not deny the attacks happened. Rather, they question the official story, which has some pretty improbable elements of its own. See James Corbett’s brilliant short video, “911, a Conspiracy Theory.

Denialism reared its ugly head again after the Sandy Hook school shootings. People began claiming that the whole event had been faked by the government as an excuse to carry out gun confiscation. Not only is this argument delusional, it is needlessly cruel to the parents of the victims. Furthermore, it gives the false impression that Second Amendment advocates have no valid arguments against gun control.

What about the possible role of psychiatric medications, which have been a factor in so many recent mass shootings? The media, which receives millions in advertising revenue from pharmaceutical companies, is loath to raise this issue. By embracing the lunatic notion of denial, Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists let them off the hook. Another interesting story says that the shooter, Adam Lanza, was diagnosed at Yale University as “profoundly autistic” with “isolationist and anti-social tendencies.” This begs the question of whether Lanza’s mother, knowing that her son was mentally ill, was irresponsible to keep guns in her home. These are difficult questions, not cut and dried like the mindless claim that “it didn’t happen.”

More recently, I’ve heard these same denialist notions raised in relation to the mass murders at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. “Where were the bodies?” say the on-line trolls. There’s a simple explanation for this: the media holds back pictures of victims, out of respect for the feelings of the families. Again, the allegations of fakery side-step more important issues. Was the shooter, Omar Mateen, taking psychiatric drugs? Why did the FBI, who interviewed him twice about extremist statements, conclude he was harmless? Did his parents’ Islamist ideology cause him to attack fellow gays out of self-hatred?

The problems with the denialist mindset are not just cruelty and misdirection from real issues. It’s irrational as well. Occam’s razor states that the simplest explanation is usually the best. Yet elaborate theories about events being faked are much more complex than the more straightforward conclusion that “it happened, let’s find out why.”

Perhaps the most ironic aspect of denialist theories is that they deny evil. Are we to believe that Hitler, a brutal dictator who invaded his neighbors without provocation, was actually a nice guy who would shrink from mass murder? Were the 9/11 terrorists (or the US government, take your pick) too ethical to kill four plane loads of people? Was Adam Lanza just a mixed-up kid set up as a patsy? Was Omar Mateen the innocent victim of Islamophobic prejudice? None of these alternate explanations make any sense. If the powers behind these conspiracies are so bad, why stop at deception? Any government that has ever gone to war has killed civilians or allowed innocents to die for the cause. Furthermore, companies have knowingly put out dangerous products that have killed people. Could the irrational theories of denial be the work of trolls and their innocent dupes, to make conspiracy theorists look foolish, or to draw attention away from the holes in the official stories of these tragedies?

Denialism is not just cruel to the victims of the denied events, it’s foolish and counter-productive of the denialists’ professed anti-government ideology. As always, truth is the answer, not censorship. Those of us who research conspiracy theories must expose these denialist narratives as the toxic nonsense they are. The rest of the public, who may not agree with our interpretations of recent history, must understand that these people do not represent us. As always, the events in question are far more complex than they appear.