Are We Fiddling While Rome Burns?

It turns out Nero wasn’t fiddling as Rome burned–he was 60 km away at the time. Did Nero Really Fiddle While Rome Burned?

The story has become short-hand for making light of a catastrophe, either out of self-interest (one theory had Nero clearing a site he desired for a palace with the fire) or out of a mad detachment from reality.

Are we fiddling while Rome burns? I would say yes–because we’re not solving any of the structural problems that are dooming the status quo. Instead, we’re allowing a corrupt, corporate mainstream media to distract us with fake “Russians hacked our election” hysteria, false “cultural war” mania, and a laughably Orwellian frenzy over fake news which magically avoids mentioning the propaganda narratives pushed 24/7 by the mainstream media–narratives that are the acme of fake news.

The media is only half the problem, of course; the audience doesn’t want to hear about structural problems that can only be fixed by disrupting the status quo. If we don’t accept that the financial system we inhabit is imploding, maybe all the problems will go away.

The system is coughing up blood and we still want to believe it is “recovering” from a cold.

Here’s a short list of structural problems we should be tackling:

1. Soaring inequality and the institutionalization of economic privilege.Systemic economic privilege doesn’t exist in a vacuum–it’s enforced by a centralized hierarchy, a dynamic I describe in my book Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege. Systemic inequality doesn’t just undermine the economy–it also undermines the social and political orders.
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Trump’s Articles of Impeachment: A Greatest Hits Collection

By David Swanson, FireDonaldTrump.org

Several years back, I led a team of authors drafting articles of impeachment against then-President George W. Bush for then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich. We drafted over 60 and settled on the best 35. Had Congress moved forward, it would not have passed all 35 or convicted on them. But we felt it was important to establish the record and present the options. In fact, I would have preferred to go with more than 35, including a wider range of topics. The fact that someone has abused power in 10 ways should constitute no license to abuse it in an 11th way.

Believe it or not (hint, hint: I don’t need more emails on this) I am aware of the general horror of Mike Pence, but a country that impeached and removed presidents would be a very different country in which the next president would have to behave or face impeachment and removal in turn. Fear of the next person will look ever weaker as grounds for allowing the current person to destroy things as he proceeds with his destruction.

I’m further aware that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s team wants Trump around more than the Republicans do, so that the Democrats can “oppose” him. The task before the public is to compel members of both major parties to impeach, not to sit back and observe them doing so of their own volition.
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U.S. Reneges on Its Deal w. China about N. Korea

Eric Zuesse

On Tuesday afternoon, August 22nd, China’s Embassy in Washington urged the Trump Administration to “correct its mistake” of issuing, earlier on the 22nd, economic sanctions against China, after China had, on August 14th, fulfilled its part of the bargain that China had reached with the Trump Administration about North Korea; and, as Fox News put it on Monday August 14th, “In an unprecedented move against North Korea, China on Monday issued an order to carry out the United Nations sanctions imposed on the rogue regime earlier this month.”

On August 12th, U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened China with economic sanctions unless China would agree to and (as Fox News put it) issue “an order to carry out the United Nations sanctions imposed on the rogue regime earlier this month.”

On August 14th, China complied with Trump’s demand, but on August 22nd, the U.S. Treasury Department issued a press release ignoring that, and imposing sanctions against China on the basis of the fact that China had, in the past, been doing business with North Korea. The Treasury Department’s press-release opened by saying:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 10 entities and six individuals in response to North Korea’s ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), violations of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions, and attempted evasion of U.S. sanctions. Today’s sanctions target third-country companies and individuals that (1) assist already-designated persons who support North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, (2) deal in the North Korean energy trade, (3) facilitate its exportation of workers, and (4) enable sanctioned North Korean entities to access the U.S. and international financial systems. As a result of today’s action, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.

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Twice As Many Americans Think Confederate Monuments “Should Remain In All Public Spaces” As Believe They “Should Be Removed From All Public Spaces”

A new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll finds finds that twice as many Americans want to keep Confederate monuments in public spaces as want to remove them:

The Aug. 18-21 poll found that 54 percent of adults said Confederate monuments “should remain in all public spaces” while 27 percent said they “should be removed from all public spaces.” Another 19 percent said they “don’t know.”

Postscript: Do you agree or disagree with the majority opinion? Let us know.

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Beware the “The Cultural Civil War” Narrative: You’re Being Played

Remember the “Russians hacked our election!” hysteria–or have you already forgotten? That entire narrative collapsed under a deluge of factual evidence that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) data release was an insider job, and a compelling lack of evidence of any other Russian hacking.

That failed narrative has now been replaced with a new mass hysteria: “a new cultural Civil War is inevitable.” In this narrative, America has succumbed to us-versus-them divisions divided by all-or-nothing ideological bright lines.

Snap out of it, America: you’re being played, just as you were played by the absurd “Russia hacked the election” mania.

The core strategy here is the destruction of any common ground: once the delusion that there is no common ground left has been cemented by relentless mainstream and social media hysteria/ propaganda, the populace fragments into echo-chamber fiefdoms of ideological conformity that are easily manipulated by the political-financial power structure.

Once the populace has been fragmented into ideologically divisive camps, controlling the resulting mass of warring mobs is easy. Rather than recognize the commonality of their powerlessness and impoverishment, the fragmented fiefdoms are easily turned on each other:

From the point of view of each fragmented fiefdom, the problem isn’t structural, i.e. the dominance of extreme concentrations of wealth and power; the “problem” is the other cultural-ideological fiefdoms.
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Trump’s Fascism versus Obama’s Fascism

Eric Zuesse, as originally posted at The Saker

Barack Obama was the only U.S. President who at the United Nations defended nazism — racist fascism — and Holocaust-denial. It received almost no reporting by the press at the time (or subsequently). But his successor President Donald Trump could end up being removed from office because he said that racist fascists are just the same as are people who demonstrate publicly against them. Trump’s politically stupid (not to say callous) remark became viral, and apparently the press (which had ignored Obama’s defense of nazism at the U.N.) just won’t let go of Trump’s statement unless and until he becomes replaced by his even-more-far-right Vice President, Mike Pence.

Why is there this intense press-coverage of Trump’s support of racist fascism, when there wasn’t of Obama’s (which was actually far more meaningful)? The answer comes closer if we ponder first a different question: How could the Republican Party, which is right-wing at its core, condemn a Democratic Party President who goes out of his way at the U.N. to protect today’s nazis? That wouldn’t be politically practical for Republican politicians to complain about (a Democrat’s being too far to the right); so, they didn’t do it. Similarly, no Democrat will criticize a Republican for being too leftist. There may be a few exceptions, but that’s the general rule: Successful politicians don’t offend their base.

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Empire Files: Human Rights Hypocrisy – Colombia vs. Venezuela

‘Colombia and Venezuela: neighboring countries that receive extremely different treatment by the US Empire and the mass media.

While Colombia is known for one of the worst human rights records in the world, it remains a top recipient of US military aid and enjoys uncritical press coverage in Western media–all while Trump threatens military intervention against Venezuela over unsubstantiated allegations.

To contrast the human rights realities, Abby Martin interviews human rights attorney Dan Kovalik, who has recently returned from both countries.’

Posted with permission of Abby Martin

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