Saturday, December 7, 2019

Kayfabe: Has Trump Done Any Real Good?

“Kayfabe” from WWF “professional wrestling”, from Wikipedia: “In professional wrestlingkayfabe /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ (also called work or worked) is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as "real" or "true", specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or predetermined nature of any kind. The term kayfabe has evolved to also become a code word of sorts for maintaining this "reality" within the direct or indirect presence of the general public.” 

This is a good way to think about the theatrical antagonism between our two political parties. If you’re getting information from FOX, CNN, NBC or NPR, or if you are reading the major newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times, or one of the corporate owned local or regional papers, you’re being systematically lied to for the benefit of what has become an Oligarchy, pure and simple. It's politics is mostly corporate interests pursued through lobbyists greasing politicians, but it's visible face is CEOs and “Founders” like Bloomberg, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Diamond, Blankfein, Tillerson and for that matter Trump. While there are real differences between these interests, they are politically meaningful, mostly for the corporations and the oligarchs themselves, occasionally their minions: they are personally meaningful to the public facing participants, the people in the spotlight or on the witness stand, some of whom will suffer real consequences, but most of these are neither the real powers nor necessarily aware of the agendas of the real powers manipulating them.
Trump, however awful, and awful he isis our elected President: what’s at issue now with Ukraine and before that with the Mueller inquiry, is whether the elected President should set policy or if that should be left to what I’ll call the Shadow Government. The real powers are thus divided amongst themselves, some thinking the President sets policy, others thinking the elected President is just a figurehead for policies set within the Shadow Government at the behest of the Oligarchy. Were Trump successfully impeached for the issues on the table now, the Oligarchy, through the Shadow Government will have eliminated any meaningful representative government in the US: foreign policy will not be subject to popular government at all as has been the case for domestic policy for at least 20 years. These divisions drive what real conflict there is. But make no mistake, lots is being done with avid bipartisan consensus in DC behind the kayfabe: environmental and labor laws have been and continue to be gutted; Wall Street continues to be bailed out; tech monopolies go un-prosecuted for clear anti-trust violations; and ever expanding defense, border security and intelligence budgets continue to be passed; corporatist, conservative judges continue to be approved by the Senate; universal surveillance continues. These are all policies on which both parties to the Oligarchy agree completely.

While this corporate and militarist consensus goes unnoticed, theatrical conflict distracts everyone who relies on corporate media from the underlying mechanics of Oligarchy. Fossil fuels and associated industries support the GOP while the Medical Industrial Complex along with The Bar Association supports the Democrats, the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) has historically been non-partisan, bribing candidates of both parties (“campaign contribution” is a euphemism for “bribe”), but since Trump’s election the Shadow Government (CIA, NSA, FBI, Homeland Security and a dozen other security agencies), which is the MIC’s client, has come out in full force for the Democrats, trying to frame Trump as a Russian stooge and now impeach him for doing less coercive things in Ukraine than Joe Biden bragged about there in 2016. 

While I think Trump should be impeached, I think he should be impeached for the same reasons that George Bush Jr. and Barak Obama should have been impeached before him: illegal, undeclared wars, illegal universal surveillance, illegal drone strikes against innocent foreign civilian populations and an execrable border policy: Trump is just carrying on what Bush and Cheney started and Obama continued. They are all war criminals and impeachable for those high crimes, not the piddling misdemeanors Trump is being attacked for. Obama had the distinction to add to this litany the deliberate illegal murder of a US citizen by drone strike abroad.

So, to the question I'm frequently asked, “what, if anything, has Trump done that is actually good for this country?” My reply: I believe he has done one singularly good thing and it is the thing he is being impeached for: he has tried to withdraw the US from the “Forever Wars” he was bequeathed by his predecessors and de-escalate our confrontation with nuclear armed Russia. He campaigned on improving US relations with Russia and to prevent this threat to MIC rice bowls it appears that the CIA and FBI set up the whole Russiagate hysteria thinking it would kill off Trump before the election and that they would be rewarded as good soldiers by President Hillary Clinton. That didn’t really work out so well for anyone and it looks as though chickens are starting to think about coming home to roost.

Russia is a second rate country with an economy just smaller than that of California but a substantial and very effective nuclear arsenal. It has been the policy of the Shadow Government since JFK to overplay the threat from Russia in order to support ever expanding budgets for the Pentagon and the MIC. Russia, while relatively weak, does have a more modern nuclear arsenal than our own, and recently better military equipment, from planes to new types of missiles that the US cannot defend against. This is a direct result of Bush Jr unilaterally withdrawing the US from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and expanding NATO up to Russia’s borders, as Bill Clinton had done elsewhere before him, despite Bush Sr having expressly promised Gorbachev that the US would not do so. When Bush Jr did this the Shadow Government didn’t think Russia would be able to defend itself from a first strike missile launch at it’s borders in the instance that the US perfected missile defense (which the US hasn’t yet, although the Russians more or less have), but Russia has proven them wrong. This makes nuclear war with Russia a very real existential question for not just the US, but humanity as a whole and the Donald has made real efforts to deescalate that existential risk. When he was elected that risk was at it’s greatest in Syria and Ukraine.

In pursuit of the Israeli goal of having only weak and divided neighbors dependent on Israel’s good graces for peace and stability, led by Secretary Clinton during the Obama Administration, the Shadow Government embarked on a “regime change” effort in Syria to replace what is a despotic but multicultural, multi ethnic state with a violent, totalitarian, Islamic one, one the Israelis expected to be weak and chaotic. The US and Israel, through Turkey, armed and provided air support for ISIS, nothing but a re branded Al Qaeda (itself a metastasized Mujahideen, a CIA creation for bloodying Soviets in Afghanistan under Reagan), to “regime change” Syria. Having a base in Syria left over from the Cold War, Russia intervened to prevent the Islamist sectarian takeover and in so doing demonstrated the capabilities of the new systems it had developed since Bush withdrew from the ABM treaty. It both defied the Shadow Government and thwarted Israel who’s AIPAC has always been a cutting edge innovator in congressional bribery.

To that point, the Shadow Government really believed it’s own propaganda about Russia being fragile and subject to “regime change” itself. When several years earlier Secretary Clinton and her subordinate Victoria Nuland staged a coup in Ukraine, they were stunned when Russia simply annexed Crimea rather than turning it over to the new, US installed puppet government. Russia has controlled Crimea since 1783, having it’s only warm water naval base there since shortly thereafter and thus no inclination turn it over to the US, nor need to in light of Russia’s superior military capabilities in defense of her homeland. The Shadow Government was none the less stunned when it didn’t and has been funding a low level civil war there ever since. The purpose of all these provocations with regard to Russia were to force her into submission to the needs of multinational corporations, as policed by the US military: Russia is very rich in natural resources and relatively under populated so multinational corporations see it as an ideal “extraction zone” and keep being surprised by the stubborn resistance of Russians to being looted by multinationals. Because Russia was extensively looted by it’s own oligarchs, with US support under Yeltsin, the Shadow Government has assumed with “regime change” in Moscow it can internationalize that looting. Failing all of this, the Plan B was the status quo: continue to use Russia hysteria as a funding tool for the MIC.

This vision of cheap Russian resources and an unstable Russian government has until Trump aligned the Shadow Government and the American Oligarchy with regards to US Russia policy. Trump has been the first significant US politician to recognize that the Putin government, however autocratic, is both stable and popular, that it has first rate military hardware and that it poses a real existential threat to the US and the rest of the world if provoked. The Shadow Government refuses to recognize this new reality and has ramped up their “regime change” efforts around the world, largely unnoticed behind the smoke screen of kayfabe Russiagate and now Ukrainegate. While broadcast media has been fixated on these, the Shadow Government has overthrown the popular governments of Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia while trying to do the same with the more autocratic and thus stable Iran, Russia, Hong Kong and Venezuela. This is all on top of our ongoing wars in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria where we still have a presence despite the President’s oft stated intent to withdraw.

Where “regime change” has been successful in Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia, we see rampant ecological destruction to support first world corporations in low cost resource extraction: this is deforesting the Amazon basin and accelerating climate change. Venezuela, Iran and Russia all see quite clearly that this is the intended program for them as well. Trump, as best as I can tell, is fully on board with the “extractive” view of foreign lands and their peoples. Where he differs from the Shadow Government is in his vision of Russia as a real, existential, nuclear threat if provoked and in seeing our “forever war” as a losing proposition for the American people. I will credit him with that, and that only. So, yes, he has done one, important, good thing.

There are lots of great reasons to impeach Trump, as I listed above, but the current inquiry will, if successful, have the effect of giving the Shadow Government veto power over the policies of the elected government. This is what “Russiagate” was used to do before: by casting Trump as a Putin stooge, the Shadow Government forced him to follow it’s preferred policy of confrontation with Russia with the result that Russia continues to unveil ever more spectacular weapons the US cannot defend against, but which the Shadow Government refuses to come to terms with believing it can subvert all its enemies from within.

Trump is doing all he can to attract the support of corporations and their leadership even as the Democrats, who’s main constituencies now are the Medical Industrial Complex and the Shadow Government are running primarily to defeat Medicare for All, a more important goal for them than defeating Trump in my opinion. Trumps best bet for reelection and national hero status will be to expropriate Medicare for All from the Democrats when they succeed in barring Sanders from the Democratic nomination. He will certainly be re-elected if he does. So all the theater on broadcast media is a distraction from an internecine struggle within our corporate government over which corporations will dominate the political process, reap the spoils of an extractive global system and dominate their sectors of the globalized economy, the American People be damned.

A simple question and a simple answer but a very complex context.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


Digital Freedom: Amir Salihefendic: Doist