South Park raised a generation of trolls and helped create the alt-right

I’ve never been a fan of South Park but I assumed it was just a harmless, though crude, childish, and adolescent distraction for my kids. Now I wonder how it’s affected their personalities as adults, if it has instilled a vacuous, self-centered and destructive sense of moral equivalency and apathy in their psyches?

Ironically, criticizing South Park for breeding a generation of trolls, whose only goal is to tear everything down purportedly by the use of humour, is likely to draw the ire of it’s most ardent fans, the ones who find meaningful life-lessons in its total irreverence for any and all ideals. Social justice warriors or Nazis, they’re all the same.

I’m posting this because South Park came up in conversation recently, one of its episodes being described as  “everyone needs to see this.” That, of course, got me thinking and searching. So here’s an article from 2017 that I found interesting enough to share.

Love to cut-up the cut-ups….

enjoy

PG

 

South Park turns 20 years old this summer, meaning that if those foulmouthed, crudely fashioned 8-year-olds that were first introduced on August 13, 1997 followed the rules of linear time, they’d all be adults farting down the barrel of 30. Similarly, there’s now an entire generation of people—spanning high-schoolers to middle-aged people who remember watching its early seasons in college, and who can’t believe they’re reading/writing 20-year retrospectives on it now—who were actually raised on South Park.

The show celebrated this existential crisis-inducing fact last year with a tongue-in-cheek ad, depicting South Park as a sort of benevolent guarantor keeping reliable watch over a girl from infancy until her first trip to college. It was a typically self-effacing joke, but it’s true: Our world is now filled with people for whom South Park has always been there, a cultural influence that, in some cases, is completely foundational to their point of view. The ad doesn’t end with the girl logging onto Twitter to complain that social justice warriors are ruining the world, but otherwise, spot on.

After all, for most of its 20 years, South Park’s own point of view has more or less been this: “Everything and everyone are full of shit—hey, relax, guy.” It’s a scorched-earth, deconstructionist approach steeped in equal-opportunity offensiveness that’s made South Park one of the funniest satires ever produced, and particularly potent in the time in which it debuted. “When we started, [it was] Beavis And Butt-Head, and us, and in some ways The Simpsons, and Married With Children—shit like that,” Matt Stone told Vanity Fair last year, putting the Comedy Central cartoon in the company of other ’90s series that diverged from the “bland… shitty sitcoms that were just so lifeless” Stone and co-creator Trey Parker were reacting against. But South Park has now lived long enough to see the experimental become the conventional.  And it’s outlasted all but one of those series not just by subverting formulaic TV, but by feeding directly off current events. As a result, for many of those raised by South Park, the show has functioned as sort of a scatological op-ed—in some cases, maybe the only op-ed they’ve ever been interested in.

To these acolytes, Parker and Stone have spent two decades preaching a philosophy of pragmatic self-reliance, a distrust of elitism, in all its compartmentalized forms, and a virulent dislike of anything that smacks of dogma, be it organized religion, the way society polices itself, or whatever George Clooney is on his high horse about. Theirs can be a tricky ideology to pin down: “I hate conservatives, but I really fucking hate liberals,” Stone said once, a quote that has reverberated across the scores of articles, books, and message-board forums spent trying to parse the duo’s politics, arguing over which side can rightfully claim South Park as its own. Nominally, Parker and Stone are libertarians, professing a straight-down-the-middle empathy for the little guy who just wants to be left alone by meddling political and cultural forces. But their only true allegiance is to whatever is funniest; their only tenet is that everything and everyone has the potential to suck equally. More than anything, they’ve taught their most devoted followers that taking anything too seriously is hella lame.

So while they’ve advocated, in their own fucked-up way, for stuff like the right to abortion, drug legalization, and general tolerance for others, they’ve also found their biggest, easiest targets in liberalism’s pet causes, those formerly rebellious ideals that had become safely sitcom-bland over the Bill Clinton years—all of which were steeped in actually, lamely caring about stuff. Taking the piss out of the era’s priggish, speech-policing, Earth Day-brainwashed hippies was the most transgressive—and therefore funniest—thing you could possibly do. And so, South Park joked, global warming is just a dumb myth perpetrated by “super cereal” losers. Prius drivers are smug douches who love the smell of their own farts. Vegetarians end up growing vaginas on their face. “Transgender people” are just mixed-up, surgical abominations. The word “fag” is fine. Casual anti-Semitism is all in good fun. “Hate crimes” are silly. Maybe all you pussies just need a safe space.

Did South Park accidentally invent the alt-right?” Janan Ganesh asked recently in the Financial Times, articulating a theory that began gaining traction as an entire political movement seemed to crystallize around the show’s “anti-PC chic” and general fuck-your-feelings attitude. Way back in 2001, political blogger Andrew Sullivan had already coined the term “South Park Republican” to describe the supposedly emerging group of young people who, like the show, were moderate on social issues like abortion and gay marriage, but also rejected the stuffy doctrines of diversity and environmentalism. They also believed, as Parker and Stone would soon illustrate in Team America: World Police, that the world needed American dicks to fuck assholes, over the objections of liberal pussies and F.A.G. celebrities. That voting bloc never actually materialized—though to be fair, the show was only four years old at the time. It would take at least another decade of people with Cartman avatars just joshin’ about hating Jews before the South Park generation would truly come of age.

Let’s be real, though. South Park didn’t “invent” the “alt-right,” even accidentally. The “alt-right” is the product of lots of things—disenfranchisement; internet echo chambers; aggrieved Gamergaters; boredom; the same ugly, latent racism that’s coursed beneath civilization’s veneer for millennia; etc. The growing, bipartisan distaste for Wall Street-backed career politicians and the epically bungled machinations of the Democratic Party certainly didn’t help, nor did the frustrating inability of the social justice movement to pick its battles—or its enemies. Furthermore, it’s always dangerous to assign too much influence to pop culture, even something that’s been part of our lives for this long. And as South Park itself derided in “The Tale Of Scrotie McBoogerballs,” you shouldn’t go looking for deep sociopolitical messages in your cartoon dick jokes. (Then again, only three years earlier, it also argued that imaginary characters really can change people’s lives and even “change the way [you] act on Earth,” making them “more realer” than any of us—so you decide.)

Still, it’s not that much of a stretch to see how one might have fed the other, if only through the sort of intangible osmosis that happens whenever an influential artwork spawns imitators, both on screen and off. South Park may not have “invented” the “alt-right,” but at their roots are the same bored, irritated distaste for politically correct wokeness, the same impish thrill at saying the things you’re not supposed to say, the same button-pushing racism and sexism, now scrubbed of all irony.

There’s also the same co-opting of anti-liberal stances as the highest possible form of rebellion: Parker and Stone used to brag that they were “punk rock” for telling their Hollywood friends how much they loved George W. Bush; Parker even told Rolling Stone in 2007, “The only way to be more hardcore than everyone else is to tell the people who think they’re the most hardcore that they’re pussies, to go up to a tattooed, pierced vegan and say, ‘Whatever, you tattooed faggot, you’re a pierced faggot and whatever’”—a quote that may as well have been taken from 4chan’s /pol/ board this morning. “Conservatism is the new punk rock,” echoed a bunch of human cringes a decade later. Whatever, you faggot, a dozen Pepes tweeted a few seconds ago.

But well beyond the “alt-right,” South Park’s influence echoes through every modern manifestation of the kind of hostile apathy—nurtured along by Xbox Live shit-talk and comment-board flame wars and Twitter—that’s mutated in our cultural petri dish to create a rhetorical world where whoever cares, loses. Today, everyone with any kind of grievance probably just has sand in their vagina; expressing it with anything beyond a reaction GIF means you’re “whining”; cry more, your tears are delicious. We live in Generation U Mad Bro, and from its very infancy, South Park has armed it with enough prefab eye-rolling retorts (“ManBearPig!” “I’m a dolphin!” “Gay Fish!” “…’Member?”) to sneeringly shut down discussions on everything from climate change and identity politics to Kanye West and movie reboots. Why not? Everything sucks equally, anyway. Voting is just choosing between some Douche and a Turd Sandwich. Bullying is just a part of life. Suck it up and take it, until it’s your turn to do the bullying. Relax, guy.

Again, it’s a world that South Park didn’t create intentionally, just by setting out to make us laugh, or by Parker and Stone trying to get rich off a bunch of farting construction paper cutouts. But even Parker and Stone seem slightly, if only occasionally uneasy about the overarching life lessons they’ve imparted—often expressing that anxiety in the show itself. In “You’re Getting Old,” South Park’s most moving half-hour, Parker and Stone grappled directly with the cumulative effects of perpetually shitting on things—of allowing a healthy, amused skepticism to ossify into cynicism and self-satisfied superiority, then into nihilism, then into blanket, misanthropic hatred. That dark night of the soul later formed the through-lines of seasons 19 and 20, where South Park wryly, semi-sincerely confronted the series’ place as a “relic from another time” by putting the town under the heavy thumb of PC Principal.

Then—after hooking its red-pilled fans with an extended critique of the emptiness of neoliberalism, epitomized by a sneering, “safe space”-mocking character that was literally named Reality—it tried confronting the audience who had most embraced their ramped-up anti-PC crusades. Last season kicked off with Cartman admitting to Kyle, “We’re two privileged, straight white boys who have their laughs about things we never had to deal with,” a confession rendered only slightly tongue-in-cheek by the fact of who was saying it. And it culminated in Gerald, who’d spent the year gleefully harassing people online, squaring off with the Danish prime minister, a stand-in for every troll the show’s ever nurtured:

I want to stand here and tell you that you and I are different, but it’s not true. All we’ve been doing is making excuses for being horrible people. I don’t know if you tried to teach me a lesson, but you have. I have to stand here and look at you. And all I see is a big fat reflection of myself.

Ultimately, of course, Gerald comes to a familiar conclusion: “Fuck you, what I do is fucking funny, bitch!” he cries, before kicking the prime minister in the balls. Fair enough. South Park is, and always will be, funnier than any of the maladjusted creeps who have spent decades internalizing the show’s many false equivalencies and ironic racism, then lazily regurgitating them in an attempt to mimic its edginess—or worse, by treating them as some sort of scripture for living. And to be certain, there are millions of Poe’s law-defying viewers for whom South Park really is just a comedy, one that satisfies the most basic requirement of saying the things you shouldn’t say, in a far more clever way than you could say them. But regardless of their satirical intent, or the humanity that grounds even their nastiest attacks, it’s clear that even Parker and Stone sometimes question the influence they’ve had on the world, and who is and isn’t in on the joke.

Which brings us (as all 2017 articles must) to Donald Trump, the ultimate troll, and one that Parker sees as a natural outgrowth of South Park’s appeal to a nation bored with politeness. As he recently told the Los Angeles Times:

He’s not intentionally funny but he is intentionally using comedic art to propel himself. The things that we do—being outrageous and taking things to the extreme to get a reaction out of people—he’s using those tools. At his rallies he gets people laughing and whooping. I don’t think he’s good at it. But it obviously sells—it made him president.

Trump’s blithe offensiveness, rampant narcissism, and faith that everyone but him is stupid makes him a natural analog to Eric Cartman. But instead, South Park made him into Mr. Garrison—a decision that makes some logical sense (Mr. Garrison is of constitutional age, hates Mexicans and women, and doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself), though it also felt a bit like dissembling. Nevertheless, as the election wore on, South Park again seemed to acknowledge its role in helping to create a world where someone like Trump could seem like an exciting, entertaining alternative to conventional blandness. And it made a real, concerted effort to stymie any suggestion of support by having Garrison declare repeatedly that he was “a sick, angry little man” who “will fuck this country up beyond repair,” all while openly mocking those who still loved him anyway as nostalgia-drunk idiots.

Is it just me or has South Park gone full cuck?” wondered fans on Reddit’s The_Donald immediately after that episode aired, and probably not for the first (or last) time. But in the aftermath of Trump/Garrison’s election, those same, vigilant cuck-watchers were back to crowing over how South Park had really stuck it to politically correct types in a scene where Trump/Garrison tells PC Principal, “You helped create me.” That South Park positioned this as less of a triumphant comeuppance than a suicidal backfire didn’t seem to matter. And the show more or less left it there—portraying Trump/Garrison as a dangerously incompetent buffoon, but also as the ultimate “u mad?” to all those liberals they fucking hate.

All of which makes Parker and Stone’s recent declaration to lay off Trump in the coming 21st season a real disappointment at best, cowardice at worst. The duo is, of course, under no obligation to tackle politics—or anything else they don’t want to, for that matter. They’re also right that mocking Trump is both redundant and “boring,” and also that everyone does it. For two dyed-in-the-wool contrarians, Trump comedy feels every bit as bland, lifeless, and sitcom-safe as an episode of, say, Veronica’s Closet. Furthermore, Parker’s complaints of the show just “becoming CNN now” and not wanting to spend every week endlessly restacking the sloppy Jenga pile of Trump-related outrage is completely understandable. Believe me, I get it.

That said: Man, what a cop out. South Park has already spent the past 20 years being CNN for its CNN-hating audience. Meanwhile, Parker and Stone have proudly, loudly thumped for a “fearless” brand of satire that’s willing to mock everyone from George W. Bush to Scientology to Mormonism to Muhammad, even under death threats. To shrug now and say, as Parker did, “I don’t give a shit anymore”—right when, by their own admission, the influence of the show’s worldview has reached all the way to the White House—feels especially disingenuous, and suspiciously like caving to the young, Trump-loving fans with whom they have forged such an uneasy relationship. (“South Park bends the knee on their fake-news-fueled portrayal of President Trump,” one The_Donald post gloated, followed by many, many more.) If they truly believe that those trolls in the mirror are “horrible people” who are helping to “fuck the country up beyond repair,” it would be truly fearless to tell them why, with no hint of ambiguous, everything-sucks irony that can be willfully misinterpreted.

Instead, Parker now says he’s eager to get back to “the bread and butter of South Park: kids being kids and being ridiculous and outrageous.” Which is great! South Park is absolutely at its best when it focuses on that stuff, and I look forward to watching it all on my hurting butt. Still, after 20 years, even they seem to realize that many of those ridiculous, outrageous kids for whom it’s “always been there” have long since grown up—and some of them have gone on to do some real, destructive adult shit. Like their inspirations, South Park’s generation of trolls are tiny but loud, and they’ve had the strange effect of changing the world. It sure would be nice if South Park would grow up as well and take responsibility for them.

Or, you know, maybe I just have sand in my vagina.

 

Source: South Park raised a generation of trolls

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“Free Trade” Is Today’s Imperialism by the 1 Percent

 

Building alternatives to free trade must become an essential component of a more progressive US foreign policy.

Opposition to “free” trade is clearly growing — both the progressive and the corporate elements of the Democratic Party are now critical of agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Less clear are the alternatives to free trade that might emerge. As progressives continue to build power inside and outside of the Democratic Party, we must clarify our understanding of the international political economy, and imagine and begin to build real alternatives to free trade. Building these alternatives must become an essential component of a more progressive US foreign policy.

The conventional wisdom says that if you oppose free trade, you must support protectionism or economic nationalism. This is misleading. There is no such thing as “free” trade. People create all of the systems that govern our political economy. These systems inevitably favor certain human activities over others, and we can design them to act any way that we want. The important question is: For whom are trade policies “free”? Put another way: Who do trade policies favor?

Debunking “Free” Trade

“Free” trade is free only for capital owners: the plutocratic few who own and control multinational corporations. When countries enter into free trade agreements, the governments of both countries effectively agree that their laws will not favor businesses from their country over businesses from any other countries. The main way that free trade does this is by attempting to reduce all tariffs to as close to 0 percent as possible, to eliminate import quotas that countries can use to limit the amount and types of goods imported from specified countries, and to discourage countries from more directly subsidizing their own businesses.

Far from promoting freedom for everyone, “free” trade empowers multinationals from the global North to control the world political economy in two important ways. First, free trade facilitates global North multinationals to maintain the unequal trade they established with the global South during colonialism. This increases inequalities of power and wealth between global North and global South. Second, free trade empowers global North multinationals to plan the world economy alongside global South multinationals, the junior partners of the global North multinationals, and to pit working-class people in the global North and global South against one another.

Thus, free trade is the modern form that imperialism takes. Throughout US history, the US government has used military force to expand free trade throughout the world. For more than a century, US-backed military coups and US-backed military dictatorships have led to partnerships between the US government, US multinationals and local elites across the globe that are built around creating trade that concentrates wealth for multinationals. This remains a core source of violence in the world with many implications. Today, for instance, Central American refugees at the southern US border are criminalized for fleeing a history of US military coups and intervention in Central America and the neoliberal trade policies that US multinationals and local elites created in their aftermath…

Source: “Free Trade” Is Today’s Imperialism by the 1 Percent

It’s Too Late for Trump’s Wall

As we watch the congregation of desperate people at the southern U.S. border, and the crisis generated by Trump’s shutdown of the federal government, we have come to support the creation of a wall, an impenetrable barrier against those who should not cross it. Unfortunately, it is too late – much too late. The wall should have been created two hundred years ago. If such a wall had existed in 1846, President Polk and his expansionist supporters could not have orchestrated an aggressive war against Mexico, one which resulted in the loss of almost half of all Mexican territory.

The existence of such a wall also would have prevented U.S. banana, sugar and tobacco companies from overrunning Nicaragua in the late 19th century, which led to people being displaced from their land and exploited for their labor. When the popular Nicaraguan President José Santos Zelaya promoted democratic reforms in 1909, he was overthrown at the insistence of U.S. corporations. The U.S. sent Marines to aid in the coup, and afterwards continued to occupy Nicaragua for the two decades. Even after its military withdrew, the U.S. didn’t give up control of Nicaragua, but empowered a brutal dictator — with the understanding that he would use his rule to support U.S. business interests.

In the absence of a wall, the people of El Salvador experienced a similar fate. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Salvadoran landholding aristocracy dominated the country, while maintaining close ties with the United States. Things changed in 1931, when a member of the Salvadorian Labor Party — Arturo Araujo — was elected president. He ran on a platform of providing for the people’s basic needs and restoring land to the poor who had been largely forced off it. Araujo held the office for less than a year before being overthrown by the elite-controlled Salvadorian army, with the U.S. standing ready to provide needed military support. In the repression that followed tens of thousands of Salvadorians were murdered, disproportionately indigenous people. The U.S. formally recognized a ruthless authoritarian as the president of El Salvador shortly thereafter.

Due to the absence of such a wall, prospects for a decent life for people in Honduras dwindled by the early 20th century as U.S. banana companies acquired enormous tracts of land in the county. The U.S. repeatedly dispatched military forces to the country to protect U.S. investments there and repress fruit workers’ efforts to unionize. And imagine what the lives of people in Guatemala could be like today if the popular president promoting a more just an equitable society, Jacobo Árbenz, had not been overthrown by a U.S.-backed coup in 1954 at the behest of the U.S.-based United Fruit Company. Guatemala was ruled afterwards by a series of U.S.-backed, repressive dictators.

In the second half of the 20th century people in Central America and Mexico challenged increasing poverty, worker exploitation and government repression and struggled for democracy and social justice. The United States government supported the ruthless regimes in the region with military support and training. There were over 250,000 fatalities by 1989 as a result of these conflicts – primarily in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua – and countless traumatized families saw their hopes for a better life vanish.

Then the implementation of NAFTA and CAFTA both intensified worker exploitation, the collapse of small farms, impoverishment, and environmental destruction. While all this represents a “good deal” for U.S. corporations and investors, whose interests are paraded as the “national interests,” in truth such “deals” constitute crimes against humanity.

The poverty, violence, and despair in Central America is, then, not an inherent condition, but rather the disastrous consequence of U.S.-policy that single-mindedly focused on the interests of powerful corporations and elites, both in the past and now. Throughout the region, the use of the U.S. government has sought to protect business interests at any cost. It has operated without concern for the integrity of Mexican and Central American national borders or the “homeland security” of the masses of people who live there. From the vantage point of the people there, they have been, and continue to be, the victims of U.S.-sponsored “murderers and thieves.”

Tragically, people desperate to flee the resultant impoverishment, exploitation and violence routinely find racism, imprisonment, and heartbreak waiting for them at the U.S. border. These folks, many travelling as families, are scapegoated for the declining quality of life and growing economic marginalization of people in the United States. Many in the U.S. are unaware of the oppressive and destructive policies their government has employed in Mexico and Central America (and for that matter, of similar U.S. practices throughout the world.)

Today, Mexico and Central America would be far better places if the U.S. had been constrained by a wall on its border back in 1846. Today what is needed is the type of barrier featured in the Harry Potter series, a platform 9¾. This barrier would be selective in who could pass, permitting all asylum seekers and others seeking a better life to cross uninhibited, while remaining impermeable to further U.S. military and covert intervention. People living south of the U.S., desperate to cross the border, should be treated with dignity and respect, and the people in their countries should have the unimpeded right to pursue the democracy, justice, and equality they have so long struggled for.

Source: It’s Too Late for Trump’s Wall

How the media’s vacuous, sexist and false reporting on Elizabeth Warren proves they work for Trump’s agenda

For all Donald Trump’s ranting and railing against the media, they are and always have been Trump’s most valuable asset, boosting his signal exponentially — largely on his terms —…

He’s a pathological liar and a lifelong racist, with a plethora of dangerous psychological symptoms. But when Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her potential 2020 candidacy, much of the mainstream media eagerly let Trump set the narrative, recycling his racist taunts and questioning Warren’s grasp of reality — an over-the-top example of how well they serve his needs.

Trump is hardly alone. The media has persistently benefited conservatives in a similar fashion. The general press ethos of symmetrical “fairness” is vulnerable to asymmetrical exploitation and attack, as is liberal culture more generally. Witness the decades of bad-faith attacks on climate science promoted by the fossil fuel industry which has known about its own culpability at least since the 1970s.

On “Meet the Press” last weekend, Chuck Todd of all people said he wasn’t going to play the “both sides” game about the science of climate change — a sharp reversal from decades of their usual practice, as seen just a month earlier, of giving “equal time” to ideological industry shills. This comes three decades late, compared to James Hansen’s 1988 warning to Congress, and more than five decades late, compared to the first warnings to President John F. Kennedy in February 1961. But better late than never, right?

But that was just one show and just one issue — though the future of humanity hangs in the balance. With the 2020 presidential campaign just getting started, and Democrats taking over the House, the media’s “both sides” obsession — making absurd, baseless policies seem the equal of serious proposals — is a tremendous boon to the GOP. You could even call it their ace-in-the-hole. As, Bill Kristol, a lifelong beneficiary of this false balance logic, put it recently:

As a non-Democrat, I’m struck by how much the media seem obsessed by possible rifts among Democrats, narrow lines they’ll have to walk, stray utterances of their backbenchers, etc., than by the rather more massive fact that we have a president and administration in total meltdown.

Indeed, this vastly understates the media’s false balance response to Warren’s 2020 campaign announcement — an event that served to highlight just about everything wrong with our contemporary media system: its vacuousness, sexism, racism, classism, short attention span, lack of historical awareness and more.

Warren released a powerful announcement video combining her own personal story with the economic devastation of the American middle class, a terrain where she’s been fighting for decades.

“After my older brothers joined the military, and I was just a kid, my daddy had a heart attack and couldn’t work. My mom found a minimum-wage job at Sears and that job saved our house and our family,” Warren narrates over family pictures, a story that sounds like a fairytale today: “My daddy ended up as a janitor, but he raised a daughter who got to be a public school teacher, a law professor and a senator. We got a real opportunity to build something.”

Then Warren turns to the reality she’s struggled to understand, explain and fight against for decades now. “Working families today face a lot tougher path than my family did,” she says, as a chart traces the declining middle-class share of U.S. income, from the late 1960s to now, “and families of color face a path that is steeper and rockier, a path that is made even harder by the impact of generations of discrimination,” she says, as another chart shows how the wealth gap between black and white families has only grown wider over the past 30 years.

A lot of people saw that video for themselves, but not that many heard it analyzed, echoed and discussed — treated with the seriousness and respect it deserved, whether one agrees with Warren or not. As former Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook tweeted the next day:

“Without intervention or some counter movement, the savvy press are going to do a number on us in 2020,” media critic and NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen added, retweeting Mook. (Even though I don’t believe the “media only covers insult” statement is true.)…

Source: How the media’s vacuous, sexist and false reporting on Elizabeth Warren proves they work for Trump’s agenda

Seymour M. Hersh · The Killing of Osama bin Laden

Would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live?

 

…This spring I contacted Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the bin Laden assault from American sources: that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false…

Source: Seymour M. Hersh · The Killing of Osama bin Laden

If Everything Is So ‘Wunderbar’ in Germany, Why Are the Voters So Unhappy?

The country’s two-tier economy that Merkel championed is creating more economic misery. When she leaves, will a “German Trump” be next?

How do you say, “dead woman walking” in German? Today, the answer to that question is “Angela Merkel” after the German leader announced that she would be seeking neither re-election as chancellor in 2021, nor re-election as head of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party later this year in December.

… But there’s another side to this story. However highly regarded, Chancellor Merkel has repeatedly led governments, coalition or otherwise, which championed the neoliberal dismantling of the country’s “social market economy,” especially in services. Her government also pushed and prodded the rest of the EU in a comparable direction. In Germany specifically, the end result has been the growth of a two-tiered economy, which has heightened economic insecurity, created declining living standards for much of the population, and exacerbated inequality. In other words, too little “social,” too much “market.”

Source: If Everything Is So ‘Wunderbar’ in Germany, Why Are the Voters So Unhappy?

Climate of Class Rule:  Common(s)er Revolt or Common Ruin

Extreme weather and its collateral damage are only tips of the melting iceberg, semi-metaphorically speaking. The real climatological shit hits the eco-exterminist fan when we can’t grow enough food, find enough water, and keep ourselves cool enough to survive – and when global warming combines with collapsing social and technical infrastructure to bring pandemics that  wipe out much of an increasingly thirsty, under-nourished, and over-heated human race…

Source: Climate of Class Rule:  Common(s)er Revolt or Common Ruin

What the rich need now is hate, sweet hate

Humberto DaSilva

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In 2008 the Westworld economy crashed because for Wall Street moral hazard had become a board game. After blowing the biggest bubble ever enticing the guileless with mortgages they couldn’t afford, stockbrokers sliced these loans into derivatives that sold like packaged bologna to guileless pension funds, RRSPs, mutual funds, and 401Ks. European banks bought this toilet paper

Source: What the rich need now is hate, sweet hate