Posts Tagged ‘The Intercept’


As anyone in his or her right mind would agree, you can’t trust the New York Times — not after their role in selling G.W. Bush’s Iraq invasion — nor the even further-right Washington Post, especially after Satan’s little brother (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos) took it over recently. So, what’s left?

A lot. I typically look at a good half-dozen news and/or compilation sites every day or two:

  • The Guardian (the single best paper on the ‘net)
  • El Pais (Spanish-language, the major Madrid daily)
  • CNN (international, i.e., the “adult,” edition — not the U.S. “kiddie” edition)
  • Al Jazeera (the best Middle East news site, and after The Guardian, probably the second best international news site; soft on Islam, but otherwise great)
  • The Intercept — by far the best behind-the-scenes whistle-blower and analysis site
  • Le Monde (French-language, the Parisian paper of record — my French is lousy, so I normally check this only when I want their take on particular stories or events)
  • Truthdig — Chris Hedges’ and Robert Scheer’s essential hold-their-feet-to-the-fire whistle-blower and analysis site
  • Truthout another good leftist compilation/analysis site
  • The Cult News Network Run by a conservative Republican (!), this is by far the best site on the ‘net for news about religious cults
  • The Underground Bunker — getting toward even more specialized news, this is the best source of info about one of the most two American bizarro, destructive cults (Scientology — the other is Mormonism)
  • Fark — The best weird news site, and one which will lead you down all sorts of rabbit holes, sometimes toward real understanding — but more often not.

Please pass along any feedback about these sites, or any others you’d recommend, in the comments section.

 

 

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No, I’m not kidding. Trump has actually done a number of good things.

First, let’s list only the unalloyed positives:

  • Trump has armed the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) fighting ISIS in northern Syria, much to the annoyance of Turkish Islamist would-be dictator and ISIS enabler Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The YPG, a major part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, is the most effective military entity fighting ISIS in Syria. It’s also the only secular, democratic, libertarian (with a small “l”) force in the region in which gender equality is actively promoted. (There are all-women YPG units.)

It’s worth noting that to appease Islamist thug Erdogan, Hillary Clinton, had she won, would probably not have armed the YPG. All of the facts noted above have been obvious for years, yet Obama refused to arm the YPG. It’s a good bet that former Obama Secretary of State Clinton wouldn’t have, either.

(For more info, see “The Anarchists vs. the Islamic State.“)

  • Trump killed the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a “free trade” pact and mutant relative of NAFTA. Among other things, it would have a allowed commercial “courts” to overrule U.S. laws, would have made the already atrocious copyright situation even worse, strengthening the hold of the media conglomerates, would have allowed U.S. pharmaceutical firms to force companies in signatory nations to stop producing affordable versions of life-saving drugs, and would have allowed foreign firms to sue the U.S. and U.S. state governments over “loss” of projected profits caused by environmental regulations.

Clinton was in favor of this abomination. Until she wasn’t. If she’d won, there’d likely have been a few cosmetic changes to it which would have made it “acceptable” to her.

  • Trump, apparently out of personal pique, cut a debt ceiling “deal” with the Democrats. (It was more like unconditional surrender to them rather than a “deal.”) This will reduce the leverage the Republicans have to screw the public with tax “reform”; the type of “reform” they’ve been talking about would mostly reduce taxes on corporations and the top 1%, so reducing their leverage here is a good thing.

(If there’s one place where I’m completely on board with Trump, it’s in despising Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.)

  • Trump, through his defeat of Clinton, has partially broken the hold of the corporate Democrats on the Democratic Party — the Republicans’ junior partner in the looting of the American working class — and made it at least possible that the “democratic wing of the Democratic Party” will ascend.

For decades, the corporate Dems have had a stranglehold on the party as they’ve catered to the corporate elite (e.g., Obama’s refusal to prosecute any of the banksters responsible for the financial crash), taken massive amounts of money from the corporate elite, and refused to advance policies (most notably “Medicare for all”) favored by a large majority of Americans, and an even larger majority of Democrats.

At the same time, the corporate Dems have been chasing the chimera of the “center” (the maybe 10% of eligible voters who are so  poorly informed that they can’t make up their minds until the last minute) while ignoring the vastly larger number of those eligible to vote (41% in the last election) who don’t even bother to do it, largely because of disillusionment, largely because they can’t see any real differences between the parties (at least in terms of economics).

The major gains of the Labour Party in the UK in the recent election there, under Jeremy Corbyn (the UK’s Bernie Sanders), which successfully went after nonvoters by offering a starkly progressive platform, will, one hopes, provide a further boost to the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

Next, a mixed but overall positive move:

  • Trump has been pressuring U.S. allies to increase their military spending to bring it more in line with U.S. spending and thus, in theory, relieve financial pressure on U.S. taxpayers. Thus far he seems to have had some success with Canada, which will increase its military spending by 70% over the coming decade. This would be far more impressive if the U.S. didn’t already account for 43% of world military spending, and if Trump didn’t want to drastically increase that spending.

As for other good things Trump has done deliberately, none come to mind. But he has also inadvertently done some good:

  • He’s laid bare the hypocrisy of the Republican Party on healthcare. Republicans had seven years in which to prepare a replacement for Obamacare, and, after they unexpectedly won the presidency last November (plus both houses of Congress), they had to scramble to come up with a nightmarish mishmash of cuts and half-measures that would cost 23 million Americans healthcare coverage.
  • Trump has laid bare the hypocrisy of American foreign policy rhetoric. For decades, American “leaders” have been spewing the same line about “defending democracy,” while they’ve been supporting many of the world’s worst dictators and authoritarian regimes. Trump’s praise for Putin, Erdogan, mass murderer Duterte, and our Islamist Saudi “allies” brings out in the open America’s support for dictators and authoritarianism.
  • He’s laid bare the racism of the Republican Party. For half a century Republicans have catered to racists — restricting voting rights of blacks and latinos, persecuting undocumented immigrants (doing the dirtiest, most necessary work), promoting the war on drugs that has devastated black and latino communities, promoting “tough on crime” (i.e., vicious, tough on poor people) laws, and promoting outright slavery of the incarcerated — while at the same time hypocritically hiding behind code words and insisting that they aren’t racist. Under Trump, Republican racism is out in the open. (Unfortunately, that racism sometimes takes physical form; the assaults and murders it produces are a hideous byproduct of it.)
  • By acting as an apologist for neo-Nazis in the wake of Charlottesville, and by pointing out that Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders, he’s put a spotlight on a seamy side of American “revolutionary” history that virtually no one talks about. (For more info on this see “A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn.)
  • Trump has interrupted the creeping fascism that has been strangling America since at least the time of Truman, in favor of galloping fascism. The good news is that Trump is so repulsive and inept — good only at manipulating and swindling the fearful, desperate, and angry — that he likely won’t succeed in destroying what’s left of our freedoms.

Had Clinton won last year, creeping fascism would have continued; nothing would have fundamentally changed; popular discontent and resentment would have continued to fester; even while they controlled both the House and Senate, Republicans would have blamed everything that’s going wrong on the “liberal” (she isn’t) Clinton; and an overt, more competent Republican theofascist would probably have taken power in 2020, which, had Clinton won last year, would likely mean “game over” for American democracy.

  • Without intending to do it, Trump has spurred a wave of political activism in the U.S., the like of which hasn’t been seen in nearly half a century. This is a good thing for American democracy.

Contrary to popular belief, Trump’s victory last fall hasn’t been a total disaster, and in the end might turn out to be a good thing.

(Of course, things could get a whole lot worse under Trump. He and his minions are likely too inept to stage a Reichstag Fire and get away with it, but they almost certainly would take advantage of any of a number of disasters to impose parts of their horrific agenda. Naomi Klein at The Intercept offers a cogent analysis of these possibilities in “The worst of Donald Trump’s toxic agenda lies in wait — a major U.S. crisis will unleash it.”)


BlasphemyFor those of you wondering whatever happened to the 14-year-old kid charged with blasphemy in Everett, Pennsylvania for posting a photoon Facebook showing him simulating oral sex with a statue of J.C., wonder no more. The poor kid was sentenced in October to 350 hours of community service, random drug testing, and being banned from social networking sites for six months.

To appreciate the state of justice in the U.S., contrast that with the treatment of the bank executives who pulled off the largest financial fraud in world history and threw the economy into “The Great Recession” in 2008, causing millions of people to lose their jobs and millions more to lose their homes. Not a single one of the executives responsible has been charged with a crime. In the words of that national disgrace, former corporate lawyer and current U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the banks–which he conveniently conflates with their executives–are “too big to jail.”

There are end of the year lists, and then there are “end” of the year lists. One of our favorites is Deadspin’s annual “What did we get stuck up our rectums this year?” As you might surmise, it’s a list compiled from the nation’s emergency rooms. As a bonus, they have links to the lists from the last few years.

Glenn Greenwald, former Guardian reporter and the writer who broke the Edward Snowden NSA story, hasn’t been in the news much lately. The reason is his new web site, The Intercept. It’s the place to go for news about the surveillance state.

Finally, our friends at AK Press are having a 50% off (on everything) sale through this weekend, which we presume means through Sunday ultil midnight PST.