Sunday 17th of January 2021

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by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2021-01-17 20:25


But a myopic focus on the far right is misorienting—a result of the highly successful campaign by the US liberal establishment to focus on Trumpism as a unique threat to the working class and people of colour, and ignore the structural features of US capitalism that the Democrats uphold and against which so many rebelled in 2020. For the last four years we heard that it was the Democrats versus fascism. Perhaps that broken record is going to play for a little while longer, albeit while the Democrats control the executive and both branches of the legislature.

The main political outcome of the far-right farce in Washington is likely to be a strengthening of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party and an attempt to use these events to rally the population around all the key institutions of US capitalism and imperialism that have copped such a battering in recent times.

The US ruling class and its state apparatus backed a Democrat presidency to better “rebuild trust” in US institutions, “unite the nation”—i.e., co-opt and crush internal resistance—and rebuild US imperial might abroad. The Democrats agree with the bulk of Trump’s policies and have often legislated worse themselves, from neoliberal attacks on workers, to racist border policies, killer cops and launching or backing wars. Hence why they have opposed Trump as an aberration—a result of Russian interference and the uneducated “deplorables” who fell for his fake news—who is weakening and dividing their otherwise wonderful country and its institutions. Biden is the saviour to, essentially, make America great again.

The main enemy in the US remains the US state, US capitalism and the new imperial presidency of Joe Biden and his Democratic majority. The more liberal wing of the Democrats is doing its best, as it has all along, to play the role of herding left-wing opinion behind Joe Biden. 

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, celebrated hero of “the squad” among the pro-Democrat left, responded to the events by tweeting, “We will not let our Constitution be trampled on by a mob and threatened by a tyrant. Democracy will prevail”. This is nationalist blather. She and her fellow squad member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have now called for Trump to be impeached, a laughable manoeuvre to keep the focus off the incoming Biden administration.


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by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2021-01-17 20:17


‘We’re witnessing a fundamental political realignment’: Mike Davis on the crisis in the United States

In the wake of the deadly riot in Washington, DC, and with the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden just days away, Ben Hillier spoke to Mike Davis, author of Prisoners of the American Dream and Old Gods, New Enigmas: Marx’s Lost Theory, about the crises and transformations of US politics.


by Ben Hillier




The House has voted to impeach Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection”. What do you make of the choice to impeach on this ground?

We need to be very careful in analysing this. “Insurrection” and “coup” are hyperbole: there was no plan to seize power on 6 January. On the other hand, there may have been a plot to capture or even kill members of the Senate and the House, particularly Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nancy Pelosi. So “riot with deadly intent” is the most accurate term, and we now know that certain Republicans in the House helped organise the invasion. 

In one survey a few years ago, researchers were stunned by the large number of Trump voters who believed that political violence, even the overthrow of what they considered unlawful government, to be totally justified. And we now have polls showing that 70 percent of Republicans still strongly back Trump.

A majority of Republicans in the House, moreover, voted against certifying the election. These Trump diehards now constitute a de facto third party. Since Trump thinks only of revenge, there is little chance of reconciling this group with the majority of Republicans in the Senate who voted in favour of accepting Biden’s election. The Republican Party is splitting in two even if both wings retain the same brand name. The Trump movement indeed has become a genuinely neo-fascist force organised around the myth of the “stolen election” and tacitly condoning political violence. Their rage has become even more incandescent after Facebook and Twitter closed down Trump’s accounts.

On the other hand, what happened in Washington was also a liberation of sorts for many Republicans on the other side of the certification debate. The Trump cult has stifled the ambitions of younger conservative senators such as Ben Sasse (Nebraska) and Tom Cotton (Arkansas). Now a space has been cleared for them to run in the presidential primaries in 2024. Intra-party polarisation has also emboldened Republican hawks like congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of George W. Bush’s former vice president, who hate Trump’s coddling of Russian President Putin and blame him for undermining American hegemony.

This “post-Trump” wing has been given courage by an extraordinary revolt of the party's traditional business donors against the president. I must confess to astonishment when, on 6 January, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), representing the entire spectrum of older industries large and small, called on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to depose Trump. For 125 years, NAM has been virtually identical with the Republican Party, so this was a real earthquake, as was the declaration by the Koch network, the superpower coalition of donors on the right, that it would re-evaluate contributions in light of the Capitol riots.

But we shouldn’t leap to the conclusion that post-Trumpism is a rebirth of “moderate Republicanism”. It is not. The break is with Trump authoritarianism, not with most of his far-right domestic policies. It remains to be seen whether the hard Christian right, which has anointed Trump as the hand of Jesus, will also divide. In any event, we’re witnessing a fundamental political realignment occurring in real time.

The new administration will be inaugurated on 20 January. Can you say something about what Joe Biden and the ruling class hope to get out of the next four years of Democratic rule?

His cabinet and advisory appointments are almost entirely Obama regime veterans, and especially members of his vice-presidential staff. Progressives have been scorned, with one notable exception: the nomination of Deb Haaland (a Democrat from New Mexico) as the first Native American cabinet member (Department of the Interior). 

His promise to be “the most pro-labour president in history” coexists uncomfortably with his heavy support from Wall Street, Silicon Valley and Hollywood. One of his chief goals, moreover, is the restoration of the North Atlantic alliance, not only as barrier to Russian ambitions, but as a vehicle for synchronising stimulus packages and maintaining the stability of big finance. Domestically, most of his vaunted “green energy” revolution, if adopted, will subsidise private industry, not expand the public sector.

We should recall how he won the nomination after having lost so many primaries to Bernie Sanders. During the South Carolina primary, there was an incredible rallying to his side of the entire Democratic establishment, the other defeated candidates and the traditional Black leadership in the south. The implicit slogan was “stop Sanders at all cost”.

After Bernie conceded defeat, his campaign and Biden’s agreed to form a series of working committees to negotiate the content of the Democratic platform. To the horror of millions, in the healthcare group, the Sandernistas conceded universal health care—they decided not to make it a make-or-break issue in the election and accepted instead Biden’s far weaker modification of Obamacare, which would still keep private insurance companies at the centre of medical provision. This was a huge defeat at a time of the greatest medical crisis since the Spanish flu.

Given the way the impeachment is being carried out—the daily valorisation of and rallying around the sacred institutions of US democracy—is it a distraction for progressives whose tasks soon will be to challenge many of the policies of the incoming administration?

We need to challenge the cant about the Constitution. I personally consider nothing more obnoxious than the unctuous reverence for the Constitution on the part of the Democrats. If you look at it historically, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Woodrow Wilson was a fierce critic of the Constitution. Both Republican progressives and the Socialist Party at the time regarded the Constitution as an obstacle and nothing holy. 

But it shows how completely the Democratic leadership has bought in to this almost biblical reverence of a document created by slave owners and wealthy merchants to control demands for democracy and to stabilise slavery in the south. And anointing with holy water the Constitution also precludes the fundamental structural reforms that must take place, starting with the abolition of the electoral college. 

So the establishment is just gloating over itself and instrumentalising the events of 6 January to its advantage. This also creates more leverage for the new administration, which is a restoration of the status quo ante—the Obama personnel and regime. It gives them more leverage to try to punish and control the progressive wing of the party.

However, the two Democrats who publicly have been the least enthusiastic about impeachment are the president-elect himself and Bernie Sanders. Biden still drinks the Kool-Aid and subscribes to the myth of bipartisanship in Congress, of a moderate centre in American politics. It’s just like Obama’s quest to bring us all together and make us nicer and more decent people. It’s a real delusion, but clearly one he believes in. Bernie Sanders will probably vote to convict Trump, but he’s been very clear that working-class America has to be, always, the major issue in the foreground, has to be the highest priority.

Having said that, the greatest crime of the Trump administration is not what happened on 6 January. It’s the fact that from the late spring onward, the administration has been sabotaging and undermining the public health response to the pandemic. Its hands are bloodstained and responsible for the deaths of at least half of the almost 400,000 people who have died. We should be demanding an independent commission to investigate all this, but also to indict those responsible. I doubt this has any purchase in Congress. But, if necessary, it should be conducted independently by medical experts and above all give voice to rank-and-file workers. It would be hideous to allow Trump and his administration to escape any kind of real punishment for the fact that their policies have become the active vector of the coronavirus infections. 

Obama gave amnesty, informally, to the Bush administration for its war crimes and use of torture and then turned around and extended the same kind of informal amnesty to the bankers who brought the American economy down. Biden’s instinct is to not punish the Trump administration—although he may modify this to some degree because of the pressure that he’s under.

The trick for progressives is to demand punishment and criminal indictment, but at the same time not allow the Biden administration or the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate to turn impeachment and so on into a distraction.

I think it’s entirely possible for progressives to demand the sternest punishment for the Trump administration, but at the same time point out the need for fundamental structural reform. The American constitutional political system is completely undemocratic in certain aspects. The Senate, for example, was designed primarily as a check on the tendencies and movements towards democracy in the early republic. Even if reform is difficult or ultimately impossible to accomplish, it’s necessary to change the discourse and to put these hallowed institutions in a realistic light.

Thinking more broadly about the situation in the US in 2021, what do you think are the most consequential “known knowns” and “known unknowns”? What do you think are the most important issues facing the US left?

The conditions in this country are extreme for low-wage workers in general and the working class as a whole. They’re living under depression conditions. And it’s doubtful that the Biden administration will be able to do anything dramatic about that, at least in the short term. 

The great priority must be struggles to organise workplaces and defend workers, to organise in the communities around life and death issues like rent control and medical coverage and to build effective national protest movements after the bitter experience of last year—of seeing the pandemic response annexed by the Trumpites, allowing the far right to mount the only effective protest movement that occurred, rather than a broad progressive coalition fighting for workplace safety and supporting the healthcare and essential workers. Never has the progressive camp, or more explicitly the American left, had greater tasks and responsibilities placed on it than it has for the forthcoming year.

Among the known unknowns is the cold war with China, of which Australia is the front line. Biden ran on Trump positions about China. Remember this was one of the centrepieces of the second Obama administration—the pivot from the Middle East to South-East Asia and the South China Sea, and the attempt to create a more activist and militant alliance against China. This is extraordinarily dangerous. I think progressives should do everything they can to support the rights of Uyghurs and democracy in China. But a cold war is an extraordinarily dangerous situation. 

Another known unknown is the ability to restore, within the OECD bloc, a stabilising level of economic growth. I tend to be extremely sceptical about that possibility. Clearly, in the United States, the private sector cannot any longer create a stable supply of well-paid, meaningful jobs to compensate for the job losses that have occurred so far in the pandemic, but especially for what all the mainstream economists are telling us will be job losses due to the application of artificial intelligence to every sector of the economy. What that means is that the public sector has to be the engine that drives employment and keeps up the level of domestic demand—but public sector employment, particularly in the English-speaking countries, has been savagely cut over the last generation.

Another known unknown will be whether the labour uprising and resurgence, which is the central hope of the left, will occur. Right now, the most progressive unions are ones like Nurses United and some of the public sector unions. But other sections of the union movement that historically have been decisive power centres have been enormously weakened by job automation and job export, but also by corruption. The United Auto Workers, once the most powerful single union in the country, which set the pace for national labour negotiations, was eviscerated a few years ago by immense corruption and crisis inside the leadership. The American union movement has very activist and committed sectors, but it also suffers from a great amount of internal decay.

Then there’s climate change and the environmental crisis. In places like Australia and California, what we’re seeing in the phenomena of annual or biannual mega-fires is an immense biological transition. Forests are dying and not being replaced. Fire is creating irreversible changes in the landscape. Drought is ravaging some of the most important irrigated agricultural systems in Europe. Food security is as precarious as it has been in a generation and will grow even more so. This is the background crisis to everything else. And certainly here in California, like you in Australia, we have a heightened sense of this. I live in San Diego, but I grew up in the rural East County. And almost half of the East County has been burnt in the last sixteen or seventeen years. California’s iconic landscapes in some cases are disappearing. It’s no longer a matter of an episodic disaster; it’s a continuing catastrophe that grow bigger and bigger every year. 

You shouldn’t ask me these questions because, you know, I’m always characterised as a prophet of disaster (laughs). I probably have too many bad scenarios. I ultimately believe that global capitalism can’t create meaningful social roles for humanity, that it cannot decarbonise the planet, that it cannot prevent nuclear wars, that it cannot provide food security. I don’t think another golden age of capital is possible, certainly not globally. 

And China’s ability to step in and take the place of America, as it did after the 2008 financial crisis, engage in vast public spending campaigns that increase demands for products and help a large part of the world escape the economic crisis—well it’s an open bet on China’s capacity to do this, but I’m extremely doubtful that a new market-based world order will emerge to bring us back to anything that represents prosperity. 

Rather, the opposite seems to be happening, with, even in the rich countries, enormous numbers of people, particularly young people, reduced to the most marginal economic roles, without any forward motion or ability to escape the purgatory of casualised and contingent labour or, for that matter, the housing crisis that threatens to put hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets. 

One the other hand, the United States differs from Western Europe in one important aspect. Okay, we’ve seen the growth of far-right authoritarian movements which had success in areas of Western and Central Europe among formerly left-wing blue-collar workers. But in this country, the most astonishing thing, I think, is not so much the rise of Trump and far-right populism. It’s that among people under 30, every poll shows that a majority looks more favourably on socialism, whatever that means to them, than on capitalism. And it’s that so many of them, hundreds of thousands of them, have been active in campaigns from the Occupy movement to Black Lives Matter and so on. 

One of the principal concerns of progressives right now is how to sustain that activism, how to prevent it from being demobilised. Much of the future rests on the ability of the left to do that. There’s been no other country—certainly no European country, or Australia, New Zealand or Canada—that has seen such a powerful resurgence of the left, or one that is so solidly, generationally specific and anchored. And of course, youth of colour, the coming plurality of the American population, played a central role in this—particularly the Black women who built Black Lives Matter. After Sanders’ concession, you faced the possibility that tens of thousands of young people who had been active in his campaign would just become pessimistic and disorganised, when instead their activism was recycled by BLM. We must conserve and nurture activism above all.



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by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2021-01-17 14:41


Whether civil war is coming will depend on the degree of stoicism prevalent among the Deplorable multitudes.

I hear the sons of the city and dispossessed
Get down, get undressed
Get pretty but you and me
We got the kingdom, we got the key
We got the empire, now as then
We don’t doubt, we don’t take direction
Lucretia, my reflection, dance the ghost with me

Sisters of Mercy, Lucretia my Reflection

9/11 was the prelude. 1/6 is the Holy Grail.

9/11 opened the gates to the Global War on Terror (GWOT), later softened by Team Obama to the status of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) even as it was suavely expanded to the bombing, overt or covert, of seven nations.

9/11 opened the gates to the Patriot Act, whose core had already been written way back in 1994 by one Joe Biden.

1/6 opens the gate to the War on Domestic Terror and the Patriot Act from Hell, 2.0, on steroids (here is the 2019 draft ), the full 20,000 pages casually springing up from the sea like Venus, the day after, immediately ready to roll.

And as the inevitable companion to Patriot Act 2.0, there will be war overseas, with the return in full force, unencumbered, of what former CIA analyst Ray McGovern memorably christened the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think Tank) complex.

And when MICIMATT starts the next war, every single protest will be branded as domestic terrorism.


The faux coup

Whatever really happened on 1/6 in the militarized Valhalla of a superpower that spent untold trillions of dollars on security since the start of the millennium, the elaborate psy op/photo-op circus – complete with a strategically photogenic MAGA Viking actor – could never had happened if it was not allowed to happen.

Debate will rage till Kingdom Come on whether the break in was organic – an initiative by a few hundred among at least 10,000 peaceful protestors surrounding the Capitol – or rather a playbook color revolution false flag instigated by an infiltrated, professional Fifth Column of agent provocateurs.

What matters is the end result: the manufactured product – “Trump insurrection” – for all practical purposes buried the presentation, already in progress, of evidence of electoral fraud to the Capitol, and reduced the massive preceding rally of half a million people to “domestic terrorism”.

That was certainly not a “coup”. Top military strategist Edward Luttwak, now advising the Pentagon on cyber-war, tweeted, “nobody pulls a coup during the day”. That was just “a show, people expressing emotions”, an actually faux coup that did not involve arson or widespread looting, and relatively little violence (compare it to Maidan 2014): talk about “insurrectionists” walking inside the Capitol respecting the velvet ropes.

A week before 1/6, a dissident but still very connected Deep State intel op offered this cold, dispassionate view of the Big Picture:

“Tel Aviv betrayed Trump with a new deal with Biden and so they threw him to the dogs. Sheldon Adelson and the Mafia have no trouble switching sides for the winner by hook or crook. Pence and McConnell also betrayed Trump. It was as though Trump walked as Julius Caesar into the Roman Senate to be stabbed to death. Any deal Trump makes with the system or Deep State will not be kept and they are secretly talking about ending him forever. Trump has the trump card. Martial law. Military tribunals. The Insurrection Act. The question is whether he will play it. Civil war is coming irrespective of what happens to him, sooner or later.”



Whether civil war is coming will depend on the degree of stoicism prevalent among the Deplorable multitudes.

Alastair Crooke has brilliantly outlined the Top Three main issues that shape Red America’s “Epiphany”: stolen elections; lockdown as a premeditated strategy for the destruction of small and mid-size businesses; and the dire prospect of ‘cancellation’ by an incoming woke ‘soft totalitarianism’ orchestrated by Big Tech.

Cue to a Corpse Reading a Teleprompter, also known as The President-Elect, and his own ominous words after 1/6: “Don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists.” Some things never change. George W. Bush, immediately after 9/11: “Either you’re with us, or with the terrorists”.


That’s the hegemonic, set in stone, narrative now being implemented with an iron fist by Big Tech. First they come for POTUS. Then they come for you. Anyone, anywhere, not following Big Tech’s Techno-Feudalist diktat WILL be cancelled.

Bye bye Miss American Pie

And that’s why the drama is way, way, bigger than a mere discombobulated POTUS.

Every single institution controlled by the ruling class – from schools to mass media to the way workplaces are regulated – will go after the Deplorables with no mercy.

Professional CIA killer and liar John Breenan, key conceptualizer of totally debunked Russiagate, tweeted about the necessity of, in practice, setting up re-education camps. Media honchos called for “cleansing the movement”.

Politically, the Deplorables only have Trumpism. And that’s why Trumpism, with a possible avenue to become an established third party, must be smashed. As much as the 0.0001% is more terrified by the possibility of secession or armed revolt, they need urgent pre-emptive action against what is, for now, a nationalist mass movement, however inchoate its political proposals.

The “unknown unknown”, to evoke notorious neo-con Donald Rumsfeld, is whether the exasperated plebs will eventually reach for the pitchforks – and make the 0.0001% feudal hacienda ungovernable. And then there’s a literally smokin’ element – those half a billion guns out there.

The 0.0001% knows for sure that Trump, after all, was never a radical revolutionary change agent. Inchoately, he channeled Red America’s hopes and fears. But instead of the promised glitzy palace adorned with gold, what he delivered was a shack in the desert.

Meanwhile, Red America, intuitively, understood that Trump at least was a useful conduit. He lay bare how the corrupt swamp actually moves. How these “institutions” are mere corporate puppets – and completely ignore the common man. How the Judiciary is utterly corrupt – when even POTUS cannot get a hearing. How Pharma and Tech actually expanded the MICIMATT (MICIMAPTT?) And most of all, how the two party paradigm is a monstrous lie.

So where will 75 million disenfranchised voters – or 88 million Twitter followers – go?

As it stands, we’re deep into Hardcore Class War. The Top of the Scam Gang are in full control. The remains of “Democracy” have gelled into Mediacracy. Ahead, there’s nothing but ruthless purge, protracted crackdown, censorship, blanket surveillance, smashing of civil liberties, a single narrative, overarching cancel (in)culture. It gets worse: next week, this paranoid apparatus merges with the awesome machinery of the United States Government (USG).

So welcome to Full Spectrum Domestic Dominance. Germany 1933 on steroids. 1984 redux: no wonder the hashtag #1984 was banned by Twitter.

Cui bono? Techno-Feudalism, of course – and the interlocking tentacles of the trans-humanist Great Reset. Defy it, and you will be cancelled.

Bye bye Miss American Pie. That’s the legacy of 1/6.

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see also:


remembering not to forget a small pair of boots: history re-begins.




questions arise for holding congress' open day when the members were discussing joe biden becoming president...




the end of your freedom... in a anti-fascist penalty shoot out.




a myth of US democratic morality...


of taxes and revolutions...


a bit of wagnerian musak...


war is peace...


the bombers are back...


when peace is difficult for the jokers in gotham...


the two ingredients of a generalised revolution? won't happen...


understanding the military mind...


and especially:


racking brain cell after brain cell...

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2021-01-17 12:04


MSM calls for “new definition of free speech”


By Kit Knightly


Part of the main duty of OffGuardian is to troll through the masses of media output and try and pick up patterns. Sometimes the patterns are subtle, a gentle urging behind the paragraphs. Sometimes they’re more like a sledgehammer to the face.

This has been face-hammer week. In fact, it’s been a face-hammer year.

From “flatten the curve” to “the new normal” to “the great reset”, it’s not been hard to spot the messaging going on since the start of the “pandemic”. And that distinct lack of disguise has carried over into other topics, too.

We pointed out, a few days ago, the sudden over-use of the phrase“domestic terrorism” preparing us for what is, almost certainly, going to be a truly horrendous piece of new legislation once Biden is in office.

Well, the buzz-phrase doing the rounds in the wake of Donald Trump being banned from the internet is “the new definition of free speech”…and variations on that theme.

Firstly, and papers on both sides of the Atlantic want to be very clear about this, Donald Trump being banned simultaneously from every major social network is not in any way inhibiting his free speech

Indeed none of the tens of thousands of people banned from twitter et al. have had their free speech infringed either. Neither have any of the proprietors – or users – of the Parler app which the tech giants bullied out of existence.

Free Speech is totally intact no matter how many people are banned or deplatformed, the media all agree on that (even the allegedly pro-free speech think tanks). 

They also agree that maybe…it shouldn’t be. Maybe “free speech” is too dangerous in our modern era, and needs a “new definition”.

That’s what Ian Dunt writing in thinks, anyway, arguing it’s time to have a “grown-up debate” about free speech.

The Financial Times agrees, asking about the “limits of free-speech in the internet era”.

Thomas Edsall, in the New York Times, wonders aloud if Trump’s “lies” have made free speech a “threat to democracy”.

The Conversation, a UK-based journal often at the cutting edge of the truly terrifying ideas, has three different articles about redefining or limiting free speech, all published within 4 days of each other.

There’s Free speech is not guaranteed if it harms others, a drab piece of dishonest apologia which argues Trump wasn’t silenced, because he could make a speech which the media would cover…without also mentioning that the media has, en masse, literally refused to broadcast several of Trump’s speeches in the last couple of months.

The conclusion could have been written by an algorithm analysing The Guardian’s twitter feed:

the suggestion Trump has been censored is simply wrong. It misleads the public into believing all “free speech” claims have equal merit. They do not. We must work to ensure harmful speech is regulated in order to ensure broad participation in the public discourse that is essential to our lives — and to our democracy. 

Then there’s Free speech in America: is the US approach fit for purpose in the age of social media?, a virtual carbon copy of the first, which states:

The attack on the Capitol exposed, in stark terms, the dangers of disinformation in the digital age. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the extent to which certain elements of America’s free speech tradition may no longer be fit for purpose.

And finally, my personal favourite, Why ‘free speech’ needs a new definition in the age of the internet and Trump tweets in which author Peter Ives warns of the “weaponising of free speech” and concludes:

Trump’s angry mob was not just incited by his single speech on Jan. 6, but had been fomenting for a long time online. The faith in reason held by Mill and Kant was premised on the printing press; free speech should be re-examined in the context of the internet and social media.

Ives clearly thinks he’s enlightened and liberal and educated, after all he drops references to Kant AND Mills (that’s right TWO famous philosophers), but he’s really not. He’s just an elitist arguing working class people are too dumb to be allowed to speak, or even hear ideas that might get them all riled-up and distract them from their menial labour.

To season these stale ideas with a sprinkling of fear-porn, NBC News is reporting that the FBI didn’t report their “concerns” over possible violence at the Capitol, because they were worried about free speech. (See, if the FBI hadn’t been protecting people’s free speech, that riot may not have happened!)

And on top of all of that, there’s the emotional manipulation angle, where authors pretend to be sad or exasperated or any of the emotions they used to have.

In the Irish Independent, Emma Kelly says that “free speech” doesn’t include “hate speech” (she’s never exactly clear what part of “go home in peace love” was hate speech though).

In The Hill, Joe Ferullo is almost in tears that the first amendment has been ruined by the right-wing press continuously “shouting fire in a crowded theatre”, citing the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes quote, which so many use to “qualify” the idea of free speech, without realising it hands over power to destroy it completely.

Up until you can show me the hard-and-fast legal definitions of “shout”, “fire”, “crowded” and “theatre”, this open-ended qualification is nothing but a blank canvas, free to be interpreted as loosely – or stringently – as any lawmaker or judiciary feels is necessary.

As an example:

Twitter is certainly bigger and more populated than a theatre, and spreading anti-vaccination/anti-war/pro-Russia/”Covid denial” news [delete as appropriate] is certainly going to cause more panic than one single building being on fire. Isn’t it?

It’s this potential abuse of incredibly loose terminologies which will be used to “redefine” free speech.

“Offensive”, “misinformation”, “hate speech” and others will be repeated. A lot. 

Expressions which have no solid definition under law, and are already being shown to mean nothing to the media talking heads who repeat them ad nauseum.

If “go home in peace and love”, can become “inciting violence”, absolutely everything can be made to mean absolutely anything.

The more they “redefine” words, the further we move into an Orwellian world where all meaning is entirely lost.

And what would our newly defined “free speech” really mean in such a world?


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by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2021-01-17 11:53

Award-winning author Michael Walsh celebrates the masculine attributes of heroism that forged American civilization and Western culture by exploring historical battles in which soldiers chose death over dishonor in Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost.

In our contemporary era, men are increasingly denied their heritage as warriors. A survival instinct that’s part of the human condition, the drive to wage war is natural. Without war, the United States would not exist. The technology that has eased manual labor, extended lifespans, and become an integral part of our lives and culture has often evolved from wartime scientific advancements. War is necessary to defend the social and political principles that define the virtues and freedoms of America and other Western nations. We should not be ashamed of the heroes who sacrificed their lives to build a better world. We should be honoring them.

The son of a Korean War veteran of the Inchon landing and the battle of the Chosin Reservoir with the U.S. Marine Corps, Michael Walsh knows all about heroism, valor, and the call of duty that requires men to fight for something greater than themselves to protect their families, fellow countrymen, and most of all their fellow soldiers. In Last Stands, Walsh reveals the causes and outcomes of more than a dozen battles in which a small fighting force refused to surrender to a far larger force, often dying to the last man.

From the Spartans’ defiance at Thermopylae and Roland’s epic defense of Charlemagne’s rear guard at Ronceveaux Pass, through Santa Anna’s siege of the Alamo defended by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie to the skirmish at Little Big Horn between Crazy Horse’s Sioux nation and George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Calvary, to the Soviets’ titanic struggle against the German Wehrmacht at Stalingrad, and more, Walsh reminds us all of the debt we owe to heroes willing to risk their lives against overwhelming odds―and how these sacrifices and battles are not only a part of military history but our common civilizational heritage.


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Now, with technological advances that can destroy the planet in minutes, we should recognise that the era of individual sacrifice has relatively vanished. As Elon Musk has said: "the era of the jetfighter is finished"... What is harder is to find ways to cooperate better.


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by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2021-01-17 11:14

Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie, CBE (born 5 February 1977) is an English competitive sailor. Ainslie is the most successful sailor in Olympic history. He won medals at five consecutive Olympics from 1996 onwards, including gold at the four consecutive Games (Sydney, Athens, Beijing & London) held between 2000 and 2012.


Sir Ben Ainslie buffeted by 'sandbagging' claims as losing streak turns to victory

Sir Ben laughed off the accusations, saying his team’s success was down to substantial changes made over Christmas and New ...

The Daily Telegraph


Ben Ainslie hailed an "epic turnaround" by his Ineos Team UK after they won their first two races in the challenger series that will determine who faces Team New Zealand for the America's Cup.

The boat had been widely criticised as a "lame duck" after they lost all six races in December's World Series.

Ineos beat American Magic and Italy's Luna Rossa in the opening races of the four-week qualifier in Auckland.

Four-time Olympic sailing champion Ainslie called it a "team effort".

"Our entire team back on the dockyards, the designers, the engineers, the shore team, the boat builders, they had three epic weeks working to turn this boat around," added the Ineos skipper, who memorably joined Oracle Team USA as a tactician during the 2013 America's Cup as they came from 8-1 down to beat Team New Zealand 9-8..

"We are long way out of the woods yet, it's a couple of good races. Time to make the most of the momentum now."


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From the net:

Sandbagging is used in competitive sports, careers and even social situations. It’s a form of manipulation used to gain the upper hand, and it’s subtly devious. I became familiar with sandbagging some years ago. This form of manipulation is unlike any other tactic used by narcissists and toxic individuals. In fact, this act of dominance is seen in the ranks of reputable …

The term sandbagging generally refers to a cheat who conceals his real talents to fool his opponent. In cards, a sandbagger pretends his hand is lousy to get other players to put greater stakes on the table. In golf, a sandbagger pretends he has a lower level of ability than he really does. In pool, think Paul Newman in "The Hustler": a pool shark acting like an amateur to raise …


Note: Sir Thomas Lipton was a grocer who made a lot of money by being cheaper than his competitors...

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2021-01-17 09:49


Pompeo congratulates himself on ending "decades of appeasement" between Beijing and Washington


Four days before leaving his post as US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo fired red bullets against Beijing in a series of inflammatory tweets. An initiative that follows recent outings against Cuba and Iran. Ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration scheduled for January 20, the 70th Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, is preparing in his own way for the departure of the Trump administration by increasing his outings on the international scene.

On January 16, the head of American diplomacy, for example, published more than a dozen inflammatory tweets for the attention of the Chinese Communist Party. "The Chinese Communist Party is a threat," he wrote in a first publication which announced the color, before adding: "For 50 years America has knelt before China. But not under the Trump administration. ”

Barely 30 minutes later, the head of the State Department congratulated himself on having succeeded in “putting an end to decades of appeasement” between Beijing and Washington. "We can no longer ignore the political and ideological differences between the United States and the People's Republic of China, between freedom and tyranny," he said.

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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2021-01-16 19:35

‘President-elect Biden will seek after the heart of God,’ says pastor who will give benediction at inauguration

The Rev. Silvester Beaman, pastor of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware, who will deliver the benediction at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony next Wednesday, says he's confident the president-elect will “seek after the heart of God” to lead the country.

“This final blessing over the event is God’s opportunity to cover the nation in grace as we launch the Biden-Harris administration. I personally know that President Biden will seek after the heart of God, it has been his lifestyle over the years. In his toughest moments it has been the light of God’s love that has guided and sustained him,” Beaman said in a statement on Facebook Thursday.

The pastor, who has known the Biden family for nearly 30 years and is a close confidante and friend of the president-elect, hosted Biden at his church in the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd where he met with parishioners and black community leaders to discuss racism and police brutality.

Beaman called his invitation to deliver the benediction at Biden’s inauguration “an extreme honor” and said he believes that Biden, who is Catholic, “will be seeking God’s grace daily.”

“It is an extreme honor and seminal moment to have been asked by President-elect Joseph R. Biden to pronounce the benediction during the 59th Inaugural Celebration in our Nation’s Capital, January 20, 2021,” he said. “There is nothing more strenuous or crucial than being the leader of the free world. Therefore he will be seeking God’s grace daily.”


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I hope that Jo-the-Catholic Biden finds serenity in peace and does not try to force other countries into submission in any ways nor fashions that include the nastiness of US sanction. As well, seeking after the heart of God demands ceasing the sponsorship of terrorists such as Al Qaeda, and the Jews next door, in Syria. May Jo find the heart of god, which is the ability to perform miracles without the use of weapons (please note that money, or the lack of it, is also a weapon). Seeking the heart of god also demands humility... not exceptionalism (despite Jesus being utterly exceptionally better than Superman). Amen. (Gus is a fierce atheist).

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2021-01-16 18:39

An international expert team from the World Health Organization arrived in Wuhan, Hubei province, and started quarantine at a hotel in Wuhan on Thursday to work with its Chinese counterparts on origin-tracing and scientific research of the novel coronavirus.

The team landed at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport on Thursday morning, where they received throat swab and serum antibody tests for the coronavirus before going into a 14-day quarantine, according to China Global Television Network.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular news briefing in Beijing on Thursday that, during their quarantine, the WHO experts will have exchanges via video link with Chinese scientists and medical experts.

All of the team members had multiple tests for COVID-19 in their home countries before traveling.

The WHO confirmed the arrival of the international team of 13 scientists in Wuhan in a post on social media, which also said that another two scientists are still in Singapore to be retested after they tested positive for antibodies associated with COVID-19.

Before the visit, WHO expert teams on origin-tracing of the novel coronavirus had visited China twice, in February and July, at China's invitation. The two sides have kept exchanging information on the latest progress in origin-tracing and worked together to formulate a plan on cooperation with China under a broader plan for global cooperation on origin-tracing of the virus.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at an earlier media briefing that he was pleased that the team, with members from countries including the United States, Russia and Japan, would travel to China for joint scientific research on origin-tracing with its Chinese counterparts.

"Scientific evidence will drive hypotheses, which will then be the basis for further, longer-term studies," he said."This is important not just for COVID-19, but for the future of global health security and to manage emerging disease threats with pandemic potential."

It will be a very difficult task to find the origin of the novel coronavirus, and no significant progress has been made over the past year, some experts have said.

Although some of the earliest COVID-19 cases were reported at Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan in December 2019, no evidence was found to link the market with the origin of the coronavirus, despite great efforts by Chinese researchers to find an answer, Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an earlier interview.

The latest research and discoveries about earliest cases of the virus in some other countries have pointed to the possibility that the virus may have existed in nature for a long time before the earliest COVID-19 cases were reported, he said.


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The identity of the initial case of Covid-19, the so-called ‘patient zero,’ might remain a mystery forever, the WHO said, as it called on nations to step up cooperation and information sharing in an effort to beat the disease.

“We need to be very careful about the use of the phrase ‘patient zero’ which many people indicate as the first initial case. We may never find who the patient zero was,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead on Covid-19 told a press conference on Friday, referring to the organization’s fact-finding mission that arrived in Wuhan, widely regarded as an original hotspot of the pandemic, on Thursday



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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2021-01-16 18:37

Last year, the US State Department published a blueprint for a decades-long struggle against China that included reorienting US society, education and culture toward that goal. Now, a formerly secret document shows plans for undermining Chinese society from the inside at the same time.

A key secret strategy document recently declassified by the Trump administration has revealed the private thinking of the National Security Council about the US approach to maintaining dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. Interestingly, the document clearly states it should not be declassified before December 31, 2042, and it contains only minor redactions.

Titled the “US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific,” the February 2018 document by the National Security Council is distinctly different from the June 2019 Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, which was released publicly by the Pentagon.

In a statement issued with the declassified document, the outgoing White House national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, noted that it has “provided overarching strategic guidance for implementing the 2017 National Security Strategy within the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.”

A comparison of the private framework, created just weeks after the National Security Strategy, and the public report published a year and a half later, shows inconsistencies between publicly stated and privately acknowledged priorities by the Trump administration.

Russia: Malign Actor or Marginal Player?

Both documents prioritize China as the primary threat to US hegemony in the region, with the framework noting that “China will circumvent international rules and norms to gain an advantage.”

But while the public strategy report lists Russia as a “revitalized malign actor” that “seeks to advance Moscow's strategic interests while undermining US leadership and the rules-based international order,” in private, NSC members are telling each other that “Russia will remain a marginal player relative to the United States, China, and India,” according to the framework document.

Indeed, the framework lists just three regional national security challenges for the US:

  • How to maintain US strategic primacy in the Indo-Pacific region and promote a liberal economic order while preventing China from establishing new, illiberal spheres of influence, and cultivating areas of cooperation to promote regional peace and prosperity?
  • How to ensure North Korea does not threaten the United States and its allies, accounting for both the acute present danger and the potential for future changes in the level and type of the threat posed by North Korea?
  • How to advance US global economic leadership while promoting fair and reciprocal trade?
Given the frankness of the declassified framework, the few omissions are conspicuous. 

For example, under the section outlining the objective to “strengthen the capabilities and will of Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Australia to contribute to the end states of this strategy,” the first action on the list is redacted. Further redactions appear in the Actions section, under the objective of “acclerat[ing] India’s rise” and under the section on “strengthening the capacity of emerging partners in South Asia.”

Defending South China Sea and Taiwan

In the framework’s largest section, on countering China, much of the expected posturing against Chinese military capabilities seen elsewhere is laid out, including an ambitious goal to deny China its “sustained air and sea dominance inside the ‘first island chain’ in a conflict; defending the first-island-chain nations, including Taiwan;” and dominating all domains outside the first island chain.” The final part of that bullet point is redacted.



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It’s dangerous for Australia to be so dependent on the United States

On 6 January 2021, the same day as President Donald Trump crossed the red line into incitement of insurrection in Washington through the assault on the Capitol, his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also crossed a line in provocations against China.

He issued a strong statement condemning China for the mass arrests in Hong Kong and threatened sanctions against any individual or entity involved in the attack on the Hong Kong people. Where he crossed the line was by adding “I am pleased to announce the upcoming visit of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft to Taiwan, a reliable partner and vibrant democracy that has flourished despite CCP efforts to undermine its great success. Taiwan shows what a free China could achieve.” Three days later he added further fuel to the fire by declaring the self-imposed restrictions on US diplomats, service members, and other officials’ interactions with Taiwanese counterparts as “null and void”.

Fortunately, Craft’s visit was later cancelled, due to the forthcoming Biden transition. Mike Pompeo was also intending to visit Europe but also made a last-minute cancellation, ostensibly due to the change in president, but in fact, several major Europeans he had intended to visit indicated he was not welcome.

Though obviously relieved at the cancellation of a visit to Taiwan by so senior an official as the representative to the United Nations, China had made no attempt to disguise its displeasure over increased relations with Taiwan. Considering how much Taiwan matters to the Beijing leaders, and how provocative Pompeo has been in his behaviour towards the People’s Republic of China in the last few months, it is difficult to imagine anything he could do more likely to anger the PRC in his last days as secretary of state. Maybe he is just preparing the ground for a tilt at the presidency himself in 2024.

And then on 12 January, a secret strategic Trump Administration document from 2018 was released prematurely about the Indo-Pacific. Its content was to note emerging convergence with a range of countries, including India, Japan, Australia, South Korea and others, but the list also includes Taiwan. Not surprisingly, the enemy is set up as China. Probably the reason for the premature release was to try and tie the hands of the incoming Biden Administration.

The mainstream media have warned that China would use the chaos in Washington to provoke an attack on Taiwan. It seems to me, however, that precisely the opposite is happening. It is Washington that’s doing the provoking, with Pompeo apparently doing as much damage to relations with China as he can on his way out the door. He seems to enjoy poking Beijing in the eye, an action I think should be condemned in the strongest possible terms, especially considering the “century of humiliation” that was hopefully firmly in the past. Meanwhile, China is acting with restraint so remarkable that it’s difficult to know how long it can last. If he has any sense at all Biden will renounce Pompeo’s latest provocations.

On 10 January Marise Payne and the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, but not New Zealand, issued a statement that they wanted to “underscore our serious concern at the mass arrests of 55 politicians and activists in Hong Kong for subversion under the National Security Law.” Fortunately, this joint statement avoided mentioning Taiwan. This is a line that even loyal allies are so far unwilling to cross. If ever there was an issue that Australia and others should keep right out of, it is Taiwan. It is true that for China this is an issue of top importance, whereas the West and especially the United States do not really care about it. But I would argue that, since the international community, including the United States, still recognizes Taiwan as a province of China, to change that now would be unprecedented treachery and folly, and a huge and unwarranted insult to China, which could easily lead to war.

As for Hong Kong, China immediately demanded Washington respect its judicial sovereignty. One can imagine how scornful the United States or Australia would be at Chinese intervention in our law systems. In a news conference on 7 July spokesperson Hua Chunying noted a big irony. She noted that in July 2019 there were riots in Hong Kong, with violent protestors breaking into the Legislative Council, ransacking the main chamber, smashing facilities, and throwing toxic liquid and powder at police officers. Powerful Westerners had described the scene as “a beautiful sight” and the rioters as “democratic heroes”: “The American people stand with them.” But when the same thing happens in Washington, she said, the protestors were “rioters”, “extremists” and “thugs” carrying out “an assault on democracy”.

In an opinion piece in The Australian (11 January), right-wing analyst Alan Dupont dismissed the distinction Hua had raised: “This is spurious”, he wrote. “There is no moral equivalence between a society that defends its democratic institutions and one that subjugates its people to the dictates of an autocrat.” Actually, I think there is a moral equivalence. Both sets of protestors were unjustifiably trying to damage legitimate legislatures. What makes the difference is the eyes of the beholder.

The coalition of groupings coming out in support of Trump during the last few days of his presidency is very striking. Here’s a very incomplete list.

In Australia, they include anti-China hawks such as Queensland Liberal Member for Dawson George Christensen and New South Wales Liberal Member for Hughes Craig Kelly. Several Chinese groups hostile to the CCP have expressed ongoing support for Trump, such as the government in Taiwan, Hong Kong former and current protestors and even some dissidents who marched against the authorities in Beijing in 1989.

The sooner we are rid of Trump and his Secretary of State Pompeo, the better. This Administration has done more damage to both American and Australian relations with China than any since the 1960s. There’s no need for me to contribute here to the speculation about what incoming President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will be like. But they’d have to be better than Trump and Pompeo.

The Washington insurrection reveals a faltering American society in which serious divisions, violence and racial, class and other inequalities appear to be worsening. What follows about Australia-China relations is that we should downgrade our security relations with the United States. It is not a country appropriate for us to deal with on such a level.



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the sabotage of the silk roads has begun...