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Even as the US continues to shove its warped brand of "democracy" down the throats of innocent people abroad, Americans at home are forced to consume the same lie as their tax dollars' foreign victims. Even the pretense of voter participation is rapidly evaporating, with one of the preeminent US Papers of Record™ publishing a straight-faced call for oligarchs to have more power to choose the Commander in Chief (joke's on them - oligarchs already have all the power!) only to quietly retitle it after a backlash they must have expected (somewhere on the sidelines a team of RAND Corp analysts was recording the various attributes of this Backlash: was it more prolonged than the backlash to Howard Schultz's plea for billionaires to be referred to as "people of means"? more intense than the backlash to Bret Stephens making the case for Ashkenazi IQ advantage while disproving his own thesis through his very existence? could it conceivably be blamed on Russian Bots without provoking a secondary backlash?). And through this, "Rapture Mike" Pompeo has the utter bacon-wrapped chutzpah to claim Iran's elections are undemocratic...

February 17: Uncivil liberties; Twitter jail vs. real jail; Nevada isn't Iowa...it hopes

**ACLU has gone from defending free speech to squelching it

Twitter mysteriously locks Wikileaks account ahead of Assange extradition hearings

**Nevada caucus volunteers warn repeat of Iowa fiasco imminent

February 18: Ethics? We don't need no stinking ethics! Money, sex, power edition

Massachusetts congressman (& ethics committee leader!) plundered campaign warchest for gambling debts

**Boy Scouts file for bankruptcy, but their doors remain open to predators & victims alike

**Bloomberg can run from Trump comparisons by declaring him "Bernie's new bro," but he can't hide

February 19: Oligarchy dies in darkness; pigeons in politics; fast food fictions

**Elites deserve more of a say in choosing the president, WaPo complains, with straight face

Pigeons in MAGA hats unleashed on downtown Las Vegas ahead of Democratic debate

**Burger King virtue-signals about what isn't in its food, while keeping quiet what still is

February 20: Even US apologists can't keep their narrative straight; deepfake hypocrisy; Russia invades Ireland

US military spokesman says 'terrorists' menacing Idlib, but media ignores him & keeps blaming Assad

Only Bloomberg is allowed to post doctored videos in a post-deepfake-crackdown social media world

**Russia is invading Ireland, cry Cold War fetishists milking earlier fake story

February 21: Foot in mouth fashion; Weinstein on the brink; zombie collusion; EU's transatlantic facial panopticon

**Armani likens sexy ads & fashion trends to rape, turning #MeToo into the season's least tasteful trend

Weinstein jury can't decide on most serious charges, but agreed on sex crimes carrying 25+ years

Clinton embraces Russian Collusion Revival Tour in wake of latest evidence-free allegations

**EU mulling interlinked network of facial recognition databases connected to US surveillance state

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Imagine a conclave of career NATOads (no offense to legitimate amphibians: the NATOad is a pathetic species that spends its days croaking in defense of the indefensible, best epitomized by Madeline Albright) openly waxing nostalgic about the days they could bomb Yugoslavia to smithereens in the name of "saving" people from genocide and no one raised complaint one. We don't have to imagine - the Munich Security Conference has this "remembrance of atrocities past" as its theme. I wrote about it is here (also linked below with Friday's stories), but the report itself has to be read to be believed:

(now imagine 102 pages of this. moving on...)

February 10: Sacrifice your pets to Climate; Saint Greta slays EU dragon; China blamed for Equifax

**Targeting carnivorous pets' carbon pawprints sets the stage for a lonely green future, & that may be the point

**EU forced to triple-down on apology for dismissing kiddie climate cult as 'Greta syndrome'

US blames 2017 Equifax mega-hack on Chinese military in suspiciously-timed propaganda coup

February 11: Can't stop stop&frisk; COINTEL hates Wikileaks; DoJ gets Stoned

Trump pours gas on Bloomberg 2020 dumpster fire after audio leaked of mayor defending stop & frisk

Counterintelligence report goes full North Korea with attack on 'public disclosure organizations' aka Wikileaks

4 prosecutors jump ship after DoJ reverses course on draconian Roger Stone sentencing recommendation

February 12: Boycott? what boycott? failed fascist dictator Hillary; DNC's Trojan horse; economic collapse inches closer

Israel slams UNHRC's long-awaited report on businesses profiting from illegal occupation of West Bank/Golan Heights

Attempted Clinton dig at Trump backfires when Twitter points out 'failed-state fascists' better describes her

**Clinton-linked 'election security' firm teams up with Google to offer Trojan Horse 'security' to Dem campaigns

**1 in 3 Americans can't meet financial needs on paychecks alone, & our overconsumption-based economy is doomed

February 13: MSM to Venezuela: say "uncle!" Waters slams antisemitism smear merchants; liberals (accidentally?) shill for PragerU

**Guaido's uncle arrested for alleged C4 smuggling, but MSM echoes chutzpah-laden invoking of 'disappeared'

Antisemitism-smear purveyors are trying to distract from Israeli human rights abuses, says Roger Waters

Liberal comedian goes full Streisand Effect with attack on 'dangerous' propagandists PragerU

February 14: NATOads lament 'westlessness' but sounds good to me; feminism is the new patriarchy; coronavirus vs consumerism

**Blaming nationalism for West's demise absolves NATO's responsibility for trashing 'liberal democracy'

**Feminists claiming 'tradwives' are brainwashed 'like ISIS brides' have become the patriarchy they claimed to hate

Coronavirus threatens global commerce in unexpected ways

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After decades of pushing its warped idea of "democracy" down the throat of woefully-outgunned third-world nations, the US is finally getting a taste of its own medicine. Last week's Iowa caucuses were so rigged they'd make the most corrupt of tin-pot dictators blush with shame, yet the US media establishment are forging ahead with the "worst mistake our democracy has ever seen" narrative rather than call out the most obvious and deliberate of frauds. This was not a mistake, any more than the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 was an accident...

February 3: Election meddling for fun & profit; fear porn in more ways than one; yellow(bellied) journalism

Half of Israelis see Trump's 'Deal of the Century' as Bibi-boosting election meddling

YouTube bans election-related disinfo, deepfakes, & birtheresque conspiracy theories

Game developer offers China free porn game downloads in coronavirus-themed promo

BoJo comms director triggers press walkout with attempt to divide media into haves & have nots'

February 4: Russiagate psychosis; Buttigieg goes full Guaido (& the real thing still exists, too); Google wants your memories; Nancy the Ripper

'Putin's prostitute?!?' Tulsi supporters attacked, shunned, 'abused' at Iowa caucuses

Buttigieg has gone full Guaido with vote-free declaration of victory in Iowa caucus disaster

How long is 'interim', again? Trump spotlights Guaido in the one place he's still loved

**After belated breach confession, Google wants you to pay them to dig through your photos

Pelosi rips up Trump's SOTU speech, one-upping prior juvenilia

February 5: A crash course in Democracy: Resistance Fraud 101; Election Fraud 102; Media Fraud 103

**'Pelosi the Ripper' is more kayfabe theatrics from a sham #Resistance interested in nothing else

Democratic congresswoman (finally) blames Russia for Iowa debacle

**Twitter declares war on 'deceptive' content with loopholes large enough to swallow all dissent

February 6: Faith-based hypocrisy; PayPal slumming with sanctions; DNC demands recanvass as Sanders finally "wins"; zombie Monroe

Trump skewers religious hypocrisy in veiled snipe at Pelosi & Romney

PayPal freezes paychecks for Jewish magazine, citing sanctions, after publisher mentions Iran

DNC pumps the brakes with recanvass demand as Sanders poised for belated victory in Iowa

Sanders declares victory in Iowa, calls out media's mathematical vote-pretzeling

Lavrov scorns US efforts to revive zombie Monroe Doctrine in Venezuela

February 7: Veritas...or is it; CPAC wallows; Duterte kicks US to the curb; can #PetesBillionaires silence Twitter?

Project Veritas' O'Keefe accuses Twitter of pro-MSM prejudice

**CPAC hosts live-action reading of Strzok/Page texts, proving unhinged grudge-wallowing is bipartisan

Duterte targets US military's legal immunity, jeopardizing Philippine military drills

#PetesBillionaires getting itchy? Twitter takes a dive at suspicious moment

 

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By now, most people following the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak have stumbled upon Event 201, the pandemic simulation held at Johns Hopkins University in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, and other ruling-class heavy hitters two months before the epidemic was declared. Seemingly tailor-made to set off "conspiracy theorists" - that class of intellectually-curious thought-criminals whom the US media establishment have placed somewhere between child molesters and drunk drivers on the hierarchy of unforgivability - Event 201 was hurriedly "debunked" by that same establishment, which quickly set up and eviscerated a straw man (“No, Bill Gates didn’t cause the coronavirus epidemic!”) and convinced the group itself to issue a statement denying their exercise was meant to predict the behavior of the actual virus, 65 million deaths and all. 

But few are aware that the epidemic playing out in China and two dozen other countries, including the US, is unfolding in line with a decade-old simulation titled “Lock Step” devised by the Rockefeller Foundation in conjunction with the Global Business Network. The scenario, one of four included in a publication called “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development” in 2010, describes a coronavirus-like pandemic that becomes the trigger for the imposition of police-state controls on movement, economy, and other areas of society. The novel coronavirus is thus not merely a depopulation exercise, as some have claimed. It could be the trigger for the imposition of a global police state.

Lock Step describes “a world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback.” In “2012” (i.e. two years after the report’s publication), an “extremely virulent and deadly” strain of influenza originating with wild geese brings the world to its knees, infecting 20 percent of the global population and killing 8 million people in just seven months - “the majority of them healthy young adults.” It devastates global economies and ruptures international trade. But not everyone, the Rockefeller Foundation makes clear, is hit equally.

Countries of Africa, southeast Asia, and central America suffer the worst “in the absence of official containment protocols” - it wouldn’t be the Rockefeller Foundation if someone wasn’t licking their lips at the thought of a mass die-off in the Global South - but western “democracies” also pay the ultimate price. “The United States’ initial policy of ‘strongly discouraging’ citizens from flying proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the spread of the virus not just within the US but across borders,” the report warns. But remove such obstacles as ‘individual rights’ and you have a recipe for surviving, even thriving in the event of a pandemic, the Foundation gushes:

“A few countries did fare better - China in particular. The Chinese government’s quick imposition and enforcement of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well as its instant and near-hermetic sealing-off of all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping the spread of the virus far earlier than in other countries and enabling a swifter post-pandemic recovery.”

The message is clear - police state good, freedom bad. And other governments rapidly get the message, according to the simulation. First and third world nations alike follow suit by “flexing their authority” and imposing quarantines, body-temperature checks, and other “airtight rules and restrictions” - most of which, the report is careful to note, remain in place even as the pandemic recedes into the past. “In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems - from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty - leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power.”

This global power-grab is facilitated by a frightened citizenry who “willingly gave up some of their sovereignty - and their privacy - to more paternalistic states in exchange for greater safety and stability…tolerant, and even eager, for top-down direction and oversight.” Everything from tighter biometric identification to stricter industrial regulation is welcomed with open arms. It takes over a decade for people to “grow weary” of the authoritarian controls imposed in the wake of the pandemic, and hints that even the civil unrest that ultimately manifests is focused on the developed world. After all, a popular uprising in the technocratic police state envisioned by the simulation would be all but impossible - as it will be in real life once 5G makes real-time total surveillance of all cities a reality.

Pin the blame on the dragon

It remains unclear what - or who - unleashed the novel coronavirus in Wuhan. The initial claim that it originated in bats from a “wet market,” in which live animals are sold and then butchered in front of the customer, couldn’t have been more perfect from a western point of view - wet markets are reviled in the West, where consumers prefer that the animal cruelty required to put meat on their tables happens behind closed doors. While wet markets would seem to improve food safety by making it impossible to sell “mystery,” mislabeled or expired meat, time and again they are fingered as disease vectors by the disapproving West, every time followed by calls to ban them entirely. However, the Huanan seafood market hadn’t sold bats for years, meaning - if the “wet market” hypothesis is to persist - an “intermediate host” species would be required to get the virus to humans. Snakes were nominated, even though scientists weren't sure they could be infected by a coronavirus - it was more important that they eat bats and were sold at the market. Three weeks after the Huanan seafood market was shuttered and disinfected, a Lancet study put the last nail in the hypothesis' coffin, revealing the first several coronavirus cases had no exposure to the market at all. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has not discouraged the media from continuing to blame it for the epidemic.

Beyond the disintegrating “official story,” rumormongers have pinned the blame on the Chinese government, suggesting that through malice or incompetence Beijing released a virus cooked up in a top-secret bioweapons program operating in the city’s high-security lab. The chief purveyor of this theory is Dany Shoham, an Israeli biosafety analyst, which should raise a forest of red flags in anyone familiar with Israel’s own experiments in gene-targeted biowarfare even before taking into account Shoham's own history of fraudulently blaming Saddam Hussein’s Iraq for the 2001 anthrax attacks. Other outlets spreading this theory cite American biosafety consultant Tim Trevan, who opined in a 2017 Nature article - published before the Wuhan lab even opened! - that “diversity of viewpoint” and “openness of information” are both critical to the safe functioning of such a high-risk lab and alien to Chinese culture. The persistence of the “lab accident” theory of coronavirus’ creation thus owes more to cultural chauvinism and sinophobia than any fact-based clues.

While many alt-media outlets have fingered Event 201 as the replica "drill" that so often coincides with a false flag event, few are aware that on the day after that simulation, the 2019 Military World Games kicked off in Wuhan, bringing 300 US military personnel to the city. Former Malaysian PM Matthias Chang, however, zeroed in on the games as the likely entry point for what he described as a biological war waged by the US against China. In an interview with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting last month, Chang placed coronavirus on a continuum of American bio-attacks he said included deliberate infection of Guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea and Cubans with dengue fever, as well as creating the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. 

As of February 4, there are over 1,000 times more coronavirus cases in China than outside of it, and the foreign cases appear to be ethnically Chinese where reported. This is not a coincidence - a recent scientific paper revealed the enzyme which serves as a receptor for novel coronavirus is produced by a certain type of lung cell found in “extremely large numbers” in Asian men compared to those of other ethnicities. Even more intriguingly, those lung cells are involved in the expression of “many other genes that positively regulating [sic] viral reproduction and transmission.” The paper’s authors stop short of suggesting the virus came out of a lab, instead drily observing that it seems to have “cleverly evolved to hijack this population of [lung] cells for its reproduction and transmission,” but one man’s clever viral evolution is another’s expert bioweapon development.

Certainly, American researchers have been surreptitiously collecting Chinese DNA for decades. A notorious Harvard School of Public Health program in the mid-1990s drafted village medics to administer “free physicals” to locals “with asthmatic symptoms.” These “checkups” were conducted as part of a genetic project that also involved the US National Institutes of Health and Millennium Pharmaceuticals, supposedly aimed at “identify[ing] and characteriz[ing] genes that play a role in causing asthma and other allergic disorders.” It later emerged that the researchers had secured the required consent forms from neither the local experimental ethics board nor the test subjects themselves. A government inquiry was commandeered by an insider and squelched. Over 200,000 DNA samples were thus collected and spirited out of the country. 

US military literature has been lusting after genetically-targeted weapons for at least 50 years. The infamous Project for a New American Century, whose members have been steering the US ship of state into a series of icebergs since the George W. Bush administration, described gene-specific bioweapons as a “politically-useful tool,” part and parcel of the "new dimensions of combat" in which the future's wars would unfold. In 1998, the year after PNAC's formation, reports Israel was working on just such a weapon to target Arabs while leaving Jews untouched flooded the media - part PR campaign, part warning. And it is DARPA and other divisions of the US military, not  the Chinese, that has been intensively studying bat-borne coronaviruses for years, even as their own high-security biowarfare labs are being shut down for shoddy safety procedures. 

Meanwhile, the likelihood of the Chinese government unleashing a genetically-targeted virus on its own population is vanishingly low. Unlike popular attitudes of “white guilt” in the West born of a hangover from colonialism, the Chinese do not traffic in racial self-loathing - indeed, outsiders have accused the Chinese of an unspoken, unshakeable belief in their own racial superiority, and regardless of whether that belief is problematic, it is unlikely to lead to intentional self-genocide. Even if behavior-correcting false flag was sought by Beijing in Hong Kong, where US-backed pro-“democracy” protests have raged destructively for months, such an event would not have been unleashed hundreds of miles away in Wuhan.

Never let a good crisis go to waste?

The real-life coronavirus is much less virulent than the pandemic described in Lock Step, with an official death toll of “just” 427 and a global infection toll of “only” 20,629 as of February 4, and the dead were mostly over 60 with preexisting medical issues. Economies worldwide are nevertheless in free-fall just like the simulation predicted. This drop is fueled by scare-stories percolating in establishment media and alt-media alike (the name of an actual article in ZeroHedge by a Rabobank analyst: “What if we are on the brink of an exponential increase in coronavirus cases?”) while videos of dubious origin appearing to show horrific scenes from within China keep the virus viral on social media. Adding to the fear is coronavirus’ lengthy incubation period, up to two weeks in which a carrier could be blithely spreading it to everyone they meet, creating a constant threat of a “boom” in cases just around the corner.

China’s economy, of course, is being hit the worst, and the epidemic’s timing could not have been more disastrous from Beijing’s point of view, coming on the eve of the Lunar New Year holiday. At this time, some 400 million Chinese travel around the country to see family, mostly in the high-speed bullet trains that have their hub in - you guessed it - Wuhan. With much of this travel having occurred before the city was quarantined, cases are likely in their incubation phase all over the country, making today’s numbers look like a rounding error. 

Correspondingly, the situation couldn’t be better for the American ruling class: a pandemic that targets Asians striking China just when it’s most vulnerable is a powerful blow to the rising superpower. And in case anyone still believes the circumstances of the virus’ ascendance are merely an extended string of coincidences, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross took that plausible deniability and stomped on it last month, unable to stop himself from gushing that coronavirus would “help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America” in an interview with Fox News. Prefacing his victory lap by saying he didn’t “want to talk about a victory lap over a very unfortunate, very malignant disease,” he pointed out that businesses will be forced to take China’s inexplicable susceptibility to deadly viruses into account when reviewing their supply chains. Unmentioned, but adding to the perfect economic storm, was Trump’s signature on the USMCA trade agreement, supposed to bring in an extra 1.2 percentage points in GDP growth

“On top of all the other things, you had SARS, you had the African Swine virus there, now you have this,” Ross said, hammering home the point by linking coronavirus to other suspect plagues. Just as many scientists concluded SARS was a manmade bioweapon, many - scientists and statesmen as well as alternative media - have raised the alarm about coronavirus. Good luck finding any of their statements on Google, however. Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have been hard at work removing coronavirus “rumors,” and Google has memory-holed hundreds of search results regarding Chinese accusations of biowarfare. Even on platforms that don’t censor on government orders, the baseless claims from Shoham and other disinfo artists about Chinese biowarfare have muscled any comments from Chinese officials out of the way. Even the former Malaysian PM’s comments are obscured behind a Farsi language barrier - his original comments inexplicably missing from English-language media and reprinted only by Iran’s IRIB News Agency (this author can no longer even find the tweet that alerted her to those comments, but would like to thank that person).

Coronavirus is not the doomsday epidemic it is being portrayed as by irresponsible media actors. But as the Lock Step scenario makes clear, one does not need massive die-off or victims exploding in geysers of blood in the streets to achieve desired social goals. It’s possible the novel coronavirus epidemic is a “dry run,” a test of both China’s readiness to handle an outbreak and of the international community’s reaction to such a plague. It's even possible, though unlikely, that the epidemic was a mistake - that the virus escaped from a lab, likely American, by accident.

It's also possible the plague may suddenly become more virulent. Certainly the media buzz the first week of February is that coronavirus is close to being declared a “pandemic” by the WHO, which will necessitate the type of control measures hinted at in Lock Step and described more exhaustively in Event 201. From “limited internet shutdowns” and “enforcement actions against fake news” to government bailouts of “core” industries, mandatory vaccinations, property seizures, and other police-state provisions laid out in the Model State Emergency Health Powers Acts passed in many states in the paranoid aftermath of 9/11, the totalitarian nature of these provisions is limited only by the imaginations of the regimes carrying them out. Once events proceed to that stage, it is extremely difficult to reverse them. We would be wise not to allow this to happen.

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Peace is war, under the Orwellian new plan to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict by definitively crushing the latter beneath the zio-fascist bootheel. Not that anyone expected any less - but setting one's expectations at rock bottom, one hopes not to be disappointed further. One would be wrong. The totalitarian blueprints put on ice following the bioterror panics ginned up in the wake of 9/11 are still lurking in the US legal system, just waiting for a WHO-declared pandemic to be summoned. Corona-chan, is that you?

January 27: Bolton's revenge; no free lunch for green card holders; never-Trumper tries to shame GOP

Bolton manuscript's quid-pro-quo claim inflames desperate Dems as impeachment limps on 

Supreme Court lifts restriction on implementing 'public charge' benefits test for immigrants

Never-Trumper launches hashtag campaign to shame GOP ahead of Trump removal vote

January 28: Dems prepare to lose in 2016 redux; 'Steal of the Century' underwhelms, horrifies

DNC unveils deja-vu convention staff featuring Podesta, other Hillary & Obama vets

Trump trips over al-Aqsa mosque, literally & figuratively, while unveiling peace-free 'peace plan'

"Jerusalem is not for sale": Palestine's Abbas scorns Trump 'peace plan'

US vassal-states embrace 'peace plan,' but independent actors don't - & neither does EU

January 29: NAFTA replaced; Warren demands moar censorship; media establishment hate Americans

Trump signs USMCA trade deal, fulfilling election pledge to replace NAFTA

Warren calls for criminalizing election disinfo, expanding social media censorship

**Media establishment mistakes its own dumbed-down content for demand from a dumb audience

January 30: coronavirus used to bludgeon China; Pentagon admits Iraq permission slip MIA; Republicans literal demons; & speaking of demons...

**Western media condemns China's 'authoritarian' response to coronavirus - but no response would be accepted

Pentagon admits Patriot batteries haven't been deployed due to lack of permission from Iraq

Nobel-winning New York Times economist calls Republicans 'actual demons,' zombies

Clinton dodges process server for Tulsi Gabbard defamation lawsuit...twice

January 31: Trump wants landmines Obama scorned; Soros puts contract out on Zuck; DNC opens debates to Bloomberg bucks

**Trump reverses Obama-era ban on landmines - not because he wants mines, but because Obama

Soros demands Zuckerberg's ouster from Facebook after promised regulation fails to materialize

DNC ditches donor threshold to accommodate billionaire Bloomberg on debate stage

 

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled the government’s decision to ban access to Wikipedia in April 2017 was a violation of freedom of expression, a constitutionally-protected right. The decision represents a reversal of a Turkish court ruling from 2017 and comes just a month before an expected ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), a body which has ruled against Turkey more than any other country in its purview. No timetable has been put forth for when Turks might regain access to the online encyclopedia, which had been blocked as a "national security threat" under Turkish law.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that owns Wikipedia, is doing a victory lap, congratulating the Turkish people on being reconnected with what it never stops reminding the world is the largest online repository of human knowledge. The Foundation bragged that despite the two-year blackout, it never caved to Ankara’s request to remove negative information showing Turkey "in coordination and aligned" with ISIS and other terrorist groups, information the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced as a "smear campaign." Wikipedia, it boasted, would never give in to governments trying to quash free speech.

But there are more than a few holes in the Foundation’s version of events, starting with its boast that it stands for freedom of expression against repressive governments. While the Foundation very rarely obeys requests to remove information, whether they come from governments or individuals, it admits to having done so once. In 2014, the newly-installed US-backed Ukrainian government made a request to take down content on the English-language Wikipedia, and the Foundation acquiesced (it’s not clear what the information was). Why obey the dictates of Kiev but not Ankara? The puppet government of Petro Poroshenko was certainly no friend to free expression - its launch of a Ministry of Information Policy in December 2014 was widely ridiculed as a ham-handed censorship effort heavy on the propaganda, no different from Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth.” Thousands of journalists were doxxed through a site called Mirotvorets, declared “terrorist collaborators” for nothing more than obtaining accreditation from the separatist eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. As a result, at least 14 journalists had been killed by 2016, and many more were threatened and attacked. While some politicians advocated punishing the publishers of Mirotvorets, others called for revoking the press accreditation of the doxxed journalists and declaring them enemies of the state, and the Ministry of Information Policy itself praised the site for its "principled stance concerning defending national security."

This is not the behavior of a government that supports free speech. Yet Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and the Foundation made no secret of their support for the coup that replaced Russian-sympathetic Viktor Yanukovych with the neo-Nazi Poroshenko government. Not only had Wales nominated a Ukrainian Wikipedia editor shot to death during the Maidan Square riots for ‘Wikipedian of the Year’ (without explaining how or by whom he came to be shot), but he would go on the record during the Yalta European Strategy conference of December 2014 calling on Ukrainian editors to skew the narrative in the Russian-language Wikipedia to retroactively whitewash the color revolution (and demonize Crimea's reunification with Russia). Russian Wikipedians, Wales said, deserved to be bombarded with “alternative views, alternative statements” - a.k.a. Trumpian “alternative facts” - through the supposedly-neutral encyclopedia. 

Additionally, Turkish editors determined to circumvent Ankara’s ban on Wikipedia never really lost access to the site - it was a simple matter to use a VPN or other location-spoofing tools to read and edit to their heart’s content. Indeed, by blocking the average Turk’s access to Wikipedia, the government only ensured that whatever slander against Erdogan and his administration already existed on the site would metastasize, reproducing without interference by pro-Erdogan editors who might otherwise have pushed back against negative portrayals of the country. If anything, the ban handed control of Turkish Wikipedia to dissidents - a self-sabotaging move that may explain why the Turkish court was willing to reverse course on the ban. Others have speculated that the ruling by the Turkish court was meant to preempt yet another negative ruling from the ECHR, which never misses a chance to censure Turkey. 

Turkey’s reasons for banning Wikipedia - the site wouldn’t remove information about government officials being involved with ISIS in trading oil, or about Turkey’s sponsorship of ISIS and other terror groups - are somewhat petty, as the information is true, no matter how negatively it reflects on Turkey. For all that Wikipedia is positively bristling with libel about any government that has gotten on the bad side of the US, UK or Israel, the relationship between Turkey and ISIS is real. While Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the US provide funding, weapons, protection, and PR, Turkey assists in the movement and protection of people and supplies - and oil. If Turkey didn’t want the world learning about their support for terrorists, they might have thought of that before getting into bed with the governments that have done more than anyone else to unleash chaos upon the region.

Even if Turkey is in the wrong, however, for the Foundation to cry “freedom of expression” is disingenuous when it is willing to give other countries a pass on their own human rights violations, even working with them to oppress their populations. The case of Wikipedia in Kazakhstan is an instructive example of what a repressive government can do when it cooperates with the encyclopedia, instead of kicking it to the curb. In March 2011, a month before Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev changed the country’s official language from Russian to Kazakh, a group of Kazakhs bankrolled by the ruling family operating under the name WikiBilim began transferring material from the government-sanctioned Kazakh encyclopedia into the Kazakh-language Wikipedia. WikiBilim soon arranged with the Wikimedia Foundation to have all 15 volumes of the encyclopedia piped in, overwriting the work of any Kazakh Wikipedia editors who might have thought they were entitled to something more than the government-approved version of reality.

Wales didn’t merely allow the Nazarbayev regime - which has been repeatedly sanctioned by the ECHR for human rights violations and which has a lengthy track record of jailing and even killing journalists critical of the government - to seize control of the Kazakh Wikipedia. He declared Rauan Kenzhekhanuly, director of WikiBilim, Wikipedian of the Year and awarded him a $5,000 prize. Wales for years insisted WikiBilim was an independent organization, but when it later emerged that he had discussed the project with the group’s government patron at Davos the previous year, he was left scrambling for excuses. When Kenzhekanuly, a former government official, was appointed governor of the Kyzylorda region in 2014, Wales finally gave up on pretending everything was kosher in Kazakhstan, implying in a Reddit Ask Me Anything the following year that he’d been tricked into assisting the repressive regime.

Kazakhstan is only one of the countries that has received the Foundation and Wales’ stamp of approval despite (because of?) an adversarial relationship with freedom of expression. Wales is married to the former diary secretary of Tony Blair, who has followed up his warmongering stint as British PM with a lucrative lobbying career, hopping from one despot to another to help them whitewash their human rights records and reposition themselves as ripe for foreign investments. The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Azerbaijan, and Israel have all fostered friendships with the Foundation to various extents, despite atrocious track records in human rights. For the Foundation to cry foul in Turkey’s case is hypocritical in the extreme - Erdogan's crime, in their eyes, is not jailing journalists but failing to work out a lucrative agreement that would allow him to whitewash his human rights record by lining the Foundation's pockets. Wikipedia no more supports free expression than Turkey fights terrorism.

[need more information about what Wikipedia is? start here...]

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Failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, thought to have finally retired from politics after an embarrassing electoral loss to a politically-inexperienced reality show personality, is threatening to enter the 2020 race, serving up reheated Cold War fearmongering and an ironclad sense of royal privilege to a Trump-weary populace. A morally and fiscally bankrupt Democratic Party is poised to enable this sick drama with the help of a spineless and compliant media.

How could this possibly happen? Surely Democrats learned their lesson after their decision to take Clinton’s money in order to stay financially solvent in 2016 required them to rig the primaries in her favor, a crime that likely tanked her candidacy when it was revealed by WikiLeaks? Surely the mainstream media realizes that, three years on, the preposterous Russiagate conspiracy theory they cooked up to defend her has ripped the last shreds of journalistic integrity out of the mainstream media establishment?

Just kidding - the Democratic Party and its media handmaidens bargained away their morals long ago. They’re aiding and abetting a Clinton comeback, wheeling her out to give her opinion on everything from the latest steps toward peace in Syria (bad, needs more war) to the 2020 candidates. Last week, she took aim at Tulsi Gabbard, the best hope the party has of getting voters excited enough to show up in 2020, claiming (without a shred of evidence) that the National Guard major and former DNC chair is being groomed by Russia to act as a third-party spoiler, handing the election to Trump. Had such a claim come from anyone else, the DNC would have slapped it down. But they know on which side their bread is buttered. They’d rather lose than defy their queen.

Let’s do the time warp again

This month’s primary debates proved that, if nothing else, the party has refused to move on from 2016. Candidates clamored to distinguish themselves as the biggest Trump-hater and impeachment zealot, with not one appearing to comprehend that next in line behind their favorite punching bag is Mike Pence. The vice president is a man so possessed by religious sexual phobia that he refuses to be alone in a room with a woman. A Christian Zionist, he is even more willing than Trump to send US soldiers to fight Israel’s battles - the better to hasten the Rapture. Only Andrew Yang - a party outsider - dared speak the truth: “When we are talking about Donald Trump, we’re losing.”

Indeed, everything about the 2020 election is signaling a repeat of the last one. The DNC is broke again, ripe for a Clinton rescue that will once again require the rigging of the primary in return for her kindness. Naysayers who once laughed at the idea of yet another Clinton candidacy are reconsidering their scorn, and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon insists she is, in fact, running - merely waiting for the right moment to officially declare her candidacy. Certainly the media blitz of the past few weeks - ostensibly to promote a book co-written with her do-nothing daughter, but in reality a string of opportunities for her to denounce the “illegitimate” president and remind America that the position is rightfully hers - looks like a campaign publicity tour. 

For all that Clinton says she empathizes with current Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, currently being accused of corruption, she has, in these interviews, always brought the conversation back around to 2016, insisting that “the most outrageously false things” were said about her as well (and lamenting that “enough people believed them” to rob her of the presidency). Biden, like Clinton, is still being pushed as the 2020 favorite, despite coming with decades of baggage including flagrant corruption (threatening to withhold $1 billion in IMF loans from Ukraine until it fired the prosecutor probing an energy company that gave his son a no-show job is only the tip of the iceberg). 

Even the New York Times has pointed out the similarities between their two candidacies - both physically deteriorating before voters’ eyes, uninterested in changing the status quo, and embraced by the wealthy donors that keep the party afloat. Biden’s Ukraine problem is as massive and impossible to avoid as Clinton’s email problem. Biden, like Clinton, is positioning himself as not the best candidate, but the only one who can beat Trump - embracing his identity as, he hopes, the lesser of two evils. Both have a long history in politics, dozens of skeletons in the closet (literally, in Clinton’s case), and a string of failed presidential attempts. Both cringingly pander to working-class and minority voters despite a history of racism ("superpredators," the 1994 crime bill, close friendship with segregationists) and classism (NAFTA).

If at first you don’t succeed...

Ever the strategist, Clinton is likely biding her time until the facts come out about Biden’s involvement in Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma during impeachment hearings and sink his candidacy. She’ll then swoop in, volunteering to take his place as the crusty old standard-bearer of the Democratic pack. Biden’s suicidal stubbornness all but ensures he’ll go down in flames (despite his son Hunter’s admitted drug problems and the obvious nepotism and corruption behind his receiving a $60,000/month directorship just months after being kicked out of the Navy Reserves for cocaine use, Biden insists Hunter will join him on the campaign trail). 

Clinton feels the presidency is hers by divine right - that it’s “her turn” to take the reins, like she was promised after Obama snatched it out from under her in 2008. Having paid her dues as First Lady, the long-suffering wife and enabler of serial rapist Bill Clinton occupied a Senate seat just long enough to present herself to the public as a stateswoman in her own right, then made a run at the glass ceiling of the presidency - only to be rejected in favor of a spray-tanned novice without her baggage. Patiently serving as Secretary of State, she oversaw the destruction of Libya, once the jewel of the Middle East under Gaddafi with the highest standard of living on the African continent, turning it into the failed state with open-air slave markets it is today. Thwarted in her efforts to do the same in Syria, she left the White House in 2012.

Clinton transformed the State Department into an extension of the Pentagon via her misleadingly-named “smart power” philosophy. The agency once tasked with solving America’s foreign policy problems diplomatically now merely provides diplomatic cover for regime-change operations like the one she helped engineer in Ukraine in 2014 (while she left the State Department in 2013, the processes she set in motion would culminate in the Maidan revolution that saw actual Nazis take over in Kiev) and the one currently trying to pry Hong Kong from China’s grasp.  

She also monetized the position, selling access to the presidency through the Clinton Foundation. The Clintons vastly enriched themselves at the expense of the rest of the world, having never met a dictator they didn’t like. But while they elevated corruption to an art form, their actions were wholly in keeping with the modus operandi of the Democratic Party. Swaddle oneself in the appearance of helping the less fortunate (Clinton has appeared with countless ‘save the children’ and ‘women’s empowerment’ type groups like Somaly Mam’s AFESIP, which notoriously invented Cambodian child brothel horror stories out of whole cloth) while exploiting them to within an inch of their lives (Haitians still protest outside Clinton events over the Foundation’s decision to give over 90 percent of the $13.3 billion given in response to the 2010 earthquake to foreign contractors and Foundation donors while Haitians starved and died).

The rot goes to the core

Clinton wouldn’t be able to get away with this sort of thing if her party wasn’t fully on board with such moral depravity. The current impeachment circus is merely the latest proof that they do not believe anything they say in public. For the entire party and its stenographers in the media to turn on a dime from accusing Trump of colluding with Russia to accusing him of engaging in quid-pro-quo with Ukraine (an enemy of Russia, if one is paying attention) suggests they don’t believe either scandal is necessarily based on facts, but that, to quote congressman and impeachment fanboy Al Green, “if we don't impeach the president, he will get reelected.” 

After losing its collective mind with the 2016 defeat, the Democratic Party, led by Clinton and outgoing President Obama along with CIA director John Brennan and FBI chief James Comey, cobbled together Russiagate as their revenge. Relying on a network of spooks and paid operatives, they conjured up a half-baked menace from the depths of Americans’ collective Cold War memories, light on facts but heavy on the implications, with just enough salacious material to ensure it would go viral. The intention was to cripple Trump’s presidency - if they couldn’t remove him from office, they could at least ensure he played by their rules rather than follow through on wild promises to end the wars in Syria and Afghanistan and normalize relations with Moscow. The status quo held until the release of special counsel Mueller’s Russiagate report meant the media could no longer claim with a straight face that Trump was scheduled to be executed for treason any second now. But top Democrats were unfazed when it was exposed as a hoax - they’d invented it in the first place.

If not a sense of moral outrage that the president is colluding with a foreign power, what has driven the party leadership and its enablers in the media to pursue Trump to the ends of the earth? Democrats’ choice of impeachment issues is proof they lack any sort of moral center - as fake as Russiagate and Ukrainegate are, there are dozens of issues that could potentially be used to skewer Trump. The sky-high civilian casualty rates and record number of bombs dropped on his watch don’t faze Democrats - after all, Bush and Obama started those wars, and neither were impeached for the atrocities committed under their watch.  

If anything, Democrats are clamoring for more war, shrieking after Trump announced the latest attempt at a troop pullout from Syria that such an action was unthinkable. Weeping and gnashing their teeth over the impending “genocide” of the Kurds, they spun on a dime when Trump announced a five-day ceasefire with Turkey last week, claiming such a deal - which gave Kurdish militias ample time to vanish from the Turkish border area without being attacked - somehow “discredited” American foreign policy. The Democrat-controlled House even voted to condemn the troop pullout - perhaps forgetting they’d never authorized the deployment of troops to Syria in the first place, an easy mistake to make as the US military has been industriously building up a base infrastructure in flagrant violation of Syria’s sovereignty.

The Trump administration’s blatant nepotism - Jared Kushner, a pampered princeling who has never held a real job in his life, was tasked with making peace between Israel and Palestine, despite blatant partiality toward the Netanyahu government (Bibi slept at the Kushners’ home in New Jersey) - didn’t bat a single Democratic eyelash. After all, Hunter Biden got his own lucrative sinecure in Ukraine with as few credentials. The massive deregulation that has seen the deficit skyrocket as corporations and the wealthy pay even less taxes than they did before bothers no one - Democratic donors benefited as much as Republicans, even though billionaires now pay a lower tax rate than the working class. Trump spitting in the face of international law by “declaring” first Jerusalem and then the Golan Heights the property of Israel went down smoothly as can be - no surprise when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi herself has said that she would back Israel “even if the Capitol crumbles to the ground.” Democrats’ problem has always been finding an “impeachable offense” Trump was committing that they were not also guilty of.

 

The devil’s rejects

Perhaps Democrats’ awareness that they’re morally as well as fiscally bankrupt is what drives them to make the same mistakes they did four years ago. Just as they did with Bernie Sanders, the party is doing its utmost to sideline Tulsi Gabbard at every opportunity, barring her from September’s debate despite her polling higher than several candidates who were included and refusing to speak up for her in the face of Clinton’s baseless smear. Their hypocrisy is transparent, preaching identity politics until a Hindu woman emerges championing antiwar policies. Gabbard is the only one bringing fresh ideas to the table, ideas that have excited many voters sick of the shame they feel knowing their country is the number one killer since World War II. Spike her, and they’re almost guaranteed to lose. 

As if to prove that point, Clinton pounced on the Hawaii congresswoman last week with her “Russian asset” smear - not referring to Gabbard by name, but making it clear she was talking about no one else. Her spokesman Nick Merrill, asked if Clinton was really saying Gabbard - who served in the Iraq war - was an agent, confirmed the smear: “If the nesting doll fits…” In a sane society, Clinton’s disapproval would be a badge of honor (and to her credit, Gabbard appears to be wearing it as such) - but in the mainstream media hothouse, it’s another strike against her - along with the guilt-by-association smears that come with a 4chan fan club and even her looks.

Sanders might be able to muster a win against Trump, but at 78, his health is failing, and his base is wary after he betrayed them in 2016. Despite stolen primaries in New York and California, he sat mutely, throwing his own supporters under the bus during the convention. After a solid year of slamming Clinton for giving secret speeches to Goldman Sachs, voting to bail out the banks in 2008, and backing every war in the past three decades, Sanders turned on his supporters and implored them to vote for her. He remained silent while his supporters demanded a legal reckoning. Some have forgiven him and returned to cheer him on in 2020, but many have not.  

Nevertheless, he is head and shoulders above most Democrats, who are completely for sale to the highest bidder, whether it’s Israel, the arms industry or Big Pharma. They violate the Constitution on a daily basis, whether it’s by voting to make participation in boycotts of Israel illegal (a blatant violation of the First Amendment, as a Texas court recently found; passing a law permitting indefinite detention without trial for American citizens (as Obama did in 2011, backed by a supine Congress, in violation of the Sixth Amendment); or outlawing religious vaccine exemptions (a violation of both the First Amendment and the Geneva Convention).  

In perhaps the most shocking betrayal of the party’s liberal and progressive wing, Democrats have embraced the CIA, the FBI, and the entire intelligence apparatus that has infiltrated and destroyed leftist movements since the 1960s. Once the home of the counterculture, the Party now clings to authority, enthusiastically licking the boots they believe will curb-stomp Trump. Bereft of historical perspective - even the torture revelations of the early 2000s have vanished amid the onslaught of Orange Man Bad - Democrats ironically calling themselves the Resistance wear slogans like “It’s Mueller time!” and “Comey is my homey,” broadcasting their allegiance to men who’ve covered up monumental crimes and even committed a few themselves. It’s no surprise to see the mainstream media taking the side of the intelligence agencies - assets like Anderson Cooper, Ken Dilanian, and Wolf Blitzer have been keeping newsrooms safe for democracy for decades. But never before have ordinary voters leapt to embrace their oppressors quite so openly. The phenomenon can’t even be described as selling out - because selling out implies getting something in return for one’s soul. 

A hive of lesser evils 

Even if Clinton does not run, her influence permeates the party. “I’ve talked to most of them,” she revealed on ABC’s The View earlier this month, slyly hinting that previous contests’ frontrunners a year before the election had failed to secure the nomination. Instead of Sanders and Gabbard, the Democratic National Committee is propping up Biden and grooming as his second Elizabeth Warren, the neoliberal wolf in sheep’s clothing trying to steal Sanders’ thunder by insisting she’s all he represents plus a pair of X chromosomes. Decked out in borrowed rhetoric and forged identity politics credentials, she earnestly presents herself as a leftist, hoping no one remembers she was registered as a Republican until her 40s. 

Lest anyone be fooled by Warren’s “radical” act, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently gushed “I know she’s pragmatic, just wait.” Such an endorsement should be a death knell for her progressive support, especially after the revelation that she has been in constant contact with Clinton. Warren emphasizes in communications with donors that she doesn’t actually intend to upend the status quo, and has flip-flopped repeatedly on accepting big-dollar donors and PACs, only rejecting them once she’d stockpiled a healthy war chest from those very donors. 

Many of Clinton’s 2016 campaign operatives have chosen California Senator Kamala Harris as their standard-bearer, and Harris exhibits many Clintonesque characteristics. Her enthusiasm for locking up black men for minor drug offenses (she bragged about increasing drug dealers’ conviction rate from 56% to 74% in just three years) - and black women for their truant children (she supported a law that imprisoned mothers if their kids skipped school, then lied about it on the campaign trail) - is worthy of the woman who called black kids “superpredators.” Harris has praised Clinton for “putting our country first” and “serving with distinction” while calling for Trump to be banned from Twitter for his “irresponsible” language.

The other candidates are largely distractions aimed at getting the selection process at the 2020 convention to a second ballot. With voters clamoring for reform after the 2016 disaster, the party obliged by doing away with superdelegates on the first round, but for any round beyond that, they’re fair game - and the DNC refuses to leave the selection up to chance, or anything so small-d democratic as a vote. With a handful of votes thrown to Pete Buttigieg - the anti-Gabbard, a gay pro-war vet - and Beto O’Rourke - the face of privilege whose Spandering caused the cringe heard ‘round the world in the first primary debate - the convention will progress to a second round, and the superdelegates will slither out of their holes to crown their king - or queen.

Status quo defenders

As much as those Democratic establishment stalwarts with presidential ambitions - Clinton and the two dozen-odd candidates determined to dislodge Trump in 2020 - want to get rid of the Bad Orange Man, the benchwarmers in Congress have learned to love him. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer can merely rail against Trump instead of actually governing, floating whatever irresponsible fantasy bills they want with the knowledge that they’ll die in the Republican-controlled Senate or - at worst - be vetoed by Trump. House Democrats got the chance to virtue-signal about ending the war in Yemen, helping voters forget Obama had gotten the US involved in the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, knowing Trump would kill the bill to serve their shared Saudi paymasters. And pearl-clutching about kids in cages on the border (cages built, again, by Obama) while calling for open borders attracts the votes of recent immigrants while ensuring they’ll never have to cash the checks they’re writing.

Michael Moore, once a progressive darling, recently appeared on ‘comedian’ Bill Maher’s program to lambaste his fellow ex-progressive about abandoning his own liberal credentials. Maher complained that the “Squad” - progressive congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - were unpopular, that Medicare for All was less desirable than Obamacare, and that a leftward shift would sink the party. Moore whimpered that if the election was held today, Trump would win, just as he had predicted in 2016. But where was Moore in 2016? Pleading on Democracy Now for Sanders supporters to go to the polls for Clinton, even though “she is to the right of Obama.” 

The exchange between the two millionaire entertainers was a disturbing window on the utter alienation of the Democratic Party, insulated by layers of money, from its constituents - and increasingly ex-constituents, as nearly 40 percent of Americans disavow both parties. Maher represents the McCarthyite neoliberal centrism that has taken the mainstream media by storm, in which any flicker of anti-war or pro-working class sentiment is viewed as Russian. And Moore represents the thought-leaders who, despite knowing better, have led the party into its current moral sinkhole, insisting it’s the only pragmatic route. 

 

Moore knows Clinton is - as Gabbard declared - the Queen of Warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long. He just doesn’t care as long as he gets paid. Moore, like Clinton, took money from casting couch predator Harvey Weinstein despite his predation being an ‘open secret’ in the industry. As late as 2015, he called the molesting mogul “one of the best people to work with in this town” in a tweet he quickly deleted after it was dug up in October 2017 following Moore’s belated decision to speak out against Weinstein’s crimes. Even after the New York Times story in which several actresses first went public with their accusations was published, it took Moore weeks to climb aboard the dump-Weinstein bandwagon, likely out of concern it would hurt his film - Fahrenheit 11/9 - about the Trump presidency. The bottom line - not morality, or even being factually correct - is his chief concern.

In that respect, Moore is the Democratic Party writ large. Caught in a vicious cycle of selling out to wealthy donors to keep the lights on, it has sealed itself off to the working class, the minorities whose voice it still claims a monopoly on, and the young people just now awakening to the fact that they’ve been cheated out of a future. There has been barely any pushback against the DNC’s relentless trudge to the right from the mainstream media and the party establishment. Van Jones appeared on CNN calling out Clinton’s red-baiting of Gabbard, pointing out the smear contained “no facts” and that Gabbard had been the party vice-chairman before she was demonized for backing Sanders in 2016, but the rest of the #Resistance remained silent as Clinton insisted that opposition to war was anti-American. Even the few candidates who defended Gabbard from her slurs did not mention Clinton in their rebuttals. No one dares to oppose the party’s owners.

Until someone does, the Democratic Party is dead. And it’s all but turned Trump into the lesser evil.

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The US Army has warned its soldiers away from screenings of “Joker,” citing “disturbing and very specific chatter in the dark web” about a mass shooting planned for a movie theater - seemingly validating the concerns of the media establishment's film critics, who have been shrieking for weeks that the film will inspire real-life gun violence. But if the Pentagon is truly concerned about the cause of mass shootings, it would do well to look in the mirror.

"Joker," the latest Batman spinoff, has been the subject of endless pearl-clutching think-pieces decrying its “glorification” of vigilante violence. Actor Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the titular character, has been forced to defend it from sanctimonious reporters insisting he has a duty not to lead viewers morally astray. “I think that, for most of us, you’re able to tell the difference between right and wrong. And those that aren’t are capable of interpreting anything in the way they may want to,” he told Digital Spy, hitting back against scolds like the Time writer who slammed the film as “aggressive and possibly irresponsible idiocy” and the famously humorless crew at Vox, which dismissed it as “not edgy” while accusing it of “playing with fire” - all in a single review. 

Phoenix reportedly walked out of an interview after a Telegraph writer asked him if the film would “perversely end up inspiring exactly the kind of people it’s about, with potentially tragic results.” Basing one’s creative decisions on the possibility that someone, somewhere, won’t “get it” is an artistic dead end, yet these self-styled cultural commissars want to impose it on Hollywood - without a hint of awareness that while violent films are screened worldwide, they never seem to inspire mass shootings outside US borders.

The AI algorithms governing speech on social media don’t have a sense of humor and can’t recognize sarcasm or irony. Now humans - those writing for the establishment press, at least - seem determined to emulate them. Like the internet platforms that censor anything remotely controversial as "hate speech," film critics denouncing “Joker” claim to speak out of concern for those who aren’t in on the "joke." They insist the “angry young men” who might see themselves in Phoenix’s character will take the film the wrong way - essentially claiming that they’re too stupid to tell the difference between reality and fantasy, or too amoral to care. Patronizing in the extreme, this motive indicates the wokesters don’t actually care about the group they’re supposedly trying to protect from artistic predators so much as fear it. Like anti-war commentators on social media, alienated young men are a foreign species to the critics who feel threatened by that which they do not understand.

The common thread running through the negative reviews is the fear that people will be inspired by "Joker" to commit real-life violence. But as Vox unwittingly admits, “you can find much scarier, more shocking stuff by…reading the news.”  Angry young men, too, can and do find inspiration by reading the news. Time magazine sardonically dubbed the Joker “the patron saint of incels," forgetting mainstream society only knows what an “incel" is because Alek Minassian mowed down 10 people with a van in Toronto - no cinematic inspiration required. Indeed, Minassian was inspired by Elliot Rodger, another young mass murderer, who stabbed and shot six people to death in 2014 because he was frustrated that he couldn’t get laid.

The cathartic value of violent art has been recognized since ancient Greece, and the vigilante violence of "Joker" would seem an ideal conduit for the revenge fantasies and other bloodthirsty impulses of society's disaffected to dissipate harmlessly. But just as shutting down the notorious anonymous message board 8chan forces the angry young men (and women) who retreat there to vent their “extremist” fantasies after being censored on social media to find other, less benign outlets for their frustrations, banning or censoring cathartic films forces individuals frustrated with their place in society to find an outlet for that frustration in real life. 

Do the cultural commissars truly believe it is better to be dead than offended?

The notion that filmgoers will go from sympathizing with Phoenix’s character to shooting up their local Wal-Mart is in itself a fantasy, one much more far-fetched than the film, rooted in a popular misunderstanding of mass shootings. These tragedies are blamed on everything from guns to video games, yet few who discuss them are willing to address the militarism that permeates all aspects of American society. Recruiters set up shop near high schools and colleges, while TV and internet ads attempt to seduce the young and impressionable to join up and kill people for Uncle Sam. Popular video games like Call of Duty acclimate players to fighting a war, even as the increasing popularity of drones turns actual war into a (deadly) video game. Heavily-armed “law enforcement” officers pose forbiddingly at airports and train stations, outfitted to look like battle-ready soldiers, while surplus military equipment filters down to the police from a Pentagon so glutted with taxpayer dollars it can’t even use all its weapons despite occupying most of the world's countries.

Even teens who are not belligerently inclined are seduced by the promise the military will pay for their college - an offer many can’t refuse, with college costing more than twice what it did 30 years ago and even the least sophisticated professions now requiring some kind of degree. Promised that just four years of service will get their schooling fully paid for, kids are turning over their bodies and minds to a Pentagon that has no problem sending them into whatever Middle Eastern meat grinder is currently raging, to die not just for their country but also for Israel - which USAF Third Air Force commander Lt.-Gen. Richard Clark admitted in a spasm of honesty last year - and for Saudi Arabia. Recruiters don’t tell them that the experience will warp their minds and potentially destroy their future.

More than a third of US mass shooters since 1966 have been vets, even though they only comprised at most 13 percent of the population at any given time. Those who don’t kill others often inflict violence on themselves - they’re 50 percent more likely to commit suicide than the general population, 10 times more likely to abuse opioids, and almost twice as likely to abuse alcohol. And they’re 50 percent more likely than civilians to become homeless. In fact, during some periods of the neverending "war on terror," more troops were dying of suicide than on the battlefield. The military chews up American youths and spits them out much the worse for wear, and even those who never don the uniform are affected by the militarism pervading American society.

Other countries where civilians have access to guns - Switzerland, for example, or Canada - don’t have mass shooting epidemics. Video games are played by kids worldwide. Even anti-depressants are not exclusively American, though the US does consume the lion’s share of those drugs and they do play a significant role in triggering mass shootings, with multiple studies confirming they increase both homicidal and suicidal behavior in patients.  

But only one country spends more money on its military than the next eight countries combined, deeming itself the world’s policeman and occupying over 70 percent of the world's countries - some for decades at a time. War is in the air Americans breathe, and this pathology expresses itself in mass shootings. Wiping violent films off the face of the earth won’t help in eradicating the scourge of gun violence any more than barring citizens from legally owning guns will stop those determined to commit an illegal act - murder - with them.

It's not the violence, it's who's directing the violence that counts.

“Woke” critics taking aim at “Joker” are motivated by the same impulses that saw them attack “The Hunt” - the now-shelved horror-satire in which liberal elites kidnap and hunt red-state “deplorables.” That film skewered the cultural and political divide that has yawned ever wider since the election of 2016 (a gap the film’s dead-on satire could have helped to bridge - the script, released after its release was cancelled, has the audience sympathizing with the conservatives who’d been plucked from Middle America to be hunted down by the painfully rich for nothing more than posting anti-abortion comments or racist tweets). “The Joker” sees the “evil” title character become a folk hero of sorts for a revolution where where “the rich are taken down, the poor get everything they need and deserve” (a happy ending Time felt compelled to mock).

Both films are dangerous for the ruling class - and not dangerous in the same way as a mass shooting, which can reliably be manipulated into a call for more surveillance, more gun control, and more thought control. Art that contradicts the ruling class' divide-and-conquer programming, that pillories the threadbare fallacy of a meritocratic American Dream, and - worst of all - that suggests there's something the average American can do to take back their country is anathema to establishment scribes, from the heights of the New York Times oped page to the bowels of the arts section. 

The woke brigades are curiously silent about violence when films glorifying war hit the screen, choosing instead to focus on the “toxic masculinity” and/or racism depicted therein. Presumably if the troops depicted storming the beaches of Normandy in “Dunkirk” were all non-binary people of color, the violence shown on screen would be fine. Even non-war films that depict “good guys” on killing sprees don’t inspire the backlash “Joker” is getting. Batman, the Joker’s nemesis in the “Dark Knight” films, is another extralegal vigilante, but an absurdly wealthy one, so his killings are acceptable - to both the audience and even onscreen law enforcement. Quentin Tarantino’s films have been getting slammed for racism and misogyny, but the violent revenge fantasies at their core - integral to the stories, unlike racism and misogyny which live in the eye of the beholder - are hardly mentioned at all. 

Nor is it just easily-caricatured liberal “social justice warriors” who have turned out in force to criticize “Joker.” Four family members of victims of 2012's Aurora, Colorado theater shooting, which took place during a screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises," wrote to Warner Bros. to request the studio advocate for gun safety amid screenings of the film. One wonders why they didn’t do the same for the studios behind any of the dozens of films and TV shows the Pentagon has “consulted” on since the shooting - films that unabashedly promote war ("Lone Survivor"), torture ("Zero Dark Thirty"), and intel-agency “wetwork” - otherwise known as murder ("Homeland"). Even 2016’s “Suicide Squad” - which saw a younger, prettier Joker plus half a dozen other stylish villains engaged in the usual kill-crazy rampages and firearms porn - somehow avoided arousing their ire; was it because the bad guys in that film were controlled by the military, the film’s director himself a military veteran, and all the violence thus officially consecrated to God And Country? Or was it that this Joker had a girlfriend? 

Theaters in Los Angeles have banned dressing up for screenings of the film out of concern that - like Aurora gunman James Holmes - some Joker wannabe will shoot the place up in costume. A memo from Oklahoma’s Travis County Sheriff’s Office suggests a “credible potential mass shooting” will occur at an “unknown movie theater” when the film is released on October 4. If it does, we can expect blame to be placed everywhere except where it belongs. Angry young men will keep killing innocent people, abroad and at home, until the country wakes up to the reality that endless war leaves the aggressor nation in ruins.

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One sixth of the adult population of the US takes at least one psychiatric drug daily, a proportion that has risen steadily as a growing share of the emotional spectrum has been pathologized by the psychiatric profession. Anger and resentment are classed as "oppositional defiance disorder" and medicated with antipsychotics, while hate is actively criminalized. And with depression “conquered” by medication - even as both diagnosis rates and suicides are at an all-time high - the mental-health industry has a new target: loneliness. With pharmaceutical and even technological "cures" in the pipeline for this "condition," once considered part of the normal human emotional experience but now framed as a dire health risk on the level of obesity and smoking, our very ability to think for ourselves hangs in the balance. 

Nearly half of Americans polled last year by health insurer Cigna said they lacked meaningful relationships or companionship, while a third of people in industrialized societies report they are lonely; this state of mind appears to significantly shorten one's lifespan. A solutions-based society might examine why so many people feel alienated from their peers despite the constant connectivity of smartphones and internet. A symptom-focused model, however, simply looks to stop them from feeling that way by any means necessary - never mind the cause, and never mind the consequences. 

Loneliness is “worse than obesity,” according to a raft of studies that have emerged linking the emotion to increased risk of premature death - as much as 50 percent, says one meta-analysis by Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad - and a dramatically lowered quality of life. And like obesity - big business not just for Big Pharma, but for gastric bypass surgeons, weight-loss gurus, and other parasitic professionals who have monetized the American public’s lack of self-control - anything that deadly requires medical intervention. 

THERE’S A PILL FOR THAT

The University of Chicago’s Brain Dynamics Laboratory recently began an eight-week trial of the hormone pregnenolone, rounding up volunteers with “off-the-chart” scores on a psychological loneliness scale. Basing their treatment on animal studies suggesting the chemical can reduce the exaggerated threat reactions that they say characterize loneliness, they hope to normalize the lonely person’s self-centered hyper-vigilance, which drives them to both desire human connection and deal poorly with it. 

Researchers insist the intention is not to cure loneliness with a pill, but the trial sets a precedent for doing just that. Oxytocin, the "love hormone," is also being considered as a potential treatment based on promising animal studies. Enterprising psychiatrists have previously medicalized aspects of loneliness as "social anxiety" and prescribed tranquilizers or antidepressants, but loneliness itself has never been so directly in the pharmaceutical crosshairs.

And if the hormone trials flop, there’s always Prozac. Already, doctors have claimed antidepressants make patients more sociable, and these drugs have for years been used (and abused) for conditions aside from depression - off-label prescribing of the antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin was the basis of the largest pharmaceutical company lawsuit in history. If loneliness is not an emotion but a crisis to be resolved, in which the ends justify the means (however barbaric and harmful they may be), why not bring out the heavy artillery?  

Mental health professionals writing about the loneliness epidemic discuss behavioral interventions, community programs, and counseling, but the introduction of a pharmaceutical solution may prove too tempting for a profession that has learned to love the quick fix a pill provides. Like depression, loneliness has myriad possible causes, some of which are natural and healthy reactions to life circumstances. Other, obviously situational, causes would (before the magic pill, at least) call for clear behavioral solutions. Would a psychiatrist reach for her prescription pad when confronted with a lonely person who only socializes through Facebook, even though social media use has been found to correlate strongly with loneliness and studies have shown that just a week away from the platform can bring “significant” improvements in well-being? In this case, at least, correlation equals causation. A solution to the patient's loneliness seems obvious. But why force him to change his life when a pill will do the trick?

The loneliness plague is a real problem - the number of Americans who say they have no one to talk to has tripled since 1985, and the negative health effects are real. Alienation is epidemic. But medicalizing it will only make the situation worse, just as it has with depression. When the profit motive enters the equation and medicalization gives way to monetization, the incentive to get rid of the problem vanishes, replaced by the incentive to diagnose as many people as possible with the condition in order to “treat” them while the relevant drugs are still under patent. Nor is there any incentive to (or expectation of) cure - unlike most patients diagnosed with a treatable disease, individuals deemed mentally ill tend to remain on medication for years, if not for life. Each newly-diagnosed individual thus represents a sizable wad of cash on the table. 

In a quick-fix society that prefers to treat the symptoms while ignoring the disease, a pill for loneliness will be embraced with all the fervor with which antidepressants were greeted before people began to realize that they cause suicidal and homicidal behavior, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and a host of other problems - and that they don’t actually cure depression. Those drugs are still doled out like candy, even after the scientific explanation for their effect (and that effect itself) have been debunked, because it’s easier to take a pill than to come to terms with one’s reasons for being depressed in the first place, especially if they're reasonable responses to environmental factors. Nearly half of Americans struggle just to cover their basic financial needs every month; expecting the chronically stressed to enjoy the feel of the system's boot on their necks is unrealistic. With a similar array of thorny societal causes as depression, loneliness is just as likely to be pharmaceutically exploited.

A loneliness pill would not address Americans’ emotionally unhealthy digitally-addicted lifestyles, a society-wide sickness and source of significant stress. It would instead allow them to socialize exclusively in an online sphere whose boundaries are set by billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, without experiencing any of the discomfort they would naturally feel at having their gregarious impulses folded, spindled and mutilated to fit an increasingly stringent set of behavioral restrictions. Nor would it confront societal programming that equates solitude with loneliness, with abnormality, and teaches children that if they are not driven to socialize, they are defective. It's no coincidence that fictional dystopias from 1984 to the Handmaid's Tale minimize the amount of "alone time" their citizens are permitted - time alone with one's thoughts is time the state cannot control. But the police state of today is working to change that.

As human contact, including real-life socializing, has become a luxury - so says the New York Times, explaining that humans are expensive, screens and robots are cheap, and expecting the unwashed masses to be able to afford access to living, breathing humans like themselves is simply unrealistic - the "digital pets" millennials had as children have matured to "digital friends," even digital lovers as they themselves have grown up. And these digital companions double as the eyes and ears of a shockingly intrusive surveillance state. 

BRIDGING THE UNCANNY VALLEY

If the “loneliness pill” doesn’t work out, AI is waiting in the wings. Already seen as the future of at-home healthcare for aging populations under the care of cash-strapped governments, friendly, helpful robots could find their way into the homes of the lonely. And everyone gets lonely sometimes! Certainly, the mass deployment of robo-buddies circumvents the surveillance hurdle faced by in-home AI snoops like Amazon’s Alexa, which many Americans find creepy (and not just for its tendency to burst into sinister laughter unprovoked). Frame the intruder as a medical benefit, however, and some of that opposition falls by the wayside. After all, loneliness kills, and no one wants to die.

As lonely humans become accustomed to conversing with their robot pals, their expectation for real human contact will diminish, and their sense of loneliness with it. After all, you can’t miss what you never had. Already, given the stunted level of discourse on social media, many of us have found ourselves tricked into talking to bots, sometimes exchanging several messages before realizing our interlocutor is not human. A study published earlier this month in First Monday found bots' online activity is becoming more human-like - and humans are behaving more like bots. The Voight-Kampff Test used by Philip K Dick’s “blade runners” to determine whether a suspect was human or android can be graded on a curve.

As the bar for “meaningful relationships” is lowered to the point where chatting with an AI can qualify, the loneliness epidemic vanishes - on paper, at least, and in US public health policy, sometimes that’s all that matters.

LONELY OR JUST ALONE? 

The pathologization of loneliness will inevitably elide the difference between being alone and being lonely, as the mental health industry runs out of lonely people to treat with whatever therapeutic weapon wins this particular arms race and is forced to look further afield for patients. “Loners” - those dangerous types who actually enjoy solitude - are stigmatized as unpredictable weirdos who need to be brought into the fold. The man who shot up a Walmart in El Paso earlier this month was an “extreme loner,” according to media reports. Would we be reading about it if he was an “extreme extrovert,” someone so addicted to the company of other humans he couldn't stand to spend a second alone? Extroversion is a characteristic of the psychopathic personality, yet extroverts are not stigmatized for this, or treated as potential serial killers because they feel compelled to socialize - instead, the “introvert killer” trope is reliably trotted out after every tragedy, even though it has been repeatedly debunked.

With no loneliness pill on the market - yet - it is impossible to predict what’s next for the creeping medicalization of the human emotional experience. But the surveillance state is muscling into the “mental health” sphere as never before. The Trump administration has reportedly embraced a new Health Advanced Research Projects Agency, modeled after the Pentagon’s DARPA, that will develop a method for analyzing “neurobehavioral signs” to determine whether someone is “headed toward a violent explosive act.” HARPA’s proposal suggests a “multi-modality solution, along with real-time data analytics” to be garnered from technologies like Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo, and Google Home. And in case you leave your smartphone at home, AI cameras are increasingly being deployed in public places equipped with advanced facial recognition and behavioral analysis capabilities 

Researchers believe they can diagnose depression with nothing more than smartphone usage and GPS data, having tested this hypothesis using an app called iSee to monitor college students - ground zero for the "campus mental health crisis." Combine this diagnosis-at-a-distance with emergency service surveillance technology like Carbyne911 (developed by Israeli intelligence) and 911eye (developed by the West Midlands police department, pioneers of pre-crime technology in the UK) and you get surveillance-enabled AI empowered to call the authorities when they decide you're a threat to yourself or your peers. And Amazon’s Alexa has moved one step closer to the companion-robot model, rolling out a medical feature earlier this year which could conceivably be deployed to “check on” individuals at risk for loneliness. The devices that have been surveilling us for years may thus become empowered to have us committed - for our own good, of course, and the good of society.

In the aftermath of recent mass shootings, Trump declared open season on the “mentally ill,” floating the idea of involuntary confinement and institutionalization, while governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo have proposed mental health databases that would affix an indelible scarlet letter to anyone seeking help with a psychological issue - effectively driving many of the people who actually need help away from the system out of fear of the repercussions for their personal and professional lives. The idea that “extreme loners” might find themselves medicated against their will, as a preemptive measure, is not far-fetched.

And Elon Musk’s Neuralink device proposes bringing the AI directly to your brain, “merging biological intelligence with machine intelligence,” so you never have to feel lonely again - or experience any inconvenient emotions. Musk envisions a future in which customers will have the devices installed in shopping mall kiosks, no more intrusive than an ear-piercing. Social scientists fear it’ll be “suicide for the human mind” - while no one knows for sure where consciousness resides, if it's anywhere near our squishy grey matter, it doesn't stand a chance against cold silicon precision. Even Musk acknowledges that Neuralink is an "if you can't beat them, join them" approach to a future AI takeover.

Implantable AI hands the state the tools to control our thoughts. Indeed, we will no longer be able to tell which thoughts are "ours," and which come from the device implanted in our skull. Transhumanists speak glowingly of "merging with the machines," forgetting (or perhaps deliberately omitting) that the machines have programmers, and those programmers work hand in glove with the military-industrial complex. If they get their way, you’ll never be able to feel lonely again, because Big Brother will take up residence inside your skull. Solitude - like privacy before it - will be a distant memory, assuming you're permitted to remember it at all. And like privacy, children born today may never know what it is like to experience loneliness - nor will they ever have the pleasure of being alone with their thoughts. 

(originally published in much shorter form on RT)

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