Independent Versus Corporate Media

If you’re reading this article, you’re reading it on what is effectively considered independent media. Some try to claim that if the site is owned by a corporation, that it is corporate media. That would also mean that content producers on YouTube are corporate.

Nearly all content hosts are corporate. Basically any site that hosts media, such as blogs, is owned by a corporation. That makes sense for legal and financial purposes. Medium is a corporation, YouTube is a corporation, Patreon is a corporation, etc.

Independent creator definition. What defines independent media are the content producers. Most content producers who are considered independent are exactly that. Myself, Jimmy Dore, Caitlin Johnstone. In each case, we depend on the income achieved by either payments from the corporations like Medium or YouTube, if our content is not demonetized by the corporate entity. (Most likely on YouTube.)

Funding models. Each content producer makes far more money through direct subscriptions through Patreon, which is why you hear that name so often. Each has a different funding model as well. With Medium, one subscription pays for access to all content providers. With Patreon, you subscribe to each content provider individually. That is why payments from Medium will tend to be smaller than those from Patreon.

No advertising. One of the obvious benefits to the subscription model is that there is no advertising, unlike the corporate structure, where you pay a corporation to see ads from other corporations. Obviously, some content providers may produce paid advertising made to appear as something it is not. I’ll let them deal with the legal ramifications of that. Also corporations can directly publish their content on independent media in an attempt to expand their control even further. No surprise there. I rather hope most of the audience ignores that because it completely defeats the purpose of subscribing to independent media.

Different voices. However, the major difference is that you get to hear voices you would not hear from otherwise. Voices critical of the corporate power structure over our daily lives. Artists who have not been bought by corporations. Independent content producers have no editor assigning our projects, we produce what we want to produce. No editor is telling us we cannot cover a particular subject or candidate. We cannot get fired, so our voices may be censored on one platform but we will not disappear from one day to the next. We’re here to stay as long as we have internet connections.

Who benefits most? It’s obvious that the consumer benefits from independent media. Hearing different opinions other than ones which have been “authorized” by corporate boards and agendas. The opinions and thoughts expressed tend to be more likely to be genuine and likely to be verifiable or at the very least rational. There have been uncounted instances where someone presented me with articles from corporate media and it took less than 30 seconds for me to begin quoting, “unnamed sources”, “authorities say” and point out there was no verifiable information included, only opinions stated as fact. No reasonable questions, no critical thought, all propaganda. Most independent producers are more likely to respond to comments or questions, where corporate media will ignore such things. You gain more of a personal connection with independent producers.

Parental figures. Here is a personal opinion from a nurse who has worked in the psychiatric field. I tend to believe the people who rely on corporate media and consider elected officials to be their “leaders” are those who have never fully matured. They live their entire lives having a deep seated need of parental figures to tell them what to think, what to believe, what to do, when to do it, how to do it yet never why. Basically, “Do it because I said so!” In other words, not only parental figures but abusive parental figures who issue threats and punishment for noncompliance. Figures that not only remain apathetic to suffering but are prone to causing that suffering.

Your choice. You have choices. More choices than ever before. You have the option to be informed while turning off corporate media. Elected officials are not our “leaders”, they are our employees. We hired them. We pay their salaries. We can collectively fire them. We can question them. We can hold them accountable.

Keep the best voices going. How do you keep the best voices going on independent media? Of course, support those voices. Share their content widely. Independent producers don’t have much money for advertising and not that many places where we can advertise without being called “spam” or “Russian propaganda”.

Financial support. Of course, if you can afford to, support them financially. That support can be $1 a month. The same or less than a soda from McDonald’s after tax. I try to produce at least 5 articles a week, which is 20 per month. So if a person donated $1 a month, that would come to $0.05 per article. Caitlin Johnstone is similar in her efforts, at 4–5 srticles per week average. Most independents are reliant on having additional income streams. Jimmy Dore and Ron Placone have their comedy shows, I am a nurse as my primary income. Some like myself would prefer dedicating far more time and effort to expanding our efforts but cannot afford to do so.

Value for cost. Of course, a model such as Medium offers the best consumer value, giving access to more sources for one price, though costs more as a total for a subscription. In that case, a producer is reliant on absolute exposure. A model like Patreon can cost less but gives access to limited specific voices. It does pay the individual producer more of the subscription, though.

Support how you can. Whoever your preferred independent content producer is, offer support by any means possible. Promote them, endorse them, etc. Give likes, claps, thumbs ups, whatever the individual site has in place. Some may allow multiple likes, claps, etc. Sometimes it increases article or creator placement or standing, sometimes not. Without support, it tends to be more likely their content will be lost or suppressed eventually. For myself, I have no subscribers on Patreon and I maintain a website free to access, so I break even or lose money for my efforts. No account required for my website. I don’t spam anyone. So I’m not going away any time soon, donations or no donations. This article is meant as a general statement to support independent media as a whole.

Human Rights Records Do Not Stop At The Border

Lots of people try and claim moral superiority for the US in relation to Russia and China regarding human rights records. In each case, they attempt to use histories dating back at least 27 years, typically far more.

Do these countries have distant histories of human rights abuses? Yes, they do. However, they fail to look at the human rights records of the US even from that time frame. If one wants to look at old human rights records, then we have to look at the US history of genocide of Native Americans, slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, Japanese internment camps, women’s rights and the abuses they suffered, forced sterilization, frontal lobotomies, electroshock therapy, involuntary imprisonment of women in asylums based on their husband’s word, seizure of private property for corporate interests (DAPL), the civil rights movement…

Getting the point here?

Yet ancient history is not the point of this article. The point of this article is the apparent belief by many people that when you discuss the human rights records of a country, that such record should be limited to inside a country’s borders. Nothing could be further from the truth. Human rights are humanrights.The term has no geographical boundaries attached to the meaning.

Nor are human rights records limited to governmental actions. That record can be even more related to government inaction in the face of known abuse or suffering at the hands of non-government entities. From the Pinkerton massacre at Homestead to Dow Chemical poisoning the Ohio River and thousands of abuses in between and happening now.

The US government has a long, storied history and present of direct and indirect involvement in the abuse and outright murder of millions of people around the globe. From our entry into WWI under false pretenses to the decimation of North Korea to the blatantly false circumstances that took us into Vietnam and Iraq, regime change operations by our military and CIA in dozens of countries dating back at least as far as the early 50’s. Even earlier when we look at the Panama Canal and invasion of Hawaii, the Hidalgo Treaty and who knows what else? Talk to a real historian who is not a propagandist.

Right now we are actively bombing 8 countries and selling weapons to Saudi Arabia who is conducting outright genocide in Yemen in the worst human rights situation globally since Cambodia. We have actively supported the Saudi regime for decades while in full knowledge of their abuse of human rights, with imprisonment and mass public decapitations of dissident journalists, oppression of women’s rights which continues with US corporate created cell phone apps which track women’s movements so they can be reported to authorities if they attempt to escape abuse with a single button. Do our politicians and corporate media scream to the heads of the Saudi royals? Or make weak, failed attempts at ineffective sanctions? Is anyone (and I mean anyone) calling for an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia?

Those claiming American moral superiority over other countries fail to consider any of this or the fact that most of this history has been for the sake of capitalist interests. They will point to Stalin or Mao but never remotely realize that the US has killed multiple times more people than Stalin and Mao combined. There is no way to accurately count the death toll of the United States because the numbers will always be hidden, distorted, diverted, blamed elsewhere and that moral imperative always claimed.

It is always telling that our corporate media never opposes any military action. They attempt to whip up support for the next war and the next and the next. They don’t bother mentioning our current military actions as a comprehensive statement. The bombing of 8 countries mentioned above, the military forces in 50 African nations, the millions starved by our typically sanctions. Yet we hear endlessly how we need to intervene in Venezuela because Maduro is a tyrant.

Corporate media does not broadcast the reports coming back with video from Progressive journalists on the ground in Venezuela at this moment. Aaron Mate, Max Blumenthal, Abby Martin. Their video evidence shows the lack of violence, the store shelves full of items corporate media claims do not exist in the country, the rallies in protest against US intervention. They don’t mention the humanitarian support being provided by less affluent countries who are not trying to seize rights to Venezuelan oil. European countries, Mexico, Russia, China are all providing support without any suspicion of them attempting to sneak in weapons for the opposition to enact a coup. An opposition which is known to have used violence against civilians, including burning people alive. Corporate media does not mention that Venezuela has the lowest rate of homelessness in the western hemisphere. Can’t talk about that, can we?

The US truly has no right at all to dictate ethics or morality to other countries. Americans have no right to believe we are the “good guys” or that the governments that oppose us are worse than our own. Especially when many of those countries have universal healthcare and adult education while we do not. To include Russia and China. Countries that spend more money on their own citizens than on warfare by magnitudes of ten. Countries that have lower rates of homelessness and lower prison populations than ourselves. Countries that often have US sanctions limiting the options available to them to provide for their citizens.

It’s time to define the human rights records of all countries by how they treat not only their citizens but how they treat human beings in general. Define human rights by each country’s actions as a whole. Define human rights by the divide between rich and poor, free and incarcerated, treatment of the ill, housed and homeless, diplomacy versus war, free versus oppressed, freedom of speech and press to include corporate censorship. Because human rights should include life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, medical care, shelter, security, freedom of dissension, food security, political freedom of affiliation even if that includes Conservatism or Communism. Human rights records do not stop counting at your border and you cannot treat citizens of other countries as you see fit for your own greed.

Growth And Productivity Are Toxic

Via capitalism, we are constantly barraged with the idea that continual growth is mandatory. Who came up with this concept? I’ll give you three guesses and your answers will probably be the same all three times and will probably be correct. Capitalists, of course.

The capitalist propaganda is that constant growth is necessary for capitalism to even survive. No, it is not. That is not even necessary for the stock market to survive.

Continuous growth is toxic. The striving for continual growth is what destabilizes markets, leading to highs and lows, including market corrections, retractions, crashes, recessions and depressions. Market stability is far more desirable and economically healthy. However, that is not desired by major investors because then the market flattens out with little movement. No huge profits for speculators who buy low and sell high on a daily basis.

The fact of the matter is, competition on the scale we see today is not healthy. There is no problem with one company being an industry leader in one geographic area and another company being a leader in another geographic area. The so-called competition we see today destroys companies and reduces choices in the consumer market. Hostile takeovers and mega-mergers serve no positive purpose for consumers or the labor market.

Productivity is another myth. Increasing productivity effectively decreases wages. If you work for a company and you produce one widget per hour for $10 an hour, the company makes a profit for what you produce. If the company introduces a new machine or process to increase your production, you may produce two widgets an hour. However, your pay remains $10 an hour. One assumes that the company is making twice the profit for your production but the truth is that they make more than double the original profit. If demand has not increased to the point that the company is now selling twice as many widgets, what happened is that one job is eliminated. This is what most commonly happens. So now the company is paying half the wage but also paying less in benefits. Less spent for vacation, sick time, insurance, liability, possibly health insurance and payroll services. Chances are good that if they reduce personnel enough, now they need fewer lower and middle management.

This is also one way that entire factories can cease to exist. If a company has two factories and double the output at one of those, they may close one factory. Like I have explained before, this has downstream effects. If a city or town has a significant part of the local economy dependent on a factory which closes, the results can be devastating. Now workers have no income, there are fewer jobs available in general, the unemployment rate increases, consumers spend less which impacts other local businesses. The other businesses may lose so much business that they are then forced to lay off workers or close their doors completely. There is less tax revenue collected which goes to fund schools, libraries, road repair and other municipal services. If it is a small town, the entire town may cease to exist.

Capitalism is a machine which never stops consuming, devouring all it encounters. Marx predicted 150 years ago that capitalism would reach the point where it would ultimately consume itself. That is the point we are at today. Increased productivity, automation, centralization and consolidation reduce the available jobs and career paths on a daily basis. Mergers and acquisitions have become larger than those of us over 50 could never have conceived 30 years ago.

Since the Industrial Revolution, as technology has advanced, we have gone through cycles of technology creating jobs, then mechanizing and automating jobs nearly as quickly. When was the last time you met a telephone operator? Print setter? Proof reader? Copy shops were once a common sight, far more rare today. 3D printing and self driving vehicles stand to eliminate millions of jobs in the next few years. I’ve pointed out many times that one self check register eliminates 4–6 jobs, with an average of 10 per large store, multiplied by tens of thousands of stores nationally. McDonald’s alone set a goal in 2016 of eliminating 55,000 jobs through order kiosks. They met that goal and are only one chain of many using them. Sit down restaurants are using touch screen ordering systems to reduce wait staff.

At each stage, productivity is increased while jobs are eliminated. The contradiction and danger is that each job eliminated reduces consumer earning and thus spending.

Consumer credit debt is at the highest level in history. Credit is easily available, though credit at affordable interest is only for the privileged. A huge percentage of those with credit debt have interest rates on that credit which is formidable and leads to consumer failure. That system is collapsing at this moment as we see repossessions and student loan defaults rising. Millions are trapped in a cycle of using one credit account to pay on other credit accounts while millions more are trapped in the payday loan cycle. This is no longer a distant early warning sign. This is a klaxon signalling impending collapse in the very near future.

The trade war with China is not a surprise. It is not a mere political stunt. It was inevitable under our current system and has been coming for many years. It is not reported as such by corporate media but the real point of the tensions with Russia, Iran and Venezuela are also trade conflicts. I do not expect it to be long before tensions increase with India, as they are a rising manufacturing and consumer powerhouse. We can also expect more tensions with Mexico as wages and employment in Mexico increase, which will result in an improving consumer market. That will cause increasing pricing on goods coming from Mexico as the domestic Mexican consumer economy competes with the export market to the US.

Yet one of the biggest problems of all is that sustained expanding growth is simply not possible. There are limits to consumer need. No matter how many crops are grown, people only eat so much. No matter how many vehicles are produced, people can only drive so many cars at once. All of this is limited by the ability of consumers to purchase goods while gainful employment (sic) continues to contract. See my last article, here.

All of this is completely aside from increasing environmental damage accelerating as climate change worsens and our deadline draws near to change course.

I’m really not sure what the rich and greedy expect to happen from here. Can it truly be nothing more than to be more comfortable than most as the world is incinerated? Even if they have bunkers to hide out in which the population cannot breach, what kind of life is that? How long do they think they will survive?

Without radical changes to the capitalist system, we are absolutely doomed to failure. Not only as a country but as a species. All for the greed of a limited percentage of the population. Unfortunately, that change will only occur if the most radical of us become far, far more radical than we are. The general population will continue believing what they are told by corporate media and corporate politicians until they have absolutely no choice. By then it will be too late.

So we have to act. Entire nations need to work together. The rich need to take what they have and decide they finally have enough. Because growth and productivity have reached their end point.

Russiagate Is Not Benign

With the 2020 Democratic campaign ramping up, many voters and the media make it seem as though Russiagate is merely an electoral issue.

For years, the media has portrayed Russia as an aggressive threat while also portraying Russia as a weak power easily contained. Meanwhile, we are now in our 18th year in Afghanistan against the relatively poorly armed Taliban and 17th year in Iraq against terrorist factions with resources dwarfed by our own.

One thing to understand up front is that Russia and China are military alliesin an arrangement similar to NATO. If one is attacked, they will both respond. Something else our media does not make clear, so most Americans do not grasp.

The US currently has military bases and ships encircling both Russia and China in threatening postures, invading their territorial waters, in some cases attempting to block their shipping lanes. Meanwhile we are engaging in trade sanctions and tariffs meant to limit their trade options, even though our allies largely oppose US actions due to the increased cost and negative effects on their outgoing trade with Russia and China. Europe was trading with Russia, China and Iran before the US ever existed as proven through the archaeology and historical record.

At this point, the House already closed their Russia investigation last year, citing no evidence. The Senate investigation remains open but not for long, as they released a report also stating no evidence of Russian “collusion” regarding the election. Just don’t ask certain neoliberal sources who continue fabricating stories. Mueller is expected by all sources to close his investigation soon with no convictions related to the sole purpose he was granted special counsel authority. The indictments he has issued to that effect have been all theater which resulted in either no defendants (Russian Intelligence officials) ever expected to be in court or defendants having representation in court, which was hilarious! The 13 Russian internet trolls were not expected to have lawyers arrive for court but did. To which Mueller’s team attempted to deny discovery of evidence based on classification of evidence. The judge said that won’t work, discovery is mandatory. Nobody can be litigated without the right to see the evidence being used against them. That was the last I heard of that case.

If Saint Mueller issues his report with nothing directly against trump, the very people who have been screaming, “Just wait for Mueller!!” for two years will crucify the Saint. His investigation is not supposed to be about findingevidence, it is supposed to be about fabricating evidence. Though if that was what he were doing, he would have been finished long ago. Trust me, he’s done the best he could and not get busted.

Still, the worst things about Russiagate are the very real consequences which we have only begun to see the effects of. So far, those results have been non-violent compared to what they could have been.

We have seen confrontations between US and Russian military forces in Syria. Those would have wound up with a hot war if not for Russia’s restraint on the matters. We also saw Israel shoot down a Russian bomber, to which they did not respond militarily. Some claim this is a sign of cowardice. Since when is not wanting WWIII cowardice instead of sanity?

We have seen our very own independent media being censored with “Russia” being stated as a rationale. Much of the media censored was Progressive and anti-war media, such as Antiwar.com, Police The Police, the Ron Paul Liberty Report (Because we all know Ron Paul is a Russian stooge, right?), Reasonable People Unite, Counterpunch among others and temporary bans on Caitlyn Johnstone, Venezuelanalysis, Telesur and more. Do you really believe that neoliberal corporate media that works hand in hand with CONgress would not continue their censorship? Just wait until 2020, Mueller or no Mueller.

Immediately after the midterm elections, when the Democrats gained a House majority, they announced no less than 85 additional investigations regarding Trump. Investigations which did not exist before the election. Those “investigations” divert time, attention and resources which should be spent on governing this country. Between “investigations”, fundraising, campaigning, caucuses, primaries and conventions, how much governing do you expect to see before at least 2021? It’s already sounding like half the Democrats in CONgress eligible to run for president will be running.

Russiagate has resulted in the “defense” budget being increased by over $100 billion per year over the last two years. With another increase already planned for next year. To “defend” against a country that spends only 6% or less of our military budget for their military.

Since this debacle began, NATO has expanded further and further eastward to Russia’s doorstep. Then our government blew a gasket, calling it “Russian aggression” when they conducted their annual military war games without crossing outside their borders. Yet we are arming the Ukrainian military.

In addition, Colombia was offered membership in NATO. As a reminder, NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Tell me, what part of the North Atlantic does Colombia occupy?

Of course, the reason for that is that Russia and China have over $80 billion in trade investments in Venezuela, next door to Colombia. This is an attempt to bring all of NATO into the conflict if the US invades Venezuela to illegally seize that country’s oil, resulting in a direct confrontation with Russia and China, who would be defending Venezuelan sovereignty along with their own investments.

Now the US has withdrawn from the INF Treaty. You know, because that’s what Putin wanted. Sure. Now Russia has stated that if the US places intermediate range nuclear missiles on their border, they will place their own in international waters off our own borders. Only theirs are hypersonic and would have a flight time of merely seconds once launched to reach our shores. plus they are mobile, mounted on submarines and ships. Have fun targeting that.

So, keep considering Russiagate to be a harmless or inconvenient electoral issue that poses no threat, has no consequences. Go ahead and encourage the candidates who push this narrative. By no means should you hold them accountable for their words and actions. Donate money to show you approve of these risks.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Real Unemployment Information

So, how about all those new jobs you hear about on the media? Those low unemployment rates?

If you want a realistic look at unemployment, you cannot simply look at the official unemployment numbers. You have to look at that plus the Labor Participation Rate (LPR). This is a number which states a percentage of US residents over the age of 16 are employed or seeking employment.

The Labor Participation Rate is one of the few numbers which the government keeps fairly current. You can find the official rates here, updated monthly. It is current through January 2019 because February is not yet over.

If you open the page, it gives you a graph and table. What this information shows is that labor participation has declined fairly steadily since 2009, with fairly minor variations. In 2009, it reached a peak of 65.8%. The lowest rate in 10 years was 62.7% in 2016. The lowest in 2018 was also 62.7%. The current rate is 63.1%.

So, what do these numbers mean?

I could not find information about ages 16–18 which was reliable. However, percentage of the population under 18 is 22.6%. Actual US population is estimated at 327,167, 434 as of July 2018. That gives a population over 18 of 253,196,634 people. Those are the numbers I will work with, which should be fairly accurate for this purpose. For simplicity, I am using the 2018 population as a constant and am rounding numbers.

So with these numbers, we had an LPR in 2009 in total numbers of 166,603,385. In 2018, we had a low of 158,754,290. In current numbers, we have an LPR of 159,767,076.

So, between 2009, the height of the recession, we have seen a decrease in the LPR of 6,836,309 (January 2019). That many people have dropped out of the job market for one reason or another.

What is striking is that the number of people entering or re-entering the job market has increased since September 2018. The birth rate has been dropping for at least two decades, so this is an indication that retired people are re-entering the job market.

The official number of unemployed per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is currently 6.5 million. But that does not include the number of people who have dropped out of the labor market completely. When we add the 6.5 million to the decreased number stated above, that equals over 12.8 million Americans not employed. So, more than double the 8% unemployment rate being stated.

The BLS also stated that unemployment increased slightly in January.

I have explained before that the median income is complete BS. The way that works is an average, which looks like this: If a CEO makes $990,000 a year and their employee makes $10,000 a year, the total is $1 million. Averaged out, median income becomes $500,000. And that refers only to wages, not income.

Let’s go further with that. If one investor makes $100 million and 99 people are in the LPR with NO income, the median income becomes $1 million, making it appear as though all those people made $1 million each that year.

The US Census Bureau estimates that 12–13% of Americans are currently below the poverty line.

48% of Americans earn less than $30,000 a year. 69% of Americans earn less than $50,000 a year.

I have pointed out previously that the bar for being considered employed is extremely low. If you work 1 hour a week, you are considered employed. So obviously unemployment does not mean you earn a living wage or anywhere near it.

Of course, I have already written about the fact that corporations are laying people of by tens of thousands, nearly all permanently. Ford, GM, GE all announced mass layoffs in Nov and Dec. Harley-Davidson closed one plant and moved the operations to Thailand. Carrier announced layoffs in the US, with a new location in Mexico. Sears/KMart went bankrupt and is unlikely to recover this time. Toys R Us and numerous other retail chains have ceased to exist. There are more to follow as equity retail space loans come due in balloon payments.

Vehicle repossessions are rising. So are defaults on federal student loans, which carry penalties which can impact a consumer’s credit for life, even after IRS seizure of refunds, income and assets. Consumer credit debt is at the highest level in history while income remains stagnant. Home sales are on a downward slide, not just domestically but throughout the western world. The number of Americans without health insurance has increased by 7 million in 2 years.

All of this flies directly in the face of any claims that jobs are being created or that income levels are rising. When the claims are made that income levels are rising, that refers to the median income described above. When they talk about employment, it’s nothing short of a fabrication for political expediency.

The media is not going to report the truth because it would reflect badly on their corporate advertisers. Can’t have an informed audience taking to the streets to protest against their income sources, can we?

The real impetus here is on us, to be accurately informed. To confirm the information we receive rather than believe it blindly without question. To share that accurate information with others. To call out false information as it is presented.

Why Be Offended By The Term “Cult”?

A number of people have been offended by my use of the term “cult”. So, I find it somewhat necessary to delve deeper into my rationale for the use of that term. It is a term less judgmental than an honest analysis of too common behavior.

First, I want to offer a similar viewpoint by Marley K, while she refers to the same phenomenon using the term “groupthink”.In her article, she references the book by Irving L Janus, titled “Groupthink”, published in 1972. So this is not exactly a new observation. https://medium.com/@marleyk/how-social-media-encourages-groupthink-e4b4b2f2a5f8

BTW, Marley is a great writer who you should be following.

The reason for the term “cult/cult thinking/cultism” has a goal associated with it. It’s a simple goal. Spreading personal awareness. To make people examine their own behavior and attitudes critically. If a person finds the term offensive, there tends to be a reason. That they see some aspect of that term in their own behavior. I expect many people to be initially offended by the term. I probably would be, myself.

My own cultist past. The entire reason I understand this is that I have seen it in myself at times in the past on limited subjects. I was pretty much a ferocious cultist for Bernie in 2016 and truly believed. I expected him to contest the convention, which of course did not happen. never expected him to campaign for Hillary. Or do the DNC Unity Tour. Or push Russiagate.

My first use of the term. The first time I used the term “cult” was in reference to Trump supporters in 2016. Then, over time, I stepped back and realized that my own view was limited. That was when I realized that all parties are cults. Then that evolved to the understanding that all names are cultsWhich then became one of my mottoes or most often used statements.

Back to 2016 tactics. Now previous Hillbots have been using the same references they did in 2016, calling me “butthurt” and similar terms, only this time to say I should support Bernie. Because that behavior worked so well in 2016.

A candidate has to earn my vote with policies. Let me say it now. Bernie has no right to my vote. He has to earn it. Yes, you do need the true Progressive vote. So don’t start with the Hillbot behavior of saying, “We don’t need you” or “Beat Trump”. That is not enough and it’s not going to do it. That is cult thinking at it’s finest.

Definition. So let me define this. Cult thinking includes:

The conviction that “nobody is perfect” and using it as a rationale to ignore any danger involved with blindly supporting a candidate. Including such dangers as war with Russia. (Jonestown or Heaven’s Gate, anyone?)Which, as I detailed in my last article, includes the censorship of independent and social media, plus the attacks on Julian Assange. You cannot support a candidate who promotes Russiagate and support Assange, they are directly opposed to each other.

You reject any and all negative points regarding a candidate or party without reading or listening to the points being raised. You consider all negative statements to be untrue, including questions.

You consistently seek out only articles, shows and even memes which support your views.

You limit your social interactions to people that reinforce your views. Even going as far as attacking anyone with differing views. To the degree that if someone says you want to hear from all candidates, not jump into a commitment to a candidate when 2020 is still 10 months away. Not all the candidates who will be running have even announced their campaigns yet. This is a form of declaring someone a heretic for not sharing your belief system. You feel you must convert them or sacrifice them to prove your own True Faith, that you are a Believer.

When someone tries to discuss issues, you divert the subject to personal attacks on the person directly, refusing to stay on topic.

You have cognitive dissonance and may actually know it but don’t care. If someone brings up a point with documented facts, reasonable, rational questions that manage to break through, you can feel your eyes glaze over as you seek something to respond with to reaffirm your faith, not to address the evidence.

You are willing to accept “evidence” which has no proof to back it up. As long as you can quote someone who agrees with your beliefs, that is considered evidence to you and sufficient.

You will give your time, money, effort to your chosen cult without reading the fine print. You don’t need policies. Because you have been promised heaven later for your dedication today.

You quote things which the person never said, cite policies that do not exist, accomplishments which never happened. When asked to name your source, rather than provide it you tell the person asking to look it up for themselves. Because you know that will never happen again, right?

You don’t want to discuss issues. You just want to silence any and all dissent. Then call it democracy.

You are willing to harm other people or close your eyes to harm for your Faith. If someone does not Believe, they deserve what comes to them.

You criticize others for an “us versus them” or “those who are not with us are against us” mindset, yet are guilty of the same thing.

Exaggerated emotional response. Let me repeat that. Exaggerated emotionalresponse. Emotions displace critical thought. Responses from a cultist are based on emotion regarding the cult and most often include only emotion.

Summary. As you can see, people are literally turning political campaigns, parties, candidates into actual religious cults. It is too soon to even adopt a specific candidate when the primaries are over a year away, national election a full 21 months away, barely under two years!!

We already have the longest election cycle of any country on earth. That would be fine if that time were used to announce and examine policies so voters were more informed. Instead, that time is used for personal attacks by candidates and supporters. We don’t choose who is the best candidate, we choose who is the most popular. Which means some high school elections are more valid and fact-based than our official elections.

We cannot keep doing this as a nation. At ground level, this is what is destroying us as a country. If you see cult thinking in yourself, it’s okay if the statement offends you at first, that’s understandable. It’s what you do after that which matters. Watch for cult thinking in yourself and be brave enough to call it out in others when you see it. It’s difficult but necessary. If you have ever been a teacher, a leader, a manager or a parent, you know that correcting harmful behavior is unavoidable. Don’t try to be popular, don’t try to be in the “right group”. Be informed. Discuss issues and policies objectively. That is how we plan for a future.

Final note and reference. If you truly doubt my assessment above, which was written from my own knowledge of cults, then read this from an expert on cults and a former cult member. Then assess again. If you still doubt, do a web search on cult characteristics. If you find something which contradicts what I have to say, I’d be happy to hear it. http://cultresearch.org/help/characteristics-associated-with-cults/

Bern Your Progressive Card

This week Bernie Sanders announced his 2020 campaign run for president. Of course, millions of people jumped enthusiastically on board with no pause or consideration.

There is no way at this point that I can support Bernie. I know my views will be immensely unpopular but they are based on objective observation and rational thinking. I cannot base my political views or the future of this country and the planet on mere emotional response.

I give Bernie credit for his 2016 campaign and what it achieved for us. His campaign made Socialism an acceptable word for millions, after decades of indoctrination which made the word unspeakable in public. While the original ACA had suggested but never lived up to the promise of universal healthcare, Bernie’s campaign made it a dominating narrative which remains intact. He brought millions of us together who had felt isolated in our views. His campaign was the major impetus for the rise of independent media as a force to be reckoned with. New voices are being heard which would have been nearly silent otherwise.

However, it is time to move on from 2016 and face the current reality. This is a list of criticisms which cannot be denied as that reality.

Cult mindset. Of course, in true cult fashion they have since attacked anyone that does not fully support Bernie without question and if they cannot convert you, they unfriend you, block you, disown you, whatever. It doesn’t matter at all how progressive your views are, to them you are not a real Progressive unless you join the cult.

Is this sounding familiar? Is this sounding an awful lot like the Hillary campaign in 2016? Are they going to start telling us, “We don’t need you”?

Or how about, “Third parties can’t win”? That makes sense. Bernie is once again running under the DNC banner. Never mind that he is allegedly Independent. Never mind many of his claimed followers have been saying for over 2 years that we should not trust the DNC.

Donate to the DNC! Not only that but if you donate to Bernie, that donation will go through ActBlue, which is the fundraising entity of the DNC, so a percentage of each donation goes directly to the DNC and their authorized candidates. So if you give to Bernie, you are donating to Kamala Harris, Warren and maybe Biden. Have fun with that. BTW, that arrangement also means if you donate directly to his campaign and bypass ActBlue, Bernie is mandated to still pay the same percentage to the DNC. They’ve been at this a lot longer than you have and know every trick to look for.

Russiagate is being used against Bernie once again. However, that does not stop Bernie himself from pushing the Russiagate narrative still. I am making a prediction right here and now. Bernie pushing Russiagate will lose him more votes than it gains. He has pushed Russiagate to the point that he has accused his own 2016 followers of being Russian trolls or being brainwashed by Russian propaganda if they so much as questioned Hillary’s dedication to a Progressive agenda.

Danger. Russiagate comes with a long list of dangers inherent to it. Aside from the obvious risk of hot war with Russia, there is censorship. Russiagate has already been used as a rationale for corporate media to censor Progressive media. Over 600 Progressive pages were removed from Facebook and Twitter a few months ago, citing “Russia” as a rationale. Just recently, we saw In The Now blocked from Facebook and YouTube because they get part of their funding from RT.

The worst part of this is that, if Bernie does not back down from pushing Russiagate immediately, he will not be able to do so later. The fact that he has continued pushing it means he is complicit in the corporate silencing of Progressive media. The same media that hailed him in 2016 while corporate media conducted a complete blackout of his campaign unless to attack him. In other words, he has absolutely turned his back on the people who brought him to popularity and has fully embraced the Establishment narrative and corporate visibility.

At no time has Bernie broken with the Establishment narrative to suggest diplomacy with Russia and decrease tensions.

Julian Assange. The fact is, you cannot support both Bernie and Julian Assange. They are diametrically opposed. Bernie pushes Russiagate, which implicates Assange. Bernie has remained as silent on Assange as he has about election fraud in 2016. Which makes him complicit in the attacks on Assange. 

Loyalty. Some claim that in 2016 he kept a commitment. A candidate’s commitment should be to the people that supported him, that donated their money, time and effort to promote him. So yes, he kept his commitment, or rather revealed where his commitment truly resides. With the Establishment he claims to oppose.

Bernie lost no pay or benefits. Something should be noted here. Bernie never lost his job, his income or his health insurance as a result of the 2016 election. Over 7 million have lost health insurance in 2 years. Hundreds of thousands have lost jobs and/or been forced to take even lower wages than they were earning even in 2016.

Sanctions. Bernie has openly promoted sanctions on numerous occasions. I have detailed on numerous occasions that sanctions kill. Sanctions are acts of war. More so when not approved by the UNSC. Not only that but sanctions impact industries and economies of our allies. They decrease trade in those allied countries. They cause dissent with those allies which will only grow worse as long as we continue imposing unilateral sanctions on other countries. Bernie has not suggested even lifting sanctions which do not have UNSC approval, he has supported unilaterally imposed sanctions by the US Empire.

Drones. Bernie has publicly supported US drone strikes in other countries. While drone strikes reduce the physical risk to US personnel, they still cause massive loss of innocent lives and PTSD for drone pilots. Not to mention the fact that the average cost of a missile launched from a drone is $80,000, which does not include the cost of the drone, itself.

Independent media. I mentioned above that his 2016 campaign was a major impetus for the rise of independent media. However, it was not the only thing which drove that rise. Independent media was already in existence and increasing in popularity before 2016. His campaign accelerated that rise and drove the motivation for new voices, including my own to a point. On the other hand, he has not exactly been a staunch supporter on social media. Jimmy Dore is a very strong public fan of Bernie’s who has invited Bernie on his show numerous times. Bernie has not only not accepted the offer but last I heard had not even responded to the invitation. RT was the only major broadcast channel to cover his 2016 campaign yet Bernie did not accept invitations to appear on RT, either. Some shows such as TYT claim to be Progressive but are actually known neoliberal sources that support the DNC blindly and spout Russiagate as frequently as Rachel Maddow. If he appeared on those shows and not Jimmy Dore or Thom Hartmann, that says a lot in and of itself. Though Thom endorsed Hillary, which should not be forgotten.

It is not 2020. I’ve pointed this out before and do so again. It is not 2020 yet. 2020 is still 10 months away. To fervently adopt a candidate with no room allowed for questioning is not making an informed choice. It is an emotional fixation, nothing more. Too many people are turning this into nothing short of a religion. There is little or no objective, rational thinking involved in such a decision.

So, I expect a lot of hate messages over this. Do your worst. It’s really nothing I have not suffered through by Hillary or Trump supporters. You can try and tell yourself you’re different but when you support one candidate without waiting for debates, not waiting for policies to be laid out, remain blind to the dangers and even accept those dangers willingly, you are no different at all. Look in the mirror and accept that. You have become the very thing you once raged against.

Facebook Blocks “In The Now”

Facebook has blocked In The Now, a popular Progressive YouTube channel which many people in my own feed had shared videos from.

As of this writing, it appears that YouTube has also blocked the channel. The main page states, “This channel has no content”.

Funding is the only rationale. The reason for the channel being blocked is that it was partially funded by RT. That’s it. No other reason. In the reports on MSM about the channel being blocked, in no place do they mention anything about the content on the channel. That is because the rationale has nothing to do with the content. The sole rationale is who funds the channel.

Subject matters. The content on In The Now focused primarily on such subjects as anti-war, anti-regime change messaging, anti-racism, environmental protection and the Yellow Vest Movement, meant to be attractive to younger viewers and Millennials, though their content was popular with many Progressives, garnering over 2.5 billion views and over 2 million regular subscribers. So if the name of the channel is familiar, it’s because you have probably personally seen some of their content.

Compare. Now, try going on FB and YT and searching for content from any corporate MSM source. Not a single one of them is blocked. Do we hear questioning or objections to their bias or agenda while they accept funding from military contractors and oil companies? Do they divulge that bias? Their bias has been proven time and again for decades.

Not just social media. It is not only social media conducting censorship. Google and Yahoo conduct their own censorship in the form of altering algorithms to push any Progressive content far back in the rankings, even if certain Progressive sites have far more traffic than their detractors. If you search for information regarding In The Now this moment, the only things you will find several pages deep are articles and videos which proclaim In The Now and RT as “Russian propaganda”, rather than a news channel. None will mention the content of the channel in a positive way. The corporate media literally tries to make environmentalism and anti-war content sound like a negative and some form of anti-American propaganda.

This is fascism. Some people think it is okay to allow censorship to occur when it is done by a corporation. When corporations own the media, when corporations have conspired with the government, when corporations own the means of communications, then corporate censorship is government censorship.

Question yourself. Americans seriously need to ask themselves why it takes Russian funded media sources to openly discuss Progressive ideas and ideals. Ask themselves why there are no anti-war voices allowed on MSM unless they are being attacked and called unpatriotic. Why is war patriotic? (I ask this as a veteran from a long, long, long string of veterans.) Why is censorship patriotic? Why is environmentalism anti-patriotic?

Funding sources have nothing to do with it. Anti-war voices have been silenced by our media for as long as I can remember. Chris Hedges was fired from the NYT for opposing the Iraq invasion. Phil Donohue was fired from MSNBC for giving a platform to anti-war voices. Jesse Ventura had a contract for a show canceled on MSNBC and was bound by a gag order for years for opposing Iraq. In recent months, FB and Twitter have conspired to simultaneously block numerous voices, mostly anti-war. Such as the Ron Paul Liberty Report and Antiwar.com.

It does not stop with anti-war voices. Other voices have also been censored. Police The Police, which reported on domestic police abuse of power, was removed by FB. FB and Twitter have repeatedly blocked certain voices while MSM attempts to discredit Progressives as being “Russian trolls”, anti-patriotic, etc. Such lucid voices as Julian Assange, Caity Johnstone, Glen Greenwald, Chris Hedges, Jimmy Dore and anyone else who refuses to support the warmonger, corporate supremacist oligarchy.

We have no heroes. My voice has not yet been censored that I know of. That is only because I have not yet gained enough of an audience. For now, that may be best. It is up to us, the general populace, to share our message, either by using our own words or copying and pasting the words of others who oppose war and corporate rule. To raise our voices loud against censorship, against imperialist warmongering, against the US becoming a feudal state under martial law, which is what we are fast approaching.

I have written these words many times before and will repeat them:

We have no heroes. We are our own heroes. It is time to start acting like it. We cannot wait any longer.

The Real Emergency

Trump has declared a national emergency to build his wall. This after the amount he wanted to fund the wall was not approved by CONgress. I have already covered why the wall and the whole illegal immigration issue is a farce in several other articles, so not bothering with it here.

Yes, I know right wing racists who know absolutely nothing on the subject except what they’ve heard on Faux Nooz et al will respond with more racism. They sometimes try to disguise it in some other way but always fail. Go ahead. I block racists. You’re not worth my time.

We definitely have a national emergency which has existed for some years and has reached critical mass. That emergency has no connection to immigration or a wall. Many people will say we have many emergencies and they would be correct. However, there is one emergency at the root of nearly all of the others. The corporate control of our government.

Corporate control of our government is at the root of the cost of healthcare, denial of insurance to those with existing conditions, every war we are involved in, regime change, low wages, cost of education, the student loan disease, cost of rent, largely responsible for the homeless rate, the federal debt, poisoning of our environment and the way our elections are run.

Corporate control is also responsible for our ever weakening education system, leaving us behind most of the developed world. This is by design, to keep the populace dumbed down to the degree that they have no understanding of what is happening. In addition to no capability for critical thought to independently analyze what is going on in front of their own eyes. What education we do have is more indoctrination than education. Propagating children all the way into early adulthood to be a part of the same system which oppresses them and continue it.

Corporate control is media control. Media control is mind control for those incapable of questioning the narrative. Millions of Americans rely on corporate media to literally tell them what to think on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter which side of the major party divide you occupy, the same corporations are controlling the words you hear and read every day.

Now they are trying to control what you hear and read in alternative media.

We’re told that we cannot afford healthcare for all Americans. Yet we can afford 121 bombs a day at an average $80,000 each. We can afford missiles that cost millions each while not reaching their targets 70% of the time. While corporate media tells you how accurate those weapons are. We cannot afford better public education but we can afford to pay private corporations to educate our children. We cannot afford to provide clean water to citizens of Flint (among other places) but we can afford to give Israel nearly $4 billion a year. We cannot fix our infrastructure but we can give a total of nearly $90 billion a year, every year to other countries.

Our corporate media does not explain the petrodollar system, which involves the US selling oil to other countries while buying oil from different countries while propping up the value of the dollar using transactions that have nothing to do with us. They do not explain how that system is failing.

Our corporate media does not explain how the stock market is a house of cards which has contributed more than nearly anything else to the national debt. This in a cycle which has been doomed to collapse for years and that collapse is imminent and virtually imperative. In any case, it is completely unavoidable at this point.

Our corporate media does not explain that the wars we are engaged in are both a diversion from all the above and an attempt to keep the same system going.

Our corporate media does not explain that even if that continuation were successful, it will still result in the ruination of this country.

Our corporate media does not explain that we cannot afford to fight any more wars. That we are so far in debt that even the central banks will not finance the next war. They don’t need to, even for their own profit because we already owe more than we make as a nation. Why do central banks finance wars? So the country waging wars and the country being attacked will be indebted to the IMF and World Banks. However, the US already owes more debt than we make as a nation.

Corporate media does not explain that China has surpassed us as the leading consumer market in addition to being the world leading manufacturing country and the world leading oil importer. Buying that oil in yuan, notdollars.

Corporate media does not explain that China stopped buying US oil months ago. In any currency.

Corporate media does not explain that they only tell you what their advertisers want you to hear. Oil companies, drug companies, military contractors, WAR Street investment firms, banks, AIPAC, vehicle manufacturers, fast food chains, cosmetic companies..

This is our real emergency. There is no crisis at our border other than the same crises we are all facing. This is the crisis which will bring this country to its knees to a degree that it will not recover in our lifetime or our children’s lifetimes. Not as long as we refuse to see through the fog to the truth. Not until we stop allowing the ongoing corporate control of our country and by extension the planet. Though little by little, the rest of the planet is deciding they no longer want to play our game.

No, Capitalism Does Not Create Opportunity Or Drive Innovation

One of the most-oft claims of capitalists is that capitalism creates opportunities and drives innovation. This is an absolutely false statement driven by desperation or willful ignorance. Indeed, the opposite is often true.

Have you ever watched children play? Seen how their imaginations work? Children can be truly innovative. The point of education is supposed to be to guide that curiosity, that innovation using valid information which they can use through their lives, rather than “reinventing the wheel”. Learn what is already known and progress from there.

The history of mankind is a history of innovation. From first learning how to use tools to the wheel to building structures on up to electricity and computers and space flight. Let’s note right here that the first country to fly in space was not a capitalist country, it was a Communist country, the USSR.

Know any geeks and/or inventors? Inventors invent because that is their nature. Most begin as curious children who take things apart to learn how those things work. They just never get over it. It is a part of themselves they cannot deny. Yes, of course they have high hopes of creating something which will make them rich. Yet ask most of them and why do they want to get rich? Usually so they can build the workshop of their dreams and keep inventing with no monetary restraint.

All inventors and artists and writers hope to make money from their creations. For many, not because they want fame or actual fortune. Just so they don’t have to have money as a concern to limit their creativity.

Yes, I include myself in this. Of course I hope my writing takes off and becomes wildly popular. Even so I get wealthy. Of course, I would be the first to find and laugh at the irony if that happened. In my case, it isn’t likely to occur. I’m already on the radar of capitalists attempting to invalidate my work and oppress my efforts. Why do I have these hopes? First of all, I have the same concerns as everyone else. Financial security. In my own case, also so I could stop working my regular job and spend more time researching and writing. Would it be good for my self esteem? Definitely. However, it should be noted that my writing focuses on things far beyond personal accumulation or ego and that is not going to change. Yet because of the nature of my writing, it is unlikely to be published or accepted by corporate interests unless I already have gained enough of a following that I pose a profit to the capitalists. That is where the irony I mentioned comes in. Until that point, my ideas pose a threat which is easily suppressed. The subjects I and other Progressives cover are a threat to them and the capitalist system.

The history of capitalism in this country is littered with the oppression of ideas which posed a threat to the powerful and wealthy. Look at the history of Nikola Tesla versus Edison. Wind and solar energy development. Fuel efficient vehicles. Watch the documentary, “Who Killed The Electric Car?”

In many cities across the US, there were once electric streetcars. Over time, those were removed and replaced with gas and diesel burning buses. Yet electric streetcars and subways are still popular in Europe. They are efficient and less polluting than our buses. Why were they eliminated here? Why do we not have them now in more cities? Why are we the only industrialized nation to not have high speed rail systems? It’s because these things are suppressed by certain corporate interests. Car companies, oil companies, airlines. All of whom stand to lose large sums of money by the use of efficient public transportation. The lack of efficient public transportation also helps maintain the separation between affluent and poverty-stricken areas in place. When the poor have to spend huge portions of their lives or large sums of money simply getting from one place to another, they have no energy or time remaining to engage in public activism or even self improvement by anything more than basic educational needs. Which the corporations own, manipulate and use for indoctrination.

There have been legends of various inventions which have been suppressed over decades. Like a carburetor that allowed vehicles to be far more fuel efficient. That one is slightly dubious but an example. We can have no doubt that inventions which stand to limit the profits of certain corporations or industries have been suppressed, even to the point of murder. Look at the actions of our military contractors and the oil industry. They are willing to kill millions in other countries for profits. With the blessing and assistance of the highest members of our government. The same holds true for drug companies. How many medications have been approved and later removed from the market because of the harm they caused, including lives lost? If corporate and government entities are willing to do or allow things like that, why would you believe they would have qualms with taking one or a few American lives to maintain that much money and power?

How many aspiring inventors and innovators have been suppressed just by the system we have in place? Just by virtue of having to work full time jobs, pay so much for insurance, mortgage, student loans and transportation that they have too little left to invest in developing ideas and projects? How many young people who could be great innovative minds are held back by the cost of adult education and/or helping pay for medications for their parents or even their own medications? Then ask why so many young people are on antidepressants. Meaning more hours worked and more money spent for that medication.

There is no way I am suggesting that any system is without flaw. No socioeconomic system will allow every member of a society to have everything they need or want all the time. This is really a discussion of implementing a system which provides basic needs for all members of a society and interconnected systems which are most beneficial to the members of our society, creating a more level playing field.

There is nothing level in a playing field in which the rights to innovations along with the profits from those innovations consistently belong to those at the top. Where those who invent are merely subjects to the owners of capital, forced to sign away the rights to their creations and discoveries or incur crushing debt and be destroyed by lawsuits brought by oligarchs. That is not a system that creates opportunity or drives innovation.