Donald Trump’s grotesque fraud

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When Donald Trump set up Trump University, he promised to share his “secrets of success.” He said he would tell people how they could “just copy exactly what I’ve done and get rich.” It was a fraud. Now, courtesy of the New York Times, we know for certain it could never be anything but a fraud. The only knowledge Trump can impart to anyone about wealth is an unteachable skill: have rich parents.

As the Times’s investigation revealed, Trump’s success depended on massive transfers of family wealth from his father, real estate developer Fred Trump. Ultimately, Fred Trump gave hundreds of millions of dollars to his children, a staggering amount turbocharged, as the Times reported in extensive detail, reportedly by fraud. By age 3, the Times reports, the young Donald Trump received an income that was the equivalent of $200,000 in today’s dollars from his dad. He was a millionaire before finishing elementary school. The largesse continued into adulthood. He even paid for the adult Donald’s car, and Manhattan offices — the same ones where the future president gave interviews claiming business genius.

The story Trump told on the campaign trail, about how he received only a “small” $1 million loan from his dad to build his business — and one Fred Trump made him pay back. “It has not been easy for me,” he whined. Garbage. The Times reports that the senior Trump loaned his son $60.7 million at a minimum, most of which was never repaid.

So why the pretense? Well, Americans love the myth of the self-made man. A foundational belief in our culture is that anyone can become a millionaire — or even better, a billionaire — with just the right amount of hard work, gumption and smarts. There is an idea that the person who goes out and makes himself — and it is almost always a man — a fortune is somehow a more skilled and smarter human being, capable of using his skill in one industry to master another.

Americans love this myth despite evidence that it is widely exaggerated. The United States has less class mobility than many European nations, but Americans think we enjoy more. In the United States, the quickest and easiest way to make it to the 1 percent of wealth holders and remain in that world is to be born into it.

One reason we might love this myth as much as we do: It allows us to avoid hard discussions about the reality of class in the United States. All too many Americans, the beneficiaries of what I like to call the upper-middle-class welfare state, can convince themselves that they are uniquely deserving. When Jessica Wiederspan, now a researcher studying basic income with Y Combinator, interviewed working- and middle-class families in Rust Belt states, she found many in absolute denial about what their financial backers accomplished for them. One woman, the recipient of family aid that permitted her everything from a nice home (with a mortgage in her mother-in-law’s name) to soccer lessons and summer camp for her children, told the researcher she believed the vast majority of people who did well in the United States, “are people who are willing to work for what they want.” As for the others, she sniffed, “they expect handouts to get from here to here.”

In fact, as both Wiederspan’s research and the Times story shows, it is frequently the rich and well-to-d0 who seek handouts without copping to it. It is the Trump administration that signed into law a tax-reform package that gave the typical worker a tiny and time-limited tax cut, while showering the wealthiest with a massive and permanent cut. It is the Trump administration that is seeking to make staggering cuts in social safety-net programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps, which is the only help available for people who hit a rough patch or are mired in poverty. At the same time, it is the Trump family — and no doubt many other families — who seek to skip out on paying taxes, money that can be used to help those who lack their financial advantages. That too many Americans tacitly accept this reality allows frauds such as Trump to flourish.

By Helaine Olen/WAPO

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Peter Schiff: The Latest Jobs Report Was Anything But Strong

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The August jobs report came out last Friday. Mike Maharrey offered a little bit of analysis during the Friday Gold Wrap podcast, saying he was skeptical that the actual employment situation is as great as the mainstream seems to think. Peter Schiff offered a more in-depth breakdown of the employment report in his latest podcast, saying it was “anything but strong.”

The headline number was the 201,000 jobs employers added last month. That came in above expectations, and as Peter noted, people tend to get excited when the number pushes north of 200K.

“For an economy the size of the United States, this is really not a lot of jobs, even if we were creating 200,000 jobs a month.”

Peter said that lost in all the breathless reporting about that August number was the fact that the labor department revised the previous two months downward. It came to a net loss of 50,000 jobs. Analysts took 10,000 jobs away from the July number and 40,000 off the June estimate.

“So, it was a weaker report than probably what everybody was looking for, yet it was spun positive by the media because the current month was better than estimates.”

And when you look at the types of jobs the economy is generating, the picture becomes even less impressive. Not only did the labor department revise down the number of manufacturing jobs created in July, the economy actually lost manufacturing jobs in August, according to the report.

“So, we actually fired people in the month of August from manufacturing. So much for the manufacturing revolution. So much for how the tariffs are working and we’re bringing our jobs back and American manufacturers are bringing back the jobs. Three thousand pink slips sent out in the month of August. So, this is bad news. If you’re trying to hang your hat on the revival of American industry, of American manufacturing, we lost 3,000 jobs.”

Peter also looked at the labor participation rate. It was at 62.9 in July and had been ticking up. People in the Trump administration were even saying, “See, people are coming in off the sidelines.” Well, in the latest report, labor force participation came in at 62.7. The payroll-to-population ratio also dropped from 60.5 to 60.3.

This means fewer people are in the workforce. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.9%, but more people simply dropped out of the labor force.

“So, had people not left the labor force then the unemployment rate might have gone up, because maybe some of the people who left the labor force, well, now they’re no longer looking for jobs because they’re no longer part of the labor force. And so if you’re not in the labor force, you can’t be unemployed even though you’re not working.”

The gain in average hourly earnings got the most attention from the mainstream. It came in at 0.4 – higher than expected. The year-over-year number also came in higher than expected at 2.9%.

“Is a 2.9% year-over-year gain in wages really indicative of a strong economy, or is it indicative of inflation? See, I think it’s the latter. I think it’s inflation that is the reason wages are going up. Remember, wages are prices. They’re the price that you pay to hire labor. So, the price of labor is wages… The price of goods and the price of labor are both affected by inflation. So, because we have all this inflation, prices are rising. They’re rising for goods and they’re rising for labor.”

Peter noted the CPI is currently at 2.9%, exactly the same as the growth in hourly wages. And he said he thinks the real cost of living is rising far faster than 2.9%.

“If all you’ve done with your increased wages is keep pace with higher prices, there’s nothing to brag about.”

Peter went on to talk about how the markets reacted to the jobs report. Of course, it continued to buoy expectations that the Fed will keep pushing forward with interest rate hikes. That made Peter wonder what investors are smoking. You’ll want to listen to the rest of the podcast to get his breakdown of what all of this really means for the markets. One thing he pointed out is that people should be buying gold.

“Gold is an inflation hedge! It’s the absence of inflation that might be bad for gold. As inflation rears its ugly head, that makes gold look prettier and prettier. So, people should be buying gold when the inflation numbers are higher. Now, eventually, they will, once people realize no matter how hot the inflation fire burns, the Fed’s not going to put it out.”

By SchiffGold

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Abolish the Supreme Court

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Supreme Court without Anthony KennedySupreme Court without Anthony Kennedy (Photo: Screen capture

The Supreme Court as we know it is an abomination, and this is a rare issue on which Americans from across the ideological spectrum should agree.

Whether you believe that liberal, robed tyrants have jammed gay rights and abortion and all manner of social ills down the throats of the American people, or you’re outraged by this conservative Court purposefully killing campaign finance laws and gutting the Voting Rights Act, the fact that five unelected individuals with lifetime gigs that insulate them from both popular and elite opinion can veto democratically enacted legislation should be intolerable.

But the problem with this creaky, increasingly illegitimate institution goes far deeper than that, as the farcical confirmation process we’re living through with Brett Kavanaugh illustrates quite clearly. What really distorts the purpose and fairness of the Court is that it’s become ever more explicitly partisan.

As historian Jill Lepore wrote for The New York Times this week, the Constitution “was understood by its framers as a machine, a precisely constructed instrument whose measures — its separation of powers, its checks and balances — were mechanical devices, as intricate as the gears of a clock, designed to thwart tyrants, mobs and demagogues, and to prevent the forming of factions.”

“Factions,” as they were known in the 18th century, are called political parties today. We have two branches of government — Congress and the presidency — that are inherently political and unavoidably partisan. In theory, the judicial branch should be a neutral arbiter of the disputes that arise between the federal government and the states, and among the co-equal branches of government. These disputes should be adjudicated by the best, most nimble legal minds in the country rather than by justices whose judicial opinions are easily predicted by their ideological and partisan leanings.

If the system were working as designed, Brett Kavanaugh would not be a nominee. Before he lied to Congress, and years before Christine Blasey Ford came forward to allege that he attempted to rape her in the 1980s, Kavanaugh was, as Mike Tomasky wrote for The Daily Beast, “a certain kind of lawyer. He was a very political, partisan, and ideological lawyer. He was, in fact, a political operative with a J.D. degree.” As an example, Tomasky details how Kavanaugh, when he was working for Ken Starr, “spent time and taxpayer dollars engaging in political vendettas and chasing down conspiracy theories.” Peddling nonsense about Hillary Clinton having had an affair with Vince Foster, a White House aide who committed suicide and then became an object of fascination within the fever swamps of the right, should be disqualifying for such a powerful and exalted intellectual position.

We’re now suffering through Potemkin hearings in which Senators act as if everyone doesn’t know exactly how Justice Kavanaugh would rule on the issues of the day. Back in July, Charlie Savage reported for The New York Times that Kavanaugh “spent the past dozen years embracing the philosophy of the conservative legal movement as he assembled a record on the powerful federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit… on issues as diverse as abortion and gun rights to disputes over national-security policies and business regulations, Judge Kavanaugh emphasized textual limitations while frequently favoring corporations over regulators, and the government over individuals claiming rights violations.”

While a polarized, insulated Court should be intolerable for people on both the right and the left, it’s especially problematic for progressives. Republicans have lost the popular vote for president in six of the past seven contests. They know they face demographic headwinds with an increasingly diverse electorate, and as a result, they’ve put an almost manic emphasis on controlling the Court. Conservative legal groups have spent tens of millions of dollars shaping the federal judiciary; Mitch McConnell held Antonin Scalia’s seat open for over a year to keep Barack Obama from appointing a successor.

Some on the left have urged Democrats to respond to that egregious theft by packing the courts if and when they regain power. The Constitution allows it, but doing so risks an endless tit-for-tat scenario, with Republicans responding in kind whenever the pendulum swings back their way.

Term limits are probably the most frequently discussed reform for the Court. But while killing lifetime appointments is necessary, it’s also insufficient. If Justices served for, say, 10-year terms, it would lower the stakes somewhat, and perhaps usher in some comity in the process, but it wouldn’t get to the core issue of selecting justices for their ideological commitment rather than the quality of their jurisprudence or legal scholarship. (Term limits are also Constitutionally questionable, although there are potential work-arounds for that issue.)

The time has come to seriously consider the possibility of scrapping the Supreme Court as we know it, and replacing it with a different structure entirely. As those who advocate packing the courts point out, the Constitution doesn’t spell out how many justices sit on the bench. Why not create a Court with, say, 30 of the top legal thinkers in the country, from which nine or 11 or whatever number are randomly drawn to hear each case? That would diminish the power of each individual on the court, and make different groups of justices with a wider range of experience engage one another’s arguments. And we should have them serve staggered, eight- or ten-year terms, so there’s a constant flow of fresh blood and fresh thinking to the Court, and a president can’t luck into reshaping the judiciary for decades to come just because he or she happens to be in office when a couple of Justices die or can no longer soldier on.

Just as importantly, we need to take the selection process out of the hands of the major parties. The Constitution says the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint” justices to the highest court, and that vague division of power leaves a lot of room for innovation. We might create a large, bipartisan Senate panel made up of top legal experts – law profs, retired judges – to screen potential nominees for the quality of their scholarship and past decisions, while weeding out mediocre or unoriginal thinkers and ideological hacks, and then have the president pick judges from the cream of the crop.

In any event, we should not view the anti-democratic arrangement we have now as natural or beneficial just because it’s been with us for hundreds of years. The election of

Trump has called into question all manner of issues that had been considered settled in the United States – from the virtues of capitalism to the benefits of international trade to the value of the unwritten norms that had long been honored on Capitol Hill.

Brett Kavanaugh’s demonstrably partisan background and the circus now surrounding his confirmation illustrate that it’s past time that we take a serious shot at ridding ourselves of this iteration of the Supreme Court and replacing it with a body that fulfills the purpose for which it was originally intended.

By Joshua Holland/RawStory

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Robert Reich: Trump Keeps Telling These 4 Lies About Economy

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Donald Trump is putting out four big whoppers about today’s economy. Here’s what he’s saying, and here’s the truth:
1. “Best job growth ever.” Wrong. Job growth has actually slowed. In the last 19 months of the Obama administration the economy created 3.96 million jobs. In the first 19 months of Trump’s, 3.58 million.
2. “Lowest unemployment rate ever.” Rubbish. The unemployment rate is now down to 3.9 percent. That’s good. But it doesn’t measure how many people are still too discouraged to look for work or are working part time who’d rather be working full time. The labor participation rate (percent of prime working age work who actually have jobs) has been stuck at 88.9 percent for over a year.
And the current 3.9 percent rate is hardly better than ever in history. It was 3.4 percent in 1968 under Johnson, and below 3.9 percent for much of 1951, 1952, and 1953, under Eisenhower.

The practical question is always how low the Fed will allow unemployment to fall before raising rates, for fear of inflation. In 1996, unemployment fell to 4.4 percent, but Fed Chair Alan Greenspan then raised rates. This time around, Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her successor Jerome Powell have been quite accommodating, but Powell is starting to raise rates again.
3. “Fastest economic growth in history.” Wrong again. The economy is now growing at annualized rate of 4.2 percent (that’s for the 2nd quarter). That’s not as good as the 5.1 percent and 4.9 percent achieved in 2 quarters in 2014, or the 4.7 percent in one quarter in 2011. During the Clinton years of 1997-1999, it grew by over 4.5 percent annually. Under Reagan, the recovery averaged 4.4 percent a year. Under Eisenhower, even faster.
4. “Best wages, ever.” Not even close. Today’s hourly wage has less purchasing power than it did over four decades years ago. Adjusted for inflation, the average hourly wage in January 1973 would be $23.68 today. Yet today’s actual average hourly wage is $22.73. And, of course, the lion’s share is going to the top.
Trump is having only one positive impact on the economy: His continuous P.T. Barnum lies about how good it is have improved consumer confidence. Which I suppose is good – until, like the character in the road-runner cartoons, consumers look down and realize there’s nothing under them.

By Robert Reich/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Slaves Rebel

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The only way to end slavery is to stop being a slave. Hundreds of men and women in prisons in some 17 states are refusing to carry out prison labor, conducting hunger strikes or boycotting for-profit commissaries in an effort to abolish the last redoubt of legalized slavery in America. The strikers are demanding to be paid the minimum wage, the right to vote, decent living conditions, educational and vocational training and an end to the death penalty and life imprisonment.

These men and women know that the courts will not help them. They know the politicians, bought by the corporations that make billions in profits from the prison system, will not help them. And they know that the mainstream press, unwilling to offend major advertisers, will ignore them.

But they also know that no prison can function without the forced labor of many among America’s 2.3 million prisoners. Prisoners do nearly all the jobs in the prisons, including laundry, maintenance, cleaning and food preparation. Some prisoners earn as little as a dollar for a full day of work; in states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas, the figure drops to zero.

Corporations, at the same time, exploit a million prisoners who work in prison sweatshops where they staff call centers or make office furniture, shoes or clothing or who run slaughterhouses or fish farms.

If prisoners earned the minimum wage set by federal, state or local laws, the costs of the world’s largest prison system would be unsustainable. The prison population would have to be dramatically reduced. Work stoppages are the only prison reform method that has any chance of success. Demonstrations of public support, especially near prisons where strikes are underway, along with supporting the prisoners who have formed Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, which began the nationwide protest, are vital. Prison authorities seek to mute the voices of these incarcerated protesters. They seek to hide the horrific conditions inside prisons from public view. We must amplify these voices and build a popular movement to end mass incarceration.

Rest of story from Chris Hedges/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

 

Republican Candidates are Paying a Fossil Fuels Conglomerate for Voter Data Mining

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Photo Source DonkeyHotey | CC BY 2.0

Koch Industries is a fossil fuels conglomerate with estimated revenues of more than $100 billion annually and 130,000 employees spread around the globe. It’s one of the largest, private corporations in the world with a history of funding nonprofit front groups and political candidates who are climate change skeptics. Typically, political payments go in one direction from this behemoth: from the Koch Industries Super Pac (KochPac) to Republican political candidates or political committees. Now, quietly, political payments are going in both directions, effectively creating an Orwellian campaign finance model.

Quietly, and without any corporate press release on such an unusual acquisition, Koch Industries has purchased i360, a vast voter database and data harvesting operation. According to i360’s website, it has “1800 unique data points” on 290 million American consumers as well as detailed information on 199 million voters from all 50 states. It brags that its data “shows you everything you need to know including the demographic and psychographic breakdown of your target market.”

The propriety of a multinational industrial conglomerate with an anti-regulatory agenda having a stranglehold on a highly sophisticated voter dating mining platform with unlimited funds to hire Ph.Ds., statisticians and computer scientists trained in artificial intelligence and machine learning, has yet to enter the national discourse.

In the April 1, 2017 issue of the company’s Discovery Newsletter, Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, owned up to owning i360, writing that “Thanks to the acquisitions of Molex, EFT, Infor and i360, we now have better information and systems than we’ve ever had in the history of the company.” Charles Koch declined to answer our emailed request to clarify when Koch Industries purchased i360, but Koch Industries is currently running help-wanted ads for database engineers and data scientists to assist i360 in the 2018 election. According to LinkedIn’s roster of existing i360 employees, Koch Industries already has plenty of highly skilled coders and tech professionals in various geographic locations around the country.

There may be synergies between i360, EFT Analytics and Infor. The website for EFT Analytics states that it “combines powerful advanced analytics software with your experienced process engineers” while allowing you to be “predictive and actionable in real time.” According to Infor’s website, one of its products is Birst, which was built with “patented technologies,” and “puts the power of analytics in the hands of every information worker and dramatically accelerates the process of delivering insights across the enterprise.” A division of Koch Industries invested over $2 billion in Infor in February of 2017. The EFT Analytics acquisition came in 2016. Terms were not disclosed.

From February 13, 2017 through May 22, 2018, the Massachusetts Republican Party paid i360 more than $25,000 for voter data management services. The Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Nevada Republican Central Committee, the Montana Republican State Central Committee and dozens of Republican candidates have paid i360 tens of thousands of dollars for assistance in the 2018 midterm elections. FEC records designate the services paid for as everything from digital and TV placement of ads, to software, to research and phone calls, to voter data modeling, to building campaign web sites.

Senator Chuck Grassley’s principal campaign committee wrote out a check to i360 for $6,269 on January 12, 2017 for “campaign voter data.” Grassley was re-elected to a new 6-year term in 2016 and Chairs the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. That committee conducts confirmation hearings for all Federal judges, including those for the U.S. Supreme Court. It also holds confirmation hearings for the U.S. Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and all U.S. Attorneys throughout the United States.

The largest single disbursement from a political committee to i360 came from Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Super Pac. On June 26, 2018, the Super Pac wrote out a check for $1,520,592 to i360, designating the funds for “media placement-broadcast/cable, digital & survey research.” According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the largest donor during the current election cycle to the Freedom Partners Action Fund is Charles Koch’s Trust, which has donated $3 million. Since 2014, Charles Koch and his trust have given $14 million to the Freedom Partners Super Pac. This raises the question as to whether Charles Koch, a multi-billionaire, is subsidizing the work of i360. Charles Koch, and his brother David, are majority owners of Koch Industries. Forbes puts their net worth at $53.5 billion each as of August 12, 2018.

One person who is suspicious of Charles Koch’s agenda is Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee Chair. Earlier this month Politico published a memo from McDaniel that urged candidates not to use i360 and use the official RNC voter database instead. McDaniel wrote that “some groups who claim to support conservatives forgo their commitment when they decide their business interests are more important than those of the country or Party. This is unacceptable.”

That warning might have more bite if the RNC itself had not assisted in i360’s rise to power. The RNC signed data sharing arrangements with i360 for both the 2014 and 2016 elections. That was, however, when i360 was reported to be part of a tax-exempt group set up by the Koch donor network — the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, now shortened to just Freedom Partners, which is also associated with the Freedom Partners Action Fund, the Super Pac.

The Freedom Partners/Koch network played a major role in the 2016 election and was quick to demand that its agenda be implemented in the Trump administration. In January 2017, it released a formal memorandum of those demands, many of which have now been implemented by the Trump administration, including the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord.

One i360 employee profile listed at LinkedIn suggests that Koch Industries plans to innovate further in the field of data and information management. A Senior Data Analyst employed at i360, Carter Fawson, says he is simultaneously working at a company he founded, Eliot LLC. The demo for Eliot LLC says it uses artificial intelligence to deliver a truthfulness and accuracy score to news articles. The article that the Eliot demo has chosen to critique is a Washington Post article that Eliot did not feel was fair to Charles Koch.

By Pam Martens/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

In the Year of the Pig: The Real Vietnam War Heroes

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John McCain’s death triggered mass media regurgitations of Vietnam-era imperial racism and just plain idiocy, but also reminded us of those who risked everything to stop the war.

“There’s no doubt that the pig in the film is the US in Vietnam.”

I’ll be glad if I never hear John McCain’s name again, but his death made me look back and try once more to understand the US War with the Vietnamese People’s Army, whose anti-aircraft gunners shot him out of the sky during his 23 bombing raids over North Vietnam. On the “KPFA Radio “Sunday Sho w ,” Kevin Alexander Gray said, “The national mourning for John McCain is almost a referendum or a recasting of the Vietnam War, where every soldier is a hero even though they were fighting in wars they had no business fighting in. Everybody’s a hero.”

I don’t think “everybody’s a hero,” least of all the son of Admiral John S. McCain, Sr., but I hugely admire the soldiers who ended the Vietnam War by refusing to fight and even fragging—shooting or throwing grenades at the commanders urging them on. The antiwar movement at home supported those heroes, but they were the ones who made it impossible to continue the war. They told their story in the documentary film Sir, No Sir .

“I hugely admire the soldiers who ended the Vietnam War by refusing to fight and even fragging—shooting or throwing grenades at their commanders.”

I felt for the wounded foot soldiers writhing in agony in the final moments of Emile de Antonio’s brilliant Vietnam War documentary In the Year of the Pig,and I felt angry at the politicians and anti-communist ruling class who sent them off to suffer and die. I hadn’t watched In the Year of the Pigfor nearly 20 years, but it’s one of the most profound films I’ve seen about the USA’s Vietnam War, so I watched it again, and I recommend it to anyone reading this. Emile de Antonio doesn’t narrate the film; it’s simply his composition of documentary footage. It’s also one of the few documentaries made while the war was still going on.

In the Year of the Pigwas released in 1968, though the 20thCentury “Years of the Pig” in the Zodiac Calendar were 1935, 1959, 1971, 1983, and 1995, so there’s no doubt that the pig in the film is the US in Vietnam.

Most of the footage exposes the presidents, military officers and congressmen—and they were all men—who championed the war until the foot soldiers refused to fight. Its other subjects are the Vietnamese they knew next to nothing about.

Whether we like Ho Chi Minh or not, he is indeed considered by many as the George Washington of his country.”

Articulate opponents of the war also appear—an Oregon senator, Father Daniel Berrigan, a University of Missouri college professor of Southeast Asian Studies, and a few more. The most remarkable, to my mind, is Senator Thruston Ballard Morton, a Republican from Kentucky whom I’d never heard of before. His first words in the film, spoken with a southern drawl, are:

Now, the thing that I think we fail to recognize is that Ho Chi Minh, communist or what not, is considered by the people of Vietnam, and I’m speaking now of millions in South Vietnam, as the George Washington of his country. He’s the man that they think threw off the French, the colonialists. Just as we had our 1776, they had theirs in the 1940s. He also led an underground movement against the Japanese who had occupied Vietnam and the whole Indochina Peninsula during World War II.

And whether we like him or not, whether we like the particular economic system or social system that he might develop or not, we must remember that he is indeed considered by many—the peasants, the small people, the little people in South Vietnam and North Vietnam—as the George Washington of his country.”

From one empire to another

The film includes footage of British Major General Douglas Gracy sent to oversee the Japanese surrender in French Indochina south of the 16thparallel. When he went to Saigon, he realized that the French lacked the means to recapture it, so he transferred all the weaponry taken from the Japanese to the French. This enabled them to remain and fight the First Indochina War that ended in French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

In mid-60s footage of President Lyndon Johnson, he says, “Every day someone jumps up and shouts and says, ‘Tell us what is happening in Vietnam, and why are we in Vietnam, and how did you get us into Vietnam?’ Well, I didn’t get you into Vietnam. You’ve been in Vietnam 10 years [since the French defeat].”

“Those who run the war machine know that they can’t reinstitute the draft or put American troops on the ground without backlash at home, so they fight drone wars and proxy wars.”

More footage is full of the bloodlust, racism, jingoism, ignorance, and imperial arrogance behind the Vietnam War. It had me asking myself what has changed, and I had to conclude not much, not the imperial essentials. The weaponry is more deadly, the racism less overt, and the press far more obedient.

Most significantly, those who run the war machine know that they can’t reinstitute the draft or put American troops on the ground without backlash at home, so they fight drone wars and proxy wars—including jihadist wars—with the help of US equipment, financing, and Special Forces.

The US elites who were so intent on destroying the will of the Vietnamese seemed to have no idea who they were. Again, Senator Thruston Bundy was a rare exception:

We’ve put about three million of ‘em into what I would call a concentration camp. They call it a refugee center. It’s got barbed wire around it. You can’t get out of it. We’ve taken these people from the graves of their ancestors, from their rice paddies. And we say, ‘Oh well, we’ve pacified X million people.’ Yeah, we pacified some more people by puttin’ em in these camps.”

The greatest Vietnam War heroes

The greatest Vietnam War heroes were of course the Vietnamese people and their leader Ho Chi Minh—Uncle Ho—the lifelong nationalist, anti-colonialist, and communist who wore cheap cotton clothing and lived in humble circumstances as they did. The North Vietnamese told Western visitors that the revolution meant they finally had enough to eat despite the empire’s best efforts to destroy them.

They were armed, men and women, in cities and in the countryside. Many of those handling the anti-aircraft weapons used to shoot down John McCain’s plane were women. The revolutionary government had consciously armed them so well that they could have taken it down in a day. That, they said, was the greatest testament to their belief that the government spoke for them.

By Emile de Antonio’s In the Year of the Pigis available in its entirety on the Internet Archive . Film/BlackAgendaReport

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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