TBR News March 30, 2016

Mar 30 2016

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., March 30, 2016: “Two significant allies of the Unites States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, are now being distanced and will eventually be discarded. The Saudis are running out of oil and are known to be funding IS, fellow Sunni Moslems.

The Turks are considered to be an unreliable ally and now that they have crossed Putin, are being punished with Russian sanctions. The US is notorious for abandoning allies when they become too contentious or lost their economic usefulness. It is known that the Israeli Embassy is under tight surveillance and now we learn that both the Turks and the Saudis are also watched carefully. The Russians are supporting the Kurds and anti-Sauds and there is little Washington can do to prevent the collapse of these entities.”


Conversations with the Crow

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal , Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment. Three months before, July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.           After Corson’s death, Trento and his Washington lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever

After Crowley’s death and Trento’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas. No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.

Douglas had been in close contact with Crowley and had long phone conversations with him. He found this so interesting and informative that he taped and later transcribed them.

These conversations have been published in a book: ‘Conversations with the Crow” and this is an excerpt.



Conversation No. 58

Date: Thursday, January 9, 1997

Commenced: 9:47 AM CST

Concluded: 10:28 AM CST


RTC: Ah, good morning, Gregory. Did you talk to Bill yesterday?

GD: Yes, he actually called me. He was discussing Kronthal with me mostly, but I think he was on a fishing trip. Was asking me about the new Mueller book…what was in it and such like.

RTC: Did you tell him anything?

GD: No, not in specific. I find him entertaining and sometimes truthful, but I don’t trust him. And I don’t trust Kimmel, either.

RTC: Probably a good idea. I rarely hear from Kimmel these days.

GD: I wonder why?

RTC: I think you’re the reason. Bill was cautioning me against talking too much to you because it might hurt my reputation.

GD: I think it must be the fact that I’m a practicing vampire. You know, Robert, it’ll be tough sledding this winter.

RTC: Why is that?

GD: No snow.

RTC: I walked right into that one, didn’t I? Has anyone discussed the Kennedy business with you?

GD: Corson did, once. Said he had the real story in his safe deposit box, and Plato or Aristotle would get it when he was called to Jesus.

RTC: Plato. That’s the fix lawyer around here. Little favors for this person or that one, little jobs for the Company and so on.

GD: They probably deserve each other.

RTC: Probably. And how is the Mueller book doing?

GD: Well enough. I’m starting to block out the Kennedy book and, yes, I know not to talk about it…

RTC: Or even write something up about it. If Tom thought you were into this, he’d have his boys do a black bag job on you and get into your hard drive.

GD: I could put a bomb in it… When they turned it on, somebody later would be carrying a white cane and being nice to his German Shepherd guide dog.

RTC: Now, now, Gregory, not to make jokes about things like that.

GD: If people don’t want me to punt them in their fat ass, they shouldn’t bend over. On the other hand, it might be an invite for something more romantic.

RTC: I can see you’re in a good mood today.

GD: Foul mouthed as ever.

RTC: Sometimes, but always entertaining.

GD: I know Kimmel doesn’t find me entertaining. I make fun of the establishment and he is so obviously a dedicated and vocal part of it.

RTC: Everyone has to have something to cling to.

GD: What a waste of time. People are so predictable and so pathetic. You know, Robert, it’s like visiting your ant farm every morning and watching the ants leading their programmed lives.

RTC: Isn’t that a bit arrogant, Gregory?

GD: It’s not that I’m so smart, Robert, although I am, but it’s because so many are so stupid. Anyway, enough Weltschmertz.

RTC: Pardon?

GD: Pain with the world. Burned out. Bored. Frustrated.

RTC: I see. When you get to my age, that’s the whole thing.

GD: Well, if youth knew and age could, Robert. I think that’s from Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who invented aspirin. You know, God is Love, there is no pain. They ought to put that up in the terminal cancer wards. It would be such a comfort. I understand Mary was buried with a telephone in her coffin. High hopes and impossibilities sums it up, and have an aspirin.

RTC: That’s Christian Science, isn’t it? You heard about the Christian Scientist? He had a very bad cold and pretty soon, the cold was gone and so was the Christian Scientist.

GD: That’s how it goes, I guess. Now let me get serious about this ZIPPER business. If you want me to do a treatment on this that will be to your benefit, I need to get from you, on the phone is fine, some kind of a rationale for what happened. I mean, that’s what you want, isn’t it? To let those who come after you fully understand the reasons for your actions.

RTC: Yes, that’s it exactly. If that ever got out, though by now, it probably won’t, I don’t want my son and my grandchildren thinking I was just a common or garden variety assassin. They should know the reasons for why we acted as we did.

GD: Fine. Go ahead.

RTC: You must understand that we took our duties very seriously. Angleton was a first class counter intelligence man and very dedicated. And he discovers that the most important intelligence reports, the President’s daily briefings from the CIA, are ending up in Moscow. Within a week of them being given to the President. A week. And this was not a one-time incident but had been going on for some time. We then tried to find out how this was happening. A major intelligence disaster, Gregory, major. Now there were several copies of this report disseminated, never mind to whom, so in each one, a little spice was put in. An identifier as you will. Nothing that changed the thrust of the report but a little bit of spice, as Jim used to say. Jim’s contact in Moscow was a diplomat, never mind which country, because we don’t need to make trouble for him. So from him, we got copies of what Nikita was getting. So can you imagine how stunned we all were to learn that it was the President’s copy that was being leaked? My God! So we couldn’t just walk up to him and ask him how come Khrushchev was reading his briefings a week after we gave them to him. Jim couldn’t find a way how this was done, but then we had a report that Bobby, his brother, was known to be friendly with a prominent KGB fellow, Bolshakov. No question of who he was. The TASS man here. Top level. Bobby was known to have had at least one meeting with him. Hoover was having Bobby watched day and night because Hoover hated him and wanted to catch him doing something bad so he could leak it to the Post and get him sacked. Anyway, they found out that Bobby was talking to the Commie on the phone from his home so we, and Hoover, tapped his phone. Hoover didn’t know we were doing it, too, but that’s Washington politics for you. And we heard, for sure, that Bobby was sending thermofax copies of this report to him. I mean, there was no question. And, we learned, too, that Kennedy was keeping in direct contact with Khrushchev by Bobby and the Russian. I mean they were subverting the entire diplomatic system and God alone knows what Kennedy was talking about. We had to make sure of this, and really sure. It was explosive, believe me. Jim and a few of us sat down, listened to tapes and agent reports and tried to decide what to do. I mean, Gregory, here we had our President giving, actually giving, the most secret documents to our worst enemy, a man who swore in public he would destroy us. So, what to do? Make it public? Who would dare to do this? Of course we had strong media contacts but we all decided this was just too mind-boggling and negative to let outside that room. And that is where the decision was made to simply get rid of Kennedy. He was too independent, he had sacked Dulles and Bissel over the Cuban thing and threatened to Mansfield to break the Agency up. And here he was giving our worse enemy top secret inside information. I mean it really wasn’t open to discussion. You can see this all, can’t you?

GD: I can see your point of view very clearly.

RTC: What would you have done?

GD: I’m not an important person like those people, so what difference does my opinion make in all this? I’m just trying to find the rationale.

RTC: Well, do you have it?

GD: Yes, very clearly.

RTC: Well, the rest was lining up the players. Jim did his part, McCone did his part and he talked to Hoover to get his cooperation. We never went directly to him, but we used Bill Sullivan, his right hand trouble-shooter. That’s how it was done. Hoover hated the Kennedys, especially Bobby, and we had to have him on our side because it was his people that would investigate any killing that had to be done. It took about a week of back and forth but finally it was agreed on. Johnson was no problem. He was a real rat; a wheeler-dealer whom you couldn’t trust to the corner for a pound of soft soap. The Kennedy bunch were treating him like shit and planned to dump him as VP, so of course he went for the wink and the nod. Fortas was his bagman, just like Sullivan was Hoover’s. These are people who know the value of silence from long experience. And it went on from there. I have a phone conference record which I will dig out, when the time comes, and send to you. At this point are you clear on the motivations? I mean, this was not just some spur of the moment thing, Gregory. We felt it had to be done to stop what we could only call high treason. Hoover and Johnson both went along on those grounds. A matter of treason. And it had to be stopped. I don’t see this as heroic but a vital necessity. For the country.

GD: I remember reading somewhere that treason doth never prosper for if it prospers, none dare call it treason.

RTC: Something like that.

GD: Very like.

RTC: But if you look at it carefully, and I hope you will, Gregory, you will see that Kennedy was committing the treason, not us. It was he and his vile brother who were passing our most sensitive and secret documents to our enemies. What were we to do? Confront him? We’d all be fired, or worse. What choice was there? Tell me that.

GD: From that point of view, none.

RTC: We are making progress. One thing…Jim was thinking about blowing up Kennedy’s yacht while and was sailing around off Cape Cod but since there certainly would be children on board, I put a stop to that. Kennedy is one thing but not the children.

GD: And the wife? Our American saint.

RTC: Oh that one. Don’t be fooled, Gregory. Jackie claims descent from French nobility but in fact, her French ancestor wasn’t a nobleman, but an immigrant cabinetmaker. And crap about her being related to Robert E. Lee is more crap. That part of her family were lace curtain micks from the old sod. The woman is a fraud. She married Kennedy for his father’s money, that’s all. Wonderful backgrounds here, Gregory. Old Joe was as crooked as they come. He was an associate of Al Capone, a bootlegger, and worse, and in 1960, he and the mob rigged the election so Jack could get in. Yes, I know all about that. They did their work in Chicago with the Daley machine and the local mob. That’s right, vote early and vote often. They even voted the cemeteries. I never really liked Nixon but they connived and stole the election from him slicker than snot off a glass-handled door knob.

GD: Ain’t it nice living in a democracy? So Kennedy wasn’t a saint by any stretch.

RTC:We can overlook all the women and the wild drug and sex orgies in the White House, but, Gregory, passing our top secrets to the enemy was too damned much. I would like you to show that very clearly if and when you get into this.

GD: Well, from a pragmatic view, Robert, it is the very best and clearest reason for the killing. A question here.

RTC: Certainly.

GD: A plot. Good, but then how do you keep it quiet? Someone might talk.

RTC: Remove them, Gregory.

GD: But what about those who remove those who know too much? Then they know too much.

RTC: Oswald knew a little too much, just a little but enough. And he could prove he never shot Kennedy. So he had to go before he started to talk. Oswald knew some of our people and he worked directly for ONI, so there were dangers there. On the other hand, the man who shot King, Ray, knew nothing so he got to live and end up in jail until he died. He knew there was something wrong, but, and this is important to note, Gregory, he had no proof.

GD: You did King?

RTC: No Hoover did King. He hated him with a visceral passion. Hoover was a nut, Gregory, but a very powerful and very dangerous nut. There is a long-standing rumor here that Hoover had passed the color line and that he was part black. Hoover was a homosexual and there we have two reasons to hate yourself. King was black and he was a womanizer. And Bobby was AG and loathed Hoover. He used to go into Hoover’s office while he was taking his after-lunch nap and wake him up. And he laughed at him and called him a faggot behind his back. Not to do that to Hoover. He stayed in absolute power because he had enough real dirt on Congress to put most of them away in the cooler or the loonie bin. No, Bobby signed his death warrant when he did those things. No, Hoover did King and Hoover did Bobby. Not himself, but he got Bill Sullivan to do it. Sullivan was his hatchet man and we worked directly with Bill. But then Bill got old and was starting to babble like old people do, and he was hinting about Hoover, who had sacked him after he had used him. No, that doesn’t make it, so some kid shot Bill right through the head. He thought he was a deer. My, my.

GD: And Bobby?

RTC: That was Hoover too. It was an agreement. We did John and Edgar did the others. We had one of our men there when they did Bobby, just to observe. We got George the Greek to keep an eye open. They got one of Kennedy’s people to steer him into the kitchen after a speech and the raghead was waiting. One of the Kennedy bodyguards did him from behind while all the shooting and screaming was going on. Much better than John. They had a real shooter in front of real people. None of the questions like we had in Dallas. No loose ends, so to speak. And King was another clean job. Sullivan was very good.

GD: And that’s why he turned into a deer.

RTC: Yes, he turned into a very dead deer.

GD: And you got Cord’s wife on top of it.

RTC: Jim said she was hanging around with hippies and arty-farty people and running her mouth.

GD: Did she know anything?

RTC: No, but she was well-connected and some people might believe her. She’d been humping Kennedy and they apparently really go along with each other. She was a lot more of a woman than Jackie and she never nagged Jack or acted so superior like Jackie loved to do. Her brother in law worked for us and we all agonized over this but in the end, Jim had his way. Of course Cord thought it was peachy-keen. He hated her, but then Cord hated everybody. The vicious Cyclops!

GD: One eye.

RTC: Yes. Oh, and like Jim, he, too, was a profound poet. God, spare me from the poets of the world. You don’t write poetry, do you, Gregory.

GD: No, but really filthy limericks, Robert. Would you like to hear some?

RTC: Oh, not now. Maybe later.

GD: Probably just as well. Once I get started on those, I’ll be going strong an hour later. But let me tell you just one. Not a dirty one, but after about an hour of limericks, I love to end the night with this one. Can I proceed?

RTC: Just one?

GD: Yes, just one.

RTC: Go on.

GD: ‘There was an old man of St. Bees,

Who was stung on the arm by a wasp.

When asked if it hurt,

He replied ‘No, it didn’t,

‘I’m so glad that it wasn’t a hornet.’


(Concluded at 10:28 AM CST)

Assad’s territorial gains

Syrian government forces have taken back control of Palmyra. It means more than just a site of ancient culture has been recovered, writes DW’s editor-in-chief Alexander Kudascheff

March 29, 2016


It is now obvious that “IS” military forces are in the process of withdrawing from Syria and Iraq. The ancient oasis city of Palmyra has been recaptured by Assad’s forces. Symbolically and strategically, this is significant as Assad now can and must reach the heart of “IS” country, Raqqa. The Iraqi army is getting ready to storm Mosul. If it succeeds, then the territory held by the so-called “Islamic State” will diminish and be subsequently destroyed and defeated in the foreseeable future. That will not alleviate the risk of terror in Europe. The terror threat may even escalate as “IS” will be under so much pressure in its main territory and haven that it may lash out erratically. Only one this is sure: Military pressure is mounting on “IS”, and the number of new recruits is falling.

Shift of strategic weight

The probable collapse of “Islamic State,” the self-aggrandizing caliphate responsible for everyday savagery in the name of Islam, will initially be a blessing for the people suffering in Syria and Iraq. Assad’s victory in Palmyra – backed by Russia – also will also shift the strategic weight in the region – for now. Assad has ultimately emerged as an undeniable force again – albeit by dint of Moscow’s mercy, which can also quickly let him fall at will. Whoever wants peace, or at least an end to the war in the region, can no longer avoid Bashar al-Assad. It is harrowing for democratic Syrian opposition forces in exile but also a political reality. The man who is responsible for five terrible years of civil war, more than a quarter of a million dead people, torture and displacement, is once again playing a vital part in Middle Eastern power games.

The Russians now have even more bargaining power at the negotiation table. They have made the successful operations against “IS” possible and are not be willing to forfeit the prize for winning. That means, first off, that Assad will remain in office and then, the Russians – despite their economic woes at home – will once again be an influential party in the Middle East. Russia has not only achieved this because of its military foothold in Syria, but actually, because it is an opponent of the USA, which has withdrawn from the region since Obama’s presidency and no longer seems to have any interests there. It is probably a fatal error, yet understandable in light of the Iraq war fiasco.

And the Europeans – are they busy with the refugee crisis? They will at least be seated at the negotiation table at the Syria talks. They will be willing to contribute financially and offer “soft skills” as well. But at best, they can only take part as a signatory power in a negotiated peace. Their influence is modest, if not negligible, in their neighboring region, which is significant in world politics. Paris and London have traditionally pursued their own policies in the Middle East, but now they stand on the edge of the action as onlookers, even though France has been militarily involved since the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015. But they cannot be conceived as a force that will be rewarded with political influence.

Undeclared war between Sunnis and Shiites

In keeping with the current strategic situation, Assad is the winner in the battle against IS. Russians have gained influence again. Americans look on, despite the indefatigable John Kerry and the distraction of the presidential election campaign. The Europeans have a say, but they actually do not decide anything. IS stands before its demise yet Islamist terror will nonetheless go on – in Pakistan, Nigeria or Europe – and it will challenge society in the Arabic and Islamic world. Iran is successfully fighting for regional and Shiite dominance. Saudi Arabia, embroiled in a war in Yemen, is losing – at least for the time being. In other words, the undeclared war between Sunnis and Shiites continues.


The Blue State Model

How the Democrats Created a “Liberalism of the Rich”

March 29, 2016

by Thomas Frank


When you press Democrats on their uninspiring deeds — their lousy free trade deals, for example, or their flaccid response to Wall Street misbehavior — when you press them on any of these things, they automatically reply that this is the best anyone could have done. After all, they had to deal with those awful Republicans, and those awful Republicans wouldn’t let the really good stuff get through. They filibustered in the Senate. They gerrymandered the congressional districts. And besides, change takes a long time. Surely you don’t think the tepid-to-lukewarm things Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have done in Washington really represent the fiery Democratic soul.

So let’s go to a place that does. Let’s choose a locale where Democratic rule is virtually unopposed, a place where Republican obstruction and sabotage can’t taint the experiment.

Let’s go to Boston, Massachusetts, the spiritual homeland of the professional class and a place where the ideology of modern liberalism has been permitted to grow and flourish without challenge or restraint. As the seat of American higher learning, it seems unsurprising that Boston should anchor one of the most Democratic of states, a place where elected Republicans (like the new governor) are highly unusual. This is the city that virtually invented the blue-state economic model, in which prosperity arises from higher education and the knowledge-based industries that surround it.

The coming of post-industrial society has treated this most ancient of American cities extremely well. Massachusetts routinely occupies the number one spot on the State New Economy Index, a measure of how “knowledge-based, globalized, entrepreneurial, IT-driven, and innovation-based” a place happens to be. Boston ranks high on many of Richard Florida’s statistical indices of approbation — in 2003, it was number one on the “creative class index,” number three in innovation and in high tech — and his many books marvel at the city’s concentration of venture capital, its allure to young people, or the time it enticed some firm away from some unenlightened locale in the hinterlands.

Boston’s knowledge economy is the best, and it is the oldest. Boston’s metro area encompasses some 85 private colleges and universities, the greatest concentration of higher-ed institutions in the country — probably in the world. The region has all the ancillary advantages to show for this: a highly educated population, an unusually large number of patents, and more Nobel laureates than any other city in the country.

The city’s Route 128 corridor was the original model for a suburban tech district, lined ever since it was built with defense contractors and computer manufacturers. The suburbs situated along this golden thoroughfare are among the wealthiest municipalities in the nation, populated by engineers, lawyers, and aerospace workers. Their public schools are excellent, their downtowns are cute, and back in the seventies their socially enlightened residents were the prototype for the figure of the “suburban liberal.”

Another prototype: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, situated in Cambridge, is where our modern conception of the university as an incubator for business enterprises began. According to a report on MIT’s achievements in this category, the school’s alumni have started nearly 26,000 companies over the years, including Intel, Hewlett Packard, and Qualcomm. If you were to take those 26,000 companies as a separate nation, the report tells us, its economy would be one of the most productive in the world.

Then there are Boston’s many biotech and pharmaceutical concerns, grouped together in what is known as the “life sciences super cluster,” which, properly understood, is part of an “ecosystem” in which PhDs can “partner” with venture capitalists and in which big pharmaceutical firms can acquire small ones. While other industries shrivel, the Boston super cluster grows, with the life-sciences professionals of the world lighting out for the Athens of America and the massive new “innovation centers” shoehorning themselves one after the other into the crowded academic suburb of Cambridge.

To think about it slightly more critically, Boston is the headquarters for two industries that are steadily bankrupting middle America: big learning and big medicine, both of them imposing costs that everyone else is basically required to pay and which increase at a far more rapid pace than wages or inflation. A thousand dollars a pill, 30 grand a semester: the debts that are gradually choking the life out of people where you live are what has made this city so very rich.

Perhaps it makes sense, then, that another category in which Massachusetts ranks highly is inequality. Once the visitor leaves the brainy bustle of Boston, he discovers that this state is filled with wreckage — with former manufacturing towns in which workers watch their way of life draining away, and with cities that are little more than warehouses for people on Medicare. According to one survey, Massachusetts has the eighth-worst rate of income inequality among the states; by another metric it ranks fourth. However you choose to measure the diverging fortunes of the country’s top 10% and the rest, Massachusetts always seems to finish among the nation’s most unequal places.

Seething City on a Cliff

You can see what I mean when you visit Fall River, an old mill town 50 miles south of Boston. Median household income in that city is $33,000, among the lowest in the state; unemployment is among the highest, 15% in March 2014, nearly five years after the recession ended. Twenty-three percent of Fall River’s inhabitants live in poverty. The city lost its many fabric-making concerns decades ago and with them it lost its reason for being. People have been deserting the place for decades.

Many of the empty factories in which their ancestors worked are still standing, however. Solid nineteenth-century structures of granite or brick, these huge boxes dominate the city visually — there always seems to be one or two of them in the vista, contrasting painfully with whatever colorful plastic fast-food joint has been slapped up next door.

Most of the old factories are boarded up, unmistakable emblems of hopelessness right up to the roof. But the ones that have been successfully repurposed are in some ways even worse, filled as they often are with enterprises offering cheap suits or help with drug addiction. A clinic in the hulk of one abandoned mill has a sign on the window reading simply “Cancer & Blood.”

The effect of all this is to remind you with every prospect that this is a place and a way of life from which the politicians have withdrawn their blessing. Like so many other American scenes, this one is the product of decades of deindustrialization, engineered by Republicans and rationalized by Democrats. This is a place where affluence never returns — not because affluence for Fall River is impossible or unimaginable, but because our country’s leaders have blandly accepted a social order that constantly bids down the wages of people like these while bidding up the rewards for innovators, creatives, and professionals.

Even the city’s one real hope for new employment opportunities — an Amazon warehouse that is now in the planning stages — will serve to lock in this relationship. If all goes according to plan, and if Amazon sticks to the practices it has pioneered elsewhere, people from Fall River will one day get to do exhausting work with few benefits while being electronically monitored for efficiency, in order to save the affluent customers of nearby Boston a few pennies when they buy books or electronics.

But that is all in the future. These days, the local newspaper publishes an endless stream of stories about drug arrests, shootings, drunk-driving crashes, the stupidity of local politicians, and the lamentable surplus of “affordable housing.” The town is up to its eyeballs in wrathful bitterness against public workers. As in: Why do they deserve a decent life when the rest of us have no chance at all? It’s every man for himself here in a “competition for crumbs,” as a Fall River friend puts it.

The Great Entrepreneurial Awakening

If Fall River is pocked with empty mills, the streets of Boston are dotted with facilities intended to make innovation and entrepreneurship easy and convenient. I was surprised to discover, during the time I spent exploring the city’s political landscape, that Boston boasts a full-blown Innovation District, a disused industrial neighborhood that has actually been zoned creative — a projection of the post-industrial blue-state ideal onto the urban grid itself. The heart of the neighborhood is a building called “District Hall” — “Boston’s New Home for Innovation” — which appeared to me to be a glorified multipurpose room, enclosed in a sharply angular façade, and sharing a roof with a restaurant that offers “inventive cuisine for innovative people.” The Wi-Fi was free, the screens on the walls displayed famous quotations about creativity, and the walls themselves were covered with a high-gloss finish meant to be written on with dry-erase markers; but otherwise it was not much different from an ordinary public library. Aside from not having anything to read, that is.

This was my introduction to the innovation infrastructure of the city, much of it built up by entrepreneurs shrewdly angling to grab a piece of the entrepreneur craze. There are “co-working” spaces, shared offices for startups that can’t afford the real thing. There are startup “incubators” and startup “accelerators,” which aim to ease the innovator’s eternal struggle with an uncaring public: the Startup Institute, for example, and the famous MassChallenge, the “World’s Largest Startup Accelerator,” which runs an annual competition for new companies and hands out prizes at the end.

And then there are the innovation Democrats, led by former Governor Deval Patrick, who presided over the Massachusetts government from 2007 to 2015. He is typical of liberal-class leaders; you might even say he is their most successful exemplar. Everyone seems to like him, even his opponents. He is a witty and affable public speaker as well as a man of competence, a highly educated technocrat who is comfortable in corporate surroundings. Thanks to his upbringing in a Chicago housing project, he also understands the plight of the poor, and (perhaps best of all) he is an honest politician in a state accustomed to wide-open corruption. Patrick was also the first black governor of Massachusetts and, in some ways, an ideal Democrat for the era of Barack Obama — who, as it happens, is one of his closest political allies.

As governor, Patrick became a kind of missionary for the innovation cult. “The Massachusetts economy is an innovation economy,” he liked to declare, and he made similar comments countless times, slightly varying the order of the optimistic keywords: “Innovation is a centerpiece of the Massachusetts economy,” et cetera. The governor opened “innovation schools,” a species of ramped-up charter school. He signed the “Social Innovation Compact,” which had something to do with meeting “the private sector’s need for skilled entry-level professional talent.” In a 2009 speech called “The Innovation Economy,” Patrick elaborated the political theory of innovation in greater detail, telling an audience of corporate types in Silicon Valley about Massachusetts’s “high concentration of brainpower” and “world-class” universities, and how “we in government are actively partnering with the private sector and the universities, to strengthen our innovation industries. ”What did all of this inno-talk mean? Much of the time, it was pure applesauce — standard-issue platitudes to be rolled out every time some pharmaceutical company opened an office building somewhere in the state.

On some occasions, Patrick’s favorite buzzword came with a gigantic price tag, like the billion dollars in subsidies and tax breaks that the governor authorized in 2008 to encourage pharmaceutical and biotech companies to do business in Massachusetts. On still other occasions, favoring inno has meant bulldozing the people in its path — for instance, the taxi drivers whose livelihoods are being usurped by ridesharing apps like Uber. When these workers staged a variety of protests in the Boston area, Patrick intervened decisively on the side of the distant software company. Apparently convenience for the people who ride in taxis was more important than good pay for people who drive those taxis. It probably didn’t hurt that Uber had hired a former Patrick aide as a lobbyist, but the real point was, of course, innovation: Uber was the future, the taxi drivers were the past, and the path for Massachusetts was obvious.A short while later, Patrick became something of an innovator himself. After his time as governor came to an end last year, he won a job as a managing director of Bain Capital, the private equity firm that was founded by his predecessor Mitt Romney — and that had been so powerfully denounced by Democrats during the 2012 election. Patrick spoke about the job like it was just another startup: “It was a happy and timely coincidence I was interested in building a business that Bain was also interested in building,” he told the Wall Street Journal. Romney reportedly phoned him with congratulations.

Entrepreneurs First

At a 2014 celebration of Governor Patrick’s innovation leadership, Google’s Eric Schmidt announced that “if you want to solve the economic problems of the U.S., create more entrepreneurs.” That sort of sums up the ideology in this corporate commonwealth: Entrepreneurs first. But how has such a doctrine become holy writ in a party dedicated to the welfare of the common man? And how has all this come to pass in the liberal state of Massachusetts?

The answer is that I’ve got the wrong liberalism. The kind of liberalism that has dominated Massachusetts for the last few decades isn’t the stuff of Franklin Roosevelt or the United Auto Workers; it’s the Route 128/suburban-professionals variety. (Senator Elizabeth Warren is the great exception to this rule.) Professional-class liberals aren’t really alarmed by oversized rewards for society’s winners. On the contrary, this seems natural to them — because they are society’s winners. The liberalism of professionals just does not extend to matters of inequality; this is the area where soft hearts abruptly turn hard.

Innovation liberalism is “a liberalism of the rich,” to use the straightforward phrase of local labor leader Harris Gruman. This doctrine has no patience with the idea that everyone should share in society’s wealth. What Massachusetts liberals pine for, by and large, is a more perfect meritocracy — a system where the essential thing is to ensure that the truly talented get into the right schools and then get to rise through the ranks of society. Unfortunately, however, as the blue-state model makes painfully clear, there is no solidarity in a meritocracy. The ideology of educational achievement conveniently negates any esteem we might feel for the poorly graduated.

This is a curious phenomenon, is it not? A blue state where the Democrats maintain transparent connections to high finance and big pharma; where they have deliberately chosen distant software barons over working-class members of their own society; and where their chief economic proposals have to do with promoting “innovation,” a grand and promising idea that remains suspiciously vague. Nor can these innovation Democrats claim that their hands were forced by Republicans. They came up with this program all on their own.


The Trump Challenge

He’s confronting the post-World War II international order – and winning

March 30, 2016

by Justin Raimondo


The candidacy of Donald J. Trump has upended American politics, and, indeed, has changed the political landscape in ways our liberal and conservative elites never expected and clearly abhor. He talks like an ordinary person, for one thing – a rarity in a realm where politicians routinely speak as if they are giving a speech before the Peoria Rotary Club. Unrehearsed and raw, he doesn’t do “talking points” – and this, I think, more than his controversial proposal to deport millions of illegal immigrants, has provoked the policy wonks and the “intellectuals” into paroxysms of contempt. It’s also what’s endears him to ordinary people, and makes them listen – perhaps for the first time – to what a candidate for the highest office in the land is saying about where America is today and where he wants the country to go.

Trump’s domestic platform, such as it is, doesn’t really interest me: his proposal to “temporarily” ban Muslims from entering the US is unenforceable and downright silly. (How can you know if someone is a Muslim?) The issue that catapulted him to national attention – immigration – has already been settled, for better or worse: with millions of illegal immigrants already here, largely as a result of US laxity in maintaining border security, the immigration restrictionists are about forty years too late. His plan to deport illegals will never happen.

It’s in the realm of international affairs that Trump has really made a significant and lasting contribution to the discourse. As Bill Schneider writes in a Reuters opinion piece: “Trump is repudiating the entire framework of US foreign policy since 1947.” That dramatic and unmistakable fact is being lost amid the theatrics of a campaign season that often resembles an episode of the Jerry Springer Show.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Trump explicates his consensus-busting view of America’s proper role in the world:

  • On defending Korea and Japan – “[A]t some point, there is going to be a point at which we just can’t do this anymore. … at some point, we cannot be the policeman of the world.” “[I]f we are attacked, [Japan doesn’t] have to do anything. If they’re attacked, we have to go out with full force. You understand. That’s a pretty one-sided agreement, right there.”

This gets straight to the heart of Trump’s challenge to the foreign policy elites. Since the end of World War II, the US has occupied Japan. In effect, Japan is a conquered nation: and yet it’s an open question as to who conquered whom. As an economic entity, Japan exists to send cheap tariff-free exports to America in exchange for complete subordination to Washington’s imperial diktat. Only a few right-wing Japanese nationalists – and most of the inhabitants of Okinawa – object to that: as for the great majority, they are content to live prosperous lives under the American defense umbrella. Trump is quite right that this is a one-sided agreement: the Japanese don’t have to worry about defending themselves and they also get the economic benefits of having a strictly protected market while they hollow out our industrial base with cheap cars and precision machinery. This is the price we pay for the American empire – an imperium, as the Old Right writer and editor Garet Garrett put it many years ago, “where everything goes out and nothing comes in.”

  • On protecting the Saudis – “The beautiful thing about oil is that, you know, we’re really getting close, because of fracking, and because of new technology, we’re really in a position that we weren’t in, you know, years ago, and the reason we’re in the Middle East is for oil. And all of a sudden we’re finding out that there’s less reason to be. …[W]e protect countries, and take tremendous monetary hits on protecting countries. That would include Saudi Arabia, but it would include many other countries, as you know. We have, there’s a whole big list of them. We lose, everywhere. We lose monetarily, everywhere. And yet, without us, Saudi Arabia wouldn’t exist for very long. … I would say at a minimum, we have to be reimbursed, substantially reimbursed, I mean, to a point that’s far greater than what we’re being paid right now. Because we’re not being reimbursed for the kind of tremendous service that we’re performing by protecting various countries.”

This must have sent shivers through the powerful Saudi lobby in Washington and the many politicians and policy wonks on the take. The Kingdom has enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with Washington ever since Franklin Delano Roosevelt cemented the alliance in a meeting with King Ibn Saud in 1945 aboard the USS Quincy. US oil companies captured valuable franchises and the US military followed in their wake, with overflight privileges, military training programs, and a firm commitment by the US to defend the Kingdom against all comers.

Although the relationship has had its ups and downs, it has continued to this day essentially in its original form, due largely to the efforts of a well-funded Washington lobby backed by US oil interests, who are most interested in utilizing the US military to protect their profits.

Trump’s critique of US-Saudi relations threatens a self-interested claque of privileged plutocrats and their lobbyist supporters, just as his threat to cut off our other mostly useless “allies” from the gravy train has induced panic from Paris to the Potomac.

  • On NATO – “I have two problems with NATO. No. 1, it’s obsolete. When NATO was formed many decades ago we were a different country. There was a different threat. Soviet Union was, the Soviet Union, not Russia, which was much bigger than Russia, as you know. And, it was certainly much more powerful than even today’s Russia…. Today, it has to be changed. It has to be changed to include terror. It has to be changed from the standpoint of cost because the United States bears far too much of the cost of NATO. And one of the things that I hated seeing is Ukraine…. Why is it always the United States that gets right in the middle of things, with something that – you know, it affects us, but not nearly as much as it affects other countries.”

NATO became obsolete when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union disintegrated. Yet instead of going the way of the horse-and-buggy, it grew until it reached the very gates of Moscow – in spite of a promise by George H.W. Bush that NATO would freeze its membership if Mikhail Gorbachev would allow East Germany to reunify with the West. What Trump is proposing is the dissolution of NATO as we know it – essentially an anti-Russian alliance – and its reconfiguration into an instrument devoted to counterterrorism. Indeed, later on in the interview with the Times he suggests that NATO could be scrapped, and a new institution devoted to a more current problem – terrorism – would take its place.

This is a direct challenge to the military-industrial complex in this country, which lobbied heavily for NATO expansion in the post-Soviet era and made multi-billions. NATO requires member states to upgrade their militaries to meet certain standards, and of course it’s just a coincidence that they invariably turn to US military contractors to do the job. The prospect of this pot of gold being snatched away from Lockheed, Boeing, General Dynamics, and all the rest has the War Party in a lather – no wonder the neoconservatives (whose thinktanks are largely funded by these characters) is shouting ”Never Trump!”

  • On Syria – “I thought the approach of fighting Assad and ISIS simultaneously was madness, and idiocy. They’re fighting each other and yet we’re fighting both of them. You know, we were fighting both of them. I think that our far bigger problem than Assad is ISIS, I’ve always felt that. Assad is, you know I’m not saying Assad is a good man, ’cause he’s not, but our far greater problem is not Assad, it’s ISIS.”

With our Pentagon-funded Syrian rebels fighting our CIA-backed Syrian rebels, the absurdity of our foreign policy of regime change is so obvious that only a Washington policy wonk could fail to see it. Both parties have supported this insane policy, having learned nothing from the destruction of Iraq and the fall of the Iraqi Ba’athist regime. Although ISIS is portrayed as an “existential” threat to the US by the neoconservatives and our sensationalistic media, Washington has been trying to destroy the only effective fighting force that is today succeeding in defeating the “Caliphate” – the government of Bashar al-Assad.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, then our Syria policy surely fits the bill. And yet from Hillary Clinton – the architect of our pro-rebel policy – to Lindsey Graham, the Washington consensus is that “Assad must go.”

Trump is challenging this nonsense – and performing a great service in doing so.

  • On nuclear weapons – “When people talk global warming, I say the global warming that we have to be careful of is the nuclear global warming. Single biggest problem that the world has. Power of weaponry today is beyond anything ever thought of, or even, you know, it’s unthinkable, the power. You look at Hiroshima and you can multiply that times many, many times, is what you have today. And to me, it’s the single biggest, it’s the single biggest problem.”

This part of the interview came up front, and it looked to me like the reporters were baiting Trump, expecting him to come out with some belligerent statement implying that of course he wouldn’t hesitate to nuke anyone. He didn’t fall for it. Indeed, his critique of the Iraq war and his general unwillingness to commit to putting ground troops in the Middle East – a statement he made several times in the course of the interview – shows that underneath the combative persona Trump is a bit of a peacenik. He clearly understands the horror of war, and in my view would be less likely than any other candidate to go to war, let alone use nuclear weapons.

  • An overview – “I’m not isolationist, but I am ‘America First.’ So I like the expression. I’m ‘America First.’ We have been disrespected, mocked, and ripped off for many many years by people that were smarter, shrewder, tougher. We were the big bully, but we were not smartly led. And we were the big bully who was — the big stupid bully and we were systematically ripped off by everybody.”

Trump’s appropriation of this slogan is the final insult to the globalists of the Washington set: it conjures their favorite “isolationist” bogeymen, the generally conservative “isolationists” who opposed US entry into World War II. The true history of the America First Committee – the biggest antiwar movement of modern times – is almost completely unknown, and it is regularly smeared by both liberals and conservatives as a “pro-Nazi” fifth column, when it in fact it was nothing of the sort.

America’s entry into the world war marked the beginning of our emergence as a global empire, and our role as self-appointed enforcer of the world order. Now that we have exhausted ourselves playing out that role, running up a debt of $17 trillion in the process, it’s only fitting that the slogan of “America First” should come back into circulation.

As Bill Schneider put it:

“During the debate in 2013 over a U.S. military strike to punish Syria for using chemical weapons, Benjamin Rhodes, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said, ‘The US for decades has played the role of undergirding the global security architecture and enforcing international norms. And we do not want to send a message that the United States is getting out of that business in any way.’

“That’s precisely the message Trump is sending. And millions of Americans seem eager to endorse it.”

Yes, there are problems with Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements: his AIPAC speech was horrific, there was no mention of the “evenhanded’ approach he had previously said he’d employ in trying to reach a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He’s not a consistent opponent of US intervention overseas, and, worst of all, he can’t be trusted. He’s simply too unpredictable.

Yet this is all quite irrelevant to the question of his significance, whether or not he actually succeeds in grasping the GOP nomination. The point is that he has changed the foreign policy discourse in the Republican party, wresting it from the heretofore iron grip of the neocons and successfully selling a demonstrably less interventionist policy to GOP primary voters. You’ll recall that the pundits routinely discounted Rand Paul’s presidential campaign on account of his anti-interventionist views – which are quite mild compared to Trump’s. Given Trump’s popularity, however, from this day forward they won’t be able to get away with that again. The terms of the debate have been irrevocably changed – and that is Trump’s great achievement, for which he must be given full credit.


Growing International Movement Seeks to Place Arms Embargo on Saudi Arabia

March 29, 2016

by Murtaza Hussain

The Intercept

A lawsuit filed last week in Canada is seeking to halt a major $15 billion sale of light-armored vehicles to the government of Saudi Arabia, part of a growing international movement to stop arms sales to the Saudi government over its alleged war crimes in Yemen.

The suit, filed by University of Montreal constitutional law professor Daniel Turp, argues the vehicle sales to Saudi Arabia violate a number of Canadian laws, including regulations on the export of military equipment, which prohibit arms sales to countries where human rights are “subject to serious and repeated violations” and there is a reasonable risk exported equipment “will be used against the civilian population.” Saudi Arabia, which has a deplorable human rights record at home, has inflicted considerable civilian casualties in Yemen as part of its yearlong bombing campaign in support of the contested government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

“The suppression of human rights in Saudi Arabia and the Saudi government’s actions during the war in Yemen make the sale of these armored vehicles legally unacceptable,” Turp said.

The lawsuit comes in the wake of growing evidence of war crimes by Saudi-led forces, including the use of cluster munitions in civilian areas and the designation of entire cities as military targets. A particularly gruesome attack earlier this month killed 120 civilians at a market in the town of Mastaba, including at least 20 children. Last week, in response to these atrocities, Human Rights Watch demanded that Western countries impose an arms embargo on the Saudi government over its conduct in the war.

Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest arms purchasers in the world, spending billions of dollars annually in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere to outfit its military. But the spectacle of democratic countries selling deadly military equipment to one of the most oppressive governments in the world has triggered outrage from human rights groups. That outrage is now beginning to coalesce into legal and political action to stop these sales.

In addition to the Canadian lawsuit, this year lawmakers in the Netherlands passed a resolution to ban further arms sales to Saudi Arabia, while Belgian officials stated that they had refused an arms export license to the hereditary dictatorship following a mass execution of dissidents in the country. In late February, the European Union parliament passed a non-binding resolution calling for a halt to arms sales to Saudi Arabia by member states.

But despite growing pressure, major arms-producing countries generally appear unfazed. In the past several months, U.S. weapons manufacturers have inked weapons deals with Saudi Arabia for billions of dollars, ensuring a steady stream of munitions for the war in Yemen. “Saudi Arabia has been engaged in a war inside Yemen for over a year, and we’re selling them weapons with knowledge they will be used in Yemen, where ample evidence has shown they are using them to commit war crimes,” said Raed Jarrar, government relations manager with the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker political advocacy group with a mandate to promote peace.

Jarrar said the U.S. has legal grounds to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia under the Arms Export Control Act, presidential policy directives, and international treaties, all of which circumscribe arms sales based on human rights violations.

“We’re only asking for implementation of existing laws and we’re not picking on Saudi Arabia or anyone else because of a partisan agenda,” he adds, “but the U.S. should stop facilitating death and destruction in the Middle East through arms sales to regimes it knows are committing war crimes.”

Although the United States is Saudi Arabia’s biggest arms supplier, it has competition in that field. Just weeks ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron gushed about the sale of more “brilliant” U.K.-made jet fighters to Saudi, even while reports continue to arrive about likely war crimes in Yemen.

“Over the last year, we have documented dozens of Saudi-led coalition airstrikes that have been indiscriminate or disproportionate that have killed civilians and hit civilian objects in Yemen,” said Belkis Wille, a Yemen and Kuwait researcher at Human Rights Watch. “In this context, no country should be sending weapons to Saudi until we see a fundamental change in its behavior around investigating alleged unlawful strikes and compensating victims and their families.”

For now, Canada offers a hopeful test case for using legal means to stop arms supplies to Saudi Arabia. During recent elections there, the deal to sell light-armored vehicles became a campaign issue. The new government, headed by liberal politician Justin Trudeau, has said it would continue with the weapons deal signed by its predecessor, disingenuously defending the sale by describing the vehicles as merely “jeeps.”

Similar deadly equipment has been sold by Canada to Saudi Arabia in the past. Reports from the war in Yemen have suggested that Canadian-made vehicles are being used by the Saudi army in its operations against Houthi rebels. Canada’s export control laws ban arms sales to countries “whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens,” and who may use the weapons against civilian populations.

The contract with Saudi Arabia was signed by General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of the global arms manufacturer. If successful, the lawsuit would revoke the export permit facilitating the sale, effectively canceling it.

Lawyers involved in the Canadian case say they hope it will help create an international precedent against the sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia and other rights-abusing states.

“This case is in part about sending a message that Canadian weapons should not be used against civilian populations,” said Anne-Julie Asselin, a lawyer at the Quebec firm litigating the case. “But it’s also about setting a precedent. If Saudi Arabia can’t buy these weapons here, we don’t want them to buy them from another country either.”


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