A NUMBER OF people have asked me why I withdrew so suddenly from the blogosphere last December and why I have been mostly absent since then, not only posting nothing significant in this space but making only minimal contributions to websites I formerly frequented daily.
As with so many things human, the answer is complicated. It has at least three parts.
The first of these, the fulcrum upon which fate leveraged everything that followed, was as I said at the time “a conjunction of obligations and disasters.”
My obligations were to write, photograph, edit and produce the monthly newsletter that serves the community of elderly and disabled people in which I reside, and – at the same time –
to help a friend with a suddenly essential project that had to be completed by 31 December.
The initial disaster was the death of my computer's printer, chiefly because I cannot edit my own writing effectively on a monitor. I'm not sure what the problem is that causes me to miss so many errors when I try to edit on-screen, but I am certain it has to do with only seeing a small part of the text at one time and also with being dyslexic.
Hence I if I am to write for OAN (or for any other medium in which it is imperative I not look like an illiterate idiot, a muddle-headed moron or a geezer doddering into dotage), I need the printer to provide me text I can edit in the traditional copy-desk manner, green visor, pica stick and all. I mark the corrections on the paper. Then – like an old-time Linotype operator (one of the many categories of highly skilled workers who were flung into permanent joblessness by that electronic scab known as the computer) – I type the changes into the virtual text.
As I do so I hope desperately I do not make other errors – for example the dyslexic but comically literal “fucendate” (from “fecundate”), or the arthritic-fingered blunder that turns “working press” into “wormking press.”
(I leave it to you readers to decide the Freudian appropriateness of “wormking press” as it applies to the so-called “mainstream media” of the United States. Suffice it to say that in historical truth it is our species' first wholly privatized Ruling Class propaganda machine, a microcosm of the larger socioeconomic triumphs achieved in the U.S. by Ayn Rand, Adolf Hitler and Josef Goebbels.
Remember too – especially in the context of the warning to never eat yellow snow – how this “main stream” functions to facilitate the trickle-down economics in which we are all...well, er, drowning.)
Returning to the circumstances of my departure, I had intended, as noted in December, to resume blogging after the first of the year.
By then, thanks to the continuing generosity of Adrienne, who was my second wife and is now amongst my dearest friends, I had a new printer – the highly rated Hewlett-Packard Envy 5530.
But the new printer crashed my old computer, forcing me to undertake a project I had long dreaded: replacing my old familiar machine with the new, substantially more powerful but totally alien Samsung NP355E5C Adrienne had given me the previous Christmas.
I had not started using the new computer – in fact I had not even unpacked it – because I knew from past experience the process of changing computers would probably keep me off-line for at least a month. And I wanted to re-start OAN before my absence cost me too many more readers.
Fate, however, had other plans. The old computer could not be resurrected without the expenditure of far more money than I had. Nurds here in Bill Gates land charge as much as $265 per hour, and what the old computer needed – a near-doubling of its random access memory plus upgrading from an Ubuntu 10.10 operating system to the present Ubuntu 12-whatever – would take many many many more hours than one.
That was the bad news. The worse news was the crash had obliterated my e-mail address book, which I have since been able to only partially reconstruct.
The most devastating news of all was that Samsung and Microshaft had cut a maliciously monopolistic deal that made it impossible to reconfigure the new laptop to run Ubuntu, which I had come to love for its clarity, simplicity, intuitive protocols and a friendly discussion board to help compu-ignoramuses like myself navigate its Nurdly esoterica.
Thus I had to learn Microshaft Windows 8.1, which after running anything Ubuntu was like being told the only allowable route to Portland, Oregon was via New Orleans, Baltimore, Chicago and Hungry Horse, Montana rather than by the direct route 143 miles (230 kilometers) south from Tacoma on Interstate 5.
Finally, near the end of March and with the help of two computer-savvy friends and an auxiliary keyboard, I was able to run the Microshafted Samsung without having to call for help every 15 minutes.
But on my 75th birthday – literally just as I was writing the preceding paragraph – yet another crisis arose.
For the past six months, the faceless, mostly nameless executives who lord it over the apartment complex in which I'm a tenant have been harassing us with threats of a one-or-two-day temporary eviction, ostensibly so the entire building can be renovated in the shortest time possible.
The temporary evictions, we are told, are non-negotiable.
But the executives refuse to tell us when these evictions will occur – only that we will have 48 hours notice to prepare, which of course means we should box up our belongings now and then live as denizens of storage lockers until management deigns to act.
Needless to say, the dislocations we are suffering as a result are in some respects worse than the life-disruptions of a full-fledged move to a new address. At least with an address-change, there's a known schedule, presumably with reasonable time for planning, packing and unpacking.
What in landlord-speak is dismissed as a minor inconvenience is for us a debacle. Add in that we're all either old and/or disabled, many of us both, some genuinely fragile, and the stress and anxiety inflicted by the temporary-eviction threats ramps up into the stroke-and-heart-attack zone.
Moreover the fact the need for such haste has never been explained combines with the fact the neighborhood is a known gentrification target to evoke strong suspicions we are being not-so-subtly encouraged to move elsewhere.
Then on my birthday – happy birthday from Jesus – we were hit with the written threat of a $75-per-month rent increase and its unexpressed but implicit and abjectly terrifying threat of instant homelessness.
Hence, acting both as the volunteer founder and editor of the apartment-complex newsletter and in my own defense, I consulted with a local lawyer. On his advice, I wrote, assembled and filed a 51-page formal complaint complete with 11 pages of narrative and 40 pages of documentation.
Though there is no effective tenant-protection apparatus in Washington state – tenants here have probably fewer rights under state and local law than anywhere else in the U.S. – the fact this particular apartment complex was at least partly financed with federal funds means we may have some rights under federal law.
Or so the lawyer said. Hence the complaint – which took me 16 gruelingly long 14-hour days to prepare – was mailed to U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (Democrat/Washington state) on 13 April.
Truly I have not worked so hard since I was a full-time investigative reporter. Worse, it was the first time I had written about anything so damnably complex since I quit tobacco, 20 years ago this coming 23 September. I was not even one day into the project when I began to fear I could not finish the work without starting smoking again. Indeed I became so fearful of yielding to nicotine seduction I enrolled in a quit-smoking program offered by Group Health Cooperative, which is my Medicare (health care) provider and in which I am a voting member.
My problem, as regular readers of OAN know, is that I am dyslexic. In days of yore, when I was a member of the working press, my two-and-one-half-pack-per-day cigarette addiction was a key part of my compensatory mechanism.
The nicotine one imbibes by smoking is a potent neurotransmitter, and one of its deadly benefits – the oxymoron is deliberate – is that it temporarily alleviates dyslexic dysfunction. It thereby evokes an instantaneous clarity of expression that now without nicotine often takes me hours – and sometimes literally days – to achieve.
In the instance of the complaint to Congressman Kilmer, it took me a total of 224 hours – the equivalent of 6.4 35-hour workweeks compressed into 16 days – to write a seven-sentence summary and a 5,000-word, 10-part report and then to assemble the supportive documents. In the old days, as a smoker, I'd have done the writing in maybe three days max and – working no more than my usual seven-hour days – had the entire project finished within a week.
But at last the complaint is now done and mailed.
Will our Democratic Congressman defend us? Or will he act upon his de facto Republican, military-industrial-complex ideology and throw us under the proverbial bus?
Surely we shall soon know the answer.
The question is legitimate. Not only are we lower-income people. Because we are elderly and/or disabled, we are truly surplus – no longer supportable for profit.
And now finally – for the first time since last December – I actually have the time and energy and inclination to again start doing this blog right.
IT OCCURRED TO me last night because of an “I-hope-you-keep-writing” note sent by a reader with the seemingly Eastern European name of Marija (as in the late Marija Gimbutas), that perhaps the explanation for OAN's readership in Ukraine and Russia was its regular linkage to the accurate Consortium News reports of events therein.
Consortium News and Reader Supported News, a separate website that often republishes the Consortium reports, are the only indigenous U.S. sources that dare reveal how the USian Empire has imposed and is now defending its newest Nazi puppet state.
These websites also report how ethnic Russians are resisting the U.S./Nazi onslaught with the same breathtaking courage as defined the Soviet partizanska during World War II, which for the peoples of the U.S.S.R. was indeed what it is called in Russia even now: “the Great Patriotic War against Fascism.”
Could it be that due to electronic censorship by the U.S./Nazi regime in Kiev, OAN was one of the few reliably available sources of those Consortium and RSN reports? Obviously I don't know. But the suspicion alone is enough to fill me with guilt for my nearly four-month absence.
Hence my profuse apology if my personal problems made it more difficult for Ukrainians and Russians to get those reports. Providing the relevant links is a purpose – indeed an obligation – I will damn well take seriously in the future.
YET ANOTHER REASON I withdrew – maybe the most important reason of all – I confess in a letter to a colleague here in Tacoma:
During our recent telephone conversation my explanation of why I so suddenly dropped out of sight was less than articulate. Like most men I find it extremely difficult to talk about my own emotions, but unlike many men I do possess some small skill at writing about such things. Hence this hopefully more informative (and therefore more honest) explanation:
As you no doubt know from your work, as we approach our personal graveyards we often become brutally honest with ourselves. Though I have been in that general mode for several years, my brush with death via kidney infection and incipient septicemia last fall radically intensified the attendant process of self-evaluation.
When I was maybe 12 or 13, and without really giving it much thought, I adopted a Boy Scout rule – "always leave the campsite in better condition than you found it" – as the motivating principle of my life. For many years my choice was scarcely conscious, and I am only now realizing the extent to which it nevertheless ruled my most important decisions: how, for example, it prompted me to choose journalism and journalistic activism as my primary career.
But sitting one day last fall in Group Health hooked up to intravenous Cipro I had the darkest, most wrenching epiphany of my life: I realized that every cause to which I had committed time, energy and passion – including causes for which I sometimes willingly risked my life – has either failed or was later defeated.
Organized Labor is dead beyond any hope of resurrection. Today's U.S. is every bit as racist as it was in the Jim Crow era. Women's reproductive rights are being reduced to pre-Roe-v-Wade levels (and in most states have already been abolished entirely). Vietnam taught us nothing. The alternative press is no more (its electronic ghost is but a flash-in-the-pan), and the mainstream press has been corrupted into the most diabolically effective Josef Goebbels propaganda apparatus our species has ever known. Meanwhile the Environmental Movement is so impotent in the face of Christo-capitalist ecocide, it can do nothing to protect us from becoming a doomed species on a dying planet.
The mental list continued, etc. ad nauseam for the entire two hours I was in the clinic that day and continues to haunt me – with the additional weight of shame for yielding to despair – to this very minute.
In other words, though I participated in probably 60 years of efforts to leave the campsite of this nation and this planet in better shape than it was, every one of those efforts failed abysmally.
Why then, I asked myself, should I squander the final years of my life fighting for causes that either have no possibility of ever winning or that – even if they might seem to achieve small victories – are certain to be undone by the now-unavoidable extinction of our species? (The newest projections of terminal climate change say we will have rendered our planet uninhabitable by mammalian life – and ourselves extinct – within a hundred years.)
Obviously I am still debating this most vexing of all personal questions, which is why I remain unable to commit to anything much beyond the demands of living day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute. Factor in the growing probability of a thermonuclear apocalypse resulting from U.S. provocations of Russia in the Ukraine and I often feel as if I am living, albeit in slow motion, the script of Nevil Shute's On the Beach. I therefore hope – because your friendship means a lot to me – you will forgive my angst-ridden retreat.
(It is so foolishly easy, even thrust ever deeper as we are into the de facto concentration camp Ayn Rand economics and total surveillance is making of the USian homeland, to forget that others have it infinitely worse, that for beleaguered people elsewhere, as in the eastern Ukraine, yielding to despair is possible only if one is willing to submit to immediate extermination. I understand this, not the least because of the violently dangerous wretchedness of my childhood. Hence my oft repeated statement that in times such as these, survival is itself an act of revolutionary defiance. Hence too my hope I have sufficient strength I do not falter again.)
BUT THE WEIGHT of despair is nevertheless undeniable. We are facing a magnitude of oppression that is unique in our species' experience. And if we are to survive it – which grows less likely every day – it will require evolution of an entirely new set of strategies and tactics.
This was the main point of my response to “Three Reasons Why the United States Is Broken, Bloated and Bleeding,” a Truthout piece in which Pierce Nahigyan posits the astonishingly arrogant, absurdly pompous argument all we need do to cure the nation's ills is “have a serious conversation about the big idea: What we want the United States to be” – as if that alone would save our species from itself.
Needless to say, my retort was blistering.
Here is an excerpt, edited and condensed from four separate posts:
Alas, it is far too late to have “a serious conversation about the Big Idea."
Indeed it has been too late since the Eleven Years of Political Murders (22 November 1963 to 13 November 1974), and the slayings of President Kennedy, Malcolm X, Sen. Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Hampton, Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, William Schroeder, Phillip Gibbs, James Green and Karen Silkwood.
Everything that has happened since then, the Patriot Act and the 2012 National Defense Appropriations Act included, has been nothing more than what the military calls a "mopping-up operation," the consolidation of victory, albeit performed in slow motion lest Moron Nation awaken to what obtains.
Though the Occupy Movement was in fact an awakening, it was predictably crushed. (For those of literary inclinations, our situation is identical to that described in the Harry Turtledove short story called "The Last Article," for which Google.
As a result there are now only two sorts of people in the United States.
There are those like Mr. Nahigyan, who believe we are still allowed significantly effective remnants of our former freedom and political power, but who thus by their breathtaking ignorance prove themselves to be utter fools if not victims of clinical delusion.
Then there are those like Chris Hedges or myself who know enough history to understand the USian Empire's technological supremacy means its de facto Fourth Reich is forever – that is, until capitalist savagery and/or the resultant nuclear war and/or environmental ruin reduces our species to extinction.
Nor will the oft-promised “technological solutions” ever save us. Murphy's Law is absolute reality. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And scientists with their breathtakingly selfish arrogance are Murphy's most devastating facilitators, witness Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island etc.
Though it is considered heresy to say so, Rev. King's statement that the arc of the universe moves toward justice is meanwhile proven to be the biggest Big Lie of all time. In fact the reverse is true. The few interludes of "justice" in human history are but fleeting sparks in an infinity of darkness -- and the frequency and duration of those sparks are in inverse proportion to technological development.
The more advanced the technology, the less it tolerates individual liberty.
Technology's ultimate function is thus proven by its consequences: it is to grant our overlords ever-more-godlike powers and simultaneously reduce ourselves to ever-more-abject powerlessness.
Besides which there is the fact the notion of revolution is rendered meaningless when it arises amongst a dying species on a dying planet.
Most of us also fail to understand how revolutions succeed. The Germanic risings against Rome succeeded because they were part of a continent-wide onslaught that denied Rome any possibility of assistance from without. Likewise Islam, again part of a continent-wide onslaught that denied large parts of post-Roman Europe and finally Byzantium -- Constantinople -- any possibility of outside reinforcement. But in the modern world -- as the Marxians themselves concluded -- such widespread risings are impossible. Hence all revolutions have four requirements. These are: (1)-ideological solidarity; (2)-leadership and organizational discipline; (3)-access to, and know-how to use, extant military technology; (4)-the intervention (or at least the clandestine assistance) of a major power. In today's world, no revolution can succeed without all four of these prerequisites in place.
The movements that in the 20th Century dismantled the British Empire would not have succeeded without Soviet and/or Chinese assistance. Gandhi's pacifism was backed by the Red Army and its threat of violent revolution. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1858 would never have occurred without the agitation of Tsarist intelligence operatives. The American Revolution of 1776 could not have succeeded without French assistance and intervention. Nor would the Russian Revolution of 1917 have succeeded without the clandestine help of Imperial Germany.
But evolution of the requisite pre-revolutionary conditions is impossible today and will remain so for as long as present-day surveillance technology and weaponry exist. Thanks to that technology, the USian Empire's total control of the world's economy is also total control of the world's peoples.
Domestically, the truly savage anti-intellectuality in which we have all been conditioned since World War II means that no ideological solidarity is possible beyond that organized by the Ruling Class: note the emergence of the Tea Party and then of Occupy (of which I was part). Contrast the two, and note why one has gone on to become an incipient Nazi Party, while the other is dead beyond resurrection, torn apart as much by forces within as it was crushed from without.
Conditions abroad are even more hopeless: the instant the global surveillance apparatus detects effective resistance, the Central Intelligence Agency sends in its death squads (for the newest example of which see the Ukraine reports below). Or take Venezuela: without the Soviet Union to back it up, its progressive government is no more sustainable than the proverbial snowball in hell. And there, of course, you have it: with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the co-optation of China, any realistic hope for humanitarian revolution or even humanitarian reform anywhere on this planet died forever.
Those who doubt this should remember the New Deal happened only after the U.S. Ruling Class was terrified into concessions by the prospect of a U.S. Communist revolution backed by the Red Army.
Any Ruling Class responds only to force, and this is more true of the Capitalist Ruling Class than of any of its historical counterparts – for what is capitalism but infinite greed elevated to maximum virtue?
Thus without the sort of leverage the USSR provided – even if there were not the nullifying issue of a dying species on a dying planet – humanitarian change is impossible. Thus too the unspeakable reality of the present: the darkest, most hopeless epoch in all human experience.
But our individual and collective powerlessness does not prohibit (and may in fact encourage), small-scale community efforts to improve the immediate circumstances of our lives. For example, an environmentalist friend and comrade in Maine has reduced her mass-movement involvements and refocused her efforts into teaching organic gardening methods to individuals and grassroots organizations.. As she puts it, We the People are so totally disempowered, all we activists can do now is work to help our neighbors transcend the present and looming adversities and thus live better lives.
The essence of such efforts is embodied the Zen/Taoist phrase "nothing special." Anything beyond that is grandiose if not delusional. But ironically it is from reconfiguring the ordinary – the "nothing special" – that true community is born, thereby transcending (and at least potentially nullifying) the divisions hitherto inflicted by ideological, ethnic, racial or sexual differences. Thus – when you think about it -- there is no greater, more effective antidote to capitalism than true community.
(My apology to the family of Allison Krause for misspelling her name in the on-line version of this commentary, which is corrected above.)
EMPHATICALLY RECOMMENDED READING: “How Ukraine Commemorates the Holocaust”: on the 70th anniversary of the Red Army's liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, the U.S. puppet neo-Nazi government in Kiev honored the Ukrainian fascists who helped the German invaders exterminate the region's Jews.
Another of Robert Parry's superb reports, the text also documents the (predictable) emergence in Ukraine of neo-Nazi death squads. They are (unsurprisingly) similar to the death squads the Central Intelligence Agency trained and operated elsewhere throughout capitalism's New World Order, the de facto Fourth Reich.
Also emphatically recommended is the Al Jazeera America/ Agence France-Presse report the U.S. has already sent at least 300 paratroopers into Ukraine to help Kiev bolster its death-squad governance.
As I noted in the comment thread, “This invasion of Ukraine is from the Russian perspective as great a threat as Soviet missiles in Cuba were to the U.S. in 1962. Indeed it is arguable the U.S. has just made World War III inevitable.”
In that same comment thread – somewhat revised for publication here – is my speculation on why the U.S. Ruling Class so fanatically despises the Russians, it would rather blow up the world than coexist with them – never mind the Russians our are natural allies in the fight against Islamic terrorism.
I have long assumed this anti-Russian hostility is a response to the fact the Russian people, in the person of the Red Army, beat back the capitalist powers' attempt to reconquer Russia immediately after the revolutions of 1917. Even now, 24 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party remains the second largest party in the Russian Federation. This means the Communists could again become Russia's ruling majority, the mere thought of which is sufficient to terrify our plutocratic overlords into the suicidal madness of thermonuclear war-mongering.
Another toxic spasm of the U.S. Ruling Class hatred for Russia is no doubt evoked by the fact that – more than any other country (and at a cost of about 45 million people killed) – it was Russia in the form of the Soviet Union that saved the world from German Nazism. As proven by the Bankers Plot of 1934, the Ruling Class wanted the Nazis to win. But for the plot's failure, the U.S. would have been the fourth and ultimately dominant Axis power.
But now – given the neo-Confederate and neo-Nazi taints metastasizing through the nation (most noticeably in how the federally militarized police are murdering African-Americans, but also in radically intensified misogyny, the growing popularity of genocide euphemized as “austerity” and of course in the 2010 and 2014 election results ) – maybe the real reason the Ruling Class hates Russia dates back to the U.S. Civil War.
Had it not been for Imperial Russia's support of the Union – note the Russian fleets in New York and San Francisco c. 1863 – Britain and France would have recognized the Confederacy, entered the war on its side and probably facilitated a Confederate victory. But not even the two empires together dared confront a fully mobilized Russia.
The resultant U.S.-Russian alliance was subsequently immortalized by Oliver Wendell Holmes:
Bleak are our shores with the blasts of December, Fettered and chill is the rivulet’s flow; Thrilling and warm are the hearts that remember Who was our friend when the world was our foe. Fires of the North in eternal communion, Blend your broad flashes with evening’s bright star; God bless the Empire that loves the Great Union Strength to her people! Long life to the Czar! 
As I know from firsthand experience, the Ruling Class aristocrats have long and vindictive memories. Could it be they're still enraged at the Russians for helping Lincoln end slavery?
GLENN GREENWALD'S EXPOSÉ on the deceptive propaganda peddled by NBC via the Richard Engel kidnapping tells a story that is, just as its headline says, “More Troubling Than Brian Williams Scandal.”
But it also gave me an opportunity to write a concise summary of how the USian Ruling Class has actually outdone Josef Goebbels. It has followed Goebbels' rules for propagandizing a people so effectively, they reflexively reject any unofficial narratives. It has done so by designing and imposing the world's first fully privatized governmental propaganda machine.
What follows is a slightly revised variant of the comment-thread original:
The ugly truth behind NBC's behavior in the Engel case is found in the fact so-called "mainstream media" is owned by the same cabal of plutocrats who own and control government at every U.S. level.
This means "mainstream media" is nothing more than a fully privatized, obscenely profitable government propaganda apparatus: same owners, same bosses, same goals of world conquest as those who own and control the government. In other words, just as government has been reduced to the executive-action agency of the Ruling Class, so has mass media been reduced to its mouthpiece.
This is not only fascism as defined by Benito Mussolini; it is in fact the ultimate, most perfected form of fascism, in which governance itself is a profit center – not just in "mainstream media" as state propagandists, but as in the prison-industrial complex, for-profit schools, etc. ad nauseam.
Meanwhile the "mainstream media's" deceptions about Iran are identical in magnitude and purpose to the German deceptions about Poland, authored by Josef Goebbels, that started World War II.
What we have here in the U.S. is not just fascism, but when you add in the master-race implications of U.S. "exceptionalism ," is in fact a new form of Nazism.
And let us not forget that fascism and Nazism are direct derivatives of capitalism. In fact they are capitalism's final, mature forms -- the only destinations allowed by capitalism's core value, the Ayn Rand precept of infinite greed as ultimate virtue.
Whether the goal is lebensraum and slaves or maximum profit by other means of exploitation, capitalism's corpse-littered pathway is identical and identically evil.
FINALLY THERE IS this: National Guard troops called out to suppress anti-racism protests in Ferguson, Missouri considered the protesters “enemy forces,” never mind the demonstrations were – as one discussion-thread contributor aptly put it, “American Citizens exercising their First Amendment right to 'petition the Government for redress of grievances.'”
To which I replied: “Ferguson or Ukraine, it's the same war: on one side, the capitalist New Order, the de facto Fourth Reich. On the other side, all the rest of us, We the People of the World.“
LB/12-19 April 2015