Gaza and the Psychopaths

Psychopathic

Adjective

1. Suffering from or constituting a chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent behavior.

This is Oxford’s best shot at describing a condition I feel quite comfortable framing within its succinct parameters the State of Israel, the vast majority of its population – if the analysis of Max Blumenthal and Norman Finkelstein mean anything – the disease of Zionism, a highly virulent form of theocratic nationalism, as well as that country’s primary enabler – the greatest purveyor of terror on earth – the United States.

The instantly iconic photograph of Fadi Hassan Abu Salah, a double amputee who lost his legs during an Israeli carpet bombing of the Gaza called Operation Cast Lead in 2008 was murdered by a sniper  Monday, May 14thin the context of an Israel now completely unfettered.  The 70 year genocide of Palestinians has achieved a bas relief of murderous psychosis requiring neither justification nor subterfuge.  From the Nakba or catastrophe of 1948 – the forced displacement of Palestinians numbering in the many hundreds of thousands from their homes and homeland marking the genesis of Israel’s blood soaked breech birth – to the present moment, there have been, to be sure, many, many worse slaughters by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and its various precursors, but the non-violent nature of this particular act of Palestinian resistance, The Right of Return, has placed Israel in the untenable absurdity of ascribing kites as lethal weapons of Hamas.

Not that Israel has the least concern for world opinion.  Their psychopathic horrors are salvific in the writ of impunity granted by the United States, an American propaganda machine of stunning homogeneity and the abysmal, ahistoric ignorance of its citizenry – what Henry A. Giroux aptly refers to as a culture of manufactured illiteracy.  Genocide plays well here as it mirrors the white, western European, Christian bedrock of America’s own DNA.  Forget about the living wake of Reaganomics, America is still sheep dipped in the tragic misery of 15thcentury papal bulls.

How else to explain the spectacle of an indeed feckless heiress cum garmento Ivanka Trump and her ne’er-do-well moron of a husband Jared Kushner partying in Jerusalem on the site of our new embassy at the very moment 60-plus unarmed Palestinian men, women and children were being gassed and mowed down by bunkered IDF snipers less than 40 miles from the festivities.  It would be bad fiction were it not true.

And where in aggregate, exactly, is the hue and cry of the progressive Jewish diaspora outside the confines of Pacifica Radio?  Nowhere. While I’m of the mind that all organized religion is poison, to the extent there is anything redemptive in the tenets of Judaism I would think gaggles of observant American Jewry would be falling over themselves to point out in ear splitting decibels and in the most public of ways the malign injury beyond reckoning or repair perpetrated by Zionism on one of the earth’s greatest and venerable faiths.  But no.  Fucking crickets.  Jewish Voice for Peace?  Well, bless Rebecca Vilkomerson, the organization’s Executive Director.  She gets high grades for effort but in the end her message strikes me as tepid, like an AA member telling a raging alcoholic they’ll be there when they’re ready.  Where is the bottom for American Jews?

All I do hear is fearful malevolence and psychopathy from the oxygen starved brains of barking chows Nikki Haley at the U.N. and Fox News host turned State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert – a clone of her Obama era predecessors Jen Psaki and Marie Harf. John Kelly, John Bolton, Fred Fleitz, Mike Pompeo, Gina Haspel, US ambassador to Israel David Friedman . . . . where do we grow psychopaths of such timeless uniformity, I wonder.  At the finest colleges to be sure.  Only the best and the brightest have brought us to this moment.

When Guatemala and Paraguay are the only countries in a “coalition of the willing” to join the United States in opening embassies in Jerusalem, you know America is alone in the world and absolutely collapsing as a global empire.  All we have left are tech companies that have made the inane ubiquitous, the closely related export of death and an increasingly shaky petro-dollar.

When all one hears is the ceaseless din of an utterly seamless merger of media on the left and the right bloviating preposterous Russophobic bullshit amidst a welter of false flag chemical attacks from Syria to Britain that are debunked as fast as they occur – but not by the voices on the left who should know better – then the writing, as they say, is on the wall.

In the meantime, every day, clearly identified Palestinian healthcare workers armed with cotton balls and saline are targeted like 21 year old paramedic Razan al-Najjar who had her heart blown out through her back 100 yards from an IDF rampart Friday, June 1st – followed by her cousin Ramzi al-Najjar on Monday. Canadian Palestinian Dr. Tarek Loubani, journalists like Ahmed Abu Hussein and Yaser Murtaja continue to be scoped and then murdered or crippled in the largest open air prison on earth with a reckless abandonment by psychotic Zionists at a level of carnage approaching what Hindu nationalists have been perpetrating on Muslims, dalits, tribals and women in general throughout India for decades.  Yet another predominant genocidal theocracy with roots in Nazism and caste given to rape, hacking and immolation that make death by a clean bullet in the Gazan dirt seem like a blessing.  But then, no one but Arundhati Roy is talking about that and it is, admittedly, bad form to compare atrocities.  Most especially when the bullets aren’t clean.

IDF snipers are using what used to be referred to in 1980’s as “cop killers” or “dum-dum” bullets. These iterations on a grisly theme mushroom and fragment upon impact to maximize the internal carnage, exiting the body through a hole the size of a fist. They’re now referred to as “butterfly bullets”.  Splendid marketing largely under-appreciated by the 123 dead and the amputees among 13,700 injured since March 30th.

The 70 year genocide of Palestinians by the State of Israel is psychopathic.  It is not a conflict.  It is genocide.

The 11 year Israeli blockade of Gaza by air, sea and land is psychopathic.

America’s support of the apartheid State of Israel through our media, billions in military hardware and United Nations obstruction is psychopathic.

Indifference is complicity and, yes, psychopathic.

As language becomes a weaponized virus unhinged from historical precedence and critical thought, precision becomes imperative to call things by their proper name.  We are all of us in the cold embrace of psychopaths. The prisoners of Gaza and the West Bank know this.  So should we.

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Why Stephen Paddock Snapped In Vegas:

So it’s been a week or more since I posted up here, which is to say eons.  The reasons for this are two fold.  One, I’m not prolific and can go for days with absolutely zero desire to write.  Some days I’d rather mow the lawn.  The second reason, more trenchant than the first, is the fact that my entire life is defined as a patchwork quilt of short term, dead end stints in corporate sweat shops for little more than minimum wage.  These two, and sometimes three, part time jobs I bounce between to pay my mortgage and utilities wreck havoc on circadian rhythms – sleeping patterns – and leave uncommitted wakefulness mostly spent sitting, recovering from grueling physical labor and dealing with bouts of depression and self loathing for somehow not having ever had the ability to build anything but the numbing, soul deadening life of anyone who survives paycheck to paycheck.

The only thing sadder than working shoulder to shoulder with people decades younger than myself who accept with only the dimmest awareness the conditions of vocational realities that will leave them – like the loyal horse Boxer in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” – old, broken and bereft,  is having a clarified appreciation of ones own inescapable participation in the lowest strata of economic systems whose defining characteristic is the bedrock of human exploitation.

Writing, the only thing in life I could ever say I do well, is the least romantic of all forms of creation.  Put up against music, dance, sculpture, song or painting, writing is the hunched form at the end of the bar at closing time staring into an empty shot glass.  It shares in common with all the great forms an intellectual and emotional wrestling match at the intersection of love and universal suffering that comes from living in a movie where one is an expendable, unpaid extra.  But mostly it’s a lonely process within a pervasive  solitude of social and economic exclusion akin to having your teeth extracted through your dick.  And then, as if to add insult to injury, it doesn’t pay a fucking dime.

Like every American and hundreds of millions around the globe, I was shocked and saddened by the slaughter in Vegas.  Not simply at the randomness and horrific scale of the event but the accompanying familiarity, even ennui, toward a particular mass murder of the many that have become as commonplace here as they are rare anywhere else in the world.  As the days went by and authorities drilled down into the most granular minutia of Stephen Paddock’s life in search of a motive, the news reports persistently revealed nothing.  He wasn’t part of a white supremacist death cult, Al Qaeda, a Catalonian revolutionary sleeper cell or an operative from Vladimir Putin’s sock drawer.  The most remarkable aspect of his life seems to be the unremarkable nature of it.

That’s the most revealing and terrifying aspect of a story that fell out of the news cycle even as his victims continue to fight for their lives.  The real story seems to be about a smart guy who – like untold millions of other people in this country – are relegated through accidents of birth to circling the drain of an ever constricting economic funnel.  The truth is we live in a profoundly sick economic construct that extrudes profit above all else from oceans of otherwise meaningless, eminently redundant human bodies.  It is a death cult and we should just call it what it is.  It is a system that breeds Steve Paddocks.  While I bear nothing but odium and condemnation for the homicidal destruction of his suicide and the ruin he left behind, I have to say, with great sadness,  after a lifetime of bearing witness to a system that has driven me, and the lives of those a lot smarter than me, to the brink of homelessness without hope of affordable healthcare, savings, productive employment or retirement – I understand.

Beyond what I have to say on this subject as part of a larger work, the most important article in the country right now has just been published.  I have posted it below.  It is written by author and documentarian Greg Palast and appears in one of the most important venues of critical thought on the web, Dissident Voice.  I recommend everyone read it and share it widely.

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

I went to School with the Vegas Shooter

Mobile home on tracks, Sun Valley CA, birthplace of the Vegas shooter. From the film The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

Los Angeles — When we were at Francis Polytechnic High in Sun Valley, Steve Paddock and I were required to take electrical shop class.  At Poly and our junior high, we were required to take metal shop so we could work the drill presses at the GM plant.  We took drafting.  Drafting like in “blueprint drawing.”

Paddock. Palast.  We sat next to each other at those drafting tables with our triangular rulers and #2 pencils so we could get jobs at Lockheed as draftsman drawing blueprints of fighter jets.  Or do tool-and-dye cutting to make refrigerator handles at GM where they assembled Frigidaire refrigerators and Chevys.

But we weren’t going to fly the fighter jets.  Somewhere at Phillips Andover Academy, a dumbbell with an oil well for a daddy was going to go to Yale and then fly our fighter jets over Texas.  We weren’t going to go to Yale.  We were going to go to Vietnam.  Then, when we came back, if we still had two hands, we went to GM or Lockheed.

(It’s no coincidence that much of the student population at our school was Hispanic.)

But if you went to “Bevvie” – Beverly Hills High – or Hollywood High, you didn’t take metal shop.  You took Advanced Placement French.  You took Advanced Placement Calculus.  We didn’t have Advanced Placement French.  We didn’t have French anything.  We weren’t Placed, and we didn’t Advance.

Steve was a math wizard.  He should have gone to UCLA, to Stanford.  But our classes didn’t qualify him for anything other than LA Valley College and Cal State Northridge.  Any dumbbell could get in.  And it was nearly free.  That’s where Steve was expected to go, and he went with his big math-whiz brain.

And then Steve went to Lockheed, like we were supposed to. Until Lockheed shut down plants in 1988.  Steve left, took the buy-out.

And after NAFTA, GM closed too.

Land of Opportunity?  Well, tell me:  who gets those opportunities?

Some of you can and some of you can’t imagine a life where you just weren’t give a fair chance.  Where the smarter you are, the more painful it gets, because you have your face pressed against the window, watching THEM.  THEY got the connections to Stanford.  THEY get the gold mine.  WE get the shaft.

This is where Paddock and Palast were bred:  Sun Valley, the anus of Los Angeles.  Literally.  It’s where the sewerage plant is.   It’s in a trench below the Hollywood Hills, where the smog settles into a kind of puke yellow soup.  Here’s where LA dumps its urine and the losers they only remember when they need cheap labor and cheap soldiers when the gusanos don’t supply enough from Mexico.

I’ll take you to Sun Valley. It’s in my film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. In the movie, a kind of dream scene, the actress Shailene Woodley takes me back to my family’s old busted home in the weeds and then down San Fernando Road, near Steve’s place. Take a look, America. Along the tracks that once led in to the GM plant, you see a bunch of campers that the union men bought for vacations. Now they live in them.

No, Steve’s brain was too big to end up on the tracks.  He lived in empty apartments in crappy buildings he bought, then in a barren tract house outside Reno.  I laugh when they say he was “rich.”  He wanted to be THEM, to have their stuff.  He got close.

It’s reported that Steve was a “professional gambler.” That’s another laugh. He was addicted to numbing his big brain by sitting 14 hours a day in the dark in front of video poker machines. He was a loser.  Have you ever met a gambler who said they were a Professional Loser?

It’s fair to ask me:  Why didn’t I end up in a hotel room with a bump-stock AR-15 and 5,000 rounds of high velocity bullets?

Because I have a job, a career, an OBSESSION:  to hunt down THEM, the daddy-pampered pricks who did this to us, the grinning billionaire jackals that make a profit off the slow decomposition of the lives I grew up with.

But I’m telling you, that I know it’s a very fine line, and lots of crazy luck, that divided my path from Paddock’s.

Dear Reader: The publication that pulled this story at the last moment was plain scared–that they’d be accused of approving murder.

Paddock slaughtered good people, coldly, with intense cruelty, destroying lives and hundreds of families forever.  If you think I’m making up some excuse for him, then I give up.

But also this:  The editor of the Beverly Hills-based publication, a Stanford grad, could not understand that, just like veterans of the Vietnam war who suffer from PTSD even today, so too, losers of the class war can be driven mad by a PTSD that lingers, that gnaws away, their whole lives.

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it …fester like a sore? Does it stink like rotten meat? Sag…like a heavy load?
Or does it explode?
— Langston Hughes

Steve, you created more horrors than your cornered life could ever justify.

But, I just have to tell you, Steve:  I get it.

 

Greg Palast studied healthcare economics at the Center for Hospital Administration Studies at the University of Chicago. His investigative reports can be seen on BBC Television’s NewsnightRead other articles by Greg, or visit Greg’s website.

Katrina, Part Deux.

Dr. Manuel Garcia Jr., author, poet, physicist and friend has published a powerful indictment of a petrified American political system – and the Trump regime in particular – that has shown itself not merely incapable of responding appropriately to crisis, but moreover unforgivably indifferent and callously unwilling to render the degree of assistance desperately required on our colony of Puerto Rico.
As Manuel plainly lays out, the catastrophe left in the wake of Hurricane Maria called for an obvious and immediate shift to a wartime footing in response to an island of 3.4 million people whose housing stock, agriculture, communication, water systems, medical facilities and power grids were suddenly decapitated.
I was in the military. I know god damned well what the armed forces are capable of when they commit to a humanitarian mission. I have a medal in a sock drawer somewhere for having been in the middle of the Mariel Boat Lift during the Carter administration. For the young, or baby boomers afflicted with historical amnesia, that was an operation where the US Coast Guard and Navy facilitated the safe passage of tens of thousands of Cuban refugees from Mariel Harbor, Cuba to the United States in 1980.
This country has armadas of military vessels and every conceivable form of conveyance and human resource more than capable of reestablishing infrastructure and logistical networks in Puerto Rico. America’s delayed and tepid response has roots specific to our internal and external colonies as well as a more generalized indifference to suffering that is the hallmark of “American exceptionalism” anywhere anyone with a set of eyeballs chooses to look.
History does repeat itself. Dr. Garcia does well to point out the catastrophe of George W. Bush’s delayed response to Hurricane Katrina where bloated black bodies laid unattended for days on the side of the road and insurance companies stepped away.   I well remember Bush’s jocular congratulation of FEMA Chief Michael Brown, “You’re doing a great job, Brownie”. Well, here we go again.
This is only the latest example in a rouges’ gallery of horror where America is not being great again – again!  Many thanks to Manuel for helping to bring attention to the call to arms that wasn’t in the essential venue for critical thought, Dissident Voice.

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

I Am Puerto Rico, So Are You

The island of Puerto Rico has been destroyed by Hurricane Maria and remains in ruins with little outside assistance for about a week now. What should be done?

The U.S. could (if it wanted to) send an aircraft carrier (or two or three) to Puerto Rico, and use its nuclear reactor as a power source for basic needs in San Juan (where it would most likely dock). It could offload mobile hospital units (MASH) and truck and/or helicopter such units to more remote locations; such units would include gasoline/diesel generators. Additionally, there are Marine units designed to set up helicopter landing zones and other forward bases (as in Vietnam), which today include the ability to set up some solar power systems (for very local electric power), as well as drone systems (for reconnaissance) to search for and locate places/people most in need of help. The US military also has hospital ships (as in Vietnam, during the US war), that could treat the most seriously injured, transported (by helicopter) from “the field.”

The U.S. military, as well as the oil companies, have tankers that can bring in needed fuel (oil, gasoline). The US Corps of Engineers (basically the Army construction industry) can have units dispersed throughout the Island, to clear debris, repair and open up roads, and repair power lines. The combat engineers of the U.S. military (with the Navy, the famous Seabees) can also make amphibious landings and create temporary airfields and clear debris (they are intended to go into landing zones before the troops and clear mines and obstructions against amphibious assault).

One use of remote solar collector-to-electric power systems would be to power cell phone towers, and provide local cell-phone charging power outlets, so people isolated in the wrecked hinterlands can at least communicate, for both family/personal matters as well as financial matters. Establishing housing locations in sanitary conditions, with clean water and safe food available – “refugee camps” – can and should be established ASAP by combinations of the resources/forces I have mentioned. Basically, what is needed is the network of extended support services needed by US troops in a war zone – again, as in Vietnam during the US war there – only this time those being supported are Puerto Rico’s people, the victims of Hurricane Maria.

Had I been US President this would have been called into action as soon as Hurricane Maria’s winds had died down to below 60 mph at each locality on the Island. What we have now is that 6-7 days after the passing of the Mega-Weedwacker of Hurricane Maria, Trump has been prodded to make a speech – mainly to moan about the fact that bankrupt Puerto Rico “owes” billions to the vulture capitalists on Wall Street.

In my view, the abject failure to safeguard, or at least speed the rescue, of Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans during the administration of George W. Bush, and now particularly the case of the Hurricane Maria devastation in Puerto Rico during the Trump Administration, is above the threshold of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for impeaching the Trump executive branch (too late for impeaching GWB, but not indicting him), and the congressional leadership, minimally of the Republican Party and probably also the Democratic Party. For Trump, I think such intentional negligence (how could it not be intentional?) rises to the point of being indictable for murder.

Would my emergency “invasion” of Puerto Rico by the US military cost money? Hell, yes, a lot! But then there never seems to be a lack of billions and trillions to bomb dark-skinned people to smithereens all over the world for decades at a time. The Washington D.C. government is treating Puerto Rico like the Israelis treat the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Spanish is the primary language in Puerto Rico, and that island was conquered by the U.S. in 1898 (The Spanish American War). The residents of Puerto Rico were given US citizenship on March 2, 1917, and the U.S. (Wilson Administration) entered World War I on April 6, 1917; and men from Puerto Rico were drafted into the US military for that war and for every US war thereafter till the draft was replaced by voluntary induction in 1973. Tellingly, Puerto Rico was not given US statehood, nor allowed to have voting congressional representatives in the US government.

Realize what is happening here, the high rollers who have bought out the US government really only care about lining their pockets, and getting megalomaniacal orgasms from exercising power, and they really don’t care much about the well-being and security of the US population outside their class – the 1%, and also outside their clan-race affiliation (so Blacks, Muslims and Latinos are largely out of luck). Unless you are in one of the cared-for wealth classes, or favored “race” classes, you are only one hurricane, or tornado, or flood, or epidemic, or earthquake, or landslide, or fire away from ruin and very possibly survival.

So, instead of giving up and letting yourself end-it-all by instant gun-cop-shootout suicide, or not-so-fast suicide by opioids, or slow motion suicide by junk food, cigarettes and TV, wake up enough to find out who is actually worth voting for (let Bernie Sanders’s example be a template) and stop giving the usual pricks and prickesses your attention and ignorant support. If enough do this, maybe in time we will see an improved people-oriented administration of the American Republic.

Look at the photos and news videos from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and sear this thought in your mind: I am only a 24-hour catastrophe away from those people, I am on hold to be the next destroyed Puerto Rico, we are all Americans, therefore I AM Puerto Rico.

Now, focus your outrage where it will do some good for us all.

Manuel Garcia, Jr. is an occasional writer who is always independent. His e-mail address is: mangogarcia@att.netRead other articles by Manuel, or visit Manuel’s website.

Whom The Gods Would Destroy, They First Make Mad.

Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, denizen of a nameless void eighteen floors beneath abysmal ignorance without remedy, so disconnected – not simply from reality – but common human decency itself that to call her a swine is to slander a fine and noble beast slumbering unperturbed in a manger of its own feces.

Part of an administration whose collective vanity would make Roman emperor Commodus enraged at the modesty of his most flagrant indulgence, Secretary Duke stepped up to a microphone on national television and without a trace of shame, guilt or artifice claimed the American response to the catastrophe in Puerto Rico is, “a good news story”!  A statement of such craven, boorish cruelty the only fitting punishment would be the stripping of every financial asset she has until the only choice left to her would be whether to pay rent to a slumlord for a one bedroom shitbox with black mold and broken appliances or to have an abscessed tooth drained for cash.

Grinding, long-term poverty is the most violent thing I know – and I know it well. It is a condition that etches the face and hands. It announces its presence and tells its story in the furrowed brow and beaten gaze. I wish that life – a life lived by me and tens of millions of Americans here and in our colonies across the world from Puerto Rico to the Marshall Islands – upon her, every member of this Administration and the Christian fascists who support it.

Under withering criticism the Emperor relented and tapped his fathomless compassion and by divine unction conferred the auspice of a ten-day waiver of the Jones Act . That’s the law that embargoes all but American merchant fleets manned with American crew from delivering so much as a box of paper clips to Puerto Rico since 1920.

So although Puerto Rico’s Caribbean neighbors were ready, willing and able to deliver emergency water, clothing, medical supplies and food, they were prohibited from doing so until yesterday, Thursday, September 28th, a full week after Hurricane Maria devastated the entire island. As of Wednesday, 97% of Puerto Rico still has no power. People are running out of food and potable water and for the sick and injured the options for medical treatment are slim and none. It’s hard to imagine beyond cruel irony, greed beyond the slightest compunction over the death of brown bodies and the impulse to plunder what conceivable difference a 10 day waiver of the Jones Act will make for the life and death needs of 3.4 million people.

Not to be undone in the department of tone-deaf incompetence, Congress was shamed from its torpor to go rummage through the couch and come up with $6 billion dollars for the salvation of Puerto Rico. Six whole billion! That should be enough to fix half of San Juan. How will all our brown subjects on that destitute island ever thank their continental overlords in Washington and Wall Street for this act of selfless generosity? It’s hard to imagine, since nobody’s phone works.

This “good news story” promises only to get better over the coming days and weeks and simply serves to highlight the spirit of generosity the United States is renowned for across the world. Just ask anyone whose country we’ve brought democracy to. If they’re still alive.

The Bacchanalian Orgy of American Propaganda At Its Zenith.

As the corruption of language continues apace and propaganda – a term itself re-framed as “Public Relations” to conceal the true nature and science behind mass manipulation – approaches fever pitch in America, Hollywood, with its own rich background in rewriting history, has topped its odious complicity with the deep state in a fresh neo-conservative piece de resistance playing everywhere.  The producers, The Committee to Investigate Russia, have militated against an utter vacuum of supporting evidence to fabricate a poorly cut, if earnest, video adding to the 24/7 denigration, demonization and blame storming of Russia and Vladimir Putin as the cause of Hillary Clinton’s fraught campaign – one with all the spiritual uplift and buoyancy of lead – and her subsequent meteoric flame out in November’s presidential election.

The video stars Morgan Freeman as the bearer of bad tidings, emoting with penetrating sincerity and dollops of canyon like silence between lines to better saturate the doe eyed viewer of trembling lip a message drawn, as it were, from the Arc of the Covenant itself, “We are at war”!!  WAR!!!  For sheer batshit crazy, Morgan Freeman’s performance eclipses even Clint Eastwood’s impromptu scolding of a chair on August 30, 2012 at the Republican National Convention.

Fronting for the newly formed “Committee” is none other than Rob Reiner – apparently reprising his hapless character Michael “Meathead” Stivic from All in the Family – together with a supporting cast of ghoulish inside the beltway Clintonian think tankers.  This neoconservative set piece should be seen by everyone as a case study in the worst example of propagandistic dog vomit in recent American history.

Aaron Mate, of the Real News Network, interviews acclaimed author Max Blumenthal about this shameless pile of Hollywood scat, cutting through the highly polished turd and the organization funding it in Part I of a two part discussion.

In the well funded 24/7 campaign to shrink wrap your mind, the Public Broadcasting Network (PBS) is not to be outdone by Hollywood in its own efforts to rewrite history.  The great journalist and documentarian John Pilger states, “The revision never ends and the blood never dries” as he writes about the express train of historic amnesia perpetrated with great success through never ending salvos of movies, docudramas and documentaries purporting to display the inevitability of war as if it were an act of God with America, the reluctant moral exemplar, always on the side of the angels.

Pilger’s most recent case in point is Ken Burns’ latest omelette on the Viet Nam war, funded generously then, as now, by Bank of America.  My advice before seeing this well paid trollop of revisionist history would be to read John Pilger’s outstanding article below, buy yourselves a copy of Nick Turse’s “Kill Anything That Moves” and Chris Hedges’ “War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning” and skip the propaganda.

Pilger was there.  He covered the war in Viet Nam.  He saw it for what it was then and now in his article titled “The Killing Of History”, tearing the mask off yet another attempt at whitewashing the murder, mayhem and dismemberment the death cult who own this country export to the rest of the world.

Read and feel free to share with others.

 

The Killing Of History:  By John Pilger

21 September 2017

graveside.jpg

The lone survivor of an all-women anti-aircraft battery near Hanoi. Most were teenagers. (Photo: John Pilger 1975)

One of the most hyped “events” of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, “They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way”.

In a society often bereft of historical memory and in thrall to the propaganda of its “exceptionalism”, Burns’ “entirely new” Vietnam war is presented as “epic, historic work”. Its lavish advertising campaign promotes its biggest backer, Bank of America, which in 1971 was burned down by students in Santa Barbara, California, as a symbol of the hated war in Vietnam.

Burns says he is grateful to “the entire Bank of America family” which “has long supported our country’s veterans”.  Bank of America was a corporate prop to an invasion that killed perhaps as many as four million Vietnamese and ravaged and poisoned a once bountiful land. More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed, and around the same number are estimated to have taken their own lives.

I watched the first episode in New York. It leaves you in no doubt of its intentions right from the start. The narrator says the war “was begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War misunderstandings”.

The dishonesty of this statement is not surprising. The cynical fabrication of “false flags” that led to the invasion of Vietnam is a matter of record – the Gulf of Tonkin “incident” in 1964, which Burns promotes as true, was just one. The lies litter a multitude of official documents, notably the Pentagon Papers, which the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg released in 1971.

There was no good faith. The faith was rotten and cancerous. For me – as it must be for many Americans – it is difficult to watch the film’s jumble of “red peril” maps, unexplained interviewees, ineptly cut archive and maudlin American battlefield sequences.

In the series’ press release in Britain – the BBC will show it – there is no mention of Vietnamese dead, only Americans. “We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy,” Novick is quoted as saying.  How very post-modern.

All this will be familiar to those who have observed how the American media and popular culture behemoth has revised and served up the great crime of the second half of the twentieth century: from The Green Berets and The Deer Hunter to Rambo and, in so doing, has legitimised subsequent wars of aggression. The revisionism never stops and the blood never dries. The invader is pitied and purged of guilt, while “searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy”. Cue Bob Dylan: “Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?”

I thought about the “decency” and “good faith” when recalling my own first experiences as a young reporter in Vietnam: watching hypnotically as the skin fell off Napalmed peasant children like old parchment, and the ladders of bombs that left trees petrified and festooned with human flesh. General William Westmoreland, the American commander, referred to people as “termites”.

In the early 1970s, I went to Quang Ngai province, where in the village of My Lai, between 347 and 500 men, women and infants were murdered by American troops (Burns prefers “killings”). At the time, this was presented as an aberration: an “American tragedy” (Newsweek ). In this one province, it was estimated that 50,000 people had been slaughtered during the era of American “free fire zones”. Mass homicide. This was not news.

To the north, in Quang Tri province, more bombs were dropped than in all of Germany during the Second World War. Since 1975, unexploded ordnance has caused more than 40,000 deaths in mostly “South Vietnam”, the country America claimed to “save” and, with France, conceived as a singularly imperial ruse.

The “meaning” of the Vietnam war is no different from the meaning of the genocidal campaign against the Native Americans, the colonial massacres in the Philippines, the atomic bombings of Japan, the levelling of every city in North Korea. The aim was described by Colonel Edward Lansdale, the famous CIA man on whom Graham Greene based his central character in The Quiet American.

Quoting Robert Taber’s The War of the Flea, Lansdale said, “There is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbours resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.”

Nothing has changed. When Donald Trump addressed the United Nations on 19 September – a body established to spare humanity the “scourge of war” – he declared he was “ready, willing and able” to “totally destroy” North Korea and its 25 million people. His audience gasped, but Trump’s language was not unusual.

His rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, had boasted she was prepared to “totally obliterate” Iran, a nation of more than 80 million people. This is the American Way; only the euphemisms are missing now.

Returning to the US, I am struck by the silence and the absence of an opposition – on the streets, in journalism and the arts, as if dissent once tolerated in the “mainstream” has regressed to a dissidence: a metaphoric underground.

There is plenty of sound and fury at Trump the odious one, the “fascist”, but almost none at Trump the symptom and caricature of an enduring system of conquest and extremism.

Where are the ghosts of the great anti-war demonstrations that took over Washington in the 1970s? Where is the equivalent of the Freeze Movement that filled the streets of Manhattan in the 1980s, demanding that President Reagan withdraw battlefield nuclear weapons from Europe?

The sheer energy and moral persistence of these great movements largely succeeded; by 1987 Reagan had negotiated with Mikhail Gorbachev an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that effectively ended the Cold War.

Today, according to secret Nato documents obtained by the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zetung, this vital treaty is likely to be abandoned as “nuclear targeting planning is increased”. The German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has warned against “repeating the worst mistakes of the Cold War… All the good treaties on disarmament and arms control from Gorbachev and Reagan are in acute peril. Europe is threatened again with becoming a military training ground for nuclear weapons. We must raise our voice against this.”

But not in America. The thousands who turned out for Senator Bernie Sanders’ “revolution” in last year’s presidential campaign are collectively mute on these dangers. That most of America’s violence across the world has been perpetrated not by Republicans, or mutants like Trump, but by liberal Democrats, remains a taboo.

Barack Obama provided the apotheosis, with seven simultaneous wars, a presidential record, including the destruction of Libya as a modern state. Obama’s overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government has had the desired effect: the massing of American-led Nato forces on Russia’s western borderland through which the Nazis invaded in 1941.

Obama’s “pivot to Asia” in 2011 signalled the transfer of the majority of America’s naval and air forces to Asia and the Pacific for no purpose other than to confront and provoke China. The Nobel Peace Laureate’s worldwide campaign of assassinations is arguably the most extensive campaign of terrorism since 9/11.

What is known in the US as “the left” has effectively allied with the darkest recesses of institutional power, notably the Pentagon and the CIA, to see off a peace deal between Trump and Vladimir Putin and to reinstate Russia as an enemy, on the basis of no evidence of its alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The true scandal is the insidious assumption of power by sinister war-making vested interests for which no American voted. The rapid ascendancy of the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies under Obama represented an historic shift of power in Washington. Daniel Ellsberg rightly called it a coup. The three generals running Trump are its witness.

All of this fails to penetrate those “liberal brains pickled in the formaldehyde of identity politics”, as Luciana Bohne noted memorably. Commodified and market-tested, “diversity” is the new liberal brand, not the class people serve regardless of their gender and skin colour: not the responsibility of all to stop a barbaric war to end all wars.

“How did it fucking come to this?” says Michael Moore in his Broadway show, Terms of My Surrender, a vaudeville for the disaffected set against a backdrop of Trump as Big Brother.

I admired Moore’s film, Roger & Me, about the economic and social devastation of his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and Sicko, his investigation into the corruption of healthcare in America.

The night I saw his show, his happy-clappy audience cheered his reassurance that “we are the majority!” and calls to “impeach Trump, a liar and a fascist!” His message seemed to be that had you held your nose and voted for Hillary Clinton, life would be predictable again.

He may be right. Instead of merely abusing the world, as Trump does, the Great Obliterator might have attacked Iran and lobbed missiles at Putin, whom she likened to Hitler: a particular profanity given the 27 million Russians who died in Hitler’s invasion.

“Listen up,” said Moore, “putting aside what our governments do, Americans are really loved by the world!”

There was a silence.

Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger

Irma

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

I’m twelve feet away from the northern eyewall of Hurricane Irma.  Seated behind floor to ceiling panes of glass that can’t be thick enough. “Are they thick enough?” I wonder while staring at the murderous velocity of rain and wind that just a few steps away would lift me whole and launch me into the lake, a tree or another house. With death defying, tornadic ferocity the wind drives rain sideways in every direction at once.  I hear tree trunks and limbs snapping like firecrackers off in the distance.

There’s still running water, but the electricity went off hours ago. There’s no internet. Comcast has opened up thousands of free WiFi hotspots for anyone whose service is down.  You can log on for two hours at a time. Two hours at a time in the teeth of an historic maelstrom.  I enter a username and password and hit a fucking pay wall. Comcastic!

The changes in air pressure are making my ears pop as the wind lives up to its cliché;  it really does sound like a freight train.  130, 140 miles per hour but still not the Cat-5 death dealer that scoured 100% of Barbuda’s housing stock down to its concrete foundations.  Not the 185 miles per hour that would take paint off a car, put the car in a hole and blow the hole away.  This isn’t that, but it’s impossible to say exactly how fortunate I am beyond the fact I’m still sitting here watching the world get ripped apart.

I’m glad I boarded up my house and came to my in-law’s ground floor condo 20 minutes northeast.  In a storm 600 miles wide that’s a difference without a distinction but this condo is better built and stronger than my tract home constructed in 1976 by contractors on acid.  I’ve moved to the kitchen, away from the glass, where I’ve paired off a peanut butter and honey sandwich against a muscular Cabernet/Zin/Sarah blend.  I’m out of milk.

Suddenly the wind dies down and the rain stops. We’re in the eye. I step outside.  I’m told there’s blue sky in the center of a hurricane, but not in this one. Irma’s core is deck plate gray and the driveway is a carpet of leaves, branches and uprooted trunks making the way impassable.  What’s the difference?  I’m not going anywhere anyway. The southern half of the eyewall is coming.  I snap some pictures and go back inside.  The wind picks up fast and the rain with it.  My cats have slept through the whole thing.  One in the master bedroom and two others, a mother and her adult spawn spooned into an indistinguishable pile of warm fur on my bed in the guest room.  I wish I could be that cool and follow their lead. The howling begins and once again I hear tree trunks snapping.

If my in-law’s home suffered cosmetic damage, my own home was a different matter.  Driving south along main arteries through intersections of cockeyed traffic lights, blacked out and dangling, I finally made it to the badly flooded stretch of road that is the only way in or out of my neighborhood.  I drove through sheet flow up to my doors and managed to get through to my street and driveway.  The front yard was strewn with pieces of other people’s houses, tree limbs and branches: the back yard the same, only under water.  Mature shade trees split down the middle and a one story aluminum pool cage now a twisted skeleton of support and cross beams, half thrown up on my roof while the rest lies in and around my pool at strange angles as if gravity hadn’t quite finished its conversation.

The wooden front door gave way under protest, swollen as it was against the jam.  I was greeted with the thick, warmishly fetid organic musk of a diaper pail.  Irma had blown water into my house through every conceivable fissure and crevice a house built in 1976 invariably has.  The baseboards and sheet rock had wicked up the puddled sweat like a sponge, expanding and separating from each other. Everything twelve inches off the deck will have to be cut out and replaced; every square inch of tile, every grout line, will have to be painstakingly scrubbed with soap and bleach. Somehow my paperback copy of Antonia Juhasz’ great work, The Tyranny of Oil sits bloated and destroyed on the bedroom floor.  How ironic.

The $120 in cash and credit cards in my pocket are worthless.  There is nowhere to spend money.  No supermarkets selling food, no gas stations selling gas, no hardware stores selling tools or propane. People everywhere are living off stockpiled meat, water, beer and soda stored in ice chests and everyone seems to have their grills fired up. Checking to see how others close by are doing, one kindly offers 5 gallons of gas when I tell him I’m down to a quarter tank.  Another offers a grilled sausage on a hot dog roll.  I’m a vegetarian, but not today.  Yet another provides a half loaf of sliced bread and cold Gator-Aide.  Everyone has been hit hard, so these spontaneous acts of proximal kindness are meaningful, unexpected and palpable.  In the coming days, waiting for power to be restored, much generosity and cooperation was on offer in this working class neighborhood. Far more than any expressed or received from family or friends of long standing with the means to do more, something – or anything.  And I know why this is so.

We live in a realm of hungry ghosts, a trance state mistaken for normative, acceptable – even civil – society.  But it’s not a society, in the strictest sense, as there is so little that is social about it.  It’s an economic construct marked by disregard, disdain, incivility utterly drained of unity, community or any sense of individual obligation to the whole or the other.  No matter how much one has, insatiable hunger for more persists.  A mind where spaciousness is emptiness; an inversion of abundance into a perception of scarcity and lack.  A Dickensian box where those working for scraps live in an ahistorical matrix deprived of the vocabulary to even describe their reality while those that have real wealth live in a richly textured movie starring themselves in a mythological place where they are generous, compassionate, deserving, loving and kind. It is an abattoir.  An extremely violent gun culture of dog loving infantile grandiosity.

The ballet of my neighbor Juan and his two chainsaws makes me sorry I didn’t record it.  He owns a landscaping business, and he and his crews had been working their asses off since dawn clearing downed trees in a gated community near my open neighborhood.  It was getting on sunset when he came over offering to chop up the last eight feet of a fifty foot shade tree blasted from its moorings in my back yard.  It was an unbelievably kind gesture after the kind of day I’m sure he had.  I watched him cut the trunk and lower limbs into a pile of manageable chunks inside of about 20 minutes. It would have taken me at least an hour if I knew how to do it without killing myself.  All he wanted was a cold beer.  The next day I brought him a case.

It made me think about the current administration’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the millions of Latinos deported by President Obama.  I grew saddened and furious.  In the wake of Hurricane Irma in SW Florida, the road back from neighborhoods turned medieval under tons of fallen trees is being led by thousands of undocumented Mexicans, Hondurans and Guatemalans with chainsaws.  The next time I hear anyone slandering Latinos in any way, especially with the canard that they’re “taking our jobs”, I will step up to them and publicly shame them.  I will describe them and, if practical, strangle them while I whisper in their fucking ear.

As of this writing I’ve had my power back for 6 days.  Six days of hot showers, fresh laundry and air conditioning.  There are still thousands without power in homes inundated with water that has nowhere to go in the super-saturated soil of SW Florida. Overpriced slumlord shit boxes and the homes of retirees on or near the Imperial River less than a mile from my house now experience tidal flow in their kitchens. I turned back from paying my water bill in person when confronted with a quarter mile sheet flow of indeterminate depth blocking the road between me and their office.  This is a major disaster I’m in the middle of and yet I’m one of the fortunate ones.  Had Irma tracked a bit further west sucking up water and energy instead of making landfall in Collier County when and where it did, this disaster could easily have been a much worse and wider catastrophe.  The 10 to 15 feet of predicted storm surge did not happen in the Gulf Coast city of Naples, although they received more than their fair share of flooding and wind borne destruction.  That city will virtually bounce back. Naples on the Gulf contains more private wealth than Beverly Hills and Jackson Hole combined.  They have little need for government assistance there.  They never did.  For them government is an impediment.

East Naples, where the sprawling 55 years old and up trailer park communities are located, jammed with elderly folk on low fixed income living side by side with undocumented aliens is another story.  The undocumented get to live in what’s left of their condemned trailers with the stench of standing water and sewage in the air – ineligible for federal assistance. Immokalee, FL, still further east where Oaxaca meets Port-au-Prince, covered brilliantly in the tome Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt co-authored by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, is still another poor, traumatized sacrifice zone.  And few are discussing, far less writing, much about Everglades City, an hour’s drive south of Naples where it took FEMA five days to get on the ground there.  Storm surge and wind have wiped that city off the map; its residents wallow in muck and filth with nowhere to live and nowhere to go.

Irma struck Collier and Lee Counties on Sunday, September 10th. According to an article in the Naples Daily News of September 19th about the situation in Everglades City:

“The scores of volunteers who have set up in the city handing out food, water and clothes along with Federal, state and local medical providers was a far cry from the almost-deserted scene in the city for the first week following the storm.

“Residents had been left mostly on their own, spending hours each day working in the mud and sludge, often barefoot or in flip-flops, trying to salvage what was left of their homes.”

In Everglades City and surrounding communities struck with 10 feet of storm surge, a man scraped his leg picking up a piece of aluminum debris on Monday, the day after Irma passed.  His wife put a Band-Aid on it and by Friday a raging bacterial infection had attacked his vital organs, threatening renal failure and the doctors amputated his leg. The mayor’s mother is in the hospital fighting an infection.  Full time medical assistance from the County only began on Sunday, seven full days after Irma.  According to the same article, health officials administered only 80 tetanus shots to residents before running out of supplies.

Having learned nothing from Katrina, the stench of neo-liberalism’s 40 year death march across America and the world has seeped like carbon monoxide into every gear of the machine we live in.  Capital and its wholly-owned subsidiary, government, can no longer respond effectively to crisis.  This is the fossilization and atrophy of end-stage capitalism, a violent socio-economic bifurcation describing a zombie state eating its own with nothing on the horizon to replace it. “American politics”, as Dr. Manuel Garcia, Jr. aptly puts it, “is how money talks to itself”.

The indiscriminate savagery of Irma is about far more than this unemployed writer’s freezer full of rotted food, shredded roof line and collapsed pool cage.  The path of Irma draws upward into bas-relief the majority of American society’s precarious decline into an irreconcilable cultural and economic abysm.  Radical social change is coming, but not until many hundreds of thousands, likely millions, of American lives are lost.  Not on the romantic front lines of populist revolt at the barricades, but as the unheralded, withering, long term consequence of declining standards of living.

Profound social ferment and revolutionary social restructuring is inevitable, but it will not simply emerge as the result of what it must and has always been – an impulse from the street.  It will also be coincident with a top line driven reconfiguration of titanic pools of capital beginning, perhaps, with the structures of power that have more money than anyone outside of international drug cartels, the fossil fuel juggernaut or the military industrial complex – the insurance industry.  Say what you may about them, but insurance is perhaps the greatest civilizing force in mankind’s entire meteoric footnote.  Without insurance to mitigate against risk, your brand new crane manufactured in South Korea designed to lift cargo out of the holds of container ships in the Port of Los Angeles never gets shipped trans-Pacific to the buyer.  A bank holding a mortgage note on a single family home in SW Florida will insist the owner carry Home Owner’s Insurance and Flood Insurance to mitigate the risk of an unlikely, but catastrophic event.  Like, say, a hurricane.

The question is this:  As anthropogenic climate change throws actuarial calculations out the window and the profitable business of hedging anomalous risk becomes an open ended economic implosion of the rare turned commonplace, how many $150 billion dollar hits do you suppose global insurance consortia and their reinsurers remain willing and able to take?  My guess is not many.  Insurance companies have been generating very public warnings of climate change since at least the mid 1990’s.  When elephants do battle, only the grass suffers, but it will be interesting to see how the insurance industry responds to paying the crippling freight for the fossil fuel industry and how that might contribute toward progressive realignments.

As weak carriers fold, risk portfolios redistribute into stronger hands. Policy deductibles rise insurmountably and covered percentages over and above that drop leaving only the rich able to self-insure and the masses of life long premium payers left with payouts insufficient to make them whole.  Does an utterly sclerotic government lost in a miasma of climate change denial step in to assume a role the private sector no longer deems profitable?  That seems unlikely as well.

At the civilizational fork where far too many obscenely stupid, venal and greedy annihilists are in charge, what will it take to rip the zombie’s head off the deep state?  Hurricanes Andrew, Charlie, Wilma, Katrina, Harvey, Irma and perhaps Maria haven’t seemed to do the trick.  Likewise, eight geriatrics warehoused in a for-profit Hollywood, FL nursing home dying of heat exhaustion when the air conditioning went out caused little more than a momentary stir in the media when the hook became the location of the human dumping ground – right across the street from a Level-1 trauma center.

As we all enter the leading edge of a largely irreversible negative feedback loop of a warming planet, the strength and frequency of hurricanes seems likely to increase.  What happens when they’re all Cat-3 or Cat-4 when they make landfall?  How will capital and government respond?

The only dialectic worth exploring is this:  Russia and China are committed to a $20 trillion/20 year plan to build out continental networks of high speed rail to swiftly transport raw materials, finished goods and people as part of the One Belt One Road initiative, together with new, modern port systems to pull up hundreds of millions of people out of penury as part of the next industrial age of man. America spends a trillion dollars a year on bombs, death and dismemberment. One of these plans has a future.  The other does not.

As a low, slow flying entourage of military aircraft containing the Governor of Florida, an exonerated plunderer owing his fortune to an historic Medicare fraud, and the President, who learned his ethics at the knee caps of Roy Cohen, flew by just east of my house, I took cold comfort as I swept dank pools of bacteria rich sludge out of my garage.

Anthony Tarrant no longer toils for healthcare in retail fashion’s corporate mills. He lives and writes in Costa Rica, a poor country filled with incredibly happy people with no standing army since 1948. He can be reached at: anthonytarrant2@gmail.comRead other articles by Anthony.

Irma’s Landfall In Florida: The Rich Fly Out While The Poor Hunker Down.

Asked by a concerned friend in New York who is, admittedly, a little shaky on his geography whether Hurricane Irma was going to sideswipe my house or “give it to me good”, it made me think.  I mean really, how does one rationally respond to that?

While one certainly prefers being on the periphery as opposed to the eyewall of a 185 mile per hour maelstrom, it is also the case of geography needn’t being anyone’s particular strong suit.  Irma is nonpareil.  A fucking monstrosity on a current trajectory rendering little distinction between living on this side or that of South Florida.  If Irma indeed tracks eastward wiping out a trillion dollars of real estate from Key Biscayne to Del Rey, her arms will sling wind and rain at murderous velocity westward as Hurricane Andrew did in the early 1990’s.

The ground where I live on the Gulf Coast is already super-saturated with standing water everywhere.  There are neighborhoods less than a mile from my front door still underwater from last week’s “Little Harvey” – three days of constant rain that made little much beyond local news but devastated many, from retiree’s riverside homes owned outright under no mandate to carry flood insurance to undocumented aliens living in overpriced slumlord shitboxes.

My home, like every home for two blocks around, was built in 1978 – concrete block structures likely built by the same contractor.  It’s a neighborhood of tradespeople: electricians, rock hangers, lawn care professionals and a lot of renters in houses that changed hands during the wave of foreclosures following the mortgage market meltdown of 2007.  All the windows in the majority of homes in this neighborhood are original.  None of them are high impact glass or even safety glass.  Most here, like me, are working poor and have never had the marginal thousands of dollars required to upgrade windows or install track framing for steel shutters to protect windows from blowing into shrapnel during an event like Irma.  And there’s never been an event like Irma.  So I’ll spend tomorrow taping my windows.  If they implode, they’ll be in chucks instead of shards.  Nowhere to run.  Nothing to be done.  Those are the choices of the poor.

How bad is Irma?  As bad as retail banking, retail clothing, construction, hardware, healthcare, real estate, insurance and millions of other dead-end bullshit jobs with shit wages, shittier healthcare and fuck you you’re on your own 401K’s?  Is Irma any worse than that?

Is Irma any less discriminating than the insurance companies that paid next to nothing to lifelong and faithful policyholders destroyed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina?  Between capitalism and Irma, at least Irma doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.  Irma simply says, “I’m a killer and I’m here to kill you, everyone you love and destroy everything you own”.  After a lifetime in corporate mills, I find something refreshingly honest about that.  Which brings up another thought.  Hurricane Irma doesn’t live in isolation.

There are other named storms behind her like Jose fueled by a warming ocean 2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than usual.  Nobody is talking about Jose.  Nor is anyone talking about all the other Irma’s and Jose’s to come.  As we enter into an irreversible negative feedback loop of global climate disruption caused by the combustion of fossil fuels, stronger, larger hurricanes will become the norm.  On a warming planet they’ll all be Cat-4 when they make landfall.  So quite apart from death and destitution arises the question of who, exactly, is going to pay.  The tab on Hurricane Harvey could exceed $150 billion.  Irma, almost certainly, multiples of that.  So how many hits like that can an international consortia of insurers and re-insurers take?  My guess is not many.

As of this writing Irma is on track to turn Miami into Aleppo – a wasteland – and  a wake up call even the rich will hear as their homes, condos and businesses are turned into uninhabitable piles of sticks, rebar, shattered glass and fetid, rotting furniture.

The fossil fuel industry and our addiction to oil – and virtually everything made out of it – has now turned every actuarial model of the property insurance industry on its head.  Black swan events suddenly blot out the sun.  Ironically, Big Oil makes huge money at the expense of bankrupting the insurance industry that has to pay huge claims for the catastrophic consequences of burning carbon. At some point, this is going to get the attention of those who fly private on their way out of town.  That tipping point could be in about 72 hours.