Understanding Christian fascism in the US requires a lesson in Christian Right politics, whose overwhelming success in subverting American democracy is attributable to the supreme strategist Paul Weyrich. Bruce Wilson reports on how this right-wing analyst made the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush possible.
On March 20, 2015, IC Magazine reported on the racism funded by corporations promoting a carbon corridor through a proposed coal port on the Salish Sea at Cherry Point. Citing recent articles by award-winning journalists Sandy Robson, Terri Hansen and Winona LaDuke, IC notes the political and financial relationships between Gateway Pacific Terminal, Whatcom Tea Party, and Citizens Equal Rights Alliance–“the Ku Klux Klan of Indian Country.”
Since 2013, Peabody Energy, SSA Marine and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad have financed Tea Party-led PACs to drum up resentment against Lummi Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians that oppose fossil fuel export in treaty fishing areas of the San Juan Islands and Strait of Georgia. Environmental organizations, churches and tribes are now coming together to condemn the deplorable GPT attack on Coast Salish First Nations intended to undermine their cultural survival.
As anyone who follows news from the U.S. Department of Justice knows, Bill Gates is an adherent of monopoly capitalism. His empire, built on privatizing public information and technology, reflects his belief in plutocracy.
Like earlier captains of industry — who used public investment to privatize political power — Gates has harnessed his fortune to evangelize on behalf of privatizing schools, prisons, and plantations. His investments in social engineering have made it possible for Gates to largely avoid public censure.
Along with his close friend Warren Buffett, Gates is now making money shipping Tar Sands bitumen and Bakken Shale crude via tank cars on Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad (owned by Buffett) and Canadian National Railway, of which Gates is the largest shareholder.
As reported at CounterPunch, Dollar Imperialism is due to the fact that the U.S. Federal Reserve (the world’s de facto central bank) has veto authority at the International Monetary Fund. Reserve currency policy — which amounts to economic warfare — complements U.S. military hegemony.
As Michele Brand and Remy Herrera note, currency instability and market meltdown are likely in 2015, which would lead to increased international conflict. While regional financial institutions offer some hope for ending U.S. hegemony, there is little hope for the anemic, debt-ridden U.S. economy.
With a mere 44% of working-age Americans holding full-time jobs (30 hours/week), and poverty 40% higher than in 2007, destroying financial independence in Africa, Asia and South America might not seem like a priority to most Americans, but their concerns matter little on Wall Street.
In the summer of 2005, while the nation’s attention was focused on the imminent loss of New Orleans to flooding, Americans were mostly unaware of another great loss within the yet-to-be-breached levees of this remarkable city six weeks earlier. Jack Minnis, research director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the early 1960s, passed away. His home was later destroyed by the flooding, but his wife Earlene was able to salvage some of Jack’s research files. In 2006, a few survivors of the Civil Rights Movement talked about their memories of Minnis.
Judy Richardson remarked:
“Whenever I speak on campuses about SNCC, I talk about Minnis. …about SNCC’s research department and Jack: He was this crusty older white guy who smoked like a fiend, looked generally unkempt, and could get research from a turnip. He was always finding information — like buried treasure — that would make all the difference.
Even before I started working on Eyes on the Prize and doing commentaries for the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, I realized that the way Minnis organized material had affected me. Documenting his analysis absolutely shaped the way I try to present information. The Chronology of Violence in Mississippi that Minnis put together in advance of the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project is something I still show to students and teachers. What it proved was that white violence was long-standing and endemic not just the problem of a few racist rednecks. And Minnis’ Chronology was invaluable in helping northern journalists understand the extent of what we were dealing with.”
Gwen Patton said:
“I am convinced that the National Democratic Party of Alabama, which elected the first maiden Black elected official since Reconstruction in Lowndes, Greene, Macon and Bullock Counties, never would have happened if it had not been for Jack Minnis’ incredible research.”
Wally Roberts wrote:
“Jack Minnis was an important influence on my career as a journalist. I first encountered his research methods as a volunteer in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project in 1964 when I read some of the research he had done for SNCC on the power structure of the South and the institutions that fostered and enforced segregation. After that summer, I went on to Brown University where I had been accepted the previous spring, to do graduate work in history. After about six weeks, I had had it with history and felt compelled to quit and find work that would allow me to continue the type of work I had been doing in Mississippi. …Three years later I was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.
I went on to write for magazines and other newspapers and did get a couple of other awards until I burnt out on the corporate world and went back into community organizing where I remain today. About 5 years ago l got in touch with Jack through the SNCC list and told him all this and thanked him for his work. … I owe much of my success at this work to Jack.”
In his memoirs, Minnis said:
“I got my first impressions of Jim Forman and SNCC, not from my own observations, but from the comments of Les Dunbar, Director of Southern Regional Council, and Wiley Branton, Director of SRC’s Voter Education Project. They had hired me in the spring of ’62 to appraise the results of voter registration projects to which they had contributed. Since they were distributing funds from tax-exempt foundations, they were sort of edgy about whether recipients would observe the political prohibitions of such grants.
As I perceived it, their difficulty was that SNCC seemed to be operating on principles they didn’t understand. In their world, individuals sought jobs with paychecks, the understanding being they’d do what they were told because the paycheck could be withheld. SNCC was composed of people who’d walked away from opportunities to make good wages, for the chance to work their asses off, under murky and dangerous conditions, for nothing that could be called a paycheck. Their puzzlement was how do you control what people do if you can’t threaten to take away their livelihood? The answer, of course, was that you don’t control them. It was a concept that these essentially good-hearted and well-intentioned folks were not comfortable with.”
Privatization of everything we know and need, for the enrichment of elite private equity investors, is not commonly understood. Many understand that consolidation and deregulation have allowed large corporations to control media and information, but few comprehend how the ultra wealthy have destroyed accountability, transparency and the public interest in broadcasting, radio, digital and print news production and distribution.
In The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership in the United States: A Public Interest Perspective, Matthew Crain investigates private equity takeovers (1999-2009) in the media sector, and explains how private equity firms function in the financial landscape. Focusing on profit maximization strategies and debt burdens imposed on acquired companies, Crain observes that private equity firms and consortiums pose a challenge to effective media regulation, that is distinct from the corporate media ownership model.
Corporate media rarely discussed the American aristocracy and how their agenda affects society. Consumers blame banks, but they have no idea how financial institutions are used by private equity traders to constantly replenish aristocratic wealth at our expense. They have little awareness of where that wealth came from, and almost never discuss the continuity of aristocratic theft from the public treasury over the last two centuries. Crain’s analysis can thus be considered a primer on the impact of reckless private equity investing, using inherited wealth and investment banks to cannibalize the economy.
Able to evade or avoid regulation associated with publicly traded stocks, private equity firms and consortiums — using holding companies and investment banks — have conducted immense leveraged buyouts that literally ruin companies. Through debt burdens, asset liquidation and wholesale employee termination, the private equity firms enable cash extraction that has imperiled mainstream media, leaving a hollowed out shell, where replacement of journalism by public relations is commonplace.
As Cain notes, democracy requires public spheres, of which the media system is a core institutional component. Private equity takeovers in the media sector — especially broadcasting, cinema, cable, telecommunications, digital and print publishing — imposes qualitative changes to media firms by these high-stakes investment groups that, “raises issues of adherence to standards of journalistic ethics and values.” Once the cash has been extracted, the social value of media firms as democratic institutions is structurally undermined.
As Crain observes, “Fewer reporters and editors make it easier for public relations firms to place unaltered messages into the news.” “Moreover,” says Crain, “growing pressure to turn a profit on journalistic production contributes to ongoing problems of commercialization of news, especially regarding the blurring distinction between editorial and advertising content.”
“Private equity firms,” remarks Cain, “are fundamentally non-transparent in their basic structure…Whereas publicly traded companies are legally obligated to periodically file extensive financial information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including detailed accounts of all holdings and subsidiaries, private firms are not subject to such financial disclosures.” This, says Crain, is “antithetical to the public interest obligations of the media sector.”
Registered 350 “local groups” are essentially local chapters of a global non-profit enterprise, with doctrine, agenda and resources supplied by headquarters. As a secular cult, the profit motive is supplanted by ecstasy, similar to rapture in religious cults.
The bliss of belonging to a holy cause blinds 350 adherents to the cognitive dissonance of being tools of Wall Street and followers of false prophets. 350 dominance over the minds of its euphoric followers is thus akin to charismatic Pentecostalism, albeit without any explicit religious context.
To find a religious parallel to 350, the “apostolic socialism” of Peoples Temple comes closest with its “Rainbow Family,” indoctrinated to view capitalism as the Antichrist. In this sense, Jim Jones served as forerunner to con artists like Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein.
As of 2011, nearly 80% of American adults were online. For young American adults, 33% get news from social networks, 34% watched TV news, and 13% read print or digital content. While TV remains the most popular source of news, more Americans get their news via the Internet than from newspapers or radio.
The percent of online news users who blog about news ranges from 1–5%. Greater percentages use social media to comment on news, but online news users are most likely to use social media to share stories without creating content.
While consumer preference of media venue shifts with technology, the overwhelmingly large percentage of passive consumers of news remains. While they discuss and share news online, news content is still the product of journalists, researchers, PR people and bloggers.
With news content today containing nearly as much public relations propaganda as journalism, social media discussions about news content and production bring both serious scrutiny and outright nonsense. What the Internet offers is a venue where citizen journalism can find an audience, but the skills and practices involved in journalism still demand study, discipline and resources few have access to.
Crowd-funded journalism is fine, but it is no substitute for professional media. As many citizen journalism producers have discovered, it’s hard to cover the news when you can’t afford to cover travel expenses, equipment and salaries for the people doing it.