It's especially hard when the Deep State -- or what is grotesquely called the "intelligence community" -- seems to be cracking up itself. The Clinton/Obama/CIA faction wants the enemy to be Russia, and the Trump/crony capitalist/anti-CIA faction is aiming its own beady sights on China.
Thanks to the proto-fascist nature of American democracy itself, no candidate with a peace platform has ever been allowed anywhere near the exclusive electoral process. Jill Stein of the pacifist Green Party got some belated corporate press only because of her failed ballot recount campaign in aid of Hillary Clinton.
Just when we thought that the Neoliberal Death Match -- or what is grotesquely called a democratic presidential campaign -- was finally over, the curtain is now rising with a vengeance on Act Two of the Battle of the Oligarchs.
Pouncing on the undeniable fact that Hillary Clinton received 2.7 million more votes than Donald Trump, this whole democracy experiment is being relitigated in the court of public opinion. The arcane Electoral College has become such a "thing" that the Democrats and some GOP'ers are pressuring its members to disregard the votes of the Rust Belt states that barely nudged Trump over the finish line. The electors' mission, if they choose to accept it, is to become conscientious objectors to Trump's war on neoliberal decency.
The implicit message is that Donald Trump is a traitor. And if the electors do their sworn Constitutional duty and vote a traitor into office, then his Putinesque blood will be on their hands. It's the same gaslighting technique that was used on ordinary voters throughout the interminable campaign season. A vote for Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or None of the Above was an act of rank treason and a sure sign that you were a tool of Vladimir Putin.
The fact that the orchestrated campaign to subject the electors to top-secret intelligence briefings in an effort to guilt them into changing their votes is "bipartisan" should be the first clue that denying the presidency to Trump is not so much a matter of the public interest as it is of the corporate private interest. A cabal of Deep State centrist Democrats and Republican Neocons are joining forces in an attempt to, at the very least, wound Trump before his inauguration. They are seething that Hillary Clinton's imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria as an escalation in the war on Putin was thwarted by the very Pied Piper candidate they propped up as an easy target for the hawks.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) and multimillionaire House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are finding common cause with Republican war hawks John McCain and Lindsay Graham in drumming up a new surge of Russophobia. It helps that Nancy's daughter Christine is herself an appointed elector.
To help sway public opinion toward overturning the vote, the elitist obsession with Russia as the enemy to end all enemies is everywhere you look.
If you're a reasonably sane person, you're probably scared to death that Trump's nomination of the Exxon-Mobil CEO to head the State Department will rev up the already turbo-charged destruction of the planet by fossil fuels. But the Anthropocene epoch and mass extinctions aren't what the New York Times wants you to be afraid of. The Times wants you to be afraid of those damned Russians.
President-elect Donald J. Trump on Tuesday officially selected Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, to be his secretary of state. In saying he will nominate Mr. Tillerson, the president-elect is dismissing bipartisan concerns that the globe-trotting leader of an energy giant has a too-cozy relationship with Vladimir V. Putin, the president of Russia.
So it's not that you and I and our children and our grandchildren and all the animals and plants will be dying more quickly if an oil magnate is granted even more power to physically damage us. It's that one faction of obscenely wealthy people doesn't want another faction of obscenely wealthy people to beat them in the greed sweepstakes.In the past several days, Republican and Democratic lawmakers had warned that Mr. Tillerson would face intense scrutiny over his two-decade relationship with Russia, which awarded him its Order of Friendship in 2013, and with Mr. Putin.The hearings will also put a focus on Exxon Mobil’s business dealings with Moscow. The company has billions of dollars in oil contracts that can go forward only if the United States lifts sanctions against Russia, and Mr. Tillerson’s stake in Russia’s energy industry could create a very blurry line between his interests as an oilman and his role as America’s leading diplomat.
And never mind that the main purpose of the State Department is to grease the skids for and ensure the safety of multinational corporations and the banking mafia wanting to do business abroad. The Times doesn't mention that the State Department acts as the broker for the annual sales of billions of dollars' worth of arms and war materials to such autocratic regimes as Saudi Arabia. State is the international counterpart of the Health and Human Services Administration. It does corporate welfare on a grand, global scale. It makes plunder easier for the plunderers.
The world is already ruled by 62 billionaires who own as much wealth as the entire bottom half of the population. So to tamp down the resulting domestic unrest, our rulers and their propagandists are singling out just one faraway oligarch in hopes of limiting the populist wrath here at home.
Donald Trump, for his part, is bringing the whole sordid pathocratic process out into the open. He is not showing due deference to the Intelligence Community family and to establishment media. And that is making the ruling class very, very nervous. Former acting CIA Director Mike Morell is even hysterically calling the alleged meddling of Russians "the political equivalent of 9/11." (Never mind the CIA's own seven decades of international political meddling and orchestrated coups.)
This bluster and disrespect from an autocratic president-elect makes it so much harder for the ruling class to manufacture public consent. No wonder that they are also freaking out about what we call independent investigatory journalism, and they call "fake news." Their control of "the narrative" is slipping, so they're reduced to conflating scurrilous internet rumor-mill sites with legitimate fact-based and free-thinking journalistic outlets with the chutzpah to be critical of the wrong things.
The New York Times is not, of course, the only site for all the corporate Russophobia that's fit to print.
Here's a sampling of today's curiously similar headlines, which fear-monger not over climate change and pollution, but over the specter of TrumPutin:
"Moscow's Mule"; "Kremlin Rejoices"; "Bipartisan Alarm Over Ties to Moscow" -- Huffington Post.
"Rex Tillerson: An Appointment that Confirms Putin's Election Win" -- The Guardian
"Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state is a Putin-friendly Exxon CEO" -- Vox
"Graham Wants Tillerson's Russia Ties Front and Center" -- Politico.
"McCain Voices Concerns About Tillerson's Ties to Putin" -- The Hill
It's only when its status as the world's sole Superpower is even mildly threatened that the United States Uniparty takes a stand against a multinational corporation like Exxon.
For when the oil behemoth wants to plunder and bribe in other autocracies, or wherever China has aimed its capitalistic sights, the smoky skies are the limit. The American ruling class usually has no problem with Tillerson and his ilk at all. Take the whole continent of Africa, for instance.
The Obamas and the Bushes met up in Tanzania in 2013 to help spread the oily Exxon goodness around. The wives of the presidents enthusiastically gave identity-politics cover to the extraction of that continent's rich natural reserves by the greedy oil conglomerate. They cast the plunder as the perfect trickle-down "women's opportunity" as they commiserated like desperate housewives over their First Lady status and their silly old hubbies.
The confab of wives was such a resounding P.R. success for the giant polluter that Michelle Obama and George and Laura Bush reunited in Washington the following year for a "Spousal Summit" orchestrated and funded, in large part, by Exxon-Mobil. They wanted to let us know that all the African first ladies were also totally on board with the plunder of their continent. It's all about the freedom of oligarchs to extract and exploit while donating a little medication and genetically modified seed and allowing entrepreneurial womenfolk the chance to learn and to read.... as they gasp for air and struggle to find a source of unpolluted drinking water for themselves and their families.
Under Obama, the American militarization of the continent known as Africom continues apace. How else to protect multinationals like Exxon-Mobil from "militants?" The conglomerate just recently "discovered" another billion barrels of oil off the Nigerian coast. Somebody (the US State Dept, the CIA and the Pentagon) has to protect their tender hides and grasping tentacles. Somebody has to hold them harmless for their serial destruction of soil, water and forests.
President Obama also never had a problem with Exxon-Mobil when it's wanted to destroy the environment in our own backyard, either. Just a few years after the worst oil explosion disaster in history continues to inflict ongoing damage in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama granted Putin-loving Tillerson's company new drilling leases in the Gulf for the proposed extraction of 172 million barrels of oil.
The Democrats' and some Republicans' opposition to Tillerson as Secretary of State has nothing to do with concern for the environment and the obscene corporate welfare for polluters who dictate government policy. After all, Obama's own energy secretary, Sally Jewell, came through the revolving door from Exxon Mobil when it was still known as Mobil.
This is all about a tiny group of plutocrats grasping and grabbing for their share of the global pie. These bullies don't like to share, even with each other. And forget about the other 99.9% of the population. The rest of us are lucky get a few crumbs of oily political P.R. along with the foul water and the dirty air and the damaged lungs.
But never forget: the only thing we have to fear is Putin himself.