Edward Luce on Oprah Winfrey and the fate of her ‘Brand’. A comment by Political Observer

A selective commentary  on Mr. Luce’s questions and observations:

If Ms Winfrey is the answer to Mr Trump, what was the question?

Like the rise of Mr Trump, the political rise of Ms. Winfrey is about the desperation of the American electorate. Not to speak of the collapse of the whole of the American Political Class: New Democrats and Republicans. This aided by the fiction of ‘Russian Meddling’ in Americas election, confected  by a mendacious Hillary Clinton and her minions, who have created a political crisis, out of her bruised ego and a complete lack of anything like evidence. That just might be the beginning, of a set of reason for the ‘why of Oprah Winfrey’ ! 

All a Winfrey administration would bring is personal brand destruction.

Mr. Luce frames the proffered  ‘failure’  of Ms. Winfrey in the Neo-Liberal singularity of ‘Brand‘. Except, that Mr. Luce forgets that Mr. Trump had no real political experience, but established his ‘Leadership Credentials’ via his television Three Ring Circus. Or that Ronald Reagan ran for governor of California on the strength of being the president of the Screen Actors Guild, and on his animus toward Students like Mario Savio, at Berkeley. And The Black Panthers, who once surrounded the state capital with armed black militants! Some of us were present at the time and watched this political drama unfold! Not Mr. Luce! Reagan rise was about carefully cultivated political hysteria about student radicals and the Black Panthers.

The US constitution was designed to exclude mob rule.

Mr. Luce is right about the Constitution, being designed by slave holding white men, who were afraid of too much democracy: The Electoral College was the brake provided by those visionaries on the threat of ‘mob rule’! Walter Lippmann was one of those 20th Century visionaries who advocated the rise of a class of Technocrats as another check on that dreaded ‘mob rule’, call him an American Political Mandarin: Mr. Luce’s  unrecognized  precursor.  Too bad the imperatives of the National Security State has negated that republic and replaced it with the rule of Technocrats , elected and unelected.

Quelle surprise! Enter stage Right The Great Communicator Ronald Reagan as an example of a pol, who knew two things from his acting days: hit your marks and know your lines. Mr. Reagan only got into trouble was when he went off script or fell asleep. Bitburg? More Neo-Liberal framing ‘spending capital’ and ‘protecting your brand’ as imperatives not to be ignored!

By contrast, Ronald Reagan, who was twice elected as governor of California and had once before run for the nomination, was qualified for high office. He began life as an actor but he did not reach the White House because of that. A life in politics taught Mr Reagan the art of compromise. Politics is about spending capital to achieve messy results. Being a celebrity is about protecting your brand.

The remainder of this essay seems to be obsessed with the faltering, Corporatist New Democrats, as the hope of a desperate electorate. Call Mr. Luce’s jejune speculations, moored in a belief that the Two Party System is some how still viable.  While it is in a slow motion collapse: what eludes Mr. Luce’s thought is the possibility ,the hopes of the American Electorate can be realized via The Greens and The Libertarians.

Political Observer



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FBI Director Christopher Wray’s predictable hysterics on the dangers of encryption to cyber security. Publius comments

Is it anything like a surprise that the latest National Security State operative Christopher Wray sounds the ‘alarm’ and like Pavlov’s dog the Press genuflects to the carefully cultivated Legend of the the ‘invincible’ FBI? The reader just needs to look at the record of this utterly corrupt and malfeasant American Stasi! Lying, framing of persons, manufacture of evidence, and an incompetent Crime Lab!  To those who dared to cross J.Edgar Hoover and his successors there is a heavy price to pay!

The FBI Crime Lab scandal was exposed in a 1998 book: Tainting Evidence: Inside the Scandals at the FBI Crime Lab, John Kelly, Author, Phillip Wearne, Author, Phillip Wearne, Joint Author. Three reports on the scope of the FBI’s incompetence and cover up!




Breathtaking incompetence covered by an impasto of mendacity! And this only begins to describe the crimes of the FBI, as the enforcers of the current political orthodoxy: naming the ‘enemies of the state’!

The FBI has always relied on hysteria mongering, and that ever present mendacity: ‘urgent public safety issue’. Add to this, that courts treat FBI reports, written after the fact of ‘interviews’ of suspects and witnesses, are treated as prima facae truthful!




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Max Boot on Edward Lansdale, reviewed at The Financial Times. Political Observer comments

Max Boot is another of the coterie Neo-Conservative Spartans , who celebrate war, yet are utterly without military credentials. He is not the Junger of  In Storms of Steel. Richard Aldington’s 1930 quote seems apt: ‘I see many death worshipers in the world but Herr Junger (sic) is certainly an almost unrivaled fanatic in the idolatry of destruction.’* Mr. Boot lacks both Junger’s military experience, and his literary talent, in sum, his power to ensorcell ! Mr. Boot qualifies as an  example of the ‘intellectual’ fascinated by the man of action!

Mr. Boot is, in fact , an ‘arch-hawk’ , whose denial of that status is key to appeal to a readership who prizes ‘historical objectivity’ as some how achievable. This paragraph fragment is demonstrative of the Boot iteration of that practice/claim:

…“a rebuke both to anti-interventionists who assume that fragile states should stand or fall on their own and to arch-hawks who believe that massive commitments of American military forces are necessary to win any war”.

Mr. Boot’s ‘hero’ is Lansdale who backed American puppet Ngo Dinh Diem:

Lansdale cast his lot with Ngo Dinh Diem, the prime minister who was overthrown and killed in 1963, in what the author argues was a turning point for the ill-starred US war in Vietnam.

For some insight on the political career and the American backers of Ngo Dinh Diem:

The Americans’ assessments of Diệm were varied. Some were unimpressed with him, some admired him. Diệm gained favor with some high standing officials, such as Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Roman Catholic cardinal Francis Spellman, Representative Mike Mansfield of Montana, and Representative John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts(No. Ngo Dinh Diem met Mansfield and Kennedy in Washington, DC on 8 May 1953 when these two gentlemen had been elected Senators) [39] along with numerous journalists, academics, and the legendary spy chief of CIA William J. Donovan.[40] Although he did not succeed in winning an official support from the US, his personal interactions with American political leaders promised his prospect in gaining more support in the future. Mansfield remembered after the luncheon with Diệm held on May 8, 1953, he felt that “if anyone could hold South Vietnam, it was somebody like Ngô Đình Diệm”.[41]


On the ‘least convincing parts of the Lansdale Legacy’,  ‘Operation Mongoose’  Mr. Reed engages in a bit of nay saying to Mr. Boot’s Old Cold War cheer-leading, that did lead to catastrophic American domestic consequences of its Anti-Castroism , after all Conspiracy Theory is anathema at the ultra-respectable Financial Times, except when it comes to Jeremy Corbyn and The Populist Menace and the Breixiteers.

Some of the least convincing parts of Lansdale’s legacy relate to his work on Operation Mongoose, a covert plan to use psy-ops to overthrow Cuba’s Fidel Castro. The group’s suggestions — some of which would be aired embarrassingly in 1975 Congressional hearings — included surfacing a US sub near the Cuban coast to fire star shells into the sky, “in order to convince Cubans that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent and that Christ was against Castro”.

Mr. Boot is not a ‘Conservative’ but an American Ultra-Nationalist steeped in the Mythology supplied by Leo Strauss and his American epigones: The Project for the New American Century supplied its political manifesto:


And Samuel P. Huntington supplied its codified paranoia of ‘The Other‘:


comfortable with heterodox views’ ! He is the beneficiary of  white male privilege, and of an imperial politics that seeks a vindication of that privilege, in the imposition of the rule of that ‘elite’ over the lesser beings that inhabit the world!

Boot is a conservative who is comfortable with heterodox views — he recently published an apologia for being a beneficiary of white male privilege — and I would have liked to see more of his own analysis of how Lansdale’s precepts have been adopted or ignored in subsequent US military interventions.

This conclusion is the most cogent evaluation that Mr. Reed, acting as a Financial Times propagandist, can do in terms of the career of Mr. Lansdale, as explored by Neo-Conservative Mr. Boot? Call it an apologetic for the American National Security State and one of its ruthless, indeed immoral actors.

While this book does not entirely redeem Lansdale, it serves as a useful addition to the literature on US foreign policy during the half-century bracketed by the US occupation of the Philippines and the disastrous 2003 intervention in Iraq.

Political Observer



*Ernst Junger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914-1941 by Thomas Nevin, page 40


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Michael Wolff , America’s Political Class & The ‘Journalists’ who serve them. Political Cynic comments

Wasn’t the kind of book written by Mr. Wolff , melodramatically titled ‘Fire and Fury’ once the province of respectable journalistic hacks/has beens, like what the Bob Woodward atelier used to churn out? Woodward’s salad days of Watergate, at The Post, are just a memory: except for the new movie starring Hollywood’s Gold Dust Twins Tom Hanks and  Meryl Streep. Jeff Bezos compares to Ben Bradlee and Kay Graham how? Neither Ben nor Kay were contract employees of the CIA?

Now, back to the Wolff  polemic:  anything like reportorial standards, in Mr. Wolff’s case as a ‘Media Critic’, were discarded in the name of  ‘Cognitive Capture’? (Way too highfalutin a term for Wolff’s particular brand of ‘Journalism‘?) Or  grabbing the readers attention at the cost of verisimilitude? Again, too much?

But pay attention to the real story here, the American Political Class and its Journalistic Fellow Travelers have been fretting and fuming about the Wolff political polemic for at least a week. Even a well known Brookings policy technocrat tweeted a long quote from the inspired satire of the  ‘Gorilla Channel’.  What more could Trump ask of his tweets and of Wolff’s book than to keep his opponents in a continual state of exploitable political disequilibrium : he just perfected, if that’s the right word , what his mentor Roy Cohn taught him.

Political Cynic



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@BretStephensNYT reveals that the 1979 Iranian Revolution is in 2018 corrupt! Political Observer comments

Mr. Stephens, the unapologetic Neo-Conservative war monger ‘uncovers’ the corruption of the Iranian Revolution in 2018. The Reuters expose of 2013 is offered as quite compelling evidence. Yet Stephens is not just content with this three part expose,  he enlists his fellow travelers Ken Weinstein of the Hudson Institute and Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. In his essay framed by the notion of ‘finding a way forward on Iran’. Does he make his case?

If the reader looks to the Russian Revolution of 1917, as instructive of the possible evolution of these kinds of political upheavals: its leader Lenin,  was a State Capitalist, as he was a reactionary, and as greedy and mendacious as the Iranian Ayatollahs in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Mr. Stephens isn’t quite historically sophisticated, or more likely he pursues an ideological agenda that finds ‘history’ an inconvenient impediment. As what he produces are some conjectures that don’t amount to ‘a way forward’, but remain in the arena of self-aggrandizing foreign policy chatter, of a would be Technocrat. With an appetite for fomenting politically useful discord.

Obama is the villain in the Iranian Melodrama, as confected  by Stephens, but he is simultaneously  a ‘fellow traveler’ in the NATO, EU, and Foundation for the Defence of Democracies’ Ukrainian Coup and the continuing War in that country!

Political Observer



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Philosophical Apprentice recommends two books on Hegel

HegelReligion,economics and PolitisofSpiritJan042018




Philosophical Apprentice


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Almost Marx comments on Martin Wolf’s latest doom and gloom, or saved by the Jupertarian Macron?

The new world disorder and the fracturing of the west

The geopolitical situation remains tense, although the world economy is improving

Despite the portentous headline, and its sub-headline, as an act of rhetorical subtraction Mr. Wolf is in familiar territory. Or more of the same from @FT Neo-Liberal Apologist? The Financial Times Party Line evolves in small, nearly imperceptible increments, from Wolf’s essay to essay. Yet the reader is confronted by the uncanny :déjà vu ! This reiteration  featuring the Jupertarian pol Macron, as some kind of political answer to the rise of the dread Populists, who once were described as participating in The Rebellion Against The Elites, much too highfalutin for popular consumption. The only way to bring Neo-Liberalism to France was by Macron’s authoritarianism: call him M. 37%!

Yet to be confronted by this partisan is the dismal collapse of the Neo-Liberal Myth, and its equally dismal Austerity. Not to speak of the myth of The Self-correcting Market: where is it? Ten years after the Depression of 2008 it has yet to manifest itself! The political present is subject to the want of candor of this utterly failed Technocrat and his coterie of acolytes/editors.

Almost Marx


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