Friday, March 11, 2022

The Death of RT America: The War in the Ukraine and Freedom of Speech

I think most people haven't grasped the significance of RT America being so abruptly shutting down. Admittedly, RT America was a news and talk show channel underwritten by the Russian Government, and yet everyone was completely free to report on any topic, be it about Biden, Trump, Putin, the economy or the climate, as long as it was objective. Yet, it abruptly closed over the course of just a day.

It might be a side effect of all the sanctions imposed on Russia. It might have been the result of various Western platforms dropping RT America through indirect pressure from the Biden Administration or their corporate ownership. It could also be because many of RT's on air personalities openly opposed the war in the Ukraine and blamed not just Russia, but NATO, the U.S., and the Ukraine for creating the situation.  Perhaps it was simply a combination of all the above.

There's no doubt that RT America brought a different perspective. It wasn't quite a Russian perspective, but it was certainly not necessarily a Western one. It was definitely not one which favored Biden or his administration. The BBC, which is underwritten by the British government gives the British point of view, and no one complains, so what's with RT America?

There's no question that U.S. media presents "news" from a highly slanted point of view. After all, it's owned by just five corporations. They manipulate everything we see and hear. They influence our emotions about any given topic. They impact our opinions. Heck, they even decide what stories we get to report and from what angle. No wonder most consider the media to be the propaganda arm of the Corporatocracy and its controlling Oligarchy.

When we look at the Ukraine, we're told that U.S. sanctions are affecting Putin and his cronies; the super rich oligarchs. RT America claimed that Zelenskyy's government in Kiev is corrupt, anti-democratic, and a functioning oligarchy of its own. They pointed to deals concocted between Joe Biden's son, Hunter and individuals in Zelenskyy's government. 

They also pointed to China and claimed that the CCP--the Chinese Communist Party---and the relatively handful of large corporations it permits to operate (and are part owners with), is another example of a corrupt oligarchy, and yet according to our media, the U.S. is free from corruption; it's an open and successful democracy protected by a Constitution. Yeah, right. Does anyone actually believe that?  Of course not.

The Economist Intelligence Unit, part of The Economist Publishing Group, reports that for the fifth year in a roll America is listed as a "flawed democracy". Polls after polls prove that the American People aren't as stupid as the politicians in Washington, or the media, think we are.  Their approval ratings have been consistently low for decades (it's currently at 20% with a disapproval rating of 75%).

We know elections are rigged. It's called gerrymandering, electioneering, and rigged ballots, and it's getting worse every election cycle (I was a victim of electioneering when I first ran for office in 2002).  Stalin recognized this subtle power play when he said that it didn't matter how many people voted, but who counted the votes.  

We know that no one actually represents us. Thanks to Citizens United, corporations have pushed the average voter out of politics. They literally own both parties and the vetted clones they call "candidates". In our "winner take all" system, when your choice loses, no one is there to represent your interests. We fought a revolution over that---taxation without representation remember?

The system is also rigged to keep third parties and Independents from having any real chance at getting elected. First of all, the media works with both parties to downplay any non-corporate (that is, Democrat or Republican) candidates. They're treated as sideshow attractions. They are denied access to debates at the federal level (and sometimes at the state and local levels).

If a "non-vetted" or pre-approved candidate (such as a Donald Trump or Ralph Nader) or rogue party member (like a Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich) run, they are subject to all sorts of harassment and ridicule. They are denied funding, access to media, and various forms of support.

If by some miracle they're actually elected, you need to go no further than Trump or Sanders to see how far the Status Quo will go to make them look like a joke and render them ineffective. As an aside, the Status Quo still isn't finished with Trump. Although he's been out of office for over a year, they are still going after him every which way they can.

They want to ensure that Trump will never again run for office; that his personal reputation is utterly destroyed (including his credibility); that he is broken financially; and that no one else will again try to do what he did, and they'll change the rules to be sure like they did after Ross Perot ran in 1992. Only those with a unwavering loyalty to the Status Quo need bother to file.

Corporations control American politics. Their lobbyists literally write much of the legislation which they chaperon through committees (with each tacking on a little extra something for their trouble). The government creates agencies to farm out certain regulatory, enforcement, and management to unelected anonymous bureaucrats, often leaving the taxpayers with little or no real recourse.

At the same time, big dollar corporate players come and go through a never ending "revolving door" between government and Wall Street.  The result is often removal of regulatory boards and restrictions, plus tax breaks, exemptions, and highly lucrative contracts, while simultaneously, creating more regulation and higher taxes for small businesses and us, barriers to government contracts, and legislation to reduce or eliminate competition for Big Business. 

Case in point, during the COVID lockdown, small local and regional businesses were order to shut down to (allegedly) prevent the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, large corporations were exempt. Large corporations were "entitled" to tax credits and no/low interest loans to cover costs and wage. Not so the small moms and pops.  Big Business was given preferences to deliveries in order to keep shelves stocked and their businesses going. Local businesses were on their own.

Now, we're facing rising inflation, higher food and gas costs. Do you think it will affect any of the wealthy? No, but it will affect most all other Americans. It will certainly affect small businesses. It's worth pointing out too that with rising inflation and higher costs, many of those small companies which survived the COVID lockdown are not likely survive this latest economic blow.

Most Americans don't realize that the U.S. has been on a quasi-wartime economic footing for decades. War stimulates the economy. It's profitable. It eliminates "excess" unemployment and keeps Big Business going. When the economy is good, unemployment is low, which means fewer people enlisted in the military and less money for the military machine. 

When the economy is bad, unemployment and underemployment are high and companies slow down. People join the military to have a paying job, and the military industry rakes in billions. You would think there are more peaceful ways to keep the economy humming along and growing than through a sector of government and industry which demands perpetual death and destruction. 

The U.S. has been at war in some form or fashion since Ronald Reagan. This is about the same time as our economy changed from a mainly high paying manufacturing one to a relatively low paying service one. Additionally, with the export of manufacturing jobs, a lot of good paying middle class union jobs went with them.

This quasi-wartime economy not only helped Big Business at home by reducing competition, wages and benefits, it created a type of partnership or merger between government and these corporations called a "Corporatocracy". This allowed them to use the weight of the U.S. government (and by extension, its military) to force open markets overseas and to acquire access to assets and resources.

If monopolistic "competition" (or arm-twisting)  doesn't work in obtaining access to, say an oil reserve somewhere, there is always the usual bribery. If that doesn't work, then there is bullying, If that's not effective enough, there's always intimidation with possibility of government sanctions or even being denounced as a "despot" or "tyrant" like in Argentina, Iran, Panama, South Vietnam, or Syria. 

They might expose some of the dirt they've acquire on you or your government (after all, they're responsible for the dirt). They could accuse you of not being "democratic" or of "crimes against humanity".  This could lead to a "regime change" or invasion in the name of "liberty" or "freedom" like in the case of Iraq or Libya.  

The situation in the Ukraine, as I pointed out earlier is another good example. Putin and his Oligarchs have been demanding security, which means no Ukraine membership in NATO since that means missiles, troops, tanks and so forth on his border.

Despite NATO promises to the contrary, starting in 1989, NATO has expanded into all the former Warsaw Pact nations and joined the EU. This has had the effect of isolating Russia and literally putting it under the gun...or missile. But what's really at stake?

Besides being the home of Russia's largest naval base (at Sebastopol), the Black Sea is also home to a vast amount of oil and gas. The Ukraine had worked out a deal with the West to allow Western oil and gas companies access to these reserves in exchange for a kickback....I mean a fair share of the profits for all shareholders, which may just so happen to include government officials.  

That's when Russia said "hands off the Crimea"  not just protect  its naval base or the Russian citizens who make up the majority of the Crimea's population, but also the estimated 10 billion barrels of oil and 3.8. trillion cubic feet of natural gas worth in the trillions of dollars in and around the Crimea.

Russia has long opposed not just the military presence of NATO in the Ukraine and the proximity of NATO ships to its naval base at Sebastopol. It wasn't real happy about the Ukraine joining the EU either. More importantly, it doesn't want to see  a lot of Western oil and gas companies siphoning off those same reserves under the Black and Avov seas.

Currently, Russia supplies the EU with about 40% of its natural energy along with 70% of Germany's. That's a lot of control and money that Russia would like to maintain and the Ukraine and the West would like to gain access to. 

And so, we now have an old fashioned Cold War Era proxy war between Russia's Oligarchs, the Ukraine's Oligarchs, and, of course, our own Oligarchs in Washington. The only ones truly happy with the situation are the arms dealers. As Republican Senator Hiram Johnson say about war in 1918---"truth is the first causality".  The U.S. has framed this war in its usual fashion, a liberty hating tyrant ruthlessly invading a democratic country as honest as our own for no reason whatsoever (sarcasm intended).

RT America, while Russian funded, provided context to the war, even though it strongly opposed if for no other reason than humanity's sake. Now it's no more. Now we will hear only one side of the story in true fascist fashion.  As Joseph Goebbels once remarked, "Always accuse the other side of that which you are guilty".

In closing, you may be interested to know everyone affiliated with RT Moscow, the hub of RT News, from on air personalities to writers, lighting staff, and camera crew, resigned a few days later. Not over what happened at RT America, though that may have been a factor, but over a war they collectively all opposed. I'd like to see MSNBC, FOX, ABC or the other media outlets owned by our Oligarchs have the courage to do the same.

If you want to know more, please take a look at the links below. If you enjoyed the article, please consider passing along to others and don't forget to subscribe. It's free! Lastly please be sure to "like" us on whatever platform you use to read A/O. It helps with the algorithms and keeps our articles in circulation.


RT America ceases production and lays off most of its staff


Another grim global report card: A 'flawed democracy' 5 straight years


Gallup: Congress and the Public

"No to War": Entire Staff of Russian TV Channel Resigns Live On-Air



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