Liz Cheney & the GOP – A Split Between the Hard Right and the Far-Right – Larry Wilkerson

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Liz Cheney & the GOP – A Split Between the Hard Right and the Far-Right – Larry Wilkerson

Liz Cheney represents militarism without restraint, as did her neocon father. Trump served the military-industrial complex but outlived his usefulness when he wouldn’t transition power. Both trends are a threat to what’s left of American democracy. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson on theAnalysis.news with Paul Jay

Transcript

Paul Jay

Hi, welcome to theAnalysis.news, I’m Paul Jay. Please don’t forget there is a donate button on the website, subscribe, share all of that stuff. I’ll be back in a second with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson. On January 4th, ten former secretaries of defense sent a letter to The Washington Post warning the military to stay out of determining the outcome of the presidential elections. It was clearly a message to elements within the military that might entertain the idea of supporting Trump’s bid to invalidate the results of the election. On the same day, the Financial Times carried an editorial saying a coup was in progress. Well, it turns out Liz Cheney, working with her father, former vice president and war criminal Richard Cheney, organized that letter to the post. This is the same Liz Cheney who wholeheartedly supported the election of Trump in 2016. That is when many of her father’s neocon friends had become Never Trumpers. On Wednesday, Liz Cheney was thrown out of the number three leadership position of the Republicans in the House because she refused to stop denouncing Trump for his lies about the stolen election.

So what is this Byzantine split between the far-right and the further far-right of the GOP all about now? Joining me is Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who was the chief of staff to Colin Powell at the State Department and Joint Chiefs, and is an associate professor, and he’s a regular on the Analysis. The last time I checked, he was still a member of the Republican Party. Though I think I can say I am sure he’s not part of the Cheney or the Trump wing, assuming he even still carries that membership. Thanks for joining us, Larry.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Good to be with you, Paul.

Paul Jay

So what does this split represent? I look at a guy like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who at least, as a neocon foreign policy guy, was pretty much in the same camp as Cheney. During the primaries in 2016, Graham had nothing but bad things to say about Trump, but now he’s become his greatest supporter and says the party has to keep Trump if it ever wants to win. Liz has taken this position. What does this mean in terms of the elites that back the Republican Party, the factions within the party? What is this split really about?

Lawrence Wilkerson

I have no idea other than what I read in the papers and what I glean from people with whom I talk because it’s so bizarre. It’s so surreal. The movement right now by I’m told somewhere around one hundred Republicans to form a third party is an example at least that there are some people like me still in the Republican Party who think the other side if you will, the majority, 75 million people voted for Trump in 2020 are certifiable and they’re going to take the party down the drain, so to speak. So we need to have something else existing as a Republican Party that people can turn to. That said, Liz Cheney is not someone I would invite into that party. One of the things Donald Trump did, whether he intended it or not, was to resurrect George W. Bush’s presidency. Before Donald Trump he was the worst president in the history of the republic. Now, Donald Trump is the worst president in the history of the republic. Well, that was presumably because of his vice president, if not in some ways, national security and foreign policy ways exclusively because of his vice president.

Paul Jay

Cheney.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Yeah, Cheney and his daughter…the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree in this situation. His daughter is the same way. When she was in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at State, when I was there, the talk was of nepotism. The talk was of, hey, this woman has no business being over here. Not only does she not know the issues the way we would like someone in this position to know them, but the things that she does talk about are anathema to most of the Arabists, certainly, and those with expertise in other parts of the Levant. It went from the Israeli-Palestinian situation all the way over to the relationship with Iran. When Powell was trying to do things that were controversial in the vice president’s office, to say the least, here she was sitting in NEA, one of the most important bureaus because it looked after all these portfolios.

Paul Jay

The NEA you said?

Lawrence Wilkerson

Near Eastern Affairs, the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Bill Burns was the assistant secretary at the time. Bill Burns is at the CIA now. Bill was one of the most gentlemanly like people you’d ever want to meet, calm, collected foreign service officer who never got rattled at anything much. So he tolerated her, but it was clear that most of the experts in Near Eastern affairs thought she was there for one reason because she was a vice president’s daughter and tolerated her to that extent, just like John Bolton was tolerated upstairs, right down the office from me and Powell because he was Cheney’s man. You know when I think about the bargain that was made there with the vice president, by the secretary in order to get Rich Armitage as the deputy secretary of state. So she was a similar type of plant, if you will, in the State Department all the way up to some of her rants about various issues during the time that the Iraq war was going on. She was before it. She was a strong advocate of Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. She was a warmonger, if you will, in that regard. Never saw anything just like her daddy. She never saw anything that was for the military that she wouldn’t vote for. A staunch what I would call right-wing Republican even before Trump.

Now, the fact that Trump took the party down some holes that it had never even explored before, nor probably had any intent to explore until he came along and she broke from him, is not all that spectacular in my view, because I think she broke for him because one and this is speculation on my part, but I think she saw Bush being resurrected. I think her dad saw Bush being resurrected by Trump, but not he. It didn’t look like Dick Cheney was in that resurrection. Dick Cheney was still a reviled creature, if you will, among probably 60 to 70 percent of Americans, principally for his advocacy, strong advocacy of the WMD in Iraq and of the war. So he wasn’t all that resurrected. He didn’t go paint pictures of soldiers and such like George W did.

So part of her reason for breaking with Trump was that I want to be in this group that gets resurrected along with George W. It’s a much more sane, sober, conservative group. Trump is an idiot. Have you seen the interview with Craig Unger and the Russian KGB/FSB agent who calls Trump an asset. A very believable book that Craig wrote called American Kompromat, which essentially is the Russian term for a compromiser. The Russian agent says he was an asset, not an agent. An asset is someone who is not very bright. The FSB/KGB man made sure that was an understanding– not a very bright person who is subject to all manner of problems that might be exploitable, like being in debt, like laundering over a thousand Russians who spent money on apartments and other things in the United States, exorbitant amounts of money. So they laundered that money that way and other things. If you believe that, and I think there is credibility to it, then Trump was not only an idiot and the kind of person that you and I, I think, probably fundamentally think he was, he was also an agent or not an agent, but an asset. That’s a very careful distinction in terms. You’re not hired, you’re not paid a salary. You don’t go do things for the master, as it were you, but you are an asset and you’re influenceable in that regard. If you aren’t influenceable, then they bring some of these things out of the closet to make you influenceable. I don’t have a problem believing that. So I don’t have a problem then believing Liz Cheney wanted to break away from that and that perhaps her father even advised her to break away from that.

Cheney represents a strain in the Republican Party and the strain of America indeed, that’s been around for a long, long time. You might say it started with people like John C. Calhoun and moves right on up through the kind of people who surrounded Harry Truman as NSC 68 was done. The Bible of the Cold War. People who sat there and said, we’ll do anything. Look at the transcripts, we’ll do anything to fight this evil Soviet empire, anything. We have to do what they do, we have to take the gloves off. Language just like Cheney used in the time that he was vice president. This is a strain in American politics. Trump is not a strain in American politics. Trump is an aberration. He’s an anomaly. Unfortunately, he’s got 75 million aberrative Americans following him. So Cheney broke away from that. I can see that happening.

Paul Jay

If what I think is the evidence of what was happening before the events of January 6th, which is this letter from the ten secretaries of defense, the admiral who used to be the supreme commander of NATO, in support of the letter from the ten secretaries, the Financial Times saying a coup is in progress and all of this. The target of Liz Cheney’s rhetoric is the cult of personality around Trump, not really the policies, except maybe when it comes to foreign policy, but it seems to me there was a real concern on the part of the forces Cheney represents, which is the real core of the military-industrial complex and finance. He’s very linked to the arms manufacturers and fossil fuel. That cult of personality around Trump, while it was useful to them for four years, he had outlived its usefulness because he had become so out of control, so erratic, that he would jeopardize this strategy of how to defend the American empire. It seems that there really were some elements within the military that might have tried to get involved in the January 6th events at Congress. I’ve been saying it’s the final act of a failed coup.

Lawrence Wilkerson

You know, we have now what was one hundred and twenty-four with that stellar American general, Lieutenant General Boykin, among them, the man who said Christ will not descend to Earth with a flaming sword. When the rapture comes, he will bring an AR-15. A three-star Army general whom Rumsfeld made undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, and one hundred and twenty-three other general officers now have written a letter saying that essentially 6th of January should have gone on, should have finished with Trump, restored to the throne, and so forth. This is indicative of what you’re talking about and even Cheney would not follow that lunacy.

Paul Jay

I think even more. I think the forces Cheney represents sees that as a threat to the empire.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Yeah, to the empire and to all the accoutrements thereof, which include Halliburton and Lockheed Martin and Raytheon and Grumman and Boeing and all the other merchants of war who make fortunes off these endless wars.

Paul Jay

So if that’s the split, then you get Lindsey Graham, who’s been traditionally as close to that military-industrial complex as Cheney was, but Lindsey’s’s arguing you got to deal with the fact that 75 million people want to vote for this guy, and if you want to win, you got to support this guy and then try to manage him. That seems to be where the split is.

Lawrence Wilkerson

I think you’re right with Lindsey, from my home state of South Carolina, and my father knew him for a long time, nonetheless, I think of as late as squirrely as jello, but I think that’s the primary political reason that you just elucidated that Lindsey keeps going for Trump. Somebody will out Trump him in South Carolina and he’ll lose his job is what it boils down to, basically. I think there are some other people. I’d put McCarthy (R-CA) in this camp. I’d put Gohmert (R-TX) in this camp. I’d put probably Hawley (R-MO) in this camp, who believe this fascist crap and who thinks Trump is Mussolini or Hitler or whomever you want to call him for America and want to see that. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t believe in the same things you were just referring to the Cheneys about. They just want to see it happen with greater efficiency and effectiveness and greater payback for them politically and otherwise. They think a tyrant would do that. I sincerely believe these military officers are looking for a tyrant.

Paul Jay

Yeah, I think that’s really the most important point to make here, whether it’s Trump or one of these new guys, that’s what they want, and they’ve always been there too. As you say, maybe Trump the individual is a bit of an aberration, but that movement for American fascism, that’s a real trend in American politics.

Lawrence Wilkerson

It has lots of motivations. Some of the motivations are, as my daughter was speaking of the other day, no dummy she. She said, there are a lot of people out there that I rub up against all the time who are angry with the fact that Rapinoe plays soccer and represents a strain of womanhood that we don’t identify with. They’re upset with the fact that transsexuals are on every TV show virtually now. A lot of these are Catholics and not hardcore, not Opus Dei Catholics, but just routine go to mass on Sunday Catholics. They’re upset with the idea of abortion for free anywhere, any time. They’re upset with the idea of people who don’t like marriage and don’t like families and don’t like children and so forth. There are good Americans, but they’re upset with that and they see that as a trend that is overwhelming the visual and print media and other places. So they move over to the right because of that. Then you’ve got the people in there who, like we said, Hawley and others who are intent on fascism. There are people who will follow them to that route or to that end because they think it’ll do something about these other things, social things mostly that they’re really worried about. We have to take that into consideration, I think, both politically and in terms of our democracy, because if you want to say it like Aristotle did, moderation in all things, we do have some extremes that are developing in this country right now that don’t appeal to a lot of Americans, and they have no political refuge other than what Trump represented or what Trump would represent or what the Republican Party represents. I’m not saying it’s a hell of a lot of the seventy-five million, but it’s enough that if you could figure out a way to strip them away, you’d have a different political situation.

Paul Jay

I think it’s important that there is a global section of the elites, and Steve Bannon has been running around trying to organize them. I think Bannon and Opus Dei and the Catholic Church and the right-wing evangelical movement and as you said, with great strength in the U.S. military and much of the police forces, too, that really want a fascist coup. It’s a very serious movement that, that is weird that Liz Cheney’s yelling about it, because you say she’s a variant of the same thing.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Well, I wouldn’t say a variant so much as I would say an extreme, as I would say about her father, an extreme nationalist, a hyper-nationalist. That’s what I call them. As I said, we’ve had these before. She sees even her version of America, which might more comport with Make America Great Again than we’d like to think, but nonetheless doesn’t go to the link that Trump went to both obfuscate that and make it look like something it isn’t, and also to implement his own idea of policy within that political chapeau. She doesn’t see that as being very productive for even her version of America, her dad’s version of America, George W. Bush’s version of America, so she breaks away from it. I can’t help but say that in that respect. Mike Lofgren had a long piece about Liz today. I don’t know if you read it, but he calls her everything in the book virtually and refers to Maureen Dowd and her real. She’s an old fogy, maybe, but she got Liz Cheney, she nailed her. In many respects, Mike’s right,  I don’t go as far as Mike does because I could live with Liz Cheney as much as I might abominate or call her father a Nazi and all of these other things. I could live with her politically. I could live with her. I can’t live with Trump. I can’t live with Bannon. I can’t live with Miller. I can’t live with Hawley. I can’t live with Graham anymore. These people are either lacking in courage, moral and political, or if they’re true believers, they’re [inaudible 00:19:43] . I wouldn’t say that about Liz as much as I might despise her father, I wouldn’t say that about her, I wouldn’t go that far. I think that’s partly why she broke away.

Paul Jay

Now when. Oh, sorry. Go ahead. 

Lawrence Wilkerson

I heard a great commentary on this on NPR this morning, and it came from Wyoming. I think it was a newspaperman in Wyoming and from his bona fides announced beforehand he’d been there for a while and knew what he was talking about probably. He said she’ll win again. One, because we Wyoming’s like someone who stands up for what they believe in, and two because there are a lot of Wyoming residents who don’t necessarily agree with Liz, but they respect what she represents otherwise and what she represents otherwise is what her father represented. That is a conservative on some issues, ultraconservative representative of the people of Wyoming, and she’s been there and they understand that having been there for a while and having seniority, even if she’s just been kicked out of the third position in the House, she could regain that. She’s more powerful than anybody that might come up against her and be young and go to Washington. Then he said, the most meaningful thing, he said and the other candidates we have right now who are many are all not able to lift their hand and say a clear sentence. They’re all Trumpites, they’re all hanging on Trump’s coattails out there, so his prediction was she would win, that she would handle the next year fairly well in the state and in Washington, and then she’ll probably re-win seat. So who will win then, Mr. McCarthy?

Paul Jay

I think the elites, including Liz and her father, helped create the Trump phenomena monster, if you will, in many ways, and they were quite OK with it up until the time he looked like he wasn’t going to transition power. There he went outside the lines and not transitioning power if he’d really succeeded or even succeeded further than he did, ain’t good for business.

Lawrence Wilkerson

No, I think this began quite early. I think it began with his statements which the press began to pick up on, that things would go against him and he wouldn’t leave because it’d be a hoax.

Paul Jay

Well, Steve Steve Steve Bannon said that in mid-September he was on the Tucker Carlson show and he said the “stop the steal” he said back in mid-September before there was ever an election, and he went on a national tour helping organize, I believe, what we then saw on January 6th. I find it interesting that unless the FBI is and hasn’t said so, why they aren’t investigating him as part of the January 6th conspiracy. So, yeah, I think it starts back then. So that the preponderance of the elites have said this guy isn’t good for business, which is what the presidency is all about, but they’ve created this monster that they can’t control anymore. It’s not the first time. They’ve done this in other countries. I mean, they helped prop up Hitler in the beginning and then kind of lose control of that. You can even say that about Noriega in Panama and other places.

Lawrence Wilkerson

I think having read a little bit about it recently, I wasn’t all that up on Italian politics in the 30s. Plus the things that happened in World War I that sort of set Mussolini up. I read a long article by a really brilliant Italian political scientist recently. I think Mussolini is a better example because the situation with Mussolini is not unlike the situation in this country in terms of the way it happened and the sort of individual Mussolini was.

Paul Jay

Mussolini was smart and well-read and very educated.

Lawrence Wilkerson

That’s the one exception. But that’s America. You know, it was Italy. This is America. We do dumb.

Paul Jay

So let’s go to Biden. When Biden got elected, I was saying, and I think we talked about it and we both were saying, that if Biden doesn’t really transform the lives of at least a lot of that 75 million that voted for Trump on the economic side – he’s not going to win cultural arguments and all the rest – but if he really makes people’s lives better, then there’s no reason to think that in 2024, where there’s no pandemic because I think Trump probably would have won if there hadn’t been the pandemic. Assuming there’s no pandemic, we could be right back in it. Now, all this infrastructure spending, it’s actually in terms of numbers and the rhetoric, a bolder vision than I thought Biden might do. When you dig into some of that, it’s hard to tell how much it’s actually going to change people’s lives. Not really eliminating student debt is a big one. Are you really going to promise and follow through on making sure workers in the fossil fuel industry don’t get screwed? Some critical issues like that. Or is all this spending going to make Halliburtons and Carlyles and other a lot of money and not really change people’s lives?

Lawrence Wilkerson

One of the things I’m looking at right now, it’s a small example, but when you look at the funds, it’s not a small example, and when you look at the way it’s being done, it’s a way the Congress has become accustomed to, and that is the money in the infrastructure funds that is going to be designated for shipyards. You look at it generally and you say, right on, bro. Mr. President, you’re right. We need to reinvest in and renovate and make more viable American commercial shipyards. We’re lousy at building ships. When we evacuated the James River fleet essentially for the first Gulf War and then scrapped everything afterward, that was the last. That was it. We don’t make ships anymore. So I’m saying wonderful you did that then. Then, I look at it closely. It’s private shipyards. It’s shipyards that make warships, it’s not commercial ships, so this is double-dipping, if you will, by DOD, like they did in the Covid-19 funds. They needed Covid-19 for defense contractors like defense contractors, needed two more holes in their head, and yet they got it. They’re flush with cash. They’re buying back their own stock and everything else. They get Covid-19 money? Well, now they’re going to get this private shipyard money. It’s billions and it’s for building warships, not for renovating the U.S. infrastructure, for shipbuilding in general and particularly commercial ships. They can’t be doing these kinds of things if we’re really going to have an infrastructure fund, that means something for this country, and by meaning something, I mean economic revival, rejuvenation of our infrastructure in ways that aren’t legacy but are aimed at the future like the Chinese are doing right now.

Naval War College webinar the other day, a woman whom I have great respect for, it was a climate change webinar, she says this is a direct quote: “We may have already lost a battle we didn’t even know we were in.” It was a battle with China and it was a battle over solar, the technology, the price of that technology, the spread of that technology and so forth. It’s not just solar either it’s many other components of the way we face the future, from fast rail to things like new sewage systems and so forth. If we’ve lost those battles, that’s bad, and this infrastructure fund ought to be regaining ground, recouping ground, and getting ahead. Financing private shipyards is not the way to do that. Bath Iron Works is owned by Grumman. Most of the other shipyards are owned by too.

Paul Jay

Guess the other major investor in the Bath shipyards? BlackRock.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Yeah, yeah. I mean, you want to pull your hair out. This is just making the oligarchs richer.

Paul Jay

Those of us that still have hair, you and I, I’m not so sure we can.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Making the middle class and President Biden has promised to revivify.

Paul Jay

This chaos in the Republican Party. There’s never been an opportunity like this to actually live up to the rhetoric. Even the rhetoric on China I found recently got a little better instead of this kind of bellicose stuff that was coming from the Biden camp. Now, Biden saying is the way to deal with China is to invest in America. Well, I don’t think that’s such a bad piece of rhetoric to rebuild the infrastructure. If they want to compete economically,  great. Stop all the militarist talk and creating a boogeyman over a war with over Taiwan and all the rest. We’re going to talk about China more next week. So the rhetoric is good, but is the reality of it good? I guess we don’t know.

Lawrence Wilkerson

I think Secretary of State Blinken after the Alaska imbroglio, if you will, probably got a warm lecture from President Biden. President Biden is not a neophyte in foreign policy, and Blinken really made an ass of himself, in my view, and Sullivan too. We can’t be doing that. We have to show equal fortitude, skill, and talent in the diplomatic world, especially with the Chinese, and I would say probably the Russians and the Indians, too, with everyone, but particularly those, as well as have a big military, powerful military defense budget out of this world behind our backs.

Bill Hartung had a wonderful piece this morning showing how GDP and percentage of GDP is a farcical metric. We can’t be using that. We got a $22 to $23 trillion GDP now. Five percent of that, three percent of that, six percent of that is a lot different than that percentage of $14 trillion GDP, and, don’t tell me that the buying habits and interest rates and things have changed much in the interim period that we’re looking at. So why is it OK that we spend three percent or four percent or five percent of GDP now using that metric? And we did that in the 60s. Bill in that article says, look at what we’re doing, really look at what we’re doing. We’re spending more money in real terms today than we spent at the height of the Cold War, than we spent in Reagan’s early 80s arms buildup, or we spent in any war since. Why are we doing that? It’s absurd. Yet you’ve got people like Inhofe (R-OK) over there saying, we need more, we need more, we need more. Why? Because his PAC is flush with Lockheed Martin money.

Paul Jay

You know, it’s interesting, I wonder if another calculation on the part of the Cheney gang and even the Never Trump neocon gang is that maybe a Biden presidency can sell those military budgets now better than a Trump one could because I’m not seeing Biden cutting any of these budgets.

Lawrence Wilkerson

There are some rumors out there that there’s going to be a leveling off at best, and as we said in our study a year and a half, two years ago, which Bill Hartung was a part of and a number of others, you could cut $100 million a year for 10 years, $1 trillion total out of the DOD budget. Now, that is not the national security budget, which is $1.5 trillion right now. That’s Homeland Security, intelligence, 150 Account State, nuclear weapons at DoE, Veterans Affairs which is now up to $243 million, if you can believe that. That’s $1.5 trillion in the national security budget. You could cut the $715 $720 billion military budget by $100 billion a year for 10 years, saving $1 trillion, and we’d have a more effective military. They won’t do it because they’re so flush, they’re polluted. They can lose $25 billion a year, as Donald Rumsfeld once famously said, and not be able to find it, and it doesn’t hurt them because they’ll find some money elsewhere. They have so much.

Paul Jay

So, when we’re talking about supporters of Trump and it’s not just supporters of Trump, it’s also people that vote to a large extent for the Democratic Party rather uncritically as well, because, as we’re saying, this military-industrial complex actually arose under a Democrat.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Yeah, and fares very well under Democrats.

Paul Jay

Yeah, very well. Sometimes people say in these interviews, it’s just all bad news. One, there’s a lot of bad news, but two the hope that some of this kind of conversation, people that don’t have time to spend studying this stuff the way you and I do and more you than me in terms of studying, get to understand the myth surrounding all of this, all wrapped up in patriotism, all wrapped up in that somehow there’s this existential threat. I’m doing this film with Ellsberg, and he made an important point: practically every war the U.S. has been in since World War Two has been on a phony provocation, to help instigate it,  to help start it. If we can help through these kinds of conversations and others, give people a more realistic sense of the history and how we got here, then maybe they can start voting for candidates that aren’t part of this empire agenda.

Lawrence Wilkerson

I agree at the local level and to a certain extent at the national Congress level, but I think it’s very, very difficult to find the candidates for them to vote for, particularly for the White House who would divest themselves of any of this paraphernalia because they come up through the system, they learn the system and they get elected president and Democrat or Republican they want the system to continue. That’s their principal purpose for going in the Oval Office. Tweak here, tweak there, but that’s the reason when I hear these people talk about Trump was at least against socialism. He was at least against communism. All these isms. I say, come on, man, there isn’t a communist in the United States that could win office anywhere. There isn’t a socialist in the United States who could win office outside of people who want to do things like Finland and Norway and Sweden and Denmark and other countries have very successfully done. There’s no one who wants to turn everything over to Marx and Engels tomorrow morning, even though they don’t understand what Marx and Engels actually said.

Paul Jay

Yeah, really? Because if they did, I don’t think they’d be so afraid of it but go on.

So, you know, what are you talking about? And they come back with social issues generally. They come back with what I was talking to you about before. That is what is really irritating them because they can’t deal with the economic situation. They can only deal with, oh, Biden sent me more money than Trump did. I got a letter today. They’re sending me some more money. Good God, why are you sending me more money? Is this Covid-19 money? No, this is stimulus money because of Covid-19. And the letters are personally signed by Joe Biden. I thought this was something only Trump did. Oh, well, OK, fine. He’s trying to win votes, more power to him, except that’s the kind of person we always get, regardless of which political party and they are beholden to and want to sustain this complex and ultimately this empire until we get someone in there who looks at it and says if we could get them in there, as you and I are saying right now, and as you and I have said many, many times, and as others are saying, Ellsberg and others, this is idiotic, it’s suicidal. There’s absolutely no reason the United States and China should go to war. There’s absolutely no reason Russia and the United States should fight over Ukraine. There’s no reason for any of this crap other than we’re sustaining the empire and the ingredients of that empire, like the military-industrial complex. That’s the only reason. How do we break free of this? How do we find someone who understands it and wants to break free of it? I don’t know. I’ve come to the conclusion academically and otherwise, it’s impossible.

Paul Jay

Well, rationally, I think you’re probably right, but again, to quote Ellsburg, we have to act as if we’re on the Titanic and still have a chance to steer away from the iceberg. I’m actually doing a very interesting series of interviews with Jane McAlevey, who’s a very experienced union organizer. I think a lot’s going to happen about whether this push to reinvigorate the union movement is successful or not, because I think the people that are involved in that, can speak to people who have voted for Trump on the economic issues and in terms of getting organized. So I’m not without hope on this. Also, while I don’t think much can happen at the presidential level, this trend of getting some progressives and others who are less imperialistic on foreign policy into Congress and maybe even the Senate. It’s a possibility. At the presidential level, it’s pretty hard to imagine in the foreseeable future.

Lawrence Wilkerson

It’s difficult to imagine in the Senate too.

Paul Jay

Well, maybe in a small state. I really think there should be a strategy for progressives and others to go target like North Dakota or something. All you need to do is get some really small states where it doesn’t take as much money and flip one or two of those Republican states by being honest with people there.

Lawrence Wilkerson

If you could put up some kind of infrastructure architecture, if you will, like Koch did, like Charles Koch did some 30, 40 years ago, but aim it in the other direction, even at restoring real democracy rather than bringing on autocracy, which will favor big business. That’s really what they want. Citizens United, Koch engineered Citizens United. He engineered the Roberts court decision, Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission. That allowed then Koch and other billionaires, on both sides of the aisle now we’re seeing them, but you said it. They’re both interested in the same thing, sustaining the empire and the complex that goes with it. So it doesn’t matter whether they are Republican billionaires or Democratic billionaires. As I said, Bob Rubin could have held a ceremony in the Rose Garden to award Goldman Sachs the White House. He did such marvelous things, dismantling Glass-Steagall and everything else. So you have to break outside of that, and I don’t know how you do that in the Senate in particular. I’ve seen it happen in the House. There are enough progressives in the house now where they’re shaking the foundation. Really, they’re shaking. That’s what’s got McCarthy and other people like him scared to death. They don’t like these people. They don’t like the AOCs, but they don’t like anybody that speaks clear English and makes a point, a rational point, a point from the Enlightenment, if you will, a point that our founders would recognize, might not agree with necessarily, but they damn sure recognize the argument because it’s right out of the Enlightenment. They don’t want that. I don’t know how you break through that. Money coats everything.

Paul Jay

Well, I interviewed, like I say, Jane McAlevey, and she gave me some encouragement about when people get very serious about on the ground organizing among working people that they can actually win. I’ll be publishing this in a few weeks. I think this issue of the unions, we have to pay a lot more attention to.

Lawrence Wilkerson

I think the movement right now by American Promise, a group that I’m an adviser to now, and a number of other groups across the country for a twenty Eighth Amendment that will nullify Citizens United. We have twenty-one states already that are signed up. Their legislatures are signed up to vote positively and you need thirty-five, thirty-six states. So we think we can do it in ten years. So your movement for unions, revitalizing unions, and so forth, shaping them for the future and getting Citizens United constitutionally nullified. Screw you Congress. It’s going to be a constitutional amendment. That will nullify. Screw you Roberts Court. You didn’t do it right. So we’re going to fix it. Get money out of politics, big money, corporate money, and union money out of politics. I think you’ve taken two huge steps revitalizing unions, get money out of politics, two huge steps forward towards doing things positive for this democracy.

Paul Jay

All right. Thanks for joining us, Larry.

Lawrence Wilkerson

Thanks for having me.

Paul Jay

And thank you for joining us on theAnalysis news. Don’t forget the donate button, the subscribe, share, and all of that, and see you again soon.

6 comments

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  • [inaudible 00:19:43] = fascists (pronounced to emphasis its ‘fasces’ roots)

    Mainstream American politics: Hyper-nationalist V. Christian Fundamentalist V. Old School fascists V. anti-family Transsexual abortionists…………..

    History will not judge us kindly

  • The “something people could turn to” that Larry mentions at the outset could be formation of a “non National Security State” in the hemisphere to replace the profit driven psycho playground in which not only the GOP sweats demise but the entire broken system that circulates moral bankruptcy we find is “going down the drain”.

    Liz Cheney has no useful part in that process calling for a new formation in the hemisphere. With her record? Liz, highly emotional, doesn’t understand “belligerence” let alone would she commit herself to a policy to disarm it in this hemisphere.

    Liz Cheney gets pushed over the brink and the GOP gets fat. Is that the idea? Supporting Trump is supposed to be the “rigged election” clincher? In the murder of economic and political democracy, we find there are no bullets in the gun because some morally bankrupt party member politician forgot to load it? Is this serious?

    The demise of the National Security State — Smedley Butler wouldn’t have minded because War “really” Is A Racket — and the process fueling the demise is relentless and leans into the Chris Hedges’ idea of the Farewell Tour. Talk about “surrealism”, (as Larry has noticed presumably with no twinge of satisfaction). Is Hedges’ on to something Larry missed?

    In the words of Sydney Falco, “The cat’s in the bag and the bag’s in the river.” Having taunted Cheney into retreat isn’t points scored in an exciting game for the winning GOP team because the game’s long been over in Washington for the duopoly. Washington now? It’s Every Man and Woman For Himself, that’s the only game in town from now on.

    Would Ho Chi Minh today send 8 letters to WASHINGTON asking for help to unite his country? Would Castro today send a letter to ask for help? In the words of Sydney Falco, “That’s fish three days old. I’m not buying it.”

    Larry doesn’t like it that the National Security State profile in our hemisphere matches the iconoclastic “other one” located in a far away part of the world in a somewhat different hemisphere. Larry says man, it never used to be that way in my day.

    In a quest for economic and political democracy somebody in this hemisphere’s got to walk the plank; and it’s likely going to be the morally bankrupt cabal of the duopoly that serve the National Security State.

    Something set this whole thing up and there isn’t a text book in a classroom anywhere in a school house that can explain it to our children. Let’s understand that much. Perhaps the only sensible understanding is that “the system really is broken” [Richard D. Wolff] — a system where some pretty bizarre people used to call the shots. And we accepted that and merely wondered whose hands were clean and whose weren’t.

    The only battle plan we got left is our capacity to “calmly understand” and not succumb purely to wild emotion that we never imagined got the better of us once and made us commit to things we never would have done were there a clear-eyed view from the start.

  • Wilkerson is probably right- nothing can be done, although I’d suggest that some kind of severe shock might open up possibilities. More likely very bad ones, but that’s why organizing for a crisis today is important. Frankly, the US is a failed experiment for We the (80 percent) People, so why not heed Jefferson’s advice to rip up the Constitution and begin again? If we don’t the human species is for sure toast; I don’t have kids, but if I did I’d be even more angry and active.

  • A Constitutional amendment? Does that mean a constitutional convention? That could be a disaster as it would open the door to all kinds of people able to make changes to our founding document that would not be good. Very frightening.

    • Amendments can be passed by conventions, but there hasn’t been one in 200+ years. The normal way is through Congress and the state legislatures.

      A quicker way for the same path would be to pack the Supreme Court – with judges, rather than crazed and corrupt ideologues. Or what should be talked about more often – jurisdiction stripping. Congress can exempt most laws from Supreme Court oversight by stripping them of appellate jurisdiction. In effect Congress can usually overrule the supreme Court. Most prominently used for Reconstruction legislation, but the power has been used about a dozen and half times in US history, as recently as 20 years ago IIRC.

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