ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Russian Aero Forces Conduct Joint Bombing Runs w/Turkey In North and w/Syria In South

“Russian-Syrian offensive in the region of Palmyra” The chief of staff Rudskoi:

“The Caliphate has moved a large quantity of explosives to destroy the artistic heritage of the city”

in-terris

 

palmira

The troops of the Syrian government, with the support of the Russian air force, launched an offensive in the Palmyra area against militants Isis. He dettp Russian General Sergei Rudskoi. “We have received information, confirmed by several sources, about moving a large amount of explosives in the Palmyra area carried out by terrorists Isis in order to destroy the old-world heritage,” said the official, adding that “currently in Palmyra area government forces, with the support of the Russian Space forces, perform offensive actions against militants Isis “.

The same Rudskoi reported that the air forces of Moscow and Turkish ones are carrying out a first joint air operation against Daesh in the suburbs of the town of El Bab, in the Syrian province of Aleppo. Raids “by nine assault aircraft of the Russian Space Forces, in particular four Sukhoi Su-24M, four Sukhoi Su-25 and Sukhoi Su-34 bomber, as well as eight aircraft of the Turkish forces, four and four F16 F4. They are hit 36 goals “. The general explained that all objectives had been previously agreed by the two States and more groups of air commands of the two countries and that “over the last few days is an additional recognition” of these objectives “is performed using the drones and the Media space observing “.

But the Caliphate does not give up and continues to press around Deir ez-Zor. “The garrison of the city – said Rudskoi – is continuing to resist the terrorists Isis with the support of the Russian Space Forces.” According to the general, “if the city is captured, a true genocide awaits the people” and “the people of Deir ez-Zor could be completely decimated.”

Rudskoi has also warned that the maneuvers in Iraq of the US-led coalition are pushing towards the eastern part of Syria jihadists that they are now located in the Iraqi city of Mosul. “The actions of coalition units led by the United States near the Iraqi city of Mosul – said – you are mostly limited to push in eastern Syria Isis considerable forces that almost unimpeded move weapons, explosives and men in the direction of Palmyra, Deir ez-Zor and the town of El Bab, near the border with Turkey. “

 

A Deep State Storm the Day After Tomorrow?

By Stephen Lendman

After the most unprecedented denigration of a presidential candidate in US history, the worst may be yet to come, beginning Friday with Trump’s inauguration as America’s 45th president.

Pro-Hillary dark forces call him illegitimate. Media scoundrels beat on him relentlessly. Whatever he does or says or doesn’t do or doesn’t say is criticized.

Nothing in memory resembles what’s gone on since mid-2015. The problem isn’t Trump. It’s America’s debauched system – fantasy democracy, not the real thing.

Leaders like Obama govern by the script handed them, doing the bidding of powerful dark forces running the country. Trump’s anti-establishment sounding rhetoric scares them, especially talk of getting along with Vladimir Putin – anathema in neocon infested Washington.

Days before his inauguration, a disgraceful Huffington Post article contemptuously headlined “Hillary Clinton is the Legitimate President,” saying:

“The evidence is clear. Hillary Clinton is the rightful president-elect, and courts must use the broad discretionary powers with which they are vested to enjoin an illegitimate president from taking office.”

Shocking stuff, here in America, not in some faraway tinpot dictatorship. The evidence is very clear. Trump won convincingly. Hillary lost whining, whimpering, simpering and groaning, believing it was her turn as a woman to claim the nation’s highest office.

Her defeat let humanity dodge a possible nuclear bullet. Huffpo saying US courts should intervene on her behalf is seditious or treasonous – despicably promoting coup d’etat action to prevent an elected US president from taking office.

Huffpo: “Every major intelligence agency in the country has reached the same conclusion: Russian hackers engaged in cyber attacks with the express purpose of helping Donald Trump win the election.”

“They operated at the directive of Russian President Vladimir Putin, apparently motivated by his hatred for Clinton.”

Fact: This is what passes for mainstream news and information – utter rubbish, knowing, or should know, not a shred of evidence suggests Russian US election hacking.

The whole dirty story was fabricated – a disgraceful scheme to delegitimize Trump and prevent normalizing ties with Russia.

Promoting the notion of Hillary as America’s legitimate president is scandalous, stuff commonplace in banana republics or despotic monarchies.

It’ll likely continue after Trump enters office – instead of focusing solely on how he governs, judging him by what he does or doesn’t do for good or ill.

A rough ride awaits him. Fidel Castro’s advice to Hugo Chavez before his death applies to Trump, saying “(t)ake care what you eat, what they give you to eat. They inject you with I don’t know what.”

Watch your back is also sound advice, including carefully vetting security personnel assigned for protection.

Threatening dark forces make survival Trump’s top priority.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

The Psyop To Neutralize “the Rebel”

The psyop to neuter The Rebel–(Notes on the evolution of caricatures)

The psyop to neuter The Rebel

jon-rappaport

 

If you want to track a civilization as it collapses, watch what happens to the concept of the rebel.From the 1960s onward—starting with Lee Oswald and the assassination of JFK—the whole idea of “the rebel” with power has been sequentially updated and repackaged. This is intentional.

The objective is to equate “rebel” with a whole host of qualities—e.g., runaway self-serving paranoia; random destruction; out-of-control drug use; generalized hatred; the commission of crimes…

On a lesser, “commercialized” level, the new rebel can define himself by merely showing up at a concert to scream and drink heavily and break something, having already dressed to make a dissident fashion statement. He can take an afternoon off from college classes and have his arms tattooed. All the while, of course, he functions as an avid consumer of mainstream corporate products.

You even have people who, considering themselves rebels of the first order, support a government that spies on its people 24/7, launches military attacks all over the world, and now funds a Manhattan Project to map every move of the 100 billion neurons of the brain, for the ultimate purpose of controlling it.

Even going back as far as the 1950s, the so-called decade of conformity, psyops professionals sculpted notions of The Rebel: He was the person who didn’t want to take part in the emerging bland corporate culture.

He was imagined and presented as troubled, morose; a wobbly unfocused JD Salinger Holden Caulfield, or a beatnik, a Madison Avenue caricature of somebody who opposed Madison Avenue.

In other words, the people who were shaping the consumer culture were creating the image of the rebel as a cartoon figure who just didn’t want to buy into “the good life.”

Time Magazine ran a cover story on the beatniks, and characterized them as a disaffected trend. Marlon Brando, heading up a bunch of moronic motorcycle riders, invaded a town of pleasant clueless citizens and took it over, wreaking destruction. The 1953 movie was The Wild One. James Dean, who had the same trouble Brando did in articulating a complete sentence, was “the rebel without a cause” in the “iconic film” of the same name. He raced cars toward cliffs because his father couldn’t understand him.

These were all puff pieces designed to make rebels look ridiculous, and they worked. They also functioned to transmit the idea to young people that being a rebel should be a showbiz affectation. That worked, too.

Then the late 1960s arrived. Flower children, in part invented by the major media, would surely take over the world and dethrone fascist authority with rainbows. San Francisco was the epicenter. But Haight-Ashbury, where the flowers and the weed were magically growing out of the sidewalks, turned into a speed, acid, and heroin nightmare, a playground for psychopaths to cash in and steal and destroy lives. The CIA, of course, gave the LSD culture a major push.

For all that the anti-war movement eventually accomplished in ending the Vietnam war-crime, in the aftermath many of those college students who had been in the streets—once the fear of being drafted was gone—scurried into counselors’ offices to see where they might fit into the job market after graduation. The military industrial complex took its profits and moved on, undeterred.

The idea of the rebel was gone. It later resurfaced as The Cocaine Dealer, the archangel of the 1980s.

And so forth and so on. All these incarnations of The Rebel were artificially created and sustained as psyops. At bottom, the idea was to discredit the Individual, in favor of The Group.

Now, in our collectivist society of 2016, The Group, as a rapidly expanding victim class, is the government’s number one project. It’s a straight con. “We’re here to make you worse off while we lift you up.”

In the psyop to demean, distort, and squash the rebel, there is a single obvious common denominator: the establishment media are doing the defining; they are the ones who are setting the parameters and making the descriptions; they are the ones who build the cartoons; looking down their noses, pretending to a degree of sympathy, they paint one unflattering picture after another of what the rebel is and does and says; they have co-opted the whole game.

These days, the ultimate rebels, the media would have you believe, are “gun-toting racist bitter clingers who have religion.” Another attempt to shape a distorted unflattering portrait

You can take a whole host of political films and television series of the past 50 years, and look at them for signs of the Rebel: Seven Days in May, Advise and Consent, The Candidate, The Seduction of Joe Tynan, Dave, Primary Colors, The Contender, Good Night and Good Luck, The American President, West Wing, Scandal, The Newsroom…

Good acting, bad acting, drama, message—at the end you’re looking for the core. What do the rebel heroes really stand for? What are their principles? It’s all bland. It’s vague. It has the posturing of importance, but little else.

As I was finishing this piece, a friend wrote with a quote attributed to Robert Anton Wilson: “The universe is a war between reality programmers.”

This is exactly where the real rebel enters the scene. He’s not trying to program people. Freedom means cutting loose from programming.

The Rebel doesn’t go to the market and choose which reality program he wants. They’re all used up as soon as they come out of the package.

Albert Camus once wrote: “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience. It would be easy, however, to destroy that good conscience by shouting to them: if you want the happiness of the people, let them speak out and tell what kind of happiness they want and what kind they don’t want! But, in truth, the very ones who make use of such alibis know they are lies; they leave to their intellectuals on duty the chore of believing in them and of proving that religion, patriotism, and justice need for their survival the sacrifice of freedom.”

“THIS or THAT” is the history of Earth: choose reality program A or B. The choice was always a con.


Exit From the Matrix

(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, Exit From The Matrix, click here.)


We’re well into a time period when the experts and scientific authorities are settling on the human being as a biological machine that can only respond to programming. That’s their view and their default position.

It’s sheer madness, of course, but what else do you expect? We’re in an intense technological age, and people are obsessed with making things run smoother. They treat their precious little algorithms for control like the Crown Jewels. They’re terribly enthusiastic about the problem they’re solving, and that problem is us.

We’re the wild cards, a fact which they take to be result of our improper and incomplete conditioning. They aim to fix that.

“Why not stop diddling around and just make the whole thing over? Why not reshape humans?”

Having decided that, the battle begins between competing programmers of the mind. Which program for humans is better?

The rebel is against all such programming, no matter how “good and right” it sounds. “Good” and “right” are the traps.

“Well, certainly we could make a list of qualities we want all people to have. You know, the best qualities, like bravery and determination. Who could be against that? So suppose we could actually program such qualities into humans? Wouldn’t that be a fine thing? Then people would just BE that way…”

The ultimate rebellion is against programming, whatever it looks like, wherever it occurs.

Programming is someone else’s idea of who and what you should be.

It is never your idea.

Your idea is where the power is.

Jon Rappoport

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX,

Hekmatyar/Taliban Open War May Be About To Resume In Afghanistan

[Hekmatyar’s Peace Envoy Targeted By Taliban Suicide Bomber, Apr 7, 2012 ; US/Pakistani “Peace” Scam In Afghanistan Negotiates With Terrorist Hekmatyar To Preserve Plot ; ENTER THE HEKMATYAR—Afghanistan Signs “Peace Agreement” with Notorious Warlord ]

house-of-parliament-member-mir-wali

Afghan men inspect the remains of their belongings at the house of parliament member Mir Wali in the aftermath of gunmen’s attack last night in western Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo: AP)–[Anti-Taliban Afghan Parliamentarian’s Home Scene of Taliban Suicide-Attack ; Afghanistan Offer of Taliban Sanctuary Which Precipitated Series of Large Bomb Blasts]

Taliban, Hezb-i-Islami moving towards confrontation
Story Highlights
  • Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami confront each other
  • Afghan Hezb-e-Islami has now struck a peace deal with its government
    Attack in Kabul at parliamentarian’s house was due to the feud 

PESHAWAR: The Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami (Hekmatyar) are gradually confronting each other following the latter’s peace deal with the Afghan government in September last year.

The Hezb-i-Islami, led by former mujahideen leader Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, is now an ally of the unity government of President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr Abdullah and, therefore, an enemy of the Taliban.

Though Hekmatyar hasn’t yet gone to Kabul and is still in hiding waiting for removal of his name from the UN ‘blacklist’ his party is now bound in an agreement with the government under which it would support the existing political dispensation, Constitution and most of its policies.

Taliban are angry over the peace agreement,  but they don’t want to give it much importance due to Hekmatyar’s insignificant military power and the splintering of his party into at least three factions.  The recent suicide attack in Kabul on the house of Muallim Mir Wali, an MP from Helmand province who was previously part of Hezb-i-Islami during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet occupation forces, contributed to the growing feud between the Taliban and Hekmatyar’s supporters.

Though Taliban claimed they attacked important participants of a security meeting held in Muallim Mir Wali’s home to discuss the situation in Helmand, the death of women and children in the incident fuelled anger against the Taliban.

It also prompted Hezb-i-Islami’s military commanders and MPs to issue a joint statement, condemning the attack and criticizing the Taliban for targetting a house with women, children and other civilians. They said it showed Taliban’s enmity with Hezb-i-Islami.

Recently, there have been two other attacks on Hezb-i-Islami figures. There were no claims of responsibility though some may see Taliban hands in these two killings.

In one incident in the Baghlan province in Khwajagan village, unidentified gunmen shot dead Qand Agha, a former Hezb-i-Islami commander who didn’t occupy any position in the government.  Another Hezb-i-Islami commander was recently gunned down in Kapisa province.

Meanwhile, Taliban continue to strictly implement the judgements of their courts in Afghanistan. In Farah province, two men were hanged publicly in the Khak-e-Sufaid district for kidnapping and killing a minor.

A Taliban spokesman said the case was heard in a Shariah court for a month and the charges were proved against them.   In another case in the Ghazni province, a six-member gang accused of committing theft was caught by the Taliban red-handed, tried in court and sentenced to punishment of 39 lashes each. The punishment was publicly awarded in the Qarabagh district in Ghazni.

Also recently, a Taliban court sentenced a girl and a boy to death by stoning on charges of committing adultery in the northern Sari-e-Pul province. Eyewitnesses said the punishment would be awarded publicly as the Taliban had invited the people to come to Pashani village in Kohistanat district to watch the stoning of the boy and girl. The punishment hasn’t been awarded yet.  The government showed its helplessness by arguing that this area wasn’t in its control for the last several years. However, some government officials said efforts were being made to stop the Taliban from carrying out the punishment.

Taliban have been carrying out such tough punishments in areas controlled by them and people have been sentenced to death, imprisoned, amputated and lashed.

Those punished include persons accused of murder, causing injuries, theft, adultery, drinking liquor and spying for the Afghan government or the US-led foreign forces.

—Originally published in The News

Afghanistan Offer of Taliban Sanctuary Which Precipitated Series of Large Bomb Blasts

[Are Kabul Blasts War Within Afghan Govt, Or Taliban Reply To Abdul Raziq’s Invitation?]

How Afghanistan is trying to outflank Pakistan over Taliban

times of india

 

 

AFP

A file picture of Taliban insurgents.

A file picture of Taliban insurgents.

KABUL: Afghan officials are pushing to create a “safe zone” for Taliban insurgents in a bid to wean them away from traditional sanctuaries inside Pakistan, in a radical and contentious strategy to de-escalate the conflict.

The plan underscores desperation in Afghanistan for out-of-the-box solutions to tackle the 15-year insurgency, as peace bids repeatedly fail and US-backed forces suffer record casualties in stalemated fighting.

If implemented, the strategy — aimed at undercutting Pakistan’s influence over the Taliban — could, for better or for worse, be a game changer in a strife-torn nation where ceding territory to insurgents is seen as tantamount to partition.

“I urge the Taliban to return to Afghanistan. We should make a safe zone for them and their families,” Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq told a gathering of religious scholars and tribal elders last month.

“We can no longer rely on foreign governments and embassies to end the war. The Taliban belong to this country, they are sons of this soil.”

That Raziq, arguably the most powerful commander in southern Afghanistan and long one of the staunchest anti-Taliban figures, would suggest such an idea amplified the shockwaves it created.

“The government shouldn’t be giving safe zones to terrorists,” warned former Helmand governor Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, while some observers dismissed the strategy as “illogical” as the Taliban already control vast swathes of Afghan territory.

Raziq did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, but a senior security official told AFP the government’s goal “is to bring the Taliban from Pakistan to Afghanistan”.

“We will separate a territory for them to come with their families. Then whether they want to fight or talk peace, they will be relieved from the pressure of Pakistan,” he said, speaking anonymously.

Pakistan began supporting the Taliban movement of the 1990s as part of its policy of “strategic depth” against nemesis India.

Seen by many Afghans as the biggest obstacle to lasting peace, Islamabad has long been accused of playing a “double game” in Afghanistan: endorsing Washington’s war on terrorism since the 9/11 attacks, while nurturing militant sanctuaries.

After years of official denial, a top Pakistani official in 2016 admitted for the first time the Taliban enjoys safe haven inside his country, which Islamabad uses as a “lever” to pressure the group into talks with Kabul.

However, Pakistan has hosted multiple rounds of talks ostensibly to jumpstart a peace process — without result.

The “safe zone” strategy appears to have taken shape as prominent Taliban figures call to make the insurgency independent of Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, which they accuse of manipulating the group.

“The presence of our movement’s key decision makers and institutions inside Pakistan means they can impose things that are against the interests of our movement and Afghanistan,” Sayed Tayyeb Agha wrote in a letter last year to Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada.

“To be able to make independent decisions, our leadership… should leave Pakistan,” the former head of the Taliban’s political commission added in the letter seen by AFP.

Afghanistan’s National Security Council did not officially confirm the government strategy, saying only: “The Taliban are allowed to relocate to Afghanistan under state protection.”

The Afghan security official said the government was in contact with Taliban leaders over the proposal, a fact corroborated by militant sources in Pakistan.

He refused to specify the potential location for the safe zone, and whether it will be immune from aerial bombardment or ground assault, but insisted no areas with military installations will be handed over.

Speculation that the government was furtively trying to cede territory recently grew when local media cited secret military documents revealing Afghan forces were planning to retreat from two Helmand districts during a winter lull in fighting.

Afghan officials dismissed the report, while also rejecting longstanding claims that the Taliban leadership council — Quetta Shura — has relocated to Afghanistan.

But multiple insurgent sources told AFP that prominent members, including the Taliban’s military chief Ibrahim Sadr, recently moved to an undisclosed location in Afghanistan.

“Ibrahim also urged Haibatullah to come to Afghanistan but he refused,” a top Quetta Shura member told AFP.

Obaidullah Barakzai, an MP from Uruzgan province, argued that giving the Taliban a permanent address in Afghanistan would make it easier to convince them to participate in an “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace dialogue without interference from our neighbour”.

However Timor Sharan, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the strategy was flawed.

“It’s like asking the Taliban to leave their brick-built houses and settle in a tent in the desert with half-hearted guarantees that they will not be bombed,” Sharan told AFP.

“The Taliban need to receive a strong assurance from coalition forces, in particular the US, before making the move.”

But the Afghan security official insisted there was no military solution to the conflict.

“If this plan does not work, Afghanistan will be ready for another tough year of fighting,” he said.

Authorities Find Multiple Rifles and Handguns Hidden Among Debris In Northwest D.C.

canal

 

Several guns and ammunition were found along the C&O canal near Fletcher’s Boathouse in Northwest D.C. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Large Cache of Weapons Found in D.C. just Before Trump Inauguration

Weapons found by walker along the Potomac River

In a little noticed news article, the Associated Press reported days ago that a large cache of weapons, including guns and ammunition, were found along the Potomac River.

The short report claims that a walker came across two guns hidden in a violin case before calling the police who eventually found “several” other weapons.

“U.S. Park Police said a woman walking in the woods near the C&O Canal, which runs along the river, found the case. When law enforcement officers arrived, they found more guns and ammunition — some in pails, others in plastic garbage bags.”

d-c-guns

Guns hidden in violin case

A police spokeswoman told the AP that they had no idea how the weapons got there or why they were put there in the first place. According to the report, both long guns and pistols were found.

Interestingly, a witness also noted that no one regularly hikes in the area that the weapons were found, pointing to the possibility that they could have been originally hidden there to be picked up weeks later.

Obviously this is shocking considering the Trump inauguration is only four days away and an unprecedented series of riots are planned in an attempt to stop the president-elect from ever taking office.

Intellihub’s Alex Thomas reported late last week that organizers of one of the main protests have openly admitted that they do not believe in a peaceful transfer of power and are therefore planning criminal acts to stop Trump.

Legba Carrefour, an organizer for DisruptJ20, told Reuters Wednesday that her group planned predawn blockades and disruptions during the evening inaugural balls on top of the protests during the actual inauguration.

It was then made clear that this is not about peacefully protesting but rather part of a larger attempt to literally steal the election.

“Some 300 DisruptJ20 volunteers will work to mobilize demonstrators for a series of protests the group has dubbed the “Festival of Resistance,” reported Reuters.

“We are not in favor of a peaceful transition of power, and we need to stop it,” Carrefour continued.

On top of that, Trump is also dealing with a massive disinformation campaign aimed at him by elements of the intelligence community who have leaked numerous details to the eager corporate media while also threatening Trump through the same mockingbird media outlets.

It has gotten so bad that one former intelligence officer even publicly admitted that the CIA is attempting to take down Donald Trump.

“John Schindler not only confirmed that the CIA is leading a massive, possibly illegal, operation against the president-elect, he also revealed that a noted Washington Post columnist is getting the information he reports from the intelligence community and thus at least indirectly supporting the coup attempt against Trump.

“The intelligence community spies on Flynn’s calls, then anonymously reports what they claim to have been in them through a Washington Post columnist.”

Additionally, celebrities such as Rosie O’Donnell have openly called for the end of the Constitution in America by publicly supporting martial law as a means to stop Trump from becoming president. According to O’Donnell, the one way to stop Trump is to effectively end the Constitution and set up a military dictatorship, all because of documented disinformation spread by the corporate media about supposed Russian ties to the president-elect.

While its obviously possible that the weapons cache had absolutely nothing to do with the upcoming inauguration, the fact that it was found so close to January 20th, coupled with the above documented attacks on Trump from all angles, is alarming.

Our Benevolent Shadow Government

Our Benevolent Shadow Government

the-concourse

 

Photos: AP

This week, Mark Zuckerberg’s $45 billion philanthropic foundation announced it is bringing on David Plouffe and Ken Mehlman, two of America’s most prominent political operatives. It is worth reflecting on the vast, vast power being wielded by the unaccountable foundations of the rich. Let’s do it!

Because private philanthropic foundations generally do philanthropy, they are often regarded as straightforwardly good, or at least benign. Why should be be upset that billions of dollars going to some kind of charities? Well. The short answer is that private foundations represent private power, as opposed to public power. Even though you may feel that a particular private foundation is doing something that you view as good at a particular point in time, the fact is that they represent a structure for the exercise of private power—and the stronger and wealthier they are, the more power over public affairs is concentrated in the hands of a tiny number of extremely wealthy people.

American society has always been a mix of public and private power. The pendulum swings. But if you believe in the basic ideas of democracy—power by the people, for the people—then you should generally want the important issues we face to be decided in the public realm. That means that, in some form, we all get a say in them. A world in which the U.S. government feels fine outsourcing large parts of the social safety net to private foundations is a disaster waiting to happen, because it means that the safety net is then operated at the whim of a few people with no accountability to everyone it serves. You don’t have to believe “charity is bad.” You just have to believe that little things like, I don’t know, public health should be the responsibility of public institutions, not of some guy who had a good website idea when he was 19.

How powerful are private foundations in America? Very powerful. The 50 largest foundations in this country each have assets of more than $1.8 billion. Just two organizations—The Gates Foundation (which is also getting an enormous infusion of money from Warren Buffett) and the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative—have combined assets of about $90 billion. That is more than the annual budget of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And the entire charity world is reflective of the same growing economic inequality that plagues our nation as a whole. In the past decade, “charitable giving deductions from lower income donors have declined significantly, at almost the same rate that contributions from higher income donors have increased.”

Since Congress is one of our most unpopular institutions, it can be hard to get people excited over this, a structural issue that aims to bring capital and its uses under more democratic control. But the solution to “those clowns in Congress” is not “turn over the whole damn system to a bunch of tech billionaires and heirs of old-timey industrialists and hope that their good nature prevails.” The solution is to fix the undemocratic parts of our system. (Kill gerrymandering! Campaign finance reform! And the other usual suspects!) Instead of begging billionaires to give their money to good causes—rather than to, say, plastering their names on various cultural institutions—it makes much more sense to tax these outrageous fortunes into the public till, then empower our elected government to spend it where it’s actually needed. Private foundations with huge resources can do a lot of good things. They are also, by their very nature, tools of the ultra-rich, exercised by the ultra-rich to fulfill the wishes of the ultra-rich. And as Mark Zuckerberg’s stable of political operatives shows, these private entities are quite comfortable influencing public policy. Not the other way around.

Praying that the ultra-rich remain generous and benevolent is not what equality and democracy are about. Rich people with more wealth than they can spend have always been willing to give away money. That’s nice. Unfortunately, if we want a healthy system we’re going to need them to give up something much more dear: power.

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