• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

maandag 23 januari 2017

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Democrats Can't Criticize Israeli Terror

Video: Democratic leadership hopeful flees questions on Israeli abuses

This video shows Tom Perez, a leading contender for chair of the Democratic National Committee, ducking questions about Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
Perez served as labor secretary in President Barack Obama’s cabinet.
In the video, Zaid Jilani, who writes for The Intercept, confronts Perez in the moments following last Wednesday’s debate among candidates for the leadership of the Democratic Party’s top governing body.
“People are quick to condemn the BDS movement, but there have also been really strong actions against human rights by Israel, for example, 1,600 Palestinians lost their homes last year to home demolitions,” Jilani tells the former labor secretary.
“Absolutely, I understand it’s a complicated issue,” Perez responds as he turns and walks away.
“Secretary, would you condemn the home demolitions by [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu,” Jilani calls after him. “Secretary, do you also condemn the expansion of settlements?”
Perez keeps walking, with his back to Jilani – an ironic turn since his campaign website proclaims that “We need to listen to Democrats at every level.”
During the debate, one of the moderators asked Perez if Democrats should support the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement as long as Israel “is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions” and, if not, “what kind of nonviolent movement for Palestinian independence should the party support?”
“I don’t support the BDS movement because I think if you look at many of the things that have been said by that movement I think they’ve been very destructive,” Perez responded. He then gave a stock answer about the need for a “two-state solution,” providing no hint of how to get there in the face of Israel’s determination to prevent it.

Progressive except for Palestine

Perez’s flight from questions about Israel is reminiscent of Senator Elizabeth Warren, the party’s “progressive” hope, as she was caught on video hurrying away from a question about Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014.
Perez, who also markets himself as “a progressive who gets things done,” is a favorite of the party establishment and a protégé of Obama, who has effectively endorsed him.
But if Perez is a progressive, then he is classic PEP – progressive except for Palestine.
The DNC chair wields enormous influence on the conduct of campaigns and the post is particularly important as the Democrats try to recover from the debacle of the 2016 general election.
About 450 party officials will vote for the new chair in late February.
Last summer, leaked internal emails revealed that DNC staff were biased against Bernie Sanders – the Vermont senator who gave Hillary Clinton a close running for the party’s presidential nomination – calling into question the body’s impartiality in the primary race.
By some analyses, the DNC’s pro-Clinton bias was decisive in helping her secure the nomination, shutting out Sanders who as polls consistently showed was much better positioned to beat Donald Trump.

Pro-Israel donor

The frontrunner in the internal party contest for DNC chair is Minnesota representative Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.
Ellison has been more outspoken in favor of Palestinian rights than the typical Democratic official.
During Wednesday’s debate, Ellison addressed recent comments by Haim Saban calling him an anti-Semite.
Saban, a mega-donor who poured millions of dollars into Clinton’s failed presidential bid, openly confesses that his number one priority is influencing US policy in Israel’s favor. It was in a 2015 letter to Saban that Clinton vowed “to make countering BDS a priority” if she won the presidency.
“If you go back to his positions, his papers, his speeches, the way he has voted, he is clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual,” Saban said of Ellison in December.
The moderator of the DNC debate asked the candidates if they thought Saban “should apologize for those remarks.”
Ray Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic Party chair, gave the most spirited response, saying, “an attack against one of us I really think is an attack against all of us, and we stand united with Congressman Ellison.”
When it came Perez’s chance to respond, he said absolutely nothing in Ellison’s defense.
Ellison himself continues to turn the other cheek in the face of attacks and smears from the Democratic Party’s powerful anti-Palestinian lobby.
“I just think everybody should know that Haim and I did have a phone call,” Ellison said. “I won’t disclose what we talked about but it was amicable and we’re going to get together and build on our relationship.”
Despite his repeated visits to Gaza and criticisms of Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights, Ellison has already made major concessions in his effort to win over the party’s staunchly pro-Israel elites.
In November, Ellison put out a statement condemning the nonviolent BDS movement.

Changing party

The only other person on the debate stage to respond to the moderator’s question on BDS was Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Buttigieg is a rising star in the Democratic Party who garnered national headlines in 2015 for identifying as the first gay executive official in Indiana, a deeply conservative, Republican-dominated state.
Interestingly, Buttigieg did not join Perez in condemning BDS. “This job is about running elections and winning them for Democrats,” Buttigieg said. “On some issues there’s going to be a diversity of opinion and that’s OK. You know why? Because we’re Democrats.”
This is hardly a bold statement, but even recognizing and accepting that support for Palestinian rights is now a deeply held view within segments of the party counts as courageous when apparatchiks like Perez and even relative outsiders like Ellison feel compelled to attack BDS.
What Ellison and Perez demonstrate with their pandering to opponents of Palestinian rights is that Democratic Party decisionmakers will not become less anti-Palestinian on their own.
It will only happen if the pressure from the grassroots – which reflects broader shifts in American attitudes in favor of Palestinian rights – continues to build.

Translating Trump’s Inaugural Speech

Translating Trump’s Inaugural Speech 

From the Original German (Video) 

Posted on Jan 22, 2017

Donald Trump’s inaugural speech, like the candidate himself, was a chain of falsehoods, saber-rattling and scary Neofascist uber-nationalism.  But it could be difficult to follow because so much of it seemed stolen from the mass politics of the 1930s in central and southern Europe.  So here is a plain English translation of some key passages.
  Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.
You may be confused, as an English speaker.  Trump, a billionaire real estate developer and serial grifter who founded a phony university that defrauded thousands, has appointed a cabinet of billionaires and multi-millionaires, the wealthiest and most elite cabinet in American history, which even includes the CEO of petroleum giant Exxon-Mobil.  
How, you might ask, can he represent this coup by the super-rich as ‘giving’ power ‘back to’ ‘the people’?  The people wouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the gated communities where Trump’s officials live.
The confusion arises from thinking in English instead of 1930s German.  “Das Volk” or the people was a mystical conception for the German far right.  It comprised the German people as an organic whole, uniting great landlord and lowly peasant.  The great German corporations, too, were said to be expressions of “the people”  (Hence the German automobile company Volkswagen, now led by perfectly nice people but not so much in the 1930s).  The phrase comes into focus if you understand “the people” as “white Protestants and some lately admitted ethnic Catholics” who are united across social class (though of course led by their billionaire betters), and who stand in contrast to the cosmopolitans, the mixed-race people, infiltrating minorities, the socialists and others bent on diluting “the people” and subverting its prosperity and power by kowtowing to foreigners.
Trump also used the typical 1930s diction of the traitor within:
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.” 
The traitors to das Volk, the people, are the intellectuals and persons with an international outlook, and socialists secretly working for an international cabal, and the peacemakers and diplomats– who were seen as weak and feckless. There are also religious and ethnic groups who polluted the integrity of the bodily fluids of the White body politic; for Trump these especially include Mexican-Americans and Muslims, though some people around him think that high-placed liberal Democratic Jews are manipulating the Fed against American interests. Obama was one of these infiltrators, the faux American born in Kenya who is secretly a Muslim or maybe a Muslim-Communist.  These treasonous bureaucrats and artists and thinkers and soft businessmen ultimately make a pretty penny and gain social prestige and power by betraying the helpless Volk and reducing them to weakness and poverty.  They may even be in the pay of foreign Powers.
The Volk are helpless before these traitors unless the natural leaders within the White community take charge and reestablish the mystical union between working class whites and corporate whites. The policy?  Economic protectionism and monopoly capital inside one country.  The enemy?  International competitors like Chinese firms.
“But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.” 
The United States has 5% of the world’s population.  But its gross domestic product (GDP), at $18.5 trillion, is 22.5% of the GDP of the entire world in nominal terms!  The US economy is the largest in the world and is substantially larger than that of its nearest competitor, China (at $11.5 trillion), which, however, has about 4 times as many people as the United States.  That is, on a per person basis, Chinese are positively poverty-stricken compared to Americans.  Trump has taken the most flourishing economy in the world, which admittedly has large internal inequalities, and made it an economic graveyard by his gloomy rhetoric.  (He in fact intends to increase the inequalities).  Only by proclaiming a crisis and obscuring the US success story and US prosperity can he hope to convince das Volk that they need a great leader to restore them to their previous glory.  Note that abandoned factories are highlighted here, mostly caused by mechanization and robotification of labor so that the big corporations don’t need as many American workers.  The actual blight on the landscape of oil spills and mercury dumps and coal-fired plants– the pollution caused by corporate malfeasance– is not mentioned, since, of course, the corporations are The People.
Crime, too, has dramatically fallen in the United States in the past 20 years, but Trump wants people to believe the opposite.  Again, only if there is a crisis of brown and black crime will das Volk be willing to surrender their rights to the Great White Trump.
 h/t Gallup .
By the way, those gangs he alleges are laying waste to our cities?  He isn’t talking about skinheads or white supremacists or neo-Nazis.  They, of course, are an essential part of das Volk, perhaps even the shock troops of The People.
Likewise, US education is not the vast wasteland Trump depicts.  The US ranks in the middle of industrialized countries on math and reading.  But much of the shortfall is because of the lack of funding for schools in poor districts (since local schools are funded by local taxes, the school system reflects America’s vast class and racial inequalities).  Trump’s idea of fixing these schools is not to pump Federal money into the poorer districts to even the playing field but to privatize the school system so that the poor can’t even afford schooling at all.  That is the kind of thing Betsy DeVos, who wants to use the government to indoctrinate children into extremist forms of Christianity, promotes.
I could go on analyzing Trump’s lies and his Neofascist code words.  But you get the picture.  He and his billionaire cabinet are the natural leaders of the white Volk of Amerika, so much so that they are The People. Unlike the racialists of the 1930s, he will allow some individuals from the minorities along for the ride if they are ideologically aligned with the real Americans.  He is going to kick out the cosmopolitan, half-breed traitors in the name of America First  (not being a historian of the United States, it was only about a decade ago that I discovered how ugly this seemingly admirable phrase is). And he is going to run down all of America’s beauty and achievements and causes for pride so as to pull the wool over the eyes of The People and get them to back him in a new, authoritarian coup government for the United States– one where de facto most of the Bill of Rights are abolished except for the Second Amendment.


Chris Hedges at the Women’s March

Chris Hedges, at the Women’s March on Washington, Talks About Building Movements and Coalitions 

Posted on Jan 22, 2017
Truthdig correspondent Donald Kaufman met up with Chris Hedges on Saturday at the Women’s March on Washington, and he and the Truthdig columnist discussed the significance of the event and the challenge of creating meaningful dialogue between supporters and opponents of President Trump.
Hedges, drawing in part on his experience as a journalist covering resistance movements abroad, also commented more generally on the nature and birth of nonviolent revolutions and how they sometimes begin with relatively little in the way of specific agendas. He made that point in response to Kaufman’s remark that the march could have had a more identifiable goal. Watch their exchange in full below:
—Posted by Donald Kaufman

http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/chris_hedges_speaks_about_movements_at_the_womans_march_in_washington_20170


Chris Hedges on Revolt

Revolt Is the Only Barrier to a Fascist 

America 

Posted on Jan 22, 2017
By Chris Hedges

   On the verge: Donald Trump waits to assume power at the kickoff of the inauguration process in Washington on Friday. (Patrick Semansky / AP)

This is a transcript of a talk Chris Hedges gave at the Inaugurate the Resistance rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

The ruling elites, terrified by the mobilization of the left in the 1960s, or by what [political scientist] Samuel P. Huntington called America’s “excess of democracy,” built counter-institutions to delegitimize and marginalize critics of corporate capitalism and imperialism. They bought the allegiances of the two main political parties. They imposed … obedience to the neoliberal ideology within academia and the press. This campaign, laid out by Lewis Powell in his 1971 memorandum titled “Attack on American Free Enterprise System,” was the blueprint for the creeping corporate coup d’état that 45 years later is complete.
The destruction of democratic institutions, places where the citizen has agency and a voice, is far graver than the ascendancy to the White House of the demagogue Donald Trump. The coup destroyed our two-party system. It destroyed labor unions. It destroyed public education. It destroyed the judiciary. It destroyed the press. It destroyed academia. It destroyed consumer and environmental protection. It destroyed our industrial base. It destroyed communities and cities. And it destroyed the lives of tens of millions of Americans no longer able to find work that provides a living wage, cursed to live in chronic poverty or locked in cages in our monstrous system of mass incarceration.
This coup also destroyed the credibility of liberal democracy. Self-identified liberals such as the Clintons and Barack Obama mouthed the words of liberal democratic values while making war on these values in the service of corporate power. The revolt we see rippling across the country is a revolt not only against a corporate system that has betrayed workers, but also, for many, liberal democracy itself. This is very dangerous. It will allow the radical right under a Trump administration to cement into place an Americanized fascism.
“Ignorance allied with power,” James Baldwin wrote, “is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
It turns out, 45 years later, that those who truly hate us for our freedoms are not the array of dehumanized enemies cooked up by the war machine—the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians or even the Taliban, al-Qaida and ISIS. They are the financiers, bankers, politicians, public intellectuals and pundits, lawyers, journalists and businesspeople cultivated in the elite universities and business schools who sold us the utopian dream of neoliberalism.
We are entering the twilight phase of capitalism. Wealth is no longer created by producing or manufacturing. It is created by manipulating the prices of stocks and commodities and imposing a crippling debt peonage on the public. Our casino capitalism has merged with the gambling industry. The entire system is parasitic. It is designed to prey on the desperate—young men and women burdened by student loans, underpaid workers burdened by credit card debt and mortgages, towns and cities forced to borrow to maintain municipal services.
Casino magnates such as Sheldon Adelson and hedge fund managers such as Robert Mercer add nothing of value to society. They do not generate money but instead redistribute it upwards to the 1 percent. They use lobbyists and campaign contributions to built monopolies—this is how the drug company Mylan raised the price of an “EpiPen,” used to treat allergy reactions, from $57 in 2007 to about $500—and to rewrite laws and regulations. They have given themselves the legal power to carry out a tax boycott, loot the U.S. Treasury, close factories and send the jobs overseas, gut social service programs and impose austerity. They have, at the same time, militarized our police, built the most sophisticated security and surveillance apparatus in human history and used judicial fiat to strip us of our civil liberties. They are ready should we rise up in defiance.

These mandarins are, if we speak in the language of God and country, traitors. They are parasites. Financial speculation in 17th-century England was a crime. Speculators were hanged. The heads of most of [today’s] banks and hedge funds and the executives of large corporations, such as Walmart and Gap, that run sweatshop death traps for impoverished workers overseas deserve prison far more than most of the poor students of color I teach within the prison system, people who never had a fair trial or a chance in life.
When a tiny cabal seizes power—monarchist, communist, fascist or corporate—it creates a mafia economy and a mafia state. Donald Trump is not an anomaly. He is the grotesque visage of a collapsed democracy. Trump and his coterie of billionaires, generals, half-wits, Christian fascists, criminals, racists and deviants play the role of the Snopes clan in some of William Faulkner’s novels. The Snopeses filled the power vacuum of the decayed South and ruthlessly seized control from the degenerated, former slave-holding aristocratic elites. Flem Snopes and his extended family—which includes a killer, a pedophile, a bigamist, an arsonist, a mentally disabled man who copulates with a cow, and a relative who sells tickets to witness the bestiality—are fictional representations of the scum now elevated to the highest level of the federal government. They embody the moral rot unleashed by unfettered capitalism.
“The usual reference to ‘amorality,’ while accurate, is not sufficiently distinctive and by itself does not allow us to place them, as they should be placed, in a historical moment,” the critic Irving Howe wrote of the Snopeses. “Perhaps the most important thing to be said is that they are what comes afterwards: the creatures that emerge from the devastation, with the slime still upon their lips.”
“Let a world collapse, in the South or Russia, and there appear figures of coarse ambition driving their way up from beneath the social bottom, men to whom moral claims are not so much absurd as incomprehensible, sons of bushwhackers or muzhiks drifting in from nowhere and taking over through the sheer outrageousness of their monolithic force,” Howe wrote. “They become presidents of local banks and chairmen of party regional committees, and later, a trifle slicked up, they muscle their way into Congress or the Politburo. Scavengers without inhibition, they need not believe in the crumbling official code of their society; they need only learn to mimic its sounds.”

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Paul Craig Roberts 251

Are Americans Racists?

January 23, 2017 | Categories: Articles & Columns | Tags: | Print This Article Print This Article
Are Americans Racists?

Paul Craig Roberts

“Racist” is the favorite epithet of the left. Every white person (except leftists) is a racist by definition. As we are defined as racists based on our skin color, I am puzzled why we are called racists a second, third, and fourth time due to specific acts, such as favoring the enforcement of immigration laws. For example, President Donald Trump says he is going to enforce the immigration laws. For the left this is proof that Trump has put on the White Sheet and joined the KKK.

The left doesn’t say what a president is who does not enforce the laws on the books. But let’s look at this from the standpoint of the immigration laws themselves. In 1965 a bill passed by the “racist” Congress and signed by the “racist” President Lyndon Johnson completely changed the racial composition of US legal immigration.

In 1960 75% of US legal immigration was European, 5% was Asian, and 19% was from Americas (Mexico, Central and South America and Caribbean Islands).

In 2013 10% of legal immigrants were European, 30% were Asian, 55% were from Americas, and 5% from Africa. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/fifty-years-1965-immigration-and-nationality-act-continues-reshape-united-states

The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act is a very strange law for racists to have enacted. Would racists pass a law, which has been on the books for 52 years, that fundamentally transformed the racial profile of the US by limiting white immigration, thereby ultimately consigning whites to minority status?

We could say the racists did not know what they were doing, or thought they were doing something else. However, the results have been obvious at least since 1980, and the law is still on the books.

We live during a time when there is an abundance of information, but facts seldom seem to inform opinions. The left delights in branding the Founding Fathers racists. The left was ecstatic when a 1998 DNA study concluded that Thomas Jefferson was one of eight possible ancestors of Eston Hemings, a descent of Jefferson’s slave Sally Hemings. The left seized on the implied sexual relationship as proof of Thomas Jefferson’s racism.

Let’s assume Jefferson had a sexual relationship with Sally Hemings. Does this prove he was a racist, or does it prove the opposite? Why is it a sign of racism for a white to have sex with a black? Does this prove that James Bond was a racist in the film “Die Another Day”? Do we really want to define racially mixed marriages as racist, as a white conquest over a black, Asian, or Hispanic?

The left has declared the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to be racist documents and, therefore, proof that the US was founded on racism. The left is particularly incensed that the Constitution counts enslaved blacks as three-fifths of a white person. Is the three-fifths clause a sign or racism, or was it a compromise to get an agreement on representation in the House of Representatives?

It was the latter. Indeed southerners, such as James Madison and Edmund Randolph, wanted blacks to be counted one to one with whites. It was northerners, such as Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania, who wanted blacks to count as fractions of a person. Why was this?

The issue was whether the North or the South would have majority representation in the House. The country already had different economic interests which came to conflict in the War of Southern Secession, which is mischaracterized as a civil war. (A civil war is when two sides fight for control of the government. The Confederacy was not fighting for control of the government in Washington. The South was fighting to secede from the union in order to avoid economic exploitation.)

The southern states were agricultural, and from early colonial times long before there was a United States or a Confederate States of America the absence of a work force meant that the agricultural labor force was imported as slaves. For the South slavery was an inherited institution, and from the South’s standpoint, if blacks were not included in the population on which US representation in Congress would be based, the South would have a minority voice in Congress and would not agree to the Constitution. The three-fifths clause was a compromise in order to move the Constitution toward agreement. It had nothing to do with racism. It was about achieving balance in regional representation in Congress. http://www.blackpast.org/aah/three-fifths-clause-united-states-constitution-1787

The Southern Secession resulted from divergent economic interests and was not fought over slavery. In former times when the left had real intellects, such as Charles A. Beard, a historian who stressed class conflict and a founder of the New School for Social Research and president of both the American Political Science Association and the American Historical Association, the left understood the divergence of interests between northern industry and southern agriculture. Those who think Lincoln invaded the South in order to free slaves need to read Thomas DiLorenzo’s books on Lincoln. DiLorenzo establishes beyond all doubt that Lincoln invaded the Confederacy in order to preserve the Union, that is, the American Empire, which has continued its growth into the 21st century.

The preponderance of war correspondence on both sides shows that no one was fighting for or against slavery. According to the 1860 US census, slave owners were a small fraction of the Southern population. http://www.civil-war.net/pages/1860_census.html The Confederate Army consisted almost entirely of non-slave owners who fought because they were invaded by Union armies.

As for Thomas Jefferson, he was opposed to slavery, but he understood that the agricultural South was trapped in slavery. The “discovery” of the New World provided lands for exploitation but no labor force. The first slaves were white prisoners, but whites could not survive the malaria. Native Indians were tried, but they were not only as susceptible to malaria as whites but also used their native knowledge of the terrain to resist those who would enslave them. Blacks became the work force of choice because of genetic superiority in resistance to malaria. As Charles C. Mann reports in his book, 1493, “About 97 percent of the people in West and Central Africa are Duffy negative, and hence immune to vivax malaria.”

Thus, the real “racist” reason that blacks became the labor force was their survivability rate due to genetic superiority from their immunity to malaria, not white racists determined to oppress blacks for racial reasons.

The myth has taken hold that black slavery originated in white attitudes of racial superiority. In fact, as a large numbers of historians have documented, including Charles C. Mann and the socialist economic historian Karl Polanyi, brother of my Oxford University professor, the physical chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi, black slavery originated and flourished in Africa where tribes fought one another for slaves. The victorious would market their captives to Arabs and eventually as time passed to Europeans for transport to the new world to fill the vacuum of a missing labor force. (See for example, Karl Polanyi, Dahomey and the Slave Trade.)

It is a mystery how the myth of Thomas Jefferson’s alleged racism and love for slavery survives his drafts of the Declaration of Independence. One of Jefferson’s drafts that was abandoned in compromise over the document includes this in Jefferson’s list of King George’s offenses:

“he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.” http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/declara/ruffdrft.html

Jefferson’s attack on King George sounds like the left’s racist attack on Jefferson.

It is amazing how proud some Americans are of their ignorance and how quick they are to hate based on their ignorance. In America the level of public discourse is so far below the gutter level that a person who ventures forth to tell the truth can expect to be met with violent hatred and every epithet in the book. Criticize ever so slightly the Israeli government’s theft of Palestine, and the Israel Lobby will immediately brand you an “anti-semite,” that is, a hater of Jews who wants to send them to the gas chamber. If you don’t denounce whites, especially Southern whites, as racists, you are not only a racist but also a member of the KKK who wants to lynch blacks.

Yes, I know. It works also in the other direction. If you don’t hate the left, you are one of them. Because I criticized the George W. Bush regime for its war crimes, conservatives branded me a “pinko-liberal-commie” and ceased to publish my columns.

Hardly anyone, even southerners, understands that racism in the South originated in the horrors that were inflicted on the South during the Reconstruction era that followed the military defeat of the Confederacy. The North inflicted blacks on southerners in ways that harmed prospects for relations between the races and gave rise to the KKK as a resistance movement. As Reconstruction faded, so did the KKK. It was later revived as a shadow of its former self by poor whites who were ambitious for personal power.

The question remains: How can President Trump or anyone unite a country in which historical understanding is buried in myths, lies, and the teaching of hate?

Try to imagine the expressions of hatred and the denunciations that this factual article will bring to me.

If we care about humanity and the creatures on Earth, our task is to find and to speak the truth. That is what I endeavor to do.

When the left abandoned Marxism and the working class, the left died. It has no doctrine to sustain itself, just hatreds based on historical ignorance and misunderstanding of the limits within which life is lived. Humans are not superheros or magicians who can reconstruct humanity by waving a wand or smashing evil. Everyone lives within limitations, and the many submit more than do the few.

It is the few who fight against the limits to whom we owe the defense of our humanity.

It is the haters who are the barriers to moral and social progress.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/01/23/are-americans-racists/

The Lost Hegemon

The Lost Hegemon reviewed by David Ray Griffin

The Lost Hegemon:
Whom the Gods Would Destroy
Book Review by David Ray Griffin
F. William Engdahl, who is well known for books and articles in geopolitics, has recently published a book entitled The Lost Hegemon: Whom the Gods Would Destroy. The subtitle refers to a dictum by Euripides, “Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”
This book describes how the U.S. has been going mad since the fall of the Soviet Union, thereby destroying itself. The madness involves the method through which the United States tried to prevent the loss of its global hegemony. Engdahl writes that the method was based on a scheme devised by Zbigniew Brzezinski, while he was serving as President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor. 
The scheme was to destroy the Soviet Union’s economy by luring it into an unwinnable war in Afghanistan. The method for doing this was for Osama bin Laden, working for the CIA, to invite fundamentalist Muslims in Saudi Arabia and other countries to Afghanistan, where the U.S. military would arm and train them (Operation Cyclone). Engdahl believes that the weakening of its economy led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Cold War was over. How would the United States respond? 
Its policy, said Engdahl, “might have encouraged real, peaceful development of nations in a climate of peace and cooperation. . . . That cooperation could have included China and Russia instead of encirclement, confrontation, chaos, and war.” However, the U.S. chose to use its position as the sole remaining superpower to try to become the first global empire in history. 
Seeing that Operation Cyclone had worked so well, Washington decided to redeploy the CIA’s Arab Afghans, or Mujahideen, “to further destabilize Russian influence over the post-Soviet European space.” The first major battles were in Chechnya, where they were to sabotage Russian oil pipeline routes, and Yugoslavia, where they were used to start the Bosnian war in order to break up the country.

The central focus was on Russia, because U.S. strategists, obsessed with maintaining “American primacy,” saw Russia as the country most likely to be able to challenge that primacy – as argued in Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard.
In any case, thanks to the success of its terrorist projects, leaders in Washington became “convinced that they had discovered the ideal instrument for making terror anywhere in the world to advance their agenda of global hegemony.”
The next major chapter in this story was 9/11. Engdahl does not accept any of the major theories: the official account, which “became less and less credible the more that serious people investigate; the view that Cheney and his neocon war hawks masterminded the event to create a “new Pearl Harbor”; and the idea that 9/11 was orchestrated by Israel. But Engdahl does not suggest an alternative hypothesis. He does hold, however, that the U.S., Israeli, and Saudi governments were “clearly prepared to use the deed to advance [their] own ends.”  
Engdahl is also clear that 9/11 has been immensely important, for at least two reasons. First, by virtue of blaming 9/11 on bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, America had a “new ‘enemy image’ to replace the old Soviet communism.” Second, the announced “War on Terror” was really, as General Wesley Clark said, “a War on Islam.” 
That this was the nature of the War on Terror from the start is supported by something else Clark said – that a memo from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld indicated that the Pentagon was planning to “destroy the governments in seven [Muslim] countries in five years,” starting with Iraq. Obviously the timeline did not work out. But the U.S. government did not reject the list. Indeed, under the Obama administration, it targeted two other countries on the list, Libya and Syria – with neocons fervently trying to find an excuse to attack a third, Iran.  
Engdahl’s book discusses an enormous number of facts and ideas that I have not treated. Rather than trying, I will instead summarize some of his main conclusions:

“The Washington tactic of using political fundamentalist Islam to secure a revitalized American global hegemony,” said Engdahl, “was failing everywhere.” 
The reason for the failures, he said, was the lack of intelligent leaders in Washington. Real intelligence in politics is the ability to see connections that are not necessarily obvious, such as the ability to see “the interconnectedness of all life, all peoples, and all wars.” It is the recognition that “when you unleash a destructive force in one place, it affects all mankind destructively, including those who unleash it.” 
The CIA and the military industrial and political complex falsely “believed they could weaponize violent Jihadist Islam . . . as their killing machine without any unintended consequence.”
Because of the repeated failures of this approach, American Oligarchs “were becoming desperate. In their growing desperation, they threatened a new world war” in the thermo-nuclear era. Literally, as Euripides said, “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”  
David Ray Griffin is professor emeritus, Claremont Graduate University. His forthcoming book is
Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World .

Obama’s Achievement

Obama’s Achievement was Whitewashing Permanent Warfare with Eloquence

3453423413Judging from how the mainstream media has characterized the legacy of Barack Obama so far, the outgoing president will be most remembered for his many rousing aspirational speeches and well-timed shows of emotion.
His talent as a persuasive public communicator and the strength of his personal brand, bolstered by years of apple-shining from liberal magazines and newspapers, has been Obama’s most valuable asset.
This perception of Obama that has been propagated from the top, the view that he is essentially a benevolent figure with deep integrity or the personification of a modern liberal-statesmen, is a stunning smokescreen.
The contradiction between the high-minded rhetoric of the president in contrast to the actual policies pursued by his administration has been stark and utterly scandalous.
To hear Obama wax poetic about ‘the politics of hope’ and ‘how ordinary Americans can steer change’ feels deeply perverse coming from a figure that has institutionalized a vast, unaccountable permanent warfare state.
In the face of Obama’s global covert assassinate program, his numerous secret wars without congressional approval, a mass electronic surveillance capability unprecedented in history, the speeches reveal themselves as little more than banal platitudes and vapid sloganeering.
As the sun sets on Obama’s presidency, to say the press has given him a pass is a grand understatement. Some outlets have occasionally run criticism of Obama’s drone policies or inconvenient relationship with Saudi Arabia.
Other voices invert reality altogether, chastising Obama for his reluctance to militarily engage Syria, despite the US droppingover 12,000 bombs on the country in 2016 alone.
Contrary to his predecessor, Obama had a firmer grasp on the political risks inherent in the large-scale deployment of US troops in sustained military campaigns, but his strategic objectives differed little and his belief in American exceptionalism was total.
Rather than ‘shock and awe’, Obama proffered ‘leading from behind’, culminating in NATO support and air power for insurgents that toppled the Libyan government on the pretext of defending human rights, turning the country into a cauldron of rival fiefdoms and lawlessness.
The Obama administration and the CIA fuelled a proxy war on Syria with arms and training for insurgents, many of whom took up arms with ISIS or al-Qaeda affiliated groups. The US military’s presence in Syria and support for non-state actors abjectly violates international law and John Kerry’s leaked comments make clear how the administration cynically leveraged the threat of ISIS against the Syrian government.
Not only did Obama fail in his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay torture facility, he effectively replaced enhanced interrogation with an unaccountable covert assassination complex, endowing himself with the roles of judge, jury, and executioner.
By virtue of his suave and benevolent public persona, top-tier entertainers and figures of the liberal intelligentsia were largely willing to acquiesce to the precedent set by Obama’s unrestrained executive powers, exercised in near-complete secrecy.
They believed Obama would use the entrenched military and surveillance capacities of the US government judiciously. They swallowed the Democrats’ rhetoric of social inclusion and focused their political energies largely on identity issues.
Liberal figures didn’t protest against the president’s ability to spy on countless Americans suspected of no crime, nor did they organise against the president’s extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens and non-Americans without trial or due process.
Liberals hardly spoke out against the thousands of civilians killed by Obama’s drone bombings. Oddly enough, many seemed more outraged at Trump’s campaign rhetoric against Muslims and Mexicans than the reality of President Obama engaging in military hostilities against seven Muslim countries and deporting more people than any president in history.
Frankly, far too many Americans have been utter cowards in the face of the outgoing Democratic presidency. Obama will soon leave office as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms at war.
Despite his tense relationship with the Israeli prime minister and token opposition to the expansion of settlements, Obama signed the single largest pledge of bilateral military assistance to Israel in history, enabling the cancerous Israeli occupation and further brutalization of Palestinians.
As the Saudi military ceaselessly bombarded towns and cities across impoverished Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, in a botched attempt to reinstall an ousted proxy government, the Obama administration offered muted criticism and a $115 billion arms deal.
Obama’s administration has in fact brokered more arms sales than other since the second world war. And despite campaigning on the building ‘the most transparent administration in history’, he has waged a war against whistleblowers and official leakers, invoking the 1917 Espionage Act more than all previous presidents combined.
Obama spoke of his dramatic commitment to building a nuclear weapons-free world on the campaign trail. Once in office, he committed the country to a trillion-dollar modernization of US nuclear production facilities and weapons, including warheads with adjustable yields that, according to the New York Times, make the weapons “more tempting to use”.
One of the most consequential international developments to occur under Obama’s watch was the deterioration of US-Russia relations and the revival of Cold War antagonisms, marked by the covert American role in the 2014 coup in Ukraine that brought to power a crude, corrupt and pervasively anti-Russian regime. 
The largest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the second world war has unfolded under Obama’s watch, and the White House has moved in lock-step with the US intelligence community to propagate the anti-Russian line that has now captured American politics.
His administration’s pivot to Asia policy aimed to transfer 60 percent of the US naval presence to the Asia Pacific region by 2020, while the now-botched Trans-Pacific Partnership sought to – in the words of Senator Charles E. Schumer – “lure” other countries “away from China”.
On the domestic front, there have hardly been any clear-cut achievements for President Obama. He has overseen an obscene transfer of wealth from the middle class to the billionaire class, becoming the first two-term presidency that has failed to post a 3% GDP growth on an annualized basis over two terms.
The much-touted streak of job recovery rests on the proliferation of insecure part-time and temporary jobs with low protections characteristic of the gig economy, while the share of workers in temporary jobs has risen from 10.7 percent to 15.8 percent under his watch.
Wall Street banks hoarded funds fueled by the quantitative easing policies of the Federal Reserve to triple the size of stock values. Corporate profits reached an 85-year peak under Obama while the total compensation of employees’ wages and salaries slipped to levels last recorded in 1929. The wealth of the richest 400 Americans increased from $1.57 trillion in 2008 to $2.4 trillion in 2016.
The market-driven Affordable Care Act, Obama’s primary domestic initiative, did extend medical coverage to segments of American society, while millions of others were forced to pay higher premiums for substandard care. This shifted health care costs from employers and the state to working individuals in a move that effectively amounts to a bailout for private insurers.
And finally, there is the obscene proliferation of police brutality that has unfolded under Obama’s watch, with offending officers rarely held to account for their actions. African-American males were found to be nine times more likely to be killed by police officers in 2015 than white men of the same age.
But despite Obama’s troubled and deeply hypocritical track record, he remains a figure that many Americans continue to admire and respect, especially as the country moves rapidly toward a new and highly divisive political era.
A great deal of Americans, especially those in African-American communities, desperately and sincerely want to believe in the hope that Obama inspired in them. Unfortunately, Obama’s key achievement has proven to be his skillful usurpation of progressive rhetoric in the interest of an extreme militaristic and pro-corporate political agenda.
While many fear the spectre of Donald Trump’s incoming presidency and the new forms of authoritarianism and state violence that will inevitably accompany it, none should forget that it was President Obama who set the precedent for the extreme executive authority that President Trump will soon enjoy.

Nile Bowie is a political analyst based in Malaysia who has written for a number of publications, his expertise lies in a number of areas, with a particular focus on Asian politics and geopolitics, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


The Tempting of the Media


The Tempting of the Media


There are two common views among journalists about the fate of our profession under the presidency of Donald Trump. The first is that ours is an age of maximal danger for the freedom of the press, that Trump’s war on newspapers and networks will escalate from tweets to Erdoganian crackdowns, that truly independent journalism will be marginalized while the White House breeds a lap dog press.
The second is that this will be a golden age for the media, offering reporters a chance to shake free from access journalism and source-greasing and actually do their job in full, while finding in a Trump-fearing country the audience for serious investigative journalism that many believed had vanished with the internet.
As the press eases into covering President Trump, however, I have a different worry. Mainstream journalism in this strange era may be freer than the fearful anticipate, but not actually better as the optimists expect. Instead, the press may be tempted toward — and richly rewarded for — a kind of hysterical oppositionalism, a mirroring of Trump’s own tabloid style and disregard for truth.
This mirroring is a broad danger, applying to more institutions than the press. Trump comes to power as a destroyer of norms, a flouter of conventions, and everyone will be tempted to join the carnival — to escalate when he escalates, to radicalize whenever he turns authoritarian. The cycle of norm-breaking that began with Robert Bork’s defeated nomination or Newt Gingrich’s ascent (depending on your politics) may escalate on both sides of the aisle. Left-wing protest movements will be tempted more easily toward both absurdity and violence. Deep state institutions will be tempted to become more restive and politicized. Politicians will be tempted, like Marco Rubio talking about Trump’s manhood on the campaign trail, into surrendering their dignity in an effort to be at home in Trumpland.
But the coverage of the Trump transition has made me particularly concerned for how the media will evolve. A certain amount of hysteria is normal whenever Republicans take power, and some of the coverage — like the suggestions that Betsy DeVos is about to turn U.S. public education into Calvin’s Geneva, say — has been almost reassuring in its familiarity. Perhaps there have been more sneering headlines and poorly-sourced claims about Trump cabinet appointees than about past Republican administrations, but I remember the “theocracy” panic of 2004 and I don’t want to judge the current freak-out too harshly.
In places where Trump is clearly abnormal, however, the media has become abnormally credulous as well. There is no question, for instance, that Trump’s racist forays and racist supporters deserve attention; from the start this has been one of the most troubling aspects of the Trump phenomenon. But since November there has been a kind of service journalism for alarmism on this issue, in which lavish attention for far-fringe white nationalists who wear button-down shirts and host D.C. press conferences is paired with reports on a Trump-fueled hate crime wave whose scope may be overstated and whose most vivid illustrations have a way of being less than true.
Then there are Trumpworld’s possible ties to Russia and the possible Russian attempts to exert influence on his behalf. This is an incredibly serious business, but it has not produced incredibly serious journalism. Instead there has been a rush to publicize all manner of dubious claims, from the midsummer reports of a secret server supposedly linking to Trump Tower and a Russian bank to more recent stories exaggerating Russia’s penetration of the U.S. power grid and accusing a variety of normal left-wing and right-wing websites of being Kremlin pawns.
This pattern peaked (so far) with BuzzFeed’s decision to dump a dossier of completely unverified rumors about Trump’s Russian connections on the internet, with a shrugging, “decide for yourself if it’s true” note accompanying the release. That dossier may well include some dark truths, but the way they were delivered to American news readers was effectively self-discrediting, more likely to help Trump brush aside legitimate allegations than to pin him or his circle to the wall.
The problem is that all of this alarmist journalism, no less than the really fake news churned out by pro-Trump trolls and cynics, has commercial imperatives behind it. There is a large and frightened readership looking for confirmation of its darkest fears in every “unprecedented” (but often, not really) move that Trump and his administration make. These readers trust liberal-leaning mainstream outlets to deliver them the truth. But their clicks and shares will reward those outlets when they make rumor seem like certainty, or make the truth more alarming than it is.
The danger for the established press, then, is the same danger facing other institutions in our republic: that while believing themselves to be nobly resisting Trump, they end up imitating him.
Such imitation will inspire reader loyalty and passion — up to a point. But beyond that point it’s more likely to polarize than to persuade, which means it often does a demagogue’s work for him.
Fellow journalists, don’t do it.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/opinion/sunday/the-tempting-of-the-media.html?_r=0