Tuesday, November 22, 2016

U.S. Torture To Come Roaring Back, As U.S. Continues Its Moral Degeneration. Obama Opened the Door.

Three of the top power positions of the U.S. Empire are being filled by men who are publicly and proudly pro-torture. First and foremost is the man at the very top, president-to-be Donald Trump, who during his campaign for the office promised to "bring back waterboarding and a lot worse." [1]

The designated Attorney General, head of the U.S. Department of "Justice," the racist and remorseless black vote suppressor Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III, U.S. Senator from Alabama, is another public supporter of torture. Under his command will be a large part of the domestic repression apparatus of the U.S.: all U.S. prosecutors, the FBI secret police, the DEA drug and political police,  the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms police, the U.S. Marshals, and the Federal prisons- a total of about 114,000 personnel.

The man Trump picked to head the CIA, the U.S. global Gestapo, is Republican House Representative Mike Pompeo, a former U.S. Army tank officer, another torture-lover who for good measure has called on television for the execution of heroic, self-sacrificing whistleblower Edward Snowden. His new boss, Trump, also wants to use state power to murder Snowden. [2]

As the Republicans control the U.S. Senate, confirmation is pretty certain if not guaranteed for these vicious trolls. And Democrats are punks when it comes to fighting Republicans.

Looking at U.S. history, the arc of U.S. moral degeneration around torture comes clearly into view.
The U.S. has always tortured people, of course. Native American prisoners, slaves, and others of course were subjected to gruesome tortures. U.S. prisons have always been sites of torture, physical and psychological. Filipino insurgents were tortured during the invasion and subjugation of the Philippines around 1900.

The U.S. military and the CIA tortured countless thousands of Vietnamese during the invasion and occupation of Vietnam. We have a large body of evidence of military torture from the testimony of veterans.
And as part of Operation Phoenix, the CIA death squad program run by William Colby (later director of CIA), torture was routine, and at least 50,000 Vietnamese were murdered.

But officially torture was not acknowledged. Officially the U.S. didn't torture. An absurd lie, but in those days vice still felt the need to pay tribute to virtue in the form of hypocrisy.

Then came the regime of Bush the Younger (January 2001-January 2009), which pretty overtly systematized torture by the military and CIA, even issuing written directives and guidelines and instructions for carrying it out- while denying torture was torture. A phrase was cribbed from a Gestapo torture manual, "enhanced interrogation techniques," with the insistence that U.S. torture wasn't torture. To this day, the U.S. media rarely will call it by its right name, instead using the euphemism "harsh interrogation techniques." Perhaps they think this slight change proves their independence from state control.  The more daring among the commentariat and "journalists" once in awhile dart to the edge of the forbidden ideological zone and call it "brutal interrogation methods." Hint hint. (Oh, they are so brave!)

So torture became official policy, while it was denied that it was torture. (That's called having your cake and eating it too.) When photographic evidence of torture at the U.S.' Abu Ghraib political prison in Iraq surfaced, due to the carelessness and lack of sophistication of soldiers there who weren't schooled in secret-police deviousness but had the habit of thinking that whatever they did under orders was legitimate and no shame and didn't need to be treated as a deep dark secret, the Bush regime put on a burlesque act of shock and surprise and a handful of fall guy privates and a sergeant who had been a sadistic prison guard in civilian life had to be sacrificed to military courts martial.

Barack Hussein Obama paved the way for the coming torture holocaust of the Trump regime by refusing to enforce U.S. law and treaty obligations by prosecuting the Bush regime torturers. To be sure, this would have been politically difficult and would have involved a battle royale with the GOP (Gang Of Plunderers) and the establishment media, but was absolutely necessary morally and politically. Of course, it would have been exceedingly naive to expect the political hustler and con man Obama to undertake such a necessary task. His only interest was in successfully climbing the greasy pole of U.S. establishment politics and sitting comfortably at its top, perched at the pinnacle of power. Like virtually all politicians of his party, power was his end, not a means to some other end, such as justice, or making the world better. (And don't believe their hype to the contrary.)

If you allow people to break laws with impunity, deterrence against law-breaking and evil-doing is destroyed.

With the precedent established that the executive branch could get away with more or less overt torture, there is no bar to the Trump regime's bringing torture back with a vengeance.

Law in the U.S. is merely a weapon to attack the weak, target victims, and feed the insatiable maw of the prison-industrial complex, whose roots trace back to Nixon (the slogan for this repression being "law and order") and was ramped up by the Clinton regime especially.

The other use of law is to have legal lackeys like John Yoo (for Bush) and his counterparts in the Obama regime concoct tortured legal rationales for criminal policies like torture (Bush) and assassinations (Obama). Obama added the extra wrinkle of treating the rationales themselves as state secrets, not to be revealed. A real Kafkaesque touch.

With the Bush regime having established the precedent that torture could be conducted openly with just a thin veil of mendacious nomenclature to provide a means of cynical denial, Trump and his minions now dispense with even the euphemisms.

Thus the U.S. has gone from hiding its torture by pretending it didn't exist, to pretending its torture wasn't torture by slapping a Nazi label on it, to dispensing with pretense entirely. A pattern of moral degeneracy.

It needs to be mentioned that torture didn't actually stop under Obama. Torture, psychological and physical, is a daily occurrence in U.S. jails and prisons. And the UN Rapporteur on Torture officially found that U.S. Army soldier Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning was subjected to conditions amounting to torture in the Marine brig at Quantico. (Manning's treatment was highly irregular- being kept in Marine, not Army custody, being kept naked, not being tried for two years, during which time his rights were grossly violated, and more.) Obama has shown a vindictive streak numerous times, against whistleblowers, journalists who reveal state secrets (crimes), people who heckle him (he had Egyptian secret police thugs break Medea Benjamin's arm in the Cairo airport), and murdering the teenage son and nephew of Anwar al-Awlaki.

Obama is slick and smooth, Trump bombastic and crude. But both are gangsters.

What a subtle hint, Donald! From Al-Jazeera interview with Edward Snowden 
and Daniel Ellsberg. View clip here.

1]  Torture "a lot worse" means more "detainees" sadistically tortured to death, like the Afghan taxi driver chained by his wrists hanging from a wall whose legs were pulped by a club-wielding "contractor," one of those fascist military veterans the U.S. produces. (The victim was he subject of the documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side," a reference to Bush regime vice president Dick Cheney's assertion thatthe U.S. would have to go to "the dark side" in its "war against terrorism."

2] Pompeo claimed Snowden put "friends of mine" "in enormous danger" and called for his execution. After "due process," that is- see how fair Pompeo is? Pompeo told two whopping lies in this brief segment. That Snowden "released" the NSA documents to foreign powers, and the "enormous danger" canard. Obviously NO U.S. troops (who Army veteran Pompeo was referring to) were put in ANY danger, and Snowden didn't "release" the documents at all. He gave them to journalists and ONLY to journalists, and didn't retain copies. The journalists in turn are deciding what information to release to the public.

Watch liar Pompeo.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Unreconstructed Racist To Be Next U.S. Attorney General

"Deplorables" aren't just Trump voters. They're Trump appointees.

Today U.S. media are reporting that president-to-be Donald Trump has picked Republican U.S. Senator Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama as the next U.S. Attorney General. As is their standard procedure, they are hiding the racism of this Confederate, in order to maintain his undeserved status as a "respectable" personage. (In the same way, they hide the vulgar fascism of extreme reactionaries like Stephen Bannon, et al.) (When U.S. media do reference Sessions' racism without the details, they are mealy-mouthed and disingenuous, as the AP reporting he was "dogged by" past "comments" he made, as if he's the victim of his own racism, not victimizer!)

According to Sessions, civil rights groups and the National Council of Churches are "un-American" and "Communist-inspired." That's only "true" from the point of view of a right-wing extremist- a fascist. His verdict on a white civil rights attorney: "disgrace to his race." [1]

Sessions is the perfect choice to escalate the voter suppression tactics of the GOP (Gang Of Plunderers), aimed at preventing Democratic constituencies, especially African-Americans and to a lesser degree Hispanics and college students, from voting. First as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, and later as state attorney general in that state, Sessions targeted blacks with bogus criminal charges of voter fraud. (Sessions never investigated any white in like manner.)  Sessions ignored the burnings of black churches in the early 1990's, instead using the FBI to fabricate fake voter fraud cases against blacks. (Resulting in acquittals at trial.) [1]

While he was the top Federal prosecutor for south Alabama, Sessions called a black subordinate attorney "boy" and warned him "be careful what you say to white folks" when that attorney had to effrontery to critique a white secretary. That's a genteel version of "you better not forget your place, nigger!" [1]

Reagan, another known racist, tried to make Sessions a Federal judge in 1986, but the Senate balked. (Nowadays confirming a racist like Sessions would be no problem.) It was Reagan who made Sessions the top Federal prosecutor in southern Alabama. [2]

As a U.S. Senator, Sessions has continued his racist ways, promoting racist legislation, attacking remedies for racism, and promoting overtly racist judges. Sessions hates gays, marijuana, abortion, immigrants, and opposes any reform of "civil forfeiture" laws, which are merely a cloak for government thievery- the stealing of money, cars, boats, homes, whatever, without having to prove anything in court. [3]

Sessions is also a neo-fascist, as hard-core racists invariably are. (Racial oppression requires totalitarian enforcement of repression and of racist attitudes and ideology.) No less than Stephen K. Bannon, the malign architect of Trump's "victory" and the Godfather of the racist, anti-Semitic, deranged website Breitbart News [sic!] credits Sessions with laying the ground for the so-called "alt-right" movement of overt white supremacist nationalists. (Bannon is slated to be a top figure in Trump's regime, designated as a co-equal with Trump's White House chief of staff-to-be Reince Priebus, who is currently the chair of the Republican National Committee.) [4] 

Sour reactionary and Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Charles Grassley [R-Iowa] has already declared the same day that Sessions has been chosen that the Senate will confirm him. I guess hearings and voting are just formalities. Grassley has defended Trump's racism as no different from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's celebration of diversity.

We've been here before, with foxes guarding henhouses. Reagan put a rightwing lawyer opposed to civil rights laws, William Bradford Reynolds, in charge of the "Justice" Department's Civil Rights Division, charged with enforcing those laws. He put operatives from polluting industries, Anne Gorsuch Burford and Rita Lavelle, in charge at the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). He put the anti-affirmative action misogynist Clarence Thomas as head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, with the expected results. This is a pattern with Republicans. The fact that there is barely a pretense to hide the reality with Trump is symptomatic of the continued political and ethical degeneration of the U.S. [Trump might put the fanatical climate-change denier and pollution defender Myron Ebell from the "Competitive Enterprise Institute," an extremist propaganda factory, in charge of EPA.]

Sessions was the first U.S. Senator to endorse Trump, well before it seemed likely that Trump would snare the GOP (Gang Of Plunderers) nomination for president. No doubt this is one reason Trump selected Sessions. But the men share an antipathy for African-Americans.

Trump, judging not merely from his rabble-rousing anti-Mexican (and anti-Muslim) rants during his campaign, but from a lifelong record of actions, is also a racist. Here's some of the evidence: when he ran housing projects with his father, they refused to rent to black tenants. Eventually the Federal government brought a civil suit against them. True to form, they screamed bloody murder and denied all. Eventually however they entered into a consent decree, promising not to discriminate in the future. They then went on their merry way, violating the consent decree and still refusing to rent to blacks.

Another item:  In 1989 a young investment banker was jogging in Central Park in Manhattan when she was attacked and raped. She lost most of her blood before she was found and was near death. After 12 days in a coma she had no memory of the attack, and there were no witnesses. Others in the park that night reported being mugged or menaced by a large group of teenagers.

The media immediately created a firestorm around the case, because of the class status of the victim and the fact that Central Park is surrounded by the richest neighborhoods in New York City and thus there is an inordinate focus on its safety. (The north edge of the park is where Harlem begins.) The media having made the case a cause célèbre, the police wanted a quick "solution." So the police quickly settled on five teenagers to pin the crime on, the oldest being 16, the youngest 14. (Later known as the Central Park Five.) Four were blacks, one Hispanic. They were taken into custody, their parents were barred from seeing them, there were no lawyers for them, (an Assistant U.S. Attorney who mentored one of the boys and tried to see him was verbally attacked by Linda Fairstein, head of the Manhattan District Attorney's Sex Crime unit and thrown out of the precinct, and for good measure she tried to get him fired from his job: to this day she insists upon the guilt of the 5) and through 30 hours of coercion, threats, and cajolery (such as "just confess and you can go home"), during which they were denied sleep, food, or drink, "confessions" were duly procured and the media was informed that the crime was "solved."  [5]

For some reason, confessions by accused people are considered the gold standard of evidence. This despite the fact that the police have long had well-honed tactics for pressuring "confessions" out of people, regardless of guilt or innocent. (And sometimes they fall back on physical torture, as in Chicago for many years. We are expected to assume that with the retirement of the chief torturer, Jon Burge, torture stopped, but the Chicago police maintain a black site were prisoners are taken in secret and arrests not recorded, for interrogation. The UK Guardian paper revealed this recently- U.S. media aren't interested.)

The DNA taken from the victim's body wasn't a match with any of the five accused. Nor was there any evidence other than the "confessions." No blood or mud on their clothes, footprints at the scene didn't match their footwear. No matter. The "confessions" were enough to convict them. (On the stand one cop admitted writing out one of the confessions in his own words!)

Then in 2002, the actual rapist, a serial rapist and murderer serving a life term, came across one of the convicted men. He admitted he had done the crime. His DNA was taken and it matched that from the victim's body. The five had their convictions overturned.

Now, Trump's role. Showing that Trump's impulses for demagoguery and rabble-rousing go back decades, less than two weeks after the 1989 park attack Trump shelled out $85,000 for full-page ads in all four New York City daily newspapers with the booming title ''Bring Back the Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!'' The ad, with Trump's signature, says ''I want to hate these muggers and murderers." ''They should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.''  [6]

After their 2002 exoneration, the five sued for compensation. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Billionaire dragged out the suit for a decade, refusing to acknowledge any liability by the city and its police. Finally in 2014 his successor, Bill deBlasio, assumed office and immediately ordered a settlement to be negotiated. Trump then had to weigh in again, denouncing the settlement  and insisting -still-  on the guilt of the five. [7]

Even in October of this year, 14 years after their complete exoneration, Trump said this to CNN: “They admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous.” [8]

So much evidence. Coerced "confessions" and the assertion of the police. Who could doubt their guilt? DNA- ah, that's probably a Chinese Hoax, like global warming. You know how sneaky those Orientals are!

Speaking of the New Regime, it is also reported that Trump has picked a hard-right U.S. Representative from Kansas, Mike Pompeo, a Koch billionaire-brothers client, for CIA Director, and former Lt. General Michael Flynn, a flaming Islamophobe who denies that Islam is even a religion, as his "National Security" advisor. Flynn used to head the military "Defense Intelligence" Agency, a long-time hotbed of ideologues. (The DIA was created by Kennedy-Johnson war Secretary and Vietnam war criminal Robert McNamara, who was jealous of the CIA and wanted one of his own. McNamara, by the way, revealed in a documentary about himself that during World War II he worked for General Curtis LeMay and helped plan the incineration of over 60 Japanese cities by firebomb-carrying B-29s. So he already had practice in mass murder before the Vietnam War.)

The problems with the U.S. are a lot bigger than Donald Trump. But the suffering inflicted on people, inside and outside its borders, can be expected to increase. And it's time to put paid to the Syrian resistance to the monstrous tyrant Assad. He's won.

1]  "Closed Sessions," The New Republic, December 30, 2002.

2]  Reagan kicked off his campaign for president in 1980 with a speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, county seat of Neshoba County, where in 1964 three civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, were murdered.  Reagan gave a speech to a large crowd who cheered lustily his endorsement of "states' rights." That is an alleged constitutional principle under which Southern segregationists claimed the Federal government had no right to interfere with racial apartheid in the old Confederacy, no right to mandate that blacks be allowed to vote, no right to do anything. (For that matter, Southerners in Congress successfully blocked for decades attempts to pass a Federal anti-lynching law, to try and staunch the thousands of lynchings in the U.S., overwhelmingly in the South, but also some in vicious Northern states like Indiana.) Reagan was explicitly endorsing racial segregation. But the U.S. media covered for him, as they did in all his crimes, by soft-peddling it. The book On Bended Knee is a compendium of the U.S. establishment's sycophancy toward Reagan and his murderous regime.

Once in the White House, Reagan assiduously protected the apartheid regime of South Africa, but his regime dishonestly pretended to be "working with" the white racists to reform them. This charade of feigning opposition while protecting it was called "constructive engagement." Reagan supported the apartheid regime in many covert ways, as did Israel. Overtly, Reagan vetoed Congressional sanctions against the regime. (His veto was overridden.) It was ultimately sanctions that forced the white racists to throw in the towel, leading to the dismantling of apartheid.

3]  "How Donald Trump's New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists: Breitbart News is 'the platform for the alt-right,' boasts Stephen Bannon," Mother Jones, August 22, 2016

4] "Closed Sessions," op cit. "Jeff Sessions," Wikipedia.org.

5]  A New York State appellate court judge, Vito Titone who named Fairstein in his dissenting opinion in a decision upholding the wrongful conviction of the five, said in an interview, "I was concerned about a criminal justice system that would tolerate the conduct of the prosecutor, Linda Fairstein, who deliberately engineered the 15-year-old's confession. ... Fairstein wanted to make a name. She didn't care. She wasn't a human." For details of Fairstein's egregious and callous behavior, see "Linda Fairstein," Wikipedia.org.

6]  "Angered by Attack, Trump Urges Return Of the Death Penalty," New York Times, May 1, 1989. By the way, this article ends with this:

"In 1987, Mr. Trump ran full-page advertisments in The Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe criticizing United States foreign policy, specifically the Government's subsidizing of defense budgets in wealthy countries like Japan and Saudi Arabia."

A heads-up to people who think we shouldn't take what Trump says seriously because he doesn't really mean any of it. He's been saying a lot of it for a long time- and meaning it.

7]  "Donald Trump and the Central Park Five," New Yorker, June 23, 2014.

"Central Park jogger case," Wikipedia.org.

8]  "Why Trump Doubled Down on the Central Park Five," New York Times, October 17, 2016.

You would think it best to let sleeping dogs lie, but just a few months ago Sessions, aping the unrepentant behavior of his new master, was gushing in his praise of Trump's bloodthirsty bellow in his 1989 ad, portraying it as an heroic act in "liberal" NYC. (Reactionaries love falsely portraying themselves as beleaguered warriors beset by overwhelming forces, when in fact they have almost always held the whip hand in America. They only control the military, police, secret police, and oftentimes as now all three branches of the Federal government and most state goverments. Oh, and U.S. media is rightwing to far rightwing.) According to Sessions, executing innocent people makes us all safer. “So he [Trump] believes in law and order and he has the strength and will to make this country safer,” Sessions said in a radio interview.

Actually such a country is more dangerous for everybody who isn't privileged, like Sessions and Trump, since we would be subject to railroading and execution for crimes we didn't commit. (It's already all to common for innocent people to be convicted in the U.S.)

"Sen. Jeff Sessions praises Donald Trump’s 1989 ad calling for death penalty against Central Park Five," NY Daily News, August 18, 2016.

Why, what a kindly old racist he is!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

U.S. Media Looking Down the Barrel of the Most Media-Hostile Presidential Regime in History

The U.S. media better prepare itself for a rough ride for the next 4 years- those elements that aren't willing to grovel and become Trump sycophants, that is. (I exclude from consideration fascist agitprop and overtly racist pseudo-media. They are thrilled by Trump's election, which should tell you how ominous Trump's attainment of presidential power is.)

Trump is a thin-skinned narcissist who reacts explosively to any perceived slight. He believes any criticism of himself at all is grossly "unfair," even "nasty." And he has already demonstrated repeatedly that he will have no tolerance for media reportage of him and his regime that displeases him.

During his campaign, Trump frequently directed vitriol at the media from the stage, and pointed out media people in the arena. He would egg the crowd on to menace and intimidate the press people.

Even before getting "elected" by a minority of the citizens voting (and fewer than Clinton received), Trump blacklisted  over a dozen media organizations, barring them from his events, including major media organs, because their coverage failed to be sycophantic towards him.

Post victory, he doesn't allow media to fly on his plane, a break with established practice.

Trump's first reaction to the protests against him when he was deemed president-elect was to tweet that the media was to blame for creating the protests.

Nixon is going to look like a media-lover compared to Trump.

Well, the media created Trump in many ways, from NBC making him a TV star with his awful show, "The Apprentice," based on abuse of people, to the billions of dollars worth of free air time. CBS boss Leslie Moonves giddily bragged, infamously, about how much money CBS was making by its grotesquely over-saturated "coverage" of Trump, saying Trump may be bad for America, but he was great for CBS. [1]

On the other side of the ledger, the media almost totally blacked out Bernard Sanders, to the extent of airing an empty Trump podium instead of a live Sanders speech. The media gave billions of dollars of free TV time to every Trump tweet, while virtually ignoring Sanders. Then,  after Trump won the GOP (Gang Of Plunderers) nomination, the media elites panicked and skewed their coverage to favor Clinton and try to undermine Trump.

But it didn't work. With the FBI's help, Trump closed the gap and came close enough to win a majority of Electoral College votes. [2]

The media made its bed. Now it has to lie in it. Unfortunately so does everyone else on earth.

Two of the jackasses who brought us Donald Trump: Media czars Leslie Roy Moonves (CBS) and Jeffrey Adam Zucker (formerly of NBC, now CNN Worldwide).

Jeffrey Adam Zucker

 Zucker yuks it up with his Creation, the Creature from the Mar-a-Lago Lagoon.

 Leslie Roy Moonves
"Hey, I'm making so much money! My shareholders will be pleased! Who cares if America goes to hell in a handbasket?"
 Moonves doesn't want any doubt about who runs CBS so he himself holds all three top positions: Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation. "Big Ego? Who, Me?"

The Man Who Knifed the Democrats By Dredging Up Clinton's Emails Again: FBI secret police chief and registered Republican James Brien Comey, Jr. (Thank Obama for appointing this Bush regime apparatchik to his post! What is it about Democrats? They long for Republican love. Bill Clinton also had a bad habit of appointing Republicans. Do Republicans ever appoint Democrats to top power posts? I can't think of any.) [See footnote 2.]

1] "Jeff Zucker’s singular role in promoting Donald Trump’s rise," Washington Post, October 2, 2016.

Moonves in February, 2016, at a Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, said, "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS." "Donald's place in this election is a good thing." "What can I say, the money is rolling in." "I've never seen anything like this, and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going."

Audio on youtube.com

Link to articles in establishment media on Moonves comments here.

2]  After the release in October of videotape of Trump bragging about sexually molesting women, it seemed that he was destined to lose. He trailed Hillary Clinton by 14% in national polls, a huge deficit so close to the election November 8. Then on October 28, eleven days before the election, FBI chief James Comey lobbed a bomb into the campaign. He sent a letter to 8 Congressional chairs saying the FBI found more Clinton emails in an unnamed, unrelated investigation. It transpired that in persecuting the hapless, sexually compulsive Anthony Weiner, the FBI found some Clinton emails as they seized devices used by his estranged wife, Huma Abedin, a top Hillary Clinton confidant and operative. Irrationally, this caused the polling gap to evaporate immediately. Trump ultimately won enough states to win in the Electoral College, even though he actually lost the "popular" vote (what is called the "vote" in every other country on earth). See my previous essay for a discussion of that, below.

["In the Self-Proclaimed "World's Greatest Democracy," the Candidate With the Most Votes Just Lost."]

For my earlier analysis of the tempest-in-a-teapot email "scandal" redux, see " Much Ado About Emails: FBI Stirs the Pot Again Over Clinton Private Computer Server."

Monday, November 14, 2016

In the Self-Proclaimed "World's Greatest Democracy," the Candidate With the Most Votes Just Lost

Democrat Hillary Clinton won more votes than Republican Donald Trump, but Trump won because of one of the U.S.' peculiar institutions, the "Electoral College." Presidents are actually elected by "electors," as per the U.S. Constitution. There are 538 of these electors, apparatchiks of the two ruling political parties. Clinton may end up with 2 million more votes than Trump after California is fully counted. (Clinton currently is ahead by 1 million.) But the so-called "popular vote" isn't what elects a U.S. president. The Electoral College vote does, and Trump won there, because he won enough of the 50 states to win a majority of the "Electors." [Later in this essay I explain the system in detail.]

This is the FIFTH U.S. presidential election in which the winner lost. It happened previously in 2000, 1888, 1876, and 1824. In fact, in 1824, the "winner," John Quincy Adams, didn't win the popular vote OR the Electoral College vote.

You would think the need to change this anti-democratic system would be obvious. Apparently it's not obvious to the elites who wield power.  The Democratic Party, having lost in 2000 and 2016, you'd think would be calling for change. But it isn't. Instead its two current leader, Obama and Clinton, immediately called for all citizens to fall in line behind Trump, to respect the "democratic process" and genuflect before the nobility of "our democracy." Obama immediately rushed to invite Trump to the White House and pledged to do his upmost to achieve a smooth transition of power and help Trump have a "successful" presidency.

Needless to say, their rivals, the GOP (Gang Of Plunderers) doesn't return the favor. Trump repeatedly announced his intention to claim he was cheated if he lost the election. ("The system is rigged, Folks!" was one of his repeated lines in the weeks before November 8.) And when Obama was elected in 2008, the Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, announced at the outset that his number one priority was to make sure Obama had a failed presidency. (The U.S. corporate media doesn't want anyone to remember these things, so they don't mention them.) Newt Gingrich, a smarmy opportunist who has attached himself like a barnacle to the Trump ship, practiced the same sort of "politics of destruction," trying to delegitimize the Democratic Party. But it goes back even further, to the post World War II GOP strategy of redbaiting Democrats, which is how Richard Nixon got elected to Congress and to the U.S. Senate, before Eisenhower elevated him to the vice presidency. Even earlier, in the 1930s, reactionary Republicans acted as ideological police against Democrats.

Those who genuinely oppose not just the racist, reactionary, deformed narcissist Trump and the horrible anti-human policies of the GOP, but those of the Democrats and this entire oppressive system cannot look to the Democratic Party to lead an opposition. The top Democrats have already announced their intention not to oppose Trump and the GOP agenda! (Harry Reid doesn't count as he is retiring.) They won't even block the arch-reactionaries Trump has vowed to elevate to the Supreme Court, even though the Republican Senators blocked Obama from filling the Antonin Scalia vacancy for almost a year. The Democrats in general knuckle under to every GOP power play. Plus, the Democrats are a corporate imperialist party that fundamentally opposes real changes in the U.S. system.

Why some people have a hard time seeing this is baffling. The history of the Democratic Party since the extreme racist Woodrow Wilson, who inaugurated the modern U.S. police state with the Espionage Act and the Palmer raids, makes it crystal clear that Democrats are no allies of true progressives. [In fact the Democratic Party was the party of white racism from the 19th century until the 1960s.]

I'm sure almost no non-Americans, and probably most Americans, don't understand the Electoral College. Therefore, here is an explanation.

The U.S. Constitution as originally written set up this crazy system, part of the conscious design to maintain elite class control over political power. In other words, the U.S. was created as a oligarchy, not a democracy. Originally only white male property owners could vote in the U.S.- not even all white men! Women could not vote until 1920, which means as of today they could vote during less than half of U.S. history, and Southern blacks not until the 1960s, with the exception of a few years immediately after the Civil War ended in 1865.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution set up the Electoral College. The Xii Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1804, tweaked the College a bit. The Constitution calls for state legislatures to choose the Electors who in turn would vote for U.S. President and Vice President. But problems, such as deadlocked legislatures that couldn't decide on Electors, caused all the states except South Carolina to allow white men generally to vote for the Electors by 1832. South Carolina finally threw in the towel on state legislators having sole voting power for president in 1860, the same year that state became the first state to secede from the U.S., in December.

By the way, for 125 years state legislators picked their states' U.S. Senators, until 1913, when the XVII Amendment switched to "popular" election of U.S. Senators.

Today there are a total of 538 Electors. The Democratic Party and Republican Party choose the Electors. The American people are actually voting for these rival slates of Electors, unbeknownst to them.

These 538 party loyalists actually elect the president. Each state is apportioned a minimum of 3 electors. The number of electors per state corresponds to the number of a state's U.S. Congress people. As each state has two Senators and at least one Representative in the House, each has at least 3 electors. California, the most populous state and thus the state with the most House Representatives in the U.S. Congress, has 55 Electors. With 435 Representatives and 100 Senators (2 per state), that equals 535 Electors. The 3 remaining Electors were granted to the District of Columbia in 1964, 188 years after the United States was declared, when the residents of the capital city of the "World's Greatest Democracy" were finally allowed to vote.

The reason the "popular" vote and the Electoral College votes can differ is quite simple. All but two states gives 100% of their electoral votes to whoever wins the popular vote in the state. They don't have to do this, they could apportion the electoral votes according to the popular vote percentages, as this is entirely up to the individual states. But that is what they do. So say one candidate gets 55% in enough states to win a majority of electoral votes, but only 35%, say, in states he/she loses. They would have fewer "popular" votes nationwide, but a majority in the Electoral College.

The actual election by the Electoral College will occur this December, when the Electors meet in their respective state capitals and in the District of Columbia to vote. Not all of themn are legally bound to vote according to their state's popular vote, but since they are disciplined party hacks, they will. Trump is expected to receive 290 votes (270 required to win) and Clinton 228. The over 7 million votes that went to other candidates (including write-ins not on the ballots) get zero Electoral Votes, as if they don't exist. (The establishment media never mentions these votes, contributing to their invisibility.)

The U.S. territories Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands, get no votes from the Electoral College because they aren’t states and they don’t have a special Constitutional amendment to recognize them. 4.4 million U.S. citizens live in the territories, a population almost equal to the total of 6 states.  (There are 4.5 million combined in North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, and Delaware.)

Other people who can't vote are millions of people convicted of felonies in states that strip such people (mostly blacks) of the right to vote permanently.

If no candidate wins a majority in the Electoral College, the House of Representatives votes for the next president, and the U.S. Senate for the vice-president. Which in practice would mean the controlling party in each chamber would pick its own party's candidate, barring some weird political deal. This happened just once, in 1824.

In the very first U.S. presidential election in 1789, there was only one candidate- George Washington. See how "democratic" the U.S. was even at the very beginning? I found an interesting article that describes how U.S. presidential politics has really been a battle between competing elites from the very start- and indeed is still today. [1] Rival gangs of rich people and corporate interests cluster around the two oligarchic parties and compete with each other for state power. They use demagoguery and dishonest propaganda slogans and
"ideas" to psychologically manipulate various sectors of the populace to vote for them.

Here is the breakdown of the "popular" vote and the prospective Electoral College tally. Notice that over 7 million voters who voted for someone other than the two candidates of the two-party dictatorship don't count at all, as they get zero Electoral College votes.


Here is a useful historical timeline from Wikipedia.org ["Voting rights in the United States." Footnotes at Wikipedia.]

                                            Milestones of national franchise extension

Abolition of property qualifications for white men, from 1792 (Kentucky) to 1856 (North Carolina) — see: Jacksonian democracy.[5]

Citizenship in both the United States and U.S. States by birth or naturalization, 1868 — see: Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Non-white men, 1870 — see: Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Direct election of Senators, 1913 — see: Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution gave voters rather than state legislatures the right to elect senators.[11]

Women, 1920 — see: Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Native Americans (for all who did not already have the vote, which nearly two-thirds did[12]), 1924 — see: Indian Citizenship Act.[13]

Residents of Washington, D.C. for U.S. Presidential Elections, 1961 — see: Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Poll tax, 1964 — see: Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibiting imposition of poll tax in federal elections.

Protection of voter registration and voting for racial minorities, later applied to language minorities, 1965 — see Voting Rights Act of 1965; this has also been applied to correcting discriminatory election systems and districting.

Poll Tax, 1966 — see: Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966), prohibiting imposition of poll tax or property requirements in all U.S. elections.

Adults between 18 and 21, 1971 — see: Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution,[14] were granted the vote in response to Vietnam War protests which argued that soldiers who were old enough to fight for their country should be granted the right to vote.[11]

Requirement that a person reside in a jurisdiction for an extended period — 14th Amendment; Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330  (1972).[15][16][16]

Washington, D.C., for restoring local elections such as Mayor and Councilmen, after a 100-year gap in Georgetown, and 190-year gap in the wider city, ending Congress's policy of local election disfranchisement started in 1801 in this former portion of Maryland, 1973, — see: D.C. Home rule.

United States Military and Uniformed Services, Merchant Marine, other citizens overseas, living on bases in the United States, abroad, or aboard ship, 1986 — see: Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.[17]

Finally, here's an interesting paragraph from the Federal Government's National Archives and Records Administration webpage on the Electoral College:

Reference sources indicate that over the past 200 years, over 700 proposals have been introduced in Congress to reform or eliminate the Electoral College. There have been more proposals for Constitutional amendments on changing the Electoral College than on any other subject. The American Bar Association has criticized the Electoral College as “archaic” and “ambiguous” and its polling showed 69 percent of lawyers favored abolishing it in 1987. But surveys of political scientists have supported continuation of the Electoral College. Public opinion polls have shown Americans favored abolishing it by majorities of 58 percent in 1967; 81 percent in 1968; and 75 percent in 1981.

Well, so much for democracy and the "will of the people."

For more details on the Electoral College, see the following:

"U.S. Electoral College: Frequently Asked Questions," National Archives and Records Administration.

"Electoral College, (United States)," Wikipedia.org.

"Breaking down the US elections: Your biggest questions answered," RT, November 8, 2016

1] "Presidential Elections," History.com, website of the History Channel cable TV channel. Oddly for a corporate entity, I've found the articles there mostly pretty objective.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Bob Dylan Again Demonstrates He's a Master of Manipulation

Stars in the entertainment industry invariably share a particular attribute: they have great manipulative instincts, or what might be called "social intelligence." They have a knack for getting and holding the attention of large numbers of people and being viewed favorably by those people.

One of the tricks in the manipulator's bag is cultivating an air of mystery. Another is making oneself inaccessible at times, which is like playing "hard to get." That which seems unattainable or difficult to get  feels more desirable to people.

Dylan employed both ploys by rendering himself incommunicado for two weeks after the Nobel Committee announced that they were awarding him the Prize for Literature. (It's so grand it has to be capitalized!) They let it be known that they were unable to contact Dylan to inform him, and finally said they were giving him the prize anyway. (It is unprecedented for a songwriter to receive the prize, another coup for Dylan that marks him as special. Dylan's Specialness has been a constant throughout his career.)

Only then did Dylan deign to make his presence known, like a being descending from heaven. He said he was honored. But he kept up his coyness, saying he didn't know if he "could" attend the awards ceremony.

Really Robert? You don't know if it's possible for you to fly over to Oslo? Are you scheduled for urgent surgery or something? Maybe you haven't decided whether to go or not. (Or maybe you have.)

He has written great songs. (And performed great songs written by others.) And an awful singing voice. And rudimentary guitar-playing skills. (But I like his music.) So he's got at least two notable talents.

Two was enough.

Much Ado About Emails: FBI Stirs the Pot Again Over Clinton Private Computer Server

FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to a clutch of Congressional Committee chairpeople notifying them that the FBI is reviewing a new batch of Hillary Clinton's emails that they found in the course of "an unrelated investigation." [Media reports say that investigation is of Anthony Weiner.]

What could possibly be new in this? The FBI had already concluded that there was "classified" emails on Clinton's server, and Comey harshly rebuked her at the close of the long investigation but concluded there was no criminal intent on her part. (She used a private server for her government business as Obama's previous Secretary of State apparently to avoid her emails being part of government records subject to possible disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or other parts of the government, including Congress.) So what is there are more "classified" emails?

Maybe the FBI wants to create more suspense in the presidential election November 8th.

The FBI has a long, notorious history of meddling in U.S. politics. (Most dramatically in its roles in the CIA assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr., where the FBI role was to conduct fake investigations that duly blamed the designated fall guys and threw dirt on the trails leading to the CIA. Even interfering in urban politics isn't beneath the FBI, as in their targeting of former New York City comptroller John Liu, whose phone was tapped for years in a futile attempt to trap him in campaign finance crimes. Ultimately an FBI plant tricked one of his campaign aides into accepting an illegal contribution and she was prosecuted. The taint on Liu helped wreck his political career and sabotage his mayoral campaign.) Being a reactionary secret police organization, it wouldn't be out of character for it to sabotage the Democratic candidate, Clinton.

I suspect that FBI agents forced Comey's hand, although he may have been very willing.

The latest batch of emails were discovered in searched of computers and other devices seized from Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife, top Clinton assistant Huma Abedin. The FBI is conducting a sexual witchhunt investigation against former Congressman Anthony Weiner for alleged "sexting" to a 15-year-old girl. Media reports specified that Weiner sent a bare-chested photo of himself to the teenager. (A photo of Weiner texting bare-chested and holding his young child had been earlier publicized by the media.)

If that is a crime, then what is it when men in bathing suits walk on beaches or hang around pools where minors are present? Logically that must be criminal too.

Guess we better start wearing burqas to the beach.

If anyone under 18 sees this, it's a crime in the U.S. (No wonder they're pals with Saudi Arabia!)

 "Hey, I got a compulsion! Ain't that nutty?"
Libido trumps politics.

Much Ado About Emails: FBI Stirs the Pot Again Over Clinton Private Computer Server

FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to a clutch of Congressional Committee chairpeople notifying them that the FBI is reviewing a new batch of Hillary Clinton's emails that they found in the course of "an unrelated investigation." [Media reports say that investigation is of Anthony Weiner.]

What could possibly be new in this? The FBI had already concluded that there was "classified" emails on Clinton's server, and Comey harshly rebuked her at the close of the long investigation but concluded there was no criminal intent on her part. (She used a private server for her government business as Obama's previous Secretary of State apparently to avoid her emails being part of government records subject to possible disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act or other parts of the government, including Congress.) So what is there are more "classified" emails?

Maybe the FBI wants to create more suspense in the presidential election November 8th.

The FBI has a long, notorious history of meddling in U.S. politics. (Most dramatically in its roles in the CIA assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr., where the FBI role was to conduct fake investigations that duly blamed the designated fall guys and threw dirt on the trails leading to the CIA. Even interfering in urban politics isn't beneath the FBI, as in their targeting of former New York City comptroller John Liu, whose phone was tapped for years in a futile attempt to trap him in campaign finance crimes. Ultimately an FBI plant tricked one of his campaign aides into accepting an illegal contribution and she was prosecuted. The taint on Liu helped wreck his political career and sabotage his mayoral campaign.) Being a reactionary secret police organization, it wouldn't be out of character for it to sabotage the Democratic candidate, Clinton.

I suspect that FBI agents forced Comey's hand, although he may have been very willing.

The latest batch of emails were discovered in searched of computers and other devices seized from Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife, top Clinton assistant Huma Abedin. The FBI is conducting a sexual witchhunt investigation against former Congressman Anthony Weiner for alleged "sexting" to a 15-year-old girl. Media reports specified that Weiner sent a bare-chested photo of himself to the teenager. (A photo of Weiner texting bare-chested and holding his young child had been earlier publicized by the media.)

If that is a crime, then what is it when men in bathing suits walk on beaches or hang around pools where minors are present? Logically that must be criminal too.

Guess we better start wearing burqas to the beach.

If anyone under 18 sees this, it's a crime in the U.S. (Hey, no wonder they're pals with Saudi Arabia!)

 "Hey, I got a compulsion! Ain't that nutty?"
Libido trumps politics.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump Is Destabilizing the U.S.- Should Progressives Worry?

Donald Trump is aggravating the fissures in U.S. society. A narcissist running a demagogic campaign for president of the U.S., his aim is his own self-aggrandizement.

He is rabble-rousing elements of the broad, discontented, white working class and anxious "middle" classes which the establishment power system seeks to keep passive as the system of corporate oligarchy slowly and relentlessly grinds them down economically. In classic fascist/reactionary fashion, he diverts attention from understanding the actual structure and nature of society and instead scapegoats "outsiders," in his case "illegal" immigrants and would-be refugees seeking asylum from war zones. He has also identified the various trade treaties as a cause of the economic squeeze on workers, which is valid as a factor.

Trump has made a frontal assault on these so-called "free trade" deals, violating an establishment ideological taboo observed by Democrats and other Republicans alike. Trump has done more to incite opposition to these treaties than labor unions, which supposedly represent the interests of workers, and certainly more than the Democratic Party, whose dominant figures largely support these corporate-power-enhancing treaties.

And while pressing the same hot button "culture war" issues that "respectable" "conservatives" do, being a political vulgarian he doesn't do it in a muted fashion as standard-issue reactionary Republicans do but does it very sharply, as was on display in the third and last "presidential debate" last night between him and Hillary Clinton, the Democrat. (This sort of crudeness is referred to by Republican operatives themselves as tossing "red meat" to "the base." Apparently GOP voters are like pet ocelots. Trump threatens to take them off their leashes.) These issues are guns, abortion, and immigrants. (The immigrant issue of course is tied to the economic insecurity felt by millions, with racism and xenophobia in the mix.)

Trump laid down his marker on immigrants early on when he branded virtually all Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers- a trope others have picked up, some implying that all murders in the U.S. are the work of illegal immigrants, an absurdity that goes unchallenged. Instead we get from Democrats and "liberals" heartstring-plucking stories of hardworking immigrant families (it always has to be families) and children caught in a legal bind not of their own making. Which is fine, but insufficient, as it leaves the murderer-immigrant theme unrefuted.

Trump lately has also been destabilizing the legitimacy of U.S. elections by claiming they are "rigged," to cheat him of his victory. He continued this tact last night. This is very cynical on his part, as he is doing it because he is apparently going to lose. [1]

But the irony is, U.S. elections ARE corrupt, only not in the ways Trump means. [2] For example, the last two times a Republican "won" the presidency, it was by stealing it. Bush  the Younger stole Florida in  2000, aided and abetted by his brother Jeb, the then-governor of Florida, Jeb's GOP (Gang Of Plunderers) minions there who disenfranchised thousands of eligible voters, and most importantly by five Republican Supreme Court justices, who illegally blocked a recount in Florida. In 2004 Ohio was stolen, with the connivance of GOP officials there, led by Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.  Since 2000, the Republican-owned corporations that make the crooked voting machines have connived to steal numerous elections by programming them to switch votes from Democrats to Republicans. (The Democrats refuse to make an issue out of any of this. As for 2000, they blame it all on Ralph Nader. Talk about scapegoating!)

But the Republicans (or elements of the secret police state acting on their behalf) are more ruthless than that.
Both Paul Wellstone and Mel Carnahan were murdered by plane sabotage to help the GOP control the U.S. Senate. And a devout Christian computer programmer, who helped the Republicans steal elections, had an attack of conscience and spoke out. While flying to testify in a civil case against Karl Rove, the top Republican electoral operative, his plane too was downed, and the evidence he was carrying to the trial was removed from the crash site, never to be seen again.

We can add mass disenfranchisement by various chicanery of Democratic voters, which the Democratic Party barely objected to until very recently.

Nor does it help that the Republicans who constituted a majority on the Supreme Court before the death of arch-reactionary Antonin Scalia last year gutted the Voting Rights Act, opening the door to even more ruthless disenfranchisement of "black" citizens in the erstwhile Confederacy.

Trump has even damaged the Republican Party, which he has hijacked for his ego trip. Contrary to universal handwringing by the establishment blatherariat, this is a good thing. It is to be fervently desired to see that evil, noxious weed break up into two or more parties. (That would also have the salutary effect of weakening the extortionist power of the Democratic Party to force people to vote for them as "the lesser of two evils" to avoid a Republican victory.)

You would think that progressives would welcome things that weakens the stability of the current oppressive, imperialist, and incorrigible U.S. structure. That assumes that they understand the problems they complain about are structural in nature and deeply rooted in the nature of U.S. society. Many apparently don't understand that, but they should.

But instead, as happens every time there is the one-day-every-two-years when some actual democracy has to be allowed- democracy to the very limited extent that some people (not millions of disenfranchised people, mostly blacks) are allowed to vote from a menu of two choices presented to them- Democratic Party politicians or Republican Party politicians- what progressives and special interest "leftists"* virtually all do is line up like obedient ducklings behind the Democrats. [3] Because "the Republicans are worse." They are exhorted by Democratic Party political auxiliaries like Robert Reich (a Bill Clinton cabinet member) that "now is not the time" to seek an alternative, not even a Senator Bernard Sanders, who ran as a Democrat for president against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party primaries and then supported her when he was blocked from victory. But there will never be a "right time" as long as the Republican Party exists.

Preserving the faux "unity" of the American populace under the current political and economic power structure is precisely what those in power want! Why would anyone who struggles against this system want to help do that?

The media created Donald Trump, making news stories out of even his random idiotic tweets. Now they are trying desperately to destroy his drive to the White House with sex scandalizing. To be sure, he is loathsome, and a probable rapist, as I will explain in a separate essay. (Bill Clinton is a confirmed rapist- cf. Juanita Broaddrick- and that IS relevant because he will have immense power if/when his wife achieve her goal of the presidency, her compensation for setting aside her own ambitions in Arkansas and when her husband got to be president. It's a family affair, you see.  Now it's her turn. The other relevance is that Hillary was a driving force in the character assassinations of her husband's various paramours. And it went into actual terrorism. When Kathleen Willey reported a rebuffed sexual advance on her by Bill C. in the White House, her cat was killed, after which a man jogged up to her outside when she was along and mentioned the dead cat. A scary threat indeed, the implication being that he could kill her right then and there.)

Here's a good reason to look forward to the end of the election: the media obsession with Donald Trump will abate. (If we're very lucky, it will even end.) But the barbaric soul of the Republican Party has had its genteel veil torn off by Donald Trump.

1] Trump also has broken new ground, at least in the past century, by openly attacking the legitimacy of his two-party opponent. Trump at the previous debate said he would jail Hillary Clinton if elected. Last night he said she shouldn't even be allowed to run because of her "many crimes." If he had meant crimes against humanity, he would have been onto something. He just meant her private email server, destroying 30,000 emails, an allegedly lying to the FBI.

This attack on the legitimacy of the official opposition can be seen as rooted in the GOP attacks on Obama's legitimacy, including the claims that he was born in Kenya and thus Constitutionally ineligible to be president. The GOP didn't overtly push that line, but its auxiliaries in "talk" radio promoted it. Trump took that "issue" and ran with it in the years when he was preparing the ground for his attempt to grab the presidency.
Nor are fraudulent claims of election-stealing by the Democrats new. The myth has long been nurtured that JFK stole the 1960 election from Nixon by stealing Illinois. That myth is easily refuted by simple arithmetic. Just subtract the Illinois electoral votes from Kennedy's total and add them to Nixon's. Kennedy still wins. But as Reagan said, "facts are stupid things."

In fact, the Republican Party, by pushing relentlessly to the right (with the help of almost the entire U.S. media) over the last almost 50 years, a campaign of reaction and rollback that was a response to the upsurges of the 1960s, has really opened the door to a demagogue like Trump. The years of rightwing extremism have validated the derangement and inculcated the rightwing segment of the populace in irrational beliefs an animosities.

2] Trump claims illegal immigrants are voting, "dead people" are voting, illegal immigrants are not just voting once, but "fifteen times," etc. etc. This is of a piece with his general cynical demagoguery designed to rabble-rouse the racists and xenophobes, who number in the millions.

3] I use "leftists" for want of a better single word, and also because that is how the power structure thinks of them, especially the secret police agencies, "talk" radio, hard-rightwing media, and rightists generally, even though that is a stupid way to think of them. I am referring to single-issue people such as those categorized as environmentalists, gay rights activists, "civil" i.e. black rights people, and so on, dozens of such splinter groups with no unity, each applying a modicum of pressure on the system to achieve its own ends within the current system without changing its basic imperialist, corporate oligarchic nature one whit.

The truth is, the vast majority of progressives are frightened of pulling down the temple of power. That's why their distress at Trump's refusal to validate the fairness of the election has them in a tizzy as much as it has the establishment media the the Democrats. Even as I'm writing this, one Kristen Clarke is talking to Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! (the first segment of the day's show) and prattling on about U.S. "democracy" being the "model for the world" and how "distressing" it is that Trump would question the legitimacy of a U,S. election. Then she segued into a total non sequitur about voter suppression against blacks! Which would seem to undercut her boilerplate propaganda about legitimacy and a Model for the World. She keeps referring to "conspiracy theories," and brushes aside a question about Gore v. Bush in 2000 ("We're not going to relitigate [that]" i.e. not going to discuss, remember, or learn from) and denies U.S. elections can possibly be rigged. "Rigged elections, pure mythology, pure fiction..."! [What, 2000 wasn't? 2004 wasn't?]

Clarke is also bent out of shape that Obama's nominee for the "broken" Supreme Court, Merrick Garland, a conservative former prosecutor, hasn't been given a Senate confirmation hearing. "A Constitutional Crisis" she calls it. "I am deeply concerned about this era of political obstruction we are in," she says, parroting Democratic Party rhetoric.

Clarke is President and Executive Director of the "Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law," founded in 1963 at the request of president John F. Kennedy. That political pedigree maybe tells you all you need to know about where Clarke is coming from.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Architect of Israel's Nuclear Arsenal, Who Tried to Sell an A-Bomb to White Racist Apartheid Regime, Hailed As Man Of Peace

Shimon Peres, a lifelong member of that small clique that constitutes the top echelon of the Israeli political power elite, has died at 92, following a stroke. His death comes not long after that of Ariel Sharon, a lifelong killer of Palestinians who didn't long outlive a hated foe whose assassination  he ordered, Yasser Arafat.

The death of Peres has been marked in Western media by a thoroughly dishonest sendoff, hailing Peres as a "Man of Peace." His roles as the father of Israel's nuclear weapons program, a man who pushed for the "Judaification" and absorption of conquered West Bank territory, who offered to sell an atomic weapon to the apartheid South African regime, have been blotted out in the mendacious eulogizing by the English language propaganda systems of the U.S. and UK in particular.

In painting Peres as a tireless seeker of "peace," the misleadingly-titled "Oslo Peace Process" was placed front and center as evidence. Unmentioned was the key fact that exposes that process like a flash of lightning, illuminating its true nature. Namely that during the years of dilatory "negotiations," the Israelis doubled the "settler" population in the West Bank, while supposedly intending to hand it over for a Palestinian state.

A few years ago Israeli propagandists created a music-video featuring Peres asking others to join him for "peace." This was part of a strategy to present Israel as longing for "peace." So obviously if the Israelis found it necessary to continually mete out violence to the Palestinians (and occasionally the Lebanese) and every few years "mow the lawn" in their cynical phrase, in Gaza, meaning destroying the infrastructure (power plants, water and sewage facilities, industries and businesses and hospitals and schools and even such things as a chicken farm, while killing and wounding and maiming a few thousand more Palestinians of all ages),why, their victims must be forcing them to do it, since the Israelis only want peace.

Obviously this is errant nonsense, as Israel has been a mini-imperialist state beginning in 1948. One purpose of propaganda is to obscure the obvious and replace it with illusion. Previous Israeli propaganda themes, such as "A land without people for a people without land," and "they made the desert bloom" (so all those Palestinian farms and orchards never existed, nor did the Palestinians themselves, for as Golda Meir said, "there is no such thing as the Palestinian people") all have been assiduously repeated by Western media. That goes for the "Peres Man of Peace" propaganda trope also. So Western media is behaving true to form.

This isn't being "anti-Israel," certainly not "anti-Semitic," the go-to slur for people who speak inconvenient truths out loud. It is factual accuracy, something Western "news" media and "journalists" are mostly indifferent to.

Barack "The Drone Assassin" Obama and other "world leaders" (country bosses) rushed to Israel to deliver encomiums at Peres' funeral. Mahmoud Abbas, the fake puppet stooge "president" of All The Palestinians, running a Bantustan-style substatelet of Israel called the "Palestinian Authority," also showed up at Peres funeral to pay his respects to a lifelong dispossessor and oppressor of Palestinians. (Well, why not? He helps Israel assassinate Palestinian activists, after all. This became evident when the New York Times, in typically smarmy fashion, obliquely pointed to such a case when they buried a short paragraph two-thirds down deep in a lengthy article. The paragraph mentioned a Palestinian prisoner released from a "Palestinian Authority" prison. The very next day an Israeli death squad murdered him at his West Bank home. Wow, that's some great intel! Wonder where they got it from! Fact is, the PA connives with Israeli death squads. Keep in mind that the CIA trained those Palestinian "security forces." The PA is a U.S.-Israeli satrapy created as a subcontractor for the oppression of the Palestinian people. But even Abbas can't continue the 20-year charade of "negotiations" with Israel. That con job string is played out, except in dishonest Western "commentary.")

Peres got to live for over 9 decades. During those decades, several thousand Palestinian children had no such good fortune.

Shimon Peres, dead after only 92 years. Such a shame.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Trump Adopts Obama Defense In Wake of Revelation of Crude Sexual Behavior and Attitude

"Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am." -Donald "SuperEgo" Trump explaining why we should disregard his boasting about grabbing women by the "pussy," kissing women he doesn't even know, describing them as meat and himself acting like a beast of prey. [1]

"That's not who we are!" -Barack "The Drone Assassin" Obama, every time he has to explain away U.S. criminality or venality.

So, it doesn't matter if Americans torture people, assassinate people, bomb hospitals and journalists, imprison millions- since that's "Not who we are," it doesn't count as part of character and identity. Some doppelganger America did it. Perhaps an imposter America. Since America is really a Good Country, and Obama a Good Man, and Trump whatever he says he is, the actions to the contrary are not their responsibility. Thus the culprits dissociate themselves from their own crimes.

Hillary Clinton also trotted out the "That's not who we are" trope recently. Apparently this is now going to be an enduring part of U.S. propaganda and denial. [2]

Add that to Obama's Legacy.

1]  Trump and his supporters (including the loathsome Rudolph Giuliani making the rounds of the Sunday morning TV political propaganda show October 10, a man who openly carried on an affair while mayor and still married to another woman) have tried to play down the vulgar conversation between Trump and celebrity brownnoser Billy Bush, a member of the Bush clan and cousin of the most recent president Bush. Their spin is that it was a long time ago, and Trump apologized (grudgingly, reluctantly, and in a pro forma manner, while simultaneously attacking by saying Bill Clinton has said worse, and threatening to bring up at the next debate with Hillary Clinton the rape of Juanita Broaddrick and all the "bimbo eruptions"- to use the Clintons' campaign from 1992 when Bill's sexual affairs threatened his candidacy for President) and anyway he's not like that now.

But it wasn't just the words Trump used: Trump was describing his own habitual conduct. (The disgusting Billy Bush cackled gleefully at Trump's self-description, something there has been no comment on by "the" media. I guess those bastards cover each others' asses.)

Trump has a history of misogyny and stalking of women going back to his high school days. He has always felt entitled, being the son of a rich landlord. On the Bush tape, he says when you're a celebrity "you can do anything." Indeed, there are privileges reserved to some in this society. And in Trump's case, he didn't even have to be discreet! But now he discovers that when you run for a competitive political office, your life is put under scrutiny and your bad behavior no longer covered up for you.

CNN just dredged up radio clips spanning 23 years of Trump's banter with the vulgar Howard Stern. Remember, this stuff was broadcast over public airwaves, with nary a ding to Trump's reputation until now. Here are a few gems:

Trump said he would “have no problem” having sex with 24-year-olds, and he “couldn’t care less” if he satisfies the women he sleeps with. But they have to be young, since “it’s checkout time” once women reach age 35. He also boasted that he'd engaged in three-way sex. “Haven’t we all?” Trump told Stern on his SiriusXM satellite radio show in 2008, obviously aware that "we all" haven't. Notice the ploy to assert his own superiority and make others feel inferior.

Someone might want to think twice about working for Trump enterprise. When he owned the Miss Universe pageant, he would barge in on nude contestants in their dressing room, calling it an "inspection."

With his connoisseur's eye, Trump pronounced of his daughter Ivanka, “She’s actually always been very voluptuous,”

Here's Trump's definition of "the perfect date:"

“You meet at 7 for drinks. You promise to take her to dinner, but you never get there.”

That's my definition of a lout.

2]  Far more substantive than Trump's sexism and misogyny is the expose of what Clinton said to all those finance capitalists in the speeches they so richly paid her for. It was the opposite of what she claims to stand for in her public pronouncements during this campaign. (No surprise, really.) Thanks to Russia and WikiLeaks for that. But "the" media is making a much bigger deal out of the Trump scandal du jour, since the establishment consensus is that Trump Must Not Be President. Why, he won't even demonize Official Enemy Vladimir Putin!

For the Trump recordings, see below.

Trump and Billy Bush discuss how to relate to women: "Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005," Washington Post, October 8, 2016.

For Trump and Howard Stern: "Donald Trump to Howard Stern: It's okay to call my daughter a 'piece of ass'," CNN Politics, October 9, 2016.

I just gave the GREATEST APOLOGY you ever, heard. It was truly amazing. No one has ever been as contrite as I was. Trust Me on this.

Pretty women are like magnets. I just have to kiss them, okay?

U.S. Clears Throat After Saudi Clients Bomb Funeral, Slaughtering 140 Yemenis

The latest Saudi Arabian war crime in Yemen, the aerial bombing of a funeral which killed as of this writing 140 people and wounded hundreds more, has forced to U.S. to wag its finger at the Saudis. The Obama regime has greased the skids for the sale of billions of dollars of advanced U.S. armaments to the Saudis- warplanes and ordnance, including cluster bombs and white phosphorus- which the Saudis and their Gulf State lackeys have used to pummel Yemen, ostensibly to counter Iranian influence, and to restore to power a puppet Yemeni "president" who was overthrown by Houthi tribesmen.

U.S. arms sales to foreign powers are by U.S. law supposed to be used only in "self-defense." Naturally, this law has long been ignored in practice (see Israel, for example, which actually gets free weapons- the U.S. gives Israel the money to buy U.S. weapons). Saudi Arabia has been bombarding Yemen for over a year, and sent in ground forces as well. (It also sent military forces into Bahrain, to help crush protests there by the Shiite majority against the tyrannical Sunni "royal" rulers.) As usual, the U.S. is the Arrnorer of Reaction, a role it has filled with gusto since 1945.

The Obama regime's reaction to this latest Saudi outrage is to aver that it might cut back a bit on arms sales to the Saudis.

The Saudis have been systematically targeting civilian targets for over a year, including markets, homes, mosques, and hospital and clinics. This has been mostly ignored by the U.S. media, which prefers to focus on the crimes of enemy states- currently Russia's bombing campaign in Syria, marked by Saudi-style targeting of hospitals, schools, and civilian infrastructure necessary for life, (Of course the Russians have had plenty of practice in devastation of civilians, such as their razing of Grozny, in order to crush a Chechen insurrection.)

The U.S. has been providing critical cooperation in the Saudi war against the Yemeni populace. It's aerial refueling tankers aid and abet the war crimes. Its military officers sit next to the Saudis and provide targeting information for the warplanes the U.S. sold the Saudis. And of course it provides political cover and a diplomatic shield for the criminal Saudi regime. Aiding and abetting crime is a crime.

So after all that, the Obama regime hints that maybe it'll dawdle and selling more arms to the Saudis! That's a pure p.r. ploy, vintage Obama, one of the world's great con artists.

Obama has proven in many ways to be a very militaristic president. He has micromanaged a "war on terror" in seven countries, exceeding even Lyndon Johnson's obsession with the Vietnam war in this regard. (Johnson merely selected bombing targets; Obama picks actual individuals to kill.) He has put in motion a nuclear weapons buildup projected to cost one TRILLION dollars. He just gifted Israel an unprecedented 10-year gift of $38 billion in free weaponry to use in their periodic slaughters of Palestinians and Lebanese. And he has presided over the ever-increasing U.S. military budget. (The increases are smaller than originally desired, so these increases are called "cuts." What a gang of liars our rulers, especially the media accomplices, are!)

And yet, there are still idiots who cling to the illusion that Obama is "progressive."

I spotted him as a con man in 2004, when he burst onto the national stage with that phony, Mario Cuomoesque speech at that year's Democratic Party convention. Nor was I ever tricked into voting for him, as so many fools, entranced by this great Pied Piper, were.

It's amazing how long the Democratic Party has gotten away with this con of being a "progressive" party. It only pulls it off because it compares itself to the arch-reactionary Republicans, the Gang Of Plunderers.

But I digress....

Sharing a laugh, maybe over the impotence of human rights whiners.

Best of Friends!

Friday, October 07, 2016

Bourgeous Elitists of Nobel Committee Snub FARC, Award Prize to Colombian President ONLY

In an unprecedented move, the  Norwegian swells who decide who is worthy of High Acclaim and Prestige in the world, awarded the annual Nobel Peace Prize they control to only one side in a "peace process." The worthies gave the prize (funded by deceased explosives multi-millionaire Alfred Nobel) to Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, omitting his negotiating partner, the rebel FARC organization and its leaders. [1]

Consider previous similar prizes: in 1994 the Peace Prize was bestowed upon the Israeli political bosses Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, and the Palestinian "terrorist" Yasser Arafat, for initiating the deceptively misnamed "Oslo Peace Process." (It actually was a con job and long stalling process during which, over eight years, the Israelis, with their U.S. patrons running interference for them, doubled the "settler" population in the occupied territories while pretending to be "negotiating" for a future Palestinian state on the same land. This was yet another of Bill Clinton's deceptions and crimes against humanity.)

In 1993, the Big Prize went to the president of the racist apartheid South African regime, F. W. de Klerk, and the "terrorist" ANC head Nelson Mandela, for negotiating a transition to more democratic rule, ending a decades-long period of repression and insurgency.

And in 1978, the prize went to Egyptian president Anwar Satat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin (formerly head of the terrorist Irgun). This for negotiating a peace treaty between their two nations.
But apparently the FARC is beyond the pale to the international bourgeoisie.

Facts, history, and reality all have to be ignored in the "universal" demonization of FARC by the international bourgeoisie. Start with the estimated 250,000 who have "died in the 52 year conflict." Most were unarmed civilians murdered by the military, police, and fascist auxiliaries, the right-wing death squads euphemised as "paramilitaries" (never "terrorists," the label officially branded on FARC). Just a year ago or so mass graves were discovered outside a military base containing the corpses of civilians murdered by soldiers who claimed their victims were "guerrillas," to obtain  bounties and inflate their body count.

It is also misleading to refer to a "52 year long civil war." There was a previous cessation of war- but not of violence, as it turned out- when the FARC laid down their arms and ran candidates for office. This turned out to be a great opportunity for the rich of Colombia to try and exterminate people for progress. The Colombian bourgeoisie duly unleashed their fascist killers on the FARC candidates, supporters, and allies, to murder thousands of "leftists." This period of one-sided violence lasted from 1984-87. And according to Wikipedia: "In 1989 a single large landholder had over 400 UP members murdered. Over 70% of all Colombian presidential candidates in 1990—and 100% of those from center-left parties—were assassinated." [Sources at Wikipedia.] [2]

The fact of the previous three-year attempt by FARC and others to "participate in the political process," which was met by massive state terrorism, is virtually blacked out of bourgeois history and media commentary. This is ideologically and politically necessary in order to paint FARC as "the bad guys," ruthless killer terrorists who "take hostages" (capture prisoners to try and exchange for their own people held as prisoners by the government, which has always refused prisoner exchanges) and "traffic in drugs" (as if the Colombian goverment, the "paramilitaries," and the CIA DON'T do the same).

By the way, the U.S. has sent its experts in state terrorism down to Colombia at least since 1959, five years before the FARC took up arms. This "Special Survey Team" of "counterinsurgency experts" recommended a sinister program of "intervention," and that "to shield the interests of both Colombian and US authorities against 'interventionist' charges any special aid given for internal security was to be sterile and covert in nature." In 1962 another group of U.S. Army covert terrorists, headed by a general this time, paid another visit to Colombia to conspire in repression with the Colombian "security forces"  by teaching them methods, equipping them, and over all institutionalizing "professional" methods of ubiquitous human rights atrocities and a permanent feature of this typical U.S. client state in its "own backyard."

The award to Santos comes days after a referendum presented to the Colombian public to ratify the peace agreement negotiated with FARC was rejected by a bare majority of 50.2% of the 40% of eligible voters who actually voted. Thus 20% of the electorate defeated the deal.

In the aftermath of the vote, the BBC among others has given play to the complaints of the fascist elements of the Colombian elite who opposed the agreement. They are outraged that FARC members won't be imprisoned as long as they confess. (No mention of the crimes and impunity afforded to their death squads and their military.) They are also outraged that FARC didn't have to turn over all their weapons before an agreement!!! And they find it unacceptable that a whole ten seats were to be reserved in the bicameral legislature for the FARC. (I guess they think the FARC's candidates should just be murdered, as happened during the last peace agreement.)

The previous president, Alvaro Uribe, a rich landowner who founded the death squads, has been a vociferous opponent of any peace agreement with FARC.  He led this opposition, preferring to press on with extermination. (Aided by U.S.-guided assassination of top FARC personnel.)

Enjoy your prize, Santos. I mean the 8 million Swedish Krona ( a bit less than one million U.S. dollars, $926,000 as of today.)

Maybe the Norwegians just didn't want the U.S. to indict them for providing "material support to terrorism"!

1] Alfred Nobel was a Swedish industrialist, trained in chemistry and engineering who is usually described as an inventor and "innovator," His big "innovation" was developing dynamite. During that process, there were glitches along the way, including an explosion that killed his brother and four others. By 1867 his efforts bore fruit. After dynamite, apparently obsessed with explosives, Nobel invented gelignite in 1875, which is even more  powerful than dynamite, and in 1887 he patented ballistite, a predecessor of cordite.

Another of his "innovations" was converting the iron and steel manufacturing company Bofors into a major weapons maker, especially of heavy armaments like cannons. 

Nobel grew rich from dynamite and from his trade in arms and ordnance. But he was stung in 1888 by an obituary about him which a French newspaper, mistaking Nobel's brother for Alfred himself (the brother had just died), published, which stated: "The merchant of death is dead" and "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday." 

Nobel, desirous of having a good reputation "in perpetuity" as they say, that is, worried about what people would think of him after he was dead and no longer existed, hit upon what has proven to be one of the most brilliant, effective, and durable public relations moves of all time. He set up the Nobel Prizes, to be funded after his death through a trust fund in which he secretly put most of his wealth (the amount in the trust estimated at $265 million in current U.S. dollars), causing disappointment and surprise among his relatives and friends, who only discovered this after his death. (Rich people are almost invariably selfish creeps, and love to stick it to the fawners and sycophants who cravenly try to curry their favor in hopes of a big payoff in the future. The rich often secretly hold these wishful thinkers in contempt. Their wealth makes them chronically paranoid and distrustful that other people are only interested in them for their money. This is one reason the rich generally limit their friendships and socializing to other rich people, forming an insular and armored class of the rich.)

There are five Nobel Prizes, for Chemistry (natch, since he was a chemist), Peace (ironically), Literature, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine. They were first awarded in 1901. The "Economics Prize" was invented later by the Bank of Sweden, which attached it to Nobel's name to leech off the prestige of the real Nobels. The bank got the  Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the two science Nobels, to hand out the "Economics" prizes. Swedish institutions handle the awards other than the "Peace" prize, which is controlled by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. For some reason Nobel didn't want his fellow Swedes handling that one. Go figure.