Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New York Times Propagandizes Shamelessly For Obama

And so too does, shamefully, Democracy Now!, if a bit unintentionally.

Take as our starting point this headline from the "liberal" New York Times:

Obama’s 78 Pardons and 153 Commutations Extend Record of Mercy. [1]

Let's take a look at this "mercy."

On December 19, Obama "pardoned" 78 individuals, meaning their convictions were erased, and commuted (shortened) the sentences of 153 prisoners, meaning they won't have to wait as long to get out of prison.

In some cases, it means they won't die in prison. As in this case cited by the Times:

Anthony DeWayne Gillis of Supply, Va., was convicted in 2005 of possessing cocaine, making false statements and possessing a firearm in “furtherance of drug trafficking.” He was sentenced to 145 years in prison. Mr. Obama’s grant of commutation reduces the sentence to 20 years.

Meaning he'll be out in 2025. See? Obama's all heart!

One might reasonably ask, What sort of cruel country imposes such draconian sentences in the first place? But the Times doesn't ask that question. Instead we are meant to be touched by the compassion of the Merciful Obama.

The Times article points out that commutations do nothing to restore rights lost for the rest of their lives to people with felony convictions. Oh, and those pardons all go to people who have already finished serving their sentences. And the Times doesn't tell you how many of Obama's commutations merely lopped a few months of time off prisoners soon to be release anyway. (It was a large percentage in his previous commutation media blitzes.)

So there is much less than meets the eye in the Times celebratory headline.

Of course, by buffing the image of the chief executive of the nation-state, they reinforce the perceived legitimacy and humaneness [!] of the system the Times is an integral part of. That is their motive, not some imaginary "liberal bias."

Every time Obama has deigned to show a bit of "mercy" towards Federal prisoners, he gets a blitz of positive propaganda from the press. He went through most of his presidency being extremely parsimonious in his issuances of clemency and pardons, for which criticism began to build up, belatedly.

The Times puts his "acts of clemency" total to date at 1,324, pardons and commutations combined. Of these, over 1,000 were commutations, "more than 50 times the number of people whose sentences were commuted by President George W. Bush and more than the past 11 presidents combined." Gee, sounds impressive. This is out of a total of over 200,000 convicted Federal prisoners, and tens of thousands more immigrant prisoners not convicted of anything. But he looks good compared to the remorseless cruelty of his predecessors. (On the other hand, Horrible Russia has freed 20,000 prisoners by official pardon in the last few years, including the 3 members of Pussy Riot, whose case was of such interest to the Western media. If only they paid 1/1,000 the amount of attention to U.S. political prisoners.) [2]

During past tranches of Obama Mercy, U.S. Government propaganda network NPR has put on groveling prisoners, in tears of gratitude for The Master's Mercy, so psychologically beaten down are they. Obviously the prisoners sought are those in deep self-abnegation who will show the proper ring-kissing gratitude towards the emperor.

What's unmentioned in all the fawning gratitude is the fact that Obama deliberately kept 6,000 drug war prisoners locked up for longer. That is six times the number whose sentences he has reduced, many reduced by only a few months, and over four times his total "acts of clemency." (Commutations plus pardons, but he's given pardons to people only after they've completed their sentences. That way, no one can criticize him for letting "criminals" off "easy." He cares much more about avoiding criticism than about freeing prisoners.)

Here's how he kept those 6,000 prisoners locked up. Congress, also being "merciful," reduced the "disparity" in sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine from 100 to 1 to "just" 18 to 1. That means, under the previous law, 1/100 the weight of crack cocaine gave casualties of the drug war the same sentence as an amount of powdered cocaine. In other words, it took 100 times the same amount of powder cocaine to receive the same sentence as for a given amount of crack. That's soo unfair! They should get the same prison time, right? (How about no prison, because the government has no right to outlaw cocaine if people want to use it- and they obviously do.) So Congress "reformed" the law by reducing the "disparity" to a mere 18 to 1 ratio.

With that change in the law, lawyers for victims serving sentences under the prior law filed suit in Federal court to apply the new law retroactively to current cocaine prisoners in Federal prisons- the aforementioned 6,000 prisoners. Which, if they had won, would have shortened the sentences of those prisoners.

In comes Obama. He sicced his then-Attorney General, the millionaire corporate lawyer Eric "Friend of High Finance" Holder, Jr., on them, to fight them all the way to the Supreme Court. Where the government, as virtually always happens when it's the government versus "criminals," prevailed.

Now, if the U.S. government had simply not opposed the suit, the prisoners might have won.
Furthermore, if the government had come in on the prisoners side, and said "We agree, they should be resentenced under the new law," almost certainly the Supreme Court would have said Okay.

If Obama had simply nothing, then someone else would have taken responsibility for freeing those prisoners- Congress and the courts. Instead he exerted himself to keep them in prison, away from their families and friends.

Why Obama thought it was so important to keep these 6,000 mostly black and Hispanic prisoners locked up longer, you'd have to ask him.

But this story is never mentioned in all the puff-pieces about Obama The Merciful. [3]

And oddly, it goes unmentioned by most progressives when they report on Obama's Mercy. I mentioned Democracy Now!  a program that should know better, because they just did it again. It should be told, to put Obama's Mercy in proper perspective, alongside his numerically far greater cruelty, and also to make people aware that Obama did this, as it is only through repetition that people remember.

Let the likes of the NY Times and its establishment ilk burnish Obama's "legacy." Progressives should NOT be doing that. Or have they learned nothing in eight years about Obama?

While we're on the topic, Obama won't be commuting the 35 year sentence of political prisoner Chelsea Manning, who he first tortured for two years in the Marine brig at Quantico. (Manning is in he U.S. Army, so they had no business sticking him in the Marine brig in the first place. And it was the UN Rapporteur on Torture that found the conditions constituted torture.) Then he staged a "trial" at which no official transcript was kept, and army spies peered over the shoulders of journalists who managed to force the Army to let them into the "courtroom."

Nor will he commute the sentences of other political prisoners, innocent men like Leonard Peltier. And he sure won't be pardoning any of them.

And Obama the Merciful won't be apologizing for breaking the arm of Medea Benjamin, or murdering 16-year-old American Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, his cousin, and five other people while eating in a restaurant. Or any of the other family members of putative jihadists the U.S. singles out. (If they really want to defeat jihadism, they need to go after Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani military "intelligence," the ISI- Inter Services Intelligence.)  [4]

Nor will Obama be expressing regret for his cheerleading the last time Israel "mowed the lawn" in Gaza, killing 550 Palestinian children in the process, many more adults. (One Israeli child was killed by Hamas' return fire. That prompted Obama to express sympathy and understanding- for the Israeli "need" to bombard Gaza for the third time in a decade. It's to protect "the children," you see.)

But one could write thousands of pages about Obama's cruelties and repression, which he hides behind a cynical mask of benignness and thoughtful concern. I don't think any more is necessary to make the case. Not that he is atypical for U.S. presidents in this regard. Empires are about imposing domination, so emperors must be ruthless and cruel. It's a requirement for the job.

1] "Obama’s 78 Pardons and 153 Commutations Extend Record of Mercy," New York Times, December 19, 2016.

2] See for example "NY Times Obsessed With Plight Of Dissidents- But Only In Certain Countries," August 8, 2012; "Pussy Riot Get Exact Same Sentence As Tim deChristopher," August 25, 2012; "One Member of Pussy Riot Freed; Tim deChristopher Still In Prison," October 10, 2012.

3] Glenn Ford of Black Agenda Report discussed this on The Real News Network. That's how I learned of it. See "A Critical Look at VICE's Story on Mass Imprisonment with Obama and Holder," October 1, 2015.

It's worth noting that the U.S. has the highest rate of imprisonment as a percentage of the adult population of any country on earth. That includes places like North Korea, China, Iran, and Russia. The U.S. has more people imprisoned than any other nation, including China, even though China has over four times the population.

The number of people locked up in Federal and state prisons and local and county jails is about 2,500,000. That is almost one of every 100 adults.  The U.S. has 25% of the world's total prisoners. It currently has 4.38% of global population, derived from UN population estimates.

For good measure, U.S. police killed over 1,200 people last year, the most ever recorded.

U.S. Census current population estimate.

4] For Medea Benjamin's mauling, arranged by Obama, see "Obama Has Egyptian Military Regime Break American Peace Activist's Arm," March 8, 2014. For the murder of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki et al, see "Obama Ordered the Murder of a 16-Year-Old American," November 19, 2014.



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Payment Extracted From Russian Government for Liquidation of Aleppo

As the murderous Assad regime snuffs out the last pockets of resistance to its evil reign in the city of Aleppo, Syria, a 22-year-old Turkish policeman took it upon himself to impose a small price on Russia for its aerial bombardment of the city, including all of the hospitals. Shouting " Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria!" the off-duty cop shot dead the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, at "a posh art gallery" in the Turkish capital of Ankara. [1]

A video of the incident aired on Turkish media showed the man, a riot policeman named Mevlut Mert Altintas proclaiming in Arabic  "We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad." We see once again that it often takes a zealot or fanatic to have the courage (and indifference to his personal fate) to sacrifice oneself and attack into the teeth of Power. (Some reports say Altintas was killed. If not, he's in for some savage torture. For one thing, the Erdogan regime will want him to “confess” to “the conspiracy” that Erdogan and Putin have already posited led to this killing.)

Edward Snowden in a way fits the description of a self-sacrificing zealot, but of course his action was non-violent and very beneficial, if ultimately as futile as the assassination of the ambassador. But in both cases, at least some cost is imposed on the oppressors of humanity. That is worthwhile.

The day before the assassination, the Russian, Turkish, and Iranian foreign and war ministers met in Moscow to conspire on the ongoing crushing of the rebellion of the Syrian people against the despotic and ultra-cruel regime of Bashar al-Assad, an absolute dictator who inherited the dictatorship from his mass murderer father Hafez. (No slouch in the killing department himself. Like father, like son, apparently.)

With utter predictability, the state terrorist Russian president Vladimir Putin, Karlov's boss, immediately branded the killing terrorism, and vowed revenge. “The only answer to the murder of the Russian ambassador to Turkey must be the intensification of the struggle against terrorism,” Putin said darkly on Russian national television. “And the bandits will feel it,” he added menacingly. (No doubt to the approval of Donald Trump, who admires "strength." That makes Trump an authoritarian, of course, since fetishizing power is a key aspect of authoritarianism. But then Trump's authoritarianism has been on display for years, in his role as a Business Boss.) the Kremlin foreign ministry also weighed in with the"T" word, calling it “a terrorist attack,” I'd call it retribution for Russian crimes against humanity.

Showing he understands nothing, Putin also misunderstood the avenging gunman's motive entirely, even though the assassin said quite clearly what his motive was. Putin framed the killing in conspiratorial terms, seeing a “provocation aimed at rupturing ties between Russia and Turkey” in the act. "The crime that has been committed is undoubtedly a provocation aimed at derailing the ties between Russia and Turkey, as well as the peace process in Syria," Oh, undoubtedly. and I just love your "peace process" in Syria! Nothing like bombing people into submission to achieve "peace."

Yes yes I know, there are jihadists in Syria. But the 80% of the Syrian population that oppose Assad are not "jihadists" and "terrorists." This uprising began with street protests inspired by the Arab Spring, which started in Tunisia. The Assad regime responded by murdering protesters in the streets, and kidnapping and torturing people. THEN people took up arms, when they had no choice to defend themselves. Obama and his minions intoned "Assad Must Go," but Obama didn't want to support the rebellion with the necessary arms, especially anti-aircraft small arms, in part out of fear they'd end up in jihadists' hands. After a year or two, jihadists did appear in Syria, so Obama could rationalize, See? I was right.

The mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, hopped on the conspiracy theory bandwagon, opining that the killer's intent was to disrupt Turkish-Russian relations. Why not take the gunman at his word? He saidshouted why he did it!

I guess politicians, being cold, callous beings, cannot imagine that there are people motivated by the suffering of others. That is just beyond their ken. So they must fabricate imaginary conspiracies and convoluted political conjectures. (The U.S. media and other elite sectors do that all the time too. For example, J. Edgar Hoover, the now-deceased longtime FBI secret police chief, thought that the movement for black civil rights was a "communist conspiracy." And president Lyndon Johnson thought that the massive popular movement against his war on Vietnam was being created in Moscow! He ordered the CIA to uncover this "plot" that somehow turned millions of Americans into zombie puppets of the Kremlin. I kid you not. That is how blind our rulers are to their own criminality- that they have to deny any possibility of fault by themselves that is provoking opposition from normal humans. Positing malign conspiracies is one way rulers evade facing up to their own responsibility for the reactions provoked by their crimes and oppression.)

The destruction of Aleppo, which has included the systematic bombardment of every hospital in the city and targeting of schools, among other atrocities, is characterized as a "liberation" from "terrorists" by the cynical Russian and Syrian governments, rhetoric adopted by knee-jerk anti-Americans in Western countries whose human rights principles are apparently lower in priority than their need to assume that whatever side the U.S. opposes are Good Guys. This stems from their simple-minded, lazy habit of seeing the world in binary terms. (Readers of this blog will have no trouble discerning that I am unsparing in my criticism of the U.S. for its crimes. Those who cannot see other sources of evil in the world have a most peculiar blind spot) Even though the U.S. has been largely AWOL in Syria, these ideologues blame the U.S. for the Syrian tragedy. They also consider Hillary Clinton a "warmonger" for wanting to intervene. Had the U.S. supported the rebellion in the first year, the Syrian people would have had a fighting chance to free themselves of the gothically cruel Assad regime. A bombing campaign to destroy Assad's air force would have stopped the dropping of barrel bombs and chemical agents, for example. Russia only sent in its air force to assist Assad in his slaughter a year ago. (The uprising is now five years old.)

The Washington Post claims that "Russian authorities vowed to reveal a larger plot — and some [UNNAMED] in Moscow suggested that the West was to blame for its support of moderate rebel factions in Syria." Unlike how it treats with ridicule discussion of actual conspiracies by the U.S. Deep State, this fanciful conspiracy theorizing is reported respectfully by U.S. media like the Post.

"Putin stopped short of that, [i.e. of blaming the West] saying only, 'We need to know who guided the hand of the murderer.” That is, who to take out our rage on[3]

There he goes again, with a conspiracy theory. As if passionate (or obsessive, if you want to put a negative spin on it) individuals need to be someone else's puppet to act. Not everyone on earth is a puppet or a puppet-master, Putin.

Turkish autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdogan, already "knew" it was a conspiracy, and what it was about: “We know [sic] that this is a provocation aiming to destroy the normalization process of Turkey-Russia relations,” Erdogan said immediately in a speech he rushed to give. “But the Russian government and the Turkish republic have the will to not fall into that provocation.” It must be nice to be able to "know" things without having to investigate or discover actual facts. Makes life so much easier to just assume that whatever you want to believe is true. [4] 

Note Erdogan's repeated use of the word "provocation," a favorite word of Russian conspiracy-mongers that traces back to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, and probably earlier. Do I detect pandering to the Russians?

Erdogan called Putin to offer condolences, and the two reportedly pledged cooperation against "terrorism." "Terrorism" being code for opposition to state power, including non-violent opposition or even just protest. That's also the U.S. function definition, by the way, as the FBI, DHS, et al routinely brand protesters considered "left wing," such as the Occupy Movement, "terrrorists." So see? Even enemies can agree on something!

Here's a bet, Turkish autocrat Erdogan will blame Gulen for the assassination, or else the Kurds.

One more thing. A single man, motivated by conviction, has imposed more of a cost on Russia for its crimes in Syria than the Mighty Superpower Tough Talking U.S. The U.S. has only jawboned and condemned Russia over Syria. It hasn't even imposed economic sanctions, as it did to punish Russia for interfering with the U.S. takeover of Ukraine. That speaks volumes about actual U.S. "values" and goals. It doesn't care one whit about human rights, self-determination, or freedom.

Unwanted politics intrudes at "a posh art gallery."

A minion of autocracy bites the dust. He won't be dining on caviar tonight.

1]  "Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov shot dead in Ankara," Aljazeera, December 20, 2016. Aljazeera quotes the gunman thusly:

"'Don't forget Aleppo, don't forget Syria,' the attacker said in Turkish after gunning down the ambassador, as seen on a video shared by Turkish media from the scene.

"'Whoever took part in this cruelty will pay the price, one by one... Only death will take me from here,' the man said while holding a pistol.

"He then continued in Arabic, saying: 'We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad, for jihad.'"

2] "Turkish police officer, invoking Aleppo, guns down Russian ambassador in Ankara,Washington Post, December 19, 2016. The New York Times quoted Putin in almost the same words,  but claims he made the remarks "in an emergency meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov and other top officials." The Times version of the quote is  “There can be only one answer to this — stepping up the fight against terrorism, and the bandits will feel this.” "Russian Ambassador to Turkey Is Assassinated in Ankara," NY Times, December 19. The Times quoted the gunman as declaiming,  “God is great! Those who pledged allegiance to Muhammad for jihad. God is great!” The Post has him yelling, “We are those who pledged jihad to Muhammad!” Referring to Syria, he added, “Every single person who has a share in this atrocity will pay for it!”
3]  Washington Post, ibid.

4] New York Times, op cit. Funny thing, the guy who messed up Turkish-Russian relations was Erdogan himself. About a year ago, he had his jets shoot down a Russian fighter-bomber over Syria next to the Turkish border (the Turks and U.S. media falsely claimed or implied it was shot down overflying Turkey- it had strayed for a few seconds over the border but was shot down over Syria) because Erdogan was unhappy that the Russians were bombing ethnic Turkmen Syrian rebels. The Russians responded by cutting off the lucrative traffic of Russian vacationers to Turkey. This changed Erdogan's attitude, so he mended fences with Russia. 

Turkey's role in Syria is a mass of contradictions, and shows what a treacherous sea of boiling cross-currents "the conflict" there is. Turkey mainly wants to destroy the Kurds, which the U.S. supports in the Kurds resistance to Assad. But the U.S. makes distinctions between "terrorist" Kurds and "moderate" (i.e. "Good Guy") Kurds, which the Turks don't. Turkey for a long time supported jihadists in an underhanded fashion, allowing them to cross the Turkish border and obtain supplies through Turkey. Jihadists are U.S. enemy Number 1, or maybe Number 2, after Russia, these days, depending on which American ideologue/polemicist/apparatchik/or general you ask, and the day of the week.

Assad has shelled and bombed Turkish border villages several times, and Turkey semi-wants to see Assad gone. Russia is backing Assad in a major way, along with Iran, which has sent troops to help Assad crush the Syrian people, and the Lebanese "terrorist" (to the West) militia Hezbollah is also fighting on Assad's behalf. (Or rather it's the militia arm of Hezbollah, which is a religious/political organization and movement.) So U.S. ally Turkey, where the U.S. has air bases, is bombing U.S.-backed Kurds in Syria, and Assad foe Turkey is getting friendly and cooperative with main Assad backer Russia, whose air force is pulverizing rebel-held cities and towns. 

To make things more interesting, various Arabian peninsula Sunni autocracies- and the U.S. is good buddies with all those repressive monarchies, and supplies them with weapons and munitions and training- are funneling weapons and supplies to the jihadists in Syria-  the jihadists the U.S. wants to exterminate.. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are known to be doing this. 

But no hard feelings: the U.S. is currently helping the Saudis and other associated oil monarchies wage an aerial bombardment campaign of terror against Yemen. They've bombed 58 hospitals so far, with the jets the U.S. sold them, dropping the bombs the U.S. sold them, and flying to and from their targets with the aid of U.S. tanker planes refueling the jets dropping the bombs. And U.S. officers are in the Saudi command posts helping pick targets.

Is that all clear now?



Monday, December 19, 2016

Loser Donald Trump Elected President of U.S. Today By 300 "Electors"

Today the man who lost the November 8th U.S. presidential election by about 2,900,000 votes is being elected president by about 300 people as part of the "Electoral College," a peculiar institution created by the U.S. Constitution. This is the fifth time in U.S. history that under the strange, bizarre version of "democracy" in the U.S., the loser won.

The last time it happened, in 2000, the Democrat was also the loser, as now. (Al Gore vs. Bush the Younger.)

The reason this happens is that all but two of the fifty states (plus the District of Columbia, the Capital City of the Empire) do not allocate their Electoral votes proportionally to the so-called "popular" vote in their states, but have a winner-take-all system, so all the voters in those states that voted for the loser in that state get zero representation in the "Electoral College." Under the Constitution, states are free to make their own rules as to how to allocate Electoral votes. (The "popular" vote is what in every other country on earth is called the vote.)

Electors are supposed to be a barrier to the popular rule running amok or voting "irresponsibly." Yet it has been transmuted into its opposite, where the Electors are supposed to rubber-stamp the majority vote in their states, in some cases under penalty of state law. There is a pejorative label invented for those who use their own judgment in voting, as originally intended by the authors of the Constitution: "Faithless Electors."

There are two possible ways to break out of the archaic, anachronistic Electoral College political straitjacket. One is to amend the U.S. Constitution, a nearly impossible task because of political opposition. It requires a two-thirds vote by both houses of the U.S. Congress, then ratification of the desired amendment by three-fourths of the state legislatures. Or the convening of a Constitutional Convention, which has never happened since the first one, which wrote the Constitution.

The other way is already afoot, a move for states with a total of at least 270 electoral votes (the number needed to win as it constitutes a majority) to vote all their electors to whichever candidate wins the overall national vote. So far, states with about 150 electoral votes have agreed to implement this scheme when enough states to control 270 votes or more sign on.

For a deeper explanation of the Electoral College, see:

"In the Self-Proclaimed 'World's Greatest Democracy,' the Candidate With the Most Votes Just Lost," November 14, 2016.

On how FBI secret police chief James Comey fatally sabotaged Clinton's campaign, see:

"Much Ado About Emails: FBI Stirs the Pot Again Over Clinton Private Computer Server,"  October 29, 2016.

On how Trump dealt with the surfacing of the 2005 video in which he described his techniques of sexual assault, see: 

For the many methods of GOP election-stealing, see: 

"How to Rig an Election: The G.O.P. aims to paint the country red," By Victoria Collier- Harper's magazine, Nov. 2012.

Journalist Greg Palast has done in-depth investigations into how the GOP (Gang Of Plunderers) stole the election, by not counting Democratic votes, voter suppression, and so on. For his discussion specifically on the recounts the Green Party was blocked from having in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (where 70% of the votes were cast on electronic voting machines with no paper trail that the GOP has traditionally used to steal elections by programming them to switch votes from Democrat to Republican candidates), CLICK HERE. Palast says it's actually a count of ballots that weren't counted because of biased invalidations.


Sunday, December 18, 2016

China Snatches U.S. Navy Spy Apparatus; U.S. Demands Its Return

An underwater, unmanned "drone" operated by the U.S. Navy was seized by the Chinese Navy. China claims it was in Chinese waters, the U.S. claims it was in international waters. [It was in the South China Sea, which China now claims as a virtual Chinese lake. Hence the disagreement.] The U.S. has demanded that China give its drone back, and China said okay, it'll give it back- (when it's good and ready, no doubt). (A curve ball was thrown into the play by president-to-be Donald Trump, who said China should keep the drone. Don't ask me why. I suppose he just always has to grab the spotlight, and that often requires saying something outlandish, in order to stand out. He is a narcissist, an exhibitionist, and an egomaniac, remember. In fact, I'm sure he won't let you forget that for the coming four years, at least.)

The U.S. government domestic radio propaganda network, NPR, absurdly claimed that this spy device was engaged in "scientific" research- as if the U.S. Navy is a scientific research organization.

The Pentagon propaganda office issued a statement under the name of its chief mouthpiece Peter Cook asserting that the underwater spy vehicle was gathering "military oceanographic data...." [My emphasis.] I guess the propagandists at the Pentagon and at NPR didn't get their stories straight. But NPR regards it as one of its missions to always protect the U.S. government, so that could account for the misrepresentation of the drone's mission.  [1]
 
China will doubtless disassemble and study and copy their booty. They did this sort of thing before, when a U.S. spy plane was forced to land on Chinese territory after a Chinese fighter jet clipped and damaged it in flight. (The hot-dogging Chinese pilot was killed in his reckless act, which infuriated the Chinese towards the U.S. But since the U.S. bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, after the CIA gave its location to NATO, supposedly in ignorance that it was the Chinese embassy, the Chinese are I think predisposed to blame the U.S. for their losses in confrontations with the U.S. By the way, that embassy bombing is NEVER mentioned in the U.S. Amnesia handicaps ones ability to deal realistically with the world and its other inhabitants.)

This incident is another small step in China's nibbling away at the edge of U.S. power in the Pacific. A much bigger milestone is Philippines death squad president Rodrigo Duterte telling the U.S. to kiss-off, and openly embracing China. The Obama regime has responded like a deer in the headlights, seemingly frozen. When Duterte called Obama a "son of a whore" and publicly cursed him, the U.S. barely reacted to this effrontery. Then the Philippines won a court case against China for China appropriating islands in the South China Sea. The U.S. reacted to that by talking like a mediator, instead of clearly siding with the winner, the Philippines. This signaled weakness. Obviously the U.S. wishes to avoid confrontation with China- but that means the U.S. must retreat in the face of growing Chinese power and "assertiveness."

The Philippines then abandoned its claim and started cozying up to China, under Duterte.

Duterte brags of personally murdering "criminals." No doubt the mild verbal remonstrances the U.S. has to make over his "human rights record," in order to maintain its image as the beacon of freedom and democracy and human rights, irked Duterte, even though the criticisms were strictly pro forma. Duterte is a crude thug, unsophisticated to play the game with winks and nods and understand that some things are just political theater, not to be taken seriously. (The U.S. "objecting" to relentless Israeli colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is a long-running, very tired political play.) A murderous goon like Duterte is temperamentally more comfortable with the tyrants of Beijing than with the two-stepping hypocrites of Washington.

A bit of background: The Philippines was a U.S. colony until after World War II, when it became a neocolony and client dictatorship. It was a Spanish colony until the U.S. seized it as war booty during the Spanish-American war of 1898, when the U.S. also gained control of Guam, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and carved Panama out of Colombia for its own uses. The Filipinos had the crazy idea that they should be independent, so several hundred thousand of them had to be killed to convince them to stop resisting U.S. conquest. President Theodore Roosevelt, an iconic figure in U.S. pseudo-history (quasi-mythology) sent hearty congratulations to the U.S. military commander of the invasion and occupation force for his fine work in suppressing Filipino resistance.

During World War II, the Japanese occupied the Philippines. Their brutality alienated the Filipinos, just as Japanese barbarism alienated the other victims in their "Co-Prosperity Sphere," such as the Koreans and Chinese. In this, they made exactly the same strategic blunder as the Nazis. Their ideology of racial "superiority," hyper-militarism and fascism proved too much for the colonized to bear, unlike other imperialisms which are tolerated by the conquered for longer time-spans.

Two giant U.S. military bases, the Subic Bay naval base and Clark airfield, were long occupied by the U.S. Some years after U.S.-backed dictator Marcos was overthrown, the U.S. was asked to vacate those bases. The U.S. has been angling to get those or other bases in the Philippines back ever since.

For a number of years now, U.S. "special forces" have been semi-covertly helping the Filipino military hunt and kill Islamofascist rebels in the Philippines. Duterte now says he wants the U.S. military out, and the U.S. can keep its money too.











 
                       EXTRA EXTRA READ ALL ABOUT IT! DUTERTE DUMPS DIRT ON U.S.!


Instead of the U.S. successfully constructing a coalition of nations to contain China, things seem to be going the other way, first with the U.S. gratuitously picking a fight with Russia over the Ukraine, which the U.S. gleefully destabilized, and driving Russia into China's arms (witness a recent multi-billion dollar economic deal and joint naval maneuvers between Russia and China), friendlier ties between India and China, and now the Philippines rushing to embrace China and spurning its long-time dominant political spouse the U.S.

The U.S. is so powerful that it has gotten away with some major blunders (the Indochina War, siding with jihadists against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and fecklessly allowing Pakistan to become a nuclear weapons power, for example), but with China's rise, the stakes may be higher than ever. In the two World Wars, other nations did the heavy fighting and dying, and the U.S. picked up the chips at the end of the games. But all-out war with nuclear-armed China is out of the question, as obviously a land invasion is!

China is ruled by a patient one-party dictatorship that has less pressure from domestic public opinion when it comes to how it conducts foreign affairs than in the U.S. case. It also has a much more unified ruling class, whereas in the U.S. the Republican Party seems determined to destroy the Democratic Party and monopolize political power. No matter what a Democratic president does, even if it is identical with Republican policies, he is attacked by the Republicans. That won't be a problem for the next four to eight years, with a Republican president and Congress, and the Democrats inclined to bark but never bite. But U.S. politicians are still remarkably short-sighted, and this is reflected in its conduct of foreign affairs. Part of this is due to their need to get reelected (every two years in the case of House Representatives). Part is due to Americans' temperamental impatience. And part is a disinterest in history, which to Americans is like intellectual broccoli, something off-putting.

But ironically, it may be the mercurial, notoriously short-attention-spanned Donald Trump who makes some changes. [2]

1]  Here is the Pentagon's statement. The title links to globalsecurity.org, which reproduced the Pentagon statement. If you want to have the Pentagon record you computer ID so they can track you, put you in the NSA database, and maybe plant spyware/malware on your computer, I have also provided the Pentagon's URL for the statement, from global security, below the statement. Note that the type of data the Pentagon admits the drone was collecting is pertinent to anti-sub warfare, especially "sound speed." To destroy subs, one has to track them by listening for them. Sound travels through water at different speeds depending on salinity and temperature, for example. So this drone is not so innocent, to quote a song.

"Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on Incident in South China Sea, Release No. NR-448-16," December 16, 2016.

Using appropriate government-to-government channels, the Department of Defense has called upon China to immediately return an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) that China unlawfully seized on Dec. 15 in the South China Sea while it was being recovered by a U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ship. The USNS Bowditch (T-AGS 62) and the UUV -- an unclassified "ocean glider" system used around the world to gather military oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature, and sound speed - were conducting routine [sic!]operations in accordance with international law about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, Philippines, when a Chinese Navy PRC DALANG III-Class ship (ASR-510) launched a small boat and retrieved the UUV. Bowditch made contact with the PRC Navy ship via bridge-to-bridge radio to request the return of the UUV. The radio contact was acknowledged by the PRC Navy ship, but the request was ignored. The UUV is a sovereign immune vessel of the United States. We call upon China to return our UUV immediately, and to comply with all of its obligations under international law.

http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/1032611/

2] See "Is Trump An Unwitting International Relations 'Realist'?," December 16, 2016.







Friday, December 16, 2016

Is Trump An Unwitting International Relations "Realist"?

"International relations" is an academic field, a subset of "political science," that deals with the relations of nation-states to each other and the system in which they operate. There are various schools of thought within international relations in U.S. academe. One is the "realist" school. Perhaps its leading public exponent today is University of Chicago professor John J. Mearsheimer, a military veteran and self-described "conservative" who was a protege and admirer of Samuel "Mad Dog" Huntington, late of Harvard University. [1]

Two things Trump has been up to create an interesting parallel to a strategic policy advocated by Mearsheimer. They involve Russia, and China.

 Mearsheimer sees China as the only potential competitor and threat to the U.S., a rising power with a population over four times the size of the U.S.' and a rapidly growing economy. China has been flexing its muscles in the South China sea and aggressively claiming ownership over the area. Russia on the other hand is a declining power, in this view. Mearsheimer sees the natural outcome of the U.S.-China power rivalry as a containment strategy, especially if war is to be avoided. He sees the U.S. as the linchpin of a coalition including Russia, Japan, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and others that will surround and contain China. We're already seeing friction between the U.S. and China in the region, and military feints and muscle-flexing by both nations.

President-to-be Donald Trump has been accused for months by the U.S. media, by Democratic operatives, and prior to the November 8th U.S. election by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, of being cozy with Russia and admiring of Russian president Vladimir Putin. This hectoring has continued post-election, by much of the U.S. media, and by Democratic Party poohbahs, accusing Trump of allegedly being "pro-Russia," "friendly" with Putin, even being a Putin stooge.

There is indeed evidence that Trump isn't interested in pursuing the anti-Russian policy of the Obama regime, a policy supported by the elitists of the so-called foreign policy establishment, a claque of unelected people who rotate between cushy seats in government, academia, and various foundations and institutions like the Council on Foreign Relations, the latter functioning like a mother-in-law engaging in backseat driving to presidents and to the State Department.  These people keep accusing Trump of "praising" Putin, apparently because Trump called Putin a "strong leader." (These same carpers consistently brand Putin an "autocrat." So he's a weak autocrat? That's an oxymoron. Of COURSE Putin is "strong," if we accept the U.S. establishment's own insistence that he's an autocrat! That's just a fact. As a matter of logic- and admittedly logic isn't the U.S. blatherariat's strong suit- it's not necessarily a compliment. If I say "Hitler was a strong leader," I can assure you I don't intend it as praise. But let's posit that Trump admires Putin- I think he at least respects him.)

There's also much chatter about Trump's "business ties" to Russia. Evidence of Trump's "business ties" with Russia seem to amount to a lot of Big Talk about deals that never materialized. Trump does a lot of fishing until he finds a sucker to hook.

Stronger evidence of an impending "pro-Russia" tilt comes from Trump's announcement of his pick for Secretary of State: the boss of oil company giant ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson. (Rex by the way comes from Latin, and is defined in English as reigning king.) According to The New Yorker magazine website, Tillerson "has forged close ties with Vladimir Putin and the head of Russia’s state oil company." [2] Putin even awarded Tillerson a medal in 2013, the "Order of Friendship." ExxonMobil has a multibillion dollar deal with the Russian oil firm Rosneft to develop Russian oil fields. This relationship had the necessary blessing of Russian president (excuse me, "autocrat") Putin. (See my previous post for a partially-facetious photo essay on the Tillerson-Putin connection.) U.S. sanctions against Russia (punishment for Russian resistance to the U.S. takeover of Ukraine) have put the Rosneft deal in the deep freeze. ExxonMobil shareholders can look forward to the deal to be thawed out under the Trump regime.

We should expect that Tillerson will safeguard the interests of the company that is his sole adult employer and to which he owes his wealth, contrary to fatuous assertions in the U.S. media that OF COURSE Tillerson will put the U.S. "national interest" (whatever THAT is) first- and it's not just Trump partisans making that ridiculous claim. (I guess these people didn't notice how Hillary Clinton sold favors from her position as Secretary of State to donors to the Clinton Foundation, including a huge uranium mining deal. These propagandist shills will say anything, no matter how patently absurd, to shore up the perceived "legitimacy" of the corrupt U.S. power system.) Money talks, and billions of dollars is a very forceful voice.

Finally there's the ongoing campaign to blame Russia for Trump's victory with the evidence-free claim, now treated as fact, that Putin ordered computer hacking into Democratic computers and delivery of the resulting email caches to WikiLeaks to help Trump. Obama is now threatening retaliation. That needs to be the subject of another essay. Briefly, this ignores the fact that the archaic Electoral College allowed Trump to "win" with fewer votes than Clinton, and that the worst damage to Clinton occurred shortly before election day, when Republican FBI secret police chief James Comey revivified the Clinton private server "scandal" by announcing new evidence in the closed investigation in the form of more emails found on devices seized from disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, the man the media never tires of publicly humiliating for texting pictures of his penis to various women. Comey caused Clinton's lead to plunge from 14% ahead nationally to even with Trump. So the Democrats are scapegoating Putin! Similarly, after the GOP (Gang Of Plunderers) stole the 2000 election, with five GOP agents sitting on the Supreme Court delivering the coup de grace, the Democrats ever since have blamed Ralph Nader. In that election too, the Democrat, Albert Gore, won millions more votes than George W. Bush. (Clinton actually won the nation by 2.5 million votes. Some "democracy." Just imagine if it happened in Russia, what the U.S. media would be saying!)

If it can be anticipated that Trump will pursue a friendlier policy towards Russia, on the China side of the ledger, Trump added minuses, committing what the U.S. establishment considered a gross diplomatic faux pas, namely accepting a congratulatory phone call after his election "win" from the president of Taiwan. This irked the Chinese rulers, who issued a public growl. U.S. establishment elite types added their own disapproving tongue-clucks over Trump's annoying the Chinese tyrants by seeming to call into question the "one China" policy of the U.S. by accepting the phone call. The "one China" policy means the U.S. recognizes China's claim to Taiwan as a mere province of China, not an independent nation as most Taiwanese prefer.

Trump, a habitual counter-puncher, upped the ante, saying in effect So What? The U.S. "doesn't have to be bound" by the old policy. To this China responded with a veiled threat of war, saying if Trump failed to hew to the one China line, it could "threaten peace." [The current U.S. policy is a schizophrenic one of recognizing China's claim to Taiwan as a mere Chinese province, refusing diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which it helped kick out of the UN to appease China, yet on the other hand maintaining a posture of preparing to use military force to protect Taiwan from China! If Taiwan is nothing but a Chinese province, like Florida is a U.S. state, by what right does the U.S. threaten to wage war to "defend" it from the country it is ostensibly a part of? For me, I favor self-determination, and loath repressive dictatorships, so I think Taiwan should be recognized as an independent nation. That is the human perspective on the matter.]

U.S. foreign policy and media elites wasted no time pounding on Trump to try and force him into line on the "established" -that is, preexisting- U.S. policy. An example popped up today even as I write, on the U.S. Government radio propaganda network NPR, on the program "Here and Now," (Dec 12). [NOTE: I ended up not finishing this essay until later.] The program's "security expert," an Imperialist named Jim Walsh, who heads the "Security Studies" program at the elite Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, broke it down for us. Walsh tsk-tsked that Trump wasn't getting the proper "security" briefings- i.e. being indoctrinated by people like Walsh. Opining disapprovingly on Trump announcing he's not bound by the "one China" policy," Walsh said, "it's been settled policy since Nixon;" a U.S. policy "for 30 years;" Taiwan is "a vital interest to China;" "normally it's a bad idea to threaten a nuclear weapons state;"  dropping the policy "could be a dangerous thing;" and "we should be trying to cooperate " with China on things like North Korea. Other NPR programs today similarly piled on Trump. [3] 

Jim The Security Expert would no doubt disagree, but almost all of that applies to how the U.S. has been treating RUSSIA over Ukraine. I say he would probably disagree because there is virtual unanimity in the U.S. establishment that Russia "caused" the Ukraine "crisis." But take each point: Ukraine is a vital strategic interest to Russia- it's on its border, and it has an absolutely vital naval base in the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine. Russia is a nuclear power. And the U.S. needs Russia's cooperation in Syria, among other places, and needed it to conclude a nuclear enrichment deal with Iran stopping Iran's program. But on one point there's a difference. The U.S. has  been consistent in its policy towards Russia. It has extended its policy of unremitting hostility to the U.S.S.R. to Russia. Too consistent, in fact. Sometimes Change Is Good. But the American bourgeoisie only think so when it's something BAD they're cramming down our throats, like job insecurity, "globalization," loss of company pensions, and soon the gutting of Social Security and Medicare, if they can. Or if there's some government they're peeved at and decide to overthrow. Suddenly "stability" doesn't matter and change is the thing.

Add it all up, and you get a friendly rather than hostile attitude towards Russia and a hardened stance against China, in line with the "realist" prescription of Mearsheimer.

Trump of course is too unschooled and ignorant to be consciously subscribing to the Mearsheimer strategy. He's probably never even heard of John J. Mearsheimer, or the Realist school of international relations theory. But his actions and attitudes have been accidentally dove-tailing with the strategy Mearsheimer advocates, at least so far. Ironically, Mearsheimer considered Trump unqualified to be president, but has deemed Obama "basically a realist" in the technical academic sense that Mearsheimer categorizes himself. This despite the fact that Obama has created hostile relations with Russia (by aggressively ripping Ukraine out of Russia's sphere of influence, violently overthrowing the democratically-elected government there using fascist mobs who set policemen on fire- you can view youtube.com videos of this- and sending in false flag snipers to shoot both police and protesters- and for good measure we had Victoria Nuland not just handing out cookies to "protesters" but publicly bragging about the billions spent by the U.S. to achieve its aim, namely subversion of an elected government, which the U.S. euphemizes as "democracy promotion," an Orwellian inversion of dictionary definitions of words- in a country that had a scheduled election coming up in months, where the president to be overthrown offered major concessions to the mob, which at U.S. direction it rejected) with Obama thus driving Russia into the arms of China. The entire Western establishment has dutifully followed along in this moronic and capricious strategy.

China and Russia already have had joint naval maneuvers and signed major economic deals as a result of the irrational policy towards Russia of the U.S., a policy driven by the hyper-aggressive imperialism of the U.S. The U.S. is a nation that won't be satisfied until it controls the entire planet, at which point it will move on to controlling other planets in the solar system. (Actually that's not even facetious. The U.S. military is already plotting to control the immediate space above the earth.)

Of course the U.S. will never achieve true world domination. It cannot dominate China, for one. For another, the world is too fractious to effectively rule, as the quasi-anarchic situation in the Middle East as well as in Somalia, Mali, and other places, demonstrates.)

The truth is, as boorish, ignorant, and improvisational as he is, Trump may accidentally end up following a far wiser foreign policy towards China and Russia than the "experts" have been prescribing! Who'd a thunk it! [4]

1]  "Mad Dog" isn't my sobriquet for Huntington. It was bestowed by his fellow imperialists during the Vietnam War, during which he offered his expertise in helping destroy Vietnam.

2] "Rex Tillerson, from a Corporate Oil Sovereign to the State Department," The New Yorker, December 11, 2016.

3] Another example from NPR,; John Hockenberry brought on to his radio show "The Takeaway"  a creep from the infamous secret police corporation Stratfor, an outfit run by veteran secret policemen that works to attack and delegitimize American dissidents, often using illegal means. The Stratfor ghoul pushed the line of the day, that Russian "hacking" of the U.S. election helped Trump win, which supposedly demonstrates a Trump-Putin Axis. (In the extreme version, Trump is a Putin puppet.) Trump of course actually lost- by which I mean he got fewer votes than Clinton. But the U.S. isn't a normal nation. Here, the loser "wins" if he gets more "Electoral College" votes, a bizarre creation of the slavery-favoring U.S. Constitution. Trump will actually be "elected" in December, when the 500-plus "Electors" meet in their respective state capitals and the District of Columbia to rubber-stamp the preordained outcome with their own "votes."

4]  That's not to endorse Trump. His other appointments have been truly monstrous. A racist for Attorney General, rabid generals for key posts wielding repressive powers, a pro-pollution climate science denying fanatic to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a man at Interior to allow a free-for-all looting of Federal lands in the west and mountain states, and the dunderheaded and corrupt former Texas Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy, a Department Perry vowed to abolish when he ran for president in 2012. And Trump's bankruptcy lawyer, a fanatical Zionist who wants Israel to annex the entire West Bank, as Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. Friedman compares progressive American Jews to Jewish collaborators with the Nazis. Oy vey!

Trump wanted to out-Zionist Hillary Clinton during the campaign, promising to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The Palestinians can expect more suffering, and more death and destruction to be periodically rained down on them. Which is the say, the same they would have gotten with another President Clinton.




Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Just How Chummy ARE Rex Tillerson and Vladimir Putin?

Rex Tillerson, head of ExxonMobil, has done big deals with the Kremlin-connected Russian oil giant Rosneft. Sanctions have interfered with the business. Now that President-To-Be Donald Trump has chosen Tillerson to be his Secretary of State, (assuming Tillerson can get through the required Senate confirmation process), there is much worried fluttering in the media about the choice. The fear on the part of U.S. elites is that this is yet another sign that Trump will reverse the Hate Russia policy that the U.S. has had in effect for years, especially since Russia resisted the U.S. takeover of Ukraine.

The rap on Tillerson is his lack of diplomatic experience (which is a specious  objection, as it is routine for non-diplomats to be made heads of the State Department, not to mention to plum ambassadorships routinely go to richcampaign contributors) and that Tillerson has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which presumably means he will be "soft" on Russia.

Well, just how friendly are the two men? Perhaps these (genuine) photos can provide some clues. A note of caution: some of the captions may be less than wholly accurate.

Hey, I think they really LIKE each other!

 Looks like Vladimir knows exactly where Rex's funnybone is!
(And who's doing the translating here anyway? Does Rex speak Russian?) 

When two men come to trust each other, they confide personal things. Putin is reported to have said to Tillerson, "I get an itchy scalp. You're an oilman, Rex, are tar-based shampoos any good for that?"


Kickin' back in the Kremlin clubhouse, it's obviously not just about business for these two.

It's pretty obvious that Vlad is smitten with his new Best Bro, Rex!

Everybody brace yourselves for a jealous hissy-fit from the U.S. foreign policy establishment!



 

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."