The U.S. Democratic Party showed its true colors in a new ad that the Venezuelan government blasted as “racist arrogance” that puts the late Hugo Chavez in the same category as fascist dictators Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in an effort to cast Republican presidential rival Donald Trump as a dictator-in-waiting.
The Spanish-language ad, aimed at U.S. Latino voters ahead of the Nov. 8 election, features comments by Trump that Clinton should be jailed and his vow to sue media that spread “purposely negative, horrible and false” articles.
“Remind you of anyone?” the video asks before flashing images of the popular socialist Venezuelan leader Chavez.
The clips are selectively edited to portray Chavez as authoritarian but deliberately fail to mention that Chavez and his Bolivarian Revolution won support at the ballot box in over a dozen elections which former Democratic President Jimmy Carter called “the best in the world.”
“It is an expression of racist arrogance and irrationality from a party that does not serve its constituents,” Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said in a statement late Wednesday.
“Chavez is a leader who transcended our time for his democratic nature, his fight for the poor and universal feeling for humanity,” she added.
The video also compares Trump and Chavez, who died in 2013, with European dictators Mussolini and Hitler, and concludes by urging voters to “protect” U.S. democracy. The ad was paid for by the Democratic National Committee in support of Clinton, and was not made by her campaign.
The clip nonetheless serves to show that the U.S. Democratic Party, despite efforts to portray their party as more reasonable than their Republican counterparts, are not beneath manipulation to help their candidate get elected.
The U.S. Department of State, under the leadership of then-Secretary of State Clinton, publicly praised the results of the 2012 Venezuelan presidential elections that saw Hugo Chavez re-elected to a third term.
In statements to the press, then-State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said they “congratulated the Venezuelan people for the high turnout and for the generally peaceful manner in which the election was carried out.”
But while Clinton publicly welcomed improved relations with Venezuela as secretary of state, she privately ridiculed the country and continued to support destabilization efforts.
Venezuela, whose economy is heavily dependent on oil exports and has suffered due to the dramatic drop in the price of oil, has been the subject a vicious media campaign which has portrayed the country as being on the brink of collapse. The ad is an effort to piggyback off that negative press to win support from the Latino community.
However, the effort may backfire as Venezuela’s socialist government enjoys support throughout Latino communities in the United States and even reached out directly to low-income people in the United States through discounted home heating oil.
In the Democratic Party primary race, both Clinton and her opponent Bernie Sanders also tried to tie Chavez into the race, with the latter calling the Venezuelan leader a “dead communist dictator.”
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call for improved relations with Russia during his third debate with rival Hillary Clinton was sneered at as having a “bromance” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Barack Obama said in a speech.
“Your [Republican] party’s nominee for president was kissing up to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, the former KGB officer,” Obama said while campaigning for Clinton at Miami Gardens in Florida on Thursday.
Obama ridiculed Republicans for supporting a presidential candidate who had repeatedly advocated having good relations with Russia and its leader.
“You [Republicans] are OK with your nominee having a bromance with Putin,” he added to cheers from his audience.
In his debate with Clinton on Wednesday night, Trump said he had never met Putin and repeated his previously expressed opinion that good relations between the United States and Russia were desirable. Trump has also called for cooperation with Russia in fighting the Islamic State terror group.
The Chicago Reader has put together a massive, must-read investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s secret budget. The Chicago PD has — for years now — used the spoils of its asset forfeiture program to obtain surveillance equipment like Stingrays. This discretionary spending is done off the city’s books, allowing the CPD to avoid anything that might prevent it from acquiring surveillance tech — like meddling city legislators… or the public itself.
Since 2009, the year CPD began keeping electronic records of its forfeiture accounts, the department has brought in nearly $72 million in cash and assets through civil forfeiture, keeping nearly $47 million for itself and sending on almost $18 million to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and almost $7.2 million to the Illinois State Police, according to our analysis of CPD records.
The Chicago Police Department doesn’t disclose its forfeiture income or expenditures to the public, and doesn’t account for it in its official budget. Instead, CPD’s Bureau of Organized Crime, the division tasked with drug- and gang-related investigations, oversees the forfeiture fund in what amounts to a secret budget—an off-the-books stream of income used to supplement the bureau’s public budget.
The Reader found that CPD uses civil forfeiture funds to finance many of the day-to-day operations of its narcotics unit and to secretly purchase controversial surveillance equipment without public scrutiny or City Council oversight.
It sounds like a lot of money — $72 million in civil forfeiture funds — and it is. But it’s not like this money comes from a few large busts that have seriously affected the city’s drug trade. That may be the rationale for the PD’s convictionless seizing of property and cash (just like “terrorism” is often cited when acquiring surveillance tech ultimately destined for plain vanilla law enforcement use). But in reality, the forfeiture’s rarely do anything more than financially cripple a large number of individuals who have little to anything to do with drug trafficking. The Chicago Reader reports that the median seizure in Illinois is only $530 — hardly an amount one associates with criminal empires. In fact, the normal cash seizure probably sounds more like the following than a breathtaking dismantling of a local drug-running crew.
Ellie Mae Swansey, a 72-year-old retiree living on a fixed income, had her 2001 PT Cruiser seized two years ago when Chicago police arrested her son for drug manufacturing. The costs of simply beginning the long, circuitous, extremely-frustrating battle to reclaim her vehicle were prohibitive.
In order to have a chance at getting their property returned, claimants must put down a bond toward their asset when first submitting the official paperwork. This means that Swansey had to pay $140 (10 percent of her car’s value) just to start the process. Then, to appear in court, she had to pay an additional $177 fee.
To Swansey, who lives on a $655-per-month social security check, these costs are substantial. Successful claimants will have 90 percent of their bond returned; unsuccessful claimants get nothing back.
The extensive investigation, compiled from dozens of FOIA requests*, notes that 90% of the seized funds spent by the CPD went to expected, above-board expenses: vehicles, cellphones, etc. But the rest of it went other places, obscured by redactions and withheld documents. Payments to cellphone forensics companies like CellBrite were uncovered, as were purchases of a license plate reader installed near the CPD’s infamous Homan Square
detention center black site, and $417,000-worth of cell tower spoofers.
The Chicago PD will continue to roll over retirees like Swansey because the laws governing forfeiture in Illinois have completely corrupted the incentives. It’s not about law enforcement or crime prevention. It’s about autonomy, power, and a steady flow of spendable cash.
When a government agency is allowed to handle the forfeiture proceeds it brings in—as is the case with both CPD and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office—it controls both “the sword and the purse,” like an army that is also its own taxing authority. This is according to Lee McGrath, legislative counsel for the Institute for Justice, which seeks to reform civil asset forfeiture laws across the country.
* More on how the Chicago Reader managed to get its hands on this stash of documents.
Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations has held the Israel regime responsible for the desperate plight of the Palestinian nation and exacerbation of tensions in the Middle East.
“The illegal and brutal Israeli occupation continues and causes so much anguish to the Palestinian people, and dangerously inflames tensions on the volatile situation in the region. The Israeli regime continues to breach international law, including humanitarian and human rights. By doing so, it inflicts widespread suffering to civilians and deliberately destabilizes the situation, with far–reaching and serious consequences for peace and security in the Middle East and beyond,” Gholam Ali Khoshroo stated at a Security Council Open Debate on “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” on Wednesday.
He further lambasted the Tel Aviv regime’s systematic violations of Palestinians’ rights and international law, including house demolitions, forced displacement of civilians, detentions of minors, and incessant provocations by illegal settlers and extremists at revered sites, particularly al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Khoshroo said the Israeli regime has continually intensified its illegal and oppressive measures against the defenseless Palestinian population over the past years, killed and injured many civilians, and deprived Palestinians of their right to protection.
The Iranian diplomat then pointed to Israel’s settlement expansion activities in the occupied West Bank, stating that they are in clear breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, constitute war crimes under Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and demonstrate that Israel has never had any interest in peace with the Palestinians and its participation in the so-called peace process has only been aimed at covering up its policy of aggression.
Turning to Israel’s blockade on the impoverished Gaza Strip, the Iranian UN ambassador said the siege “is causing massive deprivation, hopelessness and a grave humanitarian crisis. The destructive impact of such Israeli violations is immense as reflected in rising tensions, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, and deepening among the Palestinian civilian population.”
Khoshroo also blamed illegal foreign intervention, extremism and violence for the ongoing conflicts in Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
“These problems have persisted and deepened because the international community has failed to do its part in dealing with the root causes, and naive trans-regional players have done erroneous actions,” he pointed out.
Saudi Arabia’s military aggression on Yemen
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khoshroo referred to Riyadh’s aerial bombardment campaign against its crisis-hit southern neighbor, stressing that the airstrikes have killed or permanently maimed thousands of civilians, including women and children, displaced millions of people, and turned Yemen from a disadvantaged country into a devastated one.
“All these horrendous and heinous attacks, which display total disregard for human life and international law are happening under the watch of Security Council, which has failed to take any action to stop them,” the Iranian diplomat said.
Saudi Arabia has been engaged in an atrocious campaign against Yemen since March 2015. The United Nations puts the death toll from the onslaught at about 10,000.
Russia insists two Belgium warplanes flying from an Air Force base in Jordan attacked a village in Syria, citing radar data. Belgium denies conducting any airstrikes.
Brussels’ continued denial of the jets movements in the area is Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput “deliberately deceiving people in Belgium and elsewhere in the world, or his subordinates and the Americans are lying to the leadership of Belgium,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said.
An airstrike on the village of Hassadjek in Aleppo province reportedly killed six civilians on Tuesday. Russia has now reiterated its accusations against Belgium, saying data from Russian and Syrian radar stations confirm it.
The two Belgian F-16 jets accused of the attack flew from the Muwaffaq Salti Airbase in Jordan, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said, adding that they were immediately identified.
“Every aircraft type has a unique identifiable signature,” he said.
The Belgian warplanes delivered their strike at the village at 12:35 GMT, about two hours after the take-off, the general said. The attack left six civilians killed and four others injured. The jets were later refueled by a US KC-135 tanker, continued patrolling around the city of Azaz in northwestern Syria and then flew towards Iraq, Konashenkov added.
Belgium earlier denied Russia’s accusations, saying none of its six warplanes contributing to the US-led coalition had flown over the region. The Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to Brussels to voice its protest.
My first book, Fooling America, examined Washington’s excited “conventional wisdom” around the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91 when nearly the entire political-punditry elite was thrilled about bombing the heck out of Iraq, inflicting heavy civilian casualties in Baghdad and slaughtering tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers as they fled from Kuwait.
Ironically, one of the few dissenters from this war lust was right-wing commentator Robert Novak, who actually did some quality reporting on how President George H.W. Bush rejected repeated peace overtures because he wanted a successful ground war as a way to instill a new joy of war among the American people.
Bush recognized that a brief, victorious ground war would – in his words – “kick the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all,” i.e. get Americans to forget their revulsion about foreign wars, a hangover from the bloody defeat in Vietnam.
So Novak, the anti-communist hardliner who often had baited other pundits for their “softness” toward “commies,” became on this occasion a naysayer who wanted to give peace a chance. But that meant Novak was baited on “The Capital Gang” chat show for his war doubts.
To my surprise, one of the most aggressive enforcers of the pro-war “group think” was Wall Street Journal Washington bureau chief Al Hunt, who had often been one of the more thoughtful, less warmongering voices on the program. Hunt dubbed Novak “Neville Novak,” suggesting that Novak’s interest in avoiding war in the Middle East was on par with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Adolf Hitler before World War II.
Months later when I interviewed Hunt about his mocking of Novak’s anti-war softness, Hunt justified his “Neville Novak” line as a fitting rejoinder for all the times Novak had baited opponents for their softness against communism. “After years of battling Novak from the left, to have gotten to his right, I enjoyed that,” Hunt said.
At the time, I found this tit-for-tat, hah-hah gotcha behavior among Washington’s armchair warriors troubling because it ignored the terrible suffering of people in various countries at the receiving end of American military might, such as the Iraqi civilians including women and children who were burned alive when a U.S. bomb penetrated a Baghdad bomb shelter, as well as the young Iraqi soldiers incinerated in their vehicles as they fled the battlefield.
In the 100-hour ground war, U.S. casualties were relatively light, 147 killed in combat and another 236 killed in accidents or from other causes. “Small losses as military statistics go,” Gen. Colin Powell wrote later, “but a tragedy for each family.” In Official Washington, however, the dead were a small price to pay for a “feel-good” war that let President Bush vanquish the psychological ghosts of the Vietnam War.
I also had the sickening sense that this “popular” war – celebrated with victory parades and lavish firework displays – was setting the stage for more horrors in the future. Already, neoconservative pundits, such as The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer, were demanding that U.S. forces must go all the way to Baghdad and “finish the job” by getting rid of Saddam Hussein. A dangerous hubris was taking hold in Washington.
As we have seen in the decades since, the euphoria over the Persian Gulf victory did feed into the imperial arrogance that contributed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. At that moment, when the neocons in George W. Bush’s administration were concocting excuses for finally marching to Baghdad, there were almost no voices among the big-shot commentators who dared repeat Robert Novak’s “mistake” of 1991.
Playing Joe McCarthy
I mention all this now because we are seeing something similar with the Democrats as they lead the charge into a dangerous New Cold War with Russia. The Democrats, who bore the brunt of the Red-baiting during the earlier Cold War, are now playing the roles of Senators Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon in smearing anyone who won’t join in the Russia-bashing as “stooges,” “traitors” and “useful idiots.”
When Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has one of his few lucid moments and suggests that the U.S. should cooperate with Russia rather than provoke more confrontations, he is denounced from many political quarters. But the attacks are most feverish from Democrats looking to give Hillary Clinton a boost politically and a diversionary excuse for her Wall Street speeches that she tried so hard to keep hidden until they were released by WikiLeaks from hacked emails of her longtime adviser John Podesta.
The Obama administration’s intelligence community has claimed, without presenting evidence, that Russian intelligence was behind the Democratic Party hacks as a way to influence the U.S. election, a somewhat ironic charge given the long history of the U.S. government engaging in much more aggressive actions to block the election of disfavored politicians abroad and even to overthrow democratically elected leaders who got in Washington’s way.
Rather than seeking to explain Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street bigwigs and other special interests, Podesta and other Democrats have simply piled on the Russia-bashing with suggestions that Trump is consorting with America’s enemies.
While the Democrats may consider this strategy very clever – a kind of karmic payback for the Republican red-baiting of Democrats during the Cold War – it carries even greater dangers than Al Hunt’s putting down Robert Novak for trying to save lives in the Persian Gulf War.
By whipping up a new set of whipping boys – the “evil” Russians and their “ultra-evil” leader Vladimir Putin – the Democrats are setting in motion passions that could spin out of control and cause a President Hillary Clinton to push the two nuclear powers into a crisis that – with a simple misjudgment on the part of either nation – could end life on the planet.
For a country relatively remote from the world’s trouble spots, Australia throughout its short history since European settlement in the late Eighteenth Century has shown a remarkable capacity to involve itself in other people’s wars. With the possible exception of Japan in World War II none of these wars have posed a threat to Australia’s national security.
In the 1850s, Australia provided troops on behalf of the British in the Crimean War at a time when few Australians would have been able to locate Crimea on a map. Ironically, Tony Abbott as Prime Minister this decade was willing to commit troops to Ukraine, again over Crimea.
But Australian knowledge of historical and geopolitical realities in Crimea appeared no greater in 2014 than in the 1850s. The major difference was the infinitely greater threat to Australia’s national security if such a foolhardy plan had occurred in 2014 and Australian troops had found themselves confronting Russian forces.
Australian troops were also committed to the Boer War in South Africa, World Wars I and II, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, to name just the major conflicts. All of these involvements had two major characteristics in common: at no point (with the possible exception of Japan 1942-45) were Australia’s borders or national security threatened; and each involvement was at the behest of a foreign imperial power, often on entirely spurious grounds. The last four named conflicts above – Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria – had the added dimension of being contrary to international law.
A common justification advanced in support of these foreign adventures is that they constitute a form of insurance policy, with the deaths of tens of thousands of Australian servicemen and women being the premium that has to be paid. If we do not pay these premiums, the argument runs, the “policy” expires and our “great and powerful friends” – the United Kingdom and more recently the United States – will not come to our aid if and when we are, in turn, attacked.
It has never been clear just who these aggressors might be, despite endless manufactured potential foes, nor why Australia feels the need to base its foreign policy thus when scores of countries do not feel similarly threatened nor feel the need to pay such a price for their “security.”
The capacity to have an intelligent debate about whether or not there are other, and better, options, is severely hampered by a number of factors. One of the major factors is the concentration of ownership of the mainstream print media. The Murdoch empire controls 70 percent of the nation’s newspapers and is run by someone who is now an American citizen and no longer resides in Australia. The bulk of the balance is controlled by the Fairfax family who at least reside in Australia.
This concentration of ownership results in a degree of uniformity of opinion that Stalin would have recognized and appreciated. There is a greater diversity of media ownership and opinion in modern Russia than there is in Australia, yet the relentless message in the Australian media is that Russia is an authoritarian state where dissent from an all powerful Vladimir Putin is discouraged or worse. Such a view would be laughable if it were not so dangerous.
The Pervasive ‘Group Think’
Academia is little better. The universities and the so-called “think tanks” rely heavily on subsidies from their American equivalents, or from Australian government departments committed to the government’s policies. There is an obvious reluctance to criticize, for example, American foreign policy when such criticism endangers funding sources, promotions, and comfortable sabbaticals in the U.S.
A recent example of the intellectual drivel that this can lead to was found in the recent publication of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute entitled “Why Russia is a Threat to the International Order,” authored by Paul Dibb, a former spymaster. It was an ill-informed discussion all too typical of what passes for foreign policy analysis. Not only did it demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of Russian strategic policy, it wholly accepted and American-centered view of the world.
In Dibb’s world, the Americans only act from the best of intentions and for the benefit of the people unfortunate enough to to be the object of their attentions. Any analysis of the way U.S. foreign policy is actually practiced is air brushed from the reader’s attention. The treatment of Ukraine is instructive in this regard.
Dibb completely ignores the February 2014 American-organized and financed coup that removed the legitimate Yanukovich government from power. Dibb ignores the military agreement that provided for the stationing of Russian troops in Crimea; that Crimea had for centuries been part of Russia until Khrushchev “gifted” Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 (without consulting the Crimeans); the overwhelming support in two referenda to secede from Ukraine and apply to rejoin the Russian Federation; the discriminatory treatment of the largely Russian-speaking population of the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine; and the Kiev regime’s systematic violation of the Minsk Accords designed to find a peaceable solution to the Ukrainian conflict.
Instead, he writes that Russia’s “invasion” and “annexation” of Crimea and its attempt through military means to detach the Donbass region in the eastern part of Ukraine have to be seen as a fundamental challenge to the post-war sanctity of Europe’s borders. Such historical revisionism and detachment from reality is unfortunately not confined to Dibb. It is all too common in the Australian media in all its forms.
A selective view of the world, of which Dibb is but one example, extends to a sanitizing of the U.S.’s role in post-war history. The U.S. has bombed, invaded, undermined, overthrown the governments of, and destroyed more countries and killed more people in the process over the past 70 years than all other countries in the world combined. Its disregard for international law, all the while proclaiming the importance of a “rules based system,” is well documented.
A particularly egregious but far from unique example is the war in Syria in which Australia is also involved, even to the comical extent of admitting culpability in the “mistaken” bombing of Syrian government troops at Door Ez Zair.
That the bombing was not a mistake but rather, as several commentators have pointed out (although never in the Australian media), was much more likely to have been a deliberate sabotaging by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s Pentagon element of the American war machine of the Kerry-Lavrov negotiated partial ceasefire.
Syrian intelligence has reported intercepts of communications between the U.S. military and the jihadist terrorists immediately before the bombing in which their respective actions were coordinated. The bombing was followed by immediate terrorist attacks on Syrian army positions in the area and is highly unlikely to have been a coincidence.
Cozy with Terrorists
This is, of course, consistent with American policy in Syria from the outset. The U.S. government has sought to maintain a ludicrous distinction between “moderate” terrorists and the rest.
Before the Russian intervention at the end of September 2015, the U.S. managed to avoid actually stopping the Islamic State advance through large swathes of Syrian territory, and together with Washington’s Saudi and Qatari allies have trained, financed and armed the terrorists from the outset. All of which is part of a pattern of U.S. support for terrorists, as long as they support U.S. strategic goals.
No such analysis appears in the Australian mainstream media which maintains an unswerving allegiance to only one form of analysis. This dangerous group think and intolerance of dissent is exemplified in a recent article by Peter Hartcher, the senior political correspondent of the Fairfax media.
Hartcher described what he called “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows” by which he meant opponents in Australia of a war with China. The “rats” were politicians “compromised by China’s embrace”; the “flies” are the “unwitting mouthpieces for the interests of the Chinese regime”; the mosquitoes were Australian business people “so captivated by their financial interests that they demand Australia assume a kowtow position”; the “sparrows” were Chinese students and Australia-Chinese associations that exist “specifically to spread China’s influence.”
In Hartcher’s view all four groups were “pests” that needed to be eradicated. To call this reversion to the worst elements of 1950s McCarthyism is probably to do the late junior Senator from Wisconsin a disservice.
Were it simply a case of ignorance it might be simply consigned to the scrap heap where it richly belongs. But it is representative of the same mindset that has led Australia into so many disastrous foreign policy misadventures that it cannot be ignored. Another reason it cannot be ignored is that it represents and affects a widely held view among Australian politicians.
The demonization of Russia in general and Vladimir Putin in particular is clearly evident in the reporting of the situation in Ukraine and Syria. The ignoring of history and the inversion of reality is the default position. Everything that Russia does is a manifestation of its “aggression.” Putin is commonly described as a “dictator” and the appalling Hillary Clinton even compared him with Hitler.
That there is not a shred of evidence to support the many wild allegations against President Putin does not prevent their regular repetition in the Western media.
Ignoring International Law
Similar blindness is evident with regard to the reporting on Syria. Australia is manifestly in breach of the United Nations Charter in its participation in the attacks upon the Syrian government and its forces. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s laughable defense of the presence of the Australian military in Syria, the central plank of which was specifically denied by the Iraqi government, was nonetheless accepted without question by the Australian mainstream media.
There is more preposterous posturing over the South China Sea. The much vaunted “freedom of navigation” demanded for shipping in the South China Sea (although no one can point to a single instance of civilian maritime traffic being hindered in any way) is a concept selectively applied. Just ask a Cuban, Palestinian or Yemeni if freedom of navigation is their recent or current experience of American policy.
Australia partakes annually in a U.S.-led naval exercise, Operation Talisman Sabre that rehearses the blockading of the Malacca Straits, a vital seaway for China that along with dozens of military bases (including in Australia), missile systems surrounding China, free trade agreements that pointedly exclude the world’s largest trading nation, and many other aspects designed to “contain” China, are not the activities of a peacefully oriented nation.
Australia not only participates in clearly provocative actions, but the 2015 Defense White Paper is clearly predicated on planning a war with China. Public statements by senior defense personnel, both civilian and military, reflect a militaristic mindset vis-a-vis China that can only be described as magical thinking given the military capacity of the Peoples Republic of China to obliterate Australia within 30 minutes of hostilities actually breaking out is only part of the problem.
That such thinking takes place in a context where China, the perceived enemy, is also the country’s largest trading partner by a significant margin and the source of much of Australia’s prosperity over the past 40 years reveals a strategic conundrum that the politicians have singularly failed to come to grips with. Worse, it is not even considered a matter worthy of sustained serious discussion.
By its conduct both in Syria and the South China Sea, Australia runs the risk of becoming involved in a full-scale shooting war with both Russia and China. Viewed objectively, there is little doubt that in any such conflagration Russia and China enjoy significant military advantages. Even that superiority is not to be entertained. Instead, Australia pursues the purchase of hugely expensive submarines and F-35 fighter planes the strategic and military value of which is at best dubious and more probably, useless.
What then is the benefit to Australia of constantly putting itself in a position where the best it could hope for would be collateral damage? No rational human being would advance on a course of action where the detriments so significantly outweigh the benefits, so why should a nation be any different?
With its crumbling infrastructure, endless wars that it regularly loses, a corrupt money-dominated political culture, technologically inferior weaponry and enormous burgeoning debt, the U.S. is hardly a model protector. To believe otherwise is simply delusional.
As the U.S.-based Russian blogger Dimitry Orlov has recently pointed out, Russia’s international conduct is governed by three basic principles: using military force as a reactive security measure; scrupulous adherence to international law; and seeing military action as being in the service of diplomacy. That clearly does not accord with the relentless misinformation Australians are constantly fed but to confuse propaganda with reality is a dangerous basis upon which to formulate foreign policy.
China is also choosing a radically different path in its international relations. The One Belt, One Road, or New Silk Road initiatives, associated as they are with a range of other developments, the significance of which most Australians barely grasp, has the capacity to transform the world’s financial, economic and geopolitical structures in a remarkably short time.
The choice for Australia is stark. Does it persist in aligning itself with what the late Malcolm Fraser accurately called a “dangerous ally”? Or does it recognize that the world upon which its comfortable and dangerous illusions are based is rapidly changing and adjust its alliances accordingly.
At the moment Australia has the luxury of choice, but it is an opportunity that will vanish very quickly. Unfortunately, the lesson of history is that Australia will again make the wrong choice.
James O’Neill is a former academic and has practiced as a barrister since 1984. He writes on geopolitical issues, with a special emphasis on international law and human rights. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
Robbie Martin of AVeryHeavyAgenda.com joins us to talk about his research into the anthrax attacks of 2001. We discuss how false information claiming an Iraqi link to the attacks was sowed via the mainstream media and how the story largely disappeared when the anthrax traced back to the US government’s own bioweapons labs. We also update the case and talk about some of the legitimate suspects in the attacks.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Beijing on Tuesday on a 4-day visit that Beijing calls ‘historic’. We are about to witness probably one of the most dramatic turnarounds in the geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific since the Vietnam War ended. Philippines is the US’ oldest ally in Asia and Duterte is just inches away from dumping an accord that gives the US access to five military bases in the Philippines. The US’ rebalance strategy may never be the same again as long as Duterte, who took over on June 30, remains in power. (New York Times )
That Duterte chose China for his first visit outside the ASEAN region itself carries much symbolism. At least 200 members of the Philippine business elite are traveling with him, signalling the strong desire in Manila to form a new commercial alliance with China. Interestingly, one of the ideas mentioned is a deal with China to jointly explore energy sources in the South China Sea – to begin with in the uncontested areas closer to the Philippines known internationally as Reed Bank.
Manila sees this as an important confidence-building measure, with neither country making demands on the other on issues of sovereignty but placing accent on developing a more comfortable working relationship in ‘win-win’ spirit so that they can tiptoe toward discussing the more sensitive areas of the South China Sea in future in more agreeable setting. An equivalent, from the Indian perspective, might be to seek Chinese collaboration to develop our northeastern states lying adjacent to Arunachal Pradesh.
Ahead of Duterte’s arrival in Beijing, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that the state visit would be a ‘success’. Wang said China ‘highly values’ the visit. China has refused to accept the ruling by the arbitration tribunal at The Hague in July on the South China Sea and Duterte, on his part, has downplayed it. The western analysts who predicted doomsday scenario have been proven wrong.
Beijing disclosed at a media briefing on Tuesday that it will expand trade links with the Philippines, encourage businesses to invest there, and strengthen bilateral infrastructure construction and human resources training. A Commerce Ministry spokesman said in Beijing that preparations are actively under way for announcements on bilateral economic and trade cooperation during the visit.
In an interesting remark, a scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Dr Zhong Feiteng told The Beijing News that as a big country with a long history, China is increasingly viewing its neighboring areas as a whole. “Beijing should take a long view when dealing with Manila,” he said. “(It should) see the Philippines as an important node in its 21st-century Maritime Silk Road initiative, and build a new maritime order that connects the East and South China Seas.”
In overall terms, we may expect that China’s approach during this visit would be to defuse tensions with the Philippines by promising economic support. A litmus test of the extent to which China is prepared to show goodwill would probably lie in Beijing giving conditional access to Philippine fishermen to waters around the disputed Scarborough Shoal. Analysts do not rule [out] such a possibility happening during Duterte’s visit.
Nonetheless, China too may choose to progress slowly on the track of dialogue and cooperation with the Philippines. The fact of the matter is that the US still enjoys a far better image amongst the people in the Philippines. A recent survey showed that only 22 percent of the people reposed ‘trust’ in China, while the corresponding figure for the US stood at 76 percent. Then, there are the entrenched interest groups among the elites who are not impressed by Duterte’s apparent foreign-policy ‘tilt’ against the US.
What goes against the US at the present juncture is also that with only a few months left in office, the Obama administration is hardly in a position to invoke its powerful lobbies in the Manila elites (civilian and military) to launch a vigorous rearguard action to shore up the alliance with the Philippines from Duterte’s relentless onslaught. Indeed, that respite leaves with Duterte a free hand to keep pecking at the alliance with the US at random without caring about a backlash at least until the next presidency settles down in Washington. And, of course, he does have a way of saying things that many would consider as unsayable. (Guardian )
Having said that, the bottom line is Duterte happens to be the democratically-elected president of his country and his people adore him. His approval rating currently stands at an incredible level — 90 percent. Read a report on Duterte’s interview with Xinhua news agency, here.
Undercover Video Reveals Clinton Campaign’s Role In Inciting Violence & ‘Anarchy’ At GOP, Trump Rallies
Perhaps the most explosive revelation of recent days didn’t come from WikiLeaks, but from an undercover investigation by the conservative political activist James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas Action.
The investigation, Part I of which was released on YouTube on Monday, found direct coordination between Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and political consultants to incite violence and “anarchy” at Donald Trump rallies.
Rumors of paid agitators have circulated for the duration of the presidential race, but these murmurs were unconfirmed until Clinton and DNC insiders were caught on video describing the full extent of the practice. In addition to O’Keefe’s undercover investigation, evidence of efforts to pay and train activists to disrupt GOP events can also be found in WikiLeaks’ ongoing release of the emails of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.
In the Project Veritas video, Clinton campaign operatives admit to inducing the notorious, headline-topping violence at multiple events, including the violent, belligerent clash in Chicago in March that forced the Trump campaign to cancel a planned rally.
“So, the Chicago protest, when they shut all that, that was us,” Aaron Minter, who goes by the name Aaron Black in an apparent attempt to shield his identity, tells the undercover journalists. “It was more him [Bob Creamer, founder of Democracy Partners] than me; but none of this was supposed to come back to us, because we want it coming from people, we don’t want it to come from the [Democratic] party.”
Project Veritas infiltrated consulting firm Democracy Partners and its contractor, the Foval Group, to expose the methodological agitation known as “bird dogging.” In the process, the investigation sheds light on both organizations’ overt and deliberately covert ties to the Clinton campaign.
Read MoveOn members pose as “RepubliCorp” at Boehner fundraiser last night from the Wikileaks release of the Podesta emails:
“So, if we do a protest, and if it’s branded a DNC protest, right away the press is going to say ‘partisan,’” Minter explains. “But if I’m in there coordinating with all the groups on the ground and sort of playing field general, but they are the ones talking to the cameras, then it’s actually ‘people.’ But if we send out press advisories with ‘DNC’ on them and ‘Clinton campaign,’ [it] doesn’t have that same effect.”
“What I call it is conflict engagement,” Scott Foval, founder of the Foval Group, explains. “Conflict engagement in, in the lines at Trump rallies. We’re starting anarchy here.”
Foval served as national field director of Americans United for Change, a pro-Clinton advocacy group. On Tuesday, the day after the Project Veritas video was released on YouTube, conservative media outlets were reporting that he had been fired.
‘The campaign is fully in it’
The footage shows the extent to which this shadowy machine coordinates with Clinton campaign insiders to ensure GOP and Trump supporters will appear to be racist, violent, and unstable individuals in order to discredit their legitimacy in the public eye.
“It doesn’t matter what the friggin’ legal and ethics people say; we need to win this motherfucker,” Foval says.
Stunningly, as the undercover journalists learned, Hillary Clinton is fully aware of these nefarious acts.
“Hillary, like, is aware of all the work that you guys do, I hope,” a female journalist for Project Veritas says at the beginning of the video.
“The campaign is fully in it,” Creamer replies.
“The [Hillary Clinton] campaign pays the DNC, DNC pays Democracy Partners, Democracy Partners pays the Foval Group, Foval Group goes and executes this shit on the ground,” Foval says.
Footage later shows him describing his relationship with, and admiration for, Creamer:
“I work with Bob Creamer, one to one, all the time. I’m the white hat, Democracy Partners is kind of the dark hat … Bob Creamer is diabolical and I love him for it.”
He also explains how the DNC, the Clinton campaign, and super PACs keep open a constant line of communication, even though such contact is a direct violation federal campaign coordination laws.
“The campaigns and DNC cannot go near Priorities [USA, Clinton’s Super PAC], but I guaran-damn-tee you that the people who run the super PACs all talk to each other and we and a few other people are the hubs of that communication,” Foval explains, clarifying that contact as “a text conversation that never ends” or “an ongoing Pony Express.”
“It’s not as efficient as it could be,” he adds, “but that’s because the law doesn’t allow it to.”
‘There’s a script’
Project Veritas learned that Foval and his associates pay and train agitators to shake up events involving the GOP. Today, this specifically refers to events featuring Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence, but prior to their nomination, agitators inflamed tensions at other Republican rallies.
“There’s a script,” Foval asserts. “There’s a script of engagement. Sometimes the crazies bite, and sometimes the crazies don’t bite.”
He later explains:
“They’re starting confrontations in the line [outside rallies and events]. Right? They’re not starting confrontations in the rally, because once they’re in the rally they’re under Secret Service’s control. When they’re outside the rally, the media will cover it no matter where it happens.”
“The key,” he says, “is initiating the conflict by having leading conversations with people who are naturally psychotic.”
Outside these events, Foval notes, agitators often wear t-shirts with messages considered to be in conflict with GOP messaging and confront Trump’s supporters. This is meant to directly provoke a confrontation and “draw them to punch” the agitator.
But hiring, paying, and coordinating agitators can be risky, Foval tells the undercover journalists, because “what we don’t need is for it to show up on CNN that the DNC paid for X people to … that’s just not going to happen.”
Watch “Rigging the Election – Video I: Clinton Campaign and DNC Incite Violence at Trump Rallies”:
The Clintons with Sir and Lady de Rothschild at a 2003 party / Credit – dailymail.co.uk
Though the influence of money in politics is well-known, many people are amazed to learn that most of that money comes from a very few individuals – the 1% of the 1% as it were. These individuals comprise the global elite, whose mind-boggling fortunes are often used to buy ‘favors’ and even set policy in governments all over the world, not just the United States. Many of these elites made their fortunes through centuries-old banking dynasties. The most infamous of these are undoubtedly the Rothschild family, who have been the world’s wealthiest family for over 200 years.
Indeed, the most well-known Rothschild patriarch, Mayer Amschel Rothschild, once said “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.” The Rothschilds and their international banking cartel, ‘Rothschild & Co,’ are majority owners of numerous corporations spanning nearly every industry. They are also co-owners of numerous private banks including the International Monetary Fund, which essentially functions as a global loan shark with no government or international oversight, as well as many of the world’s central banks, which are private entities despite their associations with federal governments.
Several politicians, especially those who are the most willing to bend over backwards for wealthy interests, have made their careers by catering to the whims of the Rothschilds and other families like them. In US politics today, there is no better example of this archetype than Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In fact, less than two months ago, Clinton flew just 20 miles in a private jet to attend a private Rothschild fundraiser in her honor. Yet, this is just one of the latest examples of her intimate relationship to the banking dynasty.
In emails from her private server made available to the public by WikiLeaks, Clinton’s close relationship to Lady de Rothschild is evident due to their warm exchanges which include phrases such as “You are the best […] Sweet dreams,” “I remain your loyal adoring pal,” and “Much love.” This is significant as, judging by Clinton’s other emails, her communication style is almost always curt and concise, never approaching the outright declarations of affection found only in her exchanges with Lady de Rothschild. Lady de Rothschild, married into the Rothschild family in 2000 after being introduced to Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, who alone is worth $20 billion, at the 1998 Bilderberg Conference. War criminal Henry Kissinger served as the couple’s “match-maker.”
Yet, the most bizarre interaction between Clinton and Lady de Rothschild took place in an email titled “Info for you” (ID#1606), which was sent while Clinton was serving as US Secretary of State. In the email, Clinton tells Lady de Rothschild that she had to ask Tony Blair (then-Prime Minister of England) to accompany her to Israel due to the Middle East peace negotiations taking place at the time. Blair had previously planned to spend the weekend in Aspen, Colorado with the Rothschilds at an unspecified conference, but accepted Clinton’s invitation. Clinton then says “I hope you all understand. […] Let me know what penance I owe you.” For those who are not familiar with the word, penance is defined as follows:
“An act of self-mortification or devotion performed voluntarily to show sorrow for a sin or other wrongdoing.”
Does this sound like something Hillary Clinton would normally say?
Considering that her former bodyguard once said she could “make Richard Nixon look like Mahatma Gandhi,” this seems doubtful. More importantly, why would someone as powerful as Secretary of State literally grovel for forgiveness from a private citizen? The circumstance is truly bizarre considering Clinton offers “penance” or asking the Prime Minister of England to decline an invitation to the Rothschilds’ weekend getaway in order to attend high-stakes peace negotiations. This email clearly shows where the real power is in politics as well as where Clinton’s true loyalty lies.
This Sunday’s New York Times (NYT) article by Amy Chozicko, headlined “Issues in Hillary Clinton’s Past Leave Her Muted in Furor Over Donald Trump” (“Clinton Treads Lightly Amid Furor Over Trump” in the print edition) provides a fine example of how the mainstream press covers up Hillary Clinton’s problems, even when they claim to be reporting on them.
The article introduces itself as explaining Hillary’s “virtual silence” regarding the issues of Donald Trump’s piggish treatment of women—issues that she herself raised in this campaign. The article mentions, in the most non-specific way possible, that she’s an “imperfect messenger” for these issues because of her “missteps” in dealing with her own “husband’s history” of piggish behavior. It alludes to her “role in countering the women who accused him of sexual misconduct” as part of a “painful past” that “haunted Mrs. Clinton last Sunday” when Trump brought some of her husband’s accusers to the debate.
The article goes on at length to quote from Michelle Obama’s speech, to elucidate how Hillary slyly changes the subject to cat videos when asked, and to talk about how she struggles to overcome the electorate’s lingering resistance to a woman president. It mentions how, “without mentioning the accusations against Mr. Trump,” she says things like: “This election is incredibly painful. I take absolutely no satisfaction in what is happening on the other side with my opponent.”
What the article does not do is mention a single specific “misstep” or “imperfection” in the way she “countered” her husband’s “accusers” and verified mistresses. In an article of some 1300 words, there is not one that clearly describes any of the things that Hillary Clinton did and said in that regard—the precise things that cause Hillary to “tread lightly” about Donald Trump’s abusiveness, and cause her the discomfort the article purports to explain.
Despite what Ms. Chozicko does take many words to mention, what puts Hillary in a “complicated place” now is not that she “stayed as a devoted wife to her husband through infidelities and humiliation.” As Melinda Henneberger and Dahlia Lithwick remarked back in 2008: “Sure, her husband’s behavior has humiliated her. But she has also helped him humiliate the women he’s been involved with.”
It was Hillary Clinton who called Gennifer Flowers “trailer trash” and a ”failed cabaret singer who doesn’t even have much of a résumé,” and who got on national television with her husband to ridicule Flowers, who was telling the truth. It was Hillary who called Monica Lewinsky, who was telling the truth, a “narcissistic loony toon.” It was Hillary who described Bill’s mistresses as “bimbos.” Carl Bernstein also told how Hillary not only “thr[e]w herself into efforts to discredit Flowers,” she tried to “persuade horrified campaign aides to bring out rumors that Poppy Bush had not always been faithful to Barbara.”
Hillary could have stood by her man, and said nothing about the women Bill was screwing. Instead, she chose to publicly and aggressively slut-shame and ridicule those women in order to actively support her husband’s lies about them. Hillary Clinton did to those women what Clarence Thomas and Alan Simpson did to Anita Hill. To quote Henneberger and Lithwick again: “If her biggest fans knew who she really blamed—other women—they might not still be fans.”
That’s what’s causing Hillary to “tread lightly” now, and that’s what you’d never know from reading this NYT article, even though it’s exactly what the article purports to explain. Furthermore, the NYT and the author know these facts and have deliberately chosen to hide them within vague terms like “imperfections” and, you know, “It’s complicated.” For the Times, what occurred between Hillary and these women has all been so “painful” and “haunting”—for Hillary. That’s a kind of rhetorical protection that the NYT would never offer one of its/the Democratic establishment’s political opponents.
In other words, the NYT article is not a good-faith attempt to inform us about, and analyze, Hillary’s problem. It’s an effort to hide it. Rather than explain Hillary’s avoidance, Ms. Chozicko mimics it.
This whole rigmarole reflects a fundamental problem: Does anybody really contend, in a principled and consistent way, that a candidate’s (man or woman) personal nasty sexual behavior in itself disqualifies that person for the presidency? Or doesn’t everyone actually use that issue only opportunistically—to attack the candidate they don’t like for other political reasons?
Lyndon Johnson used to wave around his dick—which he called Jumbo—and once forced himself on a White House secretary, showing up at her bed and ordering her to ”Move over. This is your president.” Is any Democratic Party liberal going to say we should denounce his presidency solely on that behavior (straight-up rape!), or will they insist on prioritizing things like the Civil Rights Act and Medicare? (For that matter, will his opponents not prioritize things like the Vietnam War?) Will any of them judge Richard Nixon to be a better president or political persona because he was more “correct” in his sexual behavior?
This is not just about how things went in the past, either: If Corey Booker runs against Marco Rubio eight years from now, and someone unearths incidents about Corey like those now being unearthed about Trump, will Chris Hayes, or Rachel, or Michelle say that Booker is then disqualified? Or will they say—as many of the same people attacking Trump today said about Bill Clinton yesterday—that’s “just about sex” and shouldn’t disqualify him to be president? And besides, it’s the most important election ever!
Sure, it’s harder to get away with now, as it should be, but, when making a political judgement, a person’s loutish sexual behavior is always going to be relativized and judged as less decisive than their policy positions—by his or her supporters, at least. Like it or not, people’s sexual and political personae are frequently in contradiction, and there’s no cure. Even those for whom women’s issues are of paramount importance will find it hard not to prefer a personally sexist candidate who supports abortion rights, contraceptive availability, maternity leave, etc., over a personally impeccable candidate who doesn’t. Many did exactly that with Bill Clinton, and will do so again.
Those who did not, do not, and would not reject Johnson or Kennedy or Bill Clinton or the next Democratic iteration thereof, despite his piggish sexism, because other politics outweigh that fault, can’t really look down on supporters of other candidates who make exactly the same kind of calculation. Whether you vote for a piggish genital-grabber because s/he won’t criminalize abortion, or because s/he won’t start WWIII, you’re prioritizing policy over personal behavior. What’s annoying are those who sanctimoniously insist that everyone must reject a candidate because of his/her personal sexual behavior, when it’s obvious that they really don’t believe that at all.
In the present case, there are a thousand reasons to reject Donald Trump, and his piggishness makes for a nice part of the mix. Still, one might think it’s important to get seriously into those other political issues, to compare positions on things like the economy, war, etc. We’re not so much on that terrain anymore, are we?
The United States just launched a military attack on the poorest country in the Arab world? Obama is considering starting WWIII in defense of al-Qaeda? Hey, let’s interview this woman who sat next to Donald Trump on an airplane thirty years ago. Diversion, anyone?
Barring a deus ex machina, Trump is now effectively toast, having been burned to a crisp over the last two weeks by the issue of his sexual aggressiveness, which was pursued relentlessly by the Clintonites and the press as a disqualifier.
Nothing to regret about that result, but it is to be remarked how, once that issue is stoked, it becomes an unstoppable train that flattens everything else, starting with the candidate it was aimed at. It wasn’t his vicious, racist remarks about Muslims, or about the Central Park Five, that quickly and definitively steamrolled The Donald; it was grabbing pussy. We should be wary of those who are so gleeful about having this train barreling down the track at Trump, and who have, and would again, object to that same dynamic if it were threatening to crush their favored politician.
We should remark, too, how Hillary played and fared in this game. It was she who started this fire, when, at the very end of the first debate, she brought up Trump’s derogatory remarks about women, and his fat-shaming of Alicia Machado. Then there appeared, fortuitously, the Access Hollywood tape, ensuring that the issue would be pursued. As the NYT article says, Hillary then retreated into her cone of “virtual silence” on the subject, leaving the heavy-hitting to Michelle and crew. Hillary can continue to “tread lightly,” insisting that she takes “absolutely no satisfaction” in what is happening to Trump. Absolutely.
Donald provided an easier target than Poppy.
And when Trump, at the next debate, brought in some of the women whom Hillary slut-shamed, the network commentators were aghast at how he was using these confused and troubled women for his political advantage, and dragging the Presidential campaign into the gutter.
The net result is that Hillary did not just go “virtually silent” about Trump, she virtually stopped campaigning at all. She decided to spend most of her time squirreled away in “debate prep,” far from unmanaged questions—letting the media and his own big mouth finish off Trump, confident that her enormous ad buys in the last couple of weeks will seal the deal.
So, Hillary gets to raise the issue, and then hide from it. And the NYT helps her, with an article that pretends to explain why she’s hiding from the issue, but is itself actually hiding the real reasons from its readers. She throws a stink bomb into the campaign, and then runs off to be showered and perfumed by the press, which casts her aggressive slut-shaming as “imperfection.” Catch me if you can.
Certainly well played, and Hillary supporters may delight in the result. But no one should be surprised at how many people—from right to left—see through this hide-and-seek, know right where Hillary and the establishment press stand, and, when not enraged at, are increasingly bored with, how this game is always played.