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“Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen.” 17 August 2019

Sun, 2019-08-18 05:38

Eric Zuesse

On August 17th, an anonymous German intelligence analyst who has perhaps the world’s best track-record of publicly identifying and announcing historical turning-points, and who is therefore also a great investigative journalist regarding international relations (especially military matters, which are his specialty) headlined at his “Moon of Alabama” blog, “Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen”, and he opened:

Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen. It has no defenses against new weapons the Houthis in Yemen acquired. These weapons threaten the Saudis economic lifelines. This today was the decisive attack:

Drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia’s sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a “limited fire” in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry.  …

The Saudi acknowledgement of the attack came hours after Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, issued a video statement claiming the rebels launched 10 bomb-laden drones targeting the field in their “biggest-ever” operation. He threatened more attacks would be coming.

New drones and missiles displayed in July 2019 by Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces [photo]:

bigger

Today’s attack is a check-mate move against the Saudis. Shaybah is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory. There are many more important economic targets within that range.  …

The attack conclusively demonstrates that the most important assets of the Saudis are now under threat. This economic threat comes on top of a seven percent budget deficit the IMF predicts for Saudi Arabia. Further Saudi bombing against the Houthi will now have very significant additional cost that might even endanger the viability of the Saudi state. The Houthi have clown prince Mohammad bin Salman by the balls and can squeeze those at will.

He went on to say that the drones aren’t from Iran but are copies from Iran’s, “assembled in Yemen with the help of Hizbullah experts from Lebanon.”

He has been predicting for a long time that this war couldn’t be won by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud (MbS). In the present report, he says:

The war on Yemen that MbS started in March 2015 long proved to be unwinnable. Now it is definitely lost. Neither the U.S. nor the Europeans will come to the Saudis help. There are no technological means to reasonably protect against such attacks. Poor Yemen defeated rich Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi side will have to agree to political peace negotiations. The Yemeni demand for reparation payments will be eye watering. But the Saudis will have no alternative but to cough up whatever the Houthi demand.

The UAE was smart to pull out of Yemen during the last months.

If he is correct (and I have never yet found a prediction from him turn out to have been wrong), then this will be an enormous blow to the foreign markets for U.S.-made weapons, since the Sauds are the world’s largest foreign purchasers of those, and have spent profusely on them — and also on U.S. personnel to train their soldiers how to use them. So (and this is my prediction, not his), August 19th might be a good time to sell short U.S. armament-makers such as Lockheed Martin.

However: his prediction that “the Saudis will have no alternative but to cough up whatever the Houthi demand” seems to me to be the first one from him that could turn out to have been wrong. If the Sauds have perpetrated, say, $200 billion of physical damage to Yemen, but refuse to pay more than $100 billion in reparations, and the Housis then hit and take out a major Saudi oil well, isn’t it possible that the Sauds would stand firm? But if they do, then mightn’t it be wrong to say, at the present time, that: “Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen.”? He has gone out on limbs before, and I can’t yet think of any that broke under him. Maybe this one will be the first? I wouldn’t bet on that. But this one seems to me to be a particularly long limb. We’ll see!

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Trump Wants National Forests to Become Clear-Cut for Lumber

Sun, 2019-08-18 02:32

article from a local newspaper, submitted here by Eric Zuesse

Following is an abbreviated version of an article from the 15 August 2019 Addison County Independent newspaper in Vermont:

http://www.addisonindependent.com/news/proposed-change-would-cut-public-input-green-mtn-national-forest

Proposed change would cut public input in Green Mtn National Forest

Thu, 08/15/2019 – 12:55pm By Christopher Ross.

If a proposed change in federal land use rules goes through, … [national forests] could see a lot more commercial logging, road building and utility corridors — all without environmental review or public input.

“Basically, the rules would take the ‘public’ out of public land management,” said Jamey Fidel, Forest and Wildlife Program Director for the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC).

At issue is a proposal by the United States Forest Service (USFS) to revise the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is the foundation of environmental policy making in the United States. It requires agencies like the USFS to analyze the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions.

The USFS proposal would drastically alter those requirements by greatly expanding the number and type of projects that would count as “categorical exclusions,” which can be approved without environmental assessments or impact statements.

Projects the USFS would reclassify as “categorical exclusions” include:

• Commercial logging, including clear cutting, on areas up to 4,200 acres at a time.

• Building new roads through the forest up to five miles at a time.

• Reconstructing old roads through the forest up to 10 miles a time.

• Bulldozing up to four miles of pipeline and utility rights-of-way through the forest.

• Closing roads and trails used for recreational purposes.

• Adding illegally built roads and trails to the official USFS road and trail system.

New rules would also allow the USFS to bypass public input on nearly every project decision.

According to estimates from a number of forestry and environmental organizations, the proposal would eliminate public and environmental review from more than 90 percent of all USFS projects. …

The deadline for commenting is Aug. 26. [After that time, no public comments will be accepted.]

“Please make your comments specific and unique to your concerns and relate your comments to a particular national forest …

According to the Forest Service website, comments may be submitted:

• online via https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=FS-2019-0010-0001 (Note: This info has been updated from the print version of this article.)

• or by mail to NEPA Services Group, c/o Amy Barker, USDA Forest Service, 125 South State St., Ste. 1705, Salt Lake City, UT 84138.

• or by email to nepa-procedures-revision@fs.fed.us. …

Reach Christopher Ross at christopherr@addisonindependent.com.

Progressive Issues Promoted by Republican Not Democratic Newsmedia

Sat, 2019-08-17 22:00

Eric Zuesse

By far the largest online audience of all Republican Party news-sites is Breitbart News, whose major stories typically have over a thousand reader-comments; and, so, that site will be the source for the articles which will here be discussed.

Breitbart featured on August 8th and 9th four news reports that focused-in on what is actually the shocking conservatism of two Democratic Party Presidential candidates, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg. Perhaps Democratic Party voters can’t recognize how conservative those two Democratic Party Presidential candidates actually are, but Breitbart News does, and they are here pointing it out. Must one go to conservative sites, such as Breitbart, in order to have that pointed out? Apparently so.

The openings of each of those four news-reports will be posted below, and, after them, will be posted my comments on the ways in which each report is referring to the authoritarianism, and/or racism, of the given Democratic Party candidate, as reflecting a degree of conservatism that I, a progressive, would never vote for in a candidate (though liberals and conservatives might find them to be quite acceptable):

——

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/08/08/joe-biden-poor-kids-are-just-as-bright-and-just-as-talented-as-white-kids/

Joe Biden: ‘Poor Kids Are Just as Bright and Just as Talented as White Kids’

8 August 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed that “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids,” while addressing the Asian and Latino Coalition in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday.

“We should challenge these students, we should challenge students in these schools to have advanced placement programs in these schools,” the former vice president said when discussing the need to improve America’s education system. “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor you cannot do it, poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”

Biden quickly attempted to clarify his remarks by adding “wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids” to the end of his previous sentence. …

——

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/08/09/oh-joe-biden-confuses-ex-british-pm-theresa-may-with-margaret-thatcher-again/

Biden Confuses Ex-British PM Theresa May with Margaret Thatcher [Again]

9 August 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday night mixed up the name of the former British Prime Minister Theresa May with Margaret Thatcher – who left office in 1990.

This is the second time in a matter of months he has found himself struggling to correctly name the leader – current or otherwise – of ally Great Britain.

[Biden, addressing the Asian & Latino Coalition PAC on August 9th, about Trump’s evil statement which had called the racist KKK “good people” said: “You had people like Margaret That[cher] — excuse me [and he didn’t follow that by the words “Theresa May,” to correct himself, because he had forgotten her name]. You had people like the former chairman and the leader of the party [he didn’t know its name] in Germany. You had Angela Merkel [finally, he did get something right] stand up and say how terrible it was. International leaders looked at us like what in God’s name is happening in the United States of America?” However, Biden lied there, because what those leaders were condemning wasn’t Trump’s appalling statement about the KKK’s violent march in Charlottesvile, but instead they were condemning the KKK’s violence there. Biden lied there to allege that they had condemned Trump’s vile statement about that march. The foreign leaders strongly condemned the KKK’s “evil attack,” not America’s President. This is how Biden speaks to a PAC to pander for its donations — ignoring the actual policy-issues, and lying to appeal to their already existing preconceptions and peeves]

——

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/08/09/flashback-joe-biden-repeatedly-praised-george-wallace/

Flashback: Joe Biden Repeatedly Praised George Wallace

9 August 2019

Joe Biden compared President Donald Trump to the late-Alabama Gov. George Wallace (D) on Wednesday, despite his own history with the once ardent segregationist.

Biden, who in recent months has faced controversy for praising two segregationist Democrats with whom he served in the United States Senate, made the comments on Wednesday during an address in Burlington, Iowa.

The speech was billed by Biden’s campaign as a discussion about the “battle for the soul of our nation” in the wake of a string of mass shootings. Instead of suggesting more funding for mental health or new gun control measures — two of the usual solutions proposed in the aftermath of such tragedies — Biden laid the blame directly on Trump, claiming the president had encouraged hatred and disunity among the American people.

“We’re living through a rare moment in this nation’s history. Where our president isn’t up to the moment,” the former vice president said. “Where our president lacks the moral authority to lead. Where our president has more in common with George Wallace than George Washington.”

The comparison was not totally surprising, given that Biden has escalated his attacks on the president in recent days, even likening him to the Ku Klux Klan on Monday. It did, however, strike some as odd because of Biden’s own long history of invoking and at time praising the late-Alabama governor.

“I think the Democratic Party could stand a liberal George Wallace — someone who’s not afraid to stand up and offend people, someone who wouldn’t pander but would say what the American people know in their gut is right,” Biden told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1975 when discussing why liberals should not “apologize for locking up criminals.” …

——

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/08/09/pete-buttigieg-the-press-is-never-the-enemy-of-the-people/

Pete Buttigieg: ‘The Press Is Never the Enemy of the People’

9 August 2019

Mayor Pete Buttigieg defended the role of the media on Thursday, criticizing the president for branding them the “enemy of the people.”

“At a time like this when the press are under daily assault it is important, I think, for candidates whether the coverage on any given day is critical or supportive or somewhere in between, know that the press is never the enemy of the people,” Buttigieg said. …

——

MY COMMENTS

“Joe Biden: ‘Poor Kids Are Just as Bright and Just as Talented as White Kids”

This is a very good example of the most egregious sort of liberal racism: the idea that the basic problem in America is between ethnic groups (or cultures), and not between economic groups (or classes) — between, in this instance, Blacks versus Whites, and not between billionaires (and the people and corporations who represent them in the U.S. Government) versus everyone else (the general public).

Obviously, Joe Biden is a White who has been so cloistered for so long and surrounded by rich and privileged Whites, so that he views the main barrier that’s faced by Blacks in our society as being that they are black, instead of that they are lower-income and lower-wealth than he and his fellow-Whites (almost all of them elite, and millionaires, such as himself) are. He doesn’t recognize how privileged he is, and how America’s poor — of all  ethnicities and races — face discrimination in practically every aspect of their lives. Whereas America has many highly honored Blacks, there are almost no highly honored poor people, of any  ethnicity or race. To be poor is to be heavily discriminated-against, in our society, as in most societies. All Senators are members of America’s elite, and Joe Biden might not be a racist, but he is certainly a classist — very authoritarian, very supremacist, very elitist. Anyone who isn’t a member of the elite would have to be stupid to think that Biden is, in his heart, “one of us,” in any significant regard. He has made clear, by his record, that he is not. For such politicians, the only value a poor person has, to him or her, is as a sucker who will vote for that politician, but such politicians never really represent an ordinary person’s class. It’s not in such a politician’s heart. However, elite persons, of other races, can be, and are, widely respected in America.

This comment by Biden, “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids,” assumes that all ”poor kids” are black. He’s probably not so stupid as actually to think that all Blacks are poor, but he slipped up here, and let spill out what he really feels: that Black people are poor people. He believes that the American economy is an engine of justice, and not an engine that’s run by the billionaires, for their own interest, and heavily weighted against not only the poor, but against everyone who doesn’t own or control a major corporation or the lobbying or advertising or PR or legal firm, or think tank, for one of those. He’s surrounded by the rich, and those (and his own family) are his ‘good’ people. He’s actually remarkably like Trump. His votes, his actual actions as a public official, in the U.S. Senate, reflect and have always reflected this — what he feels — not what he tells voters, which is a very sugar-coated version of the real Joe Biden. Though Trump panders to Republican Party megadonors, Biden panders to Democratic Party megadonors.

In his sugar-coated version, all that’s needed by black children (and for poor children black white or otherwise) is “we should challenge students in these schools to have advanced placement programs in these schools.” But “students” don’t have the power to add such programs — their maybe poverty-stricken school districts do, and maybe other needs there are even higher priority for the meager dollars at their disposal. Furthermore: not all  children need, or can benefit from, college and university training (the thing that’s focused on in advanced-placement and college-preparatory courses). What about children who are gifted in one or more of the arts? What about children who are gifted at mechanics, etc.? The four-year college regimen can be just a waste of money for many of the most-authentically-gifted students. The idea to the contrary isn’t only elitist and very not-progressive, but it wastes an enormous amount of expenditures personally, and governmentally, promoting such an elitist conception of — essentially — a cookie-cutter approach to education. Whereas that elitist view of education pumps up the incomes to colleges and universities and lenders for student loans, and so is very profitable for some extremely influential people and billionaires, it’s wrong for the country, and no child should be pushed into any cookie-cutter whatsoever. Either Biden there was playing up to those influential people and billionaires, to get their donations, or else he’s incredibly stupid. In either case: he can’t become a good President.

“Biden Confuses Ex-British PM Theresa May with Margaret Thatcher [Again]”

Biden routinely misrepresents things. The problem isn’t merely his mediocre intelligence, because always his misrepresentations reflect his propaganda-agenda: he’s actually aiming to fool voters, instead of to inform or educate them.

“Flashback: Joe Biden Repeatedly Praised George Wallace”

This news-report itself mixes its own deceptions into an authentic report about Biden’s hypocrisy, and his hypocrisy is shown there, where it said:

“I think the Democratic Party could stand a liberal George Wallace — someone who’s not afraid to stand up and offend people, someone who wouldn’t pander but would say what the American people know in their gut is right,” Biden told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1975 when discussing why liberals should not “apologize for locking up criminals.”

He was speaking as if a bigot can be “liberal,” but that’s true only for a “liberal” who is more of a conservative than a progressive — and yet Biden calls himself “progressive,” and never acknowledges that he, himself, is a conservative liberal. He just tries to fool progressives into thinking that he’s one of them — which he never has been.

Furthermore: he never did anything, as a federal official, to lock up the type of criminals who donate large sums to his Party — the liberal billionaires, some of whom have poisoned, endangered, and outright murdered, more people by signing a document than a thousand penitentiary-occupants (most of whom are poor) did. As a conservative, he favors only “locking up criminals” of the poor type. That’s the worst type of public official.

“Pete Buttigieg: ‘The Press Is Never the Enemy of the People’”

Was the press an enemy of the people when George W. Bush lied Americans into invading and destroying Iraq on 20 March 2003 and this nation’s press served him as the stenographers of his lies instead of served the American public as the investigators and exposers of his lies? And the same happened when the Liar-In-Chief was Barack Obama — not just about Syria, but about Ukraine, and about Russia, and even about Wall Street (and much else). In regards to all of those crucial matters (and practically all other crucial issues), virtually all of the press (that’s all major media, and also the ‘alt-news’ media that likewise are effectively controlled by America’s billionaires) are, indeed, “Enemies of the People”: stenographic reporters of what government officials allege to be the case — and this fact, of a stenographic ‘news’-media, is widely recognized by  the American people, as is documented, for example, here:

http://maristpoll.marist.edu/wp-content/misc/usapolls/us170621_PBS_NPR/NPR_PBS%20NewsHour_Marist%20Poll_National%20Nature%20of%20the%20Sample%20and%20Tables_Democracy_Trust_July%202017.pdf#page=11

NPR/Marist Poll, 1,205 American Adults, 21-25 June 2017

“How much do you trust the media?”

A great deal 8%

A good amount 22%

Not very much 31%

Not at all 37%

That’s 68% saying either “not very much” or “not at all,” and it contrasts to 30% saying “a great deal” or “a good amount.” Therefore, fortunately, already, the vast majority of Americans recognize that Buttigieg is an elitist liar.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

The Likely Outcome of Narendra Modi’s Unconstitutional Seizure of Kashmir

Sat, 2019-08-17 06:57

Eric Zuesse

An independent fact-finding mission into the now military-ruled constitutionally autonomous Indian state of Jammu-Kashmir (commonly referred to simply as “Kashmir”) reports that “The whole of Kashmir is, at the moment, a prison, under military control.” That’s not on account of any rebellion which had occurred there (none did); it is instead simply because of a blitz unconstitutional invasion, on August 5th, of virtually only Hindu Indian troops, into the now Hindu-totalitarian-run nation of India’s only majority-Muslim state, so as to conquer it totally, and thus to now turn India into an apartheid-supremacist regime, much like Israel is over Palestine. Kashmir has suddenly been turned into India’s own Palestine. The land there was suddenly grabbed and turned into a huge prison for Muslims.

The longer that a Constitution is, the more unmanageable and less just the country or other state tends to be, and India unfortunately has one of the world’s two longest Constitutions. Wikipedia says that “The Indian constitution is the world’s longest for a sovereign nation.[b][3][4][5] At its enactment, it had 395 articles in 22 parts and 8 schedules.[16] At about 145,000 words, it is the second-longest active constitution – after the Constitution of Alabama [that’s the American state of Alabama] – in the world.[34]”

When Narendra Modi suddenly announced on August 5th that the Constitutionally guaranteed autonomy of India’s only majority-Muslim state, Kashmir-Jammu, or “J&K,” is now past history, no longer in effect, the brilliant “Moon of Alabama” blogger immediately headlined — and explained why — “India Will Come To Regret Today’s Annexation Of Jammu And Kashmir”. He provided this historical background:

In July 1949, Sheikh Abdullah and three colleagues joined the Indian Constituent Assembly and negotiated the special status of J&K, leading to the adoption of Article 370. This article limited the Union’s legislative power over Kashmir to the three subjects in the Instrument of Accession. If the Union government wanted to extend other provisions of the Indian Constitution, it would have to issue a Presidential Order under Article 370. The state government would have to give prior concurrence to this order. Moreover, the constituent assembly of J&K would have to accept these provisions and incorporate them in the state’s constitution. Once Kashmir’s constitution was framed, there could be no further extension of the Union’s legislative power to the state. This secured J&K’s autonomy.

Incidentally, this was the reason for listing the provisions of Article 370 as “temporary” in the Indian Constitution: the final contours of the state’s constitutional relationship with the Union were to be determined by the constituent assembly of J&K.

Today Amit Shah, the leader of India’s Upper House, announced the unilateral revocation of Article 370 (and the related Article 35a).

Shah did this by calling Article 370 “temporary” and ignoring that that appellation (“temporary”) had referred only to its being temporary until J&K would officially concur in it, which J&K quickly did. Ever since then, it has been, and remains, permanent (according to the Supreme Court of India ruling on 16 December 2016, reaffirming that same Court’s earlier ruling, on 10 October 1968). Therefore, it is clear that only by means of amending India’s Constitution can J&K’s autonomy be undone.

That anonymous blogger (whom I consider to be one of the world’s greatest investigative journalists) then continued:

It is inevitable that the actions today will lead [to] a new insurgency in J&K and beyond. Even if Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan does not want to support a new guerilla army in J&K, the military and other nationalist Pakistanis will push to supply it with everything that is needed [in order to support such an army].

So: at least unless and until India’s Constitution is amended, Modi’s grab for Kashmir not only is unConstitutional, but if this military occupation continues, then it is likely to spark a war in Kashmir, which could quickly become a war between Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan, next door to India.

How likely is India’s Constitution to be amended so as to allow this military occupation to continue indefinitely?

Wikipedia says:

The procedure [to amend] is detailed in Article 368. An amendment bill must be passed by each house of Parliament by a two-thirds majority of its total membership when at least two-thirds are present and vote. Certain amendments pertaining to the constitution’s federal nature must also be ratified by a majority of state legislatures.

Whether all of that can be done is highly questionable. So: not only is Modi’s action unConstitutional, but it could remain so — and produce a huge war.

No matter how bad India’s Constitution might be, Modi is far worse, because he is violating it by means of this brutal and entirely unjustifiable military crackdown.

On the same day as the crackdown, Indian Hindus in other parts of the country announced online that they now planned to relocate to Kashmir. The expectation is that the Muslims in Kashmir will be driven out and replaced by Hindus. This is widely believed to be the Indian Government’s plan, and the reason for this crackdown: an ethnic-cleansing of J&K for the benefit of India’s Hindus.

On August 10th, the New York Times detailed how horrific the crackdown is. Headlining “Inside Kashmir, Cut Off From the World: ‘A Living Hell’ of Anger and Fear”, they reported, from the city of Srinagar in Kashmir, that:

A sense of coiled menace hung over the locked-down city and the wider region on Saturday, a day after a huge protest erupted into clashes between Kashmiris and Indian security forces.

Shops were shut. A.T.M.s had run dry. Just about all lines to the outside world — internet, mobile phones, even landlines — remained severed, rendering millions of people incommunicado.

The New York Times gained one of the first inside views by a news organization of life under lockdown in Kashmir and found a population that felt besieged, confused, frightened and furious by the seismic events of this week. …

Tens of thousands of troops from the Indian Army, the Central Reserve Police Force (a paramilitary unit) and the Kashmiri State police have been deployed in just about every corner of the valley. In some villages, even remote ones, a soldier was posted outside the gate of each family’s home. …

Mr. Modi has said the new status will make Kashmir more peaceful and prosperous. In a televised speech on Thursday, which most Kashmiris could not watch because their television service had also been cut, he insisted that turning Kashmir into a federal territory would eliminate corruption, attract investment and move it “forward with new hopes.’’

Narendra Modi had risen to power in India by imposing a 3-day anti-Muslim “pogrom” or “ethnic cleansing” in the state of Gujarat, from 27 February through 1 March of 2002, during which, approximately 150,000 people were driven to refugee camps. So, there is clear reason for India’s 15% Muslim minority to fear the country’s 80% Hindu majority, who, in 2014, elected this bigot, Modi, to lead India. And, now since August 5th, that bigot has an iron grip on India’s only Muslim-majority state, J&K.

The pressure upon Pakistan’s leader, Imran Khan, to respond militarily, against the Modi-led bigots, can only rise, as long as Modi’s unConstitutional aggression, perhaps amounting to an even bigger ethnic cleansing, now against the residents in J&K, continues. A mass-exodus of Muslims from J&K is likely and expected, especially into adjoining Pakistan. As those refugees accumulate there, the pressure on Khan can only rise even further. Already on August 11th, Khan tweeted that “Attempt is to change demography of Kashmir through ethnic cleansing. Question is: Will the world watch & appease as they did Hitler at Munich?”

As of yet, there is no actual discussion in the now totalitarian Indian media, regarding a Constitutional Amendment, in order to legalize Modi’s August 5th action. His Government’s official position is:

Whatever its legal or historical status, the time has come to amend, if not end Article 370. We must not forget that the continuance of Article 370 is the biggest hurdle to a lasting solution to the Kashmir conundrum. As such, it is the other side of the Pulwama massacre. Strikes across the border are only one way to avenge or redress the latter. But the internal rectification required is the full and complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India. In order to accomplish this, Article 370 must go.

So, they aren’t actually saying that Article 370 “is gone,” but that it “must go.” They are, right at the start, setting up the possibility for an Amendment-resolution, by asserting that “the time has come to amend, if not end Article 370.” They are not actually saying Article 370 has ended. This lacuna is their existing policy’s escape-valve. The regime’s goal is to act as if  Article 370 is already simply gone, until the public overwhelmingly assumes that it has somehow been Constitutionally removed — even though it hasn’t. The regime’s control over its press is sufficient to exclude, for now, any public debate about that central issue — it is a non-issue, currently. It is an issue that’s thus being held in abeyance.

But, also, the official position asserts that, come what may, Article 370, and 35A both must no longer continue in force; and specific condemnations of the Muslim faith and of Muslim traditions are prominent in this part of the Government’s official position, such as:

abrogation of laws like Article 370 and 35A will be opposed by vested interests. It has taken decades to rid the Muslim daughters of India of the evil and ignominy of tripletalaaq — a pernicious custom whereby a Muslim male could divorce his wife by a simple rendering of the word talaaq, three times, by any means. Here too, the Muslim clergy, all male dominated, termed such a judgement by the apex court as an assault on their faith, conveniently forgetting that Muslim countries such as Pakistan have already enacted such laws decades ago. It is, thus, time for India to move on and not be held hostage to blackmail and threats from religious power brokers.

So: the Hindu regime is now officially damning Islam, and calling Muslim clergy “religious power brokers.” This is blatantly in violation of India’s 471-page Constitution. Here is from the Constitution’s Table of Contents:

PART III

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

General

12. Definition …………………………………………………………………. 6

13. Laws inconsistent with or in derogation of the fundamental rights. … 6

Right to Equality

14. Equality before law ………………………………………………………………….. 6

15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth … 7

Among the reasons for the Constitution’s extraordinary length are its many exceptions, such as, for example, Article 371A, which says that nothing in the Constitution “shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.”

However, what will happen if the Government’s promise that its August 5th action will bring ‘peace’ to Kashmir turns out to become too blatantly false in order for that lie to be able to be successfully continued? Perhaps the ‘news’-media will then receive changed instructions, so as to allow a public debate about whether, maybe, there ought  to be a Parliamentary initiative to put forth such an Amendment to the Constitution, for consideration. And, if the Government by then has decided to cancel the August 5th action, that failed initiative would be the best possible excuse for doing this: the failure of the initiative to revise Article 370 would become the excuse for cancelling the August 5th action. And, then, the peace-negotiations, could begin, between the J&K state, and the Indian Government. Modi has not locked that exit-door from his policy; and, if he walks through it, he’ll be able to blame the legislature, for failing to remove Article 370.

Every dictatorship thrives on the continuing inability of the public to examine and analyze reality in the way that a scientist does in the practice of his/her particular profession; and that’s the reason why these intellectual skills, the most basic ones of all — thinking in the way that a scientist does — are not being taught in all of public education, but instead the popular myths are taught to children, and are being reinforced in India and other dictatorships. That makes the public controllable, by the dictators. And so it is, in India today.

As regards the Constitutionality of the measure that the Modi regime is applying so as to impose this theft of control over J&K from J&K’s majority-Muslim residents, that measure is Presidential Order C.O. 272, which was issued on August 5th. The chief blog of India’s Constitutional lawyers, “Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy”, headlined on August 13th “Guest Post: Article 370: The Constitutional challenge”, and the author, “Nivedhitha K.”, opened that “The Presidential Order C.O. 272 … is the genesis of the subsequent events,” and closed that “the Presidential Order C.O. 272 and all the subsequent activities that have … genesis in the presidential order are unconstitutional.” The logical process between the opening and ending was flawless; and, so, there can be no honest legal question about the unConstitutionality of what Modi has been doing to J&K ever since August 5th — Modi’s traitorism to India’s Constitution, and thus to all Indians. The only real question is instead whether India’s ‘news’-media will start to publicize this important fact. Meanwhile, the Government races forward with its rape of India’s Constitution, in the hope that enough J&K Muslims will evacuate that land so as to enable Hindus ‘democratically’ to impose some sort of apartheid anti-Muslim regime there. It’s simply a race against time, all in clear violation of Indian law, to achieve Hindu control there. Modi seems to be as bold as Hitler was. Fascists everywhere are traitors to their country, and this is now being made manifestly clear in India. No nation where the Constitution is unenforced can be a democracy — not even if the Constitution itself might be thought, by some people, to be, itself, democratic.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Who Protected Epstein for Decades, and Why?

Thu, 2019-08-15 02:06

Let’s start by stipulating that the Jeffrey Epstein story is so sordid and outlandish that it’s like a made-for-TV movie about the evil proprietor of a nightmarish enclave of private perversion and sexual exploitation, Lolita Island.

For Epstein’s victims, the nightmare was all too real.

Next, let’s stipulate that in a nation with a functioning system of justice, every individual who knew about Epstein’s degenerate empire and did nothing to stop it should be ushered into a Federal prison cell to ponder their sins against the exploited girls and against the nation.

Yes, as in treason, as in “throw them in prison and let them rot” treason. As I have explained, corruption and debauchery undermine the legitimacy of the state, and so doing nothing while Epstein et al. gratified the desires of the rich and powerful for degenerate debauchery was treasonous: the American state will collapse not from military conflict but from moral decay, and every individual who enabled (or made use of) that moral decay is guilty of treason.

Which leads us to the basic questions of the case: who protected Epstein for decades, and why? There are several explanations floating around for the why: those in power enjoyed their diabolically exploitive visits to Lolita Island and wanted to continue their criminal gratifications.

The second explanation is that Epstein was a spy for a “friendly” foreign intelligence agency and therefore off-limits. (“Friendly” is in quotes because when it comes to intelligence, one’s “friends” can do more damage than one’s worst enemies.)

Let’s say this turns out to be true. Wouldn’t the NSA, CIA and FBI know of Epstein’s activities and connections to a foreign intelligence service? Of course they would. So at a minimum, we can infer the NSA, CIA and FBI enabled Epstein’s operation to continue for some benefit, perhaps relating to “honeypot” blackmail and control of “assets,” unwilling or willing.

This narrative is the “explanation” for Epstein’s wrist-slap conviction a decade ago: he was supposedly an “asset” of US intelligence.

So exploiting vulnerable girls served the “national interests” and therefore it’s all OK. If we’re supposed to believe this is the heart of the matter, how is America any different from a corrupt developing-world kleptocracy organized to gratify a handful of oligarchs and their cronies?

Or perhaps the “he was an intelligence asset” is just a tissue-thin cover for a much more destructive reality: those at the top of the American state have no moral compass at all. That honeypots and blackmail are standard-issue tools of spycraft targeting individuals in the employee of other nations is a given, but presumably the CIA doesn’t recruit 14-year girls as bait (although nothing should surprise us at this point).

But Lolita island (a.k.a. Orgy Island) was not spycraft; it was a privately operated wholesale exploitation of underage girls for the gratification of the Western world’s male elites. That some enterprising agency recruited (or blackmailed) Jeffrey Epstein was predictable, as the treasure trove of compromising videos could yield all sorts of useful leverage on highly placed individuals.

Many of us sense an existential crisis is close at hand, and the U.S. is ill-prepared for such a crisis. Possibilities broached by others include a global war, a break-up of the U.S. into regional states, or a civil war of some sort.

My bet is on a moral and financial crisis in which the ruling elites and the federal state lose their legitimacy, i.e. the consent of the governed. As their Federal Reserve “money” loses value and the corruption of the ruling elites and the government they control reaches extremes, the citizenry will no longer heed their corrupt, self-serving “leaders.”

If America’s ruling elites will not let justice be done, then they guarantee a revolt against the elites that could track a very grim path if that is the only option left open to the citizenry.

Once again I turn to The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats for a poetic evocation of the coming crisis:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

 

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print, $13.08 audiobook): Read the first section for free in PDF format.

My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

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POLL: Biden & Sanders Both Beat Trump in Texas

Wed, 2019-08-14 22:49

No Other Democratic Candidate Does.

Eric Zuesse

Emerson College polls are rated B+, well above average but not great, in the 538-dot-com carefully tabulated rankings of 497 polling organizations. The following Emerson College poll-findings from Texas registered voters were released on August 13th:

Emerson College Poll of 1,033 Registered Voters in Texas During 1-3 August:

Biden 50.8% v. Trump 49.2%

Sanders 50.6% v. Trump 49.4%

O’Rourke 48.1% v. Trump 51.9%

Buttigieg 48.0% v. Trump 52%

Warren 47.6% v. Trump 52.4%

Castro 47.2% v. Trump 52.8%

Harris 46.2% v. Trump 53.8%

Among only the poll’s 400 Democratic Party voters, Biden is strongly preferred above any other Democrat:

Biden 27.7%

O’Rourke 19.0%

Sanders 15.7%

Warren 13.7%

Buttigieg 7.2%

Harris 5.3%

Yang 3.1%

BOTTOM LINE — Reasonable inferences from this poll:

Biden is likely to win the Texas primary; and, in the general election, Biden is likely to beat Trump in Texas. If Sanders wins the Democratic nomination, he is approximately as likely to beat Trump in Texas in the general-election contest as is Biden. If Buttigieg or Warren win the nomination, then they would probably be within striking distance of being able to beat Trump in Texas, but they would be more likely to lose Texas to Trump. Harris would be even likelier to lose Texas to Trump.

In any case: Texas is no longer a sure bet to vote Republican. Trump could lose Texas, which he had won by a 10% margin — 52.2% to Clinton’s 42.2% — in 2016. Even against the weaker realistically possible Democratic candidates such as Harris, he has far smaller Texas victory margins in this poll than he actually enjoyed in the 2016 general-election contest against Clinton.

Therefore, Trump now seems to be far likelier to lose in 2020 than he had ever seemed likely to lose in 2016. In 2016, it was a real horse-race; but, now, even the formerly solidly Republican state of Texas — the largest of all of the states which voted for Trump in 2016, with 36 electoral votes (the second-largest state after California’s 55 electoral votes, and those votes went to Clinton) — is actually in play for a possible Democratic win of Texas in 2020.

Consequently, a Trump win of the national Presidential contest is far less likely even than was the case in 2016. This time around, Trump’s winning in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania won’t be nearly enough in order for him to have a fighting chance of winning the Presidency. His sharply lowered support now in Texas indicates that far more states are likely to be essential wins for him, in order for Trump to be able to retain his office.

None of the leading Democratic contenders this time around is even nearly as widely and deeply loathed nationally as Hillary Clinton was. The only candidate who likely will be is Trump himself, who, even in 2016, was approximately as widely loathed as she was.

Maybe a realistic estimate is that this time around, Trump will have a 10% chance of winning. He’s practically already a lame duck President. He has done that to himself, by what he has done while in office. Perhaps the only thing that might be able to keep him in office beyond 2020 would be devastating findings against Barack Obama and his Democratic Party, resulting from the current U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into possible rigging by the Obama Administration in 2016 in order for Democrats to have been able to present what turned out to have been a phony ‘Russiagate’ case against then-candidate, and now-President, Trump, which case against him consumed Trump’s first few years as the President. Such a shocker, such a counter-scandal (i.e., this time, against Democrats, and being backed by convincing evidence, if it turns out to be that) might happen between now and the November 2020 U.S. Presidential election. But, right now — and barring such a shocker as that — Trump’s prospects to retain office are bleak, on the basis of these poll-findings.

MY CONCLUSIONS:

Normally, one poll doesn’t mean much, but this one actually does mean much — its findings are strong enough, and reliable enough, and in a large enough (the second-largest) state, so as for them to mean a great deal about the likelihood that Trump will turn out to have been a one-term President. That likelihood now is extraordinarily high.

Consequently, whoever wins the Democratic Party’s nomination will almost certainly become President in 2021. The voters in that Party’s Presidential primaries and caucuses will almost certainly end up having selected America’s next President. And, unless either Warren or Sanders early enough endorses* the other of those two (which each of those two has an obligation to do if that person cares more about the country than about him-or-her-self winning the nomination — and it furthermore actually could, for each of them, increase greatly his/her likelihood* of actually winning the nomination), that next U.S. President appears likeliest to be Joe Biden. Since his long record has already proven him to be excessively mistake-prone, Biden’s actually being the Democratic candidate could very well then reduce his voter-support in Texas well below the present poll’s showing, of Biden 50.8% v. Trump 49.2%; and I therefore predict that if  the nominee is Biden, he would actually lose in Texas and lose the election, just as Hillary did in 2016. Both are/were incompetent — even more so than is Trump. The present poll can’t even possibly show that — it’s way too early to show it.

America seems heading for hell. Yet another rotten U.S. President could tip the future into catastrophe. Voters in each Party are by far unrealistically respecting their particular Party’s latest Presidents — ALL of America’s recent Presidents (and Congresses) have produced (ever since 1980) historically unprecedented skyrocketing federal debt along with a transfer of national wealth from the public to the billionaires, which has resulted in no benefit to the public, but instead an equally soaring personal debt, so that only the billionaires have net-benefited, and everyone else is in a worse situation than was the case in 1980 (far worse, because not just government but also personal indebtedness has soared while the public’s standard of living has flatlined since 1980 and the only real change for the public has therefore been their skyrocketing debt. Too few voters know how to process information. That obliviousnesss gave Americans the Hobson’s choice, of Clinton versus Trump, in 2016; and I think that voters don’t learn from history and that they will therefore repeat it, even now at the precipice (heading off the ever-higher cliff). The majority of voters consider acceptable what is happening in America, no matter how bad it has actually become, and now is. Very few people will survive such a fall.

They don’t know how bad things actually are. For examples: they consider acceptable, as the U.S. President, Joe Biden who as a Senator in 2002 voted to allow then-President George W. Bush to make, all on his own, the decision as to whether or not to invade Iraq (when everyone already knew that Bush strongly wanted to do precisely that), and to consider acceptable also the choice in 2016 between Hillary Clinton who — also as a Senator — had likewise voted just as Biden did on that fateful occasion, versus Donald Trump, who had no record at all as a federal U.S. official and who therefore could be judged only on the basis of his lying words.

Americans think that this is democracy. It’s not. It’s instead voters who have never been educated about how to process information. (A country like that cannot be a democracy.) It’s a profoundly corrupt country — and that’s why the public haven’t ever been taught (as they should have been in elementary school) how to process information. Americans instead have been taught myths (lauditory toward the billionaires).

And Americans therefore find the present situation to be acceptable. It’s not, but they don’t know this, because they’ve been kept ignorant, not about what to think (those myths, religious and otherwise, taught to children) but how  to think (as any scientist must).

That fact (the public’s ignorance of how to think, and the corruption which produces that) can destroy a nation, and can even destroy the entire world. And it’s happening now, right before our very eyes, as we approach the cliff.

There won’t be any real mystery about why bad and worse result from this. The reason why is already clear, and has been evident for a long time — and, yet, most Americans know little or nothing about this dire situation, much less about the institutionalized corruption that is producing it.

Either the next U.S.President will be more of the same, or else it will be one who leads revolutionary changes, in the correct directions, which are far different from what this country has been on, ever since at least 1980. The options for America are now that stark.

——

*      Here is how I propose that this be done: On the night of the New Hampshire primary, Tuesday 11 February 2020, both Warren and Sanders will announce that she/he will remain in the contest until all of the state primaries and caucuses are over on 2 June 2020; and that, then, whichever of the two will, by the end, have the fewer number of won delegates will throw her/his support to the other of these two candidates at the Convention. This will not only allow each of the two to remain in the contest until the end, but it will be a clear and unambiguous unity between them, announcing that what is the most important thing, of all, to each of them, is that one of the two of them ought to become the Party’s nominee. This unification between them will also free each of the two from ever at all criticizing the other during the primaries. They will already, after 11 February 2020, effectively constitute a team, moving forward together, not for him/her-self alone, but for the Party, and for the nation. That’s how it should be done.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Poll: Biden & Sanders Both Beat Trump in Texas.

Wed, 2019-08-14 07:59

No Other Democratic Candidate Does.

Eric Zuesse

Emerson College polls are rated B+, well above average but not great, in the 538-dot-com carefully tabulated rankings of 497 polling organizations. The following Emerson College poll of Texas registered voters was released on August 13th:

Emerson College Poll of 1,033 Registered Voters in Texas During 1-3 August:

Biden 50.8% v. Trump 49.2%

Sanders 50.6% v. Trump 49.4%

O’Rourke 48.1% v. Trump 51.9%

Buttigieg 48.0% v. Trump 52%

Warren 47.6% v. Trump 52.4%

Castro 47.2% v. Trump 52.8%

Harris 46.2% v. Trump 53.8%

Among only the poll’s 400 Democratic Party voters, Biden is strongly preferred above any other Democrat:

Biden 27.7%

O’Rourke 19.0%

Sanders 15.7%

Warren 13.7%

Buttigieg 7.2%

Harris 5.3%

Yang 3.1%

BOTTOM LINE — Reasonable inferences from this poll:

Biden is likely to win the Texas primary; and, in the general election, Biden is likely to beat Trump in Texas. If Sanders wins the Democratic nomination, he is approximately as likely to beat Trump in Texas during the general election as is Biden. If Buttigieg or Warren win the nomination, then they would probably be within striking distance of beating Trump in Texas, but they would more likely lose Texas to Trump.

In any case: Texas is no longer a sure bet to vote Republican. Trump could lose Texas, which he won by 52.2% to Clinton’s 42.2% in 2016. Even against the weaker realistically possible Democratic candidates such as Harris, he has much smaller Texas  victory margins than he enjoyed in 2016 against Clinton.

Consequently, Trump now seems to be likelier to lose in 2020 than he had ever seemed likely to lose in 2016. In 2016, it was a real horse-race; but now, with even the formerly solidly Republican state of Texas in play for a possible Democratic win of that state in 2020, a Trump win of the national Presidential contest is far less likely even than was the case in 2016. This time around, Trump’s winning in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania won’t be nearly enough in order for him to have a fighting chance of winning the Presidency. Far more states are likely to be essential wins in order for him to be able to retain his office. None of the leading Democratic contenders this time around is even nearly as widely and deeply loathed nationally as Hillary Clinton was. The only candidate who likely will be is Trump himself, who, even in 2016, was approximately as widely loathed as she was. Maybe a realistic estimate is that this time around, Trump will have a 10% chance of winning. He’s practically already a lame duck President. He has done that to himself. Perhaps the only thing that might be able to keep him in office beyond 2020 would be devastating findings against Barack Obama and his Democratic Party in the current U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into possible rigging by the Obama Administration in 2016 in order for Democrats to be able to present a “Russiagate” case against then-candidate and now-President Trump, which case consumed Trump’s first few years as the President. Such a shocker as that type of counter-scandal might happen; lots might happen, between now and the November 2020 U.S. Presidential election. But, right now — and barring such a shocker — Trump’s prospects to retain office are bleak.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Reality-Denial Among America’s Democratic Party Faithful

Tue, 2019-08-13 16:51

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

I used to be a Democrat, until the majority of Democrats in the U.S. Senate voted in 2002 for George W. Bush’s 2003 catastrophic invasion of Iraq, even though everything that Bush and his Administration were alleging the invasion to be based on were mere lies, by him and his Administration. A Senator or Representative is supposed to represent the interests of the American public, not of the billionaires who control Lockheed Martin and ExxonMobil and Halliburton, etc., but those Democrats (and virtually all Republicans also) represented those billionaires, and certainly NOT the American public. Among the 29 Democratic Senators who, on that fateful day of 11 October 2002, voted to authorize Bush to invade Iraq, were the Party’s 2004 Presidential nominee John Kerry, and its 2016 Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and its likely 2020 nominee Joe Biden. (Barack Obama wasn’t yet a member of Congress in 2002.) In other words: the Senators who did, included the ones whom Democrats chose (and still are expected to choose) as their Presidential nominees. There is no apology for such treachery as those Senators (and 68% of the House, too) perpetrated by authorizing that criminal invasion, other than to say “I made a mistake,” but if I could see, even at that time, that it was all mere lies, then were they, our most successful Senators (and Representatives), really such nitwits that they could not — they, who are surrounded by lobbyists and not actually by the people they are supposed to represent? They joined in with George W. Bush’s lies, because they chose to be surrounded by such lobbyists, even though all of Bush’s efforts to get the U.N. to endorse an invasion of Iraq turned out to be fruitless. And, then, on 17 March 2003, he, our American President, suddenly warned the U.N. weapons-inspectors to leave Iraq immediately so Bush could invade that country, which had never invaded, nor even threatened to invade, the United States. This was a clear case of international aggression, just like what Justice Robert Jackson who headed the U.S. prosecution team at the Nuremberg Tribunal after WW II charged Hitler’s top henchmen for having done, and for which those men became executed. Why not Bush, now, for Iraq; why not Obama, now, for Libya; why not Obama, now, for Syria; why not Trump, now, for Syria; why not Trump, also, for Venezuela, if he also invades there? Fascists, all of them, but in today’s America, the public are unconcerned about that, and respond only as political partisans, supporting Democratic Party billionaires’ candidates against Republican Party billionaires’ candidates, or vice-versa, and not even giving a damn about the millions of senselessly slaughtered in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and elsewhere, for which America’s top responsible officials should therefore be internationally prosecuted, and perhaps hung (like at Nuremberg). So, the only reason, now, to have any loyalty to either of America’s Parties is a mixture of stupidity and psychopathy. And that describes today’s Democrats, just as much as it does today’s Republicans.

The leading political news-site for Democratic-Party operatives and loyal followers is politicalwire.com, and their reader-comments display starkly the mentality that — on this Party’s side — guides the Party’s electorate. Those reader-comments display a Party that’s a dream for the Democratic Party’s billionaires, because the mentality they display is slavish — not physically slavish, but mentally slavish, the slavery of people who hug their prejudices, and who hate anyone (even fellow-Democrats) that challenges their prejudices (tries to help free them from their mental slavery). So: Democratic Party voters’ prejudices have become locked-in, and those people refuse to allow any way out of their existing prejudices. These operatives and voters insist upon retaining their prejudices, exactly as they are. For the Democratic Party’s billionaires’ lobbyists, and media, and think tanks, to have their way with those people, is so easy — it’s like dealing with a slave who says, “Whip me again, Mas’r.” It’s a pathetic political form of self-flagellation, which views the master as being rightfully superior to one’s self — to one’s own mental faculties — handing the whip to that ‘superior’ or master. Is this what American politics has now come down to? It’s what has caused the Democratic Party to be as neoconservative — American imperialist — as is the Republican Party.

On August 8th, Political Wire headlined “Russian Interference Likely Did Not Affect 2016 Result”, and summarized, and linked to, an extremely careful and well-planned and executed, thoroughly scientific, study, which concluded that, “I find no evidence that Russian attempts to target voters in key swing states had any effect on the election results in those states. Instead, the results were almost totally predictable based on the political and demographic characteristics of those states, especially their past voting tendencies, ideological leanings, and demographics.” He found absolutely “no evidence” that it “had any effect” upon the electoral outcome. Anyone who would have clicked through there to the actual study itself would have seen that it was definitive on its subject, and that there is no reasonable basis for accepting Hillary Clinton’s distorting insinuations that she had lost the election because of Russian interference. This study’s author accepted unquestioningly the Mueller Report in its allegation (on its page 19) that Russia’s Government “sought to influence [American] public opinion through online media and forums … as early as 2014.” However, even the Mueller Report doesn’t anywhere allege that Russia “tried to” or “attempted to” cause America’s voters to prefer one candidate over another candidate in the election. Even an allegation like that  would have been devoid of even that Report’s own shabby evidentiary standard to become cited. In other words: even the Mueller Report doesn’t play so fast-and-loose with truth for it to allege anything that is at all contradictory to anything in this scientific analysis and conclusion about the matter: that Hillary Cinton’s defeat cannot rationally be even hypothetically blamed on ‘Russian interference’. If there was such interference, no one has yet nailed it. Insinuations have replaced it. Anyone who believes such an allegation is a willing mental slave. How common are such slaves, actually?

A good indication of how common they are is the Disqus thread (the reader-comments) to that Political Wire summary of the scientific study’s findings:

https://politicalwire.com/2019/08/08/russian-interference-likely-did-not-affect-2016-result/#disqus_thread

As was earlier noted, readers at that site are Democratic Party operatives, and extremely loyal Democratic Party voters. Overwhelmingly, those readers are sloughing off that scientific study and analysis of the data. Some do so by attacking its author, as being just “one person with one opinion,” and referring (mainly) to the extremely partisan Democratic Party propaganda-organ the New Yorker, and its rabidly partisan Jane Mayer’s 24 July 2018 “How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump”, which summarizes Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s book, Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President — What We Don’t, Can’t, and Do Know, which book was effectively and accurately destroyed in a two-star review of it at Amazon, by a “B. Wilson,” titled, appropriately, “Little if any real proof is established that the Russians swung the election. A top 10 list.” Looking at the Jamieson book itself, one sees no consideration whatsoever of the data and issues which were dealt with — quantitatively, and on the basis of high quality empirical facts — in the scientific study. Instead, Jamieson’s work is a non-quantitative ‘analysis’ that’s actually loaded with, and built upon, hedged assertions, such as “We can surmise the probable although not certain impact Russian shenanigans had on the balance of messages between the two major party campaigns” — and no data, and no counts, but pure hypothesization, without clear derivation from specific instances of anything. Her book is even less trustworthy than the Mueller Report that it cites so frequently. In short: it’s trash. But that’s good enough to override science, in the minds of believing partisans — mental slaves: people who ignore proven truth, in order to sustain their existing prejudices.

Jane Mayer said of Jamieson’s book, “In two hundred and twenty-four pages of extremely dry prose, with four appendixes of charts and graphs and fifty-four pages of footnotes, Jamieson makes a strong case that, in 2016, ‘Russian masterminds’ pulled off a technological and political coup. Moreover, she concludes, the American media ‘inadvertently helped them achieve their goals.’” Anyone who thinks that American media were predominantly slanted for Trump instead of for Hillary is beyond all reason and evidence — but there they are at Political Wire, as readers, commenting upon a squib, which summarizes this scientific study (the first and only one on the subject).

Of course, such closed-mindedness is good for sustaining any political party, but it can destroy any democracy.

NOTE: Incidentally, while I consider that scientific study to be definitive on its topic, I strongly disagree with its author’s analysis, in his 2018 book, The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump, to the effect that “elites and activists” haven’t shaped “the American social and cultural landscape” of our time. As a historian (which he certainly is not — he’s a political scientist), I believe that, specifically (and ever since at least the time of FDR’s death in 1945) the wealthiest Americans (and not merely ambiguous “elites and activists”) did shape it, to become, as it now is: fascist. That’s why both Parties now are fascist — one liberal fascist, and the other conservative fascist. Liberalism is not  progressivism. And fascism (extreme conservatism) is the opposite of progressivism. By contrast, liberalism mixes together those two opposites.  (Fascism is the modern form of feudalism, and derives from that. Progressivism is the anti-fascism.) Furthermore, by now, there exists massive empirical evidence that the U.S. Government, at least ever since 1981, is no democracy, at all, but is instead ruled only by its very wealthiest and well-connected citizens, so that, as the first of these studies phrased this matter: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” (A superb 6-minute video summary of that landmark study is here.) Consequently, that book is bad even within its own field of political science. The book’s author, furthermore, displays there a strong prejudice favoring the Democratic Party. Fortunately, however, his scientific analysis of the 2016 election was unafflicted by that, or any other, prejudice. It was straight science. Furthermore, any ad-hominem attack (such as is common in the Political Wire reader-comments) is entirely unscientific regarding any study, including that author’s. Virtually all of the reader-comments at that Political Wire article reflect mental slaves. Instead of their being grateful to the study’s author for freeing them from lies which afflict them, they insult that messenger of science.

Furthermore: on 14 June 2016 (just 17 days after Trump won the Republican nomination) Dylan Matthews at Vox had headlined “One of the best election models predicts a Trump victory. Its creator doesn’t believe it.” Matthews opened: “One of the most respected and accurate forecasting models in political sciences says that Donald Trump will win the 2016 presidential election, and by a fairly comfortable margin at that. There’s just one problem: Its creator doesn’t believe his own forecast.” That author, Professor Alan I. Abramowitz’s, formula for predicting U.S. electoral outcomes will probably now become standard. (Trump had actually won by slightly less than Abromowitz’s model predicted, and this is what Abromowitz’s 8 August 2019 article was now documenting. He points out there that especially in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania — the three states which decided the election’s outcome — Trump’s victory-margin was, in fact, lower than Abromowitz’s model had predicted it would be. So, when that Political Wire commenter attacked this author, as being just “one person with one opinion,” he was attacking the one person who had actually predicted accurately not just the 2016 Presidential election’s outcome, but the reasons why Trump was heading for victory. He was attacking the only person who had publicly figured these things out, in advance of the outcome.)

To be a mental slave is to be a believer in lies. This type of slavery was first documented anecdotally in Charles Mackay’s 1841, 500+page, classic, Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of Crowds. How is democracy possible with so many willing mental slaves voting — regardless of what the particular Party is? Is democracy impossible? Is the political situation actually hopeless? Shouldn’t overcoming prejudice — anti-scientific thinking (a tendency to believe only what one wants to believe) — be actually the chief purpose of all publicly financed education?

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

The Internal War in the Deep State Claims Its High Profile Casualty: Jeffrey Epstein

Mon, 2019-08-12 23:49

I’ve been writing about the fracturing Deep State for the past five years:

Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)

Is the Deep State at War–With Itself? (December 14, 2016)

Epstein and the Explosive Crisis of the Deep State (July 15, 2019)

The conflict has now reached the hot-war stage where bodies are turning up, explained away by the usual laughable covers: “suicide,” “accident” and “heart attack.” That Jeffrey Epstein’s death in a secure cell is being labeled “suicide” tells us quite a lot about the desperation of the faction trying to protect the self-serving predators that have wormed their way into control of many Deep State nodes of power.

Here’s the basic structure of the Deep State conflict as I see it. For context: The Deep State exploded in size and power during World War II. At the war’s end, the proper role of the U.S. in the postwar era was up for grabs, and over the course of a few years, the CIA and other intelligence agencies were established and the doctrine of containment of the Soviet Union became the dominant narrative, a narrative that held with remarkable consistency for four decades until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

This collapse was another critical juncture, and debates over America’s role in this “unipolar era” were finally settled in favor of the militarily-geopolitically activist ideology of neoconservatism (Neocons).

This globalist ideology spawned a variety of monstrous policy disasters and as a result the Neocons have been challenged by factions within the Deep State.

This Neocon Globalist camp is dominated by the amoral ideology of the ends justifies the means. This everything is allowed, anything can be hidden or justifiedideology slowly spread from overseas black ops and a spectrum of interventions to the power nodes of the domestic Deep State.

The failures of Neocon globalism have ushered in another critical juncture in the Deep State. What is America’s proper role in a multi-polar world that is fracturing across multiple faultlines? This juncture is a manifestation of a broader profound political disunity in America and many other nations.

As the policy disasters launched by Neocon Globalists piled up, the Neocons were desperate for domestic political allies. As a result, the “traditionalist” Neocons accepted the systemic corruption of the Deep State by degenerate, predatory self-serving elites and their enablers in the intelligence agencies, corporate media and other nodes of power.

Arrayed against this completely corrupt, degenerate camp of Neocon Globalists is a “nationalist” camp within the Deep State that grasps the end-game of Neocon Globalism, and is busy assembling a competing nation-centric strategy. There is tremendous resistance to the abandonment of Neocon globalism, not just from those who see power slipping through their fingers but from all those firmly committed to a magical belief that past success guarantees future success, i.e. doing more of what’s failed will eventually succeed.

The “nationalist” faction within the Deep State is gaining ground, and now a fracture in the Neocon camp is threatening the Globalists: the “traditionalist” Neocons who accepted the systemic corruption of self-serving elites are being challenged by “rogue realists” who have finally awakened to the mortal danger posed by amoral predatory self-serving elites.

The debauchery of morals undermines the legitimacy of the state and thus of the entire power structure. As I recently noted in Following in Rome’s Footsteps: Moral Decay, Rising Inequality (June 29, 2019), America’s current path of moral decay is tracking Rome’s collapse step for step.

Having enabled and used amoral predators like Epstein, the “traditionalist” Neocons are forced to defend the debauched and now toxic “Liberal” defenders of the Neocon Globalist Project. That they will stop at nothing is already obvious, but what’s less obvious is their opponents, the “rogue realists” who understand that empires fall not from external enemies but from internal corruption and debauchery, are willing to take whatever steps are necessary to save the Republic from the self-serving elites that have infiltrated key nodes of Deep State power.

The final fracture is within the “rogue realists”: one camp still believes in the Neocon Globalist Project, and simply wants to rid the Deep State of the debauched predators and their protectors. The other camp sees the two as inextricable: the Neocon Globalists are as hopelessly amoral and corrupt as the very worst they are protecting. The only way to fix the mess is to clean house by getting rid of the debauched predators and the amoral Neocon Globalists.

The “rogue realists” are attempting to use the judicial system to bring down the predatory self-serving elites, but given Epstein’s “mysterious” end, it appears the Department of Justice is also infiltrated with those willing to do whatever it takes to protect the amoral, self-serving predators and their enablers.

This raises the issue that destroys democracies: who investigates the investigators? The “traditionalist” Neocons are going to have to decide to fish or cut bait: either swirl down the sewer by protecting everyone in Epstein’s black book and stash of videos, or clean house before they lose it all. 

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print, $13.08 audiobook): Read the first section for free in PDF format.

My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. New benefit for subscribers/patrons: a monthly Q&A where I respond to your questions/topics.

Adding Context to ‘News’ about Venezuela

Mon, 2019-08-12 07:37

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at The Saker

This past week’s meeting of the U.S.-and-Canada-created anti-Venezuela Lima Group of nations failed to achieve the U.S. regime’s intention of organizing a coalition of its members to participate in a U.S.-led invasion to overthrow Venezuela’s Government and install Trump’s choice, the self-styled ‘interim President’ of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, to rule there. Although 100 nations had been invited, only 60 attended, and the U.S. regime wasn’t able to obtain even one ally for an invasion. John Bolton (U.S. National Security Advisor) and Wilbur Ross (U.S. Secretary of ‘Commerce’ — mainly U.S. oil companies) represented U.S. President Trump at the meeting, which started on August 5th. The meeting ended with no official announcement. It was a humiliating defeat for the U.S. regime.

Below is a report about this meeting, by Agence France-Presse, a typical U.S.-allied ‘news’-medium. The italicized additions in brackets in and near the article’s end are essential historical context; it’s taken from Wikipedia’s article “International sanctions during the Venezuelan crisis”, and thus also isn’t from me. This way, the reader will be able to see what the ‘news’-report here leaves out, which is essential background in order for readers to know the reality that stands behind this particular ‘news’ report. The minor typos in the original report are also left unchanged; the entire article is unchanged, except that I boldface the passages toward the end, which passages are subsequently contextualized immediately below them. Afterward, I shall add my own comments, in order to provide a fuller context:

——

http://archive.is/pNGYl

https://www.france24.com/en/20190806-us-warns-off-venezuelas-supporters-lima-meeting-opens

US warns off Venezuela’s supporters as Lima meeting opens

Date created: Tuesday 6 August 2019,  06/08/2019 – 20:07

AFP, Lima (AFP): Washington warned third parties on Tuesday to avoid doing business with the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro, as delegates from some 60 countries met in Lima to discuss ways of ending the crisis in South American nation.

The warning came one day after President Donald Trump ordered a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and barred transactions with its authorities.

“We are sending a signal to third parties that want to do business with the Maduro regime: proceed with extreme caution,” said Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaking in Lima.

“There is no need to risk your business interests with the United States for the purposes of profiting from a corrupt and dying regime.”

The Trump administration is determined to force Maduro from power and support opposition leader Juan Guaido’s plans to form a transitional government and set up new elections.

The sanctions drew an angry response from Caracas, which denounced the US move as “another serious aggression by the Trump administration through arbitrary economic terrorism against the Venezuelan people.”

Crisis-wracked Venezuela has been mired in a political impasse since January when Guaido, speaker of the Natinal Assembly, proclaimed himself acting president, quickly receiving the support of more than 50 countries.

Tuesday’s meeting was called by the Lima Group, which includes a dozen Latin American countries and Canada, most of which support Guaido.

The Lima meeting comes as representatives of Maduro and Guaido are involved in “continuous” negotiations mediated by Norway.

The first round of talks were in Oslo in May, and three further rounds have taken place in Barbados.

Caracas claims the US sanctions show that Washington and its allies are “committed to the failure of the political dialogue” because “they fear the results and benefits.”

Bolton, who is in the US delegation alongside Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, said Maduro was “not serious” about talks.

He said Trump’s move “authorizes the US government to identify, target and impose sanctions on any persons who continue to provide support” Maduro’s “illegitimate regime.”

He said it would “deny Maduro access to the global financial system and to further isolate him internationally.”

Venezuela’s opposition considers Maduro a usurper over his re-election last year in a poll widely viewed as rigged.

They want him to stand down so new elections can be held — but Maduro, with support from the country’s powerful military, refuses to go.

Maduro says the talks must lead to “democratic coexistence” and an end to what he describes as an attempted US-orchestrated “coup.”

But on Tuesday the White House was emphatic: the “dictatorship must end for Venezuela to have a stable, democratic, and prosperous future.”

The United States would “use every appropriate tool to end Maduro’s hold on Venezuela,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Oil-rich but cash-poor Venezuela has been in a deep recession for five years.

[“President Barack Obama signed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, a U.S. Act imposing sanctions on Venezuelan individuals held responsible by the United States for human rights violations during the 2014 Venezuelan protests, in December of that year.[13][14] It “requires the President to impose sanctions” on those “responsible for significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses associated with February 2014 protests or, more broadly, against anyone who has directed or ordered the arrest or prosecution of a person primarily because of the person’s legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly”.[8]”]

Food and medicine shortages are routine, and public services are progressively failing.

[“As the humanitarian crisis deepened and expanded, the Trump administration levied more serious economic sanctions against Venezuela on 28 January [2019], and “Maduro accused the US of plunging Venezuelan citizens further into economic crisis.”[3] Rafael Uzcátegui, director of PROVEA, added that “sanctions against PDVSA are likely to yield stronger and more direct economic consequences, and that “[w]e should remember that 70 to 80 percent of Venezuela’s food is imported, and there’s barely any medicine production in the country.”[3]”]

——

MY COMMENTS: The U.S. regime’s sanctions against Venezuelans were aimed at producing such distress amongst the population so as to cause them not to vote for Maduro. It didn’t work. The sanctions had the intended effect of distressing Venezuelans, but this deprivation drove so many of the most anti-Maduro Venezuelans to leave the country so that the sanctions failed to force the expected “regime change.” It drove too many of his enemies out. The U.S. regime is therefore trying even-stronger measures to grab the country. Trump is dictating to Venezuela that “the dictatorship must end.” He has even chosen the person, Guaido, who is to replace the current nationally elected President, whom the U.S. regime has long been trying to oust. Guaido has never even been a candidate in any national Venezuelan election, but he was trained in the U.S., and has always cooperated with the U.S. Government’s repeated efforts to take control over Venezuela. Venezuela has never invaded nor even threatened the United States. This coup-attempt is purely an effort for imperialistic conquest of Venezuela, but it is cloaked in ‘democratic’ and ‘humanitarian’ lies, for fools, like America’s invasions and coups typically are. Only idiots can’t see what the U.S. pattern is here, especially after the lies that had suckered Americans in 2003 to support “regime-change in Iraq.” Trump is continuing Barack Obama’s policy, which continued that of George W. Bush. Whatever changes in personnel occur within the U.S. regime, the regime itself remains basically the same, though its theatrics change, and that’s enough change to satisfy most Americans that we live in a democracy. Virtually all of the U.S. Congress supports these efforts to conquer Venezuela, and this fascism includes all of the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidates. Therefore, none of the candidates are being challenged about their votes supporting this (or any other) attempted conquest by the U.S. regime. The neoconservative policy is bipartisan in America, though the personnel do change, from the representatives of one group of billionaires, to the representatives of another group of billionaires. And the vast majority of Americans think that it’s good, or at least okay — even after all of the lies have been exposed, they still approve. Of course, most Italians, Japanese, and Germans, thought favorably about their Government’s imperialistic conquests, during WW II; but Americans became opposed to that when we were hit by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war against us. This time around, we are the Japanese, and the Germans, and the Italians. Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way, but it has happened. The U.S. is today the world’s leading fascist nation. And very few Americans recognize that it’s the way that things did turn out. Very few Americans know that we live in a fascist nation — today’s leading fascist nation.

AFTER THAT NEWS-REPORT:

The next day, August 7th, Venezuela’s Telesur headlined “EU Opposes Recent US Total Blockade Against Venezuela” and reported that Trump had failed to get the EU — his biggest hope for destroying Venezuela short of militarily invading it — to accept even that proposal. The EU said “We oppose the extraterritorial application of unilateral measures.” They further said “A negotiated outcome remains the only sustainable way to overcome this multidimensional crisis.” The EU couldn’t muster enough fascists to go along with anything that the U.S. regime proposed. At this point, Trump isn’t far from the moment when he will need either to abandon his effort to grab Venezuela in this round, or else spring a blitz invasion without allies. Even if he calls off the effort, that would only be temporary. Perhaps if and when he is re-elected, he will feel freer just to send in thousands of troops, tanks, and missiles, to get the job done. However, if Russia stands firm, then such an invasion could spark WW III. He would have to decide whether grabbing the world’s largest oil reserves is worth that risk. Meanwhile, he will almost certainly continue to try to make life as difficult as possible for the Venezuelan people, all the while blaming Maduro for their misery. This has been the basic American plan, since well before Trump occupied the White House. At this stage, an American President is just a figurehead for one or another faction of America’s 607 billionaires, and it seems that whereas some of them demand conquest of Venezuela, none of the others opposes such a conquest. The only issue, therefore, for the American regime, is how and when to do that.

On August 8th, Venezuela, Iran, China, and Russia, held “war games” at Kaliningrad, Russia, on the Baltic coast, which military exercises had been organized by Russia, perhaps in order to indicate to Washington that a U.S. invasion against any of these four would be militarily responded to by all of the four. This symbolic act warns the fascist, and fascist-accepting, regimes: Your imperialist alliance has 60 nations, but is fractious; ours, on the other hand — all resolute supporters of national sovereignty, and therefore opponents of imperialism — has 4 nations, but we are united. Consequently, though “US warns off Venezuela’s supporters as Lima meeting opens,” Venezuela’s three allies here answered that verbal threat immediately after the Lima Group meeting, by a joint action, which symbolized that they are ignoring it.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Adding Context to ‘News’ about Venezuela

Fri, 2019-08-09 09:10

Eric Zuesse

On Tuesday, August 6th, the Trump Administration helped to lead a meeting In Lima Peru, of representatives from around 60 governments that have joined U.S. President Trump’s efforts to overthrow Venezuela’s Government. Below is a report about this meeting, by Agence France-Presse, a typical U.S.-allied ‘news’-medium. The italicized additions in brackets in and near the article’s end are essential historical context; it’s taken from Wikipedia’s article “International sanctions during the Venezuelan crisis”, and thus also isn’t from me. This way, the reader will be able to see what the ‘news’-report here leaves out, which is essential in order for readers to know the reality that stands behind this particular ‘news’ report. The minor typos in the original report are also left unchanged; the entire article is unchanged, except that I boldface the passages toward the end, which passages are subsequently contextualized immediately below them. Afterward, I shall add my own comments, in order to provide a fuller context:

——

http://archive.is/pNGYl

https://www.france24.com/en/20190806-us-warns-off-venezuelas-supporters-lima-meeting-opens

US warns off Venezuela’s supporters as Lima meeting opens

Date created: Tuesday 6 August 2019,  06/08/2019 – 20:07

AFP, Lima (AFP): Washington warned third parties on Tuesday to avoid doing business with the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro, as delegates from some 60 countries met in Lima to discuss ways of ending the crisis in South American nation.

The warning came one day after President Donald Trump ordered a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and barred transactions with its authorities.

“We are sending a signal to third parties that want to do business with the Maduro regime: proceed with extreme caution,” said Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaking in Lima.

“There is no need to risk your business interests with the United States for the purposes of profiting from a corrupt and dying regime.”

The Trump administration is determined to force Maduro from power and support opposition leader Juan Guaido’s plans to form a transitional government and set up new elections.

The sanctions drew an angry response from Caracas, which denounced the US move as “another serious aggression by the Trump administration through arbitrary economic terrorism against the Venezuelan people.”

Crisis-wracked Venezuela has been mired in a political impasse since January when Guaido, speaker of the Natinal Assembly, proclaimed himself acting president, quickly receiving the support of more than 50 countries.

Tuesday’s meeting was called by the Lima Group, which includes a dozen Latin American countries and Canada, most of which support Guaido.

The Lima meeting comes as representatives of Maduro and Guaido are involved in “continuous” negotiations mediated by Norway.

The first round of talks were in Oslo in May, and three further rounds have taken place in Barbados.

Caracas claims the US sanctions show that Washington and its allies are “committed to the failure of the political dialogue” because “they fear the results and benefits.”

Bolton, who is in the US delegation alongside Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, said Maduro was “not serious” about talks.

He said Trump’s move “authorizes the US government to identify, target and impose sanctions on any persons who continue to provide support” Maduro’s “illegitimate regime.”

He said it would “deny Maduro access to the global financial system and to further isolate him internationally.”

Venezuela’s opposition considers Maduro a usurper over his re-election last year in a poll widely viewed as rigged.

They want him to stand down so new elections can be held — but Maduro, with support from the country’s powerful military, refuses to go.

Maduro says the talks must lead to “democratic coexistence” and an end to what he describes as an attempted US-orchestrated “coup.”

But on Tuesday the White House was emphatic: the “dictatorship must end for Venezuela to have a stable, democratic, and prosperous future.”

The United States would “use every appropriate tool to end Maduro’s hold on Venezuela,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Oil-rich but cash-poor Venezuela has been in a deep recession for five years.

[“President Barack Obama signed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, a U.S. Act imposing sanctions on Venezuelan individuals held responsible by the United States for human rights violations during the 2014 Venezuelan protests, in December of that year.[13][14] It “requires the President to impose sanctions” on those “responsible for significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses associated with February 2014 protests or, more broadly, against anyone who has directed or ordered the arrest or prosecution of a person primarily because of the person’s legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly”.[8]”]

Food and medicine shortages are routine, and public services are progressively failing.

[“As the humanitarian crisis deepened and expanded, the Trump administration levied more serious economic sanctions against Venezuela on 28 Januaryst [2019], and “Maduro accused the US of plunging Venezuelan citizens further into economic crisis.”[3] Rafael Uzcátegui, director of PROVEA, added that “sanctions against PDVSA are likely to yield stronger and more direct economic consequences, and that “[w]e should remember that 70 to 80 percent of Venezuela’s food is imported, and there’s barely any medicine production in the country.”[3]”]

——

MY COMMENTS: The U.S. regime’s sanctions against Venezuelans were aimed at producing such distress amongst the population so as to cause them not to vote for Maduro. It didn’t work. The sanctions had the intended effect of distressing Venezuelans, but this deprivation drove so many of the most anti-Maduro Venezuelans to leave the country so that the sanctions failed to force the expected “regime change.” It drove too many of his enemies out. The U.S. regime is therefore trying even-stronger measures to grab the country. Trump is dictating to Venezuela that “the dictatorship must end.” He has even chosen the person, Guaido, who is to replace the current nationally elected President, whom the U.S. regime has long been trying to oust. Guaido has never even been a candidate in any national Venezuelan election, but he was trained in the U.S., and has always cooperated with the U.S. Government’s repeated efforts to take control over Venezuela. Venezuela has never invaded nor even threatened the United States. This coup-attempt is purely an effort for imperialistic conquest of Venezuela, but it is cloaked in ‘democratic’ and ‘humanitarian’ lies, for fools, like America’s invasions and coups typically are. Only idiots can’t see what the U.S. pattern is here, especially after the lies that had suckered Americans in 2003 to support “regime-change in Iraq.” Trump is continuing Barack Obama’s policy, which continued that of George W. Bush. Whatever changes in personnel occur within the U.S. regime, the regime itself remains basically the same, though its theatrics change, and that’s enough change to satisfy most Americans that we live in a democracy. Virtually all of the U.S. Congress supports these efforts to conquer Venezuela, and this fascism includes all of the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidates. Therefore, none of the candidates are being challenged about their votes supporting this (or any other) attempted conquest by the U.S. regime. The neoconservative policy is bipartisan in America, though the personnel do change, from the representatives of one group of billionaires, to the representatives of another group of billionaires. And the vast majority of Americans think that it’s good, or at least okay — even after all of the lies have been exposed, they still approve. Of course, most Italians, Japanese, and Germans, thought favorably about their Government’s imperialistic conquests, during WW II; but Americans became opposed to that when we were hit by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war against us. This time around, we are the Japanese, and the Germans, and the Italians. Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way, but it has happened. The U.S. is today the world’s leading fascist nation. And very few Americans recognize that it’s the way that things did turn out. Very few Americans know that we live in a fascist nation — today’s leading fascist nation.

UPDATE:

The next day, August 7th, Venezuela’s Telesur headlined “EU Opposes Recent US Total Blockade Against Venezuela” and reported that Trump had failed to get the EU — his biggest hope for destroying Venezuela short of militarily invading it — to accept his proposal. The EU said “We oppose the extraterritorial application of unilateral measures.” The EU couldn’t muster enough fascists to go along with the U.S. regime. At this point, Trump isn’t far from the moment when he will need either to abandon his effort to grab Venezuela in this round, or else spring a blitz invasion without allies. Even if he calls off the effort, that would only be temporary. Perhaps if and when he is re-elected, he will feel freer just to send in thousands of troops, tanks, and missiles, to get the job done. However, if Russia stands firm, then such an invasion could spark WW III. He would have to decide whether grabbing the world’s largest oil reserves is worth that risk. Meanwhile, he will almost certainly continue to try to make life as difficult as possible for the Venezuelan people, all the while blaming Maduro for their misery. This has been the basic American plan, since well before Trump occupied the White House.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

The Most Reliable Simple Way to Identify the Best Democratic Presidential Candidates

Wed, 2019-08-07 23:32

Eric Zuesse

Can one reasonably trust the campaign promises of Presidential candidates? Not at all! This isn’t only because the candidate might not be able to achieve his promises if elected, but even more it’s because in recent times, candidates haven’t been promising things that they actually intend to fight for if elected. Trump made a few progressive promises and also many conservative promises; and, as soon as he was elected, he dropped all of his progressive promises (such as restoring the Glass-Steagall Act, and such as reversing the Clinton-Bush-Obama policy of America serving as policeman — and judge, jury, and executioner — to the world), and implemented only the promises that Republican Party billionaires — his donors — either wanted or found acceptable to their own interests (such as locking up immigrants in private prisons). Similarly, Obama dropped his proposed “public option” the very moment he became elected, and he never fought for it, at all. The only promises that he did keep were the secret ones he had made to his biggest donors, such as when he secretly told the kings of Wall Street (major donors to his career), at the very start of his Presidency, “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks. … You guys have an acute public relations problem. … I want to help. … I’m not out there to go after you. I’m protecting you.” And that’s exactly what he actually did do — also in secret. His public pronouncements were merely his personal propaganda. He was so gifted at lying, he fooled the Nobel Committee into granting him their Peace Prize — for his mere rhetoric.

The best of the simple ways to identify the best Presidential candidates (especially since trusting, and largely relying upon, their promises would be so stupid) is to choose the one with the highest ratio of how much money they’re raising, divided by how many billionaires are donating to that candidate. The more billionaires who are donating to a candidate, the worse the candidate is. These giant investors want to be winners in everything they do; but, even more, they crave a President who will do their bidding — do what the billionaire had actually hired him/her to do. To the extent that billionaires feel certain that a candidate won’t do their bidding, they avoid that candidate like the plague. A candidate who refuses even to reach out to billionaires for donations is, to them, highly suspect; and a candidate who publicly makes a policy of doing that is considered by them to be their personal enemy, and they will do everything they possibly can, with their news-media, foundations, corporations, and otherwise, to defeat him/her.

On this rational scale, a candidate who raises no money and gets none from billionaires would be 0/0, which is realistically out of the real contest altogether — a candidate who has no public appeal, and no chance at all (no funds with which to campaign).

A candidate who doesn’t raise much money, but who gets a high percentage of it from super-rich people, is in the worst category of all, for the public, because that person is extremely dependent upon the super-rich, and stands no chance of winning, other than by making his/her most important and sincere promises to the billionaires who have bought the candidate and who have probably met privately with him/her and received secret promises from that candidate.

A candidate who has raised lots of money, and little of it from the super-rich, is owned by the public, and almost not at all by any billionaires.

A candidate who has raised lots of money from lots of people and none of it from billionaires, is the best candidate of all.

So, here that is, in more detail, and then applying that system, by naming the candidates:

A candidate who has raised the most money, and none of it from any billionaire, is clearly the very best for the public, because that person is owned 100% by the public, and not at all by any billionaire. As President, that person would be free-and-clear, to serve the public. And the only way for such a politician to be re-elected is to serve the public. That’s the ideal — if  such a candidate exists. Does he/her?

My sources, in what follows, are the New York Times, for the total dollars raised, and also for the total number of donors; plus Forbes, for the number of the candidate’s billionaire donors. All of these data are current, as of 31 July 2019.

The candidate who has raised the most money of all is Bernie Sanders, $36 million, from 746,000 donors, none of whom is a billionaire. He therefore is clearly the best candidate. He is that ideal candidate. It actually exists, in this particular electoral contest.

The candidate who has raised the second-most money is Pete Buttigieg, $32 million, from 390,000 donors, 23 of whom are billionaires. He is #1 in the number of billionaires, and #2 in funds raised; so, he has probably made secret promises to at least 23 super-rich individuals (which is the largest number of billionaire backers of any candidate in the race), but nonetheless he has also suckered lots of non super-rich, to be passionate enough for him to become President for them to donate to his campaign. If he becomes President, he will be extremely dangerous against the public, because he is extremely good at fooling the public (as is shown by his having 52% as many donors as Sanders has), and he is also extremely indebted to billionaires (as is shown by his having 23 billionaire-backers). He’d be like Barack Obama was: a rotten President, whose achievements in office would be what he had secretly promised to only the very wealthiest Americans. He’s slick enough to be able to deliver that type of government — billionaires’ government — to America’s billionaires. He would be the best bet for any billionaire to finance. Billionaires already know this.

The candidate who has raised the third-most money is Elizabeth Warren, $25 million, from 421,000 donors, of whom 2 are billionaires. She might be the second-best candidate after Sanders. She should drop out and endorse Sanders, if she cares about the country. Or does she not really agree with his objectives for the country? If she doesn’t, and can provide strong criticism against his proposals, then she has an obligation to Democratic Party voters to lay those differences out on the table for the Party’s voters to consider, right now. Otherwise, she is merely seeking power even more than she is seeking a better America. The idea that her being honest with the Party’s voters would ‘give the Republicans ammunition’ in the general election is fraudulent, because there already are plenty of Democratic candidates who are criticizing Sanders’s proposals, and nobody thinks that that is ‘giving the Republicans ammunition’. The purpose of a primary is to get the candidate who most-fully represents that Party’s voters, to become its nominee — not necessarily the entire electorate’s voters. The purpose of the general election is for the nominees of the Parties to persuade the most voters of the entire electorate, that their proposals are the best for the nation-as-a-whole. We’re not yet in the general-election phase, not even nearly so. Elizabeth Warren should drop out, and endorse Sanders, if she is at all honest, and isn’t merely seeking power.

The candidate who has raised the fourth-most money is Kamala Harris, $24 million, from 277,000 donors, of whom 17 are billionaires. She, like Buttigieg, is a contender (though a less-effective one) to become another President Barack Obama. Although she scores higher now in the polls than Buttigieg does, she has fewer supporters who are passionate in support of her than he does. If she becomes President, she will be less effective than Buttigieg would, and therefore she’s not as dangerous to the country as he would be. Too many people would see through her act. She’d be very ineffective, maybe even ineffective for her megadonors. The Republicans would therefore block her initiatives more easily than they would block a President Buttigieg’s initiatives. Only the very worst of her initiatives (her secret promises to billionaires) might become passed by Congress.

The candidate who has raised the fifth-most money is Joe Biden, $22 million from 256,000 people, 13 of whom are billionaires. He’s equivalent to Harris and to Buttigieg. Though he now leads the polls, his likelihood of winning the nomination is evidently much lower than generally expected, and his likelihood of beating Trump is currently way over-rated. Biden isn’t as competent a liar as is Harris, and not nearly as much as is Buttigieg. His Presidency, if he does beat Trump, would be just as much a failure as Harris’s would be. He (like Harris) would be even less effective than Obama was. But this doesn’t mean that he couldn’t be even more dangerous than Obama was. It would just mean that Republicans would get their way even more than they did under Obama.

The candidate who has raised the sixth-most money is Betto O’Rourke, $13 million, from 188,000 donors, 9 of whom are billionaires.

Those are all of the candidates who, as of the present moment, are, at all, real (even if some of them, especially O’Rourke, weak) contenders.

However, that’s not the full list of the billionaires’ favorites. Some candidates are so subservient to billionaires as to get donations from them even despite their already having shown that the Party’s voters hold the given candidate in low regard. (Any billionaire can afford to spend on luxuries, such as super-cravenous servants.) Here is the ranking of those, and the candidate’s respective number of billionaire donors:

1: Pete Buttigieg, 23.

2: Cory Booker, 18.

3: Kamala Harris, 17.

4. Michael Bennett, 15.

5. Joe Biden, 13.

6. John Hickenlooper, 11.

7. Beto O’Rourke, 9.

8. Amy Klobuchar, 8.

9. Jay Inslee, 5.

10. Kirsten Gillibrand, 4.

11. John Delaney, 3.

12. Elizabeth Warren & Steve Bullock, tied with 2 each.

13. Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson, tied with 1 each.

14. Bernie Sanders, 0.

My own top two preferences are Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard. But I trust Sanders the most, and therefore prefer him. Furthermore, if Gabbard cannot score higher in the polls than she now is doing, then she, too, should just drop out and endorse Sanders, so as to prevent Biden, Harris, or Buttigieg from obtaining the Democratic Party’s nomination. However, this is only my personal opinion, and the numbers that have been presented here are not affected by that opinion; instead, these numbers have helped to shape this opinion. (My opinion is also shaped by my having carefully examined each candidate’s voting record on issues as a member of Congress, if the candidate has been in Congress; or, otherwise, the person’s record in other public offices.) My political ideology can be found here.

This contest is now between two groups of three candidates each: for the public are Sanders, Warren, and Gabbard; for the billionaires are Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg. It will be mainly an endurance contest, first within each of those two groups, and then between the respective winner of each of the two groups. Money therefore will determine the winner even more than the current polls will. Candidates normally drop out when their money becomes exhausted. I am hoping that Warren and Gabbard will do so before that. I am hoping that Warren and Gabbard truly are more interested in the fate of the country, and of the world, than in becoming the U.S. President. For Warren, and for Gabbard, that test will be the ultimate test of the given candidate’s honesty. If each of them passes that test, then the final, the general electoral, contest will be between Sanders versus Trump. No candidate, in the history of polling, has performed consistently as highly and as well in polled hypothetical matchups against Trump as has Sanders. That is just a fact. It’s not opinion. But, currently, Biden scores even higher against Trump than Sanders does. That, too, is a fact. In my opinion, the result of it will be that Biden will increasingly suck up most of the billionaires’ donations, and that increasing numbers of billionaires will donate also to Warren, in order to knock Sanders out and win the nomination for Biden. Warren could turn out to be the billionaires’ biggest weapon, and Biden’s biggest friend. Consequently, Warren could be the most dangerous person in the contest, and the biggest asset for Biden. If I had to bet now, I would bet on the Democrats producing a Biden-Warren ticket. If that turns out to be the case, I won’t vote on the Presidential line in the general election, or else I’ll vote for some third Party’s nominee there. I won’t vote for a fascist — not even for a liberal one.

——

Here are results from the latest poll, which was taken of potential general-election voters (Democrats, Republicans and Independents), and therefore is more an extremely early general-election indicator of the general-election results, than it’s an indicator of whom the Democratic Party’s voters — the voters during the primary contests — will vote to become the Democratic Party’s nominee; and what it shows is that each of the Democratic Party’s nominees has lots of opposition amongst the public; even the candidates who are the likeliest to become the Party’s nominee do; so, the general-election contest will be extremely hard-fought, for the votes of an ideologically schizophrenic American electorate, in a country which is anything but united. Therefore, any voter in the primaries who is trying to “beat Trump” instead of to choose simply the best candidate to serve as the U.S. President, is making compromises in advance, on the basis of misunderstanding this nation’s electorate, and is thereby giving the billionaires a gift of compromise, by compromising with them even before the final contest has actually started:

https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/7jv630mjdk/econTabReport.pdf

The Economist/YouGov Poll August 3 – 6, 2019 – 1500 US Adult citizens 60B. Favorability of politicians — Joe Biden Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the following people?

Biden

Don’t know 18%

Favorable 41% (Very favorable 19%, Somewhat favorable 22%

Unfavorable 41% (Somewhat favorable 24%, Very unfavorable 24%)

Bennett

Don’t know 61%

Favorable 18%

Unfavorable 22%

Booker

Don’t know 34%

Favorable 30%

Unfavorable 32%

Bullock

Don’t know 64%

Favorable 15%

Unfavorable 21%

Buttigieg

Don’t know 39%

Favorable 31% (Very favorable 15%, Somewhat favorable 16%)

Unfavorable 30% (Somewhat unfavorable 11%, Very unfavorable 19%)

Castro

Don’t know 43%

Favorable 26%

Unfavorable 29%

De Blasio

Don’t know 42%

Favorable 17%

Unfavorable 42%

Delaney

Don’t know 58%

Favorable 15%

Unfavorable 27%

Gabbard

Don’t know 48%

Favorable 22% (Very favorable 6%, Somewhat favorable 16%)

Unfavorable 27% (Somewhat unfavorable 15%, Very unfavorable 15%)

Gillibrand

Don’t know 42%

Favorable 24%

Unfavorable 34%

Harris

Don’t know 29%

Favorable 31% (Very favorable 14%, Somewhat favorable 17%)

Unfavorable 40% (Somewhat unfavorable 13%, Very unfavorable 27%)

Hickenlooper

Don’t know 55%

Favorable 17%

Unfavorable 28%

Inslee

Don’t know 59%

Favorable 18%

Unfavorable 23%

Klobuchar

Don’t know 47%

Favorable 23%

Unfavorable 30%

O’Rourke

Don’t know 35%

Favorable 29%

Unfavorable 37%

Ryan

Don’t know 56%

Favorable 16%

Unfavorable 28%

Sanders

Don’t know 18%

Favorable 40% (Very favorable 18%, Somewhat favorable 22%)

Unfavorable 42% (Somewhat unfavorable 13%, Very unfavorable 29%)

Warren

Don’t know 24%

Favorable 38% (Very favorable 20%, Somewhat favorable 18%)

Unfavorable 38% (Somewhat unfavorable 10%, Very unfavorable 28%)

Williamson

Don’t know 50%

Favorable 18%

Unfavorable 32%

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Long After Hiroshima

Wed, 2019-08-07 12:46

Remarks August 6, 2019, at Hiroshima to Hope in Seattle, Washington

How do we honor victims? We can remember them and appreciate who they were. But there were too many of them, and too many unknown to us. So, we can remember a sample of them, examples of them. And we can honor the living survivors, get to know and appreciate them while they are still alive.

We can remember the horrific way in which those killed were victimized, in hopes of manipulating ourselves into doing something serious about it. We can remember those who were instantly vaporized, but also those half-burnt, partially melted, those eaten out from the inside by maggots, those who died slowly in excruciating pain and in the presence of their screaming children, those who died from drinking water they knew would kill them but who were driven to it by thirst.

And then, when we are ready to take action, when we have built up a righteous anger, what is it we should do? We should not, of course, commit some new atrocity under the banner of cosmic balance. Nuking Washington D.C. or spray painting Harry Truman’s grave would not honor anyone in any way. Instead of resorting to magical means of undoing the mass killing, we have to face up to the fact that we cannot in any way whatsoever undo it. We cannot bring back those slaughtered in Japan 74 years ago. We cannot bring back any of the millions murdered in that war or any of the millions murdered in any of the wars since.

But here’s the good news. There are many things that are commonly thought of as just as impossible or more so than bringing back the dead which we most certainly can do. And they are things that I believe honor the victims in the most profound way imaginable.

The key to understanding this is that, apart from feedback loops set in motion by environmental destruction, anything — absolutely anything — created by humans can be uncreated by humans, can be replaced by something radically different by humans.

After the bombings that did not end the war, after the Soviet invasion, after the war finally did end, a system of victors’ justice was established in which war was for the first time prosecuted as a crime, but only if you’d lost it. An international system of government was created which, this time around, the United States joined, but it was a system that made the biggest war makers and weapons dealers more equal than everybody else. The veto power at the UN Security Council is not an immutable genetic or physical or mystical inheritance. It’s words on a computer screen. The International Criminal Court does not have to prosecute only Africans in the way in which an apple that detaches from a tree has to move downward, but rather in the way in which the U.S. House of Representatives had to oppose ending the Korean War until this past month when it started supporting ending the Korean War.

The same body, which I usually refer to as the House of Misrepresentatives, also this past month passed a requirement that every foreign U.S. base be justified as benefitting U.S. security. If that were to be followed through on, the U.S. would not become able to undo the injustice inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it would be compelled to cease inflicting injustice on Okinawa.

Seventy-three countries have signed and 23 ratified a new treaty banning nuclear weapons. Every country on earth except the United States has signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Most countries on earth, unlike the United States, are party to the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights optional protocols, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention Against Torture optional protocol, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, and the International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, and the Principles of International Cooperation in the Detection, Arrest, Extradition, and Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and the Land Mines Convention.

The notion that the U.S. government, misrepresenting 4% of humanity, cannot do what most of humanity’s governments do because of a nonexistent imaginary monster called “human nature” is the purest example I know — of George Orwell’s description of propaganda. He said that propaganda gives an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

Nuclear weapons are not our masters. We are their masters. We can dismantle them like duelling grounds and segregated water fountains and electric chairs and statues of Confederate generals if we choose to. But it will be difficult to do so without dismantling the institution of war. A nation like North Korea does not appear eager to give up its nukes while under threat of attack, even if that attack would use non-nuclear weapons. Yet, again, there’s good news. The institution of war can be dismantled too. And, for those who’ve been tragically misinformed that nothing new can happen, it’s worth noting that most humans who have ever lived have had nothing to do with war, and most human societies have had nothing to do with war. Those who do participate in war, even from the comfort of a joystick in a trailer in Nevada, usually suffer for it horribly. They are not driven to it by their inherent inevitable core whatchamawhootchie; they are driven to it by deprivation of a good education and prospects for a good nonviolent life.

Some countries spend $0 per year on war. The United States spends $1.25 trillion. No other country is closer to the United States than it is to $0. All other countries combined are closer to $0 than to the U.S. level of spending. We can and we must convert from militarism to environmental protection. The benefits will be economic, social, moral, environmental, and beyond our capacity to fully imagine. We can shift from hostility to generosity. One percent of the U.S. military budget could give the world clean drinking water. Three percent could end starvation worldwide. Start trying to imagine what 8% or 12% could do.

It is well documented that 95% of all suicide terrorist attacks are conducted to encourage foreign occupiers to leave the terrorist’s home country. In fact, I’m not aware of a foreign terrorist threat, attempt, or action against the United States, in which a motivation was stated, where that motivation was anything other than opposition to U.S. military imperialism. Meanwhile precisely 0% of terrorist attacks, suicide or otherwise, have been motivated by resentment of the generous giving of food, water, medicine, schools, or clean energy.

Government secrecy and suspicion and surveillance are not inevitable, and not defensible without first accepting the baseless assumptions of a culture gone mad for war. Actual democracy is possible. Governance by public vote or by representatives who have not been bought and paid for is possible. Completely altering our ridiculous beliefs in the inevitability of certain institutions is possible. Not only is it possible, but it constitutes the major events in human history. The notion that we cannot make such changes is a lie. The claim that we are powerless is a vicious lie.

Peace activist Lawrence Wittner once asked former officials from Ronald Reagan’s Administration about the Nuclear Freeze movement, and they usually claimed they’d paid no attention to it. Then one of them, Robert McFarlane spilled the beans, recounting a “massive administration campaign to counter and discredit the freeze.” When Wittner then interviewed Ed Meese, Meese claimed to know nothing, until Wittner told him what McFarlane had said. And, Wittner says, “a sheepish grin now spread across this former government official’s face, and I knew that I had caught him.” When you’re tempted to internalize the absurd notion that they aren’t paying attention to us, remember that all government is always on the verge of a sheepish grin.

We can scale back war, nuclear and otherwise, together with racism, together with extreme materialism, together with environmental destruction, together with exceptionalism, together with blind subservience to authority, together with irresponsibility toward future generations. We can create a culture of peace, a structural society of peace, a cooperative world of mutual respect and love. Whether we will do so or not is a question to be answered not by predictions but by our actions.

At World BEYOND War we are working on peace education, on mobilizing action, on divesting funds from the war machine, on closing foreign military bases — and domestic bases too. We are eager to work in partnership with anyone and everyone to advance these goals. When Joe Hill asked us to not mourn his death but to organize for the change he had worked for, he gave us advice so powerful that when we follow it, it becomes harder to think of Joe Hill as a victim. We’re almost forced to think of him as an ally. Perhaps if we imagine the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki asking us to not mourn but organize we can after all achieve the impossible, we can undo their victimization and honor them as our brothers and sisters in struggle.

Perhaps we can imagine Shelley speaking to the nuclear victims, saying Rise like Lions after slumber In unvanquishable number, Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had fallen on you – Ye are many – they are few.

Nothing Is Guaranteed

Tue, 2019-08-06 03:22

The American lifestyle and economy depend on a vast number of implicit guarantees— systemic forms of entitlement that we implicitly feel are our birthright.

Chief among these implicit entitlements is the Federal Reserve can always “save the day”: the Fed has the tools to escape either an inflationary spiral or a deflationary collapse.

But there are no guarantees this is actually true. In either an inflationary spiral or deflationary collapse of self-reinforcing defaults, the Fed’s “save” would destroy the economy, which is now so fragile that any increase in interest rates (to rescue us from an inflationary spiral) would destroy our completely debt-dependent economy: were mortgage rates to climb back to historical averages, the housing bubble would immediately implode.

Hello negative wealth effect, as every homeowner watches their temporary (and illusory) “wealth” dissipate before their eyes.

The Fed’s “fix” to deflationary defaults is equally destructive: bailing out too big to fail lenders will spark a political revolt that could topple the Fed itself, as the populace has finally connected the dots between the Fed bailing out the banks and financiers and the astounding rise in income and wealth inequality.

Other than the phantom “wealth” of real estate and stock bubbles, the vast majority of the ‘wealth” generated by the Fed’s actions of the past 20 years has flowed to the top 0.1%. This will become self-evident once the phantom gains of speculative bubbles vanish.

The Fed’s other “trick” to halt a deflationary collapse is negative interest rates, in effect taxing savers and those holding cash and rewarding those who borrow.

Negative interest rates destroy every institution that depends on relatively low-risk interest income via bonds: pension funds, insurance companies, etc.

And how can lenders earn any return if borrowers are getting paid to borrow?Who exactly will pay borrowers to borrow more at negative rates?

As noted here many times, you can’t force people to borrow more who don’t want to borrow more, and you can’t make uncreditworthy entities creditworthy. Lending to marginal households and enterprises just for the sake of lending to somebody only increases the defaults as marginal borrowers are the first to default and own the least collateral.

Nothing the Fed could do will restore a fragile, speculation-dependent debt-bubble economy to any sort of health. Whatever the Fed does, it further distorts a massively distorted system, increasing the odds of a catastrophic re-set.

Another implicit guarantee / entitlement is that the federal government can bail us out of anything by borrowing a couple of trillion dollars–hey, make it $10 trillion or $20 trillion–and distribute the free money so everything stays glued together for another few years.

But there are no guarantees that the federal government, or any government, can borrow vast sums with no consequences. If interest rates are near-zero (so the government can borrow more trillions at low rates), then capital earns no return: a structural distortion that eventually destroys the economy as capital is forced into speculation, a move which always ends badly.

If capital earns a real return on all this rapidly expanding debt, then government soon spends most of its revenues on interest, starving all other programs, and forcing the government to a self-reinforcing debt spiral as all future interest and spending must be borrowed.

Here’s a snapshot of reality: the Fed has inflated a third and final speculative debt-fueled bubble:

And here’s how bubbles deflate: in a stairstep down of failed rallies and manic hopes dashed by reality:

There are no guarantees, no matter how monumental the hubris and confidence. 

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My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

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What is the world’s most corrupt country?

Mon, 2019-08-05 21:51

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

Is it the country that corrupts the staff, the employees, of the U.N.? (No other country has the power to do that. This one does, and it takes full advantage of the opportunity, and carries out that corruption, ruthlessly.)

Is it the country that’s so corrupt at the very top, so that the model their aristocracy sets for their subjects to respect is so thoroughly rotten that this country has the world’s highest percentage of its people in prisons? If those prisoners are behind bars because they authentically should be, then that country is rotten at the bottom. But otherwise than that, there would have to be, above its bottom, at the level of the country’s entire criminal-justice system, a horrific amount of injustice, in order to place so many people behind bars, because this country’s having the world’s highest imprisonment-rate would then NOT reflect the prisoners’ extraordinary badness, but, instead, it would reflect the government’s extraordinary badness. In either instance, this country is an extraordinary global model of corruption, and truly earns the prize: “the world’s most corrupt nation.” (Furthermore: to the extent that this country’s having the world’s highest percentage of its people in prison does reflect extraordinary badness of the general population, it would mean that their government has been atrocious; and, therefore, the country’s elite — the people who control its government — would still have to be ultimately to blame. Consequently: having the world’s highest imprisonment-rate is a remarkably clear indication that the country’s government is uniquely atrocious.)

Of course, this country is the United States of America — none other — a ‘democracy’ that accuses, as being authoritarian and corrupt, the nations (such as Venezuela, and Iran, and Syria, and Russia, and China) that it aims to strangulate by imposing economic sanctions, and coups, and invasions, or whatever else its aristocracy (through the government that they directly control, the United States Government) can do, in order to grab. The U.S.A. is the world’s global-imperial country. Its aristocracy want to control everything. This is clear. And that’s why it’s also the world’s most corrupt nation.

The standard ranking for nations’ corruption is the extremely opaque (non-transparent)  Transparency International rankings. They say “The index draws on 13 surveys from independent institutions specialising in governance and business climate analysis covering expert assessments and views of businesspeople.” How ‘independent’ are they? Who are they? TI doesn’t volunteer such crucial information. TI certainly isn’t eager to become “Transparent” itself, and to answer such questions — at least not in any easily accessible and clear way, online, to the global public.

Transparency International is actually funded by the U.S. and its European allies (in other words, it’s a U.S. Cold War, CIA-affiliated, operation, against Russia and any nation that’s friendly toward Russia), as a PR gimmick, in order to use against governments (ones they score lower) which the U.S. aristocracy (America’s billionaires)  simply want to regime-change — overthrow, control, take over, add to the list of countries that are obedient to U.S. billionaires’ demands. TI scores all of those less-obedient nations lower. Almost all on the list of TI’s donors (the nations that are scored higher) are controlled by U.S.-and-affiliated billionaires. TI is one of the U.S. billionaires’ agencies; and TI’s ‘findings’ are consistent with the plan of TI’s masters. It’s no mere coincidence that they are scored higher — it’s part of their plan. It’s part of what all of them buy with their donations. America’s current TI ranking, as of 9 July 2019, of 22 out of 180, is said there to be from “Corruption Perceptions Index 2018”. The U.S. scores below 21 nations. Here are the top 25, in order from the top: Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Canada, Luxembourg, Germany, UK, Australia, Austria, Hong Kong, Iceland, Belgium, Estonia, Ireland, Japan, France, U.S., Uruguay, Barbados.

All of those top 22 governments — both directly and indirectly — fund TI. So: they’re all rated among the top 25. Is that really mere coincidence? None of the top-scoring countries should be funding it, but all of them are. How ‘objective’ are such ratings? Furthermore, Barbados is one of the world’s leading tax-havens, serving billionaires from all over the world, to hide their wealth, and to avoid taxes. How ‘Transparent’ is that?

Then, starting at #26, and going down to #50, it’s: Bhutan, Chile, Seychelles, Bahamas, Portugal, Brunei, Taiwan, Qatar, Botswana, Israel, Poland, Slovenia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Georgia, Latvia, St. Vincent, Spain, Cabo Verde, Dominica, South Korea, Costa Rica, Rwanda, St. Lucia.

Then, prominent nations going down to the very bottom are: Italy is 54. Saudi Arabia is 59. Cuba is 61. Greece is 67. South Africa is 77. India is 83. Turkey is 87. China is 90. Brazil is 107. Ukraine is 123. Honduras is 133. Iran is 139. Russia is 143. Nigeria is 148. Nicaragua is 155. Zimbabwe is 160. Haiti is 163. Iraq is 168. Venezuela is 169. Libya is 171. Afghanistan is 172. North Korea is 176. Yemen is 177. Syria is 179. Somalia is 180 (the last and supposedly most corrupt).

Barbados, Seychelles, Bahamas, Cyprus, St, Vincent, and St. Lucia, are all leading tax-havens, to hide wealth from being taxed. And, for example, Seychelles grants “complete immunity from prosecution in criminal proceedings and the protection of assets from forfeiture even if investment were earned as a result of crimes”. Moreover, most tax-havens were established by the British Empire: Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, Jersey, Guernsey, Dominica, and Isle of Man — all of them are. Furthermore, some of the main tax-havens aren’t even listed among the 180 TI-rated nations. Examples of this are Nauru, Cook Islands, and Liechtenstein; and that’s like a signal for billionaires to ‘earn’ their money in such places, since those are especially obscure locales for tax-collectors to look for offshore wealth. So much, then, for ‘Transparency International’.

America’s two main allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Israel, don’t score amongst the top nations, and this might suggest that their billionaires are part of the U.S. aristocracy — indissolubly connected with it — or even perhaps masters to it; and they therefore don’t even need to concern themselves about their PR.

But none of that list is, at all, trustworthy. Methodology is everything, and TI’s methodology is untrustworthy. It has to be taken on faith — or else not at all — in order to trust TI. No scientific investigation can be like that — faith-based. Furthermore, the funding and history of TI appear to explain why it’s untrustworthy.

——

https://www.transparency.org/news/pressrelease/explanation_of_how_individual_country_scores_of_the_corruption_perceptions

http://archive.is/yyzEq

EXPLANATION OF HOW INDIVIDUAL COUNTRY SCORES OF THE CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX ARE CALCULATED

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat

The Corruption Perceptions Index is a composite index, a combination of different international surveys and assessments of corruption, collected by a variety of reputable institutions. The index draws on 13 surveys from independent institutions specialising in governance and business climate analysis covering expert assessments and views of businesspeople. None of these surveys were commissioned by Transparency International. [This then says here, “Note to editors: For more information about the Corruption Perceptions Index and its methodology, please see: http://www.transparency.org/cpi”, and refers readers further here to this:]

https://archive.is/Vt0TZ

Based on expert opinion, the Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide. [That’s all it says — it’s even less than their site which had linked to it says. It’s a cul-de-sac, instead of a pathway to understanding the methodology behind TI’s rankings.]

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transparency_International

http://archive.is/108yO#selection-939.0-1133.4

History[edit]

Transparency International was founded in May 1993. According to political scientist Ellen Gutterman, “TI’s presence in Germany, and indeed its organizational development and rise from a small operation to a prominent international TNGO, benefited from the activities and personal, elite connections of at least three key German individuals: Peter Eigen, Hansjoerg Elshorst, and Michael Wiehen”.[16]

Peter Eigen, a former regional director for the World Bank, is recognized as a founder, along with others.[16] Michael Wiehen was a World Bank official at Washington, D.C.[17] Hansjörg Elshorst was managing director of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) (German Agency for Technical Cooperation). Other founding board members included John Githongo (former Permanent Secretary for Ethics and Governance in the office of the President, Kenya),[18] General Electric lawyer Fritz Heimann,[19] Michael J. Hershman of the U.S. military intelligence establishment (now President and CEO of the Fairfax Group),[20] Kamal Hossain (Bangladesh‘s former Minister of Foreign Affairs),[18] Dolores L. Español (the Philippines‘ former presiding Judge of Regional Trial Court),[18] George Moody Stuart (sugar industrialist),[21] Gerald Parfitt (Coopers & Lybrand, then PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ukraine),[22] Jeremy Pope (New Zealand activist and writer), and Frank Vogl, a senior official at the World Bank and head of Vogl Communications, Inc., which has “provided advice to leaders of international finance”.[23][24][25][26][27]

In 1995, Transparency International developed the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI ranked nations on the prevalence of corruption within each country, based upon surveys of business people.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Bank

https://archive.is/tGNjl#selection-949.0-1385.5

History[edit]

John Maynard Keynes (right) and Harry Dexter White, the “founding fathers” of both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).[10]

The World Bank was created at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The president of the World Bank is, traditionally, an American.[11] The World Bank and the IMF are both based in Washington, D.C., and work closely with each other.

The Gold Room at the Mount Washington Hotel where the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were established

Although many countries were represented at the Bretton Woods Conference, the United States and United Kingdom were the most powerful in attendance and dominated the negotiations.[12]:52–54 The intention behind the founding of the World Bank was to provide temporary loans to low-income countries which were unable to obtain loans commercially.[7] The Bank may also make loans and demand policy reforms from recipients.[7]

1944–1974[edit]

Before 1974, the reconstruction and development loans provided by the World Bank were relatively small. The Bank’s staff were aware of the need to instill confidence in the bank. Fiscal conservatism ruled, and loan applications had to meet strict criteria.[12]:56–60

The first country to receive a World Bank loan was France. The Bank’s president at the time, John McCloy, chose France over two other applicants, Poland and Chile. …

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And it goes on and on, and the deeper that I have looked into TI, the more persuasive the case becomes to me that it’s a fraud.

This fraud started in 1993. Why at that time? The Soviet Union had broken up in 1991, and its Warsaw Pact allies were then ripe for the taking — switching soon into America’s NATO military alliance against Russia. The ideology communism no longer ruled Russia; and so a new excuse for U.S.-allied suckers still to dislike and fear Russia was needed: ‘corruption’, and ‘authoritarianism’, and ‘violating its citizens’ rights’, were all used, but especially ‘corruption’. In 1993, TI was instituted by the U.S.-created World Bank, in order to handle the ‘corruption’-propaganda portfolio for the U.S. empire. Actually, even before 1993, the U.S. aristocracy sent in their ‘experts’ to advise the naive Boris Yeltsin’s team how to set up ‘capitalism’ — corruption from which America’s aristocrats could skim. David McClintick’s 20,000-word “How Harvard lost Russia” told this history, in detail. Here’s an excerpt:

[Jeffrey] Sachs wasn’t the only Harvard professor in Moscow in the summer and fall of 1991. No fewer than four university affiliates — the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Russian Research Center, HIID and the economics department — were represented. Graham Allison, the founding dean of the Kennedy School, was pushing an updated version of the 500 Days plan with its co-author, liberal economist Grigory Yavlinsky. Marshall Goldman, the director of Harvard’s venerable Russian Research Center and a frequent visitor to the Soviet Union for decades, was providing counsel to various parties. Sachs, thanks to his experience in Poland, emerged as the leading figure among these notables. In Moscow he encountered yet another Harvard colleague, Andrei Shleifer. Shleifer had been sent to Moscow by the World Bank, where Summers, on leave from Harvard, was serving as chief economist. Shleifer possessed a distinct advantage over other Westerners: He was a native of Russia and fluent in the language, having been born there in 1961. His parents were engineers, a profession the state chose for them. Shleifer revealed at an early age that he was ambitious; in a photograph taken when he was six, he is dressed as a Soviet Army general. When a friend transferred to one of the best schools in Moscow, Shleifer bicycled there and didn’t leave until he had persuaded the principal to admit him as well.

The World Bank was in on the scheme ever since TI’s very inception. The Summers-led World Bank gave birth to TI in 1993.

This was just one part of U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush’s scheme, which he first instructed to the U.S. regime’s vassal leaders privately, on the night of 24 February 1990. TI is follow-through, on that, from Bush, but perpetrated under Clinton, and Bush II and Obama and Trump thereafter.

The world’s most corrupt country is the United States of America, especially on a global basis — in America’s international relations — because the imperial capital is always the center of an empire’s corruption. It was true in the Roman Empire and others before, and it’s true now. That’s what empires are for. This is not exceptionalism. It is normal. And TI is just one of this operation’s many frauds.

It’s an important one. Especially because TI’s ‘corruption’ scores affect how high an interest-rate the nation will pay on its sovereign debt. The IMF’s Public Financial Management Blog headlined on 15 September 2016 “The (Fiscal) Benefits of Transparency”, and reported: “A series of studies (Ciocchini et al 2003; Depken et al 2007; Remolona et al 2008) show that as scores on Transparency International’s (TI’s) Corruptions Perception Index (CPI) decrease, borrowing costs increase. These studies all show direct causality between corruption risk and borrowing costs, controlling for other influences.” Investors trust the fraud and therefore pay lots more for debt from ‘Transparent’ regimes. The IMF can only be happy that the TI fraud works. However: taxpayers in any non-U.S.-allied country can only be sad that it does. Everybody either is ignorant that the top scorers ‘coincidentally’ are U.S.-allied, or else they believe that to be U.S.-allied means to be trustworthy, honest. But there’s also a third factor functioning here: countries that aren’t U.S.-allied can have their credit destroyed by U.S.-imposed sanctions. Not to be a U.S. vassal-nation is extremely dangerous. It really does pose a credit-risk. But that’s not because TI isn’t corrupt and its rankings are honest. It is because the U.S. is  corrupt — at its very top — and it reigns over global corruption.

This corruption extends to the U.S. regime’s vassal-governments. A recent example is provided by the UK. On 4 July 2019, America’s UK vassal seized an Iranian vessel, the oil tanker “Grace 1.” The UK regime had seized it at the U.S. regime’s request. Christopher Black, a Toronto international criminal lawyer, headlined on 18 July 2019, “Piracy or War?” and he cited the international legislation, to which the U.S. and UK both are signatories, and he proved there that “It is clear that in the case of the boarding and detention of the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, registered in Panama, as many ships are, off the Spanish coast, near Gibraltar, that Britain had no legal right to order its marines to board the Iranian ship which was either in international waters as the Iranians claim or in Spanish waters near Gibraltar. It is in flagrant violation of the Convention on the High seas to which it is a party and which therefore is also a part of the domestic law of the United Kingdom.” This is typical U.S.-and-allied international gangsterism. It’s thoroughly in line with Cecil Rhodes’s dream of continuing the British Empire by establishing a “special relationship” in which it’s attached to the rising U.S. empire — which happened at the start of the 1900s.

Then, on 27 July 2019, the whistleblowing UK Ambassador who quit UK’s diplomatic corps and became one of the world’s best investigative journalists, Craig Murray, headlined “Tanker Seizures and the Threat to the Global Economy from Resurgent Imperialism” and he opened by saying — and then he proved — that “The British seizure of the Iranian tanker off Gibraltar was illegal. There is no doubt of that whatsoever.” Corrupt regimes aren’t gangsters only internally, but they are corrupt gangsters also internationally — this time operating like a U.S.-UK tag-team against Iran.

Furthermore, on July 30th:

U.S. forces are looting oil fields and farmlands in northeastern Syria. “Syrian oil is extracted and sold from the fields of Conico, al-Omar and al-Tanak located on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. There is a criminal scheme to transport Syrian oil across the border,” [Russia’s] Col. Gen. Rudskoi said, adding that the number of U.S. private military contractors deployed to secure this effort exceeded 3,500.

The US is also preparing militant sabotage groups that would be tasked with attacks on infrastructure to destabilize the situation in the government-held areas. These groups are being formed from around 2,700 members of Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra and other militant groups trained by the US.

That’s clearly outright theft by the U.S. regime, against Syria’s Government. It is blatant; it is  “Transparent.”

Obviously: any government such as U.S. or UK can’t be trusted by foreign investors in the event that its domestic aristocracy will benefit from its government’s dishonoring a contractual obligation. To invest in any such regime is to bet on its maintaining its position of power. That’s why the U.S. regime spends approximately half of the entire world’s military expenses. Force, coercion, is essential in order to build wealth and to keep it. This is the reality, not the myth. This gang of global billionaires holds almost the entire world in its grip. And the few nations that aren’t in its grip pay enormous costs to continue being free of it (such as UK is). Every nation’s aristocracy is required to pay (extracted from their public) protection-money (tribute), or else it will be crushed.

People who don’t want to know how and why they had been deceived to believe, for example, that there were “WMD in Iraq” in 2002 and 2003, aren’t interested in knowing the deeper reality, which hasn’t changed since at least that time. Corruption radiates outward and downward, from the imperial center. Virtually everything is subject to it. The leadership in every nation know this. The Deep State exists so as to enforce it. The Deep State is impervious to laws, because the only law it follows is might-makes-right.

Furthermore, as the former labor reporter for the New York Times, Steven Greenhouse, headlined an op-ed in that newspaper on August 3rd, “Yes, America Is Rigged Against Workers”. He documented there, with links to the most authoritative sources, that the United States Government is the most anti-labor government in all of the industrialized world. He documented exactly what one would expect to be the case in a country that’s ironclad-controlled by only its extremely wealthiest citizens, the owners of the megacorporations that employ those workers. According to every scientific measure, the United States is extremely corrupt, at the top, if not also at the bottom. And not a single one of America’s 607 billionaires is in prison, though America has the world’s highest percentage of its people in prison. In America, prison is almost entirely for the poorest people.

Clearly, then, the U.S. is the world’s most corrupt country — at least amongst all of the industrialized nations. The individuals who control it are determined to keep it that way.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.