Yesterday, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to be a Supreme Court justice with a vote of 50 – 48 in the Senate. We have been told repeatedly that the so-called “nuclear option”, a new rule put into place by the Republicans to get Trump’s earlier nominee, Neil Gorsuch, onto the court means that a Supreme Court nominee needs a “simple majority of 51 votes” to be confirmed. Prior to the Gorsuch nomination (and subsequent confirmation), the Senate rules required a majority of 60 yes votes to confirm a justice to the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh did not get 51 votes. He got 50.
One Republican dude, Steve Daines of Montana, who would have voted yes, was at his daughter’s wedding and did not come to DC to vote – his vote would have given Kavanaugh the full 51 votes required to confirm. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was going to vote no, but instead voted “present”, which is the same thing as “I decline to vote one way or the other”, so her vote didn’t count in the final tally. Had Daines and Murkowski both actually voted, and voted the way they said they intended to, the final count would have been 51 – 49. With Daines not there to cast a vote, had Murkowski voted the way she intended, the final vote would have been 50 – 49. Murkowski said she voted “present” because it would be too embarrassing for Kavanaugh to be confirmed by only one vote. To put it more simply, the fact that Daines did not show up to cast his vote meant that Kavanaugh could not get to 51 votes, because Murkowski felt she could not change her vote to a yes under any circumstances. (Good for her, because Kavanaugh is a far rightwing prick who wants to overturn Roe v Wade, helped write torture excuses for Bush, favors corporations over workers and corporations over environmental concerns, thinks NSA spying is somehow constitutional, agrees with indefinite detention, agrees with unlimited political spending and gerrymandering, believes a president has unlimited power, and does not believe in the separation of church and state. And that’s just off the top of my head.)
It is now apparent that the “51 vote simple majority” phraseology contradicts itself. Or that “the rule” is not a rule at all. Is it the rule that 51 votes are needed, or is it that a simple majority of those showing up to vote are needed?
Because if the threshold is not 51 votes, but instead a simple majority, then you could hypothetically confirm a nominee under very weird and clearly undemocratic circumstances. Supposing that only 10 senators showed up to vote on a nominee’s confirmation – would he still be confirmed if the vote were 6 – 4? Or imagine a scenario where all 100 senators showed up, but 97 of them voted “present”, with only 3 actually casting yes or no votes, as another example. Could someone make it to the Supreme Court with only two senators voting in favor? Would these situations still count as a legitimate confirmation vote?
So which is it? Is the rule “51 votes”, or is it a “simple majority of whomever bothers to cast a vote”? Because if it’s the latter, that renders the whole idea of mentioning a specific threshold number moot; but the nuclear option rule clearly stipulates a number. Throughout this entire process, as with the nomination of Gorsuch, the public has been told repeatedly that the nominee needs 51 votes, and the media and politicians spent a lot of time counting the possible ‘yes’ votes in advance to predict if the person would meet that number. You can read any number of articles on the topic, look it up on wikipedia, google the information, and every time you will see that the Senate rule is stated as being that a Supreme Court nominee must receive a “51 vote simple majority” to be confirmed.
Here is the wording of a wikipedia article on the “nuclear option”, for instance. Note that the phrase “simple majority” is defined as 51 votes, as it is in every other article about the topic:
The nuclear option (or constitutional option) is a parliamentary procedure that allows the United States Senate to override a rule – specifically the 60-vote rule to close debate – by a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the two-thirds supermajority normally required to amend the rules.
Seems to me someone just arbitrarily changed the “simple majority of 51 votes” to mean “simple majority” without explanation. We can only take a stab at it and guess that the Senate didn’t mean the “51 votes” part of their own rule. And the media has not noticed. But then we live in an age where lies are called “alternative facts”; no-one can keep up with the random bullshit being flung far and wide, and no-one can be held to account for anything.
You might not have noticed, especially in light of the relentless drivel put out by the mainstream media in an effort to distract you, but the oligarchs have entered the final stages in their efforts to own and control everything and leave the rest of us living like serfs in some bleak rerun of the feudal ages. Trump, it turns out, is the perfect vehicle for this purpose and is all too willing to aid the wealthy – of every country, not just the US – to strip the commons bare and set us against each other. The man is inherently stupid, barely literate, easily manipulated, venal to a remarkable degree, and extraordinarily greedy. He is also a vicious shit – never discount that part of his makeup. He and his family are daily making personal profit from his position and it would be laughably simple to show that he is running afoul of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. In fact, the photogenic new ruling prince of Saudi Arabia is currently making the rounds of American glitterati, boasting that Jared Kushner gave him classified information in exchange for promises of loans, information which let the prince know who his enemies were in the old regime so he could imprison them and snatch leadership for himself. [See Note 1.] Now, anyone who thinks the Trump/Kushner family would never use their security clearances for personal gain must not have taken even a passing gander at the members of this grifting lot. However, neither party in Congress will ever broach the topic of emoluments, as they share the same basic goals as Trump; and these goals happen to be the ones that the oligarchs, the wealthy, and the corporate cartels demand be fulfilled. Trump is getting them there, hence Trump will not be escorted off stage. Congress will not stand up for the people because they simply do not see the public as their employers. They will not serve the best interests of the people, whom they loathe and largely view as a nuisance. I cannot understand writers who propose the notion that Trump is “being used against his will” (by the military industrial complex/the CIA/the powers behind the curtain who have threatened him and are making him do these things) or that he is not to be blamed because he is “no different” than the last couple of presidents. While it’s true that he is a continuation of the trajectory, he cannot be held innocent of the results of his actions, which he takes voluntarily. It is irrational to suggest that he has some fundamental disagreement with his own policies.
All that being said, we must remember that the choice offered to the US in 2016 was between the uncouth imbecile named Trump and the neoliberal, bloodthirsty Hillary Clinton. The Clinton Foundation, which was allowed to rake in international donations while she was Secretary of State, would no doubt have continued operations had she won the presidency. Clinton made it clear that she had no interest in public spending, calling reduced college tuition and universal healthcare ‘unreasonable dreams’. She also constantly beat the war drums, and has long called for direct aggression against Russia, China and Iran. She was the architect for the invasion and destruction of Libya, a crime that should have taken her and Obama straight to the Hague. Everything I write about Trump, his family, and his administration could just as easily pertain to a Clinton regime; just swap out a few names. In rough figures, 25% of the eligible voters chose Trump and 25% chose Clinton. Half the eligible voters did not vote at all. I think the 50% who stayed home took the best position. There was no point in endorsing the electoral farce that was imposed on the public in the last election.
Trump will be the face of the empire for awhile. It is important to both hold him accountable for his time in office and at the same moment understand that he is just the latest iteration spewed out from the maw of a plutocratic power structure that has no national borders. And so I when I write using particular names, remember that the names are easily interchangeable with others.
We are told by Trump, the media and Congress that we need to bomb Syria even more often, using bigger weapons, because al Assad has supposedly just gassed some of his own people again. We are expected to believe that immediately after Trump announced he wants the US out of Syria, thecagey Assad staged an assault on civilians in Syrian order to lure us into the perpetual bombing of his country and that what he most desires is eternal US interference with his domestic affairs. The whole story makes no sense. No investigation has taken place, no proof of blame has been offered, but just as in the lead-up to the Iraq war, we are given a tale where the ending is already assumed. The media must bear much of the blame for this. The “reporters” who refuse to investigate the truth, who make a deliberate choice to air whatever bullshit line is fed to them by the oligarchic warmongers, are collaborating with powers that will end up killing us all. There is no excuse for this – none. We have communication networks such as the internet and phone systems that allow information to travel globally and that are easily accessed. It is only the desire for personal gain that prods media personalities to repeat prepared lines rather than ferreting out the truth.
We are told by Trump, the media, and Congress that we should bomb North Korea because they might have nuclear weapons. No-one can say how it is that the US gets to decide who has nukes or how it happens that the US can arbitrarily take military action against the other countries that are developing them. Those precepts are just taken as a given. Trump is going to a) have Kim Jong-un assassinated, b) preemptively nuke North Korea, c) negotiate with North Korea, d) let South Korea negotiate with North Korea, e) let South Korea engage in talks but then scuttle any resulting agreements, or f) do nothing, and hope Kim keeps his fat mouth shut for awhile until we decide which country to bomb next and that may or may not be North Korea. Most likely answer is f, because Syria, Iran and the dread Russia also need to be taken out and it is unclear at this point in which order we will proceed. Economic demands require a new blood infusion, however, so some country or another is going to get it. And any provocation, no matter how obvious a false flag it is, will be used to wag that dog.
In the meantime, our own country is being stripped bare. Trump and both houses of Congress are racing as swiftly as possible to ruin the environment, pollute the water and air, give tax cuts to the wealthy, use almost all tax monies to bloat the Pentagon while any spending on the actual population is wiped out. We are told by Trump, the media, and Congress that this is a good thing, a necessary thing. Barack Obama, we are told, was not pro-military enough and “decimated” our military forces. Yet Obama shut not a one of those 900+ bases we have around the world, he sent the military into even more countries than we were already interfering with when he took office, he greatly intensified the drone-bombing of multiple other countries, and he consistently increased the Pentagon’s budget year over year. It was Obama who signed into law the first NDAA that authorized a president to assassinate even American citizens at his personal discretion, and he signed all subsequent NDAAs, each of which included that same clause. That anyone on the planet believes the crap that Obama was not militant enough is proof that propaganda works and that the cheese has totally slid off our crackers.
Congress managed to pass a tax cut scam that so blatently engorges the coffers of the already wealthy and the biggest corporations that the fact that it didn’t, by itself, lead to a revolt is astonishing. Those fuckers just openly passed a bill that adds to the “deficit” (a deficit which only exists because the US created the Federal Reserve and dropped the gold standard, choosing to let private banks create money that is loaned to the government at interest). The same tax bill brazenly doubles down on the now-proven nonsensical trope of trickle-down supply-side economics. They are already telling us that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will have to be slashed in order to pay for this nasty piece of lobbyist-written work, despite the fact that the bill itself already cuts half a trillion dollars from Medicare over the next ten years.
But the Democrats were too busy talking about the DACA kids at that juncture to spend much time talking about the goodies in the tax scam. It was a peculiar choice of sticking points, given that the Democrats had ample opportunity to address that issue when they were in the majority under Obama and they had exactly zero interest in addressing it then. Bringing up the topic of DACA was a ruse to obfuscate the fact that the Democrats really had few objections to the tax bill; in fact, the Democrats enthusiastically supported cutting corporate taxes, as they were quick to point out. Few details of the tax bill were were discussed publicly by either party. There can be no doubt that this was done intentionally with bipartisan cooperation; let us not forget that it was under Obama’s first term that he and the Democrats brought into being the “cat food commission”, whose job it was to look into ways to cut the so-called “entitlement” programs. The commission was disbanded because the public wasn’t quite ripe enough to pluck yet, but the thinking never went away. Now is the propitious time, obviously; they have managed to brainwash the public into believing, with the sure conviction of the new convert, that any money spent on themselves is money spent foolishly.
One of the overlooked details is this (and this is the only detail I am going to get into right now): there is a clause in the tax bill that switches the way inflation is measured from the current Consumer Price Index (CPI) to a “chained” CPI. The measure of inflation is used as a determinant for figuring tax rates, social security payments to retirees, funding for programs such as Medicaid, Headstart, food stamps, etc. Right now, the government uses a variety of indices in its CPI figures and the official inflation rate is kind of a mixed bag of several of them. By switching to a “chained” CPI, inflation is artificially held to a lower number; for instance, the “chained” CPI carries an assumption that if the price of beef goes up, people might buy chicken instead. That might be a reasonable assumption, although eventually one runs out of substitutes. I mean, if the price of chicken goes up next, they assume people will buy oatmeal instead. Eventually, they are assuming we are all eating grass. You see how that works. The “chained” CPI even goes so far as to offer this substitution model for dissimilar items: if the price of food goes up, the assumption is that people will cut back on buying heating oil. Presto-change-o, the consumer has not suffered from an increase in inflation!
The government publishes both the traditional and the “chained” CPI numbers every month now, and one can see that the “chained” CPI numbers suspiciously do not include some common household expenses, such as housing costs. I can only assume this is because the price of renting or buying a home has grown so preposterous since ’08 that it would completely wipe out the official mantra that there is no inflation.
By using the “chained” CPI, Congress is already chipping away at retiree income, social programs, and raising the tax rate on lower-income workers. They don’t have to openly attack SS, for example; simply by switching how they measure inflation, they are using a back-door method to reduce benefits. Not one single Democrat issued any statement, much less any objection, to this clause in the Republican’s tax plan. Slowing those SS benefit increases would save around $125 billion over a decade, without the political pain of cutting benefits directly or raising the access age. The Republicans didn’t have to specify they want to cut Social Security or Medicare. They just did so, and with a tool the Democrats won’t ever repeal. It’s brilliant, if you admire that sort of cynical maneuver. These misanthropes are ruthless.
The omnibus spending bill that was passed most recently is equally odious, although no objections were raised by anyone except the strange occupants of the farthest right fringe, who are repulsed by having to share even the oxygen in the room with what they consider the underachieving. The Democrats helped to pass that bill, giving as their excuses the military, which has to be supported at all costs and thank God this bill does that plus some, and that a few little coins were kept in there for some public programs. Never fear, however; Trump and the Republicans are working on a plan to get rid of some of the ruinous public spending that accidentally got included, and I am sure the Democrats are breathing a sigh of relief that they don’t have to do anything to fight it, as it doesn’t depend on their involvement at all. Their civic affectations are not bearing up well under scrutiny, anyway; best to lay low for awhile. And forget any minor Republican insurgency that might serve as opposition against this latest plan – Republicans have no pretense of community responsibility to maintain.
Let’s go back to a month ago when Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic advisor, announced his resignation after Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel, a trade war measure that Cohn opposed. (By the way, in another example of misuse of office, Ivanka Trump’s clothing line is exempt from the latest batch of tariffs, imposed on China. The White House explains that this is simply a happy accident of the algorithm they used to decide what items to include or exempt from the tariffs . That right there is what you might call a “lie”. [See Note 2.]) Cohn had gotten what he came for: the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Of course, that tax bill will end up ruining the economy and decimating the working class, but what’s that matter to someone like Cohn? It was interesting to see one of the really big confidence men bailing out at this juncture; one might speculate that Cohn knows there is going to be some bad economic news headed our way and wants to be well out before the stink sticks to him (too late, Goldman Sachs dude). Cohn was replaced by Larry Kudlow, a CNBC talking head, who is best known as a reformed coke-head and a fool who has the amazing ability to be wrong on everything remotely related to money, yet still manages to find a job in front of a camera opining on economic matters. Being a blithering idiot, he was the most obvious choice to advise the current administration on financial policies, and has actually been doing so behind the scenes since Trump announced his candidacy. He hates the “giveaways” to the mere commoners in the budget bill (as does Trump, who almost didn’t sign the thing because of them) and has begun touting a little-known method to weed these repugnant items out of the law post ipso facto. The Republicans can use something called the Impoundment Act, which was written and passed in 1974. This Act allows the president to rescind (i.e., retroactively erase) funds that have already been approved by Congress. I had never heard of this before, although it was used under Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush a couple of times. Amazing to find out about the voluminous ways Congress has gone about side-stepping the Constitution over the years. In any case, Trump can target up to $117 billion – the difference between his request for domestic non-defense spending and the level that was actually included in it. If he chooses to employ it, he would propose the items and amounts he wants cut, and Congress has 45 days after his proposal to approve the package. The vote would be a simple majority vote, meaning the Republicans don’t need any Democratic support to alter federal spending more to their liking.
Non-defense spending is a relatively small portion of overall spending; the non-defense discretionary budget only accounted for roughly 15% of all federal spending in 2017. However, this portion of the budget is the part that Trump has the ability to cut through impoundment. He has suggested many of the programs he would like to eliminate before now, so his list will not surprise anyone if and when he comes out with it. Since he has objected to the following items before, and has already stated he wants to save money (that was given away with the tax bill, one might note) by cutting them from the 2019 budget, the proposed programs to be rescinded might look something like this, just for starters:
• The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP ($3.4 billion in one-year savings)
• International financial assistance for global climate change initiatives ($160 million)
• Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($480 million)
• Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grants ($3 billion)
He also proposed cutting:
• Amtrak grants by $757 million
• HUD rental Assistance Programs by $4.2 billion
• The Federal Work Study program by $790 million
• State Department Educational and Cultural Exchange programs $475
The above details about the CPI and the Impoundment Act are but small samples of the general trend against the best interests of the people who live here in the US that has been ongoing for a generation now. Of much wider import are the greatly accelerated attacks on the environment and food systems. The choices made by the Trump administration are disastrous, but let’s not pretend that the previous administrations were exactly safeguarding the health of the planet, much less that of the people who live on her. These are issues where the media and Congress again refuse to speak up, and yet, like the relentless drive to more war, will end up killing us. We are letting the oil companies frack the entire country and the surrounding bodies of water, which is causing oil spills, earthquakes, and a constant infiltration of fracking chemicals into our water. A four thousand square mile area of Texas is heaving and sinking due to oil extraction activity, and this is in an area of the country where our government decided it would be a good idea to bury nuclear waste. The Pentagon is working on a plan to genetically alter some forms of sea life so as to use them for military purposes. One third of all American wildlife species are headed for extinction. The mega corporations Bayer and Monsanto are seeking to merge into one company, which will make them for all intents and purposes the owner of almost all the seed stock and much of the cropland on the planet. The EU has already approved the merger, and the Trump administration is expected to do the same. These two companies have worked in tandem for several decades now and have been allowed to poison the world with pesticides and chemicals, destroy native seed stocks in order to replace them with genetically modified “food” crops, and drive farmers across the globe out of business. Monsanto, in particular, has been the recipient of financial backing and unceasing efforts to make it the primary food source in every country from people like the Clintons, Bill Gates, and Pierre Omidyar. [For links to articles on all these topics, see Note 3.]
We have to do better than this. We have to learn how to turn off the constant propaganda that incites us to hate one another and keeps us cheering for the slaughter of some group or another of strangers across the planet. We have to take care of this planet and of each other. It doesn’t matter what name you call it, what “ism” it goes by, but there is a societal system that works better for us all than capitalism. And there are better people around than the oligarchy that wants to control our every move, spy on our every communication, and drive us to some final dismal destruction of ourselves. We really are all stardust, and we need to regard each other and our fellow creatures with the respect and admiration that our common origin deserves. For despite the humble beginnings of life on earth which arose accidentally from the dust of the cosmos, that dust formed a myriad of life-forms, all intrinsically related and yet each wonderfully different.
About two weeks ago, I was thinking about this turning point in our history and realized that it is somewhat comparative to that of Louis XVI of France in a couple of ways. He (Louis XVI) announced he wanted to do away with serfdom as a “populist” reform measure, an idea which pissed off the nobles; in the end he listened to the wealthy and gave up the notion, thus abandoning the lower classes who had thought he would usher in a new era. Then he deregulated the grain market, sending bread prices soaring (turns out deregulation has a very long history of being bad for the working class). Then he decided to support the colonists (in what would become the US) in their fight against Great Britain and this took France into debt and dire financial straits (turns out getting involved in other people’s wars has a very long history of being a bad fiscal idea and bad for the working class). His indecisiveness and waffling, which always seemed to end up with him supporting the nobility, erased all the popularity he had once enjoyed. In an effort to bolster support for himself, he considered starting some new invasive wars, but as it happened, the public didn’t particularly find this a compelling sales pitch when they found out about the scheme.
Finally, the people rose up and took his head.
And then France embarked on a decade of wars anyway, which flowed seamlessly into the Napoleonic Wars, which lasted until 1815 – all told, 23 years of continuous warfare with multiple countries on several continents after Louis XVI was beheaded (turns out humans have a very long history of stupidity and apparently a genetic defect that leads them to kill each other with abandon and glee on a constant basis). So… vive la revolution, etc., but beware what follows? We better chose more carefully this time. I will repeat the sentence with which I started this blog so many years ago: Be a good human.
(I was tickled by the synchronicity, if you will, of hearing Richard Wolff, just five days ago, mention the same bit of history in the following discussion between him and Chris Hedges regarding the coming collapse of the American capitalist system. The following video is about half an hour long, and certainly worth the time.)
Economist Richard Wolff discusses the coming economic collapse of the United States of America with Chris Hedges.
Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman bragged of receiving classified US intelligence from Jared Kushner and using it as part of a purge of ‘corrupt’ princes and businessmen, DailyMail.com can disclose. […]
Note 2: The justification for the tariffs on the grounds of national security is a fiction created by Trump in order to apply the tariffs. US law allows the President to impose tariffs unilaterally for reasons of national security, but the trade arguments going on right now certainly don’t rise to that level. Furthermore, the areas in which we are accusing China of malfeasance are already being arbitrated in the World Trade Organization; there is no reason for other actions at this point. Aside from the claim of dire national security issues, tariffs can only be applied by Congress and Trump knows that won’t happen. This is an abrogation of power by the President and should be opposed for that reason alone.
[…] Many of the products branded by Ivanka Trump’s fashion and clothing line are manufactured in China. And China recently approved three new trademarks for Ivanka Trump’s brand there–on the same day she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping in her official capacity as White House advisor.
Exempting clothing from the new round of U.S. tariffs therefore stands to immensely benefit the value of Ivanka Trump’s personal brand. Meanwhile, domestic clothing manufacturers have cried foul.
In a statement reacting to the tariffs and Trump’s noteworthy exemption for Chinese-produced clothing, Rick Helfenbein, chief executive of industry group the American Apparel & Footwear Association said, “This would directly raise costs on domestic manufacturers and impact our ability to grow Made in USA.”
Law&Crime reached out to Ivanka Trump’s press office for comment, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association welcomed the decision by the Trump administration to avoid taxing American consumers by excluding new tariffs on apparel, footwear, travel goods, and related products imported from China.
The association’s President and CEO Rick Helfenbein released the following statement:
“We are pleased with the administration’s decision to avoid adding tariffs to U.S. imports of apparel, footwear, and travel goods from China. Tariffs are a hidden, regressive tax on Americans and such a decision would have had a disastrous impact on American consumers,” said Helfenbein.
“At the same time, we are concerned that the list includes tariffs on machinery used in our domestic manufacturing process. This would directly raise costs on domestic manufacturers and impact our ability to grow Made in USA. We will express these concerns with the administration in the coming days, and look forward to working with them on the core concerns of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer in China.”[…]
Bayer and Monsanto have a long history of collusion to poison the ecosystem for profit. The Trump administration should veto their merger not just to protect competitors but to ensure human and planetary survival:
Hillary Clinton recently referred to the supposed Russian interference in the 2016 election as a “cyber 9/11”. I don’t give a crap about that Russia thing, Hillary; instead let’s talk about this Russia thing….which is a real thing.
I have written several times about the Uranium One deal that Clinton oversaw while she was the Secretary of State under Obama. This strange State Dept. bargain granted a Russian company, Uranium One, the mining rights to 1/5 of the uranium mines in the US. Furthermore, the deal coincided (as did a suspicious number of other State Dept contracts under her purview) with some large donations made to the Clinton Foundation. This sort of Clinton pay-for-play was largely ignored by the mainstream media during the ’16 campaign season, although several investigative reporters covered numerous examples of the Clinton grift machine and tried desperately to bring some attention to the issue.
At one point, I posted part of an article on the topic written by one of these journalists, and wrote this:
[…] In the above article, you might have noted the mention of a Russian uranium mining company (it’s in the second paragraph I quoted.) I want to highlight this particular deal, although to be clear this is but one of dozens that are questionable.
Because the US does not have nationalized resources, but instead allows private, for-profit corporations to bid on long-term leases (usually lasting 99 years) for the rights to mine our land and make enormous sums of money off our natural resources, these leases are highly sought-after. The US Sec. of State is the person who controls the awarding of the contracts and leases. (And, by the way, the Mining Act has only been updated once, and then only slightly, in the 150 years it has been in existence. The Act is seriously in need of overhaul, as that law has been the wellspring of perpetual obscene profiteering for the extraction industries in the same manner as the Federal Reserve Act has been for the banking cartel.)
While Hillary was SoS, she oversaw many of these deals as part of her job. This one stands out for a couple of reasons. She has referred to Putin, the president of Russia, as “Hitler”. She clearly hates Putin, and has made numerous remarks over the years about the “danger” Russia presents to “American interests”. (I wrote an article some time ago about this specific topic. See my article in the archives: clinton-pokes-the-bear-and-the-dragon, 7/6/12) Now consider what uranium is used for, as this particular lease is owned by Russian company, Uranium One [U1], to mine uranium. Uranium has three basic uses: as a component in medical devices, for nuclear power, and for nuclear weapons. Hillary granted a lease for 20% of America’s uranium to be mined by what was originally a Canadian company which, at the time she inked the deal and known at that time by both her and Obama, was being sold to the Russians. Seems kind of odd, given that simultaneously the two of them were in the middle of trying to restart a second “Cold War” with Russia and are now doing their level best to make it go hot. The company, Uranium One, can sell their mined product to whomever they choose, but Russia is crowing about having the lease-rights to 1/5 of our uranium, so clearly it is being shipped there. […]
As it turns out, this Uranium One deal was a huge problem at the time it was being bartered. And the Obama administration knew it – not only knew it, but in 2009, the FBI had already collected evidence that the deal involved money-laundering, blackmail and bribery. The FBI even specifically cited proof that millions of dollars flowed from Russian nuclear officials to the Clinton Foundation through a circuitous route involving cutouts. (The FBI director at the time – and up until Sept., ’13 – was Robert Mueller, who is now the special counsel looking into the “Russian meddling” in the last election. This is a very strange and odd circumstance, which one newspaper today suggests ought to be explained before he is allowed to continue on as special counsel. One wonders if Clinton had been elected, would Mueller now be serving as a special counsel for a committee looking to impeach her?) Despite the FBI’s information, probe, and finally a sting operation that brought absolute proof of this crime to the attention of the Obama administration, the only person who was ever charged with anything was a former Russian official named Mikerin, who was sentenced to 48 months in prison and fined over $2 million in 2015. The Justice Dept. said very little about the case and it turns out that few in the FBI, even the assistant director in charge of criminal cases, or in Congress were ever informed that the matter existed. In other words, it was covered up by the Obama administration to protect and benefit Hillary Clinton.
The news is out now, finally, in the MSM. Perhaps Hillary Clinton should shut the hell up about the whole other “Russia-gate” thing and slink away, forever into the future wondering when that knock at her door is going to come due to her own Russia thing. More likely, however, this will go nowhere, as it appears she still has some serious protectors amongst the political elites. Still, under the circumstances, it is very weird that she has been so vocal about election meddling vis a vis Russia. You’d think she would want everyone to look at something else, anything else, but a politician’s connections to Russia. Obama, being somewhat more intelligent than Clinton, is keeping a low profile these days. This sort of thing may partly explain why.
I am going to reprint two articles about this subject. The first is fairly brief. The second is much longer, but full of details that will leave the reader appalled that this criminal activity was covered up on behalf of someone who was actually running to be the president of the United States, and was probably covered up so she could run.
[As a disclaimer, I am not suggesting that Trump is a satisfactory substitute for Clinton. He is a miserable, hustling imbecile who is making such serious coin off the taxpayers, to enrich himself and his family, that there is no other reason needed to get the bum out of office. At this time, I won’t go into the multiple ways he and the Republicans are taking the country back to the dark ages; that will be a topic for another day.]
From the NYPost:
It turns out the Obama administration knew the Russians were engaged in bribery, kickbacks and extortion in order to gain control of US atomic resources — yet still OK’d that 2010 deal to give Moscow control of one-fifth of America’s uranium. This reeks.
Peter Schweizer got onto part of the scandal in his 2015 book, “Clinton Cash”: the gifts of $145 million to the Clinton Foundation, and the $500,000 fee to Bill for a single speech, by individuals involved in a deal that required Hillary Clinton’s approval.
The New York Times confirmed and followed up on Schweizer’s reporting — all of it denounced by Hillary as a partisan hit job.
But now The Hill reports that the FBI in 2009 had collected substantial evidence — eyewitnesses backed by documents — of money-laundering, blackmail and bribery by Russian nuclear officials, all aimed at growing “Vladimir Putin’s atomic-energy business inside the United States” in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The bureau even flagged the routing of millions from Russian nuclear officials to cutouts and on to Clinton Inc.
Hillary Clinton, again, sat on a key government body that had to approve the deal — though she now claims she had no role in a deal with profound national security implications, and during the campaign called the payments a coincidence.
The Obama administration — anxious to “reset” US-Russian relations — kept it all under wraps, refusing to tell even top congressional intelligence figures.
And when the Obamaites in 2014 filed low-level criminal charges against a single individual over what the FBI found, they did so with little public fanfare.
“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns,” one veteran of the case told The Hill.
Yet the administration let Moscow move ahead — publicly insisting that there were no national security worries — and no evidence of Russian interference, despite many lawmakers’ concern at the time.
There’s more: Until September 2013, the FBI director was Robert Mueller — who’s now the special counsel probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It’s hard to see how he can be trusted in that job unless he explains what he knew about this Obama-era cover-up.
Longer article from The Hill. There is a lot to unpack here, and quite a few details I didn’t comment on. Read carefully:
Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.
Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.
They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.
The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.
Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.
The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.
When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened … on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”
In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.
“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.
The Obama administration’s decision to approve Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One has been a source of political controversy since 2015.
That’s when conservative author Peter Schweitzer and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.
But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.
Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.
Spokesmen for Holder and Clinton did not return calls seeking comment. The Justice Department also didn’t comment.
Mikerin was a director of Rosatom’s Tenex in Moscow since the early 2000s, where he oversaw Rosatom’s nuclear collaboration with the United States under the Megatons to Megwatts program and its commercial uranium sales to other countries. In 2010, Mikerin was dispatched to the U.S. on a work visa approved by the Obama administration to open Rosatom’s new American arm called Tenam.
Between 2009 and January 2012, Mikerin “did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire confederate and agree with other persons … to obstruct, delay and affect commerce and the movement of an article and commodity (enriched uranium) in commerce by extortion,” a November 2014 indictment stated.
His illegal conduct was captured with the help of a confidential witness, an American businessman, who began making kickback payments at Mikerin’s direction and with the permission of the FBI. The first kickback payment recorded by the FBI through its informant was dated Nov. 27, 2009, the records show.
In evidentiary affidavits signed in 2014 and 2015, an Energy Department agent assigned to assist the FBI in the case testified that Mikerin supervised a “racketeering scheme” that involved extortion, bribery, money laundering and kickbacks that were both directed by and provided benefit to more senior officials back in Russia.
“As part of the scheme, Mikerin, with the consent of higher level officials at TENEX and Rosatom (both Russian state-owned entities) would offer no-bid contracts to US businesses in exchange for kickbacks in the form of money payments made to some offshore banks accounts,” Agent David Gadren testified.
“Mikerin apparently then shared the proceeds with other co-conspirators associated with TENEX in Russia and elsewhere,” the agent added.
The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show.
Both men now play a key role in the current investigation into possible, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election cycle. McCabe is under congressional and Justice Department inspector general investigation in connection with money his wife’s Virginia state Senate campaign accepted in 2015 from now-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a time when McAuliffe was reportedly under investigation by the FBI. The probe is not focused on McAuliffe’s conduct but rather on whether McCabe’s attendance violated the Hatch Act or other FBI conflict rules.
The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired earlier this year.
Its many twist and turns aside, the FBI nuclear industry case proved a gold mine, in part because it uncovered a new Russian money laundering apparatus that routed bribe and kickback payments through financial instruments in Cyprus, Latvia and Seychelles. A Russian financier in New Jersey was among those arrested for the money laundering, court records show.
The case also exposed a serious national security breach: Mikerin had given a contract to an American trucking firm called Transport Logistics International that held the sensitive job of transporting Russia’s uranium around the United States in return for more than $2 million in kickbacks from some of its executives, court records show.
One of Mikerin’s former employees told the FBI that Tenex officials in Russia specifically directed the scheme to “allow for padded pricing to include kickbacks,” agents testified in one court filing.
Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap.
But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged.
The only public statement occurred a year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.
By that time, the criminal cases against Mikerin had been narrowed to a single charge of money laundering for a scheme that officials admitted stretched from 2004 to 2014. And though agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing they collected since at least 2009, federal prosecutors only cited in the plea agreement a handful of transactions that occurred in 2011 and 2012, well after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s approval.
The final court case also made no mention of any connection to the influence peddling conversations the FBI undercover informant witnessed about the Russian nuclear officials trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons even though agents had gathered documents showing the transmission of millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation, sources confirmed to The Hill.
The lack of fanfare left many key players in Washington with no inkling that a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme with serious national security implications had been uncovered.
On Dec. 15, 2015, the Justice Department put out a release stating that Mikerin, “a former Russian official residing in Maryland was sentenced today to 48 months in prison” and ordered to forfeit more than $2.1 million.
Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told The Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.
“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview.
Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark.
Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during the time the FBI probe was being conducted, told The Hill that he had never been told anything about the Russian nuclear corruption case even though many fellow lawmakers had serious concerns about the Obama administration’s approval of the Uranium One deal.
“Not providing information on a corruption scheme before the Russian uranium deal was approved by U.S. regulators and engage appropriate congressional committees has served to undermine U.S. national security interests by the very people charged with protecting them,” he said. “The Russian efforts to manipulate our American political enterprise is breathtaking.”
Hurricane Irma is battering the north edge of Cuba as a category 5 hurricane as I write this. The only comment I have heard on the news about Cuba vis a vis Irma has been relief expressing that by hitting Cuba first, some of the force may be drained off before she makes landfall in the US.
Here’s how the state of Florida is preparing for Irma: mandatory evacuations from cities along the projected path of the worst of the storm. Repeated announcements that you are on your own to either heed the evacuation notices and get out, or to survive as best you can if you stay. Repeated warnings to potential looters (note: the term “looters” only means desperate people looking for food or shoes or a free TV after their home just got blown away; it does not refer to the bankers, insurers, and real estate speculators who will rape and pillage the entire area for profit after the storm is over. Those guys will not only be encouraged to loot wholesale, they will be given tax breaks for doing so.). Warnings to those who may have criminal charges pending against them that if they seek safety in public shelters, they will be taken to jail because the ID check required as one enters the emergency shelters will expose their status. The gas stations immediately ran out of gas and the roads north immediately filled with congested traffic. The airlines jacked up their prices and started cancelling flights. There were no emergency bus or train services offered, aside from the usual scanty routes already available, because we do not invest in public transportation in the US. All those people heading north in their cars can only hope they don’t run out of gas along the way. And where, exactly, they are going seems to be a mystery, as the hotels are completely booked for several states above Florida. So much for trying to heed those evacuation orders. After the hurricane, you might be able to get a loan to rebuild your house. (Or maybe not. See:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/business/harvey-aid-sba-disaster-loans.html)
Congress has approved some emergency funding for the victims of both hurricanes (Harvey in Texas, and Irma in Florida), at the same time that the current administration is making sure the agencies charged with emergencies like these are defunded and understaffed. This is the rugged individualism of the US. You are on your own, although in a somewhat schizophrenic manner, you will be praised for helping your neighbors after the fact, and we all join in with the feel-good sentiment that in an emergency, we “all come together”. If you haven’t noticed, what they mean is that we “come together” and “help one another out” by sharing our own meager scraps of what we have left after paying taxes and jacked-up exorbitant prices for necessities, while the government only considers “helping one another” to be some socialist plot. It’s just kind of a shame that the politicians and the media don’t think that spending US taxpayer money on actual US taxpayers should happen except in the most dire of circumstances, and even then, it is done begrudgingly, and demands will be made that US’ians have to give up social spending elsewhere later to pay for it. Probably not going to get much infrastructure spending in the next budget for the rest of the country, because Congress gave a little something-something to Texas and Florida now, and you may find that Medicare and Social Security get cut to pay for this, as well. Note must be made here that the ‘infrastructure spending plan’, such as it is, is mostly a plan to give the common infrastructure over to private companies to run at a profit anyway, but now Congress may decide to do away with any public ownership or investment altogether. When things are rebuilt in these two states, they will be built in the same way they were built before: defiant of the inexorable demands of nature. If you pave over the swamps and bury hazardous materials under your homes, you get floods because the water has nowhere to go and you get lethal shit released into the air and water when a bad weather event occurs. In Houston, it is estimated (this is an early estimate, sure to be calibrated upwards as the weeks go on) that two million pounds of hazardous chemicals had been released into the air during the flood. Texas took care of the problem by turning off its air monitors in the Houston area during hurricane Harvey. (Can’t worry about what you don’t know, is the theory behind this.) 30,000 gallons of crude oil flowed into the floodwaters that people were wading in when two oil tanks ruptured. The current condition of all the Superfund sites in the flood zone is unknown. [Superfund sites are locations polluted with hazardous and toxic materials that require long-term clean-up responses.] In Florida, there are 54 Superfund sites at risk of flooding and leeching out of containment during heavy rains and storm surges; the EPA claims that all of them have been secured, although reporters found no-one working at any of them in the past week. Nonetheless, no lessons will be learned and nothing will change, as we will insist that our way is the best because we are just that exceptional. This brings to mind the “healthcare” debacle. The US politicians refuse to ask all those other countries how they set up their universal healthcare systems – which apparently work efficiently enough and save enough money that none of them ever want to give them up – and instead simply declare that universal healthcare is “not feasible”. And when the insurance costs skyrocket this winter, as they will due to the shortfalls of the ACA combined with the deliberate efforts of Trump and the Republicans to sabotage the little bit that works, the public will be told it was inevitable and that they must accept something even worse.
In Cuba, as compared to the US emergency system, there has been a network in place for decades where each family, household or neighborhood is paired with one or more of the same on the opposite side of the island. Evacuation transportation, by any and all available means, and emergency routes have been planned in advance to cover any contingency, as part of the networks. Everyone therefore is able to be moved quickly and they already have a place to stay during the emergency. Despite the fact that Cuba is hit fairly frequently with hurricanes, there is very little death toll thanks to this pre-planning based on the public good. Of course, this is an example of Dread Socialism at work, so the media in the US simply doesn’t talk about how Cuba manages hurricane preparedness, nor do they talk about Cuba at all, except as I said above, to crow that by running over Cuba first, Irma will be less dangerous to the US.
To add insult to injury, because there is nothing the US likes more than jabbing sharp sticks in the eyes of small nations everywhere, last night at the same exact time that Irma was making landfall along the northern coast of Cuba, the Trump administration announced that the trade embargo against Cuba is going to be extended for another year, until Sept., 2018. Trump’s presidential memo states that the embargo, which prevents American companies from importing goods from Cuba or exporting goods to the island nation, has been extended under the Trading with the Enemy Act “in the national interest of the United States.”
I guess this presidential memo stands in lieu of any statement of support for, or commonality with, Cuba during an event that is likely to harm both countries severely.
USA, always classy!
Update, 4:30 p.m. 9 Sept., 2018
Earlier today, the weather services announced that they think the track of Irma will run up the west coast of Florida rather than the east coast (which is what they had predicted a couple of days ago). This led to newly-declared mandatory evacuations of some cities on the western side of Fla. These places seem very unprepared, which seems rather odd, given that the hurricane is wider than the entire state. No matter which coast it runs up, the entire state will get hurricane force winds, both coasts will get storm surge, rain and possibly tornadoes. One would think the entire state would have prepared emergency shelters. Anyway, about two hours ago, I saw a bit on one of the news shows wherein the reporter was walking along a line of people who were waiting to be accepting into a stadium that had just been opened as an emergency shelter in one of the west-coast Fla. cities. These were people who had not been under mandatory evacuation orders until around noon today. In other words, they had just been told they had to leave and, gas no longer being available and the storm making landfall by tomorrow morning, they headed for the only place made ready for them as a shelter. Thousands of them were lined up, some with babies in strollers and old people in wheelchairs, some carrying packages of bottled water, and little satchels of clothes. The line wasn’t moving at all. The stadium can hold about 6000 people (without their wheelchairs, strollers and suitcases). Why is the line not moving? As the reporter got to the front of the line, he mentioned that he couldn’t get any officials to talk to him. However, you could see that behind him, the people at the front of the line were filling out multiple sheets of paper clasped on clipboards before they were allowed to present these papers to some official and be let into the stadium. A stunningly bizarre insistence on some byzantine paperwork while moving people into emergency shelter. There is no way in hell they are going to get all those people inside before dark. It will be dark around 7 p.m. here on the east coast of the US, just a few hours from now, and the eye of the storm will make landfall around 8 tomorrow morning. But the eye wall is rather irrelevant, since the outer bands are already over Fla, and the winds are picking up right now. Get the people in and settled, assholes. Asking for papers to be filled out right this minute is just arbitrary bureaucracy.
Something else: last night, in the wee hours, I caught a re-run of some Fox News segment which apparently aired earlier in the evening. I don’t know the reporter’s name or the name of the show, and it’s Fox News, so who gives a fuck anyway? The lady reporter was practically shrieking that the “fake news” outlets were trying to use a hurricane to sell the Fake Idea of fake climate change. Under her angry twisted-up face, there was a banner which read, “Liberal news sites try to promote global warming.” She and her co-hosts were appalled that a hurricane, of all things, was used as an example of climate change. And, they pointed out, the projected path of Irma had been changed, like, a lot over the past week, by the incompetent weather people, all of whom, they insisted, work for the government, which is totally run by liberals and whackaloons, except for the parts run by Trump and the Republicans, but they aren’t the ones to blame for the liberal, fake weatherpeople and their sinister global warming hoaxes, and the altered trajectory of the storm proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that climate change is bullshit. Some people – maybe a lot of people – watch this crap and believe it. So let’s consider climate change for a moment, while we are talking about hurricanes and weather. Imagine you are sitting on your porch on a breezy autumn day. A leaf falls from a tree and gets caught in the wind. It swirls and dances around the yard. Where will it land, you might idly wonder as you watch it flutter about. Thing is, no matter what you predict, you will probably be wrong; there are too many variables at work, from the air temperature to the ground temperature, to the strength of the breeze, to the air pressure, to obstacles in your yard. Weather prediction is hard. It is a science and it is currently enhanced by computers, but it is still hard. The expected path of Irma changed a little within the past twelve hours because it went over Cuba’s landmass, because the temperature of the ocean below it may have changed a bit, because the prevailing winds shifted a tad, but it is still heading for Florida and it is still a huge storm. To claim that this slight alteration means climate change as a whole is therefore false is just ignorant.
There are other theories about why we are having massive droughts some places, record-breaking rainfall in others, hurricanes, flooding and wildfires all over the planet aside from man-caused global warming. You might believe that the weather is always changing and this is just part of a normal cycle of cooling and warming. You might believe that the government is playing with the weather so as to force us to pay higher taxes to alleviate the bad weather they caused on purpose. You might think the power companies are hyping a fake story so they can usher in carbon taxes, where they can collect a shit-ton of money from you on top of whatever they rip you off for in normal circumstances. You might believe that reptile space aliens are screwing with weather patterns as part of their plan to take over the earth. I’m not sure why Americans are so wedded to their simplistic belief systems that they can only believe in binary truths; everything has to be just one thing or it can only be the exact opposite thing. We have no nuance in this country and no ability for complex thought.
I think it is proven that the climate is changing due to the burning of fossil fuels. But it can also, simultaneously, be true that there are normal cycles of the weather in the long term, and the effects of these normal cycles are merely enhanced by our mistaken overuse of coal and oil. It can also be true that politicians and energy companies want to abuse the science to foist financial misery on everyone for their own profit. It can also be true that the US government plays with the weather – hell, they were already doing it during the Vietnam war, and proud of it. Probably the space alien thing isn’t true, though. Point is, it doesn’t have to be all one or the other, and claiming the whole shebang is a hoax is dangerously simpleminded and keeps us from doing what we ought to ameliorate the worst of the effects of climate change. The climate is changing. And that is a fact.
Another fact is that the US military wants to, or already is, using the weather as a weapon against other countries. Don’t take my word for it; read this white paper, written in 1996 as a precis for the Pentagon. This is major fucked-up fuckery, right here:
Title: Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025
Opening disclaimer: “2025 is a study designed to comply with a directive from the chief of staff of the Air Force to examine the concepts, capabilities, and technologies the United States will require to remain the dominant air and space force in the future. Presented on 17 June 1996, this report was produced in the Department of Defense school environment of academic freedom and in the interest of advancing concepts related to national defense. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Air Force, Department of Defense, or the United States government. This publication has been reviewed by security and policy review authorities, is unclassified, and is cleared for public release.”
[This is followed by over 40 pages of how the US can manipulate the weather to create adverse conditions for other countries, to use the weather as a weapon of mass destruction, and to weaponize space for the same purposes.]
Yesterday, Iran suffered two terrorist attacks. The coordinated attacks targeted the Parliament complex in Tehran and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, 15 miles to the south. Nineteen people were killed and 43 wounded.
ISIS has claimed responsibility, although the attack bears the hallmarks of MEK, a cultish group of Iranian exiles formed with the purpose of bringing down the Iranian government through violence and terrorist activities. More than 16,000 people are known to have been killed by MEK’s attacks since 1979. MEK, also known by the acronym MKO, is the officially titled as the “People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran” or the “Mojahedin-e Khalq”. Saudi Arabia, one of the US’ foremost allies in the Middle East, and itself a sponsor of extremist Islamic groups such as ISIS, recently said it would “take the fight against Iran into Iran itself” and has sponsored MEK since its inception in the late 1970’s; either terrorist organization, MEK or ISIS, would suit this purpose. MEK was labeled a terrorist organization by all Western governments until fairly recently; the US removed them from that list in 2012, under the direction of then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who lauded their public statements that they were “renouncing violence”. In fact, MEK simply spent a lot of money lobbying US officials, and have not renounced violence at all, but in the US, money will always top honesty. Always. MEK makes its money the old-fashioned way: through fraud and money laundering and from support from Israel, which has donated money to them so they could assassinate Iranian scientists and educators, and from Saudi Arabia, which considers Iran its most prominent enemy. In the US, MEK simply paid high-profile US officials upwards of $50,000 for each appearance they made giving speeches favorable to the removal of MEK from the terrorist organization list. This sort of thing used to be known as bribery; now it is called “lobbying”. The US officials, both retired and active, who prompted the removal of MEK from terrorist designation made no bones about their reasoning: they said they supported MEK on the grounds that they “acted as opposition to the Iranian government”.
Iran has long been a target of the US, partly at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Israel, but mostly due to our own desire to control the entirety of the oil producing areas of the world. We are constantly told by the media that Iran is the “biggest sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East”, although no-one has yet offered any proof backing this statement, and the evidence is all to the contrary – the biggest supporters of terrorism in the ME would have to be considered the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel, in no particular order. Iran has not invaded any country in over 200 years. They are currently involved in Syria, at the invitation of the Syrian government, which asked them to help oust ISIS and al Qaeda from that country. One might think that would place Iran on the list of US allies in the “fight against terrorism” (aren’t ISIS and al Qaeda the enemies?), but apparently the media doesn’t notice that the reasoning gets somewhat muddled and illogical when American politicians supply the information. Iran is still “our enemy” despite their fight against ISIS, while Saudi Arabia, whose Wahhabi belief system mirrors that of ISIS and whose money supports ISIS is “our ally”. The US Congress is working on new sanctions against Iran, which unbelievably and inexplicably revolve around the concept that although Iran is following to the letter the non-nuclear agreement worked out between them and the US under Obama, they need further crippling sanctions levied against them in order to induce them to follow the agreement better. One cannot even conjecture what they could possibly do to improve upholding their end of the bargain better than perfectly, but the US doesn’t feel the need to explain the nonsensical. Congress has already passed a resolution that states the president may unilaterally bomb Iran at his whim, without notification beforehand to Congress or the American people, should he feel the need to do so. This is, obviously, not only a preemptive declaration of war against a foreign country with no reason offered, but an abdication of Congressional power (for whatever that is worth – Congress ceded their powers way back in the Bush era).
We are also assured that the Iranians want nuclear weapons, even though their religious beliefs preclude the use of nuclear bombs. This alleged “fact” of Iranian desire for nuclear capability has long been proven false by the IAEA itself, the group that monitors the development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and performs inspections internationally. They have been allowed unlimited, free access to all Iranian facilities for years. [By the way, you know who told the US that the Iranian government was trying to develop nuclear weapons in the first place? Yeah, MEK, the anti-Iranian-government terrorist group that we no longer call terrorists.] Fact is, the Pentagon and both parties in Congress view Iran as an obstacle, an intolerable one, to completely unbridled US hegemony in the area. The Trump administration has gone further than even the Bush and Obama administrations in its stepped-up vitriol and programs against Iran. They have created a new CIA “mission center” targeting Iran in the hopes that we can use American spies to help overthrow the Iranian government (a recycling of that successful coup we did in Iran so long ago). Our forces in Syria have been told to change the rules of engagement so as to allow them to target the Iranian forces who are there assisting Assad in the fight against ISIS. Our airstrikes are allowed to be carried out rather indiscriminately now, without consideration of collateral damage; i.e., without concern about civilian deaths or the accidental hitting of another government’s troops.
A few days ago, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Yemen all cut their ties to Qatar and began an economic blockade against it. Trump immediately hailed this as a wonderful development, which is sort of deranged, considering the unrest and conflict in the Middle East already. Furthermore, the largest US military base in the Middle East is located in Qatar. Maybe he thinks the US should spend a few billion bucks to move the base to Saudi Arabia, or possibly he doesn’t even know we have a base in Qatar. (The latter is more likely, frankly.) Iran’s president, Rouhani, on the other hand, immediately came out and offered food and economic aid to Qatar, recognizing that what these other countries are doing could bring on starvation conditions to Qatar fairly quickly. Rouhani remarked, “We need to have peace here, not conflict,” a statement that clearly puts blame for the Middle East tensions on Saudi Arabia, which had initiated the blockade against Qatar. It is easy to see how this situation could be twisted to frame Iran for any further escalation in the Middle East, however, especially if the other countries don’t change their tactics, and Iran has to act to fulfill its promise to not let the Qataris suffer unduly. At that point, we can expect a US-led false flag operation against Iran to occur forthwith.
It is also easy to see how Trump could be convinced that what he really needs to bolster his popularity is a serious war, as opposed to the on-going multiple wars we started and are engaged in around the globe right now. He wants to get attention away from the Russia investigation fiasco, one of the most remarkable bits of dumbassery and meaningless wastes of taxpayer monies ever dreamed up, all on behalf of Hillary Clinton, who can’t accept the fact that she lost the goddamn election because she was a horrible, hated candidate whom the public distrusts for good reason. [See my note at the end of this post regarding election meddling.] Let’s be honest here. Clinton is toxic. The only people who don’t want her to just go away seem to be the establishment Democrats, the Clinton wing, who take the party a foot closer to nonexistence each time they parade her in front of the cameras. And let’s be honest about Trump: the guy is mental. He’s got the emotional stability of a poorly raised five-year-old and he rows with only one oar in the water. He appealed to the portion of the population whose tastes run to the louche, the garish; this represents a significant portion of Americans, to be sure. Enough to get him elected, in any case, although half the eligible voters couldn’t be aroused enough by either Trump or Clinton to even go mark the ballot. Since the election, the only praise this carnival barker got from the media or the Democrats was when he [illegally] bombed the shit out of the vacant Syrian airstrip and [illegally] dropped “the big one” on a hillside in Afghanistan. He is not aware of much, but he surely marked that applause, and has noted that both major parties have long sought an excuse to take out Iran. He sees that the politicians, the Pentagon, and most of the American population loves war, any war. The creation of war footing and all its attendant financial accoutrements are, after all, the only economic plan Congress has, in the long term. Of course, since Trump has already given his Pentagon generals unilateral authorization to carry out any and all missions they deem necessary without notifying him or the public first, Trump may only find out we are at war with Iran after the bombs start falling. He will not stop, and will in fact welcome, the latest iteration of America’s War of Terror wherever it next roars to life, and whatever the given excuse; he will be quickly advised by his padrones that is is a useful distraction against not only the Russia-hacking bullshit, but also gets attention away from the Republican plan to tear up any social agreement between the US government and the US people. The Democrats will also welcome an exciting new war to distract from the fact that they have no intention of serving the interests of the commoners either and actually agree with all the loathsome, hateful Shock Doctrine ideas the Republicans dream up. War with Iran, war with Russia, war with Outer Mongolia – throw a dart at the map. The only good news for the rest of the world is that the uncouth, stupid president of the United States is so rapidly burning bridges with our traditional allies that maybe this time no other country will allow itself to be dragged into whatever new monstrous adventure we Yanks cook up. Too bad for us that we may find ourselves having to do our wilding alone in the future; but at some point, others surely must call quits to suffering fools lightly and step back to let fate and karma extract their inexorable dues.
So Iran was attacked by terrorists, and here is the official White House response:
Statement by the President on the Terrorist Attacks in Iran
We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.
That is the statement in its entirety. Read that second sentence again. Let it soak in, with all its appalling ugliness, ungodly falsity, and unmitigated American gall and hypocrisy on full display to the world, and be filled with wonder that no country as yet has ever dared to say such a thing to the United States, which, unlike Iran, utterly deserves such denunciations.
** ** **
A note on the election “meddling” involving Russia: There is a serious lack of proof that Russia did much of anything to influence the 2016 election in the US. So far, we have one dubious report offered up by the intelligence agencies (no names of actual personnel who work for these agencies, just a generic “all agencies” is attached to the report as authorship). The report is headed with a disclaimer that none of the “findings” contained within it represent hard evidence or conclusions, but that the report is merely a summary of suspicions, assumptions, or inferences, some of which are based on “previous assessments”. What the previous assessments are, or if those assessments were found to be accurate, is left unsaid. The disclaimer states that the report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only, and that “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.” Well, alrighty then. A report based on unidentified old reports, and not guaranteed to be factual; this is the report the media is hanging its hat on. By far, the biggest section of the report (it uses up 6 out of the 14 pages, and page 14 is blank) is a fatuous commentary on the Russian media outlet, RTNews, wherein it is “discovered” that RTNews has a “pro-Russian bias”, leading to the conclusion that it is – aha! – a “propaganda outlet”. This is akin to stating that the Wall Street Journal has a “pro-American bias”. No doubt the Russians have some apparatchiks whose job it is to write findings like these for the Russian intelligence community. In any case, this lengthy commentary on RTNews, added to the US intelligence summary on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, was actually written in 2012 (the original date of this section of the report is not obscured), and its inclusion in said report is without merit. Offered as proof that RTNews is Russian propaganda meant to infect Americans with pro-Russian sentiment is that they covered Occupy Wallstreet and were critical of the treatment of the Occupy protesters, they reported on the increased use of fracking in the US, and (this is my favorite part), “In an effort to highlight the alleged ‘lack of democracy’ in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third-party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates.” Need I say that only American politicians and spook agencies would consider it subversive to disseminate to US voters that there are actually more than two political parties extant in the US.
Aside from this report, we have suggestions from these same political sources that the Russians had internet “trolls” leaving comments attached to articles about Trump or Clinton. Supposedly, these trolls – paid to leave comments that bashed Clinton – might have swayed people into disliking her and voting for Trump. This is possible, although it seems unlikely that voters would change their votes based on such things. Most people tend to argue more strenuously for their own positions when they encounter opposition in a comment section, not have their viewpoint entirely altered. Speculation about supposed Russian trolls aside, we know for a fact that the Clinton campaign paid people to troll comment sections on her behalf throughout the campaign season. The Russians did not hack into voting machines (which can’t be hacked into over the internet, anyway), nor did they physically alter anybody’s vote. As far as one can tell from the evidence presented so far, the Russians didn’t even spend much money, if any, trying to meddle in our election. Internet trolls aren’t known to make the big bucks.
The entire sideshow about Russian meddling leaves the country bereft of any coverage regarding the serious internal issues surrounding US elections: the results of the Supreme Court Citizen’s United decision, which allows unlimited amounts of corporate and oligarchic monies into the process, thereby vastly altering the potential of actual democratic outcomes; gerrymandered districts; voter suppression; ballot purging; reduction in the number of polling stations; lack of verifiable paper ballots; the peculiar way the primary elections are run (and the fact, disclosed in the leaked DNC and Pedestal emails themselves, that the DNC rigged the primary to assure Clinton would be the Democratic nominee); our arcane electoral college system for the general election; the utter inability of any third party candidate to find a way to be presented to the public, which is engineered deliberately by the two major parties and guaranteed to continue into the foreseeable future through the electoral college system; etc.
The US itself has directly meddled in the elections of other countries over 80 times between 1946 and 2000. The lists of countries we have fucked with this way only include mild examples of election interference; things like spending money to promote one candidate over the other, articles written in behalf of one or another candidate, US politicians speaking publicly about elections abroad, etc., and do not include the most egregious examples of interference, such as assassinations, forced regime changes, invasions, and coups – all of which the US has done to interfere with the governance and/or political structure of foreign countries. [Not included on these lists are actions like having Patrice Lumumba, the first person elected democratically in the Congo after they achieved independence from Belgium, kidnapped and shot by firing squad in 1961, shortly after he won his election. The US also arranged for the coup d’etats in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and Haiti in both 1991 and 2004. Both the coups in Haiti were directed against the elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had won his second successful election for office in 2000; and in 2004, he and his wife were kidnapped and flown to South Africa, where George W. Bush declared he had to remain “exiled from the Western hemisphere for life”. During his exile, Aristide’s party, the Fanmi Lavalas, was not allowed to field any candidates in the 2009 Haitian election by order of US president, Barack Obama. (!! Let that one sink in.) This was widely protested in Haiti, where Aristide and the Fanmi Lavalas party were extremely popular. Obama finally rescinded the [grossly illegal] exile of Aristide in 2011, although he demanded that the flight returning Aristide to Haiti be delayed until after the run-off elections took place in March that year. As a condition of his return to his native country, Aristide was forced by the US to sign an agreement that he would never seek public office again. During the 2016 US elections, there were protests against Hillary Clinton, both in the US and in Haiti, demanding an accounting for the Help Haiti Funds; Bill Clinton and George HW Bush had been put in charge of the funds after the 2010 earthquake there, and the money never seemed to quite make it to Haiti, instead disappearing into the Clinton Foundation coffers. Also not included as election meddling is the 1996 Russian election, wherein the US finagled an IMF loan to Russia in a blatant attempt to shore up support for the re-election of the alcoholic Boris Yeltsin, whom they then promoted as the only one who could secure financial aid for his country. We were so obvious about this meddling that Time Magazine wrote a cover story about it entitled, “Yanks to the Rescue.” Since the lists offered in articles about US interference in other nations’ elections end at the year 2000, you also won’t see an inclusion of US direct manipulation of the election in Ukraine two years ago, our messing with Russia’s last elections, or our current manipulations in Venezuela.]
Some articles regarding US election interference in foreign countries:
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) made comments during a Congressional discussion about the terror attacks in Iran. He is currently serving his 13th term in Congress (astonishing, but nonetheless factual). An interesting tidbit, given what he says in the video clip below, from the biography page on his website is this: “Rohrabacher is a most forceful spokesman for human rights and democracy around the world.” As you will see, this most forceful spokesman for human rights and democracy praises a terrorist group, ISIS, for attacking civilians in Iran. Whether the true perpetrators are ISIS or MEK is not germane; at this point, ISIS has claimed credit, and this is taken at face value by the US, the US Congress, and the world. Rohrabacher not only praises ISIS, he flat out states that the US should support them in this attack on Iran. Support for ISIS, nominally the worst terrorist organization on the planet, is officially against current US law, punishable by imprisonment, but here we have a sitting US Congressman voicing support and approval for them.
Not only that, but within the first minute (the clip is less than 2 minutes long), Rohrabacher suggests that the US is behind the attack and that the Trump administration may be taking what Rohrabacher considers necessary and praiseworthy steps to go after Iran by using ISIS as a proxy force. This is quite remarkable coming from a US Representative, especially in light of the fact that he is speaking on camera in open session. This man may be a total whack-job as a general rule, but still, the suggestions that the US, and Trump specifically, are behind these attacks and that the US is (or should be) using ISIS as mercenaries to further our interests ought to be ringing bells all over the place. Shit, ISIS should be using this clip as a recruitment video. Now, it may be true, as I think and as many people in many countries believe, that ISIS is a creation of the US and is a proxy group being used by the US and Israel to disrupt the Middle East, but this is, of course, tacitly denied by US officialdom each time they name ISIS as the “greatest threat to mankind”. Here, Rohrabacher seems to be admitting that US backing of ISIS is either a) the truth of the matter, or b) that it ought to be. In either case, such declarations ought to concern the US government, which goes to great pains to appear to be dead-set on destroying ISIS.
His statement reveals peculiar labyrinthian thought processes wherein he makes it clear that in his view, our involvement in the Middle East is primarily to shore up and protect the Sunni side of the Sunni-Shia religious argument (and here we’ve thought all these years that it had something to do with 9/11 and terrorism), he can’t seem to distinguish between the mullahs of Iran (whom he thinks were attacked) and the Iranian civilians (who actually were attacked), and includes a bizarre comparison between Stalin killing Nazis to ISIS killing innocent people who just happened to be visiting public areas. Thankfully, his remarks are brief; surprisingly, they weren’t deleted from youtube already by the CIA.
Donald Trump has won the 2016 election and the Republicans retain control of both the House and the Senate.
There is no-one to blame but the Democratic party politicians, the DNC, and their big donors. They had a candidate (actually more than one) who could have beat Trump in a landslide, yet they decided they had to do everything in their power, including rigging the primaries and colluding with the media, to give the nomination to a person so universally despised and so obviously corrupt that she couldn’t beat the carnival barker. Irony of ironies; as the Clinton and DNC emails prove, the Clinton people were pushing for the nomination of Trump as an opponent because they thought he would be easier for her to beat than any other Republican. The fatal flaw of this plan was that the Democratic machine had been rigging everything in favor of the one person who couldn’t beat anyone with enough of a margin to overcome the insurmountable and peculiar electoral college system we use. [Although they claim she beat Bernie Sanders, running as a fellow Democrat, in the primaries, the evidence of the DNC rigging the primaries is, well, irrefutable at this point and her nomination was cinched by Sanders’ own and finally obvious collusion in merely playing the sheepdog to deliver his innocent flock over to her.]
Not only that, but the DNC spent all their money – against the party regulations, by the way – on the Hillary Victory Fund instead of spreading it out to the down-ticket Democrats; as a result, they still have a minority in both the House and the Senate. Not to mention that the only down-ticket Democrats that they supported verbally, if not financially, were nothing but ‘Blue Dog’ sell-outs instead of progressives or liberals. Despite losing the hold they had in both houses of Congress and losing state houses all across the country during the 2014 mid-terms, they didn’t bother with getting out the vote, or bother to deal with gerry-mandering issues, or pay any attention whatsoever to what people were telling them – that the economy sucks, people need jobs, Obamacare is really really bad, wealth disparity is dividing the country, Obama didn’t keep any of his promises and people were pissed about it, and everyone is sick of the “bipartisan compromises” that keep making things worse on the ground. 47 million Americans don’t have enough food to eat. Fully one-third of eligible working-age Americans do not have jobs. Social Security benefits continue to get cut or remain stagnant despite the fact that people can see with their own two eyes that food, housing and every other expense they routinely have to pay each month continues to increase in price. Health insurance costs are so high that a family plan now costs more than the average person earns in 6 months. Wages are effectively lower than they were 20 years ago. Although the “family income” level was purred over repeatedly by Obama and Clinton on the campaign trail and touted as a sign of how things have improved under Obama, the fact is that according to the reports themselves, family income has not even risen above the level it was in 1999 – 17 years ago. This is obfuscated by politicians and media pundits who don’t reveal the actual charts, try to equate “household income” with “personal income”, and who never point out the obvious; family income includes the combined incomes of all members of a family living in one household, and we now have the highest number of adult children living with their parents than at any time in our history. Even if all they have is some measly part-time job at McDonald’s, these young adults contribute to that “household income” number. Which, despite 1/3 of Americans under the age of 30 having to live with Mommy and Daddy, is still lower than than it was 17 fucking years ago.
I’m just amazed that the political grifters weren’t able to pull off the final fake-out and simply make up the election results like they do the unemployment numbers, economic measurements, or poll numbers and just claim Clinton won; on the other hand, it should occur to everyone that perhaps Trump is just as acceptable to the plutocracy as she is. Maybe it’s that easy to figure out why they didn’t bother to rig the election – either candidate suffices to get the powers-that-be where they want to be; in total control of all the commons and all the wealth, and so they let the general election play out without interference. Hell, maybe they did rig it, but didn’t go far enough, underestimating the numbers they needed. Or – here’s a conspiracy theory for you – maybe Clinton’s health really is so bad that they realized, too late, that they couldn’t let her take office. It strikes me as odd that she conceded before Trump had officially hit the magic 270 number in the electoral count and well before all the popular votes were in, especially given her determined, bullish, self-righteous pursuit of the office for so many long years. Or perhaps the investigations into the Clinton Foundation are showing indications that criminal charges are forthcoming; the FBI has not ended those investigations, after all. However, that will be taken care of by Obama preemptively pardoning Clinton before he leaves the White House so that no charges can ever be filed and the Clinton Foundation’s felonious enterprise will never be publicly exposed. Perhaps the electoral college will not vote the way it is pledged to, in the end, and Clinton has been told to expect this. She actually has won the popular vote, after all. The electoral college does not cast its official vote until Dec. 19. Supposedly, the electors have to vote the way they are pledged, but they may be convinced to test the system this time on behalf of “DNC primary super-delegate winner” Clinton. Maybe this election has yet other surprises in store.
The country could have gone either way – more liberal or more conservative – in its presidential decision. As the results of various ballot measures across the country prove, our societal tendency as a whole is clearly toward the liberal side. The voters approved measures for legalized marijuana and increased minimum wages in state after state, for example. It’s the politicians who are trending ever further right. The Democratic party refused to encourage this social trending and instead offered the most right-wing Democrats they could find. The voters repudiated that; unfortunately, having been abandoned by the Democrats, voting for Republicans was the only way to voice their discontent. It wasn’t so much a choice for the conservatives as an un-choosing of the status quo. In fact, the Republican party can only claim somewhere between 25 and 30% of the voting public as its base. Clinton, Obama, and her other spokesmen were out there on the campaign trail, however, praising Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, and Madeleine Albright, for God’s sake. The Republican big-wigs supported Clinton, as did all the neocons and neoliberals. She talked about the need for more wars (with Iran, China, and Russia, God help us all) and more Pentagon spending, and the only mention made of liberal ideas were to dismiss them as things that might be “worked out eventually in a bipartisan fashion”. It all made anything she said about “supporting progressive promises” and “Democratic ideals” look so phony that, in the end, nobody could believe a damn word of it. I guarantee you, if the Democrats had run seriously progressive candidates and responded to, heeded the message of, the massive support Sanders got and what it implied, this election would have ended differently. It’s too bad, because Trump’s trickle-down economic ideas won’t do a damned thing for any but the wealthiest Americans and corporate cartels, but the people responded at a gut level. They found him to be authentic in his strange, but ultimately Ayn Randian way, and intuitively knew Clinton was a liar, a warmonger and a Wall Street stooge. Going with their gut feelings was all they had; the billionaires, corporate elites, whorish media, and political parties have finally managed to so dumb down and confuse the population that all the people had left was unfiltered, inchoate anger and primal survival instinct. They tossed a Hail Mary pass for the one they felt was at least a political outsider, driven by the devil’s bargain that had been foisted on them by party elites.
I think we are going to lose our Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and food stamps benefits no matter who had won, as both parties have been colluding to that end since Bill Clinton was in office. Obama formed his “catfood commission” as one of the first things he did during his first term, if you’ll recall. When Obama took office in 2008, he had a Democratic majority in both houses. And yet he utterly failed to implement any of the progressive platforms he had run on, instead squandering the opportunity (with no objection from the Democrats in either house, mind you) to end torture, take action against the Bush regime, close Guantanamo Bay, end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, punish the Wall Street bankers who crashed the economy, or push for universal health-care. He brought in Timmeh Geithner and other Goldman Sachs men to run the Treasury and immediately assigned Monsanto people to run the FDA and the USDA, granted permits for even more deep-water drilling, and named a charter-schools promoter to run the Dept. of Education. Within a few years, he had signed the NDAA giving him the ability to assassinate anyone he chose anywhere on the planet (Trump may love that presidential perq), and expanded our illegal “war zone” to seven countries. Like the Syriza Party in Greece, Obama and the Democrats took office with false promises and immediately handed the country over to everything the people thought they were voting against. We were given the discipline of austerity measures, a health “reform” that gave exponentially more profits to the private insurers and pharmaceutical companies, and exposed to the quackery of the Federal Reserve programs. It is guaranteed that now, at this late date and with the Republicans in charge of both houses and the presidency, there will be no re-regulation of Wall Street, all our tax monies will continue to feed the Pentagon, big corporations will still get governmental subsidies while raking in record profits, there will not be an end to the toxic shit dumped into the water and food, every state will be fracked, and every politician in Washington will continue to ignore the wishes of the people who voted them into office. Here’s the thing: we weren’t going to get anything good out of this election anyway. You might not have noticed, but neither party talked about actual policies they might implement. The media never asked questions along those lines, either. Climate change was never mentioned in the debates, nor the militarization of the police, nor the legality of the US bombing multiple countries, none of with whom we are legally at war . Likewise ignored was civil asset forfeiture, NSA spying, and all the other losses of our civil liberties over the years. Despite Trump’s promises, the House and Senate won’t spend a dime on infrastructure, jobs, or education, and for sure, climate change or environmental issues are completely dead in the water now (those being not even mentioned by Trump), but at least there isn’t going to be any pretense about who both parties of Congress serve any more. And it isn’t the people of the United States; it’s the plutocracy. Desperate Trump supporters and the die-hard Clinton supporters may not have figured that out yet, and may never; for we are a supremely fact-free and stupid society now.
[As an aside, I have to mention that Clinton didn’t even bother to address her faithful in person last night. She phoned in her concession to Trump, had someone announce to the media that she’d speak publicly in the morning, and just left all those Clinton people deserted in the hall where they’d gathered in the assumption that win or lose, she’d at least grace them with her presence. She didn’t spare a minute for them, however. All those sad Clinton supporters, mourning the fact that their very own Caligula had lost the election, were left to catch some rest as best they could in their folding chairs until around noon today, when she gave her official concession speech. I watched that event live when it occurred. She had the unmitigated nerve to blather on about how the US “treats everyone equally under the law” and about how “the Constitution” and “rule of law” guides us all and makes us such a great country. Much to my surprise, a bolt of lightening did not come down from the heavens and strike her dead.]
But whatever happens from here on out, put the blame where it belongs: on the Democrats, who insisted that it was the criminal War-pig’s “turn”, no matter what the voters were saying they wanted. As it turns out, the fact that she pees sitting down wasn’t a big selling point, and that was the only card they had to play. What’s the old saying? Democrats stab you in the back, Republicans stab you in the front. The Democrats sold us out gradually over the years; from Bill Clinton’s time in office onwards, they turned ever more rightward, leaving behind and deserting the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the unions, and the idea that our society and commons should be the primary recipients of taxpayer monies. We were at a turning point with this election. We could have gone more toward the right or toward the left in this choice, as I said. We had candidates who were clearly more to the left of Clinton, candidates who were kept as hidden as possible by the collaboration of the media and the political parties until it was too late, and the left was deserted. The Democratic power machine deliberately chose to take the rightward lean, they deliberately chose to ignore what their voter base wanted, and in so doing, deliberately threw away a chance to nudge our society ever closer toward true equality and social uplift. We will pay the price for a long time and the price will be heavy.
The TPP was written in complete secrecy by corporate CEOs and their lawyers, along with official governmental trade negotiators, over a five year period. The trade negotiator for the US is Michael Froman. He served in the Treasury Dept under Bob Rubin within the Clinton administration, during which time the Glass-Steagall Act was overturned, leading directly to the conditions giving rise to the economic meltdown years later. After that gig, he and Rubin both went to work for Citigroup (big bank and hedge fund a-go-go). In 2013, he became our trade negotiator. I mention this because it’s relevant that our trade negotiator is a big bank guy who worked for one of the banks that helped tank the economy in ’08.
Obama signed the TPP in Feb. this year, as did all the leaders of the 12 signatory nations. None of them, however, has gotten the deal ratified in their countries yet; i.e., the TPP has not been passed through the parliaments or Congresses of any of the 12 nations yet and so has not legally gone into effect.
They have 2 years to ratify the TPP. If it isn’t ratified by Feb 2018, they can put it into force with only 6 countries participating, if the GDP of those 6 countries combined equals 85% of the GDP of the original 12 countries.
The TPP includes an ISDS [investor-state dispute settlement] mechanism. This clause allows a company to sue a treaty-participating country for monetary damages if local laws affect their business. It does not allow them to make changes to local laws, but it does allow them to sue a government for “damages”. The ISDS is run by a tribunal of 3 judges: all of whom are corporate heads, chosen by a panel of big corporations. It has been pointed out that previous trade agreements with an ISDS clause have pushed participating countries to loosen environmental and labor regulations in an effort to preemptively stave off potential lawsuits under ISDS, thus inherently influencing which laws are passed or altered by signatory countries. It is the ISDS that ensures an end to our national sovereignty, as if the TPP even without it, weren’t bad enough. Any member of Congress that votes yes for this trade agreement and the president that signs it into law is committing treason, in my opinion.
While the ISDS clause cannot forcibly change US laws, some US laws will need to be changed in order to comply with the TPP itself. Obama had the duty (signed into law with the passage of the “Fast-track” bill; aka the Trade Promotion Authority or TPA) of working with the heads of the various US agencies (Dept of Ag, Commerce Dept, Treasury Dept, OSHA, etc.) to create a list of which laws would need to be altered, and to present this list to Congress at the same time the TPP is formally presented to them for vote. Obama signed an executive order in July handing this duty over to Michael Froman (our trade representative). We will find out what laws have been changed if/when Congress votes yes on the TPP. Congress can only vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the TPP and its attached list of regulatory changes; they are not allowed to amend, filibuster, debate, add to, delete from, or alter any text at all.
Which means that any politician (like Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid) who suggests that the TPP can “be improved” by Congress before it is passed is lying through his teeth. Congress cannot change a word of the TPP. Any improvements that Congress might want to suggest before they would pass the damned thing would necessitate the renegotiation of the agreement with the other countries. (Congress cannot amend the text themselves, but they might, behind the scene so to speak, suggest changes that would ensure passage.) In other words, if Congress says they want x,y, or z clauses to be changed, the TPP has to be re-presented to all the countries with the alterations and the whole negotiation started over again, with the leaders of these countries having to sign a new agreement and presenting that new one to their parliaments for ratification. Obama wants this thing done before he leaves office, so it’s unlikely he would consider any recommendations from Congress that would cause the TPP to have to go into renegotiation. And when Clinton makes breezy promises to “improve” it when she is the president, she is eliding the fact that any improvements she might want will likewise send the agreement into renegotiation. (Remember, the countries only have 2 years to ratify the TPP through their parliaments, so there is little time to negotiate a new treaty.)
The “fast-track” bill that Congress wrote and passed and that Obama signed into law last year has its own stipulations that the media has chosen to completely ignore. This bill governs how Congress votes on any trade agreements for the next 6 years. It reads that Congress can only vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on any of these agreements without debate, alterations, or amendments, as I mentioned above. I also mentioned that it made the president responsible for telling Congress of any changes to our existing laws that have to occur to comply to the agreements (a duty that Obama handed off to Froman).
In case you think I am inventing the idea that some of our laws will require alteration or amendment (or, in fact, to be overturned altogether) with passage of the TPP, it is quite obvious that this is the case, as the Fast-track bill includes these paragraphs:
“if changes in existing laws or new statutory authority are required to implement such trade agreement or agreements, only such provisions as are strictly necessary or appropriate to implement such trade agreement or agreements, either repealing or amending existing laws or providing new statutory authority.[…]”
“within 60 days after entering into the agreement, the President submits to Congress a description of those changes to existing laws that the President considers would be required in order to bring the United States into compliance with the agreement.”
But there are further rules imposed by the fast-track law, and these are overarching requirements for any trade agreement for the next 6 years. Fast-track demands that no trade agreement can discourage or prejudice commercial activity between the US and Israel. It stipulates that trade agreements must discourage movements such as BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) against Israel. This “no-BDS” clause includes everyone; the definition is given thusly:
“Definition.–In this paragraph, the term ‘actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel” means actions by states, non-member states of the United Nations, international organizations, or affiliated agencies of international organizations that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.”
This formal declaration against the BDS movement was included despite the fact that Israel is not a participating country in any of the troika of trade agreements potentially coming up for vote in the near future. [What I call the troika consists of the TTP, the TTIP, and TISA.]
Fast-track also puts an end to any notion that we will ever have the labeling of products like GMOs or nano-technology, as it includes the following, a provision that none of the trade agreements can include:
“unjustified trade restrictions or commercial requirements, such as labeling, that affect new technologies, including biotechnology; […]”
When Obama signed the fast-track bill into law, he also signed the updated TAA (aka the Trade Adjustment Assistance law). This bill acknowledges the fact that trade agreements cost the US millions of jobs and so Congress authorizes funds for the “re-training” of American workers who will need to find new jobs with which to support themselves. The TAA has existed for years, but was set to expire in 2015. Congress reauthorized the bill and increased the funding because they knew that the upcoming TPP would cost jobs. They had to pass the TAA in order to get the fast-track bill passed: Obama demanded both at the same time, as did members of Congress who otherwise opposed the fast-track legislation, specifically because they know the TPP, TTIP, etc. will lead to job losses. Some of them even said so out loud while debating the fast-track and TAA bills – that the TPP will cost the US several million jobs, which is a vast understatement, according to labor experts. In order to pass the TAA re-training bill, Congress scotch-taped it to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a trade bill supported by the Congressional Black Caucus, to attract more yes votes. In the updated bill, Congress supplied the necessary $950 mm funding (their estimate of the minimum needed for worker re-training if the TPP passes) by cutting Medicare further. They extended the Medicare sequestration reductions – Medicare benefits have been cut repeatedly since Obama took office – through 2024 and reduced reimbursements for Medicare patients who are on dialysis for acute renal failure. If you are one of the Americans qualified to get “re-training” money to help you “upgrade your skills” so you can find a new job at McDonald’s or WalMart after the TPP erases your current job, thank an elderly dialysis patient. Oh, wait, you won’t be able to – they’ll all be dead. And by the way, the amount of money you’ll get from the federal government toward a “re-training” program is $1500. Good luck.
No-one in the media noted that while Congress was talking about how the TPP was a swell idea, so “wonderful” that they wanted (and got) the fast-track bill in order to get the TPP passed as quickly as possible when it comes to a vote, they were admitting within the body of a bill passed at the same exact time as fast-track that the TPP was going to cost US jobs. Obama’s trade-policy advocates say the TPP will create jobs at the same time they say it will cost jobs. Which is it? According to them (depending on the day of the week and which shill they have talking about it for them that day), it will do both. Let’s call it the “Vietnam War Theory of Economics and Job Growth”. This new economic theory is that jobs must be lost in order for jobs to be created, and that a “good” trade deal is one that will lead to lost jobs and lower wages, which then must be partially offset by more federal spending for the displaced work force (funded with the tried and true method of simply taking monies from another sector of the public sphere); said pool of “displaced workers” having been created by the government passing the trade agreement in the first place.
And the TPP is what Clinton calls the “gold standard” of trade agreements, at least until she decided she had to lie about her position on it in order to garner votes. For some reason, we allow our votes to be heavily invested in outright political lies.
The TTIP and TISA, the other two trade agreements currently under negotiation, have the same issues that the TPP does, and while I am not going into the specific details of those two here, if they are signed and brought before Congress, they will also be enacted within the mandates of the fast-track law. Some good information about both can be found on wikipedia, and websites such as publiccitizen.org are doing an outstanding job of reporting on them.
The TPP and the other trade agreements aren’t about trade. Tariffs are already near zero. They are about giving big, multi-national corporations complete control of and power over judicial and legislative decisions in every country, as well as providing unlimited opportunities for corporate cartels to strip money from wages and reduce governmental spending on the commons.
This morning, I had an email in my in-box suggesting that I thank Hillary Clinton for her pledge to introduce, within the first 30 days of taking office, an amendment to the constitution which would overturn the Supreme Court’s disastrous 2010 “Citizen’s United” decision. This decision by the Court declared that money is the same as speech and allowed unlimited corporate spending in elections, releasing a veritable flood of political bribe money into election contests at every level.
The email piqued my interest, as Clinton is vowing here to help overturn a decision that has benefitted her enormously. It seems obvious political pandering. Why would she swear to turn off the spigot that has brought her loathsome self so close to winning the White House?
I decided to verify that she had actually made this statement; not because it is such a remarkably risible promise, which it is, but because I immediately realized that as president, Clinton could do no such thing.
She did, in fact, make these remarks to Netroots Nation audience via a video message. From the transcript:
[…] Now, I know many of the people in this room supported Senator Sanders in the primary. I’m looking forward to hearing from you, learning from you and working with you.
You’ve helped put political and campaign finance reform at the top of the national agenda, and I intend to keep it there.
Today I’m announcing that in my first thirty days as President I will propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and give the American people — all of us — the chance to reclaim our democracy.
I will also appoint Supreme Court justices who understand that this decision was a disaster for our democracy, and I will fight for other progressive reforms including small dollar matching and disclosure requirements.
I hope some of the brilliant minds in this room will seek out cases to challenge Citizens United in the courts because I know I can’t do this alone. We need you to keep speaking out keep organizing and keep holding elected officials — including me — accountable.
We know what happens when progressive voices get drowned out by the other side, and we cannot let that happen, so I’m looking forward to fighting alongside you and with Senator Sanders in the weeks months and years to come because you know what we are stronger together. Thank you all very much.
After all the questionable tactics used by the DNC, the voting “irregularities” (ahem), the bizarre and entirely inappropriate, extrajudicial Comey decision [not to recommend indictment for her illegal email system] that shoe-horned Clinton into the position of being the presumptive Democratic nominee, it’s swell to hear that she would like to give the American people ,”all of us – the chance to reclaim our democracy”. Sure, now that you are a breath away from the Oval Office, you’ll let us have some of that imagined democracy back. Well, that remains to be seen. We still have to contend with the Diebold machines, voter ID laws, and gerry-rigged districts in November. But the thought has to count for something, doesn’t it? I really like the “we know what happens when progressive voices get drowned out by the other side,” too; she takes a moment here to crow about what she and the DNC just did to Sanders and his progressive supporters. Yeah, Hillary, we know what happens when you drown the progressives. We just watched you do it.
Most Americans, no matter their political leanings, deplore the Citizen’s United decision. And so her promise to commit herself to proposing a constitutional amendment to reverse it is being greeted with unabashed enthusiasm. The website where I found the above transcript is a typical example. The author closes with this:
“This is great news. Our thanks to Hillary Clinton for committing to explicitly offer a constitutional amendment to stop the flood of big money in elections unleashed by the most disastrous decision of the Roberts Court.
Poor thing actually seems to think that not only can the president offer an amendment, s/he can simply overturn Supreme Court decisions at will. However, while all such sentiments may be heartfelt and sincere, I have to point out that Clinton cannot really do any such thing as “offer a constitutional amendment” and the progressive community is enabling her continued misinformation when they praise her for a promise she cannot legally fulfill. She may even be aware of this herself. Note this part of her remarks: “I hope some of the brilliant minds in this room will seek out cases to challenge Citizens United in the courts because I know I can’t do this alone.”
Damn straight you can’t do it alone. She was either aware at the time she made “the vow” that she could not as president ever fulfill it, and therefore was simply making another empty political promise or she has no idea what the constitution allows on the matter of amendments. In any case, one might note that “challenging it in the courts” is not at all the same thing as “proposing a constitutional amendment”, but I guess everyone was so thrilled with the idea that Clinton was going to amend the constitution once she was enthroned that they didn’t catch the nuance there. Nor can she “appoint” Supreme Court justices, words she uses in her video message; she can only nominate them for Congressional approval.
The president (and the Supreme Court, as well, by the way) has no role in amending the constitution. None whatsoever. The president cannot propose an amendment, author an amendment, introduce an amendment, ratify an amendment, veto an amendment, or “call for” an amendment, and furthermore, is not even called upon to sign one into law, should it get that far. A couple of successful amendments have been signed by the sitting president, but that is for ceremonial purposes only. At most, a president can only kind of politely suggest to members of Congress, behind the scenes, that they accept or decline a particular proposal. The constitution is clear about the lack of any other role for the president in this instance.
Article V The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
To put this into very understandable language for the layman, I found this simple explanation of the way it happens:
Given the enormity of the role modern American presidents play in contemporary politics, it may come as a surprise that presidents are not directly involved in amending the U.S. Constitution. While they can use the bully pulpit to lobby for or against a proposed amendment, and while some presidents have played ceremonial roles in signing ratified amendments, they cannot introduce, ratify or veto an amendment. The Constitution leaves that role to the U.S. Congress and the states.[…]
A constitutional amendment may be proposed in two ways: either by a two-thirds-majority vote of both houses of Congress, or through a constitutional conventional called for by three-fourths of state legislatures. The latter has never been used. Congress proposes an amendment through what is called a joint resolution; unlike bills passed by Congress, these resolutions do not require the president’s signature.
The States’ Consideration After a joint resolution passes Congress, it is sent to the Office of the Federal Register for official publication. Then, it is sent to each state’s governor, who in turn submits it to the legislature for consideration. In one case, the 21st Amendment, state conventions, rather than legislatures, were called upon to approve the amendment. Three-fourths of state legislatures must ratify the amendment for it to go into effect. […]
After three-fourths of the states ratify a constitutional amendment, it is sent to the National Archives for official certification. The certification signing has become a ceremonial event attended by dignitaries, including the president. Presidents may also sign the certifications as witnesses, as President Lyndon Johnson did with the 24th and 25th amendments, and President Richard Nixon did with the 26th Amendment.
Whatever Clinton does or does not understand about the law, and I submit that her valiant attempts to obfuscate her willful breaking of the law show at least a working knowledge of the laws of the land, the public must inform themselves as well as they can. Empty, meaningless rhetoric and indulgence of the wishful thinking of the voters should be met with information and skepticism, not praise. Promises made by Clinton in particular should be treated for their worth: a bucket of warm spit.
The email issue alone should have proved to everyone Clinton’s immense distain for the law. FBI director James Comey presented an air-tight case for conviction and then declined to recommend indictment, basically offering stupidity as her defense. He went on at length about her intent, or lack thereof, to break the law, although “intent” is not mentioned in the laws in question and is normally not something considered in seeking indictment. Her intent is obvious in any case.
She decided to use a private server and a personal email system to circumvent the required State Dept. system. In fact, it came out in Comey’s hearing before Congress that she had used multiple such systems. She hid this from officials for years, even after leaving the State Department, and lied to Congress about it. When caught, she deleted tens of thousands of emails and had the server scrubbed. She had access to highly classified information and allowed it to be removed from its secure custody (the State Dept. secured system) and sent it to people not authorized to have it. She knowingly mingled State Dept. business with Clinton Foundation [Clinton Global Initiative] business. She instructed her aides and employees to protect her emails from FOIA requests. Clinton didn’t even have her system password-protected, and was warned several times by her IT staff that they thought it had been hacked. Since then, she has lied repeatedly to the public about all aspects of this criminality. How is any of this anything but proof of willful intent?
Don’t people realize that she destroyed pretty much the entire record of four years of the Secretary of State? We will never know how much of what should have been public archive has thus been lost, as the thorough scrubbing of her system means it cannot ever be restored.
Comey tried to play Pontius Pilate and absolve himself of participation in this affair by admitting during the Congressional hearing that he had not personally been present when the FBI questioned her; instead, he had relied on the notes and recommendation of the FBI underlings who had been there to make his decision for him. His disinterest in personally taking part in what was perhaps the most important and historic interview the FBI ever conducted is as inexplicable as the Bill Clinton/Loretta Lynch serendipitous and “accidental” meeting on the tarmac just days before the interview itself.
I recently read that when asked, Clinton said she would not suspend the activities of the Clinton Foundation while in office (‘should she win’, she did not think to add). She did promise, however, that there will more “transparency” in its operation. Imagine the coin to be made while she is actually in office; it’s going to make what they’ve taken in bribes so far look like petty cash.
Well, why not? None of these assholes care if everyone knows what they are doing any more. They know there’s nothing we can do about it. Too bad it appears that the Clinton Foundation will not be getting the scrutiny it calls for. That is where a real investigation should be launched and continued for as long as it takes to untangle the pay-to-play scheme that is involved. In the meantime, she should be ineligible for any public office. Her engineering the utter destruction of Libya makes her a war criminal and should be sufficient to bar her from the presidency, but we have long since completely ended any pretense of following international norms, much less our own laws.
Oh, and the Goldman Sachs speeches, another minor pimple on her ass – hell, I’m just waiting to hear how much she is going to charge the tax-payers for her State of the Union speeches.
All that is apparently forgotten by the media, and we will soon hear an eager Elizabeth Warren, champion de-jour of all things labeled “progressive”, cheering for this amendment-by-presidential-fiat thing.
Elizabeth Warren as “progressive” is an entity entirely fabricated by the media, of course. The stances she took on various issues were clearly outlined by her on her website when she was first running for US Senate. Apparently no-one bothered reading the damn thing and instead relied on the media’s “interpretation” of her positions. At the time of her running for Senate, she offered, on every single issue, a policy statement that read as though it had come straight out of the PNAC [Project for a New American Century] playbook.
Her statements about Israel (fiercely Israel-first and anti-Palestinian), Iran (rabidly Iranphobic, even going so far as to say that Iran “must not have an escape hatch”), homeland security (all aspects of which she enthusiastically endorses as “necessary” in the “fight against terror”), etc. are completely in line with every repulsive neoliberal, hawkish, projecting our power abroad, AIPAC-inspired statement made by far-right politicians for years, and now parroted by supposed “democrats” and “liberals” such as Clinton and Obama.
The fact that she has now decided to become Clinton’s purse-pet, the yappy little doggie that rich girls carry around in their over-sized pocketbooks, is not surprising. She may like to be portrayed as a political naif, but she sure picked up the politician’s unerring ability to kiss the ass of power very quickly.
And there is Sanders. Despite once ardently stating that Clinton was “not qualified to be president”, Bernie has now officially endorsed her and dropped his campaign.
Yes, I know he promised long ago to endorse “whomever the eventual Democrat nominee turns out to be”; which should have been a signal that he didn’t think it would be himself. Bear in mind that Clinton may be the presumptive nominee, but she is not the actual nominee yet, and won’t be until the delegates vote on the convention floor. He needn’t have endorsed her until the convention.
He promised to “take it to the convention”. His endorsement before the convention may have early fulfilled his promise to Clinton and the DNC (to endorse the nominee), but he reneged on the one he made to the voters.
Then, as some sort of really sucky consolation prize, he promised his supporters he would work to make the DNC platform more “progressive”. But the Clinton camp voted down all of his planks and what we are left with is basically a Republican platform with some Democratic-sounding civil rights’ platitudes thrown in. So Sanders got nothing in the way of concessions, but vowed he would fight for more progressive ideals to be added to the platform while he was attending the convention. This is where the platform becomes the Official Platform via delegate voting. Except – pretend to be surprised – he is not going to do that either.
“Party rules empower Sanders, who endorsed Hillary Clinton Tuesday, to try to force votes at the Philadelphia convention on proposed planks that failed to muster the necessary votes at a Platform Committee meeting last weekend in Orlando.
“But Sanders has decided against using the so-called minority report process, the senator’s top policy aid informed allies Tuesday. […]”
Well, clarity is a good thing, isn’t it? So now at least we know where we stand. Hint: we got nothin’. Diebold will handle the race from here on out.
And now Sanders has the “honor” of being “allowed” to speak at the Democratic Convention. He is scheduled for the first night, no doubt so that everyone will forget what he had to say by the time the event comes to a conclusion. The message is a clear, “Thanks for coming. Now, don’t let the door hit your old ass on the way out, you hear?” His staff remarked, however, that “nothing is set in stone”; what that means is anyone’s guess. Maybe he won’t speak at all, or maybe he will end up being Clinton’s VP pick and speak on the second-to-last night, the traditional night for the vice presidential pick to give a speech. That would be the final sellout to Bernie voters; their guy giving up his seat in the Senate to become a useless toadie in the Clinton White House.
On Thursday, the final night of the convention, we get the really big show. That’s when the (by then official) nominee gets to speak. This year, not only will Clinton be speaking on Thursday, but we will also be administered the extra-special torture of having to endure a speech from her daughter Chelsea as part of the denouement to the festivities. I’m sure everyone involved is hoping the teleprompter will scroll slowly enough for her to keep up with it. I’m hoping it will simply read, “I am the Odious Queen War-pig’s royal offspring, and I will see you in 4 to 8 years if we can keep this con going that long, and thank you for coming.” And then she will exit the stage.
On the other side, we have Trump. A cretin and TV reality star, who beat out a couple of football teams’ worth of notably horrible and repugnant candidates to become his party’s nominee. His belonging to the wealthiest class in America doesn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of his “fans”, as he calls them; they are oblivious to the inherent mockery of his entire campaign. He should have picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate. That would have created some jobs; we’d need oracles to interpret the stream-of-consciousness ramblings emanating from the White House. I suspect he is running simply to assure the presidency for Clinton.
Clinton and Trump are rightfully the most reviled candidates ever to run for president. Clinton is the first candidate in US history to be under active criminal investigation while running for president. More and more people are coming to the decision to either vote for third-party candidates or to refuse to vote at all. Two extraordinarily wealthy grifters, at least one of whom willfully broke the law while serving in high office, two idiots, one who wants to nuke ISIS (and thus the entire Middle East) and reinstate torture, and one who wants to expand the current (and illegal) war zones into Russia, Syria, and Iran. That’s what we have to chose between. Hope you weren’t planning on having time to spend whatever is left in that retirement account – we aren’t looking at very good odds on your being around to cash it out. But no matter who wins the election or what happens as a result, they can’t blame the voters for it. When given this sort of appalling choice and the open rigging of the primaries, the voters cannot be blamed for just walking away.
Hey, on a positive note, if Clinton wins, she’ll get the rap instead of Bernie for the economy continuing to rot, the environmental disasters looming ahead, the treasonous TPP trade agreement, and the next iteration of the Long Wars. Hope she enjoys the hell out of being in the WH again; couldn’t happen to a person who deserves the wrath of the people more.
Fake candidates making false statements, running in a faked election, with totally sham media coverage, in a country falsely claiming to be the face of democracy, while it perpetrates illegal, false wars on fake enemies it created, running its economy on fraudulent paper: nobody should be surprised when this tent folds.
This is not going to end well; no matter who “wins” the election, everyone across the globe loses. This time around, the oligarchs don’t care if the losers include us Americans; surely we all realize by this juncture that we are no longer the ‘exceptional ones’ to the people who run this country.
It’s time to think of your own survival. Time to plant your own garden, flee the system to the extent that you can, tend to yourself and your family. Don’t add to anyone else’s difficulties. Be a good human.
Here is some inspiration for you. It’s all I have to offer right now.
[…] You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
[…] And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
[…] Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”
And I have this: “Woodstock”. Written by Joni Mitchell and included on one of her albums, but the most popular version, as below, was performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
lyrics: Well, I came upon a child of God. He was walking along the road. And I asked him, Tell me, where are you going? This he told me:
Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm Gonna join in a rock and roll band. Got to get back to the land and set my soul free.
We are stardust, we are golden We are billion year old carbon And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Well, then can I roam beside you? I have come to lose the smog, And I feel myself a cog in somethin’ turning. And maybe it’s the time of year Yes, and maybe it’s the time of man And I don’t know who I am But life is for learning.
We are stardust, we are golden We are billion year old carbon And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
We are stardust, we are golden We are billion year old carbon And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
By the time we got to Woodstock, We were half a million strong And everywhere was a song and a celebration. And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes Riding shotgun in the sky, Turning into butterflies Above our nation.
We are stardust, we are golden We are caught in the devils bargain And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
This video contains footage from the actual Woodstock event and also has a little added verse (from another Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song) at the end.
[Note: this post dedicated to my golden brah, who has fled the system and is showing me by his concrete example how to get back to the garden.]
The oligarchs and corporatocracy are hosting an election in the United States this year. They have chosen the candidates, the issues to be discussed, the methods of voting, the perimeters of the voting districts, and dictated what the media will say about the event. You, as a member of the “voting public”, are invited to attend the event or just watch from a distance. It hardly matters, since it is unlikely the outcome depends upon your participation.
This week-end, the media is exclusively talking about, in exhausting and tedious interviews with “the experts”, the potential results of the Iowa caucuses; the first in our series of caucuses or primary elections (depending on the state) that will decide the nominees for the Democrat and Republican parties. I wasn’t sure how a caucus worked as Maryland is a primary state, so I dug up some information on the subject. Turns out it is a fairly useless procedure which actually goes on for months in caucus states, although the pundits only pay attention to the first round of the affair. The fact that the way the public votes during this first of the series of caucuses may not be proportionally represented once the Dem. and Rep. delegates make it to the National Conventions to cast their vote for the nominee goes completely unremarked. Everyone eligible to vote during the general election can go to the caucuses, which are held in school auditoriums, churches, or even private homes. Well, assuming there is not a blizzard in Iowa that night, that you have a babysitter – these things take hours – that you aren’t sick and that you don’t have to work that evening. There are close to 1700 precincts in this first round of caucuses. Usually only about 20% of the voters show up, and Iowa is not one of our more populous states in any case; these facts do not deter the “experts” from declaring that the Iowa caucuses are really, really, really important.
So how do caucuses work? Here’s the quick and dirty. To start with, at the initial caucus, a delegate is chosen to represent the voting outcome at the next level of caucuses/conventions. After the precinct caucus, there are the county conventions, the district conventions, the state convention and then the DNC or RNC national convention. Are you beginning to get how silly it is to consider the first in this series of caucuses to be the most important? The national committees of each of the two major parties decide the caucus rules, so how they are run differs. The Republicans have a simple process. First they say the Pledge of Allegiance. Because, duh, they’re Republicans, and wherever two or more Republicans are gathered, there will be a flag and everyone will pledge to it. Close scrutiny is given as to whether all those present appear sincere during the Holy Recitation. [Aside: I always wondered about the idea of pledging to a flag rather than just the country, but that’s just me. It appears that we are the only country that routinely uses a pledge like this, and certainly the only country which has schoolchildren doing a pledge of any sort, with the exception of North Korea, where the kids start their day pledging allegiance to their Dear Leader. Originally, when Americans recited the pledge, people were expected to raise their right hands toward the sky while speaking, but after Hitler rose to prominence in Germany, that started to look, rather obviously, like the Heil Hitler salute, so the gesture was changed.] Anyway, after reciting the pledge, the caucus-goers are treated to some speeches from someone or another. Then they have a secret ballot where everyone writes down his/her choice for the nominee. Some places use ballots, some just scraps of paper. The votes are tallied and reported to the RNC. Everyone goes home, except for the chosen delegate of that precinct and some party leaders, who shoot the shit a while longer.
The Democrats have a much more complicated system. The voters arrive and are separated into groups depending on whom they support. Then the various factions scream campaign slogans at each other, trying to convince anyone who doesn’t support their candidate to switch sides. They throw water balloons at each other until a gong sounds, at which point, everyone scrambles for the limited number of seats available in the middle of the room. Well, okay, I made up the part about the water balloons and the musical chairs, but the rest is pretty much correct. After a designated time, people have to sort themselves out according to how they have decided to vote and a count is taken. If the guy your side supports has less than 15% of the votes, he’s out.
If your guy has been tagged out for the rest of the game, you will then be harangued to join someone else’s group. Eventually, someone calls a welcome end to this part of the process and a final tally is taken. There is no secret ballot here: all your neighbors can see which group you are standing with. The number of delegates to represent each candidate are chosen in proportion to the number of voters who chose him, and the delegates go on to the next round of caucuses at the county level, etc. The delegates can switch their votes around to some other candidate at the later levels of caucus, and some delegates to the Democratic national convention are simply assigned by the DNC, so it would appear that there is absolutely no meaning in any of this. For all I know, bags of money are left on doorsteps to convince the delegates to switch their votes later.
At both the Dem and the Rep caucuses, ties are sometimes settled by tossing a coin. Maybe they should just start with the coin toss from the get-go. If you want to read more about this stuff, you can go here:
For the rest of us, there are primary elections where people go into their polling place and cast a ballot. A number of states don’t allow Independents to vote in the primaries, since they are used to vote for the Dem and Rep nominees. Delegates to the Rep and Dem national conventions, where they will vote for the final candidate of each party, are supposed to be chosen in proportion with the voter’s choices, but here you run into the issue of the strange “electoral college” system we use. No-one knows how it works. It has appeared in past elections that the delegates can vote randomly or that their votes can be over-ridden by the national committees. In any case, after all that hoopla, everyone goes on to the national elections to vote for a president. At that point, you can vote for whomever you want, although there will be names on the ballot you don’t recognize because the media has never mentioned them. You can hope the voting machines aren’t rigged at either the primary or the general election level, but chances are about equal that they are.
I mentioned that the caucuses use paper ballots or simply a head count, so you might think that those votes can’t be rigged; however, this year both parties have been given a free app from Microsoft so that party leaders can calculate the totals instantly and send them in to the press. Thank you, Bill Fucking Gates! You just never sleep, do ya? Bernie Sanders, no dummy, is a mite suspicious about the motivation behind this free Gates swag offered to the process, and his team has built its own reporting system to verify the results.
The 2016 election, no matter who “wins”, will have the intended effect of shooting the hostages. Those hostages would be us; the workers slaving away to the rules written by the oligarchs and corporate cartels and never able to catch up, the people unlucky enough to be living in oil- and resource-rich countries (including the US – we just haven’t glommed onto the fact yet that our resources are vastly more important to the elites than we are; a truth that we will only dimly perceive and that, way too late), and those who try to protest the alarming rise of Monsanto, Exxon, Goldman Sachs, et al, and protest their enablers in the various houses of governments around the planet. The protesters will be silenced by any means the cartels deem necessary. These huge corporations and the bankers are in control of not only our human activities, but the natural world as well, and whomever wins the presidential election is unlikely to stand up for us. At the congressional level, it is certain that a mere handful of “our elected representatives” gives a damn about the “voters”. They will sell us down the river, as they have done for a long time now. No matter which nominal candidate wins, the cartels and warmongers will be the actual winners. This is the final Great Taking, and they will have it all – the money, the assets, the lands, the resources – and we are expendable.
The situation is far simpler than the media pundits and self-proclaimed experts would have you believe. We are in the middle of a class war. The rich versus all. There is a secondary class war; that of the middle class versus the poor, which has been strategically engineered by the elites for decades. The middle classes are narrowing and are, on the one hand, being taught to believe that the poor are the enemy and are to be despised as lazy and useless; and on the other hand, convinced that one day, they too will make it to financial success. Liberals want to pretend the class war between the middle class and the poor doesn’t exist, or that it all about race. Conservatives push the narrative that there is no class war at all, that we can all be rich if we just work hard enough. We could have had a national discussion about our poverty crisis, but Obama was probably the last chance we had at seeing that happen. And he doesn’t seem to notice, much less care about the issue. The Democrats in Congress have agreed to all the austerity measures put to a vote, and finished off 2015 by nodding to the virtual end the food stamps for the elderly and the disabled and lowering these benefits drastically for the poor; the Republicans never wanted anyone to have food stamps or such in the first place.
The statistics on food poverty in the US are really staggering. We currently have the highest level of food insecurity since the 1970s. We had almost entirely eradicated hunger in our country back then. Right now, one in six Americans is going hungry every day, while 30% of Americans are described as “food insecure” – meaning they can’t guarantee they have a way to put food on the table.
The low interest rates imposed by our economic policies (decided by a bunch of former big bank executives in cooperation with the private Fed) has resulted in zero interest income for Americans who try to save some money, and the same zero interest is realized on the skimpy retirement funds older people may have set aside. Congress has basically done away with the annual cost of living increases given to those living on social security by using fake numbers for the rate of inflation.
Only two of the candidates, Sanders and strangely, Trump, talk about unemployment. The real unemployment rate, if it were to be accounted for accurately, would be around 25%, not the 5% currently claimed by the Labor Department. Wages have been stagnant for decades, and according to the last Oxfam report, “the 62 richest billionaires now own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population.” Just wait until the TPP trade agreement and the wonders of automation, technology, and robotics strips what’s left of the jobs right out from under our feet. As economist Michael Whitney said:
[…] Obama and the Republican-led Congress have done everything in their power to keep things just the way they are by slashing government spending to make sure the economy stays weak as possible, so inflation is suppressed, the Fed isn’t forced to raise rates, and the cheap money continues to flow to Wall Street. That’s the whole scam in a nutshell: Starve the workerbees while providing more welfare to the slobs at the big investment banks and brokerage houses. It’s a system that policymakers have nearly perfected as a new Oxfam report shows. […]
Wealth like that, “ain’t no accident”, brother. It’s the policy.
Want to know how much the average person in the US earns? The candidates won’t talk about it, but I will.
The Social Security Administration has released its data for 2014. Their chart shows actual W-2 earnings in the US as given by the IRS records based on tax returns for 2014.
The numbers are pretty abysmal. The median wage was under $29,000, meaning that half of American workers earned under that amount. The “average wage” is higher than that at $44,569, but is so skewed by the few on the highest income bracket that it is not a really meaningful number, in my opinion. (The 134 people who earned over $50 mm last year can really alter that average; even taking that into account, 67% earned under the $44,569 “average wage” in 2014.) In 2014:
-38 % of all American workers made less than $20,000
-51 % of all American workers made less than $30,000
-62 % of all American workers made less than $40,000
-71 % of all American workers made less than $50,000
Since the SSA and the IRS reports are based on each “wage-earner’s” tax-return total earnings rather than counting each and every W-2 turned in to the IRS as a discrete “wage”, this means that the data does not give any information on what the average job might pay and one should not make the mistake of coming to any conclusions about that. In other words, a “wage-earner” may have earned $30,000 in 2014, but might have had to work two or three jobs to earn that amount. The SSA charts are easy to read, and there is a tool you can click on to look at charts from previous years.
This time around, the oligarchy has trotted out some of the most repugnant, bizarre, and downright ignorant candidates to which we have ever been treated. Their motto for 2016 is: “2016 – the year we won’t give you any lesser evils to choose from.” But this is the end result of the capitalist system on display, and we are a capitalist country on its down trajectory; at this point, Americans will buy dog shit if it is packaged properly and advertised heavily.
None of the candidates will cut any of the Pentagon’s budget, nor will any of them consider the possibility that we ought to end the crusades against foreign nations, none of which actually threaten us and with none of whom we are legally at war. Last year, we dropped an estimated total of over 23,000 bombs in six countries. This breeds terrorism, for the obvious reasons. ISIS was a creation of the US; of our policies and actions, if not a direct creation of the CIA and secret ops in conjunction with mercenaries. Yet according to the people running for president, what we need is more bombs, more American forces killing people abroad, and more help in the fight from “allies” like Saudi Arabia and Turkey. There could be another way to fight terrorism, as one might note that in socially balanced societies, terrorism does not thrive, but we seem incapable of considering an alternative to bloodshed. We are addicted to it now.
This has resulted in a flood of refugees and/or terrorists to the EU which did not exist prior to the destruction of law and order in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria – before the “strong men” who ruled and did not tolerate bombings and mayhem by religious zealots were murdered by the US. Now we are bent on some ridiculous quest to further “contain the Middle East” and kill those who are determined to avenge their loved ones. As always, the innocent on both sides get fried, while the war machine enjoys the profits.
Even Sanders thinks the [illegal] drone-bombing should continue; I wonder if he will feel okay about carrying out the “Terror Tuesday” duties should he become president? Will he be surprised to find that he is just as adept and casual at ordering the murders of strangers across the planet as Obama has been?
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Sunday that if elected president he would not end the U.S.’s controversial drone program in the Middle East.
Sanders said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos ” that he would continue with the targeted killing campaign but suggested he would somehow reform the program so that drones don’t kill innocent people abroad.
“I think we have to use drones very, very selectively and effectively. That has not always been the case,” Sanders said. […]
We have never left Afghanistan and have re-entered Iraq. We are the main drivers behind the destabilization and bloodshed in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Ukraine. We are aiming for Russia, Iran, and China. Oh, Jesus, forget it; I can’t even begin to list all the countries we are bombing, invading, attempting to destabilize, ruin economically, or instigate coups in now.
Why do Americans approve of drone-bombing, ignore the CIA-instigated terrorism around the globe, seemingly enjoy being at war against countries that don’t threaten us, see the warrior class as superior and deserving of accolades and perqs despite the fact that they are engaged in killing people while we are legally at war with no nation, and scream with approval when some political demagogue talks about “keeping us safe” and nuking the rest of the world into submission? Why is the public satisfied with the selection offered us in presidential candidates in which even the nominally Democratic “front-runner” is a woman who wants to invade yet another country and do away with their elected leader and who constantly threatens a multitude of other countries? Why do none of the “candidates” talk about reducing the Pentagon’s budget, getting rid of the Fed, overturning the Patriot Act, or – at the least, for God’s sake – dislodging the most egregiously unconstitutional clauses in the NDAA? Why do our “Christian” ministers approve of the “war on terror”? Why do the pundits and the politicians promote violence against everyone and why does the public apparently agree with this as though it were reasonable and of some necessity?
Because in this country we have been taught that greed and theft are virtues, that bullying is the sum total of diplomacy, that other cultures are inherently dangerous and to even examine and consider their viewpoints is subversive. We have been taught that every country on the planet is inferior to our own. The corporate oligarchs and their courtiers in Congress love ignorance, racism, and herd mentality and have worked very hard to see that Americans are poorly educated and even more poorly informed.
But we sure got Iraq’s gold. And Libya’s. And Ukraine’s. Wanted their oil, too, but it is proving to be a little more difficult to wrest complete control over the oil fields, because we created ISIS (in the case of Iraq and Libya), who are interfering in the process (which may be on purpose to hurt the Dread Russians, under the rather abstruse economic theory that harming Russia’s economy is worth the cost of harming ours) and because we created Nuland’s Nazis Civil War (in the case of Ukraine), which has so far blocked completion of the Biden Bid for Oil Takeover of Eastern Ukraine.
Even so-called “liberal” writers add their voices to the propaganda in support of more war, although they do it a little more subtly than the conservative pundits. This is from the “liberal media” at Salon, reprinted by the “liberal media” compiler at Alternet, in an article ostensibly about the one of the GOP debates:
[…] Oh, the candidates know that Bashar al-Assad is on one side and ISIS is on the other and that Vladimir Putin is being a dick, all of which is probably more understanding than the typical Republican voter has regarding the whole thing. But memorizing these little factoids is hardly relevant when you still think the solution to an intricate civil war that mostly isn’t about us at all is to stand around declaring how tough you are. […]
Uh-huh. Those aren’t “factoids”; they’re bullshit. While the rest of the article about the GOP debate that night is probably true and is certainly funny, this bit is typical blase media propaganda stupidity and why I quit reading Salon, which supposedly offers the liberal viewpoint of things. Facts: al-Assad is on one side. ISIS, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the CIA, and the weapons’ manufacturers are on the other. Putin is not being a dick; Russia is the only country that is helping the legitimate government in Syria legally right now. Let’s say that again: Russia is there legally. The rest of the countries currently bombing Syria to hell and gone are not. Russia and al-Assad are trying to get the US-created and US-armed terrorists out of there.
Apparently, Sanders and O’Malley are the only two amongst the candidates who think that we should uphold the nuclear deal with Iran (which was not trying to develop nuclear weapons anyway), while even our former Sec. of State is of the opinion that we ought to show the Iranians just what dickhead liars we are and sanction them again; retroactively, mind you, since the ballistic missile test that has caused the uproar was carried out prior to our agreement with them. The missiles tested by Iran were incapable of carrying a nuclear payload and so wouldn’t have broken the agreement no matter when it was signed at any rate. Nonetheless, as soon as Clinton called for further sanctions, Obama signed an executive order to do just that.
US Treasury imposes new ballistic missile sanctions on Iran:
Once again we have shown that we cannot keep our “agreements”, “treaties”, or “deals” for more than one second after the ink dries. The only reason any country even “negotiates” with us any more is that they are aware that if they don’t, we will invade their country and bomb the fuck out of it. As a nation, we have no morals, no rigorous intellect, and no diplomatic abilities. As a nation, we are liars, thieves, and murderers, completely bereft of the normal human empathy, the ability to compromise, and the honest self-assessment required to interact in a mutually beneficial way with other societies.
How long before some other nation says, “basta!” and drops a Fat Man on our asses?
All the candidates swear undying support for Israel, none more vociferously than Clinton, as though this were some purity test they have to undergo, and sadly, many Americans see it just that way. America is exceptional in this way: its politicians place allegiance to a foreign country above loyalty to their own, and the only promises they keep are the ones they make to that foreign country. And sometimes that oath to serve the interests of the other country above their own nation is the tipping point to get them elected.
What this says about the political system, the politicians, and the electorate in the US is appalling and embarrassing.
So we are being offered for our viewing pleasure an assortment of motley con men and corporate stooges. Sanders may be the exception to some extent and the fact that the media and the other candidates are busy red-baiting him and regularly try to dismiss his positions out of hand bolsters my belief in his sincerity in some measure. As I said, however, he isn’t going to dismantle the war machine, and that is a large part of all the other problems this country has.
Then you have the narcissistic Trump, billionaire and game-show host, who has picked up on the unrest out in the flyover zones and plays to it with gusto. It’s hard to tell what he would do if elected, since he can barely keep his proposals and ideas straight in his own head. His speeches frequently contradict things he has said before, but it is hard for people to get through all his verbiage to pick up on that. He’s so loquacious you’d think he was being paid by the word. He was recently endorsed by our other great orator, Sarah Palin, who left off tending her miscreant brood to offer up this bit of gloss: “Where, in the private sector, you actually have to balance budgets in order to prioritize, to keep the main thing, the main thing, and he knows the main thing: a president is to keep us safe economically and militarily. He knows the main thing, and he knows how to lead the charge.” You just know the two of them spent their time while waiting in the green room before the great endorsement speech fighting over who was hogging the mirror. But Trump himself is one of the rich elite who has made his jack off the capitalist system; he isn’t going to gore that ox. On the other hand, he probably wouldn’t start a hot war with Russia, so there’s that.
There is the skeevy and very creepy Ted Cruz, who was doubtless the Grand Inquisitor in Spain during his last incarnation on this earth. He is in a fight with the establishment Republicans and neocons, or so we are told to believe, although his ideas about carpet-bombing the Middle East and “lifting the rules of engagement” in the fight with ISIS suggest he fits right in with the PNAC crowd. He is talking here about illegal methods of warfare and getting rid of the Geneva Conventions, but that doesn’t bother too many of the people in charge, most of whom supported the same ideas when offered by George W. Bush. Cruz is like some crazed fundamentalist faith-healer who wants to pray the gays away and damn it all, get his chance to nuke some shit for Jesus. He responded to the Flint, Michigan water crisis by donating bottled water… teaming up with the anti-abortion group Flint Right to Life, with instructions that the water go exclusively to crisis pregnancy centers. These centers are anti-abortion organizations that try to manipulate women into keeping their pregnancies. Tough shit about those already-born children and adults who have been drinking toxins in Flint for the last few years. He, like all the Republicans, wants to cut taxes for corporations, get rid of all bank regulations, privatize everything that could possibly turn a profit for the corporate world, doesn’t support any minimum-wage increases, and has a tax plan that completely decimates the poor and middle class while ass-kissing the wealthy. He sort of forgot to report his Goldman Sachs campaign contributions to the FEC, and his wife works there; we have yet to see if anyone cares. Cruz appeals to a certain evangelical, but hawkish, subset of the American public. Despite their professed “Christian” faith, if Cruz and his base were given the choice between Jesus and that other guy, they’d be screaming, “Free Barabbas!” at the top of their lungs.
Marco Rubio sometimes rattles off sound-bytes like he’s on amphetamines, but he is not saying anything we haven’t heard from the farthest right of the right-wing; he’s just saying it hysterically. Lots of people think he is cute and endearing, but the dude is one rabid neocon. He loves the spy programs, Homeland Security, the Pentagon, and torture, and hates the needy, the LGBT community, and Muslims. That’s his platform.
Chris Christie ruined his own home state and now wants to have a go at the rest of the country. He calls himself the “disaster governor” with pride (I put a different twist on the title than he does, I gather) while at the same time refusing to help the victims of the two disasters that have hit New Jersey since he’s been in office. We just had a huge blizzard here on the East Coast, and parts of NJ were inundated with flood waters along with the snow. He happily chirped that there was no “residual damage” because the flood had receded, although it’s quite obvious that buildings that have had 5 feet of water and icebergs wash through them are going to be left with damage, if not have to be outright condemned and torn down. Not to mention the other stuff that got majorly fucked up in the flood. We can guess what kind of relief he’s going to offer the affected cities. He’s said some other things on the campaign trail. I couldn’t say for sure what, though.
Carly Fiorina is just vicious as a wolverine with rabies, and Ben Carson thinks it would be okay to bomb children on general principles. When asked if he would order airstrikes that might kill innocent children by the thousands, he mentioned operating on kids with brain tumors and how they hated it but later on loved him, and finished his comments by saying,”and by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job, rather than death by 1,000 pricks.” So in other words, Ben Carson thinks bombing civilians and children is somehow merciful because it finishes the job quickly. The crowd applauded the twisted fuck for his bedside manner.
Jeb Bush is running and may end up being the Republican nominee if the oligarchy can finesse the situation properly. This might not make him very happy, actually, as he seems most intent on making himself invisible. He’s like the chubby kid who tried out for the soccer team because his daddy made him.
O’Malley has some fine ideas about the economy and doesn’t seem to be too enthusiastic about continuing the efforts to take over the world, so he will be quickly taken off the scene. Poor guy barely made in on the scene, so eager are the Democrats to waylay one of their own.
I wrote an entire post about the war-pig Hillary Clinton, who is currently busy trying to paint Sanders as a Commie, so I’ll try not to repeat all the same stuff here. She is so sure she will be the Democratic nominee, as are the pundits and mainstream media, that she hasn’t bothered to reciprocate to Sanders’ pledge to back the eventual nominee. I think the media and the talking heads totally fail to understand the rancor and pure loathing felt for her at the street level. If one reads the comment section on any article about the candidates, even articles supporting Mad Hillary, one sees the same thing over and over: people hate her. People do not trust her. People do not intend to vote for her even as “the lesser of two evils”; she is not seen as the lesser evil in any line-up. To the public, she is defective and never should have made it through quality control. Clinton is the least sincere candidate we have ever had running for office, and the people sense that. She will sign the TPP into law given the chance, and you can be sure that she would reneg on all her promises, except the ones where she promises to bomb other countries, as quick as shit through a goose should she be elected. She has a neocon’s view point toward the use of military power, which she and the media insist on referring to as “foreign affairs”, thus mistaking military policy with diplomacy and foreign policy, a viewpoint that made her such a bad and dangerous Sec. of State. She felt her job in the State Dept. was to threaten other countries and to work arms deals instead of promoting civil discourse between nations. She, in fact, gets “foreign policy guidance” from the same firm that advises Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. (Which may help explain why all the ideas Clinton and the Republicans have for dealing with terrorist issues are similar in that they are illegal by US law, in violation of international laws, and break numerous treaties and agreements.) The media that promotes her jabbers on about the “commander-in-chief” part of the president’s job because even they recognize in some part of their reptilian brains that Bernie Sanders’ domestic policies appeal to the voters more than hers do. They – and she – hope that by presenting her as a hard and tough predator, she will gain some popularity with the fearful. The constant talk about terrorism and terrorists, from all the candidates, serves to keep most of us focused away from the neglected and dismal state of things in our own country.
She may be running into trouble now. With any luck, and with the assumption that some agencies in the US are still willing to do their jobs, she may be facing criminal charges. God knows, she should have been jerked up short by the DoJ long before now. I was very interested to see that one of the major legal threats to her involves the use of her position at the State Dept. to garner donations to the Clinton Foundation, and that Haiti is specifically mentioned. I brought these things up in my last post about her.
Hillary Clinton’s Coming Legal Crisis
by Charles Lipson
January 13, 2016
The latest release of Hillary Clinton emails entails real risks for her, churning just beneath the surface of her successful primary campaign. True, Democratic voters have shown little interest, and the mainstream media only a bit more. Their focus, when they do look, is on the number of documents now considered classified, their foreign-policy revelations, and the political damage they might cause. These are vital issues, but Clinton faces a far bigger problem. She and her closest aides could be indicted criminally.
Secretary Clinton is exposed twice over. First, she used an unsecured, home-brew server to send and store reams of classified materials. Second, in her official capacity, she worked closely with major donors to the Clinton Foundation. Each poses legal risks, with potential ramifications for the Democratic frontrunner, her party, and the Obama administration.
To understand the gravity of these issues, it is important to recognize that this is not just an “email scandal.” It is an “email + server + foundation” scandal.” Secretary Clinton didn’t just send sensitive (and now-classified) emails over open lines, she stored them on private servers that didn’t meet the government’s cyber-security standards for sensitive documents. On its face, retaining classified materials in such vulnerable settings is a criminal violation. Senior intelligence officials have been charged for less – far less. Storing some 1,300 classified documents on a personal server, and doing it for years, poses a special problem because it shows the mishandling was not inadvertent. It was Clinton’s standard operating procedure.
The State Department has done everything it can to protect its former boss. When it finally received her documents, it flatly refused to comply with long-standing Freedom of Information Act requests by releasing them. It took several court orders for the agency to begin trickling out small batches with large sections blacked out. The redactions only underscore why the documents should never have been held on private, unsecured servers in the first place.
The latest document dump shows why the State Department is so skittish. One reveals the secretary of state telling a senior department official, Jake Sullivan, to strip all the security markings off one document and send it to her on an insecure connection. We don’t yet know if Sullivan actually complied, but, if he did, both he and Clinton face serious legal jeopardy.
Beside these national-security matters, the emails reveal obvious conflict-of-interest issues pertaining to the significant overlap between Clinton’s official duties and her family foundation’s operations.
Major donors to the foundation often had business before the State Department, and they sometimes received help. After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for instance, Bill Clinton was named co-chairman of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, and, according to the Wall Street Journal, “the State Department began directing parties interested in competing for Haiti contracts to the Clinton Foundation.”
Not surprisingly, many contractors became foundation donors, or were already. The FBI now has to decide if any of this was a “pay to play” arrangement. Proving a quid pro quo is notoriously difficult, but Fox News reported Monday that public corruption is now a second track in the FBI investigation.
So far, Hillary has suffered only modest political damage from these scandals. Democratic primary voters are mostly indifferent; her main challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, says he’s tired of hearing about it; and, other than Fox News, no major media outlet has done serious investigations.
But that doesn’t mean these messy issues are dead — depending on what happens inside the Justice Department. Clinton is about to face the most serious crisis of her candidacy — a set of legal decisions by the FBI and then the Department of Justice. Those will either kill the issue or kill her chances.
The FBI reportedly has assigned some 100 agents full time to the investigation and another 50 temporarily. The bureau would not commit such massive resources unless the initial investigation raised troubling questions of potential criminality. FBI Director James Comey is monitoring the case closely and coordinating with the intelligence agencies, which have to review the documents. Comey has a reputation for integrity, and it is his call whether to refer charges to the DOJ. Attorney General Loretta Lynch would then decide whether to indict.
Whatever Lynch decides, there will be a maelstrom if FBI agents found substantial evidence of criminal wrongdoing.[…]
Regardless of the attorney general’s decision, if the FBI does recommend criminal charges for Hillary Clinton or any of her associates, she will face two very pointed questions from the media, the electorate, and her Republican challenger.
“Secretary Clinton, if you are elected president, do you unequivocally promise to appoint an independent counsel to investigate these charges and, if warranted, prosecute them?”
“Do you promise you will not pardon anyone before these cases are fully adjudicated?”
She won’t be able to wave these questions off and say, “The attorney general decided all that.” It will look too much like a coverup by a Democratic administration for a Democratic Party leader.
To reach the White House, Hillary Clinton has to get past the coming legal crisis, and she will have to answer those hard questions.
You should really read the whole article; I left some paragraphs speculating about the potential effects this could have on the elections out of the blockquote due to space. Another interesting article is a brief one written by Glen Ford at blackagendareport regarding the Clintons’ interference into Haiti’s elections, and gives a bit of a rundown on their unwelcome and colonial-style relationship with Haiti. See, “The Clintons: We Came, We Stole, Haitians Died”:
I fail to understand how anyone can think we still have a democracy in this country. When you look at these candidates and take honest stock of what they are offering, how can you find any escape in some sad and outdated notion that this is a government of, by, and for the people? Hell, the Obama trade agreements, the first of which (the TPP) is quietly coming up for a vote soon if Congress bothers to follow its own legislation, suffice to render our national sovereignty and any pretense of a government “for the people” null and void if they are passed. I will allow some exception for Sanders in my condemnations, as I think he may actually mean at least some of what he says and is the only one who even affects to worry about how life is going for the average American. He ought to talk more about the TPP, since it has come out that this dangerous piece of crap posing as a “trade agreement” will probably do away with the UK’s health system and could prevent universal healthcare forever in the US. As to the rest, when any of those bought-and-paid-for bastards steps up to the podium and lies to the audience about how much he/she really, really cares about the working stiff and has our best interests at heart, I feel nothing but contempt and revulsion. The corruption at the top of this country is so widespread and so legalized that we cannot avoid another financial catastrophe and perhaps even another world war. These are the goals of the oligarchy so they can strip the US and the rest of the world of its remaining assets, and the dolts, criminals, grifters, and bullshit artists up there on the stage posing as “presidential material” are willing to lead us right into the pit.
No-one with enough neurons firing to keep breathing can take this election seriously. I doubt I will bother to take a chance on the voting machines myself. Seems pointless, unless by some weird happenstance Sanders is on the ballot. If it comes to a race between Clinton and Trump, that might also motivate me enough to haul my ass out of the chair to go vote for Trump, just to help save us from her.
What a wretched selection we have in front of us. Who shall we have? Caligula or Nero? Choices, choices.
I don’t blame those who think that perhaps it is time to join the dolphins and get the hell out of Dodge. If only there were a way to escape to some other planet entirely. A different country on this one may not be far enough – the Powers That Be have their clutches on all of them.
I have four articles from other sources for you today. I am dealing with some eye issues and so cannot do too much writing myself. Probably for the best all around,
Here is an article on Israel spying on the negotiations between the US and Iran. I know that everyone spies on everyone now, but what strikes me in this instance is the sharing of information with certain US Congressmen, who recently have used this information to try to undermine any diplomatic and negotiating efforts of the Obama administration, insincere and half-assed as those efforts may be. I will mention in passing that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons status, according to the IAEA, whose inspectors have been allowed more investigations and inspections in Iran than were even requested and also according to top US Pentagon officials. Furthermore, I will note that the US began [illegal] sanctions on Iran decades ago, stealing their money, freezing their assets, causing deprivation to the civilians of Iran through embargoes and trade sanctions, largely cutting their oil trading ability, and has escalated these sanctions under Obama. All this to punish a country which has never threatened the US nor started a war in over 200 years, and which is not doing what we claim they are doing. One might ask how the US sees itself fit to unilaterally decide who gets nuclear weapons in any case, especially given that we have armed the entire globe, have broken our nuclear-disarmament treaties, and have made sure that the nation most intent on obliterating Iran out of sheer belligerence (Israel) has nuclear capacity itself. No-one asks this question, of course.
With this latest revelation, that certain Congressmen were given information obtained through a foreign country spying on ours, and used this information to undermine our own on-going negotiations with another sovereign country, I think a bona fide case could be made that they have committed treason. [treason: the crime of betraying one’s country.] The recipients did not, after all, report the spying and subterfuge to the White House. Nor did these people go to the CIA, or the DoJ; they conspired with Israel to use it in attempts to thwart the foreign policies of the sitting administration of the US.
That WH officials found out about this and did nothing aside from calling Israel’s ambassador onto the carpet and then merely engaging in some political jawboning with the Congressmen involved in attempts to sway them toward the WH position is an interesting notation on how unabashedly beyond the law the entire political structure of the US has become. With this sort of government, a Congress that openly conspires with a foreign country against its own president, a president who openly murders people all over the globe and claims the right to likewise assassinate Americans as well, a judicial that constantly gives decisions favorable to big business over the common good and disregards the Constitution, a government that is actively working to decimate the health and livelihoods of the people and that obeys the dictates of the banks and business cartels, a government hell-bent on invading other countries, overthrowing foreign nations, murdering foreign leaders and starting wars all over the globe – with this sort of government, it is hard to make any case that this one little incident is of much import. I agree; in and of itself, it is merely a pimple on the ass-end of the country. However, it serves to indicate how corrupted things have become in Washington.
Israel Spied on Iran Talks, Gave Intel to US Lawmakers to Kill Deal: Report
US officials angered, reports Wall Street Journal, that Israelis used captured information from high-level negotiations to thwart chances of nuclear agreement
The Israeli government secretly spied on high-level talks between the U.S., Iran, and other countries and attempted to sabotage the ongoing nuclear negotiations by serving captured information back to U.S. lawmakers opposed to a deal, the Wall Street Journal is reporting on Tuesday.
According to the WSJ:
Soon after the U.S. and other major powers entered negotiations last year to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, senior White House officials learned Israel was spying on the closed-door talks.
The spying operation was part of a broader campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to penetrate the negotiations and then help build a case against the emerging terms of the deal, current and former U.S. officials said. In addition to eavesdropping, Israel acquired information from confidential U.S. briefings, informants and diplomatic contacts in Europe, the officials said.
The espionage didn’t upset the White House as much as Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support from a high-stakes deal intended to limit Iran’s nuclear program, current and former officials said.
“It is one thing for the U.S. and Israel to spy on each other. It is another thing for Israel to steal U.S. secrets and play them back to U.S. legislators to undermine U.S. diplomacy,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the matter.
Israeli officials on Tuesday quickly denied specific aspects of the reporting. “These allegations are utterly false,” a senior official in the Israeli Prime Minister’s office told CNN. “The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies.”
Officials made similar claims to the WSJ, but the newspaper stood by its reporting which it said was based on interviews with more than a dozen current and former U.S. and Israeli diplomats, intelligence officials, policy makers, and lawmakers.
That the U.S. and Israel routinely spy on one another is no secret. As the WSJ notes, citing remarks from U.S. officials, the “U.S. expends more counterintelligence resources fending off Israeli spy operations than any other close ally.”
But in this case, as noted, it was the act of supplying U.S. lawmakers with Israeli captured intelligence on the talks that appears to have most irked the White House and other officials.
According to the WSJ, “Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer met with U.S. lawmakers and shared details on the Iran negotiations to warn about the terms of the deal” as a way to undermine the talks.
Mr. Dermer started lobbying U.S. lawmakers just before the U.S. and other powers signed an interim agreement with Iran in November 2013. Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Dermer went to Congress after seeing they had little influence on the White House.
Before the interim deal was made public, Mr. Dermer gave lawmakers Israel’s analysis: The U.S. offer would dramatically undermine economic sanctions on Iran, according to congressional officials who took part.
After learning about the briefings, the White House dispatched senior officials to counter Mr. Dermer. The officials told lawmakers that Israel’s analysis exaggerated the sanctions relief by as much as 10 times, meeting participants said.
Despite repeated attempts by the Israeli government and their allies in the U.S. Congress to derail nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations, those talks continue to make progress as foreign ministers remain under active negotiations in Switzerland this week.
I’m not sure what endears Israel to the higher-ups in the US. An ally in the region, blah-blah-blah, yeah, I know, but seriously. We supply most of their income (so their citizens can have the free healthcare and college educations denied to Americans) and the only things we seem to get in return are instruction manuals on how to run a police state and co-dependent paranoia. It turns out that a significant number of people in high positions in the US hold dual citizenship with Israel. This is partly due to the fact that if you are Jewish and set foot on Israel’s soil, you are granted automatic citizenship. Every other country on the globe requires a naturalization process of some sort. Some visitors may not even be aware they are legally counted as Israelis by the government there. Certainly, Israel takes pains to invite our Jewish congress-members to visit as frequently as possible, and our government encourages and pays for these visits. (We are also now sending local police forces to train in Israel; I would assume some of them qualify for automatic Israeli citizenship, too.) I guess it is sort of like the Mormons allowing post-death baptism into their church, with the new member being brought into the flock through the sponsorship of a living Mormon; increases the rolls without the trouble of door-to-door proselytizing. Here is an interesting thing: anyone recognized as an Israeli citizen, including those holding dual citizenship, is subject to mandatory military service in Israel’s armed forces. I can only surmise that our politicians and well-heeled dual citizens are somehow granted an exemption to this law, since I have never heard of any of them going over there and bombing Palestinians while they hold office here at home.
On the American side, laws have been enacted that allow special exceptions for Israel to our basic rules about dual citizenship and naturalization. In most cases, one may not be a dual citizen with another country, but we allow it in the case of Israel and a select few other countries. If someone has dual citizenship by birth one might be considered an automatic citizen of Austria, for example, just because his parents were Austrians, although he himself was born in the US and is thus legally an American, too (Austria is one of these “special exception” countries, as well). In the case where someone is going through the naturalization process as a newly arrived adult immigrant, however, he has to renounce his former citizenship – except if he was formerly an Israeli.
It is nearly impossible to find out exactly how many of our politicians hold dual citizenship with Israel because that information is not required to be published and all freedom-of-information requests about members of Congress have been denied under freedom of religion claims. Which is kind of racist, come to think of it, since it assumes that all Israelis are Jews, and that is simply not true. It’s a little odd that Homeland Security doesn’t have a registry of dual citizens (involving any countries and the US) considering all the blather about security issues and foreigners and all, but they don’t. Most people don’t care about the whole duality thing or are too worried that they’d be labelled anti-Semitic to talk about it out loud, but I can’t imagine we’d have the same attitude if there were suddenly dozens of Iranian-Americans holding office. Or Muslim-Americans, if you want to put the religious spin on it. You can bet your ass we’d be talking about divided loyalties and conflict of interest in those situations.
In any case, the only numbers we have come from the individuals themselves openly saying they hold duality. To the best of my knowledge, there are currently at least 9 or 10 dual Israeli/American citizens in high offices in this administration, including Jack Lew (chief of staff), Gary Gensler (Comm Futures Trading Comm), Dan Shapiro (amb. to Israel), Gene Sperling (dir., Nat’l Econ. Council), Mary Schapiro (chair, SEC), Steven Simon (head, ME/North Africa Nat’l Security Council), Eric Lynn (ME policy advisor), Elena Kagan (supreme court), and Stanley Fischer (vice chair, Fed and former head of Israel Nat’l Bank).
In the first Obama administration, dual citizens included Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Peter Orszag, Larry Summers, and Jared Bernstein. There are also at least 13 sitting Senators and 27 House members who hold citizenship in Israel. I won’t list all of them, but here are a few names that might surprise you: Barbara Boxer, Ben Cardin, Dianne Feinstein, Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, Ron Wyden, Charles Schumer, Eric Cantor, Barney Frank, Gabrielle Giffords, Jane Harman, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Harry Waxman, and Anthony Weiner. I have read a couple of articles recently that aver there are actually over 100 of these members of Congress, but it’s too hard to ascertain for sure, so that might simply be speculation. The list of prominent people who formerly served in some office or another and who acknowledge dual citizenship with Israel is practically endless. Mukasey, Chertoff, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, Libby (yeah, “Scooter”), Abrams, Bolten (both Josh and John), Haass, Frum, Kissinger, etc., and the Fed and major banks are notable for dual citizens.
It’s an interesting and verboten phenomenon in our political system.
The following is an interview between “The Saker” and Paul Craig Roberts. The Saker runs a site which has lately been devoted to the war in Ukraine. It is probably the best source of information for that subject available in English (link to his website at the end of the article). I also recommend any articles written by Eric Zuesse on this topic. [for one source of Zuesse’s articles, see: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/author/eric-zuesse-2 ] This particular piece is not about Ukraine, however; it is about the United States.
Does Washington Intend War With Russia
The Saker interviews Paul Craig Roberts
I had been wanting to interview Paul Craig Roberts for a long time already. For many years I have been following his writings and interviews and every time I read what he had to say I was hoping that one day I would have the privilege to interview him about the nature of the US deep state and the Empire. Recently, I emailed him and asked for such an interview, and he very kindly agreed. I am very grateful to him for this opportunity.
March 24, 2015 “ICH” – The Saker: It has become rather obvious to many, if not most, people that the USA is not a democracy or a republic, but rather a plutocracy run by a small elite which some call “the 1%”. Others speak of the “deep state”. So my first question to you is the following. Could you please take the time to assess the influence and power of each of the following entities one by one. In particular, can you specify for each of the following whether it has a decision-making “top” position, or a decision-implementing “middle” position in the real structure of power (listed in no specific order)
Federal Reserve Big Banking Bilderberg Council on Foreign Relations Skull & Bones CIA Goldman Sachs and top banks “Top 100 families” (Rothschild, Rockefeller, Dutch Royal Family, British Royal Family, etc.) Israel Lobby Freemasons and their lodges Big Business: Big Oil, Military Industrial Complex, etc. Other people or organizations not listed above? Who, which group, what entity would you consider is really at the apex of power in the current US polity?
Paul Craig Roberts: The US is ruled by private interest groups and by the neoconservative ideology that History has chosen the US as the “exceptional and indispensable” country with the right and responsibility to impose its will on the world.
In my opinion the most powerful of the private interest groups are: The Military/security Complex The 4 or 5 mega-sized “banks too big to fail” and Wall Street The Israel Lobby Agribusiness The Extractive industries (oil, mining, timber).
The interests of these interest groups coincide with those of the neoconservatives. The neoconservative ideology supports American financial and military-political imperialism or hegemony.
There is no independent American print or TV media. In the last years of the Clinton regime, 90% of the print and TV media was concentrated in 6 mega-companies. During the Bush regime, National Public Radio lost its independence. So the media functions as a Ministry of Propaganda.
Both political parties, Republicans and Democrats, are dependent on the same private interest groups for campaign funds, so both parties dance to the same masters. Jobs offshoring destroyed the manufacturing and industrial unions and deprived the Democrats of Labor Union political contributions. In those days, Democrats represented the working people and Republicans represented business.
The Federal Reserve is there for the banks, mainly the large ones.The Federal Reserve was created as lender of last resort to prevent banks from failing because of runs on the bank or withdrawal of deposits. The New York Fed, which conducts the financial interventions, has a board that consists of the executives of the big banks. The last three Federal Reserve chairmen have been Jews, and the current vice chairman is the former head of the Israeli central bank. Jews are prominent in the financial sector, for example, Goldman Sachs. In recent years, the US Treasury Secretaries and heads of the financial regulatory agencies have mainly been the bank executives responsible for the fraud and excessive debt leverage that set off the last financial crisis.
In the 21st century, the Federal Reserve and Treasury have served only the interests of the large banks. This has been at the expense of the economy and the population. For example, retired people have had no interest income for eight years in order that the financial institutions can borrow at zero costs and make money.
No matter how rich some families are, they cannot compete with powerful interest groups such as the military/security complex or Wall Street and the banks. Long established wealth can look after its interests, and some, such as the Rockefellers, have activist foundations that most likely work hand in hand with the National Endowment for Democracy to fund and encourage various pro-American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in countries that the US wants to influence or overthrow, such as occurred in Ukraine. The NGOs are essentially US Fifth Columns and operate under such names as “human rights,” “democracy,” etc. A Chinese professor told me that the Rockefeller Foundation had created an American University in China and is used to organize various anti-regime Chinese. At one time, and perhaps still, there were hundreds of US and German financed NGOs in Russia, possibly as many as 1,000.
I don’t know if the Bilderbergs do the same. Possibly they are just very rich people and have their proteges in governments who try to protect their interests. I have never seen any signs of Bilderbergs or Masons or Rothchilds affecting congressional or executive branch decisions.
On the other hand, the Council for Foreign Relations is influential. The council consists of former government policy officials and academics involved in foreign policy and international relations. The council’s publication, Foreign Affairs, is the premier foreign policy forum. Some journalists are also members. When I was proposed for membership in the 1980s, I was blackballed.
Skull & Bones is a Yale University secret fraternity. A number of universities have such secret fraternities. For example, the University of Virginia has one, and the University of Georgia. These fraternities do not have secret governmental plots or ruling powers. Their influence would be limited to the personal influence of the members, who tend to be sons of elite families. In my opinion, these fraternities exist to convey elite status to members. They have no operational functions.
The Saker: What about individuals? Who are, in your opinion, the most powerful people in the USA today? Who takes the final, top level, strategic decision?
Paul Craig Roberts: There really are no people powerful in themselves. Powerful people are ones that powerful interest groups are behind. Ever since Secretary of Defense William Perry privatized so much of the military in 1991, the military/security complex has been extremely powerful, and its power is further amplified by its ability to finance political campaigns and by the fact that it is a source of employment in many states. Essentially Pentagon expenditures are controlled by defense contractors.
The Saker: I have always believed that in international terms, organizations such as NATO, the EU or all the others are only a front, and that the real alliance which controls the planet are the ECHELON countries: US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand aka “AUSCANNZUKUS” (they are also referred to as the “Anglosphere” or the “Five Eyes”) with the US and the UK are the senior partners while Canada, Australia and New Zealand are the junior partners here. Is this model correct?
Paul Craig Roberts: NATO was a US creation allegedly to protect Europe from a Soviet invasion. Its purpose expired in 1991. Today NATO provides cover for US aggression and provides mercenary forces for the American Empire. Britain, Canada, Australia, are simply US vassal states just as are Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the rest. There are no partners; just vassals. It is Washington’s empire, no one else’s.
The US favors the EU, because it is easier to control than the individual countries.
The Saker: It is often said that Israel controls the USA. Chomsky, and others, say that it is the USA which controls Israel. How would you characterize the relationship between Israel and the USA – does the dog wag the tail or does the tail wag the dog? Would you say that the Israel Lobby is in total control of the USA or are there still other forces capable of saying “no” to the Israel Lobby and impose their own agenda?
Paul Craig Roberts: I have never seen any evidence that the US controls Israel. All the evidence is that Israel controls the US, but only its MidEast policy. In recent years, Israel or the Israel Lobby, has been able to control or block academic appointments in the US and tenure for professors considered to be critics of Israel. Israel has successfully reached into both Catholic and State universities to block tenure and appointments. Israel can also block some presidential appointments and has vast influence over the print and TV media. The Israel Lobby also has plenty of money for political campaign funds and never fails to unseat US Representatives and Senators considered critical of Israel. The Israel lobby was able to reach into the black congressional district of Cynthia McKinney, a black woman, and defeat her reelection. As Admiral Tom Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “No American President can stand up to Israel.” Adm. Moorer could not even get an official investigation of Israel’s deadly attack on the USS Liberty in 1967.
Anyone who criticizes Israeli policies even in a helpful way is labeled an “anti-Semite.”
In American politics, media, and universities, this is a death-dealing blow. You might as well get hit with a hellfire missile.
The Saker: Which of the 12 entities of power which I listed above have, in your opinion, played a key role in the planning and execution of the 9/11 “false flag” operation? After all, it is hard to imagine that this was planned and prepared between the inauguration of GW Bush and September 11th – it must have been prepared during the years of the Clinton Administration. Is it not true that the Oklahoma City bombing was a rehearsal for 9/11?
Paul Craig Roberts: In my opinion 9/11 was the product of the neoconservatives, many of whom are Jewish allied with Israel, Dick Cheney, and Israel. Its purpose was to provide “the new Pearl Harbor” that the neoconservatives said was necessary to launch their wars of conquest in the Middle East. I don’t know how far back it was planned, but Silverstein was obviously part of it and he had not had the WTC for very long before 9/11.
As for the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, US Air Force General Partin, the Air Force’s munitions expert, prepared an expert report proving beyond all doubt that the building blew up from the inside out and that the truck bomb was cover.
Congress and the media ignored his report. The patsy, McVeigh, was already set up, and that was the only story allowed.
The Saker: Do you think that the people who run the USA today realize that they are on a collision course with Russia which could lead to thermonuclear war? If yes, why would they take such a risk? Do they really believe that at the last moment Russian will “blink” and back down, or do they actually believe that they can win a nuclear war? Are they not afraid that in a nuclear conflagration with Russia they will lose everything they have, including their power and even their lives?
Paul Craig Roberts: I am as puzzled as much as you. I think Washington is lost in hubris and arrogance and is more or less insane. Also, there is belief that the US can win a nuclear war with Russia. There was an article in Foreign Affairs around 2005 or 2006 in which this conclusion was reached. The belief in the winnability of nuclear war has been boosted by faith in ABM defenses. The argument is that the US can hit Russia so hard in a preemptive first strike that Russia would not retaliate in fear of a second blow.
The Saker: How do you assess the current health of the Empire? For many years we have seen clear signs of decline, but there is still not visible collapse. Do you believe that such a collapse is inevitable and, if not, how could it be prevented? Will we see the day when the US Dollar suddenly become worthless or will another mechanism precipitate the collapse of this Empire?
Paul Craig Roberts: The US economy is hollowed out. There has been no real median family income growth for decades. Alan Greenspan as Fed Chairman used an expansion of consumer credit to take the place of the missing growth in consumer income, but the population is now too indebted to take on more. So there is nothing to drive the economy. So many manufacturing and tradable professional service jobs such as software engineering have been moved offshore that the middle class has shrunk. University graduates cannot get jobs that support an independent existence. So they can’t form households, buy houses, appliances and home furnishings. The government produces low inflation measures by not measuring inflation and low unemployment rates by not measuring unemployment. The financial markets are rigged, and gold is driven down despite rising demand by selling uncovered shorts in the futures market. It is a house of cards that has stood longer than I thought possible. Apparently, the house of cards can stand until the rest of the world ceases to hold the US dollar as reserves.
Possibly the empire has put too much stress on Europe by involving Europe in a conflict with Russia. If Germany, for example, were to pull out of NATO, the empire would collapse, or if Russia can find the wits to finance Greece, Italy, and Spain in exchange for them leaving the Euro and EU, the empire would suffer a fatal blow.
Alternatively, Russia might tell Europe that Russia has no alternative but to target European capitals with nuclear weapons now that Europe has joined the US in conducting war against Russia.
The Saker: Russia and China have done something unique in history and they have gone beyond the traditional model of forming an alliance: they have agreed to become interdependent – one could say that they have agreed to a symbiotic relationship. Do you believe that those in charge of the Empire have understood the tectonic change which has just happen or are they simply going into deep denial because reality scares them too much?
Paul Craig Roberts: Stephen Cohen says that there is simply no foreign policy discussion. There is no debate. I think the empire thinks that it can destabilize Russia and China and that is one reason Washington has color revolutions working in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. As Washington is determined to prevent the rise of other powers and is lost in hubris and arrogance, Washington probably believes that it will succeed. After all, History chose Washington.
The Saker: In your opinion, do presidential elections still matter and, if yes, what is your best hope for 2016? I am personally very afraid of Hillary Clinton whom I see as an exceptionally dangerous and outright evil person, but with the current Neocon influence inside the Republican, can we really hope for a non-Neocon candidate to win the GOP nomination?
Paul Craig Roberts: The only way a presidential election could matter would be if the elected president had behind him a strong movement. Without a movement, the president has no independent power and no one to appoint who will do his bidding. Presidents are captives. Reagan had something of a movement, just enough that we were able to cure stagflation despite Wall Street’s opposition and we were able to end the cold war despite the opposition of the CIA and the military/security complex. Plus Reagan was very old and came from a long time ago. He assumed the office of the president was powerful and acted that way.
The Saker: What about the armed forces? Can you imagine a Chairman of the JCS saying “no, Mr President, that is crazy, we will not do this” or do you expect the generals to obey any order, including one starting a nuclear war against Russia? Do you have any hope that the US military could step in and stop the “crazies” currently in power in the White House and Congress?
Paul Craig Roberts: The US military is a creature of the armaments industries. The whole purpose of making general is to be qualified to be a consultant to the “defense” industry, or to become an executive or on the board of a “defense” contractor. The military serves as the source of retirement careers when the generals make the big money. The US military is totally corrupt. Read Andrew Cockburn’s book, Kill Chain.
The Saker: If the USA is really deliberately going down the path towards war with Russia – what should Russia do? Should Russia back down and accept to be subjugated as a preferable option to a thermonuclear war, or should Russia resist and thereby accept the possibility of a thermonuclear war? Do you believe that a very deliberate and strong show of strength on the part of Russia could deter a US attack?
Paul Craig Roberts: I have often wondered about this. I can’t say that I know. I think Putin is humane enough to surrender rather than to be part of the destruction of the world, but Putin has to answer to others inside Russia and I doubt the nationalists would stand for surrender.
In my opinion, I think Putin should focus on Europe and make Europe aware that Russia expects an American attack and will have no choice except to wipe out Europe in response. Putin should encourage Europe to break off from NATO in order to prevent World War 3.
Putin should also make sure China understands that China represents the same perceived threat to the US as Russia and that the two countries need to stand together. Perhaps if Russia and China were to maintain their forces on a nuclear alert, not the top one, but an elevated one that conveyed recognition of the American threat and conveyed this threat to the world, the US could be isolated.
Perhaps if the Indian press, the Japanese Press, the French and German press, the UK press, the Chinese and Russian press began reporting that Russia and China wonder if they will receive a pre-emptive nuclear attack from Washington the result would be to prevent the attack.
As far as I can tell from my many media interviews with the Russian media, there is no Russian awareness of the Wolfowitz Doctrine. Russians think that there is some kind of misunderstanding about Russian intentions. The Russian media does not understand that Russia is unacceptable, because Russia is not a US vassal. Russians believe all the Western bullshit about “freedom and democracy” and believe that they are short on both but making progress. In other words, Russians have no idea that they are targeted for destruction.
The Saker: What are, in your opinion, the roots of the hatred of so many members of the US elites for Russia? Is that just a leftover from the Cold War, or is there another reason for the almost universal russophobia amongst US elites? Even during the Cold War, it was unclear whether the US was anti-Communist or anti-Russian? Is there something in the Russian culture, nation or civilization which triggers that hostility and, if yes, what is it?
Paul Craig Roberts: The hostility toward Russia goes back to the Wolfowttz Doctrine:
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
While the US was focused on its MidEast wars, Putin restored Russia and blocked Washington’s planned invasion of Syria and bombing of Iran. The “first objective” of the neocon doctrine was breached. Russia had to be brought into line. That is the origin of Washington’s attack on Russia. The dependent and captive US and European media simply repeats “the Russian Threat” to the public, which is insouciant and otherwise uninformed.
The offense of Russian culture is also there–Christian morals, respect for law and humanity, diplomacy in place of coercion, traditional social mores–but these are in the background. Russia is hated because Russia (and China) is a check on Washington’s unilateral uni-power. This check is what will lead to war.
If the Russians and Chinese do not expect a pre-emptive nuclear attack from Washington, they will be destroyed.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. http://thesaker.is/the-saker-interviews-paul-craig-roberts/
The following article covers information that everyone should know if your intention is to remain in the US for the long slog. We will see more of this sort of thing as we continue our downward spiral. I have mentioned civil forfeiture and asset seizures before; these “legal” thefts are one of the most obvious signs of a nation teetering on the brink of outright fascism, with the people in charge simply taking whatever they can from the powerless and gorging themselves on the decaying flesh of the country.
Orwell and Kafka Do America:
How the Government Steals Your Money–“Legally,” Of Course
Charles Hugh Smith
March 24, 2015 “ICH” – Did you know that the government of Iran steals your cash if they find more than loose change in your car? They don’t arrest you for any crime, for the simple reason you didn’t commit any crime; but it isn’t about crime and punishment–it’s about”legalizing” theft by the state.
So the government toadies don’t charge you with a crime or arrest you–they just steal your money.
Pity the poor Iranian people–clearly, there is no rule of law to protect them from their predatory, rapacious, fake-democracy, quasi-totalitarian government.
Did you also know that if you deposit too much money in modest sums, the government of Iran steals all your deposits? They will claim–oh, the twisted logic of Orwellian, repressive governments–that you are obviously a drug dealer who is avoiding laws that require banks to report large deposits to the government.
Once again, you won’t be charged with a crime–in true Orwellian fashion the suspicion that you may have committed a crime is sufficient reason to steal your cash. Pity the poor Iranian people, living in such a banana-republic kleptocracy.
Did you also know that if you are caught with any drug paraphernalia in your vehicle, the government of Iran steals your vehicle? The crime isn’t a drug crime–it’s a property crime: what are you doing with the government of Iran’s vehicle?
Pity the poor Iranian people, living in a Kafkaesque nightmare where suspicion alone justifies the government stealing from its citizens, and an unrelated crime (possessing drug paraphernalia) is used to justify state theft.
As in a Kafkaesque nightmare, the state is above the law when it needs an excuse to steal your car or cash. There is no crime, no arrest, no due process–just the state thugs threatening that you should shut up and be happy they don’t take everything you own.
Your car and cash are guilty–and your house, too.
Alas, dear reader, I have misled you. It is not the Iranian government that uses these tricks to steal from its people–it is the U.S. government that uses these above-the-law excuses to blatantly steal from its citizens. I presented these Orwellian, Kafkaesque travesties of the rule of law as being Iranian so you would see them for what they are–the actions of an above-the-law, predatory state which falsely claims to be a democracy with a functioning judiciary.
All these forms of civil forfeiture in America are well documented:
I strongly recommend reading every word of these articles before you start spouting nonsense about what a great and glorious government and legal system we have here in America.
After six years of gorging on the ill-gotten civil forfeiture gains of kleptocratic local government mafias, the Attorney General of the U.S., Eric Holder, recently announced that the federal government would no longer be taking its 20% share of the pounds of flesh stripped from the bones of U.S. citizens.
As my old African-American foreman F.B. would say: that’s awful white of you, Eric, after feasting on the billions of dollars stolen from Americans for six long years. The same can be said of President Obama, who has ignored the officially sanctioned thievery by government thugs and toadies for six long years.
This is how Orwell and Kafka do America: each absurd justification for stealing private property is more outrageous than the next.
But wait–there’s More! That bastion of liberal politics, the state of California, a state completely dominated by Democrats claiming the cherished mantle of Progressive, is undoubtedly the most rapacious, thieving, Kafkaesque government in any nation claiming to be a democracy.
As I have documented in detail, the mere suspicion that you might owe the state of California some tax is enough for the state to steal all the money it finds in any of your bank accounts. And in a fashion that would have made the NKVD of the former Soviet Union proud, you also have to pay the bank a $100 (or more) fee for stealing your money for the state of California. (At least in some accounts, you had to pay for the bullet the NKVD would put in the back of your head.)
After they take all your money, you can call the state tax office and listen to a recording. If you have any money left, you can spend it trying to prove your own innocence, since the state of California already declared you guilty without any evidence or due process.
Welcome to the Predatory State of California–Even If You Don’t Live There (March 20, 2012):
When the state steals our cash or car on mere suspicion, you have no recourse other than horrendously costly and time-consuming legal actions. So you no longer have enough money to prove your innocence now that we’ve declared your car and cash guilty?
Tough luck, bucko–be glad you live in a fake democracy with a fake rule of law, a fake judiciary, and a government of thugs with the officially sanctioned right to steal your money and possessions without any due process or court proceedings.
Be glad we don’t have to torture a confession out of you, like the NKVD/KGB did in the former Soviet Union, because your cash and car are already guilty.
And that’s how Orwell and Kafka work in America–a nation that once was a democracy and could once claim to live under rule of law. Wake up and smell the stench of a gilded gulag, America; we’re living in one whether you care to admit it or not.
Charles Hugh Smith is an American writer and blogger. He is the chief writer for the site “Of Two Minds”. Started in 2005, this site has been listed No. 7 in CNBC’s top alternative financial sites. http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.com
And finally, (hat-tip to Paxhonu, who sent me this), this seems to be the latest strategy, regardless of the industry: Congress writes non-regulations (federal) that do less than nothing, but which include language forbidding states, counties, or towns from doing any regulating on their own behalf or citizens protecting themselves on their own. And the strategy has the fully complicit support of the federal judiciary. The legislation discussed in this article has bipartisan support AND it fulfills Oblahblah’s so-called “goals”. That’s all you need to guarantee the continuing destruction of the environment and sport-killing of human beings by the fuckers in charge. You’d think the states’ rights advocates (like the Teabaggers supposedly are) would be all up in arms and shit. But somehow they love this sort of thing.
His Chemical Romance: Tom Udall Teams Up With the Chemical Industry, With Explosive Results
Enviros thought this senator was on their side. Now they accuse him of shilling for the chemical industry. —Jenna McLaughlin on Mon. March 23, 2015 6:15 AM PDT
KIKE CALVO/AP A lot of environmentalists are mad at Tom Udall. And they’re surprised about this.
The Democratic senator from New Mexico has a long and distinguished record as an environmentalist, and two weeks ago he introduced legislation to reform the testing and regulation of chemicals. But his former green allies—including environmentalists, lawmakers, professors, and public health officials—oppose the legislation, and accuse Udall of becoming too cozy with the chemical industry, which spends over $60 million a year to lobby Congress. They claim that Udall is sacrificing public health for chemical industry profits and that his bipartisan bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), doesn’t protect people from dangerous chemicals, such as asbestos, BPA, and formaldehyde, and, moreover, cripples the regulatory efforts of individual states.
“To be 100-percent candid and direct, [Udall’s] bill has been generated by the chemical industry itself,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said at a press conference last Wednesday. Indeed, the chemical industry has been outspoken in its support of Udall. “This bill is the best and only opportunity to achieve a pragmatic, bipartisan solution to reform chemical regulation,” said American Chemistry Council president Cal Dooley last week in a press release.
Boxer has introduced competing legislation—supported by many environmental groups—that includes provisions that mandate a quicker turnaround time for testing chemicals for safety and grant states more power to regulate chemicals. Her bill is unlikely to win passage; last week, the Republican Senate leadership didn’t allow Boxer to present the bill on the floor.
Udall and his allies insist that his bill, with nine Republican and eight Democratic co-sponsors, has a chance for success. Udall aide Jennifer Talhelm tells Mother Jones that negotiations between Udall, Vitter, and the chemical industry were often strained and that on at least two occasions Udall’s disagreements with industry reps nearly led to a collapse in the talks and no legislation. Supporters of the Udall-Vitter measure contend that the bill is a vital would give the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to control or eliminate dangerous chemicals. Its detractors argue that the chemical industry still has the upper hand.
Backers of the bill and its critics do tend to agree that the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act has failed to protect public health. That law has permitted the $800 billion-a-year chemical industry to produce over 80,000 substances whose traces now appear nearly everywhere—such as in household items including plastic baby bottles, food, and rugs. Only five of those chemicals have been tested for safety and regulated. And under the current law, according to John Stephenson, director of natural resources and the environment at the Government Accountability Office, the burden of proof is on the EPA to show a chemical is dangerous, not on the chemical industry to demonstrate that it is safe. And if a chemical is determined to be a health risk, its use can only be restricted in a way that is “least burdensome”, which is least expensive, for industry. Even a known carcinogen like asbestos—which is linked to the deaths of 10,000 Americans a year—has not been banned under this law because of an industry lawsuit.
So there is a consensus the 1976 law needs to be revamped and bolstered. But most enviros say the Udall-Vitter bill is not sufficient. The critics have three main complaints:
State Preemption: “States have been important leaders in developing rules to protect their residents from harmful chemicals,” says Michael Green, the executive director of the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health. California’s Prop 65 Law has pressured companies to eliminate lead from products such as baby bibs and vinyl lunch boxes, and to stop using arsenic-based wood preservatives in children’s playgrounds.
But Udall’s legislation would undermine strong state action by mostly removing the authority of states and handing it to the EPA, except for chemicals deemed “low priority.” Under this bill, states would not be allowed to develop new restrictions on specific uses of a chemical after the EPA has decided to put the substance on a list of “high priority” chemicals to review. Yet reviewing the chemical could take up to seven years. Thus, the states would essentially be blocked from moving forward with safeguards.
The bill would also strip states of the power to enforce federal standards, a process known as “co-enforcement.” Supporters of the Udall bill acknowledge that state preemption has some downsides, but they note that existing state laws passed before January 1, 2015, would not be affected by the legislation.
Safety Standard: Critics say Udall’s bill won’t keep people safe because the language of the legislation is too vague and weak. Under the new bill, the EPA must consider “unreasonable risks” to human health and the environment when testing and regulating chemicals, but it never explicitly defines what an “unreasonable risk” is. Though the wording seems like a step up from former legislation, which explicitly requires the EPA to consider monetary cost as well as health before even testing a chemical, critics believe this cost-benefit analysis will continue to be a priority, because the bill still requires the EPA to consider cost when it is restricting a chemical proven to be dangerous. A group of 34 professors, environmentalists, and legal experts sent a letter detailing these concerns to Sen. James Inhofe and Sen. Barbara Boxer on Monday. The Environmental Working Group, Greenpeace, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, the Center for Environmental Health, the Breast Cancer Fund, and others agree. Rick Hind, the legislative director of Greenpeace called Udall and his co-sponsors “liars” for insisting that the cost-benefit analysis was removed from the bill. “Even if you had Rachel Carson running the EPA, she wouldn’t be able to do anything,” he says.
But Udall and those involved in negotiations say these complaints are not based on the facts. The phrase that essentially severely limited EPA’s authority as a result of its lawsuit over banning asbestos is removed from the bill. In this 1991 suit, the EPA was required to choose the “least burdensome” restriction in regulating a chemical. In Udall’s bill, the EPA must regulate chemicals based on health “without taking into consideration cost or other nonrisk factors.” If the chemical is determined unsafe, the EPA must regulate it so that it will not pose a risk to health and the environment.
Timeline: Most environmental groups are concerned that the bill would give regulators too much time to conduct safety investigations of chemicals: up to seven years for each review. Also, the chemical industry only has to foot 25 percent of the cost of testing, with a cap of $18 billion a year. Udall’s staff insists that these proposed guidelines come straight from the EPA, which maintains that this timeline and budget are the only feasible ways for them to test and regulate chemicals without fear of missing deadlines.
Last Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing where Udall spoke for his side, and Boxer spoke for the opposition. Udall acknowledged that “there is still room to improve” the bill. But he is not phased by the opposition. “I’m not going to stand by and let our best chance to protect our kids from dangerous chemicals to be torpedoed,” Udall tells Mother Jones.
Despite controversy over the bill, it seems likely that it will advance out of committee with a large amount of bipartisan support. While the EPA told The Hill that the administration isn’t currently taking a position on the bill, an agency official who spoke at last Wednesday’s hearing noted that it fulfilled the Obama administration’s goals to reform chemical legislation set out in 2009.