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Category Archives: State Dept/diplomacy

Sorry, Hillary. The Constitution doesn’t work that way.

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.

“However, we do need more than an amendment that merely reverses that decision. We need an amendment that states that corporations are not people and money is not speech. There are other Supreme Court decisions that also need to be overturned, so that our democracy can endure.”
https://www.nwprogressive.org/weblog/2016/07/hillary-clinton-commits-to-introducing-amendment-to-overturn-citizens-united.html

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.

https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/constitution/article-v.html

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.

http://classroom.synonym.com/can-president-introduce-ratify-veto-constitutional-amendment-21615.html
 

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. […]”


http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/bernie-sanders-rules-out-convention-floor-fights-platform-n608256

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.]

 

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ms. anthrope

“Good morning, ma’am,” a member of the uniformed Secret Service once greeted Hillary Clinton. “F— off,” she replied. […]

http://nypost.com/2015/10/02/secret-service-agents-hillary-is-a-nightmare-to-work-with/

Yes, I am going to write about Hillary Clinton.  I have fought the temptation long and hard, but I find I just need to get this off my chest.  Before I start on the goodies, I will say a few words about next year’s election in general.  First, this is not a monarchy.  It is not healthy for the country to create a couple of quasi-royal families, such as the Clintons and the Bushes have become, and then act as though they had some right to ascend an imaginary throne.  Second, to those who say it is “time” to have a woman president, I say, really?  You are voting on genitalia?  Sure, it is time to have a woman president, but it has to be the right one.  If you want a woman in the White House just for the sake of equal rights, you should at least make certain she represents your values and ideals.  Just being a female should not be reason enough for a candidate to capture your support.  If your desire to vote for a woman is based on the idea that a woman will bring a more nurturing and caring posture toward the citizens of this country as well as to the world at large, someone who will respond to the needs of the people before the interests of corporations, end the warmongering abroad and the aggressive policing at home, then make sure that person is at least capable of those emotions and has those sympathies.  

Hillary is not that person.  Hillary has no qualities or policies that differentiate her from the men who are running for election; simply being a woman is therefore not good enough or reason enough.  I agree it’s about damn time we took women candidates seriously, and if this were a country that really saw men and women as equally able, we would have had a woman president before now.  At least this time around, there are several women running.  I understand even the Republicans have a chick in their line-up.  If you want an actual liberal, anti-war, anti-corporatocracy candidate, there is Jill Stein, running as the Green Party candidate; you aren’t going to find that set of adjectives in front of Hillary’s name.  Dr. Stein is concerned with ending the wars, ending domestic spying and the drone-bombing programs, investing in renewable energy and addressing climate change, restructuring our economy away from weapons manufacturing, breaking up the big banks and making the Fed an actual government-run entity.  She does not support our role in arming and financing Israel, or Saudi Arabia for that matter; this position is why you have probably never heard of her and why the oligarchs will try to make sure you never do.  You can read more about Dr. Stein here:

http://www.jill2016.com/ or here: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/17/the-first-woman-president-jill-stein/

A note: I am going to refer to Mrs. Clinton as Hillary throughout, not because I feel some false affection for her which the use of first names would imply, but simply to avoid confusing her with the other Clinton, her husband Bill. So.  Mad Hillary.  Let’s dispense with the e-mail scandal right now.  Bernie Sanders certainly has, and one can only assume he did that deliberately to help Hillary.  The e-mails, however, are significant and she should not be let off the hook for them, but I think that the issue is being used to obfuscate a more important one that the media is largely avoiding; i.e., the notable coincidence that donors to the Clinton Foundation [Clinton Global Initiatives] received what appear to be preferential and lucrative contracts while Hillary was serving as Secretary of State.  Perhaps this partly explains Bernie Sanders scuttling any talk about the e-mail scandal during the debate (perhaps forever?); further pursuit of the e-mails would lead resolutely toward actual proof of bribes paid to the Secretary of State through Clinton Global Initiatives and the speaking engagements of its principals.  No-one has “proven” that any quid pro quo went on, but then no-one is even willing to investigate the matter.  If you think the allegations must not be true because the Republicans would surely be jumping all over it, then you don’t understand that taking bribes is a way of life for these people.  None of them want to kill that goose.  Certainly the mainstream media has refused to cover the topic, although a number of articles have been presented, and ignored, which would suggest that there is a serious issue here that needs research and which present questions that ought to be answered.  

It’s crazy, given the amazing number of people and companies and the startling size of the “donations” given to the Clinton Foundation while these entities were simultaneously seeking favor from the State Dept., that no-one from either camp, the media, or the Justice Dept. is following up on this issue.  There is way too much smoke here to understand why no-one seems to be looking for fire. As an example, we find this:

The size and scope of the symbiotic relationship between the Clintons and their donors is striking. At least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments that have given to the Clinton Foundation also lobbied the State Department when Hillary Clinton ran the place, according to a Vox analysis of foundation records and federal lobbying disclosures. […]

The New York Times published a thorough report last week on the sale of uranium mines to a company connected to the Russian government by a group of Canadians who poured millions of dollars into the Clinton Foundation. The Washington Post, also working from Schweizer’s research, reported that Bill Clinton collected $26 million in speaking fees from donors to the Clinton Foundation. And Newsweek reported that a company owned by Victor Pinchuk, one of the top donors to the Clinton Foundation, has shipped goods to Iran.

Public records alone reveal a nearly limitless supply of cozy relationships between the Clintons and companies with interests before the government. General Electric, for example, has given between $500,000 and $1 million in cash to the foundation, and it helped underwrite the US pavilion at the Shanghai Expo in 2010, a project for which top Clinton family fundraisers were tapped by the State Department to solicit contributions from the private sector.

GE lobbied the State Department on a variety of issues when Hillary Clinton was secretary, including trade and energy tax breaks, according to its filings with the federal government. In her most recent memoir, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton details how she went to bat for GE in Algeria, a country that donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation in violation of the charity’s agreement with the Obama administration to place restrictions on contributions from foreign governments.

“When the government decided to solicit foreign bids to build power plants and modernize its energy sector, I saw an opportunity for advancing prosperity in Algeria and seizing an opportunity for American business. General Electric was competing for the more than $2.5 billion contract,” she wrote.

Clinton personally lobbied President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to bless the GE contract. The kicker: Clinton allies have said she will use her work to create business for US companies overseas on the campaign trail as she runs for president. She’s now in position to visit GE sites in the US and talk about how she worked to strengthen the company.

The Washington Post reported earlier this year that the Clinton Foundation failed to seek approval from the State Department when it accepted a $500,000 donation from the Algerian government for Haitian earthquake relief in 2010. […]

Likewise, Coca-Cola has given between $5 million and $10 million to the foundation. The company announced an investment of $200 million in Burma after Hillary Clinton worked to lift sanctions on that country.

Even unions that blame Bill Clinton’s NAFTA deal for killing American jobs, including the AFL-CIO, pop up on the crosstab of companies that donate to the foundation and lobbied Hillary’s State Department. Coke, of course, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of NAFTA, which opened up Mexico, the country with the highest per-capita Coca-Cola consumption in the world. Still, no one — no one — has produced anything close to evidence of a quid pro quo in which Hillary Clinton took official action in exchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation. If anyone did, Clinton would cease to be a candidate and become a defendant. […]

http://www.vox.com/2015/4/28/8501643/Clinton-foundation-donors-State

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.

Russia took control over 20% of US uranium after Uranium One’s associates made lavish contributions to Clinton Foundation.

A New York Times investigation reveals scandalous details of the Russian nuclear state corporation Rosatom’s acquisition of Uranium One Inc., that established one of the biggest uranium mining firms in the world.

“I am pleased to inform you that today we control 20 percent of uranium in the United States. If we need that uranium, we shall be able to use it any time,” Russian state corporation Rosatom’s head Sergey Kiriyenko said in his address speech to the Russian Parliament after Rosatom consolidated 100% of Uranium One Inc. (U1) in January 2013 and takes it private.

This speech was the final point that sealed the five-year-long-lasted Rosatom – U1 deal triumphantly for Russia, which gained control of more than 20% of uranium resources in the United States, as well as acquired lowest-cost production mines in Kazakhstan.

Today, NYT, based on dozens of interviews, as well as a review of public records and securities filings in Canada, Russia and the United States, claims that donations to Clinton Foundation made in 2006-2011 by U1’s chairman, company’s associates, advisers and other affiliates and totaled to more than $40 million, at least have special ethical issues, keeping in mind that the former president’s wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.

“Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown”, stated NYT, “but the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation”, which can be summarized with two main points: 1. The US government’s fast-track approval of Rosatom’s acquisition of U1, which controls 20% of domestic strategic uranium reserves 2. Multi-million dollar donations to Clinton Foundation from U1’s associates all the way this multi-step transaction progressed. […]

http://www.mining.com/new-york-times-takes-on-the-clintons-and-uranium-one-connection/

The original NYTimes piece on their investigation into this State Dept. deal is scathing:

[…] As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors.

Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show. […]

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=3&assetType=nyt_now

This is the sort of thing most assiduously not being discussed while the public is, or rather was, being directed to look at only the “was the server she was using safe for classified information” portion of the e-mail scandal. Not all of these deals involve private corporations; some foreign governments were given weapons and equipment after donating money to the Clinton Foundation.  We are to believe that these were all coincidences.  You can read about some of the quite frankly awful countries given preference for weapons deals here, in one of the only detailed articles about the subject:

  http://www.ibtimes.com/clinton-foundation-donors-got-weapons-deals-hillary-clintons-state-department-1934187

Just for fun, I went to the Clinton Foundation website.  They offer, on their “about us” page, the information that Hillary does not draw a salary from the foundation and was not involved in the running of the business while SoS.  Gosh, and I didn’t even have to ask.  Guess they get a lot of questions about that, as well they should.  After all, it is inconceivable that Hillary and Bill weren’t working and strategizing together and fully informing one another during her entire tenure at State, no matter what drivel is claimed on their website. It is also statistically improbable that so many people and companies with business at State would simultaneously discover their charitable inclinations. Financial reports are here if you want to bother:

https://www.clintonfoundation.org/about/annual-financial-reports

Top donor to the Clinton Foundation: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Here’s a question for you; if a non-profit gives money to another non-profit, does the donor get to write off the donation?  You can click on the donation amount box to see donations of differing amounts.  Good stuff.  Donors include BoA, Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, Boeing, GE, Exxon, numerous countries, such as Saudi Arabia, etc.  So Monsanto donates to the Clintons and the Gates’, who also donate to one another, and then the Clintons and the Gates’ bring Monsanto into other countries under the guise of helping humanity or some such bullshit, and Monsanto makes a profit, some of which they donate back to the Clintons and the Gates’.  What a circle jerk.  I think I am starting to see how this works.

https://www.clintonfoundation.org/contributors?category=Greater+than+%2425%2C000%2C000

I typed “Monsanto” into the Clinton Foundation website’s search box, and came up with a long list of articles about how Monsanto has been involved in the Clinton Foundation’s initiatives.  The Clinton people, which one might have guessed after seeing that Gates is their top donor, use and promote Monsanto to “help African farmers”, “work on the bee colony collapse problem”, etc., etc. The article about “helping farmers” mentions the seed programs and a nice little “loan program” for small farmers in developing countries. Now, where have I heard that before?  Oh, yeah, Pierre Omidyar “helping” the farmers in India, you know, the ones who are committing suicide because they can’t pay back the vig on the loans.  Installing Monsanto, a for-profit company seeking complete domination over the global agricultural production, into every country possible ain’t charity work, and neither is bringing sweatshops into Haiti, another Clinton project.

Rather oddly, to me, is the inclusion of the Help Haiti Fund as a “donor” to the Clintons.  How can a fund that was financed by private individuals to give aid to the Haitian people after the earthquake be giving some of that money to the Clinton Foundation to be mingled in with money for their other pet projects?  How can the Help Haiti money be turned over to the Clintons alone to dispense at their whim and sole discretion?  Is it even legal for the Help Haiti Fund to “donate” to a private US foundation?  This would appear a rather egregious misuse of charitable donations, although nobody in Congress is in the least interested in the subject.  

List I got searching for Monsanto references on the Clinton website (it’s a really long list – they love Monsanto):

https://www.clintonfoundation.org/search/node/monsanto

Just reading the list of donors makes you realize that this is a really incestuous pool of scum all churning around together, changing the world for the worst and patting themselves on the back for it.

But who is the real Hillary, you ask.  You know, deep down inside and all. This other stuff is just nasty political backstabbing.  (Other stuff including her support of a right-wing military coup in Honduras, her active engagement in facilitating a Nazi-style military coup in Ukraine, her backing of Bill’s illegal war on Yugoslavia, her support of the Iraq invasion, her promotion of the TPP, her agreement to continue importation of Japanese food to the US without testing for radiation after Fuskushima, …)  Of course, if you are able to overlook all that “other stuff”, you are pretty much unreachable in any case, but still, I’m glad you asked.  Here is an article from just the other day:

Clinton’s camp says she ‘could have a serious meltdown’. Hillary is furious — and while Clinton advisers think that may save her, it’s making the lives of those who work for her hell.

“Hillary’s been having screaming, child-like tantrums that have left staff members in tears and unable to work,” says a campaign aide. “She thought the nomination was hers for the asking, but her mounting problems have been getting to her and she’s become shrill and, at times, even violent.”[…]

Bill Clinton and Hillary’s campaign team are concerned that her anger may surface at the wrong time. They are concerned that she could have a serious meltdown in front of TV cameras, which would make her look so out of control that voters would decide she doesn’t have the temperament to be commander in chief.[…]

The goal is to channel her anger and make her focus on Republicans, not on her campaign aides and fellow Democrats.

“Hillary’s always at her most effective when her back is to the wall,” says one of her longtime political advisers. “After weeks of pounding and pummeling by the press, she’s mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore.” […]

And with her approval, her opposition research team has been collecting dirt on Vice President Joe Biden, which Hillary’s camp is prepared to release to the media if Biden enters the nominating race following his family summit this weekend. “She’s beginning to understand that she can use her righteous anger and indignation to good effect,” said the adviser. “After all, her anger is in keeping with the mood of the American electorate.”

http://nypost.com/2015/10/10/hillary-clintons-camp-she-could-have-a-serious-melt-down/

I will assume that this article is as likely to be accurate as not.  I say that because of the myriad, the massive, numbers of articles by other writers which have pointed out the same things – Hillary is nasty, short-tempered, rude, verbally abusive to staff, hates being around “commoners”, feels entitled to queenly privileges, requires huge financial compensation for giving speeches and makes extraordinary demands of the event planners who host her speeches, and expects homage and subservience from all that she considers “lesser mortals”.  Anyone who, as Secretary of State, can giggle maniacally at the torture and murder of the leader of another country – a murder she condoned amidst an illegal invasion of a sovereign nation that she largely planned – is temperamentally unsuited to be president on the face of it and has already exhibited questionable mental stability.  So let’s take the accuracy of this article as a given. What does surprise me in the above article is the bland stance of her campaign advisers and team in the face of her temper tantrums and increasingly violent outbursts. (Let’s remember it’s her own team that used the words “tantrums”, “anger”, “meltdown”, and “violent”.)  This doesn’t seem to be the same sort of PR management that most campaign staffs deal with. These guys admit they have to handle her lest she get out of control in public, and must work to direct her rage at the proper targets so she doesn’t accidentally lash out at the wrong time.  They are even working on a strategy to channel her rage effectively.  In other words, they aren’t just running an election campaign; they have to act as psychologists and therapists in order to keep their candidate on task, on message, and in control of her faculties. Dig it – they have to develop battle plans to work around the fact that their candidate is kind of psycho and can’t control herself.  And this is just the campaign trail; they’ve got another whole year (God help us all) of trying to contain and guide her.  Yet, instead of running away from her and admitting that she is morally and mentally unsuited to high office, they are working to put her in what is arguably the most stressful position in the world.  Who will channel her anger properly then?  Who will keep her under control then?  Will she need a team of psychiatrists to monitor her daily rage levels to prevent her from pushing the little red button in a fit of temper? This is one fucked up, crazy country.

I haven’t yet gotten into the subject of Hillary’s role in destroying Libya.  This is, in my view, something that she can never be forgiven for and no doubt will never face proper repercussions over.  I am not talking about the “Benghazi affair”.  I am talking about the entire country of Libya.  I am talking about her being the primary architect in the utter ruin of a nation, the murder of its leader, and the deaths of tens of thousands of its people for no reasons other than the dollar, oil, and Israel.

 This is a woman who gleefully genocided a thriving country, the great hopeful light of Africa, causing untold misery, chaos, and death – and she has expressed no remorse or regret.  Because she feels none; it was “in our interests”, she has blithely explained in the years since.  There is no excuse for what was done to Libya, and it was largely done under her direction.  You want to know the real Hillary?  This is who she is.  

Some people are dismayed that Hillary supports the Patriot Act and surprised she would put Edward Snowden in jail.  A few days prior to the first Democratic debate, Hillary said she would not be interested in reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act to rein in the big banks and would like to see a no-fly zone imposed over Syria.  These positions are not “liberal” or “progressive” and people seem a mite disappointed and confused by them.  Jesus Christ, you blithering idiots, Hillary is telling you who she is and she’s not a liberal or progressive or even democratic anything.  All the candidates in both of the major parties, including Bernie Sanders, are going to serve Israel’s interests over America’s, follow the policies of the PNAC crowd, and keep the war profiteers in business.  This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around.  This is who these people are and they are straight out telling you that.  Stop acting all bewildered and shit.

As soon as she managed to finish off Libya, Hillary turned her sights on Syria.  She wants al-Assad gone and has for some time.  It doesn’t matter that he was elected by his own people or that Syria is a sovereign nation with a secular government.  She has even threatened Russia and China over the issue.  This is what she said in 2012, while SoS, no less:

Moscow and Beijing will be punished for supporting the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton harshly stated at the “Friends of Syria” meeting of over 100 Western and Arab nations in Paris on Friday.

“I do not believe that Russia and China are paying any price at all – nothing at all – for standing up on behalf of the Assad regime.  The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear that Russia and China will pay a price,” Clinton warned. […]

http://on.rt.com/24i1ib

In an effort to illegally take down the elected leader of a foreign nation and interfere in that country’s internal governance, Hillary is willing to threaten the next two largest super-powers on the planet.  She is, quite frankly, unhinged. We can see how her stance is developing on Syria.  She wants a no-fly zone with bombs razing the country to hell and gone, a bloody removal of the leader, and all the while making aggressive threats other nations, followed perhaps by the expansion of the latest “war zone” into yet more territory.

Let’s look back again at Libya to see how that particular situation was finessed by our then-Secretary of State.  The Washington Times, in a series of articles from January, offers proof that Hillary overrode the Pentagon when it came to the destruction of Libya.  The Pentagon wanted to negotiate with Ghaddafi and did not see any reason to invade or bomb Libya, saying that this would cause widespread mayhem not only in Libya but in the entire area.  Hillary told the Pentagon generals to shut the fuck up and not to discuss the matter with Obama; instead, she gave Obama her own version of events and pretty much authorized the invasion on her own. Her choice to invade and destroy Libya was made after talking for just 45 minutes to Jabril, an opportunist cum American stooge, who was once one of Ghaddafi’s inner group, and who turned on him in an effort to seize power, which Hillary was happy to subsequently provide him.  

Nowadays, he [Jabril] says he was utterly shocked that the NATO countries went as far as they did and that he had tried to warn them the unrelenting ruin of the country would lead to chaos.  It worked well for him for a time, though, as he ended up being head of the fictitious, illegal “interim” government that the US and NATO countries “recognized” as “the legitimate Libyan government”, rather than the actual and at that time still extant Ghaddafi government, when they invaded.  He stepped down after Ghaddafi was murdered, I guess his job having been done.  Now he’s kind-of sort-of in charge of one of the political parties in Libya and vying for leadership amongst a field of many.  Jabril’s new political party somehow manages to support both democracy and sharia, without finding any conflict in these two ideals.  And now the country is completely unmanageable, thanks largely to him and Hillary.  He’s a slick one, and I’m sure he and Hillary had immediate rapport.

None of this absolves Obama of blame for invading Libya.  He follows the dictats of the neocons in his administration and it is obvious he shares their worldview.  That he let Hillary have her own little “signature” invasion and destruction of another country merely highlights what an odious and empty human he is.

I have noted before that US Congressman Dennis Kucinich was holding private talks with Ghaddafi’s sons and then presented the outcomes to Congress in an effort to prevent the attacks on Libya.  He is mentioned, in positive light, in these articles.

Links to articles on Hillary’s role in Libya; the first is from washingtonsblog, the rest are to the Washington Times three-part series:

U.S. Rejected Offers by Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to Surrender … and Proceeded to Wage War Posted on September 15, 2015 by WashingtonsBlog America Wanted War … Not a Negotiated Peace

U.S. Rejected Offers by Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to Surrender … and Proceeded to Wage War

Exclusive: Secret tapes undermine Hillary Clinton on Libyan war Joint Chiefs, key lawmaker held own talks with Moammar Gadhafi regime By Jeffrey Scott Shapiro and Kelly Riddell – The Washington Times – Wednesday, January 28, 2015 part one:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/28/hillary-clinton-undercut-on-libya-war-by-pentagon-/print/

part two

: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/29/hillary-clinton-libya-war-genocide-narrative-rejec/

part three:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/1/hillary-clinton-libya-war-push-armed-benghazi-rebe/print/

While other voices in government, even those in the Pentagon, were calling for restraint and diplomacy in Libya, our top diplomat was having none of it.  Another “fuck you”, Ms. Anthrope?  If the swaggering, ruthless, warmongering Hillary represents anyone’s idea of the softer, more feminine and caring side of American politics, if anyone thinks there is any advantage or positive gain to be had by voting her into the highest office in the land, I can only ask: what the fuck?

 

News of the day, 25 March, 2015.

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.

I am of the opinion that members of Congress committed sedition when they invited Netanyahu to speak and “advise” them on US policy matters, and that particularly those in Congress who publicly stated they would “follow his lead” are guilty of this. [sedition: conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.]  [see: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/228125-congress-set-to-take-up-iran-sanctions-bill-next-month-graham-says]

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.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/03/24/israel-spied-iran-talks-gave-intel-us-lawmakers-kill-deal-report

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.

The Saker
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/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41331.htm

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:

Taken: Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing?:[http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/08/12/taken]

Stop and Seize (six parts):[http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/collection/stop-and-seize-2/ ]

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.

Why Eric Holder’s civil forfeiture decision won’t stop civil forfeiture abuse: [http://tinyurl.com/qfao9f3]

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):

[http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmar12/predatory-California3-12.html]

The Predatory State of California, Part 2 (March 21, 2012): [http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmar12/predatory-state3-12.html]

Welcome to the United States of Orwell, Part 2: Law-Abiding Taxpayers Are Treated as Criminals While the Real Criminals Go Free (March 27, 2012):

[http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmar12/taxpayers-as-criminals3-12.html]

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 

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41341.htm 

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.

Copyright ©2015 Mother Jones and the Foundation for National Progress. All Rights Reserved.

http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2015/03/war-over-chemical-reform?google_editors_picks=true

 

John Kerry's magical mystery tour.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington is “not responsible” for either the crisis in Libya, or violence in Iraq, where militants of the Al-Qaeda offshoot group ISIS are capturing cities one by one.

“The United States of America is not responsible for what happened in Libya, nor is it responsible for what is happening in Iraq today,” said Kerry at a press conference in Cairo after a short visit to Egypt for talks with its newly elected President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as part of his Middle East tour. […]

http://rt.com/usa/167708-us-kerry-iraq-libya/

I can only guess we are supposed to believe that, like Bill Clinton, John Kerry does not inhale whatever it is he smokes.

Our leaders may deny and bluster all they want, but I doubt there is another country on the planet that buys this horse-shit.  The US is the direct cause of the ongoing violence in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan,…

There are about 5000 more words I could have written here, but then I thought to myself, why bother?  When our Secretary of State tours the Middle East (just one area of the globe aflame with the civil strife we inflicted upon it) making such buffoonish remarks, there is nothing to do but gawp like a rube at the county fair taking his first gander at the two-headed boy and hope no-one recognizes you as an American.

[…] The Magical Mystery Tour

Is hoping to take you away

Hoping to take you away […]

The Magical Mystery Tour

Is coming to take you away

Coming to take you away

The Magical Mystery Tour

Is dying to take you away

Dying to take you away

Take you today

[“Magical Mystery Tour” is track #11 on the album The Beatles 1967-1970 (The Blue Album). It was written by Lennon, John Winston / Mccartney, Paul James]

Our foreign policy encapsulated in another Beatles’ song:

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Iraq, Libya, MIC, State Dept/diplomacy

 

News round up, week ending 5/3/14.

Updated below.

Today’s post is brought to you by our corporate sponsor, the BigusFawk Co. [Big United States Fuckers Aligned for the World Kill.  Their slogan: Fuck you!  And you, and you, and you!].

First, we see that Ukraine not only got an unelected, US-picked junta installed courtesy of USA/CIA/NED/USAID interference in their country and now have to suffer under the austerity measures forced on them by the IMF, they also just got their draft reinstated.  It’s a free bonus gift they weren’t even expecting.

Ukraine reinstates military draft as NATO threatens Russia

NATO officials escalated their military build-up against Russia yesterday, as the pro-Western puppet regime in Kiev reinstated conscription in order to boost its crackdown on spreading pro-Russian protests in eastern Ukraine. […] [Teri’s note:  The acting  (e.g., installed, or interim government) President  Turchinov signed a decree (what we in the US call an executive order, as it comes from the president rather than going through Congress, or in Ukraine’s instance, through their parliament) reinstating compulsory military service for men aged between 18 and 25.]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/02/ukra-m02.html

38 people, all of them protesters against the neo-Nazi regime we have installed in Ukraine,  have been killed as a building was set on fire in Odessa. God help these people, who are being used as pawns in our games.  They had it bad enough before we decided to meddle in their affairs.

Washington responsible for fascist massacre in Odessa

3 May 2014

In what can only be described as a massacre, 38 anti-government activists were killed Friday after fascist-led forces set fire to Odessa’s Trade Unions House, which had been sheltering opponents of the US- and European-backed regime in Ukraine.

According to eye-witnesses, those who jumped from the burning building and survived were surrounded and beaten by thugs from the neo-Nazi Right Sector. Video footage shows bloodied and wounded survivors being attacked.

The atrocity underscores both the brutal character of the right-wing government installed in Kiev by the Western powers and the encouragement by the US and its allies of a bloody crackdown by the regime to suppress popular opposition, centered in the mainly Russian-speaking south and east of Ukraine.[…]

Despite Western media attempts to cover up what happened in Odessa—with multiple reports stating that “the exact sequence of events is still unclear”—there is no doubt that the killings in the southern port city were instigated by thugs wearing the insignia of the Right Sector, which holds positions in the Kiev regime, along with the like-minded Svoboda party. […]

The Odessa massacre is the largest death toll so far since the Ukrainian regime, at the urging of the Obama administration, renewed its full-scale military assault on anti-government protests and occupations. […]

At his press conference with Merkel, Obama seized on reports that two Ukrainian helicopters had been struck by ground fire. He cited unconfirmed allegations by the Ukrainian intelligence agency SBU that one was hit by a heat-seeking missile as proof that Russian forces were involved. By the evening, however, even the New York Times admitted that no evidence had been produced of heat-seeking missiles.

Along with Obama’s incendiary claim, his backing for Kiev’s military onslaught points to a drive by the US and its European partners to create civil war conditions and goad Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration into intervening, in order to provide the pretext for crippling economic sanctions and a NATO confrontation with Russia. […]

Russia called another emergency UN Security Council meeting Friday to denounce Ukraine’s actions. Moscow’s ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, warned of “catastrophic consequences” if the military operation continued, only to be denounced by his US counterpart, Samantha Power, who called the attack “proportionate and reasonable.”

Power, who made a name for herself by championing US military interventions in Libya and elsewhere in the name of “human rights” and the “protection of civilians,” declared that Russia’s concern about escalating instability was “cynical and disingenuous.” In keeping with US government propaganda since the beginning of the crisis, she baldly asserted that Russia was the cause of the instability. […]

Ukraine’s initial military assault last month began after CIA Director James Brennan surreptitiously visited Kiev. A second push followed a visit by US Vice President Joseph Biden.

There is evidence of ongoing US involvement. The Russian Foreign Ministry said English-speaking foreigners had been seen among the Ukrainian forces mounting the assault on Slavyansk on Friday, echoing its previous charges that Greystone, a US military contractor, is working alongside the Ukrainian military. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/03/ukra-m03.html

Also see: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/05/02/washington-intends-russias-demise-paul-craig-roberts/

and:

http://chewhatyoucallyourpasa.blogspot.com/2014/05/what-happened-in-odessa.html

The US has worked out an agreement with the Philippines which will allow us access to five military bases there, despite the Philippine constitution, which has barred US forces from operating bases since the 1990’s.  Obama makes the repeated point that we are not opening new bases,  which is true enough.  We are just stationing our Navy in 5 already-existing bases “temporarily“;  the new agreement stipulates that we will have this access for ten years.   The US is claiming that this re-deployment, which is what it really is, is being done in part to help with “disaster response and humanitarian assistance”.  I’m a little surprised any country on earth falls for that line any more.  I wonder where we found the money for this – perhaps China gave us another loan?

United States troops will soon have access to upwards of five military bases across the Philippines as the result of an agreement signed earlier this week between nations, the Asian country’s chief negotiator told reporters on Friday. […]

Soon, officials are expected to announce which bases will formally be opened up to the US based off of maritime security, maritime domain awareness and humanitarian assistance and disaster response, according to Rappler’s report.

http://rt.com/usa/156428-philippines-edca-five-bases/ 

Azcueta’s announcement opens the door for the first American military deployments to Clark Air Force Base and the naval base in Subic Bay since DOD officially shuttered the facilities in 1991 and 1992, respectively. […]

Manila will receive $30 million in foreign military funding from the the United States this year, according to news reports — nearly three times the $11.9 million in military funds Washington pledged to the Philippines in 2011.  

That money will likely help support the hundreds of Marines expected to flood into the Philippines in the coming years. […]

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/231257-philippines-re-opens-military-bases-to-us-forces-

Here at home, we have a new proposal coming from the White House regarding highway maintenance.  [Spoiler alert: POTUS is not suggesting that we spend less money blowing up bridges, roads and other infrastructures abroad and instead spend that money on US infrastructure.]  My personal notes, not to be confused with the original text, are, as always, bracketed and in red.

White House opens door to tolls on interstate highways, removing long-standing prohibition.

With pressure mounting to avert a transportation funding crisis this summer, the Obama administration Tuesday opened the door for states to collect tolls on interstate highways to raise revenue for roadway repairs.  [As opposed to, for instance, taking the money from the bloated Pentagon budget, or reducing the amount we spend on spying programs, or making corporations pay their taxes, or ending the practice of sending “aid” money to affluent foreign countries, or any number of other more commonsense and fair ideas that would reduce the amount of already burdensome taxes the average person forks over every fucking day.]

The proposal, contained in a four-year, $302 billion White House transportation bill, would reverse a long-standing federal prohibition on most interstate tolling.  [I’ll say – the entire idea of the Federal Highway system was to avoid a toll system being imposed by the various states.]

Though some older segments of the network — notably the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes and Interstate 95 in Maryland and Interstate 495 in Virginia — are toll roads, most of the 46,876-mile system has been toll-free.

“We believe that this is an area where the states have to make their own decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We want to open the aperture, if you will, to allow more states to choose to make broader use of tolling, to have that option available.”  [I will, out of respect for my gentle reader, decline to take the opportunity of making the obvious joke about “open aperture” offered by Mr. Foxx in his remarks.]

The question of how to pay to repair roadways and transit systems built in the heady era of post-World War II expansion is demanding center stage this spring, with projections that traditional funding can no longer meet the need.

That source, the Highway Trust Fund, relies on the 18.4-cent federal gas tax, which has eroded steadily as vehicles have become more energy efficient.  [We can thus infer that the decline in funds is caused by the stupid taxpayers themselves, who should now pony up.  You did not think you were going to be allowed to save money on gas and keep that savings, did you?  You haven’t any idea how this capitalistic model works.]

“The proposal comes at the crucial moment for transportation in the last several years,” Foxx said. “As soon as August, the Highway Trust Fund could run dry. States are already canceling or delaying projects because of the uncertainty.”

While providing tolling as an option to states, the White House proposal relies on funding from a series of corporate tax reforms, most of them one-time revenue streams that would provide a four-year bridge to close the trust-fund deficit and permit $150 billion more in spending than the gas tax will bring in.  [Corporate tax reform?  Corporate tax reform?  The Obama proposals on corporate tax reform always include reducing corporate taxes. I am perplexed.  However, since this article declines to state what these reforms are, exactly, I will have to remain mystified.]  […]

Details of the president’s proposal, which he first outlined almost two months ago, were welcomed as a sign of growing momentum toward a resolution, even by those who couldn’t fully embrace his plan. […]

Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, said the bill helped “advance the discussion” but said a federal gas tax increase should be used to fund it.

“The gas tax remains the most tested and logical way of meeting our critical investment needs,” O’Sullivan said.

“For too long, Congress’s duct-tape approach has made our roads and bridges unsafe, destabilized the construction industry and slowed our economy.”  [Well, the duct tape approach, combined with austerity measures, while banks and corporations get free money and pay no taxes.]
The federal tax last was raised in 1993 and has not been adjusted for inflation.  [Neither has my pay, but I digress] […]

“Congress has an opportunity to not only save the transportation program, but to recommit to investing in the repairs and improvements our communities and businesses need,” said James Corless, the group’s director [the nonprofit Transportation for America].

Corless predicted that most Americans would accept tax increases to fund transportation.  [By this he means that most Americans will have tax increases foisted upon them whether they like it or not, and aside from some minor and insignificant written protests by unknown bloggers, most will be dumbly clueless about the issue.  Besides, the only alternative currently in play being the President’s proposed every-road-a-toll-road scheme, a gas tax increase might, in the end, be more digestible for the public.  Here in Maryland, the state just increased its state gas taxes by 3 cents per gallon this year.  This is what is known as a regressive tax.]

“When people understand where the dollars are being spent, the direct impact to their lives, they support paying their fair share,” he said.
Foxx said the highway trust fund would face a $63 billion shortfall over the next four years.  [Ironically, on Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee “sent a package of bills to the House floor that would cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars over the next ten years by making permanent tax provisions multinational corporations use to avoid paying U.S. taxes”.  I will give quotes from an article which covers this BigUSFawk project below the article you are currently reading.]   […]

The proposal emphasizes a fix-it-first approach that would give funding priority to existing roads, bridges and transit systems rather than expanding their network.

It would expand reforms intended to streamline environmental reviews and project delivery that were begun in the current federal highway bill.  [Ah, yes, streamlining environmental reviews.  The same procedure that brings BP back into the Gulf, allows rampant fracking without regard to consequences to the water we drink, and gives us many opportunities to view exciting youtube videos of oil-transport trains exploding into flames.  In for a penny, in for a pound, I always say; streamline it all.]

It also would expand popular loan-guarantee programs that have been used by state and local governments to fund projects. The White House plan would almost double funding — from $12.3 billion to $22.3 billion — for transit systems and intercity passenger rail.  [This sounds suspiciously like some public/private partnership deal in the works.  It also sounds much like the bond programs the big banks have been using to scam local governments for a decade now, and which have resulted in the broke-ass states having to cut public pension funds and, uh, do away with stuff like road repairs.]

In addition, the plan would increase the fine an automaker could face for a safety violation from the current $35 million to $300 million.
Though that proposal is not new, it takes on greater significance amid the debate over General Motors’s delayed recall of 2 million cars with faulty ignition switches that are alleged to have led to at least 13 deaths.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/white-house-opens-door-to-tolls-on-interstate-highways-removing-long-standing-prohibition/2014/04/29/5d2b9f30-cfac-11e3-b812-0c92213941f4_print.html

Well, hey now, it turns out Yves Smith over at Naked Capitalism also thinks the above proposal might be a public/private partnership piece of shit:

Will “Highway Cliff” Allow Obama to Revive “Public/Private Partnership” Infrastructure Scam?:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/05/will-highway-fiscal-cliff-allow-obama-to-revive-public-private-partnerships-for-infrastructure.html

Now, let’s take a gander at the latest “corporate tax reform” as envisioned by our Congress.

Do-Nothing Congress Continues Helping GE, Apple, Other Multinational Tax Dodgers

On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee sent a package of bills to the House floor that would cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars over the next ten years by making permanent tax provisions multinational corporations use to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

“For all of the talk in Washington about getting our fiscal house in order, the Committee did not consider how to pay for these expensive tax breaks,” said Dan Smith, U.S. PIRG Tax and Budget Advocate, “despite repeated attempts by Ranking Member Sandy Levin to raise the issue.”

H.R. 4429 would re-enact the currently expired “active financing” provision, and make it permanent. This provision is known as the “GE” loophole, because General Electric not only prodigiously benefits from it, but also because the company has sent an army of lobbyists to ensure the provision, which expired last year, was re-enacted.

Making the GE loophole permanent would cost nearly $60 billion over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. The relevant Senate Committee took a slightly different approach, sending a two-year extension to the Senate floor that would cost “only” $7 billion. Another bill that cleared committee Tuesday was H.R. 4464, which would re-enact the “CFC look through” rule and make it permanent.

This provision is known as the Apple loophole, because Apple innovated it and uses it to protect billions it would owe U.S. tax on, if the tax code looked at where the money was earned – where the value was actually generated – rather than where companies can assign the profits. Making the Apple loophole permanent would cost $20.3 billion over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

The Senate bill, since it would extend the provision for two years, would cost “only” $2 billion. “While Wall Street banks, tech giants, and pharmaceutical companies would get a windfall from these loopholes,” Smith added, “average taxpayers and small business owners would get stuck footing the bill through cuts to public programs, higher taxes, or a larger deficit.”  [Cuts to public programs like road and transportation upkeep, addressed in the preceding article.]

Two other corporate tax cuts that cleared committee Tuesday were not about tax havens, however. They reflected other problematic policies. One is called the “Research Credit.” As Steve Wamhoff, Legislative Director for Citizens for Tax Justice, explained, “The so-called research credit does not encourage research. Congress should not re-enact it, much less make it permanent until it addresses the problems so that it actually encourages research.”

If the House gets its way, the “Research” Credit would cost $155 billion over 10 years. Again, the Senate is considering a two-year extension of a slightly different version of the credit, which also does not address the issues that concerns Wamhoff.

The last and arguably least problematic tax cut bill to clear committee Tuesday aims to inspire smaller businesses to invest in their businesses by making the tax treatment of such investment more favorable. But, Wamhoff says, “I do not expect it to encourage investment or help grow the economy. We work with some small business folks, and they say what will get them to invest is more customers, not more tax breaks.”  [These customers would be the now mythical “US consumer base”.  Since the current labor participation rate is only 62.8% and 1 in 5 American households have no-one in the house actually working, the “US consumer base” is largely a rumor not related to any fact in evidence.]

The smaller business tax cut would cost $73 billion over 10 years. Wamhoff, like Smith, praised Michigan Democrat Sandy Levin: “Under Levin’s leadership,” Wamhoff said, “even those Democrats who support the tax breaks decided that if the country couldn’t afford to deficit-finance unemployment insurance and food stamps, it couldn’t afford to deficit-finance these tax breaks.”

Unfortunately for taxpayers, House Republicans didn’t agree and sent these bills to the House floor.

http://www.benzinga.com/news/14/04/4508611/do-nothing-congress-continues-helping-ge-apple-other-multinational-tax-dodgers?utm_campaign=partner_feed&utm_source=marketfy_partners_bobz&utm_medium=marketfy_partners&utm_content=site

On my note in the above article, “1 in 5 American households have no-one in the house actually working”:

“[…] In 20% of American families in 2013, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), not one member of the family worked.  A family, as defined by the BLS, is a group of two or more people who live together and who are related by birth, adoption or marriage. In 2013, there were 80,445,000 families in the United States and in 16,127,000—or 20%–no one had a job. The BLS designates a person as ’employed’ if ‘during the survey reference week’ they ‘(a) did any work at all as paid employees; (b) worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm; (c) or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family.’ […]”

http://www.theautomaticearth.com/debt-rattle-apr-30-2014-the-boy-in-the-bubble/

Furthermore, although the official unemployment rate went down for the month of April (to 6.3 %), this was largely because the labor force participation rate [LFPR] also went down again.  I explained the LFPR in my last post; this number basically tells us how many people, out of the number of people eligible to work, who are actually employed.  The labor force number has suddenly dropped again, from the previous 63.2% to 62.8%, the lowest since 1978.  800,000 people dropped out of the labor force in March.  These are people who have simply abandoned  the search for nonexistent jobs.  That is simply a staggering number.

This means that, despite the bogus, heavily massaged, and virtually meaningless number given to us as the “unemployment rate”, the population of job-eligible people who are working is declining rapidly.  Average wages have also remained completely stagnant, but I suppose we must be grateful that the oligarchy didn’t cut our wages significantly last month.

Moving on, the Supreme Court has once again offered irrefutable proof that it has no interest in upholding the Constitution.  There is no need to mention the WH or Congressional positions on constitutional law; that horse left the barn some years (and administrations) ago.

Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to NDAA Detention Power
By Jason Ditz On April 28, 2014

The US Supreme Court has further enhanced the administration’s ability to detain anyone, at any time, on any pretext today, when it refused to hear the Hedges v. Obama case, meaning an Appeals Court ruling on the matter will stand.

The case stems from a 2012 lawsuit brought by Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky and others, and sought to block the enforcement of a 2012 National Defense Authorization Act statute that allows the president to unilaterally impose indefinite detention on anyone, without access to courts, if he personally believes something they did “aided” the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

Courts initially banned such detentions, over intense objection from President Obama, who argued that prohibiting the detentions would be an unconstitutional restriction of presidential power.

The Appeals Court eventually restored the detention power, however, insisting that Hedges et al didn’t have standing to contest their future detention because they couldn’t prove that the president might decide to detain them at some point in the future.

The standing argument effectively makes it impossible to challenge the NDAA statute, as it precludes challenges before the detention takes place, and once a person has been disappeared into military custody under the NDAA, the law explicitly denies them any access to the courts.

http://news.antiwar.com/2014/04/28/supreme-court-rejects-challenge-to-ndaa-detention-power/

There have been a number of articles about the EPA’s proposal to allow a massive increase in the use of the herbicide known as 2,4-D, one of the main ingredients in the defoliant used during the Vietnam War (Agent Orange). Because the weeds in fields where genetically modified foods are grown (commonly referred to as GMOs, or as genetically engineered – GE – crops) are becoming resistant to glyphosate, the Big Ag growers would like to resort to more powerful herbicides.  The GMO crops are inherently immune to RoundUp (glyphosate) and 2,4-D; that was the whole point in developing them and why they are called “RoundUp Ready”.  Another GMO crop, Bt Corn, was created to act as a pesticide in and of itself.  However, insects feeding on the Bt Corn are likewise becoming immune to the pesticide within the corn.  Time to spray stronger crap and lots of it.  Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, et.al., are quick to point out that it was not the 2,4-D which turned out to be the big human killer in Agent Orange, but another active ingredient called 2,4,5-T, which was itself contaminated with something else (dioxins). Studies conducted by independent scientists and research labs (e.g., those not employed by Monsanto) are now showing that glyphosate and 2,4-D do, in fact, have an adverse effect on people and animals, especially given the massive amounts of the stuff being sprayed on the crops throughout the growing cycle.

It’s all bullshit and flim-flammery, of course; the fact is that the problem is not glyphosate alone, or 2,4-D alone, or any of the other major ingredients of these herbicides and pesticides alone, all of which are questionable enough, but the addition of inert ingredients.  These additions create entirely new compositions with their own unique hazards.  Although the combinations can be highly toxic, the EPA does not test these cocktails.  Why?  Hey, I’m glad you asked.  Turns out the mixtures are “proprietary trade secrets” and don’t have to be disclosed to anyone.  Exactly like the protected “proprietary” mix of toxic sludge going into fracking fluids and then dumped into our water supplies.  When Agent Orange was created, it was produced expressly for the purpose of chemical warfare.  Were we a more alert and informed society, we might still recognize it as such.

Used in yards, farms and parks throughout the world, Roundup has long been a top-selling weed killer. But now researchers have found that one of Roundup’s inert ingredients can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.

The new findings intensify a debate about so-called “inerts” — the solvents, preservatives, surfactants and other substances that manufacturers add to pesticides. Nearly 4,000 inert ingredients are approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.[…]

Until now, most health studies have focused on the safety of glyphosate, rather than the mixture of ingredients found in Roundup. But in the new study, scientists found that Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.[…]

“This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert,” wrote the study authors from France’s University of Caen. “Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels” found on Roundup-treated crops, such as soybeans, alfalfa and corn, or lawns and gardens. […]

Inert ingredients are often less scrutinized than active pest-killing ingredients. Since specific herbicide formulations are protected as trade secrets, manufacturers aren’t required to publicly disclose them. Although Monsanto is the largest manufacturer of glyphosate-based herbicides, several other manufacturers sell similar herbicides with different inert ingredients.

The term “inert ingredient” is often misleading, according to Caroline Cox, research director of the Center for Environmental Health, an Oakland-based environmental organization. Federal law classifies all pesticide ingredients that don’t harm pests as “inert,” she said. Inert compounds, therefore, aren’t necessarily biologically or toxicologically harmless – they simply don’t kill insects or weeds.

But some inert ingredients have been found to potentially affect human health. Many amplify the effects of active ingredients by helping them penetrate clothing, protective equipment and cell membranes, or by increasing their toxicity. […]

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weed-whacking-herbicide-p/

On to this week’s news about 2,4-D then:

The US Environmental Protection Agency has revealed a proposal for mass use of Dow Chemical’s herbicide 2,4-D on the company’s genetically-engineered corn and soybeans.

The GE [genetically engineered] crops were developed to withstand several herbicides, including 2,4-D. Dow would be allowed to sell the herbicide if the EPA approves it following a 30-day public comment period.[…]

Dow’s genetically-engineered corn and soybeans – known as Enlist – have received preliminary approval from the US Department of Agriculture. Should Enlist crops win ultimate authorization, the USDA said that would increase the annual use of 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) in the United States from 26 million pounds per year to possibly 176 million pounds.

The crops are designed to withstand high doses of glyphosate – brought to market by biotech giant Monsanto as their Roundup weed killer – and 2,4-D. […]

Scientists, human and environmental health advocates, farming organizations, and food transparency groups have urged government regulators to think twice about unleashing more 2,4-D. […]

Medical researchers have linked exposure to 2,4-D, and other chemicals like it, to increased rates of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, and low sperm counts, among other conditions. Higher rates of birth anomalies have been found where there is heavy use of 2,4-D.

Health concerns had prompted the Natural Resources Defense Council to petition the EPA to halt use of the herbicide, though that effort was defeated in 2012.  “With this decision it is clear that the EPA is serving the interests of Dow Chemical and the biotech industry rather than protecting our health and the environment,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety.

In an agribusiness chemical arms race, Dow’s development of 2,4-D-resistant crops came about once first-generation genetically-modified crops made by Monsanto evolved to resist the company’s Roundup herbicide. The flood of new GE crops increased the use of glyphosate, which has its own links to a host of ill health effects, and glyphosate-resistant “superweeds.”

“2,4-D is not a solution to glyphosate-resistant weeds,” Kimbrell said. “Weeds will rapidly evolve resistance to 2,4-D as well if these crops are approved, driving a toxic spiral of ever-increasing herbicide use. Dow’s Enlist crops are a textbook example of unsustainable farming, profiting pesticide companies to the detriment of American farmers, public health and the environment.”

Nevertheless, Dow maintains that farmers need an answer for “hard to control” weeds. […]

http://rt.com/usa/156272-epa-dow-agent-orange-herbicide/

Monsanto’s GMO “Bt Corn”, which now makes up 86% of the corn crop in the US, is not technically a food product.  If you were confused by the references to both the EPA and the USDA in the above article, part of that is because Bt Corn is registered and regulated by the EPA as a pesticide.  The bacteria, bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, is genetically inserted into the corn.  Thus the pesticide is actually produced inside the plant, as part of the plant, so not only can it never be washed off: it makes the plant itself a pesticide.  Which you are eating every time you eat anything containing corn or corn syrup; the latter ingredient is found in damn near every food product on American grocery store shelves.  The EPA lists these GMOs as Plant-Incorporated Protectants (PIP).  You can find the list of GMOs thus recognized on the “Type of Pesticide: Plant-Incorporated Protectant (PIP)” chart at:
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides/pips/smartstax-factsheet.pdf

One might think that being listed as a pesticide would automatically create the need for mandatory labeling on food products containing this ingredient.  One would be, in a word, wrong.  There is an inherent doublespeak going on with GMOs in general anyway, and has been since they were first formulated.  The biotech firms were allowed to patent their grotesque creations based on the idea that they were “unique”, which they sure as shit are.  Bt could have never naturally become part of corn seed, for example.  Another GMO patent exists on tomatoes combined with salmon genes (yes, the fish), done to make the tomatoes viable into the cold weather season.  But when it comes to labeling and regulating these things, we are told that the products needn’t be labeled because they are “just the same” as the traditional food products.  They obviously shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways.  And, no, these products are not equivalent to hybrids, an argument I see all the time presented by GMO proponents.  Hybrids can occur naturally between closely related species, especially among plants.  A cross between a tomato and a salmon would never occur in nature, nor would a cross between corn and the Bt bacteria.

GMO “RoundUp Ready” crops are genetically altered so the plant can take multiple hits of glyphosate and/or 2, 4-D without being killed.  The weeds around them are deader than dead, but the RoundUp Ready crops are not.  This does not mean they aren’t absorbing the herbicide; they are.  They just aren’t killed by it.  When you eat these foods, you are eating the glyphosate as well.  The crops are sprayed many, many times during the growth period and right before harvest are put through what is called “crop desiccation”; i.e., fully saturating the fields with RoundUp to kill off all the green matter (as opposed to the fruit or vegetable itself) to make it easier for the harvesting equipment to go through.  Desiccation is done immediately before the harvest; it is absorbed by the crop, just like the earlier applications of herbicide and cannot be washed off.  Then the “food” is harvested, processed, packaged, and sold to you.  I don’t know how much RoundUp a human can safely eat before getting sick or dying, but since the warning label on RoundUp reads, in part, “Keep out of reach of children, harmful if swallowed, avoid contact with eyes or prolonged contact with skin,” I suspect it is much less than what we are being fed.

Pre-harvest crop desiccation (also siccation) refers to the application of a herbicide to a crop shortly before harvest. The herbicide most widely used is glyphosate, while use of diquat and glufosinate is much more limited. For potatoes, carfentrazone-ethyl is used. Other desiccants are cyanamide, cinidon-ethyl, and pyraflufen.

Uneven crop growth is a problem in northern climates, with wet summers, or poor weed control. With desiccation a number of advantages are cited: More even ripening is achieved and harvest can be conducted earlier; weed control is initiated for a future crop; earlier ripening allows for earlier replanting; desiccation reduces green material in the harvest putting less strain on harvesting machinery. Some crop may be mechanically destroyed when crop desiccation machinery moves through the field.

The application of glyphosate differs between countries significantly. It is commonly used in the UK where summers are wet and crops may ripen unevenly. Thus in the UK 78% of oilseed rape is desiccated before harvest, but only 4% in Germany. Other countries have banned desiccation practices, such as Austria[6] and Switzerland.

Pre-harvest desiccation has been applied to a wide variety of plants including: cereals, oilseed rape, legumes, linseed, lupins, flax, linola, maize, sunflower, kiwi, wine grapes, raspberries, apples, soy, alfalfa, and potatoes.

Criticism:
Glyphosate is applied to plants just before harvest and absorbed by plants; it cannot be washed out prior to human use. Herbicides can also reach humans through meat and milk of cattle that has been fed herbicide-treated fodder. It has been identified in the urine of urban dwellers who do not handle glyphosate at concentrations of 0.5-2ng/ml, much higher than allowed in drinking water (<0.1ng/ml).  The extent and the effects of an accumulating glyphosate contamination of humans and animals deserve further studies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_desiccation

Suggested further reading on GMOs:
http://www.gmfreeze.org/site_media/uploads/publications/glyphosate_residues_in_UK_food_final.pdf

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/23/glyphosate-found-in-human-urine.aspx

http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-roundup-the-impacts-of-glyphosate-herbicide-on-human-health-pathways-to-modern-diseases/5342520

http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/roundup.cfm

EPA denies petition to halt use of 2,4-D in 2012:
http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/cb/csb_page/updates/2012/2-4d-petition.html

A new study reveals an insecticide produced in GM corn actually gets absorbed into the human body:
http://foodintegritynow.org/2011/05/19/gmo-study-omg-you’re-eating-insecticide/

and:
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/toxin-from-gm-crops-found-in-human-blood/1/137728.html

An accessible intro and explanation of genetically engineered products and why there is cause for concern with genetic splicing.  If you choose only one article to read out of the list, this is probably the one you want:   http://thegeneticengineeringdebate.blogspot.ca/2014/02/genetics-101-why-you-should-be.html

Update Sunday, 4 May:

On the US military agreement with the Philippines, we are finally seeing the document itself.  I will remind you that the Philippines’ president, Aquino, signed this agreement without any consultation with his legislature: this is basically another “presidential executive order”, which bypasses the normal legal processes in a country.

US military basing deal sets legal framework for neocolonial rule in the Philippines

The US basing deal signed during US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to the Philippines, and now surreptitiously published in the “Historical Papers” section of the Philippine government’s web site, marks a reactionary political milestone in the Philippines and Asia. […]

Under the EDCA [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement], Washington receives exclusive access to bases, referred to as “agreed locations,” throughout the Philippines. The list of “agreed locations,” which the document does not even bother to specify, can also be added to at the request of the US military. The “agreed locations” are to be exclusively accessed by US forces and contractors. […]

Effectively, moreover, the US military is being given free rein throughout the country. The EDCA states that, in addition to the “agreed locations,” US forces have access to “public land and facilities (including roads, ports, and airfields), including those owned or controlled by local government.” There is no space or facility within the Philippines exempted from this clause.

The agreement authorizes the deployment of unlimited numbers of US military and civilian personnel and US military contractors to the Philippines. Once there, they are authorized to conduct “training, transit, support, and related activities; refueling of aircraft; bunkering of vessels; temporary maintenance of vehicles, vessels and aircraft; temporary accommodation of personnel; communications; prepositioning of equipment, supplies and materiel; deploying of forces and materiel; and any other such activities as the Parties may agree.”

Any US war materiel in the country is for the “exclusive use of United States forces,” which shall be provided with “unimpeded access to Agreed Locations.”

These terms provide a legal framework for Washington to use the Philippines as a staging area for war against China, or whatever other target is selected by US imperialism. During the Vietnam War, Washington used its bases in the Philippines to launch bombing raids targeting North Vietnam and Cambodia. […]

The agreement is being imposed in blatant violation of the Philippine constitution, which bans the presence of any foreign troops or bases in the country without the approval of a treaty by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The Philippine legislature, which is not party to the agreement, has been left with no legal recourse to contest it. […]

The agreement exempts US forces from oversight under Philippine or international law—a measure recalling US policy in occupied countries like Iraq, or imperialist extraterritoriality clauses on colonial countries of 19th-century Asia. Instead, US forces and contractors will “operate under US law, regulations and policies.” […]

Article XI of the EDCA states, “Disputes and other matters subject to consultation shall not be referred to any national or international court, tribunal or other similar body, or to any third party for settlement.”

This article precludes the review of the EDCA by either the Philippine judiciary or legislature. Should a US serviceman shoot or rape a Filipino, or run over a child with his car—events which have repeatedly occurred around US military bases in Asia—he will be subject to US law and jurisdiction. Any disputes over the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the United States within the Philippines, or any other aspect of the agreement, may not be reviewed by the Philippine judiciary.

The United States is to pay no rent whatsoever for its Philippine bases. The document even arrogantly specifies that if Washington chooses to vacate a particular base, it can exact from Manila “compensation for improvements” it has made.

Washington is also guaranteed access to “water, electricity, and other public utilities” at the same rate paid by the Philippine government. All taxes and fees exacted on these utilities, which all Filipinos are obliged to pay, will be paid for the US military by the Philippine government. […]

In one of the few restrictions imposed on US forces, the agreement stipulates that, as dictated by the Philippine constitution, Washington may not “preposition” any nuclear weapons in the country.

Declassified documents from the period of the US occupation of Subic naval base and Clark Airbase have shown that in the past Washington illegally stored nuclear weapons in the Philippines. What is more, Washington routinely refuses to comment on which of its ships carry nuclear weapons. Given the limits imposed by the EDCA on the inspections that can be conducted by the Philippine “authorized representative,” this clause is toothless.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/03/phil-m03.html

On Ukraine, I would like to note that this weekend, I have seen the repeated use of the word “rebels” by the Western media (i.e., US and Europe) to describe the protesters in Ukraine.  The protesters are not “rebels”, a word used to deliberately provoke images of insurgents and terrorist groups.  They are Ukrainian citizens who are protesting against the junta installed in Kiev.  Some of the protesters want to rejoin Russia, but not many, and certainly not most of them.  Some agreed with their ousted president that Ukraine would have been better served by financial aid coming from Russia rather than through the EU.  The EU/US aid comes via the IMF, and includes serious austerity measures and steps to make Ukraine a NATO border country.  Most of the protesters are federalists.  Seeing that the new government, which they did not elect, is largely comprised of fascists, who are making distasteful agreements with the IMF and NATO, this group – by far the majority in the protest movement – want autonomous states within Ukraine, each having a locally-elected government allowed some independence from the central Ukraine government, which they would like to be weaker.

The BBC, the Washington Post, and Reuters have all begun using the word “rebels” to describe these Ukrainians, as evidenced by this Reuters headline, “Moscow May Day parade lauds Putin as rebels seize more Ukraine buildings”, and this quote from the WaPo, in an utterly over-the-top, rancid piece of jingoistic filth: “Ukraine suffered its bloodiest day in nearly three months on Friday, with at least nine people killed when the army launched its first major assault on a rebel stronghold and 34 killed in clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian mobs in the Black Sea port city of Odessa. […]”.  [http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/ukraine-army-launches-assault-on-rebel-stronghold/2014/05/02/b1c589e8-be8f-43a1-9927-13310c24b653_story.html?hpid=z1]

A poll taken in Ukraine mid-April revealed the following (this was a poll in which Ukrainians themselves were invited to participate; not one of those stupid “what do Americans think” things):

2/3 of the respondents think Ukraine should remain a united country.  Only a minority support reunification with Russia.  Majorities also favor the idea of autonomous states with locally elected officials rather than power concentrated in Kiev.  [Hence, we see that protesters are not necessarily “pro-Russian”.  That label is a simplistic political term used by the media.  The Ukrainian citizens themselves are obviously much more capable of thinking about and forming opinions on complex issues than are western media and western leaders.]

Over 50% believe acting President Turchynov is “illegally occupying his post,” and just under half felt the same way about about acting Prime Minister Yatsenyuk [“Yats”].

74% in Donetsk and 70% in Luhansk feel that the entire interim government is “illegitimate”.

Ukraine is supposed to hold an actual national election on May 25.  Despite the fact the acting government is merely a temporary, interim group (more accurately called a junta) and was not elected, the IMF is releasing the first $3 bb of its $17 bb loan to this acting government immediately.  In other words, an illegally installed “government” gets to make the decision of putting the entire country in debt to the western banking cartel and additionally, to decide how to start spending that money.  An IMF staff report reads that should the central government in Kiev “lose control” over the eastern section of Ukraine, the terms of the loan will have to be re-designed.  The US and Europe do not seem to regard this as blackmail or an instigation toward civil war: the IMF is sort of goading the junta into further violence against protesters as Turchynov and Yatsenyuk try to keep their deal with the IMF in place.

The US State Dept. announced that USAID is giving another $1.2 mm to “support Ukrainian media outlets” as they prepare for the Ukrainian presidential election.

“This additional funding will help to protect vulnerable journalists while also advancing press freedoms and democratic governance in Ukraine. USAID supports respect for universal rights around the world as central to its mission that we’ve talked a lot about in here as well.” – State Dept briefing, 2 may ’14

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/05/225545.htm

Yessirreebob, that good old USAID (CIA) and its love of press freedom and democratic governance.

There had been an interesting exchange during the previous day’s press briefing where a reporter asked the State Dept. spokeswoman what she thought about the May Day demonstrations in Russia, which the reporter first mistakenly called “protests”.  Because he opened with that word, and because Ms. Harf was completely clueless as to what he was talking about (callowness being the predominant trait exhibited by State Dept personnel), this amusing conversation took place:

QUESTION: It’s the first time – well, apparently since the break-up of the Soviet Union that they’ve had such large May Day protests in Moscow.

MS. HARF: Well, we – I actually haven’t seen those reports, but we do support the rights of people to peacefully protest.

QUESTION: So – but they were shouting out things like Putin is right, proud of their country, let’s support Putin’s decisions.

MS. HARF: Well, just because I disagree with what they’re saying doesn’t mean I don’t think they should be able to say it.

QUESTION: So given that you support the right to protest, did you see the similar protests that were happening in the Red Square as well in Russia?  But, I mean, obviously, we’ve talked a lot in here about the propaganda that the United States feels that the Russian people are being fed through such things as RT. Do you – are these – are the hundred thousand people who turned out in Moscow, are they deluded?

MS. HARF: Again, I haven’t seen all those reports. But we don’t agree with the notion that what President Putin and Russia has done is right, that there’s any legal basis for it, certainly, and that’s why we’ve been very clear that there will be continued consequences.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/05/225493.htm

Since Ms. Harf cannot tell you about it, I will.  100,000 people gathered in Moscow’s Red Square to celebrate May Day.  The crowd was jubilant and carried signs supporting Russia itself, Putin, and the joining of Crimea back into Russia.  Putin currently has an 82% approval rating in Russia.  There has been an upswell of patriotism and loyalty in Russia.  This is only to be expected: as I have said before, when a country is threatened from without, either through military actions or economic sanctions (a form of warfare), the people do not tend to start hating their own government, but instead protectively “circle the wagons” around their country and respond with heightened feelings of unity and loyalty.

Americans would react the same way, were some country to sanction us and try to ruin us economically.  We don’t much notice or care when this is done to us by our own leaders and corporate oligarchy, but you won’t hear me accusing Americans of being overly discerning and insightful.

May Day was also joyfully celebrated in Cuba.  You won’t read about that either, Cuba being another country we have been sanctioning and trying to ruin for generations, so our media won’t report on anything which shows Cubans actually liking their country.  Nonetheless, 600,000 Cubans marched through Revolution Square and millions more held celebrations in other cities, exhibiting signs, waving Cuban flags, and expressing support for their revolution and leaders.  There were thousands of banners honoring Fidel and Raul Castro, Che Guevara, and the late Venezuelan president Chavez.   And I doubt the Cubans, by and large, much give a shit if our reporters cover their holidays.

 

"Freedom" of the press.

Huh.  So first they made propaganda legal (again) in the US.  You may remember this story, or a similar version of it, from last year.

US Government-Funded Domestic Propaganda Has Officially Hit The Airwaves

by Michael Kelley, provided by Business Insider.

Published 6:54 am, Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm has begun the “unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption,” John Hudson of Foreign Policy reported on Sunday. 

The content arrives with the enactment of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry (R- Texas) and Rep. Adam Smith (D- Wash.), which was inserted into the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The reform effectively nullifies the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which was amended in 1985 specifically to prohibit U.S. organizations from using information “to influence public opinion in the United States.”  [Teri’s note: another confusing and misleading title for a Congressional Act.  The old Smith-Mundt Act prohibited propaganda.  The new “Smith-Mundt Modernization Act” does exactly the opposite, despite invoking the same names as the old one.  This is done deliberately to confuse the voters, very much like Elizabeth Warren’s disarmingly named “21st Century Glass-Steagal Act”.]

The new law enables U.S. government programming such as Voice of America (VoA) — an outlet created in 1942 to promote a positive understanding of the U.S. abroad — t0 broadcast directly to domestic audiences for the first time.

VoA and other programs are now produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which shares a “strategic communications budget” with the State Department and has an annual budget of more than $700 million. [Teri’s note: See more on the State Dept.’s cost of propaganda below.] 

Nevertheless, BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil insisted to FP that the BBG presents “fair and accurate news” and is not a propaganda outlet.

A former U.S. government source explained that the BBG can now reach local radio stations in the U.S., meaning that the programming can target expat communities such as the significant Somali population in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“Those people can get Al-Shabaab, they can get Russia Today, but they couldn’t get access to their taxpayer-funded news sources like VoA Somalia,” the source told FP. “It was silly.”

An alternative function was detailed last year by Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a highly-respected officer who released a critical report regarding the distortion of truth by senior military officials in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Davis stated that the effective repeal of the Smith-Mundt Act is a strategic move in influencing U.S. public perception in regards to the Global War on Terror (GWOT). 

He cites Colonel Richard B. Leap, who recommends that lawmakers “specifically address all prior legislation beginning with the Smith-Mundt Act that is limiting the effectiveness of Information organizations in the GWOT environment.”

From Lt. Col. Davis:

In context, Colonel Leap is implying we ought to change the law to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to “protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will.” 

The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 appears to serve this purpose by allowing for the American public to be a target audience of U.S. government-funded information campaigns. 

Davis also quotes Brigadier General Ralph O. Baker — the Pentagon officer responsible for the Department of Defense’s Joint Force Development — who defines Information Operations (IO) as activities undertaken to “shape the essential narrative of a conflict or situation and thus affect the attitudes and behaviors of the targeted audience.” 

Brig. Gen. Baker goes on to equate descriptions of combat operations with the standard marketing strategy of repeating something until it is accepted: 

For years, commercial advertisers have based their advertisement strategies on the premise that there is a positive correlation between the number of times a consumer is exposed to product advertisement and that consumer’s inclination to sample the new product. The very same principle applies to how we influence our target audiences when we conduct COIN.

And those “thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs” appear to serve Baker’s strategy, which states: “Repetition is a key tenet of IO execution, and the failure to constantly drive home a consistent message dilutes the impact on the target audiences.” 

So it appears the new content stream is an outlet for “uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate,” as Weil told FP, as well as a vehicle for U.S. Information Operations.

http://www.sfgate.com/technology/businessinsider/article/US-Government-Funded-Domestic-Propaganda-Has-4668001.php

The State Dept. spends a lot of money on “diplomatic outreach”,  otherwise known as propaganda, in its desperate attempts to get people in foreign lands to like us.   That we might remove our military from their countries, simply stop bombing the hell out of them, or end such “diplomatic” practices as economic sanctioning, and that this might do more for our reputation abroad than overt propaganda is a concept that seems to elude both the State Dept. and the Pentagon.  Aside from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (mentioned in the above article) with its $751 mm budget (as of 2012), the State Department runs the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), which is a 276-person agency with a 2013 budget of $137 million.  The IIP publishes various booklets and licenses old PBS series to be broadcast in foreign countries.  State also has the Bureau of Public Affairs operating on a budget of $43.5 mm (2013 budget), whose main function seems to be the responsibility of handling State Dept. “tweets” and arranging all-expense-paid trips to the US for foreign journalists (the topics of the stories are pre-selected by the State Dept.).

The Pentagon has its own outreach program, of course, entirely separate from the State Dept. According to a February 2012 USA Today article, the Pentagon spent as much as $580 million annually in recent years on leaflets, billboards, radio and TV programming, and other forms of “information operations” in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Excited and emboldened by the successful reinstatement of the Cold War-style propaganda pushed onto the sleepy, witless public and codified into law through the 2013 NDAA, the Obama administration now moves forward with the next step: it will tell the media what that propaganda should consist of,  “advise” the media on how to properly disseminate the approved “information” to the public, and “oversee” how well the media is fulfilling this “duty”.  Oh, and the “advisors” will be government contractors; i.e., your own taxpayer dollars will be used to direct the media on what it is allowed to tell you, via private companies hired by the government.  I am exaggerating the case somewhat, but as history has taught us, these things progress in an orderly and predictable fashion; it is only a matter of a relatively small period of time before full-on control of the press is achieved.  This latest move, combined with Obama’s overt war on journalists and whistleblowers (done with the blessings of most of Congress, I might add), clearly demonstrate where all this is headed.

New Obama initiative tramples First Amendment protections

BY BYRON YORK | FEBRUARY 20, 2014 AT 5:48 PM

The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…” But under the Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to send government contractors into the nation’s newsrooms to determine whether journalists are producing articles, television reports, Internet content, and commentary that meets the public’s “critical information needs.” Those “needs” will be defined by the administration, and news outlets that do not comply with the government’s standards could face an uncertain future. It’s hard to imagine a project more at odds with the First Amendment. 

The initiative, known around the agency as “the CIN Study” (pronounced “sin”), is a bit of a mystery even to insiders. “This has never been put to an FCC vote, it was just announced,” says Ajit Pai, one of the FCC’s five commissioners (and one of its two Republicans). “I’ve never had any input into the process,” adds Pai, who brought the story to the public’s attention in a Wall Street Journal column last week.  [Teri’s note:  It is most peculiar that the commissioners themselves knew nothing of this initiative beforehand.  Where did it originate?  Perhaps it is the singular idea of the acting chair, Mignon Clyburn?  Maybe some sort of Presidential Order?  It’s a mystery.  In any case, please read Commissioner Pai’s WSJ editorial by clicking on the embedded link above.  His piece is articulate and rather alarming, especially in light of the fact that someone is making decisions about FCC policies without having the input from all its commissioners.]

Advocates promote the project with Obama-esque rhetoric. “This study begins the charting of a course to a more effective delivery of necessary information to all citizens,” said FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn in 2012. Clyburn, daughter of powerful House Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, was appointed to the FCC by President Obama and served as acting chair for part of last year. The FCC, Clyburn said, “must emphatically insist that we leave no American behind when it comes to meeting the needs of those in varied and vibrant communities of our nation — be they native born, immigrant, disabled, non-English speaking, low-income, or other.” (The FCC decided to test the program with a trial run in Ms. Clyburn’s home state, South Carolina.)

The FCC commissioned the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy to do a study defining what information is “critical” for citizens to have. The scholars decided that “critical information” is information that people need to “live safe and healthy lives” and to “have full access to educational, employment, and business opportunities,” among other things.

The study identified eight “critical needs”: information about emergencies and risks; health and welfare; education; transportation; economic opportunities; the environment; civic information; and political information.

It’s not difficult to see those topics quickly becoming vehicles for political intimidation. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine that they wouldn’t. For example, might the FCC standards that journalists must meet on the environment look something like the Obama administration’s environmental agenda? Might standards on economic opportunity resemble the president’s inequality agenda? The same could hold true for the categories of health and welfare and “civic information” — and pretty much everything else.

“An enterprising regulator could run wild with a lot of these topics,” says Pai. “The implicit message to the newsroom is they need to start covering these eight categories in a certain way or otherwise the FCC will go after them.” 

The FCC awarded a contract for the study to a Maryland-based company called Social Solutions International. In April 2013, Social Solutions presented a proposal outlining a process by which contractors hired by the FCC would interview news editors, reporters, executives and other journalists.

“The purpose of these interviews is to ascertain the process by which stories are selected,” the Social Solutions report said, adding that news organizations would be evaluated for “station priorities (for content, production quality, and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight CINs, and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.” 

There are a lot of scary words for journalists in that paragraph. And not just for broadcasters; the FCC also proposes to regulate newspapers, which it has no authority to do. (Its mission statement says the FCC “regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable…”)

Questioning about the CIN Study began last December, when the four top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the FCC to justify the project. “The Commission has no business probing the news media’s editorial judgment and expertise,” the GOP lawmakers wrote, “nor does it have any business in prescribing a set diet of ‘critical information.’ ” [Teri’s note:  Obama and the Democrats couldn’t give any more talking points to the GOP than they have lately if they had planned it intentionally.  I’d be amazed at this political ineptitude if I weren’t so convinced we actually have only one party in this country.]

If the FCC goes forward, it’s not clear what will happen to news organizations that fall short of the new government standards. Perhaps they will be disciplined. Or perhaps the very threat of investigating their methods will nudge them into compliance with the administration’s journalistic agenda. What is sure is that it will be a gross violation of constitutional rights. 

http://washingtonexaminer.com/new-obama-initiative-tramples-first-amendment-protections/article/2544363

On the Maryland contractor mentioned in the article, Social Solutions International:  these guys appear to survive as a company exclusively through governmental contracts.  In regards propaganda, here is one of their contracts as summarized on their home page, and you will note how well it fits with the new (and improved!) propaganda law in the 2013 NDAA, which is the subject of the first article I quoted:

International evaluation expertise promotes public diplomacy.

Social Solutions is entering the second year of a five year contract funded by the Department of State (DoS) to provide evaluation and performance measurement expertise and leadership to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The ECA serves both as a critical element and extension of the State Department’s traditional diplomacy function. The diversity of programming, activities, thematic emphases and content, participants, and program goals enables ECA to realize its overarching Public Diplomacy and Citizen Diplomacy goals: fostering mutual understanding and forging linkages between citizens and institutions in the U.S. and overseas. The Evaluation Division in ECA’s Office of Policy and Evaluation (ECA/P) serves as the locus of program evaluation and performance measurement functions for ECA’s programs and for the Bureau as a whole.  It provides critical performance measurement and evaluative data – both qualitative and quantitative – to Senior Managers in ECA and the DoS as part of annual or occasional USG mandated strategic planning and performance measurement exercises. It also provides performance data on highly visible initiatives and offers analysis and reports on the data collected.

http://www.socialsolutions.biz/cms/index.php

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Congress, security state, State Dept/diplomacy

 

An on-line interview with Peter Van Buren.

Peter Van Buren is the author of “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People”, a sarcastic, funny, sad, angry book about his work for the Department of State as the leader of two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in rural Iraq, 2009-2010. His blog at www.wemeantwell.com continues the story, with daily humor and commentary about Iraq, the Middle East and national security.

Van Buren, a 24-year veteran Foreign Service Officer at the State Department, spent a year in Iraq leading two State Department Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Following his book, published in 2011, the Department of State began termination proceedings against him, reassigning him to a make-work position and stripping him of his security clearance and diplomatic credentials. Through the efforts of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU, Van Buren instead retired from the State Department with his full benefits of service.

Van Buren, along with other Federal whistleblowers like Tom Drake and Jesslyn Radack, is also working closely with Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker James Spione on a new film called SILENCED, due out in 2013.

He graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me in the form of an on-line interview.  My profound thanks to Mr. Van Buren.

Teri:  Your book is titled “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People”.  I’ve often wondered who exactly did you mean by the “we”?  Are you referring to we, the people of the US; or we, the Bush administration and the State Dept. under Bush as they (illegally) invaded Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein; or we, meaning specifically the State Dept. employees who came in later to try and clean up the mess?

Van Buren:  The title is purposefully ambiguous. There is the obvious sarcastic meaning, because we did much harm and little good. But another intended meaning is that most of us involved in reconstruction at the ground level had decent intentions. None of the people I worked with intended to do harm, we just were ignorant, selfish, poorly-led and oafs who ended up harming people the way, say, a well-meaning amateur surgeon might. We went out of our way to make a poor impression: Sometimes when we rolled through the center of town, we made quite an impression because our vehicles were tall enough that they tore down all the electrical and phone lines that were strung across the roads. Sometimes we made quite an impression when we roared through fields and left ruts where there had been rice or wheat planted. And oftentimes we made quite an impression by attracting a lot of attention to people just by our presence.

Teri:  Iraq will never be the same since we invaded.  You were there in ’09 – six full years after the “Shock and Awe” started.  Can you briefly describe the conditions under which you saw the average Iraqi living?

Van Buren:  Most Iraqis lacked access to clean water, sewers, schools and health care. Most lived in fear of bombings and murder, at the ends of the U.S. and at the hands of militias, terrorists and their own government. It was a miserable way to live, and was almost entirely brought on by our invasion. We destroyed the civil society of Iraq and replaced it with chaos. One of the key problems of the whole venture was the inability to reconstruct something while it was essentially still falling apart.

Teri:  What were the ramifications of the book on your job?

Van Buren:  My employer of 24 years, the US State Department, first stripped me of my security clearance (the key to almost any decent job in the Washington area), then tried to prosecute me. Failed that, they tried to fire me. Failing that, we negotiated my voluntold early retirement.

Teri: In light of new reports on the wasted money we spent on Iraq’s reconstruction [see, for example: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/03/iraq-waste/ ], I suspect you got an apology from the State Dept.  Did you?

Van Buren:  You’re a funny person. Let’s say my apology may have been lost in the mail.

Teri:  You’ve worked for the State Dept. under a number of Secretaries.  Who was the most effective of these, in your opinion?

Van Buren:  Ironically, the first half of the Colin Powell tenure. Powell, likely because of his military background where caring for the troops is an essential requirement for any leader, was the only Secretary to make positive changes to the life and work of the rank and file. Powell, for example, overruled Diplomatic Security’s ban on the internet inside of the State Department. Security claimed it was dangerous to info security while Powell said the reality of our modern world demanded access. Without him State employees would still be getting their news a day late in paper form. The irony, of course, is that it was Powell who plunged State into Iraq and thus helped to destroy the rank and file by wasting their time, energy and lives inside that failed war.

Teri:  Several highly-placed people called the imposition of  a “no-fly zone” on Libya and the subsequent bombing – which went well beyond imposing a no-fly zone, and in fact decimated entire portions of that country – illegal, both by our Constitutional standards and by international standards.  We were open about the US’ desire for regime change, which is a blatant illegality under international accords.  What were your thoughts about Libya when this decision was made?

Van Buren:  I am sickened by the casual ease with which America invades and destroys countries. There seems to be one set of rules/standards for what America wants and does, and another for the rest of the world. Would we be so casual if China decided to invade and occupy, say, Burma in the interests of freeing them from an evil dictator?

Teri:  There is a short video of then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton laughing when she got the news that Ghaddafi had been tortured and assassinated. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DXDU48RHLU  ]  I found this extremely repugnant, especially coming from our “lead diplomat”; in fact, I thought she looked rather demented here.  Your thoughts?  And, by the way, is this sort of jokiness typical of the relationship between the press and the State Dept.?

Van Buren:  I thought that and her yucking it up with James Baker on the “Charlie Rose Show” over the idea of the U.S. setting fire to the Middle East by engaging in war in Iran were atrocious.  Talking about the death of Qaddafi, she says, “We came, we saw, he died” and then laughs about that with some robo-journalist.  Chortling over anyone’s death is a disgrace.  What’s next, displaying the skulls of our enemies in the Foggy Bottom lobby? Oh my god, America, what have we become?

Many senior officials pretend familiarity with the press to influence positive coverage. The press often behaves then like the high school nerd thrilled to hear a kind word from the cool jocks.

Teri:  Are we going to invade Syria next?  It seems an odd proposition, given that Hillary Clinton and Gen. Petraeus have both pointed out that in so doing, we would be fighting on the same side as al Qaeda and several other terrorist groups.  (They both find it “ironic”, but not necessarily “wrong”, even though a civilian supporting these groups can be held indefinitely under the NDAA.)

Van Buren:  We likely already have “invaded” in the form of special forces and/or CIA paramilitary trainers and advisers. We will likely conduct air strikes and a no-fly zone. We already are or soon will be shipping in arms. However, the mule-like American public and their Congressional reps only seem to care if we go (overt) “boots on the ground.” They see everything else warlike as harmless foreplay.

Teri:  In 1998, the US government, under the aegis of the State Dept., set up a program called the Rewards for Justice Fund.  Some background: In the beginning, this was a mixture of funds from private people and funds supplied by the government, used to offer cash rewards (bounties) for the capture/killing of wanted terrorists.  The private money donated was considered a fully deductible charitable donation. (Hey, it’s tax deductible!  Donate now to add names to your own preferred kill list!)  As of 2008, the fund became known as the Rewards for Justice Program [http://www.rewardsforjustice.net/index.cfm?page=faq&language=english ] and no longer accepts private donations; the rewards are all backed by government money.  It is still handled by the State Dept.  It has paid out over $100 mm since 1998.  Bounty is traditionally known as a reward for capturing an escapee or a bail-jumper – the majority of the “terrorists” the US offers bounties for actually have no legal charges against them and thus no trials scheduled – no bail to be jumped and no jail escaped from.  I note that summaries of ‘most wanted’ on home page rarely include info that “suspect” has had any charges levied by any court anywhere in the world – almost all are merely “suspected” of something or another.  Under this program, we offered, and paid, $20 million for Ghaddafi’s head (Wanted: Dead or Alive), although the State dept. has never said who collected the reward.  This bounty program seems quite a peculiar endeavor for our department for diplomatic outreach to be running.  In fact, it seems antithetical to diplomacy.  Why was this program set up to be handled by State (rather than, say, the Pentagon)?

Van Buren:  I am not sure why it went to State rather than DOD, CIA or maybe better, DOJ. I suspect little more than bureaucratic infighting and budget tricks. State was always angling for some piece of the war on terror and maybe they got thrown this bone. In the end it was all “US Government” and so it may not be significant which agency ran the show.

Teri:  Overall, there seems to be a huge increase in the militarization of the State Dept.; they now have their own drone program, hire mercenaries, and run computer “psych-ops” on terrorist groups in conjunction with the CIA.   In Feb. of this year, Ralph Nader wrote an essay for commondreams on this very issue. [http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/02/08-7 ] This is an excellent little essay in which Nader mentions you:

“3.  Secretary Clinton had problems heralding accurate whistleblowers. A 24-year-Foreign Service Officer, Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq running two State Department Reconstruction Teams. He exposed State Department waste and mismanagement along with the Pentagon’s “reconstruction” efforts using corporate contractors. Unlistened to, Van Buren, true to his civil service oath of office, went public. Clinton fired him.”

Is this militarization in fact a new aspect, or have we always used State this way behind the scenes?

Van Buren:  Of the many issues that debilitate the effectiveness of the Department of State, none should concern us all more than the ongoing militarization of America’s foreign affairs.  This actually makes the State Dept. more and more irrelevant and obscures the reasoning for having a department of state.  The increasing role of the military in America’s foreign relations sidelines State. The most likely American for a foreigner to encounter in most parts of the world now, for better or worse, carries a weapon and drives a tank.

I wrote an article for the Huffington Post in August of last year in which I go into some details on this subject.  http://wemeantwell.com/blog/2012/09/03/americas-increasingly-irrelevant-concierge-abroad/

Teri:  What do you make of the latest Pentagon announcement that the War on Terror [sic] is going to last at least another decade or two?

Van Buren:  It is in DOD’s financial interest for the WOT to go on forever, and it likely will. Creating a “war” with no victory conditions, such as “capture Berlin”, was a clever move on the government’s part and has served as a handy justification for every war move and every step to denying our basic rights.

Teri:  We have spent tons of money starting wars, paying contractors for weapons to invade other countries, paying mercenaries to fight in them, and then paying other contractors to “reconstruct” the ruined countries – yet within the US, the people are losing jobs, the infrastructure is crumbling, and Congress is passing austerity measures.  Are we really spending our money wisely?

Van Buren:  You really are a funny person. Yes, I think it is wonderful that we are spending all our money, plus that which we borrow from China, on war. It is good to neglect our infrastructure and economy so as to toughen up our population. It’s like Spartans having to camp out without food or warmth to make them hard and strong.

Teri:  You have mentioned on your blog that you are working on a new book.  Can you tell me something about that?

Van Buren:  “The People on the Bus: A Story of the #99Percent” (Alternate Title: On the Bus with the Ghosts of Tom Joad) is about growth, failure and redemption. It is Earl’s story, tracing the rise of the Working Poor, and the non-working rich. It is funny and serious, Holden and Joe Dirt. Along the ride the story tackles bullying and suicide, first kisses and cunnilingus, and the protagonist’s struggle to overcome his father’s war that survived within him. It’s a question about how to still own something—your labor, your self-respect—you’d sold. At the heart of the story is the romance between Earl and Angel, a relationship that threads through Earl’s tribulations and ultimately gives him purpose at the end of his life.

The story takes place during Earl’s final metaphorical bus ride. Most of the folks who get on the bus with Earl have been long missing. Now they are coming and going, even talking to him, “just as if it was no big deal.” As Earl laments, “imagine running into both your mom and your old girlfriends in living color.”

Yet not everyone is familiar. A young Korean boy, silent in the back of the bus, represents a question Earl must learn to ask, and an answer from his father that will change him. As Earl tells us, “It seems everybody you run across in life you drag forward. You can’t help that. They’re all somehow on the bus with you.”

“The People on the Bus: A Story of the #99Percent” is about regime change, the death of manufacturing, the deindustrialization of America, and a way of life that was lost alongside those jobs. Wages never were higher than in 1973 and fell as poverty rose in almost equal proportion. How did we go from the booming prosperity of the 1950s and 60s to the Rust Belt of the late 1970s in the course of only two or three generations?

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2013 in State Dept/diplomacy