The United States Is the Most Corrupt Country in the World

The United States Is the Most Corrupt Country in the World

by Juan Cole /

John M. Cropper / CC BY-NC 2.0

The United States fell six places to a ranking of only 22 in Transparency International’s list of countries by corruption. Under Donald Trump, America is not in the top 20 for fair dealing.

But as I have argued before, the United States is the most corrupt country in the world and should be ranked 194, not 22. What follows is a much-revised version of my popular list.

 

Obviously, the U.S. Departments of Justice and the Treasury would not give corporations impunity for obtaining contracts by bribery, and it is this sort of scrupulousness that the Transparency International list is rewarding. And Americans don’t have to bribe government officials, as is true in many countries (though, to be fair to the government officials, they typically demand bribes because their governments don’t pay them a living wage).

But in all sorts of ways, U.S. corruption is off the charts, and because the U.S. is still the No. 1 economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product, massive corruption here has a global impact.

Here are the top signs that the U.S. is the most corrupt country in the world:

1. The U.S. is so corrupt that our ruling Republican Party would even deny human-made climate change and adopt pro-carbon policies inexorably destined to wreck the planet earth, all to ensure a few extra years of profits for dirty coal companies and oil giants like ExxonMobil.

Americans are now finally waking up from the 30 years of mesmerized unreality into which Big Carbon and its willing henchmen in the U.S. government had cast them. But nothing of any significance is being done by the federal government on the climate emergency, and the real leaders are states like California. Americans do not realize how peculiar their climate dementia is. No government in Europe openly denies human-made climate change through the burning of fossil fuels and the lodging of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, however lackadaisical some of them are about addressing the problem.

The Chinese Communist Party is more realistic than the U.S. government, and is making a full-court press to move to green energy. Germany, the fourth-largest economy, has announced the end of coal. Britain gets a third of its electricity from wind, and coal provides only 2 percent of British electricity—an achievement of less than a decade.

Only the dodo birds of the sneakily misnamed Australian Liberal Party are still vehemently pro-coal and shrilly denying the plain science of greenhouse gases.

2. Our government is so corrupt that the Environmental Protection Agency has not only ceased protecting the environment, it has become a cheerleader for polluting industries, gutting any regulation that might stand in the way of making a little extra money at the expense of, like, killing people. Its current head is a former coal industry lobbyist! The EPA has decided to back coal plants and to remove the annoyance of government regulations interfering with their spewing mercury into the air. Mercury is a nerve poison, and it concentrates at the top of the food chain (i.e., in us). The Mad Hatter in “Alice in Wonderland” was driven crazy by using his hands to put mercury on the brim of felt hats so as to straighten them. Continual exposure to mercury damages your neural system.

3. The U.S. government is so corrupt that it is winking at the murder by Saudi authorities of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, almost certainly at the order of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. And the grounds which the president of the United States gave for his insouciance at the deployment of a bone saw on the hapless scribbler were that he did not want to endanger Saudi arms purchases from and investments in the United States. This response is the very definition of corruption. Saudi Arabia is bribing the U.S. government to ignore a vicious murder of a high-profile journalist whose children are American citizens and who wrote for the Washington paper of record. You can tell all this is corrupt by just imagining what the response would be in Washington if Iran were discovered carving up a dissident in a consulate with a bone saw.

4. The U.S. is so corrupt (audience: “How corrupt is it?”) that the Senate has allowed a bill to come to the floor, introduced by Marco “Benedict Arnold” Rubio, that approves of individual states excluding vendors and contractors who boycott Israel. Although Rubio, Gary Peters, Ron Wyden and other backers of the bill maintain that it does not affect freedom of speech, it actually guts freedom of speech. We university lecturers who speak on other campuses are considered contractors, and people will be prevented from giving talks at the University of Texas, for example, by such laws. The law is unconstitutional and will be struck down if the U.S. judiciary still has a modicum of integrity. But the law was passed in order to uphold the Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank and the sentencing of Palestinians to being stateless and helpless and without rights. And it was worked up in the shadows in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs (i.e., of propaganda), with the backing of pro-squatter fanatics such as sleazy casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has been accused of making his pile, in part, by bribing members of the Chinese Communist Party to let him open a lucrative casino in Macau. The senators have brought this bill to the floor, despite its being a poison pill for the U.S. Constitution, because they are in the back pocket of the Israel lobbies, which help fund their political campaigns. (I hasten to add that most American Jews do not approve of these shenanigans.)

In other words, the senators are acting this way because they are being bribed by a sliver of corrupt American businesspeople, who in turn are virulent partisans of a foreign state, or by U.S. evangelicals, who have an irrational hope that the final solution of the Palestinian problem will provoke the return of Christ. The important thing is that U.S. electoral politics is an elaborate system of bribery, for which even the Constitution itself is not sacrosanct.

5. A sure sign of corruption is an electoral outcome like that of 2016. An addled nonentity like Donald Trump got filthy rich via tax loopholes and predatory behavior in his casinos and other businesses, and then was permitted to buy the presidency with his own money. He was given billions of dollars in free campaign time every evening on CNN, MSNBC, Fox and other channels that should have been more even-handed, because they were in search of advertising dollars and Trump was a good draw. Then, too, the way the Supreme Court got rid of campaign finance reform and allowed open, unlimited secret buying of elections is the height of corruption. The permitting of massive black money in our elections was taken advantage of by the Russian Federation, which, having hopelessly corrupted its own presidential elections, managed to further corrupt the American ones as well. Once ensconced in power, Trump Inc. has taken advantage of the power of White House to engage in a wide range of corrupt practices, including an attempt to sell visas to wealthy Chinese and the promotion of the Trump brand as part of diplomacy.

6. The rich are well-placed to bribe our politicians to reduce taxes on the rich. The Koch brothers and other megarich troglodytes explicitly told Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in 2017 that if the Republican Party, controlling all three branches of government, could not lower taxes on its main sponsors, there would be no billionaire backing of the party in the 2018 midterms. This threat of an electoral firing squad made the hundreds of bribe-takers in Congress sit up and take notice, and they duly gave away to the billionaire class $1.5 trillion in government services (that’s what federal taxes are, folks—services, such as roads, schools, health inspections, implementation of anti-pollution laws), things that everyone benefits from and that won’t be there any more. To the extent that the government will try to continue to provide those slashed services despite assessing no taxes on the people with the money to pay for them, it will run up an enormous budget deficit and weaken the dollar, which is a form of inflation in the imported-goods sector. Inflation hits the poor the worst. As it stands, 3 American billionaires are worth as much as the poorest 150 million Americans. That kind of wealth inequality hasn’t been seen in the U.S. since the age of the robber barons in the 19th century. Both eras are marked by extreme corruption.

7. One sign of American corruption is the rapidity with which American society has become more unequal since the 1980s Reagan destruction of the progressive income tax. The wealthier the top 1 percent is, the more politicians it can buy to gather up even more of the country’s wealth. In my lifetime, the top 1 percent has gone from holding 25 percent of the privately held wealth under President Eisenhower to over 38 percent today. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right that we need to much increase the top marginal tax rate, and we need to tax unearned income as well.

8. The U.S. military budget is bloated and enormous, bigger than the military budgets of the next 12 major states. What isn’t usually realized is that perhaps half of it is spent on outsourced services, not on the military. It is corporate welfare on a cosmic scale. I’ve seen with my own eyes how officers in the military get out and then form companies to sell things to their former colleagues still on the inside. Precisely because it is a cesspool of large-scale corruption, Trump’s budget will throw over $100 billion extra taxpayer dollars at it.

9. The U.S. has a vast gulag of 2.2 million prisoners in jails and penitentiaries. There is an increasing tendency for prisons to be privatized, and this tendency is corrupting the system.  It is wrong for people to profit from putting and keeping human beings behind bars. This troubling trend is made all the more troubling by the move to give extra-long sentences for minor crimes, to deny parole and to imprison people for life for, for example, three small thefts.

10. Asset forfeiture in the “drug war” is corrupting police departments and the judiciary. Although some state legislatures are dialing this corrupt practice back, it is widespread and a danger to the Constitution.

So don’t tell the Global South how corrupt it is for taking a few petty bribes. Americans are not seen as corrupt because we only deal in the big denominations. Steal $2 trillion and you aren’t corrupt, you’re respectable.

Juan Cole / Informed Comment
Juan Cole
Contributor
Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan and the proprietor of the Informed Comment e-zine. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in…
In this article:
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro flashes victory signs, declaring he will prevail amid a “coup,” during a press conference at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on Friday. (Ariana Cubillos / AP)

On Friday, The New York Times continued its long, predictable tradition of backing U.S. coups in Latin America by publishing an editorial praising Donald Trump’s attempt to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. This will be the 10th such coup the paper has backed since the creation of the CIA over 70 years ago.

A survey of The New York Times archives shows the Times editorial board has supported 10 out of 12 American-backed coups in Latin America, with two editorials—those involving the 1983 Grenada invasion and the 2009 Honduras coup—ranging from ambiguous to reluctant opposition. The survey can be viewed here.

Covert involvement of the United States, by the CIA or other intelligence services, isn’t mentioned in any of the Times’ editorials on any of the coups. Absent an open, undeniable U.S. military invasion (as in the Dominican Republic, Panama and Grenada), things seem to happen in Latin American countries entirely on their own, with outside forces rarely, if ever, mentioned in the Times. Obviously, there are limits to what is “provable” in the immediate aftermath of such events (covert intervention is, by definition, covert), but the idea that the U.S. or other imperial actors could have stirred the pot, funded a junta or run weapons in any of the conflicts under the table is never entertained.

More often than not, what one is left with, reading Times editorials on these coups, are racist, paternalistic “cycle of violence” cliches. <i>Sigh, it’s just the way of things Over There.</i> When reading these quotes, keep in mind the CIA supplied and funded the groups that ultimately killed these leaders:

  • Brazil 1964: “They have, throughout their history, suffered from a lack of first class rulers.”
  • Chile 1973: “No Chilean party or faction can escape some responsibility for the disaster, but a heavy share must be assigned to the unfortunate Dr. Allende himself.”
  • Argentina 1976: “It was typical of the cynicism with which many Argentines view their country’s politics that most people in Buenos Aires seemed more interested in a soccer telecast Tuesday night than in the ouster of President Isabel Martinez de Perlin by the armed forces. The script was familiar for this long‐anticipated coup.”

See, it didn’t matter! It’s worth pointing out the military junta put in power by the CIA-contrived coup killed 10,000 to 30,000 Argentines from 1976 to 1983.

There’s a familiar script: The CIA and its U.S. corporate partners come in, wage economic warfare, fund and arm the opposition, then the target of this operation is blamed. This, of course, isn’t to say there isn’t merit to some of the objections being raised by The New York Times—whether it be Chile in 1973 or Venezuela in 2019. But that’s not really the point. The reason the CIA and U.S. military and its corporate partisans historically target governments in Latin America is because those governments are hostile to U.S. capital and strategic interests, not because they are undemocratic. So while the points the Times makes about illiberalism may sometimes be true, they’re mostly a non sequitur when analyzing the reality of what’s unfolding.

Did Allende, as the Times alleged in 1973 when backing his violent overthrow, “persist in pushing a program of pervasive socialism” without a “popular mandate”? Did, as the Times alleged, Allende “pursue this goal by dubious means, including attempts to bypass both Congress and the courts”? Possibly. But Allende’s supposed authoritarianism isn’t why the CIA sought his ouster. It wasn’t his means of pursuing redistributive policies that offended the CIA and U.S. corporate partners; it was the redistributive policies themselves.

Hand-wringing over the anti-democratic nature of how Allende carried out his agenda without noting that it was the agenda itself—not the means by which it was carried out—that animated his opponents is butting into a conversation no one in power is really having. Why, historically, has The New York Times taken for granted the liberal pretexts for U.S. involvement, rather than analyzing whether there were possibly other, more cynical forces at work?

The answer is that rank ideology is baked into the premise. The idea that the U.S. is motivated by human rights and democracy is taken for granted by The New York Times editorial board and has been since its inception. This does all the heavy lifting without most people—even liberals vaguely skeptical of American motives in Latin America—noticing that a sleight of hand has taken place. “In recent decades,” a 2017 Times editorial scolding Russia asserted, “American presidents who took military action have been driven by the desire to promote freedom and democracy, sometimes with extraordinary results.” Oh, well, good then.

What should be a conversation about American military and its covert apparatus unduly meddling in other countries quickly becomes a referendum on the moral properties of those countries. Theoretically a good conversation to have (and one certainly ongoing among people and institutions in these countries), but absent a discussion of the merits of the initial axiom—that U.S. talking heads and the Washington national security apparatus have a birthright to determine which regimes are good and bad—it serves little practical purpose stateside beyond posturing. And often, as a practical matter, it works to cement the broader narrative justifying the meddling itself.

Do the U.S. and its allies have a moral or ethical right to determine the political future of Venezuela? This question is breezed past, and we move on to the question of how this self-evident authority is best exercised. This is the scope of debate in The New York Times—and among virtually all U.S. media outlets. To ante up in the poker game of Serious People Discussing Foreign Policy Seriously, one is obligated to register an Official Condemnation of the Official Bad Regime. This is so everyone knows you accept the core premises of U.S. regime change but oppose it on pragmatic or legalistic grounds. It’s a tedious, extortive exercise designed to shift the conversation away from the United States’ history of arbitrary and violent overthrows and into an exchange about how best to oppose the Official Bad Regime in question. U.S. liberals are to keep a real-time report card on these Official Bad Regimes, and if these regimes—due to an ill-defined rubric of un-democraticness and human rights—fall below a score of say, “60,” they become illegitimate and unworthy of defense as such.

While obviously not in Latin America, it’s also worth noting that the Times cheerled the CIA-sponsored coup against Iran’s President, Mohammad Mossadegh, in 1953. Its editorial, written two days after his ouster, engaged in the Times’ patented combination of victim-blaming and “oh dear” bloviating:

  • “The now-deposed Premier Mossadegh was flirting with Russia. He had won his phony plebiscite to dissolve the Majlis, or lower House of Parliament, with the aid of the Tudeh Communists.”
  • “Mossadegh is out, a prisoner awaiting trial. It is a credit to the Shah, to whom he was so disloyal, and to Premier Zahedi, that this rabid, self-seeking nationalist would have been protected at a time when his life would not have been worth the wager of a plugged nickel.”
  • “The Shah … deserves praise in this crisis. … He was always true to the parliamentary institutions of his country, he was a moderating influence in the wild fanaticism exhibited by the nationalists under Mossadegh, and he was socially progressive.”

Again, no mention of CIA involvement (which the agency now openly acknowledges), which the Times wouldn’t necessarily have had any way of knowing at the time. (This is part of the point of covert operations.) Mossadegh is summarily demonized, and it’s not until decades later the public learns of the extent of U.S. involvement. The Times even gets in an orientalist description of Iranians, implying why a strong Shah is necessary:

<blockquote>[The average Iranian] has nothing to lose. He is a man of infinite patience, of great charm and gentleness, but he is also—as we have been seeing—a volatile character, highly emotional, and violent when sufficiently aroused. </blockquote>

Needless to say, there are major difference between these cases: Mossadegh, Allende, Chavez and Maduro all lived in radically different times and championed different policies, with varying degrees of liberalism and corruption. But the one thing they all had in common is that the U.S. government, and a compliant U.S. media, decided they “needed to go” and did everything to achieve this end. The fundamental arrogance of this assumption, one would think, is what ought to be discussed in the U.S. media—as typified by the Times’ editorial board—but time and again, this assumption is either taken for granted or hand-waved away, and we all move on to how and when we can best overthrow the Bad Regime.

For those earnestly concerned about Maduro’s efforts to undermine the democratic institutions of Venezuela (he’s been accused of jailing opponents, stacking the courts and holding Potemkin elections), it’s worth pointing out that even when the liberal democratic properties of Venezuela were at their height in 2002 (they were internationally sanctioned and overseen by the Carter Center for years, and no serious observer considers Hugo Chavez’s rule illegitimate), the CIA still greenlit a military coup against Chavez, and the New York Times still profusely praised the act. As it wrote at the time:

<blockquote>With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader, Pedro Carmona. </blockquote>

Chavez would soon be restored to power after millions took to the streets to protest his removal from office, but the question remains: If The New York Times was willing to ignore the undisputed will of the Venezuelan people in 2002, what makes anyone think the newspaper is earnestly concerned about it in 2019? Again, the thing that’s being objected to by the White House, the State Department and their U.S. imperial apparatchiks is the redistributive policies and opposition to the United States’ will, not the means by which they do so. Perhaps the Times and other U.S. media—living in the heart of, and presumably having influence over, this empire—could try centering this reality rather than, for the millionth time, adjudicating the moral properties of the countries subject to its violent, illegitimate whims

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Just how corrupt is the American soul?

Just how corrupt is the American soul?

Nasty Trump

By Lawrence Davidson

Debunking the “noble American soul”

In an oped piece published in AlJazeeera on 15 November 2018, Columbia University Professor Hamid Dabashi challenges the widespread assumption that “the American soul is something quintessentially good and even noble”. He goes on to point out that most of those who hold this view also believe that President Donald Trump and his policies and practices cannot possibly be representative of real American values.

Dabashi’s position is that both of these idealistic beliefs are nothing but historical delusions. “We may, in fact, be hard pressed to find a single moment in American history when hateful racism, sexism, militarism and xenophobia have not been entirely definitive to this American soul.” In addition, “those who view President Donald Trump as unrepresentative of American values are wrong”. In Dabashi’s view, this president’s policies and practices are indeed who we are.

It is the liberals who Dabashi is particularly upset with for it is they who, in his view, have reinforced the facade of national goodness and held at bay, or perhaps simply ignored, any critical examination of this self-glorifying image. For instance, Dabashi notes that, while campaigning against Trump in the lead-up to the recent mid-term elections, Barack Obama asserted that “we [the US] helped spread a commitment to certain values and principles like the rule of law and human rights and democracy and the notion of the inherent dignity and worth of every individual”.

Dabashi is having none of this. More often than not both Republicans and Democrats have “identically” supported dictators and the brutalisation of entire populations. He notes that Obama is the president who “who gave billions of dollars to Israel to slaughter Palestinians with ease.” In terms of foreign policy, almost every president preceeding Obama has acted in the same culpable way, or worse.

Dabashi goes on to point out that the Democratic Party, the political party now opposing President Trump, is a “structurally corrupt” organisation that is adverse to really basic change and so “it is crucial for us not to fall into the trap of thinking the enemies of the Trumpian loonies are the friends of any progressive politics”. In fact, it is Dabashi’s opinion that the United States is not, as the liberals say, “a divided country”. It is rather an “unmistakably racist, sexist, xenophobic and violent country obsessed with domestic gun violence and foreign conquest with a few pockets of wishy-washy liberal resistance here or there.”

Qualifications

Is Professor Dabashi correct? Well, in terms of foreign policy there can be no doubt that he is. Such claims that the US has made a project of spreading democracy, the rule of law and the “dignity of the individual” are historically untrue, and I agree with his reaction of disgust when he hears such unfounded claims coming out of the mouth of someone like Barack Obama.

Domestically, despite a history of “corporate corruption” in politics, the picture is more complicated. Dabashi himself suggests that this is so. He tells us that “there is nothing in the DNA or “blood” of any people, Americans included, that makes them constitutionally susceptible to latent and blatant fascism. Millions upon millions of Americans gathered around the most progressive figure in recent US politics, Bernie Sanders, in the hope of liberating themselves from the shackles of this gridlock of corrupt corporate politics. Such efforts at “liberation” through significant progressive efforts is not confined to the Sanders movement. There was, of course, the seminal civil rights movement of the 1960s – supported at that time by many Democrats and Republicans alike.

So it is not literally true that, domestically, there is not “a single moment in history” when America has not acted from the corrupt motives of racism, sexism, etc. However, I will go along with Dabashi as far as saying that America’s progressive moments are historically the exception. That is, they are reactions to an otherwise regressive norm.

There are some additional contextualising observations that can be made about this imbalance between the uncivilised and the civilised.

— The uncivilised attitudes and practices we find dominating United States history are certainly not uniquely American. In one form or another, they are probably universal and, in the era of the nation state, magnified by just how much power a nation possesses, how prevalent are minorities within its population, and how strong are its political and / or religious ideologies. There is always a wide range of denials and / or rationalisations that are used to turn the inexcusable into the excused.

— In every case populations are held captive by remarkably effective, long-term brainwashing convincing them of the acceptability of their culturally inbred sins. This is how the nonsense of exceptionalism and noble national souls can be so convincing.

— In most instances, it is probably the case that the leaders are as delusional true believers as the populace.

These observations only reinforce Dabashi’s bleak picture. In fact, it looks like we are all stuck in an age-old self-destructive rut. The classic conservative explanation for this is that it is due to the unchanging “evil” quality of human nature. But then how does one account for the humanitarian moments – are they somehow in defiance of human nature? That does not sound right.

Hope?

It is hard for those Americans, particularly those of colour, who understand the “dark side” of the “American soul”, to lend much credence to the moments of humanitarian idealism that arrive periodically on the historical scene.

But these moments do come around, and not just in the case of the US. For instance, there was the remarkable effort to spread international law following the debacle that was World War II. And, one might hope against hope that these humanitarian moments represent the accumulation of precedents that may underpin a better future.

However, as Professor Dabashi’s lament implies, history is not on our side (even now international law is being eroded away) and thus the prospect of a better future entails never-ending struggle. Nonetheless, as long as things like civil rights and international law are possibilities we can’t give up on them. I certainly don’t think that giving up is Dabashi’s intent. He just doesn’t want a bad situation denied based on delusional propaganda. Shaking loose from that propaganda is an essential first step – and perhaps, the hardest.

‘Trump’s incoherence is too much — and it’s getting worse’

Source

The writer of this piece, Jennifer Rubin–

Is a lying, warmongering, Jewish supremacist gangstress and NeoCon Israel firster who played an indispensable role in ‘selling’ Americans into drinking the koolaid by signing away their tax money, freedoms, and the blood of their children in the form of George Bush’s ‘war on terror’, otherwise known as the ‘clash of civilizations’ between Christianity and Islam. She–working alongside confreres with names such as Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, Max Boot, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum, Eliot Cohen, etc–have been relentless in their attempt at ‘selling’ the American people into drinking the koolaid AGAIN in the form of impeaching/removing an American President who is pushing for a resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian situation and who has made it clear that he wants no more wars for Israel.

We are forced to point this out due to the depressingly-high percentage of geniuses, experts, and prophets, some of the ‘brightest luminaries’ in fact within the ‘9/11 truth movement’, who find themselves in the peculiar and perplexing circumstance of standing alongside these aforementioned warmongering, Neocon Zionist Jews by lending their voices and their support in causing Trump as much discomfort as possible, thus assisting Israel in her drive to see this guy–

Mike Pence, a died-in-the-wool Christian Zionist, take over as the new occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave per the desires and demands of the other guy in the picture, Bibi Netanyahu, looking at him with obvious great interest and with grand plans in his eyes…

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, and for the simple reason that there are still quite a few out there who just don’t seem to ‘get it’ yet–

Gangsters don’t shoot the horses they have bet all their money on to win in a race they have fixed. They give them an open road to 1st place and only a political dolt who has as much business performing brain surgery as they do rendering commentary and analysis on complex and oftentimes convoluted political drama can’t see this.

Washington Post

President Trump has never been a model of consistency or coherence. However, as pressure builds both from looming investigations and the impending transfer of power in the House from the Republican majority to the Democrats, his ability to maintain even the pretense of normalcy and rationality begins to crumble. That’s true on both foreign and domestic policy, giving the impression of a president teetering on the brink of a complete meltdown.

On foreign policy, Republicans and Democrats alike have hammered the president on his specious defense of the Saudis’ brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), bluntly stated on CNN’s “State of the Union,” “I have been briefed by the CIA. And while I cannot discuss the contents of the briefing in any way, I can say that I think the president is being dishonest with the American people.”

In this case, a solid bipartisan consensus stands against Trump. The Post reports:

“I disagree with the president’s assessment,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen. . . . The intelligence I’ve seen suggests that this was ordered by the crown prince.” . . .

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” acknowledged that Saudi Arabia was a “great strategic partner” but added that the United States’ commitment to human rights and the rule of law requires Congress “absolutely to consider further action. At such a time when it becomes necessary, the president also needs to speak directly to the Saudis and say enough’s enough.”

The result is likely to be a bipartisan effort to cancel Saudi arms sales and to sanction all those involved. Moreover, with a Democratic House majority, the Democrat-led intelligence and foreign affairs committees can investigate not only the murder and coverup but also Trump’s own potential financial conflicts with the Saudis, whom he bragged in the past have purchased tens of millions in real estate properties from him. In the meantime, Trump appears to all but his most deluded cultists to be in the Saudis’ pockets, remarkably gullible and/or a liar. On this he remains politically isolated against a united front of our international allies, Democrats, Republicans and our intelligence agencies. (As an aside, one wonders how CIA Director Gina Haspel can remain in an administration in which the president lies about her agency’s findings and sides with a foreign power.)

The same lack of coherence and political support appears on the domestic policy front. The Post reports:

President Trump is demanding top advisers craft a plan to reduce the country’s ballooning budget deficits, but the president has flummoxed his own aides by repeatedly seeking new spending while ruling out measures needed to address the country’s unbalanced budget.

Trump’s deficit-reduction directive came last month, after the White House reported a large increase in the deficit for the previous 12 months. The announcement unnerved Republicans and investors, helping fuel a big sell-off in the stock market. Two days after the deficit report, Trump floated a surprise demand to his Cabinet secretaries, asking them to identify steep cuts in their agencies.

As striking as Trump’s utter inability to grapple with basic problems, his staff’s unwillingness to maintain any semblance of unity and loyalty suggests they no long think it’s in their personal interest to be associated with a president who makes mincemeat of one policy issue after another. His childish inability to make hard decisions and engender possible complaints from his base makes him a hapless, inept figure. He’s not so much leading as he is meandering — with aides racing after him to prevent bigger disasters and embarrassments.

Republicans would be wise to forge their own course on a whole array of matters and to stop defending an indefensible president (as they are doing on Saudi Arabia). If not, the 2020 election will make 2018 look like a smashing success for the GOP.

Registering israel’s (apartheid state) Useful Idiots

FDD and AIPAC need adult supervision

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • November 20, 2018

Depending on what criteria one uses, there are between 200 and 600 groups in the United States that wholly or in part are dedicated to furthering the interests of Israel. The organizations are both Jewish, like the Zionist Organization of America, and Christian Zionist to include John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, but the funding of the Israel Lobby and both its political and media access comes overwhelmingly from Jewish supporters and advocates.

Many of the groups are registered with the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes as 501(c)3 “educational” or “charitable” foundations, which enables them to solicit tax exempt donations. One might dispute whether promoting Israeli interests in the United States is actually educational, but as of right now the Department of the Treasury believes it can be so construed, protected by the First Amendment.

But there is a more serious consideration in terms of the actual relationships that many of the groups enjoy with the Israeli government. To be sure, many of them boast on their promotional literature and websites about their relationships with the Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet, so the issue of dual loyalty or, worse, acting as actual Israeli government agents must be considered.

There is a legal remedy to hostile foreigners acting against American interests and that is the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). Originally intended to identify and monitor agents of Nazi Germany propagandizing in the United States, it has since been applied to individuals and groups linked to other nations. Most recently, it was used against Russian news agencies RT America and Sputnik, which were forced to register. It is also being considered for Qatar based al-Jazeera.

FARA requires identified agents to be transparent in terms of their funding and contacts while also being publicly identified as representing the interests of a foreign nation. They must report to the Department of Justice every contact they have with congressmen or other government officials. The text of the Act defines a foreign agent as

“any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal, and who directly or through any other person— (i) engages within the United States in political activities for or in the interests of such foreign principal; (ii) acts within the United States as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee or political consultant for or in the interests of such foreign principal; (iii) within the United States solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value for or in the interest of such foreign principal; or (iv) within the United States represents the interests of such foreign principal before any agency or official of the Government of the United States.”

In spite of language that would presumably cover many of the hundreds of Jewish organizations acting for Israel, FARA has never been used to compel registration of any such groups or individuals even when it was public knowledge that they were working closely with the Israeli government to coordinate positions and promote other Israeli interests. That failure is at a minimum a tribute to Jewish power in the United States, but it is also due to the fact that the organizations are funded from within the United States by wealthy American Jews, not by Israel, which is the argument sometimes inaccurately made by the groups themselves to demonstrate that they are not being directed by the Israeli government.

The difficulty in proving that one is directed by a foreign government has been definitively resolved regarding one group the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), which has become the leading neoconservative bastion seeking a war with Iran, Israel’s bête noir. The recent al-Jazeera expose on the activities of the Israeli lobbies in both Britain and the United States, which I wrote about last week, included a surreptitiously filmed conversation with Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former Israeli intelligence officer who now heads the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which is tasked with countering what is perceived to be anti-Israeli activity worldwide. The Ministry is particularly focused on the non-violent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which is increasingly active in both the United States and Europe.

Vaknin-Gil was discussing his activities with Tony Kleinfeld, an undercover investigative reporter who was secretly recording and filming his encounters with various members of the Israel Lobby as well as of the Israeli government. Vaknin-Gil provided explicit confirmation that the FDD works directly with the Israeli government, making it an Israeli agent by the definition of FARA.

For those who are unfamiliar with FDD, it is probably currently the most prominent neocon organization though it nevertheless claims to be a non-partisan “research group.” It focuses on foreign policy and security issues by “Fighting Terrorism and Promoting Freedom,” as it informs us on its website masthead. It works to “defend free nations against their enemies,” which frequently means in practice anyone whom Israel considers to be hostile, most particularly Iran. FDD’s Leadership Council has featured former CIA Director James Woolsey, Senator Joe Lieberman, and Bill Kristol. Its Executive Director is Canadian import Mark Dubowitz, who is obsessed with Iran. Its advisors and experts are mostly Jewish and most of its funding comes from Jewish oligarchs.

FDD’s auditorium has become a preferred venue for senior officials of the Trump Administration to go and make hardline speeches, just as the American Enterprise Institute was under George W. Bush. Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Nikki Haley have all spoken there recently, frequently focusing on Iran and the threat that it allegedly constitutes.

FDD aside, Vaknin-Gil also confirmed that there were other groups in the United States doing the same sorts of things on behalf of Israel. He said “We have FDD. We have others working on this,” elaborating that FDD is “working on” projects for Israel including “data gathering, information analysis, working on activist organizations, money trail.”

So Vaknin-Gil was admitting that FDD and others were working as Israeli proxies, collecting information on U.S. citizens, spying on legal organizations, and both planning and executing disinformation at Israeli direction. Kleinfeld also spoke with a Jonathan Schanzer, a senior official in FDD, who filled in a bit more of what the foundation is up to in terms of discrediting groups in the U.S. that support the BDS movement.

Schanzer admitted “BDS has taken everybody by surprise” before complaining that the Jewish response has been “a complete mess. I don’t think that anybody’s doing a good job. We’re not even doing a good job.” He then complained that attempts to discredit Palestinian groups by linking them to terrorist groups had failed, as also had the use of the label anti-Semitism. “Personally I think anti-Semitism as a smear is not what it used to be.”

So, when will the Justice Department move on FDD now that its true colors have been exposed by al-Jazeera? The group must be required to register if justice be done, but will it? Its principal partner in crime the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has avoided registering for more than sixty years by claiming that it is an American organization working to educate the U.S. public about the all the good things connected to Israel. Even though it meets regularly with Israeli government officials, it claims not to be representing Israeli interests. But just as in the case of FDD, it is time to require AIPAC to register as what it really is: a foreign agent. As a registered agent, it will still be able to exercise First Amendment rights to defend Israel but it would not be able to be involved in lobbying on Capitol Hill and directing money to politicians who are described as pro-Israeli, as it does now. Its finances will be transparent and it will be perceived as an official advocate for Israel, not as an educational resource for what is happening in the Middle East. Hopefully, when AIPAC stops throwing money around, the politicians and media types will find another place to roost.

To be sure the lovefest for Israel in government extends far beyond FDD and AIPAC. It can be found in many dark corners. National Security Advisor John Bolton recently received the “Defender of Israel” award from the Zionist Organization of America. And one might suggest that the U.S. United Nations delegation, headed by Ambassador Nikki Haley, is directed by the Israeli government, particularly given events of last Friday whereby the U.S. voted against a motion condemning Israel’s continued illegal occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights, thereby recognizing for the first time Israel’s sovereignty over the area. Whether Haley was speaking for herself or for the administration was characteristically unclear, but it hardly matters. Nikki Haley might be referred to as a useful idiot, as Lenin put it, but her consistent pattern of extreme loyalty in defense of Israel marks her out as being particularly beholden to the Jewish state, which will no doubt arrange to richly reward her through some position in financial services for which she is totally unqualified when she leaves her post in January. And then she will be well funded to run for president in 2020. Having Haley in charge, one might just as well vote for Benjamin Netanyahu.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

Hollywood Fundraiser for Israel’s Killing Machine

By Stephen Lendman
Source

So-called Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) hold annual gala fundraisers for its killing machine in US cities nationwide – a way to extort money from naive and supportive donors.

Guests include high-ranking Israeli military and government officials. Well-known Americans attend.

Event raise millions of dollars annually for Israeli militarism, belligerence, and cold-blooded murder. 

It’s shocking that anyone would contribute to what demands condemnation – donors complicit with Israeli crimes of war, against humanity, and other forms of apartheid ruthlessness.

The FIDF Los Angeles chapter says it aims “to raise money for the young men and women soldiers of the IDF and to create a community that cares for and supports Israel and its soldiers” – mindless of the pain and suffering they inflict on defenseless Palestinians and other victims of their high crimes.

On November 4 at the Beverly Hilton, the FIDF said it raised a record $60 million at its annual star-studded gala, attracting 1,200 attendees, including actor Andy Garcia and other celebrities.

Billionaires Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson were the largest donors – each giving $10 million to Israel’s killing machine.

Saban said “(w)e are thrilled that so many members of our community, including major Hollywood figures, are coming together to help us support the brave (IDF) men and women…Standing behind these heroes is one of the greatest honors in my life.”

There’s nothing heroic about occupation harshness, Gaza’s suffocating blockade, IDF snipers murdering peaceful Palestinians in cold blood, naked aggression at Israel’s discretion, terror-bombing Syria, aiding ISIS and likeminded jihadists, along with other forms of apartheid ruthlessness.

Israeli General (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir serves as FIDF national director and CEO, a position he assumed in September 2014. 

In 33 years of active duty, he was directly involved in enforcing occupation harshness, including as military secretary to prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Netanyahu – also as their special security advisor and partner in national security decisions. 

He was involved in Israel’s 2006 premeditated Lebanon war, along with naked aggression on Gaza.

He and other IDF commanders have much to answer for. So do FIDF supporters for contributing funds for Israeli mass slaughter and destruction.

During 2012 Israeli Pillar of Cloud naked aggression in Gaza, FIDF said the following:

Its members “worked around the clock to ensure the IDF’s hardworking soldiers were taken care of.”

“Whether it was by sending packages of snacks and much-needed clothing or by sending a ‘Break from the Battlefield’ package including an LCD TV screen and board games, soldiers were able to uphold hygiene and were kept entertained in their few moments off from the battlefield and during the difficult task of keeping Israel safe under fire.”

Callous support for IDF premeditated mass slaughter and destruction demands the harshest condemnation – not funding to aid its naked aggression.

#BDS Hollywood Stars Raise Record $60m for israeli (apartheid state) Army

Hollywood Stars Raise Record $60m for Israeli Army

MEMO | November 6, 2018

Hollywood celebrities raised a record breaking $60 million for the Israeli military at the Friends of the Israel Defence Forces (FIDF) annual gala last week.

This year’s sold-out Western Region event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel welcomed more than 1,200 supporters of Israel, including prominent actors and singers like Ashton Kutcher, Pharrell Williams, Gerard Butler, and Katharine McPhee.

“We are thrilled that so many members of our community, including major Hollywood figures, are coming together to help us support the brave men and women of the [Israeli army].” said FIDF National Board Member and Chairman of the event, Haim Saban. “Standing behind these heroes is one of my greatest honours in my life.”

The event featured a programme that told the 70-year history of Israel through the accounts of soldiers and the military’s various campaigns against the Palestinians.

It also included several contributions from former and current Israeli soldiers.

Last year, FIDF raised $53.8 million at the same event; contributions have been increasing annually for the past three years. In 2015 the gala raised $31 million, half of this year’s total.

According to a press release by the organisation, the funds raised will be used to “provide much-needed and well-deserved services such as academic scholarships to combat veterans, financial assistance for soldiers in need … crucial aid for wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers, weeks of rest and recuperation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.”

Last month, the FIDF’s New York event raised $32 million for members of Israel’s occupation forces, attended by many of the city’s most prominent business people and philanthropists.

Among the biggest donors to the gala were Or Lachayal – an organisation which works to “strengthen the Jewish identity of the Israeli army” – which pledged $2.5 million and Nefesh B’Nefesh – which promotes Jewish immigration to Israel – which pledged $1.3 million.

FIDF has a long history of fundraising for Israel’s occupation forces; it operates 20 offices across the United States and Panama, according to its own website.

Support for the army from US organisations and the US government has been a cornerstone of Israel’s ability to continue its ongoing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In October, the largest ever US military aid package to Israel – worth $38 billion over a ten year period – entered into force.

USA, A Nation Transfixed In Horror By Toy Bombs While Destroying Lives With Real Ones

Media headlines have been dominated for the last two days by the news that pipe bombs are being sent to Democratic Party elites and their allies, a list of whom as of this writing consists of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, George Soros, Maxine Waters, Eric Holder, Robert De Niro, and the CNN office (addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan who actually works for NBC). As of this writing nobody has been killed or injured in any way by any of these many explosive devices, and there is as of this writing no publicly available evidence that they were designed to. As of this writing there is no evidence that the devices were intended to do anything other than what they have done: stir up fear and grab headlines.

And of course it is a good thing that nobody has been hurt by these devices. Obviously targeting anyone with packages containing explosive materials is terrible, even if those devices were not rigged with the intention of detonating and harming anyone, and it is a good thing that not a single one of them has done so. It is a good thing that none of America’s political elites were targeted by the sort of explosive device that America drops on people in other countries every single day. You know, the kind that actually explode.


It is good that Barack Obama was never sent anything resembling the 26,171 bombs that his administration dropped in the final year of his presidency, for example. It is good that neither the first US president to serve every minute of his administration under wartime, nor those who served as part of that administration like Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton, were targeted with the kinds of weapons which were deployed against impoverished people in other nations every single day for all eight years. People would have been killed and badly injured if anyone had been sent anything like those kinds of explosive devices, their bodies ripped to shreds like the countless civilians killed in the airstrikes which resulted from the Obama administration’s expansion of Bush’s so-called “war on terror”.

President Trump, whose administration has been dropping even more bombs than its predecessor after expanding the use of drone strikes and peeling back regulations on air strikes designed to protect civilians, was quick to condemn the headline-grabbing pipe bomb campaign which did not hurt anyone whatsoever.

“A major federal investigation is now underway,” said the president who continues to assist Saudi Arabia in murdering untold tens of thousands of civilians in Yemen. “The full weight of our government is being deployed to conduct this investigation and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice.”

Right now the only political debate happening over these bomb scares is who is responsible for them. I am being told by everyone to the left of Ted Cruz that I am required to believe that this was with 100 percent certainty a terrorist plot orchestrated by a Trump supporter due to the president’s hateful rhetoric against the people who’ve been targeted, and if I don’t subscribe to that belief it means I’m a Nazi. Meanwhile Trump supporters are telling me this is a deep state false flag designed to get Democrats elected in the midterms, because <sarcasm> Republicans are totally not in bed with the alliance of plutocrats and government agencies known as the deep state.</sarcasm>

But the fact of the matter is that next to nothing is known about this case; as of this writing there isn’t even a suspect yet. The proper thing to do when the mass media is telling us with a unified voice to be afraid of something is to remain agnostic and very, very skeptical of everything we are being told. There are any number of possible explanations for this spate of impotent pipe bombs, many of which don’t involve a partisan explanation at all. Without endorsing any particular one, there are for example a few sociopathic government agencies in the US which would love nothing more than to manufacture support for more intrusive domestic “counter-terrorism” powers.

But partisan explanations are possible as well; maybe there really is a Trump supporter out there who either (A) wanted to scare Democratic elites without hurting them and didn’t realize doing so would only generate sympathy and unify Democrats right before midterms, or (B) is really, really consistent in being really, really bad at making pipe bombs. Who knows. The important thing is to remain agnostic and skeptical.

Meanwhile, while we wait for copious amounts of facts and evidence before forming a solid opinion one way or the other, how about a little interest in the people who are being targeted with actual bombs that actually explode by the empire these Democratic elites serve? That, in my opinion, is one debate we should all always be having.

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