AMERICA WITHOUT THE SUGAR COATING: WISHING ILL WILL ON OUR WORLD

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As an American, it’s hard to admit things are not as they seem. Democracy, that ideal we were taught as children to worship, it turns out to be only a fancy idea. Like all the other noble, fancy, ideas in history, the illusion of true freedom makes these edges of our existence warm and safe. Even while we live in a deadly, cruel, and unpredictable world. American’s are supposed to be different. Or so we were told. But we are no different from citizens of any ancient empire.

I was reading this morning a story on the Wall Street Journal, which is supposed to be a financial newspaper. The title, especially given the situation in the world now, slapped me hard across the face. The title read:

“Pandemic Upends Putin’s Plans to Raise Russia’s Dwindling Birthrate”

“What are they wishing for here?” this is what I asked myself. For, you see, this is what editorial is, a mirror into the desired effect. As journalists or analysts were are trained to present cases and Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper trains its cause toward the destruction of the evil billionaire’s enemies. And the Australian born American media mogul hate Vladimir Putin and Russia. He wants the Russian people to die out, and his scribes spend their days writing a bible about how it can happen. Come on, it’s not so difficult to see.

You can’t read the whole story of wonderful infertility in Russia. Because the Wall Street Journal has a paywall. This fact not only ensures that Murdoch gets his twenty pieces of silver, but it also certifies that the audience of bankers, brokers, and politicians who consume WSJ content get what they want. An old testament to a world where Russia is a history chapter in the New World Order’s religion of greed and chaos.

But why? Doesn’t every American wonder how we’ve managed to go nowhere in the more than seven decades since World War 2? Black lives still don’t matter in the US? And neither do, red, yellow, brown, Slavic, Celtic, Christian, or Muslim ones anywhere. And least of all, do Russian children matter – but why? When did Russia attack America? Where are the dead and buried in America’s wars with the USSR or Russia? Are the memorial cemeteries secret? Has the liberal order that’s run things hidden from us the very premise on which we base our almost religious fear and hatred of a people?

No. There are no battalions of dead warriors from the Russo-American war. Because there never was such a war. I wonder why we can’t ask “why” on that one? Oh, I am sorry. It’s because Australian-American billionaires and golf playing American presidents protected us from the evil Putin and the war-hungry Ruskies! Yeah, I forgot.

I want to end this observation today with a couple more questions. First, and foremost, how can we Americans stand idly by and watch the foundations of our country destroyed? How can we fight amongst ourselves over problems that should no longer exist, while the purveyors of every evil we ever fought against, they are thriving in their ivory towers? Second, how did we get to be so mean and nasty? Or, were we always hoping Russians or Iranians or Chinese people would have more hardship? And Murdoch, the man referred to as “the man whose name is synonymous with unethical newspapers,” is but one of the privateers hell-bent on taking his share of Russia if Putin fails.

I won’t delve too deeply into Murdoch’s Russian ventures but ousted oligarch Sergei Pugachev and many others align with the News Corp dictator. The thrives Putin uncovered and banished from Russia are the henchmen who would butcher her people for their gold. Here’s where it started, back in 1998, when News Corp. made the move to influence Russia the way it influences the west. You may recognize another famous name from the UPI story, which begins:

“Media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has entered the Russian market, joining with Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky in a venture holding exclusive rights to sell advertising time on two major Russian television networks, ORT Channel 1 and TV-6.”

Murdoch, Ted Turner, and other media moguls had their sights on expanding their propaganda/advertising businesses into Russia back when. Eventually, Vladimir Putin’s straight game of preserving Russia for Russians ran contrary to their plans, they pulled out, and we see the revenge they take every time we pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV.

In America, and in much of the so-called “west”, a subculture of thought, academia, journalism, and business has taught anti-Russia narrative for generations now.

However, what concerns me is not deep think, Cold War policy still going on behind the scenes in Washington and Moscow. What bothers me is how we Americans allow such unfair and improper relations to go on. Russia was never a real enemy, only a contrived perceptual opponent made so by our imperialist drive for control. The United States, more than any other country in the world, has become rich and powerful at the expense of the world, not alongside the world. This is an incontrovertible truth. But a truth any “Trumpster” would fight to the death to hide. We create so much harm and destroy so much goodwill believing in these lies. We condone things like races of people just “dying out” – and THIS is what those headlines mean.

This is not the country I went into the armed forces to defend. This is not the country may parents, grandparents, and ancestors pledge allegiance to their entire lives. Americans are not supposed to be unfair, cruel, bad sports, and ruthless. We’re just not supposed to be.


By Phil Butler
Source: New Eastern Outlook

النسخة الأميركيّة من بو عزيزي ونهاية التاريخ

سعاده مصطفى أرشيد

ينظر كثيرٌ من البشر عبر العالم، بمن فيهم نحن، للنظام الأميركي على انه النظام الأمثل والأكثر كفاءة ومقدرة على الإنتاج والإبداع وعلى رعاية المواطن صحياً واجتماعياً واقتصادياً، وهذه الرعاية لا تشمل المواطن الأميركي داخل بلادة فحسب، وإنما تمتدّ لترعاه أينما كان في العالم الفسيح، النموذج الأميركي لطالما بدا لامعاً وجاذباً، فهو مجتمع الفرص الفرص للأذكياء وأصحاب الحظ السعيد، مجتمع الحرية والمساواة والمواطنة. لقد كان لهذه الرؤية منظروها من أكاديميين وفلاسفة ورجال أعمال وسياسة ونجوم سينما، ولعلّ مَن يستحق أن يذكر من بين هؤلاء اليوم هو الفيلسوف الأميركي ذو الأصل الياباني فرنسيس فوكوياما الذي قدّم واحدة من أشهر وأقوى التعبيرات عن هذه الرؤيا من خلال نظريته التي شغلت أوساط الساسة والمثقفين في نهاية الألفية الراحلة والتي أسماها نهاية التاريخ.

رأى فوكوياما أنّ أنظمة الحكم عبر التاريخ الواضح والجلي قد أثبتت فشلها وتهافتها، من الأنظمة البدائية الرعوية المغرقة بالقدم وشيوخ الجماعات القبليّة مروراً بالملكيات الوراثية المطلقة المستبدّة أو الدستورية، إلى الأنظمة التي اعتمدت المشروعيّة الدينية الإلهية، وكذلك الأنظمة القوميّة والاشتراكيّة والشيوعيّة على أنواعها، فيما يرى أن النظام الراسخ والعصي على الزلل والفشل، إنْ هو إلا نظام الديمقراطية الليبرالية وفق النموذج الأميركي، فالديمقراطية الليبرالية تمثل لديه العقيدة (الايدولوجيا) الوحيدة الصالحة والعادلة والتي لا يمكن تجاوزها باعتبارها قد حققت حاجات الإنسان الفرد والمجتمع على حد سواء، لقد اعتبرها النظام الأكمل والذي لم ولن يأتي المستقبل بما هو خير منه، هذه القطعيّة المطلقة والتي تتسم بالمبالغة الشديدة لا تنسجم مع جميع نظريات التاريخ التي ترى أن للتاريخ حركة دائبة ودائمة لا تتوقف.

أعادني حادث مصرع جورج فلويد لأعود بذاكرتي إلى فوكوياما ونظريّته، ومع أن عمليات القتل والتنكيل بالسود وأبناء الأقليّات العرقيّة أمر يكاد أن يكون يومياً ودائم الحدوث، إلا أن عناصر ومستجدات غير محسوبة قد دخلت على خطوط مصرع جورج فلويد وأدّت إلى التداعيات المتدحرجة كما حصل في حادثة انتحار المواطن التونسي بوعزيزي والتي كانت عود الثقاب الذي أشعل الشارع التونسيّ المحتقن بسبب سياسات وفساد الرئيس الأسبق زين العابدين بن علي، هذه الأحداث ما لبثت أن انتشرت بسرعة إذ كان قد أعدّ لها على مدى سنوات بصمت، لتطبيق نظرية الفوضى الخلاقة التي أطلق عليها تعسفاً اسم الربيع العربي، وكما قال المثل الدارج إن (طابخ السم لا بدّ له من تناوله)، كان لا بدّ للغرب أن يضرس بحوامضه ومراراته، في أوروبا كانت البداية على شكل موجات من اللاجئين والهاربين من جحيم تلك الفوضى، وفي الولايات المتحدة التي ظنت أن المحيط الأطلسي سوف يقيها شرّ زوارق المهاجرين، جاء حادث مصرع جورج فلويد ليمثل عود ثقابها الذي أشعل موجة الاحتجاجات العابرة لكامل الولايات، وهو الأمر الذي لم يكن بحسبان مراكز دراساتها واستطلاعاتها ومجسّاتها الاستخباريّة أن تتوقعه وبهذا الحجم، وبهذا المقدار من العنف الذي يتهدّد النظام (النموذج) الأميركي برمّته لا الحزب الجمهوري والرئيس دونالد ترامب فقط، هكذا أصبح النظام النموذج والأكثر تفوقاً ومنعة على مستوى العالم عسكرياً واقتصادياً عاجزاً عن التعامل مع فوضى داخلية ستقوده حكماً إلى أن لا يبقى على حاله، وقد يكون من المبكر الحديث بالأماني عن أفول هذه الشمس الأميركيّة المحرقة التي لطالما اكتوينا بنارها ومعنا العالم أجمع، فإن ذلك يبقى أمنية عزيزة على قلوب شعوب وأمم كثيرة.

مصرع جورج فلويد وما تلاه من أحداث له جذوره التاريخية التي تعود إلى الأيام الأولى لاكتشاف العالم الجديد والطريقة التي تعامل بها المستكشف الأوروبي الأبيض مع أهل البلاد الأصليين، ولاحقاً مع مَن تمّ استجلابهم مصفّدين بسلاسل الحديد من أفريقيا للعمل في مزارع القطن التي تزود مصانع مانشستر الإنجليزية بالقطن الخام، فمع كل مظاهر الديمقراطية ونظريات المساواة والمواطنة وأدبيات الحرب الأهلية وتحرير الرقيق، فإن التفرقة العنصرية تجاه ما هو غير أبيض بقيت قائمة ومتجذّرة في أعماق النفس الأميركية البيضاء، وهي إذ تنعكس داخلياً باتجاه معاداة السود والأقليات، فإنها تنعكس خارجياً تجاه العالم بأسره (ربما مع بعض الاستثناءات تجاه أوروبا الغربية)، كما أن عمليات القتل والتنكيل بأبناء العرق الأسود من قبل الشرطة تحدث بشكل دائم، ولكنها تحدث أيضاً على يد العنصريين وعصابات متطرفة مثل كولوكس كلان والتي وإن تراجعت حيناً فإنها كامنة لتنقض حيناً آخر.

اعتقدت المؤسسة الأميركية في العقد الماضي أنها تستطيع تجاوز الاحتقان الشعبي أو تأجيله أو على الأقل التخفيف من حدته بوجود رئيس أسود في البيت الأبيض، ولعل رئاسة اوباما استطاعت بالفعل تأجيل ذلك الانفجار، ولكنها لم تكن قادرة على أن تحول دونه خاصة وقد ترافق ذلك مع كساد اقتصادي وتراجع في أسعار النفط، وانعدام الرؤية الجمعية الأميركية التي تستطيع معالجة مشاكل البطالة وتسريح العمال والموظفين وتراجع خدمات الرعاية الصحية والمجتمعية وافتقاد القدرة على تلبية حاجات الطبقات الفقيرة والمهمّشة، ثم جاءت جائحة كورونا لتزيد من الأزمة الاقتصاديّة تدهوراً، وانتشر الوباء وتصاعدت أرقام المصابين والموتى، فيما الرئيس الأميركي ينحو باللائمة على الصين، ولم تستطع المؤسسات والمراكز الطبية والصيدلانية أن تجد دواء أو لقاحاً للوباء، مع ذلك يرفع الرئيس ترامب من سقف أزمته بقرع طبول الحرب على الصين وإيران وفنزويلا وسيف العقوبات القصوى (قانون قيصر) على دمشق وما إلى ذلك من هوس سياسي على غير هذه الدول بمقبلات الأيام.

على أحد ما أن يخبر فرنسيس فوكوياما أنّ مصرع جورج فلويد، المواطن الأميركي الفقير والمهمش والمجهول، قد أثبت تهافت نظريته، فالتاريخ لم ينتهِ بعد، ولن ينتهي، وأن النظام الأمثل والأكمل الذي حدث عنه قد أخذ يتهاوى على وقع دماء الضحية، وسوف تحدث انعكاسات خطيرة وربما سريعة على الدول التي تستظل بتلك الحماية، ومنها دول عربية لذلك علينا نحن أن نتذكر أن في عالمنا العربي أنظمة من هذا النوع يحكمها ملوك وأمراء ورؤساء هم خارج التاريخ وخارج الجغرافيا، فضائياتهم التي تنقل الأخبار وهي في الحقيقة ليست إلا ترجمة أخبار من فوكس نيوز( FOX NEO ) إذ تصور للمشاهدين أن ما يجري في أميركا وكأنها معركة أولئك الحكام لا معركة النظام الأميركي، وهم لا يدركون متى يأتي الدور عليهم ويطيح بعروشهم وتيجانهم على أيدي شعوبهم المقهورة.

*سياسي فلسطيني مقيم في فلسطين المحتلة.

عنصريّة… هزائم… فشل… تنتج «الربيع الأميركيّ» ثم…؟

العميد د. أمين محمد حطيط

منذ أن انتصرت أميركا في الحرب العالمية الثانية، سارعت إلى فرض شبه وصاية واحتلال واقعي على أوروبا وسعت إلى الهيمنة على كلّ المعمورة ونصّبت نفسها قائدة للعالم، معتقدة أنّ «الله اختارها لتقوم بهذه الوظيفة» من أجل «نشر الحرية والديمقراطية» بين الدول والشعوب، ورفعت شعار «حقوق الإنسان» إلى الحدّ الذي أجازت لنفسها ان تتدخل وتعاقب كلّ من تتهمه بأنه خرق هذه المبادئ وأهدر سلامة أو كرامة مواطنيه. متناسية أنها دولة قامت في الأصل على القتل والاغتصاب والإبادة والتهجير…

ومن المفيد التذكير هنا بأنّ ما يُطلق عليه اليوم اسم الولايات المتحدة الأميركية هي نتاج عمليات متلاحقة بدأت بعد اكتشاف الأرض بهجرة الأوروبيين البيض إليها، وانتهت بإقامة الدولة الحالية بعد الإبادة التي تعرّض لها سكان البلاد الأصليون (أسموهم الهنود الحمر ظناً منهم بأنّ الأرض المكتشفة هي الهند ذات السكان ذوي البشرة التي تميل إلى الحمرة) إبادة رافقها نقل أو استقدام أفارقة من ذوي البشرة السمراء أو السوداء ليكونوا عمالاً وخدماً لهم في مزارعهم وحقولهم. وهكذا نشأت الشخصية الأميركية وتجذّرت فيها النزعة العنصرية التي تجعل من الأبيض سيداً والأسود عبداً والأحمر شخصاً لا يستحق الحياة. وانّ أهمّ وأخطر ما في الشخصية الأميركية نزعتان داخلية قائمة على العنصرية والتمييز بين المواطنين، وفوقية تسلطية قائمة على النزعة الاستعمارية والهيمنة على الشعوب والدول الأجنبية. نزعتان تحكمتا بسلوك أميركا منذ نشأتها ولا زالتا تتحكمان بسياستها وسلوكها داخلياً وخارجياً.

بيد أنّ سياسة التمييز العنصري في الداخل كانت تواجه بين الحقبة والحقبة باحتجاجات وأعمال رفض تصل إلى حدود الثورة وتتوصّل في بعض الأحيان إلى انتزاع قدر من الحقوق لغير البيض، لكنها لم تصل حتى اليوم إلى انتزاع الحق بالمساواة بين المواطنين وبقي التمييز العنصري قائماً رغم تشدّق حكومة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية بحقوق الإنسان وعلى سبيل المثال نجد انّ السود الذين يصل عددهم اليوم في أميركا إلى 1/8 من السكان ليس لهم في الوظائف العامة أكثر من 1/20 وليس لهم إلا عضوين اثنين من 100 عضو في مجلس الشيوخ و10% من النواب. أما الأخطر فليس ما يظهر في الوظائف إنما ما يكمن في نفوس البيض ضدّ السود من نظرة فوقية وازدراء واتهام بالكسل والبلاهة ما يجعل العلاقة بين الطرفين غير ودية وغير سليمة في اكثر الأحيان، وأكثر ما تجلى مؤخراً نموذج عن هذا الأمر ما جاء على لسان ترامب عندما كال الاتهامات والتشنيع ضدّ أوباما وسلوكه وهو سلفه في رئاسة الدولة وهي اتهامات تنضح منها العنصرية بأبشع صورها. أما المثل الأخير الأبشع الراهن للعنصرية الأميركية فقد ظهر في الوحشية التي أقدم فيها شرطي أبيض على خنق مواطن أسود حتى الموت في مشهد شديد الإيلام مثير للأسى والحزن المصحوب بالغضب والاستنكار رفضاً لهذه الوحشية.

وفي مفعول تراكمي أدّت جريمة الشرطي الأبيض إلى إطلاق موجة من الاحتجاجات الشعبية ضدّ التمييز العنصري وضدّ أداء السلطات المحلية والمركزية التي كان فيروس كورونا قد فضح عجزها وتقصيرها وأظهر وهن النظام الصحي المعتمد في أميركا فضلاً عن الخفة والسطحية التي عالج بها المسؤولون بدءاً من ترامب، الوباء على صعيد أميركا كلها ما أدّى إلى إصابة ما يكاد يلامس المليوني شخص من أصل 6 ملايين مصاب في كلّ العالم ووفاة أكثر من 100 ألف من أصل 370 في كلّ العالم. وبات السؤال المطروح الآن هل يتحوّل جورج فلويد (المواطن من أصل أفريقي الذي خنقه الشرطي الأبيض) إلى بوعزيزي أميركا وتتحوّل مدينة مينيابوليس الأميركية إلى مهد للربيع الأميركي كما كانت مدينة سيدي بوزيد التونسية مهداً لما أسمي ربيعاً عربياً وظهر أنه الحريق العربي؟ سؤال جدير بالطرح والاهتمام خاصة إذا عرجنا على أكثر من ملف وموضوع تتخبّط فيه أميركا وتحصد منه نتائج سلبية.

بالعودة إلى واقع الحال الأميركي دولياً فإننا نجد أنّ أميركا تعاني اليوم من فشل وإخفاق وهزائم في الخارج لا تحجبها المكابرة ولا يمكن لإعلام او لحرب نفسيّة إخفاءها، وتعاني من صعوبات في الداخل لا يمكن لأحد ان يتجاوزها ولا يمكن لمليارات الدولارات التي سلبتها من الخليج ان تحجبها، فإذا جمع حصاد الخارج السيّئ إلى أوضاع الداخل السلبية كان من المنطقي ان يطرح السؤال الملحّ «أميركا إلى أين؟» وكيف سيكون وضعها كدولة متحدة وكيف سيكون موقعها في العالم؟ لأنه من الطبيعي ان يفكر المراقب بأنّ الهزائم والاضطرابات لا بدّ أن تلقي بظلها الثقيل على الكيان ودوره لهذا يبرّر طرح السؤال حول مصير أميركا الذي بات تحت علامة استفهام؟

قبل الإجابة نعود للتوقف عند الهزائم الأميركية في الخارج والتي تسبّبت في تآكل الهيبة الأميركية وتراجع قوة الردع الأميركي نتيجة فشل أميركا في أكثر من ملف في طليعتها عدوانها على دول وشعوب الشرق الأوسط خاصة العراق وسورية واليمن، وعجزها رغم الحروب المتعددة الأنواع التي شنّتها وتشنّها من عسكرية إلى إرهابية إلى نفسية إلى اقتصادية وسياسية، رغم كلّ ذلك لم تستطع إسقاط محور المقاومة الذي وجه لها مؤخراً صفعة قاسية في قاعدة «عين الأسد»، صفعة أنزلتها صواريخ إيران الباليستية، وركلة مؤلمة في فنزويلا حملتها ناقلات النفط الإيرانية. صفعة وركلة كانت قد سبقتهما سلسلة من الهزائم الميدانية بدءاً من حرب 2006 في لبنان وصولاً إلى سورية واليمن ومروراً بالعراق بحيث باتت أميركا تضع في رأس أولوياتها اليوم البحث عن انسحاب آمن من المنطقة يحفظ ماء الوجه.

أما على الجبهة مع الصين فإنّ أميركا تحصد مزيداً من الإخفاق مع كلّ موقف تطلقه مهدّدة الصين بشيء ما، وبات من المسلّم به انّ الصين تفعل وتتقدّم وانّ أميركا تصرخ وتتراجع، ولن يكون المستقبل إلا حاملاً أخباراً أشدّ سوءاً لأميركا مما مضى على الصعيد الاقتصادي، وسيكون أمرّ وأدهى إذا فكرت أميركا بالمواجهة العسكرية حيث يؤكد الخبراء الأميركيون انّ هزيمة استراتيجية عظيمة تنتظر أميركا إذا حاربت الصين عسكرياً.

وعلى صعيد العلاقات مع روسيا فقد بات من المتوافق عليه انّ كلّ الحصار والتهميش الذي فرضته أميركا على روسيا ذهب أدراج الرياح مع تقدّم الأخيرة من الباب السوري لتحتلّ موقعاً متقدّماً على الساحة الدولية مكّنها من دون خوف أن تمارس حق الفيتو في مجلس الأمن من دون خشية من أميركا، كما مكّنها من تقديم المساعدة العسكرية للحكومة السورية لإفشال العدوان الإرهابي عليها المدعوم أميركياً.

يبقى أن نذكر بحال العزلة الدولية التي أوقعت أميركا – ترامب نفسها فيها بخروجها من أكثر اتفاق أو معاهدة دولية وتنكرها لقرارات مجلس الأمن وتصرفها خلافاً لقواعد القانون الدولي العام.

أما في الداخل فإنّ أهمّ واخطر ما تواجهه أميركا الآن هو تلك الاضطرابات التي نرى انّ إطلاق اسم «الربيع الأميركي» عليها أسوة بالتسمية الأميركية لما حصل في الشرق الأوسط وأسمي بـ «الربيع العربي» هي تسمية معقولة. هذه الاضطرابات والاحتجاجات التي تكاد تلامس الثورة والتي يرافقها النهب والإحراق والسرقة والقتل والتي تمدّدت الآن خارج مينيابولس (موقع الجريمة ومهد الاضطرابات) لتصل إلى 19 ولاية ولا زالت قيد التوسّع إلى درجة التخوّف من شمولها كلّ الولايات الأميركية الـ 50، ما شكل خطراً جدياً باتت الحكومة الأميركية تخشاه فعلياً جعلها تلجأ إلى فرض إعلان التعبئة في بعض الولايات والاستعانة بالحرس الوطني والجيش في ولايات أخرى، وباتت كلها تشكّل نذر شؤم على أميركا لا يُعرف إلى أين ستودي بالنظام الأميركي الذي يعاني كثيراً أمام تراجع الاقتصاد وتفشي البطالة وإفلاس الشركات واشتداد الغضب الشعبي دون أن ننسى وجود نزعات انفصالية لدى بعض الولايات.

إنّ تراكم هزائم الخارج خاصة في وجه محور المقاومة والصين وروسيا كما تقدّم، مع التخبّط والفشل في الداخل والمعبّر عنه بالفشل في معالجة أزمة كورونا وتفشي البطالة إلى حدّ بات فيه 40 مليون أميركي عاطل عن العمل وإفلاس شركات وإقفال أخرى بما ينذر بوضع اقتصادي صعب يفاقم العثرات الاجتماعية، ثم انفجار الغضب الشعبي إلى حدّ الوصول إلى البيت الأبيض واجتياز الحاجز الأمني الأول أمامه ما أقلق ترامب ودفعه إلى الاختباء في طوابق تحت الأرض وغموض الرؤية في معالجة الأحداث… كلها مسائل تبرّر السؤال هل كيان الولايات المتحدة الأميركية في خطر؟ وهل وحدتها مهدّدة؟ وهل سيتأثر موقعها دولياً بكلّ هذه الأحداث؟

أسئلة جدية لا بدّ من طرحها في ظلّ ما نسمع ونقرأ ونراقب؟ ويُضاف السؤال الآخر هل ستشرب أميركا من كأس ربيعي أميركي خاص بها كما سقت شعوب الشرق الأوسط مما أسمته ربيعاً وكان حريقاً التهم الأخضر واليابس؟ نعتقد ذلك… وعلى أيّ حال انّ أميركا بعد الهزائم الخارجية والانفجارات والعثرات الداخلية لن تكون هي أميركا التي تسيطر على العالم، هذا إذا بقيت موحّدة، وهو أمر نشكّ به.

*أستاذ جامعي – خبير استراتيجي.

ماذا تقول الأحداث الأميركيّة؟ وماذا عن المقارنات اللبنانيّة؟

ناصر قنديل

تدخل الأحداث التي تتفجّر عنفاً في الشوارع الأميركيّة وتشمل عدداً كبيراً من المدن والولايات طريق التعاظم، لأسبوع إضافي، وبمعزل عن حماسة الترحيب بهذه الأحداث أو الدعوات لعدم الاحتفال بها، فهي لا تبدو مجرد احتجاج عابر على مقتل الرجل الأسود على أيدي رجال الشرطة، بمقدار ما شكل الحادث الصادم بطريقته وظروفه، عنصر التفجير لمخزون غضب كان ينتظر فرصة التحوّل إلى شريك في المشهد الأميركي. ومخزون الغضب يتجمّع مع الخطاب العنصريّ للرئيس دونالد ترامب، وزادته تعاظماً بأضعاف مضاعفة الأزمات الاجتماعية الناجمة عن تداعيات وباء كورونا، وتشرد ملايين العاطلين عن العمل من وظائفهم، وانضمامهم إلى طالبي الإعانات، في ظل تراكم مجموعة أحداث سياسية دولية أصابت الهيبة الأميركية، خصوصاً في الجوار المباشر، الذي تمثله فنزويلا، بعدما قدّمها ترامب كثمرة ناضجة للقطاف العنصري لنظامه، وتحوّلت بعد وصول ناقلات النفط الإيرانيّة، إلى عنوان الفشل الأميركي، فيما لا تبدو الانتخابات الفرصة التي كان ينتظرها الشارع الغاضب على ترامب وإدارته لتغيير ديمقراطي، في ظل الصورة الباهتة التي يقدّمها الحزب الديمقراطي، والمشاكل التي تحيط بأهليّة مرشحه جو بايدن لمواصلة السابق الانتخابي، مع ظهور بوادر للتلاعب بالعملية الانتخابية برمّتها، وصولاً لفرضيات التأجيل حتى إشعار آخر.

الغضب وانعدام الأمل هما طريق النزول إلى الشارع، وهما عنصران متوافران بقوة في شارع أميركي ليس محصوراً بأصحاب البشرة السوداء. فضحايا العنصرية التي يضخها خطاب ترامب تتخطاهم لتطال ذوي الأصول اللاتينيّة، والمسلمين، والنساء، والأزمة الاقتصادية الاجتماعيّة تمسّ شرائح كانت تحسب حتى الأمس على الطبقة الوسطى من البيض المتنورين، وتحرك مجموعات الوسط الليبرالي واليساري الذين أظهرت حملة المرشح بيرني ساندرز أنهم شريحة وازنة في معظم الولايات الأميركية، وهذا الشارع المتنوع يبدو أنه ينضم تدريجاً للحركة الاحتجاجية التي تتسع بصورة لافتة على مستوى تنوّع مكوّناتها، وتعدد ولاياتها، لتصير أقرب نحو تشكيل شارع وطني أميركي يواجه سلطة حكم، متوحشة، اقتصادياً واجتماعياً وسياسياً وإعلامياً، يقودها وحش مالي عنصري هو دونالد ترامب، من دون وجود أفق راهن لتسوية في منتصف الطريق، في ظل أزمة اقتصادية مرشحة للمزيد من التفاقم، وشح متزايد في الموارد، مع تراجع عام تعانيه الشخصية الأميركية في العالم، في ظل فقدان السيطرة على الملفات السياسية الخارجية كحاكم منفرد للعالم، من جهة، وتراجع كبير في الصورة العلمية والأخلاقية التي حرص الأميركيون دائماً على إظهار تفوّق نموذجهم في تمثيلها. وكان ما شهدته الولايات الأميركية وخصوصاً نيويورك، في مواجهة وباء كورونا، التعبير الأقوى عن هذا السقوط العلمي والأخلاقي.

المخاض الأميركي يبدو مفتوحاً، بلا أفق واضح لخاتمة قريبة، والحديث هنا ليس عن ثورة ولا عن تغيير نظام بالتأكيد، هو الغضب الشعبي اليائس من قدرة النظام على احتواء الأزمات ضمن مؤسسات الديمقراطية. وهذا يجب أن يدركه الذين يرغبون بإجراء المقارنات مع ما شهده لبنان، ويحبّون بتسميته ثورة، فما يجري في أميركا يشبه ما جرى في لبنان، وليس تغيير النظام في كليهما أفقاً ممكناً، ولا صفة الثورة تصحّ فيه، لأنها بالضبط بلا قيادة وبلا برنامج، وما يجري في أميركا يقول للبنانيين الذين يتساءلون عن معنى احتفال الخصوم السياسيين للإدارة الأميركية بما يجري، بينما لم يفعلوا ذلك تجاه ما جرى في لبنان، الجواب بسيط، هو أنهم لا يرغبون لبلدهم ما يرغبونه لعدوهم، من فوضى ومخاطر أمنية، وضياع للأفق السياسي؛ أما الذين يقولون لماذا لا يطعن أحد بأهلية ما يجري في أميركا من الذين طعنوا بأهلية ما جرى في لبنان؟ فالجواب ببساطة هو أن “لا وجود لسفارة أميركية في أميركا”.

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France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists?

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists?

May 15, 2020

By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog

(Hey hey, my new book is out today! Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism. Buy a copy for yourself and 50 of your closest friends and Iranophobic/Islamophobic/socialism-phobic enemies.)

On May 14 France’s nurses held a protest march in Paris despite ongoing fears about coronavirus — so are they no longer rightly-guided heroes but far-right neo-fascists now?

For several months we’ve been banging pots in gratitude and watching corporations praise them in TV ads but – there they are: gathering in public, not really keeping 2 meters between each other, demanding economic policy changes, defying the advice of their well-paid bosses and generally being very, very bad children who should go straight to bed after dinner.

France’s medical staff won’t be infantilised and have no time for jokes – they are tired of enduring economic hardship and poor working conditions.

Those with overprotective parents claimed the Great Lockdown was to save just one life, but the most common justification among mature adults was to avoid overwhelming medical systems – in France they failed to heed years of public protests saying exactly that.

Excepting the Yellow Vests, nobody in France has protested more in the past couple years than medical staff – austerity has gutted a medical system which in 2000 was ranked number one in the world. I got tired of covering them. My Sputnik Français colleagues hid the tedium of our job as far as the second paragraph: “… protested in order to denounce a lack of resources. It’s a demand which is far from new.” But, you know, people gotta listen to the protesters, so work has us back on the streets again….

Had people listened earlier, France would have far fewer dead grandparents today.

In the US people were explicitly told by Western journalists to not listen to the first anti-Great Lockdown protests, in Michigan. I immediately supported the protesters (in We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state?) because, you know – we’re trying to have a democracy here. However, the fake-leftist media looked on them with loathing and terror – calling them irresponsible, science-stupid, selfish, death-crazed, martyrdom-seeking, dangerous curmudgeons and neighbors who would not loan you a cup of sugar.

So the same applies to these French nurses, right?

You would accuse them of being nonchalant about corona? (Or is their crime that they aren’t single-mindedly obsessed with corona enough?)

We can’t really say, because there is no mention of the protesting nurses in Western media, or even in French state foreign-language media. From a mixed economy model to these nurses – more of “the French bad example”.

The widespread insulting of Michiganders refused to take into account their economic situation and the fact that their type of state put them in such a vulnerable position. A stunning 25% of their workers had just become jobless, so why wouldn’t they be demonstrating to get the government’s attention? On top of that their governor imposed an extremely harsh stay-at-home order, as though this was something routine for Michiganders instead of being a (hysterical, economically-suicidal overreaction) shocking, unprecedented first which is undoubtedly more restrictive on movement than being sentenced to house arrest for having committed a serious crime.

Do I think France’s nurses are heroes? Not really – I never asked them to do my job and stand at the front lines during the Yellow Vest protests and do live interviews, giving a big target for the rubber bullets. But, then again, my local garbagemen never asked me to heroically hoist refuse cans for decades even though it’s hardly fun and statistically likely to lead to an early death. And no housewife ever asked me to take care of the kids for even one month, and that seems harder than being a garbageman. Am I a curmudgeon or conceited? No, when one accepts socialism one can’t help but view all workers are equal (capitalists never enjoy this feeling). We all deserve our 15 minutes of fame, I suppose, but caring about fame is decidedly not heroism.

But the kiddies do need heroes, so should the West start cheering: “Nurses are our heroes – except French nurses!”

There is a very worrying outcome of the recent hero worship of medical practitioners: more doctors are now entering politics. The problem with this is simple: you can’t tell a doctor anything – they are the world’s worst-know-it-alls/sufferers from God complexes. They march into a room, quite late, hand down a diagnosis with absolute certainty, which then turns out to be wrong and kills you later (CNBC: The third-leading cause of death in US most doctors don’t want you to know about), but not before you are debt-yoked to a hugely inflated bill, and then doctors imperiously march into the next room and do the same thing all over again. This is NOT a mentality conducive to the consensus-building demanded by democracy.

Well, that’s in socialist-inspired democracy. In liberal democracy technocrats rule with executive decrees, so look for more doctors in office – they can afford to campaign, after all. Thus, “the recent hero worship of medical practitioners” isn’t going to lead to sensible, humble, hard-working nurses to get into office in the West – liberal democracy systematically puts the rich into office.

‘Liberty or boogaloo’? God bless America!

The coronavirus has really laid bare how dictatorial and anti-democratic their executive-dominated system really is, no? What checks and balances, much less public opinion reflected in public policy?

Across the country governors (the presidents of states) have imposed lockdowns without a single legislative vote of approval (at least that I can find). Michigan’s governor, a front-runner to be Biden’s vice-president, seems disturbingly rankled by the existence of other elected officials: Gov. Whitmer blasts Michigan Legislature for meeting during stay-at-home order, says she will veto power-limiting bills. Historically, this trend towards executive decree “began” with Dubya Bush and the Patriot Act, but that’s an inaccurate and sentimental reading of Western liberal democratic history. However, it clearly has become de rigeur across the West, and especially in Hollande/Macron France.

Wisconsin has become the first state, finally, whose judicial branch finally got involved and struck down their governor’s unilateral decree. (What’s amazing is how the Mainstream Media coverage of this was nothing but political sniping – Republicans undermining Democrats – from the very lede sentence.)

If there really are checks and balances in Western liberal democracy they are non-existent or move too slow. The reality is that judges in general are overwhelmingly hyper-conservative and in a non-revolutionary nation do nothing but defend the status quo – why has no judge interceded to prevent the weekly mauling of the Yellow Vests, for example?

(The Vesters will be out there this Saturday, of course, but we already knew what naughty children they are. I wonder if the media will cover it? If they do I doubt they will cover them two weeks in a row.)

It was historically predictable that Michigan and Wisconsin are the first to demand their rights – the Midwest has historically been the hotbed of American “progressivism” (but they still can’t say socialist over there). The state of Missouri was the first to sue China which, LOL, is misguided but at least they are sticking up for residents of the “Show-Me State”. Texas is semi-Midwestern, and non-Americans would expect them to be the first to resist for their sovereign rights, but Texans mostly just talk a lot – like Dubya Bush: all (cowboy) hat and no cattle.

By far the most delightful, “only in America” news item actually comes from the incredibly unfunky state of New Hampshire – “armed demonstrators passed out ‘Liberty or Boogaloo’ fliers at a statehouse protest”. You must be a fake-leftist if you can’t support that, LOL!

I know that when my liberty feels too infringed I immediately break out my best boogaloo dance – it works surprisingly well. I have a “Where’s My Bailout?” t-shirt from 2008 – I need a “Liberty or Boogaloo” t-shirt to sartorially commemorate the Great Lockdown. I really have to question the alleged superiority of the American entrepreneur when I cannot yet find such a t-shirt for sale?

Western journalists have thrown away skepticism during corona, except towards protesters

French nurses go against the script and thus they get ignored, but most often anti-corona hysteria protesters just get discredited.

The reality back in April was that the Michigan gun-wavers were just a small fringe group – the overwhelming majority of protesters stayed in their car as it was primarily an “auto protest”. The Mainstream Media focused on a tiny portion of overall demonstrators in order to totally discredit the anti-establishment message.

In today’s New York Times lead economics columnist, Paul Krugman (who surely cannot boogaloo his way out of a wet paper bag) also discredits the protesters, opposes ending the Great Lockdown (“never mind what the experts say”, he condescendingly pouts) and even fails to bring up a single word about the obvious economic justification for American discontent in his article Covid-19 Reality has a liberal bias:

Indeed, the antilockdown demonstrations of recent weeks appear to have been organized in part by the same people and groups that have spent decades denying climate change.

Virus trutherism is also reminiscent of the various kinds of trutherism that ran rampant during the Obama years. Inflation truthers insisted that the government was hiding the truth about rampant inflation; unemployment truthers, including a guy named Donald Trump, insisted that the steadily improving job numbers were fake.

In my last article (which elicited no happy dancing) Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona, I noted how Western inflation gauges exclude food, energy, housing, medical care and education costs – call me a “conspiracy theorist” for saying some hiding is going on, Paul. US unemployment data counts working just one hour per week as being employed, which allows part-time work and underemployment to pad their (pre-Great Lockdown ) alleged “full employment” rate – Paul must know this, but reporting that doesn’t keep in you in New York Times clover.

The Guardian’s anti-Michigander piece (yes, I enjoy writing the word “Michigander”) I linked to from April 17 used this same “discredit-via-the-organiser” tactic – as if participants were sheep and not humans with free will – in the 5th paragraph of their story.

This is the same tactic we saw against the Yellow Vests. In the 21st century West being lower class and making economic demands automatically makes one a far-right, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, deplorable neo-fascist. Unfortunately, political understanding will progress not one millimeter with such an unfactual position, yet there is huge popular Western support for such a political interpretation.

People also think I eccentrically enjoy writing the term “fake-leftist”, but it’s really quite necessary: in the US the term “leftist” is refused by Democrats as too radical, so they prefer what Krugman used in his headline – “liberals”. US liberals have only the scantest leftist economic component to their ideology – when you press them to be honest they are resolutely anti-socialist and inevitably support not just neo-imperialism but even many aspects of far-right neoliberalism. Yes, they do not openly claim to be “leftist”, but they certainly falsely and opportunistically present themselves that way. This is why “fake-leftist” can and should be used synonymously with “liberal”.

Liberals, fake-leftists and corona hysterics have two things in common: they are now hissing and booing at the French nurses, and they cannot boogaloo.

**********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,

2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books Ill Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialisms Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

SOUTHFRONT’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL IS BANNED

South Front

SouthFront's YouTube Channel Is Banned

On April 30, we reported that Facebook permanently banned SouthFront’s public page with about 100,000 followers. (LINK)

Now, the situation appears to be even worse.

On May 1 (in the  evening by CET), YouTube terminated SouthFront’s channels with a combined sum of approximately 170,000 subscribers. The main YouTube channel in English had over 152,000 subscribers, 1,900 uploaded videos and about 60,000,000 views.

SouthFront's YouTube Channel Is Banned

This happened despite the fact that our YouTube channels had zero active strikes. As you know we cover conflicts in the Middle East. This is a sensitive topic. Therefore, we strictly follow YouTube’s Community Guidelines and comply with the Terms of Service.

SouthFront’s YouTube channels were terminated without any warning. All that we got was a single automated email regarding the termination of our inactive channel in Farsi “SouthFront Farsi” that included several translations of our war reports. However, even this email provides no details regarding the decision and just claims that “SouthFront Farsi” violated YouTube’s Terms of Service without any elaboration.

SouthFront's YouTube Channel Is Banned

For over 5 years of our work, SouthFront repeatedly faced attempts to censor our coverage, analysis and videos. However, the current blatant and illegal ban of our activity is an unprecedented case. (LINKLINKLINK)

The only reasonable explanation, we may imagine, is that US authorities ordered YouTube and Facebook to cleanse the media sphere of sources of objective coverage and analysis on the Middle East region as a part of the ongoing preparations for a war with Iran. (LINK)

We think that the current situation deserves attention of the international public, including the journalistic community beyond individual ambitions of separate media organizations and journalists.

WE CRITICALLY NEED YOUR INFORMATIONAL ASSISTANCE

Please, help to share this message with the global audience. Also, please, inform your friends, your social circles about southfront.org as an independent platform covering crucial developments in the Middle East and around the world.

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Joe Biden Is the 2020 Candidate of Fear

Joe Biden Is the 2020 Candidate of Fear - Russia News Now

Source

April 21, 2020

At a time when change is most needed, he’s asking voters to turn back, give up, and accept our country’s senility.

Daniel MCCARTHY

The Democratic Party is decadent, its future stillborn as its past seizes ownership of its backward-looking present. In 2020, the party is set to nominate for president a man who wasn’t good enough for the nomination in 1988 or 2008. Has he acquired a new vision or new vigor? No, but his party has run out of options.

Joe Biden is the candidate of old age and fear. Nostalgia for the Obama administration has been his prime selling point in the Democratic primaries, and it certainly helped him to win the support of African-American voters. But Biden is Barack Obama’s antithesis. In 2008 Obama truly was the candidate of “hope and change,” in the sense that he did represent a new page in American politics—he was a one-term senator, not mired in the ways of Washington like his rivals Hillary Clinton and John McCain (or Joe Biden, for that matter, who also ran for president that year); he was to be the first African-American president, providing hope that racial division could be overcome and inspiring young people of color to the highest aspirations; and his policy agenda seemed to be a break with the low expectations of what could be achieved at home and the excessively high expectations of what force could achieve abroad. However poorly the hopes panned out, and what little change succeeded, there was no doubting what Obama symbolized when he was first elected.

And Joe Biden? He’s a symbol that people as old as the Baby Boomers—or, in fact, a few years older—can still dominate national politics, especially in the Democratic Party. Though the 77-year-old Biden is a year younger than Bernie Sanders, he was the old man of the Democratic race in two senses that count for more than his birthday. First, Biden, not Sanders, was the candidate of experience, the one who made his pitch based most of all on his biography, not his plans and policy dreams; Sanders was the candidate of the dream, despite his own decades-long tenure in public life. Second, Sanders was the candidate that young voters preferred; Biden needed not only African-Americans but older Americans in order to become the party’s presumptive nominee. The problem for Democrats here is not necessarily what happens in November 2020, but rather how cohesive the party will be even if Biden can win. Does a Democratic Party led by a 78-year-old President Biden and an 80-year-old Speaker Pelosi have any future in a post-Boomer America?

Democrats have long taken for granted the advantage they expect to gain from America’s generational ethnic transformation: as whites become a smaller majority, and in more and more places are reduced to an electoral plurality, the minority voting blocs that have proved loyal to the Democrats should provide them with permanent power. Yet this is no longer a safe bet if the Democratic Party splinters ideologically, and the ability of leaders like Biden and Pelosi to appeal to the young leftists of all races who supported Bernie Sanders is very much open to doubt. To win elections with one set of voters, while a completely different set of voters holds the future of your party, is apt to be a Pyrrhic, and most temporary, victory.

The dead hand of the past lies heavy on the whole country, not just the Democratic Party. Since 1992, Americans have consistently elected Washington outsiders to the White House. Bill Clinton had no national experience when he won that year. George W. Bush had none when he was elected in 2000. Barack Obama had been in the Senate only four years when he won in 2008. And Donald Trump had no prior experience of holding office of any kind when he became president. Although considerable continuities emerged throughout the administrations of George H.W. Bush (a true Washington insider), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama—all supported the project of a “liberal world order,” in which the United States was embroiled in foreign conflicts, while globalization was their imperative in economics—voters at each election demanded something new and different from the previous status quo. Clinton was certainly not elected because voters wanted more of what Bush I gave them; Bush II was not elected over Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore, because voters wanted to extend the Clinton era; and Obama was elected in explicit repudiation of Bush II. Donald Trump, of course, was the leader the country turned to in order to repudiate all of the above: Trump was as bold in his criticism of George W. Bush for the Iraq war, and of earlier Republicans for NAFTA, as he was in his attacks on Barack Obama’s record.

* * *

None of the other successful presidential contenders of the last 30 years has presented himself as a champion of an earlier status quo or a force for restoring Washington to its old ways. Even George W. Bush campaigned on a newfangled “compassionate conservatism,” not a return to Reaganism (or to the 1994 spirit of Newt Gingrich). While it’s possible that in 2020 Americans really will want to reverse the tides of time—after the misery of the COVID-19 experience and in reaction against the changes in government that Trump has instituted—the Obama legacy was not so potent in 2016 as to elect Hillary Clinton, and in four years under Joe Biden it is not going to get any fresher. Whatever opportunities this may present to Republicans and Sanders-style Democrats after 2020, for the country it will mean being stuck with an agenda and governing vision that had proved its limitations by 2016. The same conditions that led to the rise of Donald Trump’s populism and Bernie Sanders’s socialist movement that year will be established again under Biden, and after Biden those forces might take on much stronger forms than they did after Obama.

The Trump and Sanders phenomena have happened for a reason, after all. They happened because “hope and change” failed to deliver on its promises, and with Hillary Clinton there was no hope of anything other than stagnation. Trump and Sanders, in very different ways, represented new hopes and a defiance of stagnation. Biden, by contrast, offers no future at all. That includes a future in which he’s re-elected, age 81, in 2024. Who can imagine such a thing?

The near certainty that Joe Biden could only serve a single term if elected as president makes his choice of vice president a fateful one. That person will be the presumptive frontrunner for the 2024 Democratic nomination, and voters will take that into account when they cast their ballots this November. Should Biden win, he will be a lame duck from Day 1. Quite apart from whatever drawbacks his running mate will have in her own right (if Biden follows through on his pledge to pick a woman), the idea of electing a placeholder president for four years is not likely to sit very well with the American people. It would be an extraordinary abdication of leadership. And it’s not as if anyone would look to leadership in Congress to fill the gap. Nor, given the limitations of the office, would a vice president looking ahead to 2024 have the power to supply needed leadership before then. Quite the contrary: the vice president would be a target for everyone’s criticisms, Republicans and rival Democrats alike.

This is hardly a scenario for a return to stability and “competence” in government, as Donald Trump’s critics say they want. It’s equivalent instead to not having a president at all for four years—which may sound like a libertarian’s fantasy, except that the administrative state would continue to pursue an aggressively progressive agenda during the interim. That too can only contribute to populist resurgence.

For all the debilities that come with being the candidate of old age, there are advantages, too. Biden is not running as the paladin of the emerging Democratic Party, a party whose socialism and identity politics have been consistent losers at the ballot box—including, for the most part, in the 2018 midterms, and including in the Democratic presidential race this year. Biden is a survivor from an older, more broadly popular Democratic Party, one that still had powerful support in white working-class communities, such as those in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin that will be as decisive in 2020 as they were in 2016. For many voters of the Baby Boom generation, Biden is the third coming of the president they grew up idolizing, John F. Kennedy. JFK was the president they wished they could be, a glamorous symbol of America before Vietnam and Watergate. (Never mind that JFK actually deepend the country’s involvement in Vietnam.) Bill Clinton, who like JFK claimed an Irish ancestry—though one which in Bill’s case has never been proved—was the first Boomer elected president, and at 43 was just a year older than JFK had been when he was elected. Like JFK, Clinton had celebrity charm; and if he was a womanizer, too, that just went with the type.

Now Biden represents the same Boomer vision in maturity, even if he’s a few years too old to be a Boomer himself. Like Clinton, he also makes an unverifiable claim to Irish ancestry. Like Kennedy, he identifies as Roman Catholic. (And yes, like Kennedy and Clinton, he has been accused of mistreating women, and worse.) Biden is a callback to the Boomer memory of America—the look and feel of the country in the late 20th century, when white ethnics (Irish, Italians, Poles, and others) who had been at the margins earlier in the century now helped to define the mainstream, even occupying the highest office in the land. To elect Biden at 77 is, perhaps to some of these voters, a way of showing that they still matter in a country whose future will look very different. Much is made by Trump’s critics of the racial dimension to his support; but ethnic and generational identification with Biden should not be overlooked. Indeed, as a candidate who hopes to unite white ethnics and blacks, Biden is a throwback to the Democratic Party of an earlier age, too.

As the candidate of fear, Biden aims at a quite different segment of the electorate. Fear is what motivates upper middle class, highly educated voters. This professional class, filling as it does the ranks of journalism and the academy, presents itself as anything but fearful—according to its propaganda, fear is really hate, and hate is something that only deplorables experience, at least as a political emotion. Liberals will admit to being personally afraid, or worried for their communities, as a result of the horrors they believe Donald Trump has unleashed on the land. But only a populist demagogue, or maybe sometimes a socialist one, tries to capitalize on fear. Good liberal politicians are always about hope and change. Obama only made the slogan explicit. (In fact, “hope” was a byword of Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign as well, which drew attention to the name his birthplace: Hope, Arkansas.)

Yet liberalism is the politics of fear in the most profound sense: it is an ideology that attempts to neutralize fear through the all-provident power of the state, guided by enlightened leadership. The fear that men and women traditionally feel on account of religion—fear of God’s wrath or fear of a universe without any order—is allayed by liberalism’s programmatic commitment to science and to rationalism more generally. Everything will have a rational explanation, yet that rational explanation will somehow be moral, too. What is important is that fear can be forgotten, without the need for any unearthly power to supply salvation. Instead, a supreme earthly power will remove all earthly worries: fear of want, fear of violent death, even fear of disease. The state is not the only institution that will meet these needs: for many liberals, the free market or science outside of government plays the greater role in provision. But the state at a minimum supplies the rules that make possible the efficient operation of the rest of liberal society.

And the state rests on a psychological foundation best explained by Thomas Hobbes. No doubt Joe Biden has given little thought to the 17th-century philosopher from Malmesbury, England. Most liberals do not think of themselves as Hobbesians, and a great many denounce Hobbes as an authoritarian or worse. But he understood that a politics suitable for a modern society has to prioritize fear, and its negation, over other emotions and their gratification. Other passions disturb the peace; but fear, particularly the fear of a violent death, can compel men to be reasonable. Fear of this kind is nigh universally felt, and its effects are quite predictable: people will support a power—an institution—that can protect them from violence.

By itself, that’s not a formula for liberalism. And what liberal society does with Hobbes’s political psychology is different from what he himself advised should be done in works like Leviathan. Liberals accept a great deal of competition and pluralism of many kinds, but what makes the competition and diversity possible is its harmlessness. The passions are allowed free rein, but only as long as they are weaker than the fear of violent death that holds society together.

* * *

To say that populism has a passion that is stronger than the fear of violent death would be going too far. But populism does involve a very strong passion for dignity, a desire for greater recognition of one’s status or plight—one’s humanity, in a felt and not just formally acknowledged sense. This passion is what most deeply offends the upper-middle-class opponents of populism in general and Trump in particular. They sense that this passion is the beginning of a different kind of politics, and has the potential to supplant the foundations of the old liberal system if it’s not checked. Populism has an understanding of human psychology and human nature different from those of liberalism, and such different foundations lead to different forms of politics and theories of the state.

Joe Biden’s voters have passions of their own, and they are no doubt usually sincere in saying that they are moved by a desire for justice or decency or fairness or any number of other objects of feeling. But all of those passions have been trimmed to fit the context of fear—the context of a political system in which fear has been negated but remains central, for should some other emotion displace it at the center of political psychology, the logic of the rest of the system would fail. The logic of competition for status or dignity looks very different from the logic of escaping from fear. The Trump phenomenon and populism threaten to upset this balance. This is why revolutionary or fascistic implications are attached to Trump’s politics by his detractors. Trump and his supporters are very far from being fascists, but their opponents believe that their emotional core, and their scale of passions, is inevitably incipiently fascistic.

Biden is the candidate for an America less concerned with dignity and more prepared to enjoy the fruits of a political psychology based on neutralizing fear. Under President Biden, the welfare state, science, and even the free market will continue to keep the fear of death at bay, and that will make room for mild pleasures: pornography and video games and varied cuisine and recreational activities of all sorts. Joe Biden’s louche son Hunter—known for his hearty indulgence in drugs and his sexual adventures with strippers—is a perfect specimen of humanity under this system. If he gets more stimulation than others, everyone else should get enough. And if they don’t, they mustn’t complain, they should ask for a program.

For all that liberals complain about Donald Trump’s affairs, or his great wealth, what exercises their ire the most is his spirit, which isn’t satisfied with creature comfort. His supporters are also motivated by something other than what liberalism can easily satisfy. (And this holds true whether we are talking about the nationalists or the Christian conservatives among his base.) Fear should have no competitor as the sovereign passion in a good, rational liberal order, but in Trump the glimmer of competition can be seen. In Joe Biden, however, there is no such danger: he sprinkles oil over turbulent waters, promising as he does only “competence” and more moderate politics. Yet here too, Biden’s supporters are too quick to address an immediate concern without looking to more serious long-term difficulties—for what Trump, and in a different way Bernie Sanders, indicates is that the liberal order has become too dessicated of humanity and feeling, too mechanical, too perfect. And so it courts a backlash, of which populism is not so much a manifestation, but an antibody.

American voters have tried to add new humanity to the nation’s politics in every presidential election since the end of the Cold War. They believed Bill Clinton when he said, “I feel your pain.” They gave a “compassionate” conservative a chance, and afterwards they demanded more “hope and change.” When that effort, too, succumbed to the inertia and decadence of Washington, voters turned to Donald Trump, the most decisive break from politics past. Now Joe Biden asks them to turn back, give up, and accept our country’s senility.

theamericanconservative.comThe views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

America’s rigged democracy: The oligarch takeover of America’s political system

America’s rigged democracy: The oligarch takeover of America’s political system

April 15, 2020

by Jon Hellevig for The Saker blog

The coronavirus and related financial crisis ravaging America have revealed the country to be the dysfunctional, borderline failed state that it is. America’s dysfunction is broad in scope but almost entirely traceable to one common origin: the oligarch takeover of the economymediahealthcare and political system. I have already reported on the first three of these , and here I will dissect what’s so fundamentally wrong with the political system.

Here are the links to above referenced reports:

Extreme concentration of ownership in the United States

The Oligarch Takeover of US Media

The Oligarch Takeover of US Pharma and Healthcare

Prior to having its attention diverted by the virus, the rest of the world looked on in disbelief as the circus-like US presidential primaries traipsed from state to state. Looking at the cast, one must wonder if this is really the best America has to offer. There was practically nothing of substance separating the candidates, with the sole exception of much-needed healthcare reform, a step advanced by a couple of candidates who were promptly branded by both parties as “socialists.” Meanwhile, emerging from the pack was none other than Joe Biden, a corporate stooge if there ever was one, whose history of corruption has been swept under the rug but whose dementia is becoming increasingly hard to conceal.

Nonplussed? You should be, because this is not democracy. It essentially amounts to a scripted talent show aimed at creating the impression that the American people have a democratic choice. The endless campaigning – often in disarmingly charming milieus such as rural Iowa diners – and numerous “debates” underscore the illusion of choice. But it is in fact the lack of real choice that necessitates such ostentatious pageantry.

In reality, the Democratic and Republican parties share almost identical positions on all major political questions. Neither challenges America’s hegemonic foreign policy and the war machine that imposes it; neither takes meaningful action to rein in the unrestrained oligarch crony capitalism or address the rigged financial markets; and both completely reject reforming the out-of-control healthcare system (with the exception of the few “socialists,” who are also smeared as “Russian assets”). The latest example of how in lockstep both parties march is the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill, in essence just another corporate bailout. But such close alignment on the issues of true importance should come as no surprise: this “duopoly” is in fact owned lock, stock and barrel by the financial oligarchs.

In lieu of discussing the issues of true substance, the overseers of this duopoly have imposed over the public discourse an agenda that creates the appearance of an acrimonious political divide but conveniently skirts addressing the inner workings of the system. Heading up this faux agenda are climate change and the culture war, both of which encompass a myriad of sub-issues that serve to distract Americans from the insidious corporate takeover. Much as a mime pretends to be trapped in a phone booth, the two parties feign contention over these issues in what amounts to carefully staged political theater.

That America is not a real democracy but an oligarchy masquerading as one becomes even more clear when one lifts the hood on the election system, which I do in this report by providing comprehensive evidence that the system has been rigged in such a way as to institutionalize the two-party monopoly and reinforce the financial elite’s grip over it.

The three lynchpins of this ironclad grip are (1) the corrupting power of money, which has been institutionalized through campaign finance laws that have been manipulated by the Supreme Court; (2) the ballot access laws, which refer to the pre-screening rules that determine which parties and candidates can be officially registered to stand for election; and (3) the enormous bias of the oligarch-owned, propaganda-spewing media.

I will not address the media bias in this report – it should be self-evident to anyone who has followed American politics in recent years. It is sufficient to recall the blatantly partisan media attacks against Donald Trump over the last four years, which were based on statements ripped from context and exaggerated, interviews with sham experts, distorted facts, and entirely fabricated stories, not least of which was the giant hoax and nauseatingly fact-free Russiagate narrative. More recently, we have seen how the same media hyenas gave similar treatment to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders but a free pass to the establishment’s Joe Biden. It is important to realize how the ownership of American media has been totally concentrated in the hands of the oligarchy, which I documented in the above-referenced report, The Oligarch Takeover of US Media. Such an extreme concentration of media ownership makes it easy to control the narrative and wage a totalitarian information war on opponents, both domestic and foreign.

In in this report, I will concentrate on the two other major distortions: campaign finance and ballot access, after which I will briefly list the other factors that have combined to totally discredit what used to be a democratic process.

  1. “Money is Speech” – When money talks people listen

The republic was not exactly set up as a true democracy to start with. In the beginning, voting was restricted to property-owning white men. Only late in the 19th century and after one of the bloodiest civil wars in world history, did all men get the right of vote (in theory, but not fully to this day, as we shall see). Women got the right only in 1920. Contrary to the claims of actor Morgan Freeman in a 2017 propaganda video, American history “for 241 years of democracy” has certainly not been “a shining example to the world.” (Note 1).

Early efforts to push back against the robber barons who corrupted the political system with their wealth started with the Tillman Act of 1907, which – although ultimately unsuccessful – aimed to prohibit corporations and interstate banks from making direct financial contributions to federal candidates. Campaign finance restrictions that at least had the appearance of being effective were not enacted until 1971, when, in the wake of the Watergate scandal, Congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). However, the oligarchs soon mounted a counterattack to have key provisions of the law nullified on supposed constitutional grounds. This reached the Supreme Court, an institution whose pliability in the face of corporate interests belies its fastidiously independent veneer. In Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the Court did uphold limits on individual contributions but, crucially, removed the caps on how much a campaign could spend and also the cap on so-called “independent expenditures,” which is money spent by ostensibly third-party corporations formally in favor of a particular candidate or against an opponent. The fig leaf is that these independent expenditures are made to look as if they are not in any way coordinated with the candidate or the candidate’s committee or party, although in reality of course they always are.

In Buckley v. Valeo, the Court invented the absurd theory that money equals speech, and therefore a limitation on how much money could be used for these independent expenditures was supposedly an unconstitutional infringement of First Amendment protections of free speech. (More about this absurdity below).

In 2010, a new concentrated attack on campaign finance restrictions emerged when the oligarchy’s pocket courts further proceeded to remove the remaining obstacles for the super-rich to buy American elections. In Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court struck down, again on extremely dubious free speech grounds, the rules that had prohibited corporations from funding election campaigns under the flimsy condition that the money be officially structured as uncoordinated independent expenditures. Only two months later, in Speechnow.org v. FEC, the Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (the Deep State court par excellence) ruled that contributions to groups that only make independent expenditures could not be limited, either in size or source.

The super-rich have always dominated the funding of political campaigns – either directly with their money, or through the media they own, or by their shadowy non-profits – but these rulings finally obliterated a century of campaign finance laws and opened the spigots for unlimited political corruption by oligarch special interests, thus removing essentially all barriers to controlling every aspect of the electoral system. These decisions also led to the rise of the notorious Super PACs, the giant slush funds that can raise unlimited amounts of corporate funding – money that is often used on either abusive mudslinging ads aimed at opponents or for whitewashing the preferred candidates. But, of course, there is absolutely no coordination with the candidates themselves. (Trust us).

For more details on US campaign finance laws, please see the Appendix to this report.

Congress is the 5% serving the 0.1%

The number one precondition for American electoral success is either being rich yourself or being financed by the super-rich and their corporations. Usually both prerequisites need to be in place, especially for the higher offices. In no other country in the world does money play such an outsized role in politics.

Practically all US presidents have been millionaires in present day value and most of them multimillionaires. (Note 2). Interestingly, though, while Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were not millionaires when taking office, they miraculously became so after leaving the White House. This came through windfall profits from book deals and speeches to Wall Street bankers. The same happened with Hillary Clinton. (Note 3). Obama even rather quite shamelessly booked those millions while still in office. This stream of easy money is tantamount to payment for services rendered for being a loyal servant to the Deep State (the same Deep State that installed him in the first place). It also shows future inhabitants of top positions that obedience is quite lucrative. (Note 4.)

If we look at the current members of Congress – the 100 senators and 450 members of the House – 200 are millionaires and that does not even include the value of their primary residences. Including that asset would put the figure at close to 500, or a whopping 90%. (Note 5). And that is even before considering the assets formally held by spouses, in trusts or offshore. The net worth of the average congressman is at least five times the US median. (Note 6). Interestingly, most appear to mysteriously get richer while actually serving in Congress. Moreover, the wealth increase tends to be disproportionate to what could be accumulated based on their salaries. In brief, Congress is the 5% serving the 0.1%.

During the 2015-16 election cycle, presidential candidates spent $1.5 billion, congressional candidates $1.6 billion, political parties $1.6 billion, and political action committees (PACs) raised and spent $4 billion. The “independent expenditures” of Super PACs amounted to $1.6 billion. (Note 7).

Clearly, had President Trump not been a billionaire he would never have had a shot at the presidency. This time around, Mike Bloomberg, the world’s tenth richest man and the consummate corporate insider, made a stunningly explicit bid to buy the Democratic nomination, spending over half a billion dollars on campaign ads in only a couple of months. Even before facing a single voter, Bloomberg, a preposterous choice to lead the Democrats, was given credibility as a serious candidate and was able to avail himself of a large platform from which to spread his message. That Bloomberg, with his billions and his establishment-approved policies, still managed to fail so spectacularly was a news item in and of itself, causing a lot of head-scratching among the pundits. He is the exception that proves the rule. (Note 8).

C:\Users\Йон\Documents\Billionaires supporting.jpeg

Practically all of the top Democrat candidates – except Bernie Sanders – were heavily funded by billionaires, as shown in the infographic below.

For candidates who don’t happen to already be fantastically wealthy, campaign financing from big donor corporations and the top 1% is decisive. This is why congressmen tend to spend about 40% of their time soliciting campaign contributions, as former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren revealed in his bestselling book, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government. (Note 9). Lofgren says outright that in “practice, the American political system allows only two political parties, which are wholly dependent on corporations and wealthy individuals to fund the most expensive campaigns in the world.” (Note 10).

The Democratic Party is a corporation by its own admission

Emblematic of the scam that US elections are was the Democratic Party’s admission to being a corporation.

In a trial against the DNC for the alleged rigging of the 2016 primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders, the DNC’s attorneys asserted that the party has every right to favor one candidate or another, notwithstanding party rules that state otherwise, because the party is a private corporation and is therefore free to change its rules as it sees fit. Unsurprisingly, the court accepted this claim. (Note 11).

In actually democratic countries, meanwhile, parties are obligated to adhere to fair and transparent statutory legal procedures in their operations. (Besides, even a corporation would have a fiduciary duty to follow the rules it has proclaimed).

  1. Ballot access restrictions

That money has corrupted the system should hardly come as a surprise, but what is less apparent at first glance is how political competition is obstructed by a massive bulwark of byzantine regulations – the ballot access laws – that are designed to protect the deeply ensconced two-party duopoly.

The dominance of the two parties has not come about as a result of voters’ sympathies as expressed in natural democratic competition, but rather through devious manipulation of laws for the aim of securing monopolies for the establishment parties. Each state has enacted its own laws for determining the procedures for parties and candidates to be officially registered to run for office. Rather than attempting to level the playing field, these laws guarantee automatic ballot access to the monopoly parties while barring the door to rivals who could potentially threaten the absolute power of the oligarchs that these parties represent.

While the Democratic and Republican parties get on the ballot automatically, challengers must attempt to file separately in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Ballot access laws are determined by each state separately, and different rules apply for presidential, congressional, state and local elections. Presidential candidates from non-monopoly parties have to petition for ballot access in each state. This means navigating absurdly cumbersome procedures in each state separately and, among other things, having to collect some 1.5 million signatures nationwide. Furthermore, the rules and timing are different in every state, making it very difficult to overcome each state’s barrage of obstacles while meeting all of the deadlines.

In those states where a third party is unable to overcome the filing hurdles, voters are denied the opportunity to vote against the oligarchy. And of course a vicious cycle takes hold: because it is practically impossible to get on the ballot in all states, third-party candidates who are not on the ballet everywhere are seen as lacking national appeal, making them less attractive to voters (and, of course, this reinforces the difficulty of getting on the ballot in the future). Voters are loath to “waste their votes” on candidates who are deemed not to have a winning chance, an impression solidified by the lack of media coverage for such candidates.

Most states also apply rules requiring that a party meet a certain vote threshold in a recent election in order to keep its ballot status for the next election. For example, in Alabama a party needs to garner 20% in a state-wide election to retain ballot access. Such thresholds are set so high that they form an automatic party liquidation guillotine: few third parties ever make it on to the ballet and almost none make it regularly. This means that no momentum is ever achieved and the process of reforming the party and relaunching attempts to make the ballot must be done every few years. For would-be third-party activists it’s a hopeless proposition.

Such arbitrary restrictions and onerous obstacles toward even standing for election is practically unheard of anywhere else. Such a system doesn’t exist anywhere in the free world and may be bewildering for those accustomed to thinking of America as a beacon of democracy. The restrictiveness of America’s “democracy” is more appropriately compared to any number of “third-world” countries in which either only one party is allowed (such as North Korea) or where opposition parties exist but are cast to the far periphery of the political system. America certainly falls squarely in this category, but its innovation is to scrupulously maintain the façade of democratic processes, which essentially amount to carefully staged sparring, mostly over irrelevant issues, for the sake of maintaining the illusion of political plurality.

The restrictive ballot access laws also greatly diminish democratic competition in state legislative elections. In 2012, about one-third of all state House and Senate candidates ran unopposed – quite similar to how it was back in the USSR. (Note 12).

Examples of how the oligarch-owned monopoly parties are favored

The ballot access laws vary enormously from state to state, both in terms of the nature and severity of the requirements. North Carolina, with a population of about 9.8 million, requires almost 90,000 signatures. (Note 13). Oklahoma requires a petition signed by voters equal to 5% of the vote cast in the previous election. An independent presidential candidate, or the presidential candidate of a non-qualified party, may get on the ballot with a petition representing 3% of the last presidential vote. To remain qualified for the next election, a party must garner at least 2% of the total vote in the gubernatorial election.

In Nebraska, the rigged rules fast-track parties that received at least 5% of the vote in a statewide race. Nevada has doubled down on the election rigging by demanding that a party achieve 10% in the preceding general election for Congress.

Another example of egregious hurdles is Maryland’s requirement that an independent candidate collect four times as many signatures as a major-party candidate. In Florida, an independent presidential candidate needs 110,000 signatures, while Texas requires independent candidates to collect signatures equaling 1% of the previous presidential vote.

Georgia gives automatic ballot access to a political party whose candidate received at least 20% of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election or whose candidate in the last presidential election received at least 20%.

Kentucky uses a three-tiered system for ballot access based on the results of the previous presidential election. Only parties whose candidate for president achieved at least 20% of the popular vote are considered “political parties,” whereas those getting between 2% and 20% get the status of “political organization,” and those with less than 2% of the vote are deemed a “political group.” These classifications then determine the hurdles that must be overcome to get onto the next ballot. Clearly, parties that can’t even be classified as parties struggle to make headway.

Pennsylvania extends the “political party” status to a party that manages at least 2% in the most recent election, but after a two-year grace period a party must meet the outrageous threshold of having voter enrollment of no less than 15% of the state’s total party enrollment.

Et cetera and so on and so forth. Some states have been more innovative than others in putting in place a system that suppresses democratic choice.

Follow the links below for a closer look at all of the restrictive ballot access rules:

Only billionaires can attempt to overcome the hurdles – and even then often in vain

Only a well-established national movement – or a billionaire – could put together an organization that could even theoretically overcome the filing hurdles in all 50 states. This system of obstruction of the democratic process has worked precisely as intended: with the sole exception of billionaire Ross Perot, there has not been a single viable candidate outside of the monopoly parties.

In the 2016 election, while the Democratic and Republican parties were automatically on the ballot in all 50 states, the only other party that managed to get ballot access in all states was the Libertarian Party. The Green Party, which is a viable and increasingly popular alternative in many other countries, was left off the ballot in six states. The Constitution Party made it on to the ballot in just 24 states.

The billionaire Ross Perot ran in 1992 as an independent and in 1996 representing the Reform Party, which was set up specifically for his campaign. However, because the party had difficulty navigating the restrictive ballot laws, he was forced to run as an independent in some states. In 1992, he received 18.9% of the popular vote, making him the most successful third-party presidential candidate in terms of the popular vote since Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 election.

You can collect all the signatures you want, but it won’t help

It was estimated that in the 2016 election an independent candidate would have needed to collect a staggering 880,000 valid signatures to meet the thresholds in all states combined. (Note 14). But because the monopoly parties regularly challenge the legitimacy of the signatures that are collected, opposition parties must collect double that amount to stay above the thresholds. This is because there is a very real and proven risk that as many as half of the signatures can be declared invalid on absurd technicalities that are concocted following legal harassment by the monopoly parties. For example, signing “Bill” instead of “William” or leaving out a middle initial are among the many pretenses for signatures being disqualified. (Note 15).

Not only must candidates collect a prohibitive amount of signatures, but whoever ventures to do so should also be ready for a protracted legal battle to defend against endless litigation instigated by an army of attorneys that the monopoly parties can summon in order to obstruct third parties and independents in their efforts to register. The establishment lawyers, aided by corrupt state officials, go to great lengths to challenge the accuracy of candidate filings and often reject the authenticity of signatures on whatever flimsy or fabricated grounds they can find. (Note 16).

A case in point is the outrageous treatment that independent candidate Ralph Nader was subjected to in his 2004 presidential bid. (Note 17). After Nader’s campaign had managed to gather and file the needed signatures in all 50 states, the Democratic Party and its stooges mounted a campaign to challenge all of Nader’s filings. They ended up filing 29 complaints in 19 states against Nader’s campaign with the aim to get Nader stricken from the ballot. And, sure enough, they succeeded in taking him off the ballot in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Missouri, Virginia, Ohio and several other states. Pennsylvania’s measures aimed at keeping independent candidates out included, in addition to the punitively high number of required signatures, a prohibition on people from out-of-state collecting signatures on behalf of a candidate and the requirement that every signature sheet be separately notarized. In Pennsylvania, a lawyer for the Democratic Party successfully invalidated – for ridiculous reasons – the authenticity of over 30,000 of Nader’s signatures. (Note 18). For Pennsylvania Democrats it was not enough, though, to simply take Nader off the ballot, they also proceeded to present him with a large bill for lawyers’ fees as a punishment for having had the audacity to encroach on the duopoly’s turf. Nader then became the first candidate in American history to be penalized, with a legal bill totaling $81,102, just for the crime of attempting to run for public office. (Note 19).

This later unfolded into a giant corruption scandal, which ultimately put members of both duopoly parties behind bars. It emerged that the Democratic Party had illegally enlisted an army of state officials to participate in the concentrated attack on Nader’s campaign. Not only were they working at taxpayers’ expense, but they even received about $2.3 million in government bonuses for their subversive activities. But, remarkably, even as it was proved that Nader’s petitions were challenged via illegal means, his $81,000 bill for the legal fees of his inquisitors stood. And no lessons were gleaned from the affair. Two years after Nader’s failed bid, Pennsylvania’s Green Party tried to run Carl Romanelli for US Senate against Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Rick Santorum. Romanelli managed to collect more than 100,000 signatures (more than the formally required 67,000), but he too ended up being challenged and knocked off the ballot. And, again, the Democratic Party’s legal fees were billed to Romanelli as the losing party. Since then in Pennsylvania numerous other independent candidates have been equally destroyed through various means.

With the path to the presidency littered with the bones of brutally snuffed out third-party bids, both Democrat-cum-Republican Donald Trump and Democrat-cum-Republican-then-independent-and-Democrat again Michael Bloomberg understood that working within one of the two parties – and using their massive financial resources – was a far more promising strategy than mounting a quixotic third-party bid. But the flip-flopping history of party affiliation of those billionaire tycoons clearly shows how the two parties are essentially interchangeable electioneering tools for the elite and that neither party is overly concerned with ideology or convictions.

The Constitution is not to blame

The morass of elections laws is often defended on the premise that it should be the prerogative of the individual states to set their own laws even for federal elections. However, Article I, Section 4 of the United States Constitution says that, while election laws are primarily set by state legislatures, Congress has the power to alter them as it sees fit. And indeed, Congress has done so by enacting uniform nationwide campaign spending laws – those very laws that were undermined by the Supreme Court’s nationwide rulings. In 1967, Congress also passed a law that mandated single-member districts across the country, which demonstrates that the Constitution and federal structure of the United States are not actually obstacles to conducting democratic reform of the ballot access laws, if only there were the will to democratize the country.

Richard Winger, in his article “How Ballot Access Laws Affect the U.S. Party System,” demonstrated that the Supreme Court has been a conniving partner in letting states tighten their ballot access laws with practically no limits. Although the Court has from time to time made a token gesture some excesses in the ballot restrictions, such instances have never managed to set a precedent for curbing undemocratic practice. Winger writes that the Court’s ballot access decisions, taken together, have actually had the effect of increasing the severity of the laws, rather than ameliorating them. (Note 20).

Winger’s article also gives a lucid account of the history of these restrictive rules and how the screws have been gradually tightened.

There is nothing good in the supposed stability that a two-party system brings

Winger writes: “In a normal two-party system, there are still significant third parties. In the United States, there were significant third parties before 1930, but there have not been any since then. The reason there are no longer any significant third parties is because the ballot access laws have become severe.” (Note 21).

Apologists for the US two-party system argue that governments are typically more stable in two-party systems, because viewpoints on the fringes of societal discourse are supposedly neutralized. Wikipedia, for example, hilariously writes: “First-past-the-post minimizes the influence of third parties and thus arguably keeps out extremists.” (Note 22).

However, a US-style managed two-party system protected by rigged laws and court rulings provides as much stability as the USSR one-party system did, all while destroying political competition and depriving the system of the flexibility and mechanisms to adapt to new realities. A two-party system lacks any safety valves to let steam out, meaning the problems just pile up until the pressure is such that the whole system implodes. This has now happened with the US economy, a circumstance for which the rigid two-party system deserves heavy blame. The economic catastrophe in the US is in plain sight for anyone to see, same with the US healthcare debacle, but it is the rotten political monopoly of the corporate elite that has so steadfastly prevented the real issues from being addressed.

What is interesting – and underscores the undemocratic nature of the system – is that surveys consistently show that independents easily outnumber both Democrats and Republicans and that voters overwhelmingly would want to have another choice. (Note 23). In fact, 43% of Americans identify as politically independent. (Note 24).

More problems have piled up to destroy US democracy

In addition to the three main issues discussed above, I will briefly list a number of additional problems that contribute to the huge democracy deficiency in the United States.

(4) The US does not have a proportional voting system, which would force the monopoly parties to be alert to the real needs of society and which would guarantee political representation for competing ideas. Instead, plurality voting is practiced, which means there is a system of single-member districts where the winner takes all even if it does not achieve a majority of votes (first past the pole). In some states, the system is modified with a runoff between the two candidates who got most votes in the first round. A truly democratic system would require a proportional distribution of seats based on party totals.

Some of the election systems are truly absurd. A good example is California’s so-called “top-two” primary system, in which all candidates from all parties must participate in a primary, while the top two vote-getters – even if from the same party – move on to the general election. That really shows that the sham two-party system is, in reality, a one-party system.

(5) The problem with the single-member voting districts has been exacerbated by the practice of gerrymandering, which refers to the system of manipulatively redrawing the boundaries of electoral constituencies. This is done to establish an unfair advantage for one of the monopoly parties or for certain favored candidates within a party. In either case, the effect is to diminish competition.

(6) Large parts of the electorate have been disenfranchised, that is, unconstitutionally deprived of their right to vote. Every state except Maine and Vermont prevents inmates from voting while in prison for a felony. Once released from prison, voter eligibility varies widely by state. A few states – mostly Southern states with large black populations – permanently deny the right to vote to all ex-convicts. That is nothing short of an extra-judiciary punishment, which is designed to prevent the poor and most oppressed sectors of US society from participating in the electoral process.

Over the last half century, the number of disenfranchised individuals has increased dramatically along with the rise in the inmate populations, from an estimated 1.17 million in 1976 to 6.1 million today. (Note 25). Nationally, 13% of the African-American population (an even higher percentage in some states) are now denied the right to vote because of felony convictions. (Note 26).

How capricious the system is can be seen from a case in Alabama, where a man was blocked from voting because he owed the state $4. (Note 27).

(7) Another absurd feature of the American election system is voter registration. In order to retain the right to vote, American voters must register in advance. In a true democracy, it is the obligation of the government to ensure that all citizens have easy and equal access to voting. It is the government’s duty to put in place a system for registering voters and not mandate that voters undergo cumbersome procedures. In democratic countries – like Russia – a voter is automatically enrolled based on residence. It is the obligation of the government to ensure that all citizens are entered in electoral rolls. Usually, this is done through the requirement that each individual provide his or her address to the authorities. But the US voter registration system is a totally arbitrary process that is frequently used to prevent – again – the poor and oppressed from voting. But sometimes the arbitrariness of this works the other way: voter registration laws are sometimes made so lax that non-citizen immigrants can unconstitutionally vote. This is the case, for example, in California, which does not require proof of citizenship for voter registration.

It gets more absurd from the point of view of a democracy when we consider that, when registering a voter, a party affiliation – Democrat, Republican or independent – must be indicated. The inability to conceal one’s political preferences means that there is no voting secrecy in the US. And this is public data for anybody to see, for example, a potential employer.

Altogether, there are 31 states (plus the District of Columbia) that indicate a party when registering voters. In aggregate, 40% of all voters in party registration states are Democrats, 29% are Republicans, and 28% are independents. Nationally, the Democratic advantage in the party registration states approaches 12 million. (Note 28).

(8) After voter registration, there is the problem of voter identification at the poll station. For example, California has no law requiring that voters present photo identification, although sometimes it ends up being required anyway. But when voters do need to identify themselves they can provide any one of the following as proof: a California identification number, the last four digits of their social security number, a copy of a recent utility bill, a sample ballot booklet sent from the county election office, a student ID or a driver’s license. Of course, a passport can also be presented, but why bother when a utility bill is enough.

(9) Interference in politics and elections by law enforcement and intelligence agencies under the control of the US Deep State. Even with practically all aspects of the electoral system totally rigged in favor of the two monopoly parties, the establishment has lately been having problems with ensuring the desired election outcomes and therefore has resorted to openly employing their administrative resources in the State Department, law enforcement (DOJ, FBI) and intelligence agencies (CIA and the other 16 sisters) to interfere in elections. Most blatantly this has occurred in connection with the events subsumed under the Russiagate witch hunt. While cynically levying false accusations at Russia for meddling in the US elections, these agencies were actually engaged in this mendacious – not to mention treasonous – activity themselves. (Note 29).

(10) Finally, in winding up this discussion of the distortions in the American political system, I would be remiss if I did not mention a particularly lurid piece of American Kabuki theater – the public debates among the candidates. Whereas in more democratic countries debates are usually open to all candidates who meet a reasonable minimum threshold in America the show is reserved exclusively for duopoly candidates. The debates themselves are mostly platforms for empty clichés, prepared one-line zingers and vacuous rallying cries about the greatness of the country. The show is carefully managed in such a way as to keep meaningful issues from being addressed, thus preventing any challenge to the agenda of the establishment.

When televised presidential election debates started in 1976, the organizer was the nonpartisan League of Women Voters. However, the LWV withdrew in 1988 in protest of the major-party candidates attempts to dictate nearly every aspect of how the debates were conducted. (Note 30). In the statement announcing its withdrawal, the LWV prophetically stated that “the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter.” This allowed the duopoly to seize full control of the debates through a vehicle called the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which since its inception has been headed by former chairs of the national committees of the two major parties. In order to exclude third-party candidates, a rule was instituted that to qualify for a debate candidates must garner at least 15% in opinion polls and must be on the ballot in a certain number of states, which in itself is extremely hard, as we saw above.

Ross Perot is the only third-party candidate to have crashed the party of CPD-organized debates, having found his way onto the stage during his 1992 presidential run. The CPD itself was against Perot’s inclusion, but both major party candidates, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, were convinced that Perot would do more damage to the other one and therefore wanted him included. As it turned out, it was Bush who miscalculated with that gamble. (Note 31).

At a 2000 presidential debate, meanwhile, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader was not even allowed to sit in the audience – much less participate – even though he had a ticket to be a spectator.

Typically for America, the CPD presidential debates are also a great platform for corporate sponsors, who display their advertisement during the show. Tobacco giant Phillip Morris was a major sponsor in 1992 and 1996, while Anheuser-Busch sponsored presidential debates in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.

The way the Democratic Party has been rigging its primary debates – in an already familiar pattern – provides further insight into how the debate shenanigans work. In this recent primary season, the DNC actually changed the rules in order to exclude the undesired Tulsi Gabbard, who had committed the mortal sin of expressing views that questioned establishment orthodoxy. (Note 32). This came after the DNC earlier changed a different set of qualification rules so as to let Michael Bloomberg, who was not even on the ballot in the first primary states, buy his way onto the debate stage. (Note 33).Jon Hellevig

Some international comparison

The extreme disparity of the burdens placed on new parties versus the old established parties in the US has no parallel in any other democratic nation in the world. (Note 34). A research project conducted jointly by Harvard University and the University of Sydney ranked the United States worst in the West for fair elections. (Note 35).

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) – which is about the only international organization allowed to monitor US elections – has frequently criticized the US for its restrictive ballot access laws and other serious shortcomings. (Note 36).

Concluding remarks – RIP democracy

I have earlier written an essay on how I view the essence of democracy, which appeared as Book II “On Democratic Competition” in my philosophy book All is Art http://www.hellevig.net/allisart.pdf (Note 37). I regard true democracy as a function of societal competition, or more precisely, the competition for regulating power relations in society.

It thus follows that democratic competition must be fair and conducted on equal terms for all participants, that is, all citizens. Democratic competition is the cumulative result of complex interrelations in all spheres of social life, and it is largely the overall condition of a society that fosters or hinders such competition. The quality of a democracy – whether it is an authentic one or it is badly compromised – is a function of all these conditions in their infinite variances.

For it to be fair and conducted on equal terms, this competition must be free from monopolistic forces that prevent all members of society from participating on equal terms. As we saw from the analysis of what counts as the democratic system in the US, all of the major components affecting the democratic processes have been consolidated in the hands of the plutocracy. The oligarchs have essentially privatized the political system and are able to exert disproportionate and usually decisive influence on outcomes that should be open-ended. Having bought the state legislatures, the oligarchs have enacted self-serving ballot access laws. With their money, they totally control all election-related avenues for mass communication, including the televised debates. They own the media, which denies 99% of the population a platform for their opinions and effectively filters out all alternate views.

Freedom of speech should be seen not only as a right to voice one’s opinions in the local bar but as entailing equal access to the means of communication, i.e. the media. Of course, this is not the case, which means there is not a level playing field for democratic competition – and this means no real democracy. The oligarch takeover of the US media has meant that huge censorship and propaganda machines have replaced what should be open and free discourse. The absence of true competition in the media has meant that not just is there no real freedom of speech but that the media has issued to itself a license to lie with impunity while sanctimoniously proclaiming the existence of a free press.

Elections should be considered only as the culmination of democratic competition when all other necessary conditions in a society are in place. But where such conditions for a democratic choice are absent, it can actually be more harmful for democracy (the sovereign power of the people) to carry on voting at the polls in what amounts to sham elections. To do is to perpetuate the system and implicitly provide one’s consent to the falsehood. What the US political elite is trying to sell us is that democracy means nothing more than periodically conducting elections between nearly identical oligarch-owned parties. In other words, we are to believe that as long as the form remains the substance can be cast aside. But if measured by that standard, even the USSR was democratic – once in a while people were dutifully summoned to the polls to confirm the absolute power of the monopolist.

As I have defined democracy, it must be seen and analyzed as a social practice, a phenomenon brought about by people’s interactions in all their myriad forms. This understanding of democracy as a social practice has not been properly appreciated. Scholars have tended to define democracy through formal and legalistic criteria, such as the existence of certain institutions and certain formal supposed legal safeguards of those systems (a system of courts, periodic elections, etc.). But as long as scholars do not move beyond those concepts to analyze what the institutions actually stand for, they fail to detect – or fail to admit – the obvious deficiencies of democracy in countries in which these formal criteria are met but where the democratic processes have seriously eroded. This is particularly pertinent in countries – such as the US – where much effort has been expended to maintain the illusion of democracy. My aim has been to bring about the understanding needed tackle this question by looking at the constituent phenomena of the social practice of democracy.

Today, precious little real democracy remains in the countries that boast of being democratic. The concept of “democracy” has been totally detached from the actual reality and is being maintained as a ritual symbol. Now utterly devoid of content, the word is incanted as a charm to instill the feeling among American and European regime subjects that they belong to a good and virtuous society and that they are empowered to influence the course of that society.

The indoctrinated classes speak of liberal democracy (by which they mean Western democracy), which they imagine to be a representative government put in power by free and pluralistic elections. The fantasy extends to a belief that the system is based on a separation of powers among a legislature, executive and judiciary. Of course, this is no longer the case: these branches operate in unison and the plutocracy presides over them all. Other incantations include the “rule of law”, “open society”, “Western values”, “human rights” and “market economy.” All of these are hollow shells of ideas that in our day and time mostly serve the purpose of virtue-signaling. The reality is that Western societies have turned into full-fledged repressive surveillance and propaganda states, in which any features of an open society were long ago eradicated. There is absolutely no market economy, but rather a totally monopolized crony capitalist system in which, as we are seeing now, corporate interests are bailed out at the first sign of trouble.

Scholars claim that liberal democracy supposedly is based on the principles of classical liberalism. Nothing could be further from the truth. But, their most pathetic theory is the so-called “democratic peace theory.” This fantasy posits that these “liberal democracies” are hesitant to engage in armed conflict with other democracies. Several factors have been promoted as justifying the democratic peace theory, one more hilarious than the other:

  • Democratic leaders are forced to accept culpability for war losses to a voting public;
  • Publicly accountable statespeople are inclined to establish diplomatic institutions for resolving international tensions;
  • Democracies are not inclined to view countries with adjacent policy and governing doctrine as hostile;
  • Democracies tend to possess greater public wealth than other states, and therefore eschew war to preserve infrastructure and resources.

(List derived from Wikipedia).

Let’s imagine that to be true, then what explains that these Western countries have been ready and raring to incessantly wage wars of aggression against the rest of the world, the countries they define as not belonging to the club of democracies? Moreover, these Western “liberal democracies” do not go to war with each other, because they are all essentially occupied subjects of the United States.

In my book, I describe the conditions for an ideal, true democracy. But that does not mean that I think that such a democracy is possible; on the contrary, nothing of the sort can ever actually exist. Any open society will be attacked by oligarchs, who will try to subjugate it under their rule – and most often they succeed. This is true both domestically in their own countries and abroad. The US-based oligarchs and their helpers in Europe have over the last century assaulted every single nation on the planet. No country should ever leave itself vulnerable to such aggression. Each should devise a sovereign system of governance that is fair and based on real justice (social, economic, and moral) without playing the fool’s game of so-called Western “liberal democracy.” China has set a good example of this.

NOTES COME AFTER APPENDIX

APPENDIX

CAMPPAIGN FINANCE LAWS, SMOKE AND MIRRORS

The US is obsessed with campaign finance regulations, which are structured so that if anything is restricted by one rule, it is allowed by another. There’s a Russian adage that perfectly describes the essence of the US campaign finance laws: “If it is forbidden, but you very much want it, then go ahead.”

Below is a summary of the campaign finance laws governing federal elections.

Candidates are free to use their personal funds for campaign purposes without any limits, but accepting campaign contributions from others is restricted – unless you use any number of the gaping loopholes available to circumvent the restrictions. An individual person can contribute only $2,000 directly to a candidate, per election. But whereas donations to individual candidates are limited to that relatively small amount, the backdoor is wide open. Individuals can donate as much as $777,600 per year to party committees, while if a spouse is included, a family contribution can reach $1,555,200 per year. These limits are reported as they stand after having been generously increased tenfold in 2014 in a drive to allow ever larger sway over the elections for the super-rich. According to oligarch shills, this enormous money would not be fatal for democracy, because it is “only allowed to go to special accounts earmarked for specific purposes, such as party headquarters maintenance, recount preparations and presidential conventions” and that the “money cannot legally be used for other purposes.” (Note 38).

One of the backdoors designed for circumventing campaign finance restrictions is for a lobbyist to assist a congressman in amassing campaign finance by arranging fundraisers, assembling PACs, and seeking donations from other clients. Yet more effective than gathering hard money (direct contributions to a candidate) is to work with soft money campaign finance. Soft money is the real hardcore of campaign finance. Soft money exploits the loophole in federal campaign finance and spending laws that exempts contributions made for general party-building rather than – ostensibly – for a specific candidate. This is a form of political money laundering, because the state party committees send the soft money up to the national party headquarters, which then can spend the money at its discretion without restrictions. (Note 39).

In addition to contributions given directly to candidates (candidate committees) and parties, individuals can contribute to a variety of political action committees (PAC). The limit for individual contributions to these are $5,000. Connected PACs can be set up by corporations, non-profits, labor unions, trade groups, or health organizations. These PACs are allowed to accept contributions only from managers and shareholders or members in the case of unions and non-profit organizations. The sponsor of a Connected PAC may absorb all the administrative costs of operating the PAC and its fundraising activities. A slightly other form is the Non-Connected PAC, which must bear its own administrative costs. PACs can give $5,000 to a candidate committee per election (primary, general or special). They can also give up to $15,000 annually to any national party committee, and $5,000 annually to any other PAC.

Another vehicle designed to circumvent the original campaign finance restrictions is something called a Leadership PAC. These are PACs set up by elected officials and parties that make “independent expenditures.” If the expenditure is supposedly not coordinated with the candidate, there is no limit to how much can be spent on that candidate’s campaign. Leadership PACs are non-connected PACs, meaning they can accept donations from individuals and other PACs – so there’s another backdoor wide open. A leadership PAC sponsored by an elected official cannot use funds to support that official’s own campaign, but no worries, it may fund travel, administrative expenses, consultants, polling, and “other non-campaign expenses,” as they call them.

Move one level up on the ladder of campaign finance schemes and you encounter the “independent expenditure committees,” commonly known as Super PACs. These are campaign finance vehicles that masquerade as third-party groups allowed to advocate for or against any candidate or issues, “as long as there is no coordination, consultation or request by any campaign or candidate.” That’s a fig leaf, if ever there was one. Everybody knows that coordinating is exactly what they do.

Tired of dabbling in a few thousand dollars, the heavy hitters have embraced these Super PACs. These represent the ultimate invention in free-for-all campaign finance, as they can raise unlimited amounts of funds, with the additional beauty that corporations, too, may invest as much as they want. While traditional PACs can donate directly to a candidate’s campaign fund, the Super PACs are not allowed to make direct contributions to candidates or parties and must ostensibly limit themselves to political spending independently of the campaigns. They are allowed to pay for ads supporting their favorite candidate and discrediting the opponents as long as they “act independently” and “do not coordinate” with the official campaign of the candidate they support. So according to the legal legend, Super PACs are independent from candidates, but obviously the reality is that their directors have close personal connections to the candidate and the campaign they support. (Note 40).

Super PACs are the ultimate dens of the political spin doctors, where nasty and abusive mudslinging ads attacking the opponents of the candidates that they are whitewashing are devised.

In addition to hard and soft money, the American campaign corruption menu includes dark money. Dark money refers to political spending by nonprofit organizations (referred to as 501(c) organizations). These are allowed to raise unlimited amounts from corporations and individuals, and to spend these unlimited amounts any way they wish. They call it dark money because that’s exactly what it is: the identity of the donors and of the campaigns, candidates and other possible recipients of the money, as well as the amounts raised and spent, are exempt from disclosure requirements. The flooding of elections with dark money was made possible by the US Supreme Court’s decision in Buckley v. Valeo. (More on this below).

Dark money syndicates are distinct from Super PACs. Both can raise and spend unlimited sums of money, but super PACs must disclose their donors, while dark money syndicates don’t have to do that and must not (ostensibly) have politics as their primary purpose. This is no problem for the US oligarchs, as they simply set up both types of entities to get the best of both worlds. This way corporations and individuals can donate as much as they want to the nonprofit, which isn’t required to publicly disclose funders. The nonprofit could then donate as much as it wanted to the Super-PAC, which lists the nonprofit’s donation but not the original contributors.” (Note 41).

Money is speech. Really?

The Super PACs were in essence generated by two highly questionable judicial decisions. In January 2010, the Supreme Court established in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that the government may not prohibit corporations from making independent expenditures for political purposes. Only two months later, in Speechnow.org v. FEC, the Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that contributions to groups that only make independent expenditures could not be limited in either size or source.

The super-rich have always been dominate in funding political campaigns – directly with their money, through the media they own and by their shadowy nonprofits – but these decisions finally obliterated a century of campaign finance laws and opened the spigots for unlimited political corruption by oligarch special interests in order to give them absolute dominance and free rein for total political propaganda.

The Supreme Court’s extraordinary maneuver to further rig the campaign finance laws in favor of the super-rich was based on two questionable legal theories that took root in the mid-1970s. One held that money is speech and the other that corporations are people. (Note 42). These fabricated legal principles were needed in order to create the framework for the politically motivated claim that a restriction on the amount of money that the super-rich can use for buying elections supposedly meant an infringement on First Amendment protected freedom of speech. Then, because free speech, like any other human right, can only belong to people, the court declared that corporations are people. In the case that established these doctrines, Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the majority opinion, defended this juridical fraud by arguing that that limits on using corporate funds for campaigns were supposedly a “classic example of censorship.”

The perverted “money is speech” doctrine first appeared in a 1976 decision, Buckley v. Valeo, which invalidated some campaign-finance reforms that had come out of the Watergate drama. (Note 43). The Supreme Court then concluded that most limits on campaign expenditures, and some limits on donations, are unconstitutional because money is in itself speech and the “quantity of expression”– the amounts of money – can’t be limited. (sic! – or should we say sick!) What the Supreme Court did is to declare that corporations should have a First Amendment right to spend limitless amounts to meddle in US elections.

Obviously, the legal construction of a corporation means that it has some features of a person, mainly the right to register the title for assets and enter into agreements – which is why they are called legal persons – but the extension of corporate personhood to protection of free speech is an extraordinary invention.

The US Supreme Court, the guarantor of oligarch rule

Obviously, these court decisions are totally politically motivated and aimed at securing the super-rich’s overwhelming control over the US government. The US Supreme Court is not an independent arbiter of justice but rather a club of servants for the elite few. The appointment of a Supreme Court judge is an entirely political process. A candidate is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Considering that the presidents and the senators all are totally dependent on oligarch finance, oligarch media and of all the structures of the oligarch Deep State, the Supreme Court justices unsurprisingly serve the same interests. Considering that the Constitution does not set any qualification criteria for Supreme Court judges, better independent judicial protection would be achieved if the judges were appointed by lottery among all serving US judges.

This political process of appointment of judges essentially nullifies the constitutional principle of separation of powers, which holds that the three branches of government – executive, legislative, judicial – are kept independent from each other. With the politicized court the constitutionally intended checks and balances between the branches of power have essentially been wiped out.

These campaign finance shenanigans are part of an endless stream of rulings that show that the Supreme Court is following a political agenda favoring the already rich rather than administering justice. As David Kairys wrote: “At its core, this line of cases is about dominance of the political and electoral system by wealthy people and corporations and about legitimizing a political and electoral system that is unrepresentative, money-driven, corrupt, outmoded, and dysfunctional. Wealthy people and corporate managers shouldn’t dominate politics or have more and better speech rights than the rest of us. That seems like an obvious truth. And yet the Supreme Court’s recent decisions move us away from it.” (Note 44). All Court decisions in these matters (and not only these) have been heavily biased towards enabling the richest one percent to buy outsized influence of the US government. (Note 45). It is obvious beyond any doubt that the money-is-speech theory is nothing but a rhetorical device used exclusively to solidify this trend and to provide First Amendment protection for all money that wealthy people and businesses want to spend on election interference. (Note 46).

The oligarch shill Roger Pilon, in a speech to the libertarian stink tank Cato Institute, said that “the Court has said that regulations of political contributions and expenditures will be upheld only if they achieve a compelling governmental interest by the least restrictive means.” (Note 47). See, compelling governmental interest is the question. With “governmental interest,” we must mean the interest of the government as a custodian of the people, that is, the people’s interest. Then the question really is what more compelling reason could there possibly be to restrict this falsely advertised “free speech” than guaranteeing an equal value to everyone’s vote. Government precisely has a compelling interest in fostering equal participation in the election processes and stopping the corrosion of democratic ideals that results when election costs spiral out of control and only the super-wealthy have influence.(Note 48).

The Supreme Court has been extremely choosy in implementing its newfound love for free speech

It is also clear that the Supreme Court has been extremely choosy in implementing its free speech policy. When it comes to forms of speech other than the dollars drowning the voices of the people, the government and the corrupted courts have had no qualms about passing laws and judicial resolutions that run roughshod over free speech. (Note 49).

More generally, the Court has not employed its free speech theories uniformly, but only when they suit their agenda. (Note 50). In the last few decades, the Supreme Court has limited speech rights for demonstrators, students, and whistleblowers. It has restricted speech at shopping malls and transit terminals. Taken as a whole the establishment’s pocket court’s First Amendment jurisprudence has enlarged the speech rights available to wealthy people and corporations and restricted the speech rights available to people of ordinary means and to dissenters. (Note 51).

The Court has in particular developed as so-called “secondary effects” doctrine, according to which the government is allowed to restrict speech if other purposes justify it. (Note 52). Thus, if the Court in reality believed its fabricated money-is-speech theory, then it would have good reason to conclude that this money-speech may legally be restricted in order to uphold the democratic principle of equal participation in elections, for which purpose it is necessary to restrict the ability of the super-rich to buy the elections wholesale. (Note 53).

It is also telling that when the Court struck down campaign finance limits by reference to this money-is-speech doctrine, it did not go all the way. What it did was to allow unlimited election campaign finance for corporations. That’s free speech, the Court opined. But at the same time, it upheld other restrictions on campaign finance. In particular, it reasoned that the restrictions on the amounts individuals could contribute to campaigns and other direct contributions (as opposed to the fictitious “independent expenditures”) were justified to avoid corruption. So, miraculously there was no problem with the same free speech principles in restricting the freedom of money-speech of the actual humans for whose protection the First Amendment was actually enacted. Essentially, corporations were given unlimited free speech protections that were denied to actual people. This just goes to show how politically expedient the court rulings are and how flimsy and inconsistent the arguments in support of them are. There is no justice, only rules that the powers that be put in place based on their judgments of how far they can go in a given situation.

NOTES:

1. Morgan Freeman Joins Propaganda War Effort https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/09/24/morgan-freeman-joins-propaganda-war-effort/

2. The Net Worth Of The American Presidents: Washington To Obama https://247wallst.com/banking-finance/2010/05/17/the-net-worth-of-the-american-presidents-washington-to-obama/5/

3. Lofgren, Mike. The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (2016), p. 71.

4. Bill Clinton says he left the White House $16 million in debt https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/04/the-clintons-erased-16-million-in-debt-and-accumulated-45-million.html

The Obamas reportedly just bought a $12 million home on Martha’s Vineyard. They’re worth 30 times more than when they entered the White House in 2008 — here’s how they spend their millions https://www.businessinsider.com/barack-obama-michelle-obama-net-worth-2018-7

Lofgren, Mike. The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (2016), p. 78.

5. Ranking the Net Worth of the 115th https://www.rollcall.com/wealth-of-congress/

6. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Net Worth Is Higher Than You Think https://www.financialsamurai.com/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-net-worth-is-higher-than-you-think/

7. Statistical summary of 24-month campaign activity of the 2015-2016 election cycle https://www.fec.gov/updates/statistical-summary-24-month-campaign-activity-2015-2016-election-cycle/

8. Ad spending barrels past $1 billion mark as Mike Bloomberg overwhelms airwaves https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/28/politics/2020-ad-spending-1-billion/index.html

9. Lofgren, Mike. The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (2016), p. 67.

10. Ditto, p. 65.

11. DNC to Court: We Are a Private Corporation With No Obligation to Follow Our Rules https://ivn.us/posts/dnc-to-court-we-are-a-private-corporation-with-no-obligation-to-follow-our-rules

12. Santos, Rita. Gerrymandering and Voting Districts (At Issue) (2018).

13. Ditto.

14. The New Poll Tax: Ballot Access Laws Foil Independent Candidates https://www.opednews.com/articles/The-New-Poll-Tax-Ballot-A-by-Peter-Gemma-Election_Independent_Independent-Party_Independent-Voters-160901-723.html

15. Bennett, James T. Stifling Political Competition: How Government Has Rigged the System to Benefit Demopublicans and Exclude Third Parties (Studies in Public Choice) (2008).

The New Poll Tax: Ballot Access Laws Foil Independent Candidates https://www.constitutionparty.com/the-new-poll-tax-ballot-access-laws-foil-independent-candidates/

16. The Real Reason You Can’t Vote for an Independent Candidate https://time.com/4436805/lawrence-lessig-randy-barnett/

17. The Sneaky Silencing of Third-Party Politicians https://psmag.com/news/how-states-are-blocking-a-third-party-run#.8g9r7b4l6

18. The Real Reason You Can’t Vote for an Independent Candidate https://time.com/4436805/lawrence-lessig-randy-barnett/

19. The Sneaky Silencing of Third-Party Politicians https://psmag.com/news/how-states-are-blocking-a-third-party-run#.8g9r7b4l6

20. How Ballot Access Laws Affect the U.S. Party System https://journals.shareok.org/arp/article/view/550

21. Ditto.

22. Wikipedia: Single-member district

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-member_district

23. The Real Reason You Can’t Vote for an Independent Candidate https://time.com/4436805/lawrence-lessig-randy-barnett/

24. The Sneaky Silencing of Third-Party Politicians https://psmag.com/news/how-states-are-blocking-a-third-party-run#.8g9r7b4l6

25. 6 Million Lost Voters: State-Level Estimates of Felony Disenfranchisement, 2016 https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/6-million-lost-voters-state-level-estimates-felony-disenfranchisement-2016/

26. Fix Our Broken System

https://www.gp.org/fix_our_broken_system

27. Alabama blocked a man from voting because he owed $4 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/27/alabama-voting-rights-alfonzo-tucker?fbclid=IwAR2Mqjc_KvnNkKuoRLuSpoq5w4Tle7nyLfdX_W5OuTg4jhsr0qYPkDJhJoU

28. Registering by Party: Where the Democrats and Republicans Are Ahead https://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_rhodes_cook/registering_by_party_where_the_democrats_and_republicans_are_ahead

29. Tulsi Gabbard: Presidential Candidates Must Also Condemn Election Interference by US Intelligence Agencies https://www.anti-empire.com/tulsi-gabbard-presidential-candidates-must-also-condemn-election-interference-by-us-intelligence-agencies/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily+Headlines

30. Fix Our Broken System https://www.gp.org/fix_our_broken_system

31. How Third Parties Are Kept Out Of Presidential Debates https://www.huffpost.com/entry/what-the-hell-how-third-p_b_11277474

32. DNC Scrambles to Change Debate Threshold After Gabbard Qualifies https://consortiumnews.com/2020/03/05/dnc-scrambles-to-change-debate-threshold-after-gabbard-qualifies/?fbclid=IwAR0ozgCxmPsSlaNSomQUZQ4XHZ-lCVQ5ehqGPjORzsN3KI1VI7crjs9VDGM

33. Michael Bloomberg is the only candidate to give money to the DNC. They just changed their rules to let him onto the debate stage https://www.insider.com/dnc-debate-qualification-rules-bloomberg-donation-2020-2

34. Santos, Rita. Gerrymandering and Voting Districts (At Issue) (2018).

35. Land of the Free? Harvard Study Ranks America Worst in the West for Fair Electionhttps://www.globalresearch.ca/land-of-the-free-harvard-study-ranks-america-worst-in-the-west-for-fair-elections/5555383?fbclid=IwAR15nyqQ6XyqHSyM5dAujkU9HJI4BO8M41Xw11htkrOEwqcf7IP9JaPSApc

36. U.S. Elections Are Neither Free Nor Fair. States Need to Open Their Doors to More Observers https://theintercept.com/2018/11/05/u-s-elections-are-neither-free-nor-fair-states-need-to-open-their-doors-to-more-observers/

37. Hellevig, Jon. All is Art. On Social Practices and Interpretation of Feelings. On Democratic Competition. (2007).

38. GOP donors use Cromnibus changes to stuff party committees’ 2016 coffers; Dem donors MIA. https://www.opensecrets.org/

39. Soft Money Is Back — And Both Parties Are Cashing In https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/08/04/soft-money-is-backand-both-parties-are-cashing-in-215456

40. How Super PACS Shape U.S. Elections with Advertisements That Portray Candidates in Ways Publicly Identified Campaign Ads Often Avoid https://scholars.org/contribution/how-super-pacs-shape-us-elections-advertisements-portray-candidates-ways-publicly

41. Super-PACs and Dark Money: ProPublica’s Guide to the New World of Campaign Finance https://v2-www.propublica.org/article/super-pacs-propublicas-guide-to-the-new-world-of-campaign-finance

42. Money Isn’t Speech and Corporations Aren’t People https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2010/01/the-misguided-theories-behind-citizens-united-v-fec.html

43. Ditto.

44. Ditto.

45. Overturning the “Money Is Speech” Doctrine https://democracyisforpeople.org/page.cfm?id=19

46. Ditto.

47. The First Amendment and Restrictions on Political Speech

https://www.cato.org/publications/congressional-testimony/first-amendment-restrictions-political-speech

48. Overturning the “Money Is Speech” Doctrine https://democracyisforpeople.org/page.cfm?id=19

49. Money Isn’t Speech and Corporations Aren’t People https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2010/01/the-misguided-theories-behind-citizens-united-v-fec.html

50. Ditto.

51. Ditto.

52. Secondary Effects Doctrine https://uscivilliberties.org/themes/4457-secondary-effects-doctrine.html

53. Money Isn’t Speech and Corporations Aren’t People https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2010/01/the-misguided-theories-behind-citizens-united-v-fec.html

Full speech about Imam Mahdi and the West’s moral failure against coronavirus

Full speech about Imam Mahdi and the West’s moral failure against coronavirus

source 

April 14, 2020

The following is the full text of a televised speech delivered on April 9, 2020 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, on the occasion of the 15th of Sha’ban.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master Muhammad, and upon his pure household

May the auspicious 15th of Sha’ban be a blessed eid for all you dear brothers and sisters, the entire Iranian nation and all Muslims and all liberated people in the world. Unfortunately, I do not have the opportunity to meet with you up close and I have to speak to you from a distance, but this is an experience in itself. Today, I will say a few things about the Imam of the Age- may our souls be sacrificed for his sake- and I will raise a few points about the current issue of the country, but first of all, let us send greetings to the Imam of the Age:

Greetings be upon you Imam of the Age, greetings be upon you God’s firm pledge, greetings be upon you God’s promise – such promise whose fulfillment He guaranteed – greetings be upon you the hoisted flag, and you the manifestation of knowledge, of protection, of vast mercy and of inviolable promises.”

The following section of the holy ziyarah “Al-e Yasin” is full of love: “Our greetings be upon you when you rise and re-appear at the behest of God and when you put on the veil of disappearance. Our greetings be upon you when you engage in recitation and tafsir.”

Perhaps, there have been few historic eras during which humanity was in as much need as the present time for the existence of a savior. This holds true for both elites who feel this need consciously and the masses of the people who feel the need as well, but unconsciously. Everyone feels the need for a savior, a Mahdi. Everyone feels the need for the hand of divine power, for an infallible Imam, for purity and for divine guidance. We know of few historic eras during which there was so much need for this lofty truth.

Today, after having experienced various schools of thought and various philosophies – ranging from communism, western liberal democracy to the current form of democracy in the world, with the oversized claims that they make – humanity does not feel at ease. Despite all the astonishing scientific breakthroughs which have completely changed the way of life, humanity does not feel happy. Humanity suffers from poverty, disease, perversion and sins. It is afflicted with injustice, inequality and deep and growing class rifts. Humanity is subject to the abuse of power at the hands of big powers. They abuse science and natural discoveries, the capabilities discovered in nature. Humanity is faced with all these. These things have caused humans, throughout the world, to feel exhausted and to feel the need for a liberating hand.

Billions of people throughout the world are suffering. Some people might have prosperity, but they are not really tranquil. Humanity suffers from anxiety, and scientific breakthroughs and various developments have not managed to bestow bliss on humanity. Of course, human intellect is a great blessing. Similarly, experience is a valuable blessing. These are God’s blessings and they can solve many problems in life, but there are some knots that cannot be untied with these tools.

An example is justice. The issue of justice cannot be resolved with today’s advanced science and technology. Its knot cannot be untied with them. Today, injustice is fed by science. In other words, advanced science is at the service of injustice and warmongering. It is at the service of occupying others’ lands and of dominating nations. So, science cannot untie such knots. These things require a spiritual and divine hand and the powerful hand of an infallible Imam. It is he who can do these things. Therefore, his great mission is to administer justice. This has been pointed out in many prayers and ziyarahs.

The administration of justice is something that cannot be achieved by anyone other than the hand of divine power which is manifested by the Imam of the Age. And the kind of justice that Hazrat is expected to administer is not particular to one specific area, rather it covers all aspects of life:  Justice in power, wealth, health, human dignity, social status, spirituality, the possibility for growth and in all other dimensions of life. These are the things that are expected to be established by the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake) and by Allah’s favor, this will happen. All people- including elites and those who can understand events and the masses of the people some of whom might be preoccupied with their daily life and therefore are unaware of the developments in the world– have this need, either consciously or unconsciously.

All religions have promised a big “faraj” and a great divine movement at the end of history, which is of course not the end of history. When the era of the Imam of the Age begins, the real world and the real life of humanity begins to take shape. However, all religions have promised an end to the current condition of life that we have today. Therefore, this is a need, but in order to channel this need and render it fruitful, we have been asked in Islam to anticipate his re-appearance. This “anticipation” is beyond a mere sense of need. They have said that we should anticipate. Anticipation means hope. It means believing in a definite future. So, it is not just a mere belief. Anticipation is constructive. Therefore, in our narrations and teachings, the anticipation for this big faraj enjoys a high position. Later on, I will expand on this anticipation.

In a towqi’ [holy edict] of the Imam of the Age to Ibn Babawayh– Ali ibn Babawayh– he quotes the Holy Prophet (God’s greetings be upon him and his household) as saying “The best action that my Ummah can take is to anticipate the faraj.” There is a narration by Imam Musa ibn Ja’far which says, “After knowledge and understanding, the best course of action is anticipation for the faraj.” The Arabic word “ma’rifah” means monotheism and understanding divine truths. The Commander of the Faithful (greetings be upon him) says, “Anticipate the faraj and do not lose hope in the spirit of God.” It says that we should anticipate and we should not lose hope of divine spirit, mercy and assistance.

So in anticipating the faraj, there is dynamism and action. Well, this has been said about anticipating the re-appearance of the Imam of the Age. It is evident that anticipating the faraj means anticipating the re-appearance of the Imam of the Age. However, this is one manifestation of the anticipation. When the Holy Prophet says, “The best action that my Ummah can take is to anticipate the faraj” this reflects on all the problems that might occur to us in life. We should not become disappointed when confronting problems and we should anticipate a faraj, knowing for certain that it will materialize. The anticipation for the faraj is a faraj in itself. There is a narration by Hazrat Musa ibn Ja’far which says, “You should know that the anticipation for the faraj is a faraj in itself.” So, the anticipation for the faraj is a kind of opening for us as it liberates us from a state of despair and desperation which might force one into doing strange things. Well, this is what it means.

When the Holy Prophet and the Imams said this, it means that Mohammad’s (God’s greetings be upon him and his household) Ummah never becomes disappointed at any incident in life and that it always waits for the faraj. Well, anticipation does not mean sitting idle and fixating one’s eyes at the door, rather it means preparing oneself, taking action and feeling that there is an end that can be achieved and for that, one should work hard. We who anticipate the faraj and the re-appearance of the Imam of the Age (may our souls be sacrificed for his sake) should work to that end. We should work hard on the path of establishing a Mahdawi society. We should get close to the Mahdawi society as much as we can because the Mahdawi society is the society of justice, spirituality, understanding, brotherhood, camaraderie, science and dignity.

There is one point about the anticipation: anticipating the faraj is different from showing impatience and setting a timeline – for example by saying to ourselves that such and such an incident and difficulty should come to an end at such and such a time or that Hazrat should re-appear in such and such a day. This anticipation for the faraj does not mean showing impatience and being restless.

This anticipation means preparing oneself. Showing impatience and being in a rush are among the forbidden things. There is a narration which says, “God will not hurry up if His servants hurry up.” If you are in a rush, this does not mean that God will make hasty decisions because of you. No, there is a time and a reason for everything and things will be done based on divine providence. As I mentioned before, the anticipation for the faraj means both the re-appearance of the Hazrat and the opening after big difficulties: the opening after difficult incidents that involve everyone such as the incidents that occur today in the world which disappoint many and force others into suicide. However, when there is the anticipation for the big opening, this will not happen as one knows that such incidents will surely come to an end.

Well, there is another point here: the tranquility resulting from the anticipation and one’s self-confidence – as a result of which individuals feel calm and undisturbed – could be strengthened with prayers, with supplication and by speaking to God. “For without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction” [The Holy Quran, 13: 28]. Now, we are in the month of Sha’ban and after that, we have the month of Ramadan. There are numerous duas and various prayers and speaking to God without any interceder is very valuable. And speaking to the infallible Imams (greetings be upon them), who are the closest people in the whole world to Allah the Exalted, will give one tranquility and peace of mind. Remembrance of Allah the Exalted opens our path, gives us joy and attracts divine mercy.

Surely, the millions of hands that were raised last night will bear fruits. Last night, millions of people succeeded in familiarizing their hearts with God, in connecting with Him, in holding up one’s hands and in speaking to Him. Without any doubt, the results of this action will show themselves both in individuals themselves and in the whole society and many blessings will ensue. These were the points that I wished to discuss about the issue of the re-appearance, the faraj and the uprising of the Imam of the Age. Of course, many things can be said in this regard, but for today, this much is enough.

As for the current issue of the country – the coronavirus outbreak – well, this is an epidemic and a test. It is a test for the whole world: for both governments and nations. Governments are tested in this incident and so are nations. It is indeed a very strange test. Of course, enough has been said about the statistics, the very good measures that have been adopted and the recommendations of officials. The IRIB has also had a good performance, to be fair, in this regard. I do not want to speak about these matters, but I have certain other points to raise:

One point is that the Iranian nation has had a brilliant performance in this test. During the coronavirus test and during this pandemic, is modern pandemic, the Iranian nation shone brightly. First of all, the peak of this national glory belongs to the medical staff of the country. I have spoken many times and I would like to reiterate again the significance of their work and the value of their self-sacrifice, including that of physicians, nurses, laboratory experts, radiologists, medical assistants in health centers, public services divisions, the sections in charge of research, and management inside the Ministry of Health and outside it – the managers active in this area. The peak of this glory belongs to them. They placed their lives and their health at the service of the people. This is very significant and magnificent.

They endured the pain of being away from their family. Many of them did not see their family even during Nowruz holidays and they suffered from sleeplessness and psychological pressures resulting from treating patients in a critical state. They welcomed all these things and therefore, a good memory of the medical staff and system of the country will be engraved in the minds of the Iranian nation. This is a good and happy memory left behind at this point in time by the medical, nursing and treatment society of the country.

As well as them, we should mention volunteers: those who were not part of the medical staff, but who entered the arena voluntarily. Jihadi clergy and students, thousands of diligent basijis throughout the country and the masses of the people presented such valuable services that are beyond description. On the one hand, such services make one really happy and on the other hand, they make one feel grateful.

We should mention the Armed Forces as well. The Armed Forces truly utilized all their power of construction and creativity. They placed all their resources at the service of the task which even included scientific resources, scientific discoveries and the manufacture of medical instruments and medical equipment for hospitals and clinics as well as other goods and instruments which were at the disposal of the Armed Forces. They did their best to utilize their power of construction and creativeness in the area of science and pragmatism.

Later on, new capacities were discovered and it became clear that there are numerous capacities inside and outside the Armed Forces while we had been unaware of them beforehand. Youth appear on television and explain the things that they have built, but we did not know of them before. These are the new discovered capacities.

The people’s cooperation has also created beautiful, fascinating and astonishing scenes and they can be seen everywhere. I would like to cite instances of this popular cooperation. Of course, these are not all the cases, rather these are the ones that have been reported to me: in Sabzevar, for example, they have launched the plan “A sacrifice for every neighborhood”: the people in the neighborhood gather together, sacrifice an animal and give the meat to the needy in that neighborhood. This is a very essential, important and interesting plan for feeding the needy. In Yazd, the mother of a martyr has enlisted the help of several ladies in order to turn their houses into sewing workshops with the purpose of producing masks and giving them to the people for free. In Nahavand, a group of ladies who used to bake bread and send it to the frontlines during the Sacred Defense Era have become active again in order to control the disease and help fight it. In Khuzestan, the clergy have set up groups to disinfect the people’s houses. In Shiraz, local well-established personalities speak to the owners of different properties – such as the owners of houses and shops – so that they will not receive their rent or give a discount and delay the payments during the outbreak, thus helping local shopkeepers. In Tabriz, the head of the seminary has entered the arena on the ground to offer help. In another city, a hezbollahi candidate for the parliamentary elections, who was not elected, has decided not to close down his committee so that he can organize activists at the service of a jihadi movement and of fighting the coronavirus.

Of course, these examples are based on a few reports available to me, otherwise, there are hundreds or rather thousands of examples like this in different shapes throughout the country, some of which I have also cited in my previous speeches. It is important to pay attention that these are signs of the depth and the influence of Islamic culture in the hearts of our people. This is contrary to the claim of those who unfortunately tried to humiliate Iranian culture– Islamic-Iranian culture– in the past two decades in order to divert the attention of the people towards the western lifestyle. However, despite their wishes, this is not the case. Fortunately, this feeling of Islamic thinking and Islamic culture is a very strong and firm feeling in our people.

Western culture and civilization showed their mettle as well! Well, our national television showed some of the things that happened in western countries, in Europe and in the US, but some of them were not broadcast because this is the information that we receive and therefore, we are aware of it. The west displayed its cultural products as well. In some western countries– in Europe and the US– it so happened that governments confiscated masks and gloves belonging to another government while they were being transferred in order to use them for themselves. This happened in European and American governments. And the people there emptied the stores in a short time, in the space of one, two hours- as they were anxious to fill their fridges and they emptied the shops. They showed the whole world on television the empty shelves in the stores. Our television showed it as well. And there were some people who fought with one another over toilet paper. There were also long rows of people trying to buy guns. It was broadcast on television that the people were lining up to buy guns because they felt insecure and felt the need to buy guns in this sensitive period of time. We can also refer to their prioritization of patients: their preference not to treat the elderly. They said, “It is not necessary for us to bother treating the elderly, the disabled and the like who suffer from various conditions and ailments considering the restrictions that we have.” These are the things that have happened there.

Some people in those countries have committed suicide out of fear of the coronavirus and of death. This is the conduct that some western nations have shown. Of course, this is a logical and natural consequence of the philosophy ruling over the western civilization, which is an individualistic, materialistic and secular philosophy. Even if there is belief in God in that philosophy, it is not based on correct, towhidi and deep tenets. This is another issue.

I would like to add that a western official said a few days ago that the “Wild West” has been revived. This is what they say. When we say that there is a spirit of wildness in the west which is not incompatible with their perfumed and neat appearances, some people express their surprise and deny it. Now, they themselves are saying this! They say that such behavior is a symbol of the Wild West being revived.

Another dimension of this issue is the public behavior of our dear nation in acting on the recommendations. One can see that the people are really acting on what the National Anti-Corona Headquarters announces in a definite manner. Of course, they might announce something while they have doubts and the people might conclude that it is not necessary to do it, but when something is announced in a definite manner and they feel that they should do something, they cooperate with officials on the recommendations that they issue.

One example is this year’s “sizde-bedar” ceremony. Nobody would have believed that the people would cancel it, but they did. The people did not attend sizde-bedar. This shows that the people have accepted public discipline in confronting this disease in the true sense of the word. Of course, this should continue. This public discipline should continue to exist and the decisions announced by the National Anti-Corona Headquarters – as the Headquarters is the first-tier organization in charge of this task – should be taken seriously and acted upon.

Another dimension of the issue is that coronavirus is clearly a grave problem for today’s humanity. It is a big and dangerous outbreak that has occurred to humanity, but compared to other problems, it is a relatively small matter. We have been witness to many problems in the world and in our own country, which were not less important, rather more important than this recent malady, including the fact that Saddam’s planes dumped chemicals on our country 32 years ago– on exactly the same days that coronavirus has now entered our country. They killed thousands of people in our cities and in their own cities and they did so with mustard gas and the like. This happened and of course, all big powers in the world supported and helped Saddam on that day. Some of these so-called civilized and advanced countries gave him chemical substances and weapons and until today, none of them has answered for the crimes that they committed back then.

And that criminal Saddam, behaved towards our people and his own people in Halabja in the same manner, because he felt that the people of Halabja might be cooperating with the soldiers of the Islamic Republic, he killed them on the streets in a brutal manner. Well, these things have happened. During the two world wars, millions of people were killed as well. In the case of the coronavirus, it is said that one million-plus individuals have been infected and some have lost their lives. However, in the first and second world wars which occurred in Europe with an interval of about 20 years, several million people were killed. I do not remember exactly how many, but I know that tens of millions of people were killed during those wars.

During the Vietnam War too, which was waged by the US, many people were killed and the same is true of other wars. Just recently, many people were killed and martyred during the attack that the US and others launched in Iraq. These cases have been frequent. Therefore, when we think about the recent matter, we should not ignore the other important incidents that have always occurred in the world and we should know that at the very moment, millions of people are under the pressure of oppression at the hands of big powers and enemies in the world and they are deeply suffering. The people in Yemen, Palestine and many other parts of the world are under pressure. Therefore, the issue of coronavirus should not make us forgetful of the plots of enemies and of arrogance and we should know that the enmity of arrogance is based on the essence of the Islamic Republic.

If someone thinks that we should not show enmity so that they will not show us enmity either, this is not true. The essence of the Islamic Republic is the principle of Islamic democracy and this is not acceptable, understandable and tolerable to them! This is another point.

I will tell you that officials in the National Anti-Corona Headquarters are working seriously. We receive the reports in this regard and we are aware of their activities. They have also come up with certain plans for underprivileged classes, but I wish to stress and recommend that executive officials should implement the plans for helping these classes as soon as possible and in the best way they can, God willing.

However, the people are also responsible. There are some people who really find it very hard to make ends meet and they cannot manage their daily affairs. The people whose hands are open and who are financially well-off should begin extensive activities in this regard.

We read in the holy dua “Shajarat-un Nubuwwa”: “Feed me so that I can help- by means of what you bestowed on me with Your Grace- those who are deprived of your bounties and blessings to a large part, as you provided me with Your shelter.” This is one of the necessary tasks that should be carried out, in particular because the month of Ramadan is imminent. The month of Ramadan is the month of giving alms, making sacrifice and helping the needy. It will be such an excellent move to launch a big movement in the country for charitable purposes and offering pious help to the needy and the poor. If this happens, there will be a good memory of this year in the minds of the people.

In order to prove our love for the Imam of the Age, we should create scenes and reflections of the Mahdawi society. As I mentioned before, the Mahdawi society is the society of justice, dignity, knowledge and assistance. We should realize these things within the scope of our capability in our life. This will help us get closer to that ideal society.

The last point that I would like to raise is that in the absence of public meetings in the month of Ramadan – as this year, we are deprived of these very valuable public meetings which are places for making dua, speaking to one another and supplicating to God – we should not forget about acts of worship, praying and showing humility towards God. We can do the same things and show the same humility in our own homes, when we are alone or when we are among our family members and our children. Of course, there will be some television programs as well which can be benefitted from. And we are obliged to do so.

I also have one word of advice for officials and for young activists in the arena of science and technology. Two things should not be forgotten: one is the issue of “surge in production” which is vital for the country. We should pursue the issue of production in the country at any cost and we should help production witness a surge in the true sense of the word. And another is the issue of manufacturing the many things that we need and doing laboratory wok. By Allah’s favor, the youth in laboratory sections will pursue this matter.

I ask Allah the Exalted to bestow salvation on the Iranian nation. May God gladden the immaculate soul of our magnanimous Imam, that He associates the pure souls of our dear martyrs with the Holy Prophet, that He will realize the big dreams of the Iranian nation and that He hastens the re-appearance of the Imam of the Age- may our souls be sacrificed for his sake- God willing.

Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings

What Happens In the Wake of the COVID-19 Lockdown? Economic Destruction, Global Poverty, Bankruptcies, Mass Unemployment. Neoliberalism to the Rescue

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, March 28, 2020

In the wake of the lockdown: Bankruptcies and mass unemployment, the economic destabilization of entire countries. 

Millions of people have lost their jobs, and their lifelong savings. They are unable to pay their home mortgages.

In developing countries, poverty and despair prevail.

The political implications are far-reaching. The lockdown undermines real democracy. 

It would be naive to believe that the financial crisis was solely the result of spontaneous market forces. It was carefully engineered.

The coronavirus continues to provide a camouflage. Fear and panic (generated profusely by the corporate media) create “favorable conditions” for “institutional speculators”, many of whom had detailed foreknowledge of the WHO decision to launch a Global Public Health Emergency on January 30th, at a time when there were only 150 “confirmed cases” outside China.

The collapse of stock markets has resulted in one of the most important transfers in money wealth in modern history, yet to be firmly established.

The Coronavirus is not the cause of financial collapse. What prevails is an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty which enables powerful financial interests to manipulate the stock market and consolidate their financial positions. This crisis has led to an unprecedented concentration of money wealth.

In early February, roughly $6 trillion were wiped off the value of stock markets Worldwide. Massive losses of personal savings (e.g. of average Americans) are ongoing not to mention corporate failures and bankruptcies.

Each time Trump opens his mouth, or blames the Chinese on twitter, the stock markets respond. Those who have inside information or foreknowledge of US policy decisions will make a bundle of money.

Behind the global public health emergency, there are powerful economic interests: Wall Street, Big Pharma, the Washington Consensus, Corporate Charities and Foundations, the IMF, World Bank, et al. They met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on January 21-24, one week prior to the launching of the WHO global public health emergency.

The “international community” is calling for economic recovery. How will it be instrumented? So-called “corporate bailouts” i.e. “handouts” for banks, major corporations including airlines are contemplated.

One trillion promised by the US Federal Reserve, another trillion by the European Central Bank (ECB) now headed by Christine Lagarde.

“We have a responsibility to recover better” than after the financial crisis in 2008, said UN secretary general António Guterres:

“We have a framework for action – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We must keep our promises for people and planet.”

That so-called “promise” is meant to promote “Green Bonds”, a multibillion investment project sponsored by the Rockefellers among others, the objective of which is to “redirect pension plans and mutual funds towards green projects.”

For Big Money in America and Western Europe it’s “hand-outs”. For Big Pharma, the multibillion dollar global vaccination program will be funded by debt.

Impoverishment “Developing countries”

And what happens to the so-called “developing countries” most of which are indebted up to their ears.

The process of impoverishment in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa is beyond description. In large cities, informal urban sector workers are self-employed, paid on a daily basis, Others are paid on a weekly basis. What this means is that for large sectors of the urban population, household income has literally been wiped out.

In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a 21 days lockdown which has resulted in an immediate spiral of unemployment coupled with famine, despair and disease:

“The only way to save ourselves from coronavirus is if we don’t leave our homes, whatever happens, we stay at home…” said Modi.

This statement was accompanied with outright threats: “If we are not able to manage the next 21 days, then many families will be destroyed forever.” Diabolical statement by a “democratically elected” head of government.

At the time of Modi’s announcement (March 20), India had 482 cases of the coronavirus and 10 deaths (India’s total population: 1.37 billion). Forget COVID-19? In India, an estimated 37, 500 children under five die on a daily basis. And that figure will increase under the 21 days lockdown (2015 estimate, The Lancet)

My message to PM Modi, “You are killing India’s children”.

Third World Debt Overhang 

The debt overhang in developing countries is in the trillions.

It’s a debt driven agenda directed against developing countries which are already heavily indebted: new loans to pay back “bad debts”. It is a “safety net” for both the Western creditors and the Big Pharma conglomerates involved in the multibillion global vaccination project.

Real debt cancellation is not contemplated.

A rescue package for the heavily indebted developing countries has been announced. In early March, the IMF Managing Director together with the World Bank Group President held a joint press conference. A lot of humanitarian rhetoric.

The magic number: “We rely on $1 trillion in overall lending capacity.” (IMF M-D Georgieva)

At first sight this appears to be “generous”, a lot money. It encourages corruption at the highest levels of government. But ultimately it’s what we might call “fictitious money”, what it means is

“We will lend you the money and with the money we lend you, you will pay us back”.(paraphrase).

It is equivalent to usury.

The unspoken truth is that this one trillion dollars ++ is intended to drive up the external debt. And then the Western creditors will impose massive economic reforms including privatization of health and education, freeze on wages, etc. That’s the neoliberal solution applied at a global level: No real economic recovery, more poverty and unemployment Worldwide.

The IMF is explicit. In one of its lending windows, the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, which applies to pandemics, generously “provides grants for debt relief to our poorest and most vulnerable members.” Nonsensical statement, it is there to replenish the coffers of the creditors, the money is allocated to debt servicing.

“For low-income countries and for emerging middle-income countries we have … up to $50 billion that does not require a full-fledged IMF program.”

No conditions on how you spend the money. But this money increases the debt stock and requires  reimbursement. The countries are already in a straight-jacket. The more you lend, the more you squeeze the developing countries into political compliance. And ultimately that is the objective of the failing American Empire.

“the World Bank Group Board announced a $12-billion package … to provide a fast, flexible response, … to reduce the transmission of the pathogens. (supplies, equipment, medication, etc. vaccination?)”

The financing of the vaccination program is not explicitly mentioned. Most probably loans for the vaccination program will be announced at a later date.Global Economy Teeters on the Brink of a Recession That Will Transform Geo-Politics

Economically Advanced “Developed Countries”

For EU member countries, a debt driven recovery of bankrupt national economies is in the pipeline.

Without significant debt relief or cancellation, what can we expect in the wake of the lockdown?

A process of outright “Thirdworldisation” of the “advanced” European countries?

If this program is accepted by the EU member states: Real wages will plummet, the Welfare State which developed in the post war era will be scrapped. Social services will be privatized. Assets will be sold off to pay back the debt.

Millions of small and medium sized enterprises including family farms and urban services, tourism, etc are affected. The 2015 “Greek model” of brutal debt restructuring (or worse) could be applied to Italy and Spain…

We have provided a brief summary of a complex process. Negotiations with the creditors are ongoing in the course of the lockdown.

While panic and fear prevail with regard to COVID-19, these are the potential impacts of  what we might describe as “Dirty Economic Medicine”.

People across the land, nationally and internationally in solidarity must understand what is happening.

In the wake of the lockdown: what is the economic and social aftermath of this crisis?

It is crucial that this “Neoliberal Solution” to the crisis which consists in building up the debt be forcefully rejected.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020

Vladimir Putin – Speech at State Duma plenary session – Amendments to Constitution

Vladimir Putin took part in a plenary session of the State Duma on amendments to the Russian Federation Constitution.March 10, 2020

Transcript

State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin: Colleagues,

Let us get down to work. Mr President, the LDPR faction is the most active here. Colleagues, please register. Please turn on the registration mode. Please note that registration is on. Please show us the results of the registration. There are 428 deputies present and 22 are absent. We have a quorum.

I give the floor to President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Volodin, State Duma deputies,

Mr Speaker informed me about the discussion that took place here during the second reading of amendments to the Constitution.

Considering the fact that the discussion was of a fundamental nature and that it was my initiative, as you know, to have a broad discussion on the possible amendments to the main law of Russia, I found it necessary to speak out here, at the State Duma, without delay on the most important proposals voiced here today, and I informed the Speaker about this.

Colleagues, but I would like to begin by thanking the members of the working group, State Duma deputies and Federation Council members, who participated directly and very intensely in developing amendments to the Constitution.

Let me repeat, these amendments are long overdue; they are necessary and, I believe, will be useful for Russia, for society and for our people, because they are aimed at strengthening our sovereignty, our traditions and our values – the foundation of our life; at expanding and specifying social guarantees, which means fully developing the social character of our country, and, in general, creating conditions for the confident, progressive and evolutionary development of Russia in the long historical term.

I agree with the previous speakers: the world is indeed changing. And not just because of the rapid, explosive in fact, development of technology, but literally of all spheres of life. These changes are cardinal and, I would say, irreversible. We can see how difficult the situation in the global policy, security and the global economy is. We are also battling the coronavirus now, oil prices are fluctuating, together with the national currency exchange rate and stock exchanges.

However, I would like to use this floor to say I have absolute confidence that we will get over this, and do so with dignity. The economy will grow stronger, and the most important industries will become more prominent and competitive. But we must work, and work together, consolidating our efforts.

However, all this is creating additional risks for us or, as they say, challenges. At the same time, there are those who want to deter Russia and are ready to use any method for this, which we know and have pointed out more than once.

In fact, the policy of deterrence has been used for a long time now, as we well know, and those who are pursuing it have said so openly and without being embarrassed. They are waiting for us to make a mistake or to slip up, losing our bearings or, worse still, getting bogged down in internal dissent, which is sometimes fanned, fuelled and even financed from abroad. It is even possible to calculate exactly how much money is allocated for this. This is something you can calculate.

I know that Russia’s leading political forces have largely similar views on these matters. This was clearly indicated once again during my recent meeting with the leaders of the State Duma factions at the Kremlin, which began on March 5 and ended on March 6, as Mr Zyuganov pointed out after taking a look at his watch.

At the same time, it is obvious to everyone that, unfortunately, many things in the country have only been tacked together hastily, as people say, and that we remain vulnerable in many respects. I am referring to political stability, ethnic and religious accord, as well as economic and social development. This is why our work on the amendments has provoked a question, which is being discussed increasingly more actively, about the further forming of the supreme institute of state power in Russia, or more precisely, presidential power.

The President is the guarantor of the Constitution or, simply put, the guarantor of the country’s security, domestic stability and, as I said before, evolutionary development – I repeat, evolutionary development, because we have had enough revolutions. Russia has fulfilled its plan when it comes to revolutions.

By the way, I saw during my trips across the country that these questions worry our people no less than they do you, State Duma deputies. Their concern is understandable. I have no doubt that the day will come when the supreme, presidential power in Russia will not be so personified, if I may say so, that it will not be connected to a certain individual. But this is exactly how it was in our previous history, and we must take this into account.

I am fully aware of my responsibility to the people, and I see that the people, or at least the majority of our society are waiting for my personal assessments and decisions on key matters of the development of the Russian state, both now and after 2024.

Therefore, I will formulate my position in an abundantly clear, honest and straightforward manner, including my opinion on the specific proposals that have been made here and were generally raised during the discussion on amendments to the Constitution.

As regards the position of Alexander Karelin on the need for new early elections to the State Duma:

My point of view on this issue is known. If the citizens of Russia vote for the amendments to the Fundamental Law, including the transfer of some presidential powers to the State Duma and the Federation Council, such changes should enter into force immediately after the publication of the adopted amendments and, hence, the State Duma would receive its expanded powers there and then.

This raises the question, do the current members of the State Duma have the right to accept these new powers? I think the answer is certainly positive. Why? There are all the legitimate legal grounds for this. Of course, in the final count this is your decision. But if there is no consensus on this issue in parliament, and the Speaker told me there is none, I do not see the need for early elections to the State Duma.

Let me say again that if people go to the polls on April 22 and vote, they will reaffirm the new authority of the State Duma. The people, the only source of power, will have their say. So that is settled.

Let me repeat, this deals with substantial expansion of the parliament’s authority, and this is the road to closer work between the representative and executive branches of power. This, colleagues, is how I planned it. This will enhance their reciprocal responsibility for the results of their work or failure.

I believe such changes are justified and sufficient at the current stage of our social development. In effect, this is a major step forward in developing our democracy.

I would like to return to the issue that I mentioned at the beginning. We have indeed reached the line and before we cross this line we must, according to many participants of this discussion, make a decision on a fundamental and sensitive issue concerning the highest level of state authority, which is presidential power. I think and I strongly believe that a strong presidential vertical for our country, for Russia is absolutely necessary. And today’s economic situation, as I have just pointed out, and the situation in other spheres such as security is another reminder.

First of all, it is necessary for stability. Of course, there are other options, which we are well aware of, such as parliamentary government, which is widely common in the world. However, at the current stage of our development it is not suitable for us. Look at what is happening in the European countries with a traditional parliamentary democracy. Some of these countries cannot even form their governments for years, without any exaggeration. For Russia, this is absolutely impossible and completely unacceptable.

Now, for example, granting other bodies of power such as the Security Council or the State Council – which are all the more so not directly elected by the people – with certain serious powers of a presidential nature would be, in my opinion, wrong and unacceptable, even dangerous.

Firstly, it has nothing to do with democracy. Secondly, it will inevitably result in the division of society. I am certain that Mr Zhirinovsky, who came forward with this proposal as far as I am aware, having a lot of experience as a politician will agree with me. In Russia, it will inevitably result in the duality of power, a public divide, and will affect the fate of the country and the people in the most negative and perhaps tragic way. So let us not take this road.

There have been proposals and ideas to amend the Constitution to extend the term of the current President, your humble servant, to do so on condition people vote (if they do) for this amendment.

Yes, the national vote is to take place in April. But in this case, the authority of the President would be extended as a result of a clear-choice election. I think this is also wrong and should not be done. Russian citizens must have an alternative at any election, including the presidential election. All elections must be open and competitive.

Generally speaking, the proposals made by Valentina Tereshkova (we have deep respect for her, and I would like to congratulate you, Ms Tereshkova, on your recent birthday once again) are also understandable. The first is to remove from the Constitution the number of terms for which the country’s top official may be elected. A similar idea was voiced at my recent meeting with the public in St Petersburg. This is exactly what one veteran suggested. I said then that I did not wish to return to Soviet times. I will be straight, this remark was inappropriate because there were no elections in Soviet times. Everything was done behind the scenes, or as a result of some inter-party procedures or intrigues. There were no real elections then. Now the situation is very different. This is true. It is necessary to go and vote. This is a different situation.

Strictly speaking, it would technically be possible to cancel the restriction on the number of terms, all the more so since it does not exist in many other countries, including our neighbours. They have no restrictions on the number of presidential terms. Incidentally, the amendment to the Constitution that limits the number to two presidential terms only appeared overseas, in the United States, in 1947. It was only in 1951 that it was voted for and ratified by all states. 1951 is not that far off, just yesterday in terms of history, I will explain why.

Incidentally, there are precedents for elections for more than two terms, including in the United States. And why? Look: the Great Depression, huge economic problems, unemployment and poverty in the US at that time, and later on, World War II. When a country is going through such upheavals and such difficulties (in our case we have not yet overcome all the problems since the USSR, this is also clear), stability may be more important and must be given priority. All the more so, let me repeat, when a country still has many problems.

But when the political, economic and social spheres gain internal stability and maturity, when the country becomes, undoubtedly more powerful and less vulnerable from the outside, then the possible alteration of power, of course, becomes more important. This is necessary for the development of the country. We do not adopt amendments for a year, or two years or even ten years, I hope; but for a longer historical term, at least 30–50 years. For this long term, society must have guarantees for the regular change of power. We should think about the generations to come. This is why I do not believe it is viable to delete the restriction on the number of presidential terms from the Constitution.

In fact, the second proposal means lifting restrictions against any person, any citizen, including the current president, from taking part in an election in the future. In the course of transparent and competitive elections, naturally. And, naturally, only if Russian citizens support this proposal, this amendment, and say “yes” during the general vote on April 22.

In fact, this amendment will only be possible under one condition: if the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation provides an official ruling that this amendment does not contradict the principles and the main provisions of the Constitution.

Let us not forget, we are not adopting a new Constitution but only important amendments, which are still separate amendments. Let me stress once again that I do not believe it viable to change the Constitution in general, because it still has a lot of potential – on the contrary, it has proven its effectiveness – even to solve the issue of presidential power. This is why I am repeating this: if the Federal Assembly adopts the law on amendments to the Constitution as it is now, it must be sent to the Russian Federation Constitutional Court for an assessment and an official ruling.

And, to conclude my speech, I would like to once again thank the State Duma deputies and the Federation Council members for their active and substantive work on the amendments to the Constitution. I would like to sincerely thank the Russian people for their support. I have felt it over the years. It would have been difficult and even impossible to do anything without this support, especially during the most difficult time at the beginning of the 2000s.

I know that we have not managed to do everything we planned. I understand the criticism I hear, including that related to a number of difficult decisions. But I would like to assure you that I have and always will go by the current and long-term interests of Russia in my work. And exceptionally by the will of our people. By the way, this is why I have proposed holding a general vote for our people to decide on these amendments to the Constitution.

And, to our people, I would like to say: it will be as you vote on April 22, my friends. You and I, against all odds, have done a lot to make our country stronger. I am sure that together we will do many more good things, at least before 2024. Then we will see.

Thank you.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 2020 – IN THE EYE OF THE STORM

South Front

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

Biden His Time

The South Carolina primary and the Super Tuesday were clarifying events which yielded the surprising result of returning Joe Biden to the status of Democratic Party front-runner for the nomination. It does not appear likely the Party hierarchy desired this result. Given the hype surrounding some of the younger candidates such as Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg, it is more likely they were hoping to repeat the success of the Obama formula. Namely, a young, charismatic, inexperienced candidate who can be all things to all people and does not have any messy baggage that is inevitable with every veteran mainstream politician. But Beto imploded even before his campaign got off the ground, and Pete proved incapable of attracting the votes of Hispanics and African Americans.

Instead, the Sanders campaign tapped into the growing demand for genuine domestic reforms, giving Vermont’s self-declared democratic socialist a massive boost in the polls that simply frightened the Democratic Party elite. The initial reaction to Sanders consisted of enlisting New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, a billionaire, to run as a Democrat as insurance against Sanders’ apparent dominance of the field whose massive campaign advertising spree had the effect of suffocating the efforts of his rivals by driving up ad prices. The second part of anti-Sanders campaign became evident during the most recent debate, in which virtually everyone ganged up on Sanders, even the supposed “moderate” Warren. Thirdly, behind the scenes machinations by Party leadership prompted several candidates (Steyer, Buttigieg, Klobuchar) to drop out in order to promote consolidation around either Biden or Bloomberg, with Warren being kept on in order to siphon the votes away from Sanders. Super Tuesday primaries made Biden look more viable than Bloomberg who then promptly dropped out in order to allow the status-quo support to coalesce around Biden. But the heavy-handed intervention to aid Biden carries two risks.

Dr. Demento

The state of Biden’s health is such that the decision to abandon Bloomberg as “insurance policy” may have been premature. To state it plainly, Joe Biden’s cognitive skills have sharply declined since his time as Vice President. Biden’s arguably greatest asset to Obama was as a ferocious campaigner with a certain presence of mind. Today’s Biden forgets what he said two minutes earlier, seems unaware of which city and state he is in at the moment, cannot decide whether he is running for the Presidency or the Senate, and is prone to making incoherent, stream-of-consciousness rants that the dutiful media continue describe as “gaffes” and  his most ardent supporters as “stutter”. When giving Super Tuesday victory speeches, Biden had to resort to reading prepared text off a teleprompter, leading one TV pundit to praise Biden’s ability to “finish his sentences” without even a hint of irony. But should Biden suffer an impossible to conceal cognitive lapse in the middle of a debate with Donald Trump, who is still a formidable stage performer, it will lead to demands for Biden’s medical records or even a new medical evaluation to ensure he is not suffering from the onset of Alzheimer’s. Unless Biden can muster a lucid mind in time to face Donald Trump, the state of his mental health will become a significant liability.

A Party Divided

The other problem is the now-evident and very deep Party polarization. Bluntly put, there are now great many Biden supporters who would never vote for Sanders, and great many Sanders supporters who would never vote for Biden. Worse, many of the Biden supporters, including in the ranks of the American punditry and commentariat, have developed such an intense dislike for Sanders that they are hinting at voting for Trump rather than a “socialist”. One can readily sense the degree of polarization when hashtags like #BernieBros are trending at the same time as #IDoNotLikeJoeBiden.

The level of division within the Party is such that no single candidate can possibly bridge it. No matter who is nominated, he will not have the full and enthusiastic support of a major faction of the Democratic Party coalition. Potentially complicating matters even further is the institution of super-delegates, or die-hard party loyalists who can declare their support for a candidate irrespective of the will of the voters in their state.

The Known Unknowns

The outcome of the race will furthermore depend on several factors which are guaranteed to play a role in the outcome, but whose impact cannot yet be accurately predicted. In no particular order, they are

  • The Economy. If United States suffers from a recession or even a full-blown financial crisis, 2008-style, Trump is toast almost irrespective of what Biden does on the campaign trail. Trump has made the economy the centerpiece of his presidency—if anything bad happens to it, it will doom the chances of his second term. However, at the moment there are no indications anything like that will happen. Rather the opposite—the Federal Reserve’s lowering the federal funds rate by half a percentage point represents an endorsement of Trump for a second term.
  • Coronavirus. If the United States are hit hard by the pandemic and its ramshackle for-profit health care system copes with it less effectively than China’s, this too would be a major problem for Donald Trump, particularly if it triggers an economic crisis whose effects are felt before November. Trump’s appointment of Pence to deal with the anti-pandemic measures shows the White House is taking this threat very seriously.
  • VP pick. There are no indications Trump would have a different running mate in 2020, and Pence has proved himself to be if not a Cheney-style power-behind-the-throne, then at least a reliable and discrete troubleshooter for the administration. Biden’s or Sanders’ VP picks are still unknown and, in the light of their own lack of executive experience, selection of a capable, experienced administrator.
  • Election rigging. Research conducted after Super Tuesday showed significant discrepancies between tabulated votes and exit poll results, in some states reaching 8%, which is an unusually large amount well outside the margin of error. Ironically, US AID own guidelines for election monitoring state that such discrepancies may constitute an indicator though not proof that the election was tampered with. That possibility cannot be ruled out, since voting is done using electronic machines leaving no paper trail, making verification all but impossible. Given the post-2016 emphasis on “securing elections”, ostensibly to prevent “Russian hackers” from influencing the outcome in the future, one also cannot rule out the possibility the “Russia scare” was used as cover under which mechanisms for influencing vote scoring were embedded in many if not all US states. It also remains to be seen whether such tactics could be used in the general election, given the inevitable outcry it would provoke among the republican electorate. For now, it appears more likely for them to be used only in intra-party power struggles, to eliminate status quo challengers like Sanders.

Four More Years

Unless one of the above-named unknowns manifests itself in the coming months, Donald Trump is well positioned to win the second term. Not only can Trump boast certain successes in domestic and foreign policy, the schism among the Democrats will result in a demotivated base no matter whether Biden or Sanders are the nominee.

In practical terms it means United States foreign policy run by the “deep state” for at least four more years, leading to more wars, fewer arms control agreements, deeper deficits, and the general deterioration of international security, which will make the global multipolarity even more evident than it is right now.

Biden’s victory would not change the trajectory of US politics, either. Joseph Biden Jr. represents the corporatist pro-war wing of the Democratic Party, and Biden’s own involvement in Ukraine is so well known that it requires no additional elaboration. And whereas Trump at least made efforts to rein in the “deep state” and paid a price for it in the form of impeachment, President Biden will do no such thing.

Finally, in the unlikely event of a Sanders victory, there is no reason to expect he would be any more successful than Trump in thwarting such subversion of Constitutional authority. Even though he might be willing to do so, and his extensive domestic agenda practically demands reductions in the colossal national security budget, his own party simply will not let him. If anything, it will back the “deep state” against him as it did against Trump.

Thus at the moment the US political system is a functioning replica of the Titanic heading for the iceberg, with intense struggle on the bridge over who will control the steering wheel. Except that there’s a catch: no matter who seizes it, the ship’s course will not change sufficiently to avoid catastrophe.

RUSSIAN HYSTERIA 2.0: BOTH PRIMARY US CANDIDATES ARE KREMLIN AGENTS

South Front

In the upcoming US Presidential elections, the new hysteria is that Russia is attempting to influence US voters and is supporting both key candidates – Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

This means that the “evil Russians” have stepped up their game and actually want either of the front-runners to win.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the most popular Democrat politician, winner of Nevada’s next party election and leader of polls in the US autumn presidential election, said Russian President Vladimir Putin is not his friend and accused the Russian leader of being an “autocratic thug.”

But that’s exactly what he would say if he was a Putin agent, of course, he wouldn’t let himself be discovered.

If voters have to choose between Trump and Sanders, they will suddenly find themselves in a situation of choice between politicians, both of whom are declared authoritative by the media and “intelligence sources” claim they are actual Kremlin agents.

It is hard to imagine how a society can maintain at least minimal prudence and minimal respect for its own security forces and democratic institutions in this case.

It is also noteworthy that the reports that Russia is providing electoral support to Sanders, who is trying to become a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, began appea

According to American experts, now his chances of winning the national congress of the Democratic Party, which determines the presidential candidate, have increased significantly.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders beat opponents at Democrats’ caucuses in Nevada. According to American media, he won 47% of the vote. This is almost two times that of Joe Biden, who became second. Third place went to the ex-mayor of South- Benda to Pete Buttigic.

However, in 2016 there was already a similar situation – and then Sanders was simply “robbed” by the votes at the national party congress, because the party elite decided that Hillary Clinton would still be the best candidate, and the votes of ordinary voters and Sanders delegates did not matter.

The “fact” that Russian structures are trying to help the election campaign of the Vermont Senator Sanders, the Washington Post reported, citing sources in the US intelligence circles. As the publication emphasized, American lawmakers, the Donald Trump administration, and the candidate himself were informed of this Russian intervention.Joy Reid@JoyAnnReid

And unlike Trump, @BernieSanders had the correct response:

“I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president,” Sanders said in a statement to The Washington Post. “My message to Putin is clear: stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.” https://twitter.com/Santucci/status/1230966727183405056 …John Santucci@SantucciWOW —- WAPO – Bernie Sanders briefed by U.S. officials that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/bernie-sanders-briefed-by-us-officials-that-russia-is-trying-to-help-his-presidential-campaign/2020/02/21/5ad396a6-54bd-11ea-929a-64efa7482a77_story.html …28.1KTwitter Ads info and privacy7,048 people are talking about this

“Unlike Donald Trump, I do not consider Vladimir Putin a good friend. He is an autocratic thug,” Sanders also said. “I don’t care, frankly, who Putin wants to be president. My message to Putin is clear: stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.”

US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that he had seen no intelligence or analysis to support the claims that Russia was supporting anybody in the elections.

All information that claims Trump or Sanders are supported by Russia comes from unnamed US officials, and various intelligence sources.

Regardless, absurd rhetoric continues.

James Carville, a prominent democratic political strategist, said that Putin won the Nevada election.

Carville is known for actively participating in the winning election campaigns of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Ehud Barak and Afghan President Ghani and so on and so forth.

According to Carville, the Kremlin specifically supports Sanders to bring down the weakest democratic candidate against Trump who will definitely lose to Trump. And to save Trump for the 2nd term, the main goal of the Kremlin.

As a result, Sanders’ victory in Nevada and Biden’s defeat translate into discussion of whether Putin manipulated the elections in Nevada. Carville also called on all democratic candidates to unite against Sanders and prevent the Kremlin from implementing its plans.

Republicans, in turn, point out that the CIA (with the support of CNN and the Washington Post) specifically stated 1 day before the Nevada caucus that Russia supported Sanders (this is in addition to standard accusations that Sanders was allegedly a communist).

Thus, they wanted to cover up Sanders’ relations with the Kremlin, as they did with Trump and lower his chances in the elections. But the voter failed and the plan did not work, hence the growing hysteria among the democratic establishment, which created a very monstrous picture, where the main candidates from both parties are connected with the Kremlin.

Regardless, a plethora of memes and caricatures are now being spread in social media, depicting Putin as the biggest winner, Sanders as a communist, as well as both him and Trump as Kremlin agents and what not.

Some of them can be seen below:

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

A Different Islamic Constitution; Transparent Elections and a Healthy Turnout

By Nour Rida

Tehran – With the nearing of the parliamentary elections in Iran, anti-Iranian news outlets have rushed to attack the electoral system in Iran and underscore that the disqualification of most candidates was decided based on their loyalty to the system. Mainstream media tried to put this in the context of disqualifying Reformist candidates only. This is not unprecedented. Let us remind that in June 2017, when Iran witnessed the presidential debates between the current Reformist president Hassan Rouhani and the Principalist candidate back then Seyed Ebrahim Raeesi, media outlets also rushed into suggesting that the “undemocratic” system will not allow the Reformists to win, claiming that Raeesi coming into office would mean the end of diplomacy and international relations for Iran. Rouhani won the elections.

Iran elections: a different Islamic constitution

The nationwide votes for the parliament and the midterm election of the Assembly of Experts will be held simultaneously on Friday. A total of 7,148 candidates, including dozens of Iranians from the religious minorities, are running for the parliament. There are 290 seats in the parliament up for grabs. The lawmakers are elected for a 4-year term, with no limitation for the incumbent or former parliamentarians to run again.

Parliamentary elections in Iran go as far back as 1906 and the Constitutional Revolution, calling for a Constitutional Monarchy. Post-Islamic Revolution however, Parliament is called the Islamic Consultative Assembly, and it passes laws within a very different Constitution; one based on Islamic Sharia Law.

As with the previous round, the major rivaling camps are those of Principlists and Reformists. In the last legislative elections, the Hope List comprising Reformist candidates secured relative majority at the parliament after winning 122 seats over two rounds of elections. In all, the Reformist camp together with moderate candidates took 137 seats against 120 seats that went to the Principlists.

Part of the fair elections also is that Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Armenians and Assyrians are getting ready to cast their ballots in Iran’s eleventh parliamentary elections. Under the Constitution, there are five reserved seats in the legislature for Iran’s religious minorities.

One week before Iranians are expected to head to the polls for the country’s 11th parliamentary elections, the interior minister says inspection teams assigned by the ministry are comprehensively monitoring the electoral process against any potential fraudulent activity.

According to IRNA, the observer teams have been watchful of the candidates’ electoral engagement and the behavior of those associated with them over the past month.

A healthy turnout

Western mainstream media outlets claim that much of the country’s youth, particularly in the capital Tehran, plan to stay at home, foreshadowing what’s expected to be the lowest voter turnout in years.

But this is a judgment from afar. Many young people particularly in Tehran, despite being upset with the economic situation which is part of an economic crisis swiping across the region, have said they will take part in the elections. Others said they prefer to abstain from voting, but that is part of any normal elections isn’t it?  Also, Tehran is the capital of a country of 80 million people at least, and the turnout of elections in the capital is usually 35 to 40 percent for multiple reasons. First of all the low turnout in Tehran is due to the long voting process and the lack of interaction between voters and candidates, as experts note. It is not the best way to evaluate the elections of a country by looking at its metropolis or capital. All other cities count too, especially in a big country geographically and demographically speaking. 

Also concerning Tehran, there is no real connection between the voter and the candidate, unlike other cities across the country. In addition, the lack of TV debates makes it less interesting than presidential elections, which is normal as well. Moreover, experts point out that while Reformists do not do well across the country, they do much better in the capital.

Western governments, media and think tanks do not recognize that all major Iranian factions are disgusted with the regime in Washington. The turnout of people participating in the funeral of General Soleimani and the millions who poured into the streets on a snowy day to take part in the rallies on the anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution says a lot. Simultaneously, some media outlets claim that the assassination of Soleimani will probably tilt the turnout towards Principlists, but that is a miscalculation because General Soleimani was popular among all Iranian political groups and camps and hence that will not have any impact on the attitude of the voters. Western governments topped by the American regime should end their miscalculations.

According to Iranian experts, turnout for parliamentary elections throughout the country over the past four decades has been between 50 and 70 percent. If the turnout is significantly below 50 percent then that would be seen as unhealthy.

Iran vs. US elections; transparent vs. non-transparent

The American administration also criticized the disqualification of the candidates in Iran, accusing the Islamic Republic of being “undemocratic”.

On this note, the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Monday urged U.S. officials to focus on fixing their own country’s “nontransparent” and undemocratic system before calling into question the legitimacy of elections in other nations.

Abbas Mousavi, spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters that the U.S. system “ignores the vote of the majority of people” and said “American officials had better address questions” about the country’s elections from the US public.

Mousavi appeared to be referring to the Electoral College, the archaic system the US uses to elect its president every four years. Two of the last three presidents—George W. Bush and Donald Trump—have lost the popular vote yet won the presidential election thanks to the Electoral College.

However, the Guardian Council states that the vetting process was done fairly, pointing to the fact that both Reformists and Principlists were among the disqualified.

In an exclusive interview with Fars news agency on Sunday, the spokesman for Iran’s election supervisory body, the Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said, “Despite the enemies’ false propaganda, and wrong allegations by some people inside the country, elections in Iran have never been symbolic and ceremonial and the Guardian Council, as a national judge of elections…, will not enter any deal on people’s right in the face of political pressure or in order to appease [political] factions.”

Kadkhodaei also noted that the Guardian Council approves qualification of nominees only based on the Constitution and believes that allocation of quotas for various political factions lacks legitimacy.

“Definitely, the Guardian Council assures the noble Iranian nation that it has made all necessary preparations to guarantee healthy and competitive elections, and will fulfill its supervisory duties with more accuracy,” Kadkhodaei said.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has called for a high turnout in the upcoming elections, saying a lively vote guarantees the Iranian nation’s security and contributes to efforts towards resolving the problems.

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Censorship Is the Way that Any Dictatorship — and NO Democracy — Functions

Eric Zuesse February 15, 2020

No democracy can survive censorship. If there is censorship, then each individual cannot make his/her own decisions (voting decisions or otherwise) on the basis of truth but only on the basis of whatever passes through the censor’s filter, which is always whatever supports the censoring regime and implants it evermore deeply into the public’s mind — regardless of its actual truthfulness.

The public does have a mind, as a collective constituting the majority of the residents in the given land, which majority rules any democratic government. If the government doesn’t really represent the majority, it’s no democracy, at all, but instead represents other individuals, the real rulers, who might be hidden. Consequently, if a democracy exists but a censor somehow becomes allowed, and emerges into existence in a given land, then democracy will inevitably be snuffed-out there, and dictatorship will inevitably be the result — merely because censorship has been applied there, which blocks some essential truths (truths that the rulers don’t want the public to know) from reaching the public.

Nothing is as toxic to democracy as is censorship. Censorship prevents democracy.

If a dictatorship already exists in a given land, then it does so by means of censorship, because only by that means will the public be willing to pay taxes to the regime and to go to war for it and to kill and die for it. Without censorship, none of that could happen, except in an authentic democracy. An authentic democracy has no censorship.

This is why democracy is so rare. Almost every dictatorship calls itself a ‘democracy’. But a government which calls itself “democratic” isn’t necessarily democratic, but more likely it has simply fooled its public to think that it is one (such as the United States has by now been scientifically proven to be — an actual dictatorship).

Anyone who endorses censorship is a totalitarian, a supporter of totalitarianism, even without recognizing the fact. If the person fails to recognize the fact that censorship is applied only in a totalitarian regime, then that person has bought into the most basic belief of totalitarianism: the idea that censorship can be justified in some circumstances. Dictatorships always pump that lie, so as to be able to continue to exist as a dictatorship. There is no circumstance which ever can justify censorship, unless one believes that dictatorship is, or can be, good instead of bad.

If you think that some censorship is good, then you have bought into the fundamental belief that is promulgated in any dictatorship. It’s a lie, but it fools the majority of people, in a dictatorship.

No writing, nor any other statement, should ever be censored, no matter how vile it is. Indeed, if it is vile, then it needs to be exposed, not hidden; because, if it is hidden, then it will fester until it grows in the dark and finally becomes sprung upon a public who have never been inoculated against it by truth, and therefore the false belief becomes actually seriously dangerous and likely to spread like wildfire, because it had been censored before it became public. The most deadly infections are those that grow in the dark and then become released upon a population who have no pre-existing protection against it.

Every religion, and every evil regime, seeks to censor-out whatever contradicts its propaganda, and is therefore intrinsically hostile toward democracy, but the danger is always being presented not by the writers and speakers of the propaganda, but by its publishers (regardless of media: print, broadcast, or online) — they are the source of all censorship. They are the censors. The people who select what to publish, and what not to publish, are the censors. The regime’s media are what perpetrate censorship, routinely, because those media are actually essential arms of the dictatorship, even if they are not directly owned by the government but instead by the clique who actually possess control over the government because they possess control over the mainstream (and much of the non-mainstream) media and thus the public’s mind in a ‘democracy’ in order to make it the dictatorship that it actually is.

Much has been written about how this censorship has been perpetrated in the post-WW-II (post-26-July-1945) USA., such as here, and here, and here, and here. (All of that has been censored-out from the major media — they don’t report that they represent the regime instead of the public.) As a consequence of that censorship against truth, history is being revised to be ‘history’ so as to portray a false ‘reality’ to people today. And there are numerous other examples of this, by the U.S. regime, each instance, of which lying, is affirmed as being truth by the regime’s agents, but is actually nothing more than vicious lies that are spread by the regime and its agents. What goes on behind the scenes is hidden from the American public, not really in order to protect them, but purely in order to deceive them. The deception of the American people, and of the residents in all of the U.S. Government’s foreign vassal-states (or ‘allies’) in Europe and elsewhere, is extreme, in all fields of international relations. Whereas Julian Assange was the world’s strongest enemy against censorship, he has been almost ten years now under some form or another of imprisonment, including solitary confinement and torture, all without ever having been convicted of anything, and all because he is an enemy against censorship instead of a flak for censorship. And Twitter and other ‘social media’ are hiding from the public — censoring — the sheer outrageousness of it all.

The solution to the problem of lies is not censorship, it is banning censorship. On 7 June 2019, the need for this seemed even clearer to me after Russia’s RT headlined on that date “Glenn Greenwald rips liberals who ‘beg for censorship’”, and that brilliant lawyer and investigative journalist presented powerfully the case against any censorship at all. As one can see from the accompanying video interview there of him, Greenwald was like a force of nature, in that video, or (to use a different metaphor) a huge dose of mental draino for clogged minds.

This also means that issues of libel and slander are only to be addressed in the civil courts, and not, at all, in the government’s prosecutions, the criminal courts.

All censorship needs to be banned. The question therefore becomes: How can this be done? That’s a question I have never seen discussed, perhaps because it is being censored. It’s a very serious question. Any ‘political science’ which exists that has no extensive literature about this question is fake. Perhaps draino for clogged minds is needed especially for scholars.

Things are worse than we know, because censorship exists. Maybe censorship is pervasive.

So: I shall venture a solution to this problem: By law, all media which discuss national and/or international affairs will fire all editors and producers of “news,” but not the employees who have only managerial, presentational, and/or stylistic assignments, and replace these people (all personnel who select what to present and what not to present) by a randomized algorithm being applied to each topic, so that, if, for example, something is entered into a search-box, then the order or presentation of the findings will be listed either (at the user’s selection) from earliest-posted to latest-posted, or latest-posted to earliest-posted, but not by anything that is chosen or determined by the search-engine itself. (In other words: no search-engine will be allowed to censor.) On print or broadcast media, every news-piece will be controlled in real time by its audience so as to determine what the questions are and then to bring into the presentation randomly selected scientifically qualified experts regarding each such question. For example: on the question of climate-change, the experts would be individuals who have terminal graduate-level degrees in each of the related climatology sub-specialties, such as those listed at Wikipedia, but also in essential related fields such as economics (an important climatological sub-specialty that’s not listed there). If, indeed, over 90% of climatologists agree that man-made global warming is a reality, then the result of this method of selecting the “experts” who will be presented is that that viewpoint will be represented by over 90% of the experts — and this outcome would not be controlled by the given ‘news’-medium, nor affected by its advertisers. In other words: only the subject-matter and academic qualifications — no governmental positions or background — would qualify individuals as being “experts” on the given topic. If a terminal degree isn’t a qualification for expertise on a topic, then what is? Aren’t government officials supposed to be relying on them? And if, for example, the topic is Syria, then shouldn’t all individuals who have terminal degrees on Syria be the “experts” who are invited, on a randomized basis, to comment to the public about Syria-related issues? If that were the case, then perhaps many Americans would know that the U.S. and NATO “began operations in April- May 2011 to organize and expand the dissident base in Syria,” “organizing defectors in Syria,” and “smuggle U.S. weapons into Syria, participate in U.S. psychological and information warfare inside Syria” to produce regime-change there, and that Syria had never posed any threat to U.S. national security. And Barack Obama was hoping for such opportunities to overthrow Syria’s Government even when he became President in 2009. If the American public didn’t know those things at the time, then perhaps America’s censorship was total — which would indicate how absolutely crucial a randomization of the public’s information-sources is, so as to replace the power that the existing mainstrean ‘news’-media have over the public’s mind, in America, and in its vassal-nations (which don’t yet include Syria). If the public do not have unprejudiced — which means entirely uncensored — information presented routinely to them, then democracy isn’t even possible.

Anyway: that is one proposed way of replacing censorship, and overcoming dictatorship. How many politicians are proposing such changes? Why aren’t any? Are all of them afraid of the dictators? Is there no basis for hope, at all?

Bolivia: An Election in the Midst of an Ongoing Coup

By Prof. Vijay Prashad

Global Research, February 14, 2020

The Bullet

On May 3, 2020, the Bolivian people will go to the polls once more. They return there because President Evo Morales had been overthrown in a coup in November 2019. Morales had just won a presidential election in October for a term that would have begun in January 2020. Based on a preliminary investigation by the Organization of American States (OAS) that claimed that there was fraud in the election, Morales was prematurely removed from office; the term for his 2014 presidential election victory did not end until January. Yet, he was told by the military to leave office. An interim president – Jeanine Áñez – appointed herself. She said she was taking this office only on an interim basis and would not run for election when Bolivia held another election. She is a candidate for the May 3 election. (For more information on what is happening in Bolivia, see this overview from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.)

Meanwhile, Morales has been in exile in Argentina. His party – the Movement for Socialism (MAS) – has candidates for the presidency and the vice presidency, but their party cadres and followers are facing a difficult time making their case to the people. Their radio stations have been blocked, their leaders arrested or exiled (or sitting in foreign embassies waiting for asylum), their cadre beaten up and intimidated.

The United Nations secretary-general’s personal envoy Jean Arnault released a statement on February 3 that expressed caution about the elections. The situation in Bolivia, Arnault said, is “characterized by an exacerbated polarization and mixed feelings of hope, but also of uncertainty, restlessness and resentment after the serious political and social crisis of last year.” This careful language of the UN needs to be looked at closely. When Arnault says there is “exacerbated polarization,” he means that the situation is extremely tense. When he asks that the interim government “outlaw hate speech and direct or indirect incitement to violence or discrimination,” he means that the government and its far-right followers need to be very careful about what they say and how much violence they use in this election.

On February 6, Morales spoke in Buenos Aires, where he urged an end to the violence so that the election could bring the fractured country together. He called for a national agreement between all sides to end the dangerous situation. In a pointed way, Morales called upon the government to respect diversity, noting that people wearing distinct clothes and wearing the signs of a certain political party were facing intimidation and violence. He meant the indigenous population of Bolivia, and the supporters of MAS; it is widely accepted that the violence has been coming from the far right’s paramilitary shock troops, and the intimidation has been coming from the government.

For instance, the Bolivian authorities have been routinely charging MAS leaders with sedition, terrorism, and incitement to violence. Morales faced these charges, along with dozens of important MAS leaders, most recently Gustavo Torrico who has been arrested. Matters are so bad that the UN’s special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, took to Twitter to express his concern at the “use of judicial and fiscal institutions for the purpose of political persecution. The number of illegal detentions grows.” This has not stopped Áñez, who says she will move her government to investigate at least 592 people who held high office in Morales’ 14 years in government. This means that the entirety of the MAS leadership will likely face harassment between now and the May 3 election.

US Interference

In 2013, Morales expelled the US government agency USAID; he accused USAID of working to undermine his elected government. Before that, Morales, as is his constitutional right, informed Salvador Romero – the head of the election agency (TSE) – that when his term ended in 2008, he would not be retained. This is a normal practice.

Romero went to the US Embassy to complain. He met with US Ambassador Philip Goldberg to complain about this and urged the US to do something. It was clear that Romero and Goldberg knew each other well. When Romero left his post at the TSE, the US establishment took care of him. He went to work at the National Democratic Institute in Honduras. The National Democratic Institute, based in Washington, is loosely affiliated with the US Democratic Party, and is part of the universe that includes the National Endowment for Democracy. These are all US government-funded agencies that operate overseas to “oversee” what is known as “democracy promotion,” including elections.

Romero essentially worked for the US government in Honduras during the first election after the US-instigated coup of 2009. During this election in 2013, violence against the supporters of Xiomara Castro, the candidate of the left-wing Libre Party, was routine. The day before the election, for instance, two leaders of the National Center of Farmworkers (CNTC) – María Amparo Pineda Duarte and Julio Ramón Maradiaga – were killed as they returned home from a training for Libre election workers. This was the atmosphere of this very tight election, which returned to power the US-backed conservative candidate Juan Orlando Hernández of the National Party. Romero, at that time, was quite pleased with the results. He told the New York Times then that “despite ‘the general perception of fraud,’” the election was just fine.

Right after the coup in November, Áñez brought Romero back to La Paz as the head of the election court, the TSE. He has his old job back. This would have made Bruce Williamson, the US charge d’affaires to Bolivia, very happy. The US has its man at the helm of the May 3 election in Bolivia.

And then Trump said he is sending USAID to Bolivia to help prepare the ground for the election. On January 9, the USAID team arrived to “give technical aid to the electoral process in Bolivia.” Technical aid. The phrase should give a reasonable person pause.

Ten days later, Trump’s legal adviser Mauricio Claver-Carone arrived in La Paz and gave a series of interviews in which he accused Morales of terrorism and creating instability. This was a direct attack at MAS and interference with Bolivia’s electoral process.

If the US intervenes in Bolivia, that is just “democracy promotion.”

But even with the violence from the government and its fascistic paramilitaries, even with Romero at the helm of the TSE, even with USAID on the ground, and even with the shenanigans of Claver-Carone, MAS is fighting to win. The candidates for MAS are Luis Arce Catacora (president) and David Choquehuanca Céspedes (vice president). Catacora was the minister of economy and public finance under Morales and the architect of the administration’s economic success. Céspedes was the foreign minister in that government. He managed Bolivia’s policy of international sovereignty and is an important person to Bolivia’s indigenous and peasant movements. Early polls show that the MAS ticket is in first place.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is author of Red Star Over the Third World(LeftWord, 2017) and the Chief Editor of LeftWord Books.

Featured image is from The BulletBolivia: The OAS and US Help Overthrow Another Latin American GovernmentThe original source of this article is The BulletCopyright © Prof. Vijay PrashadThe Bullet, 2020

Baghdad Embassy: The Secret Logistics of America’s Global Deep State

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on JANUARY 10, 2019

Eric Zuesse

Why is America’s Baghdad Embassy the world’s largest embassy — and the largest by far?


“It’s as if the US Embassy is there not only to protect American interests, but to manage the entire world from the heart of the capital, Baghdad.”

— Iraqi Sheikh Qassim Al Ta’ee, as quoted on 27 December 2011 in Al Iraq News and translated by Ibrahim Zaidan from the original Arabic by Nicholas Dagher

Zaidan’s article went on to say:

The world’s largest embassy is situated in the Green Zone and fortified by three walls, another barrier of concrete slabs, followed by barbed wire fences and a wall of sandbags. It covers an area of 104 acres, six times larger than UN headquarters in New York and ten times larger than the new embassy Washington is building in Beijing – which is just 10 acres.

[EDITOR’S’ NOTE: THE TEN-ACRE US EMBASSY IN BEIJING IS THE SECOND LARGEST OVERSEAS CONSTRUCTION PROJECT IN THE HISTORY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE — AND THE 104-ACRE US EMBASSY IN IRAQ IS THE LARGEST.]

So, America’s largest diplomatic mission is surrounded by high concrete walls, is painted in black, brown and grey and is completely isolated from its environment. … The United States announced several months ago that between diplomats and employees, its embassy would include 16,000 people after the pullout of US forces.

On January 1st, Will Sillitoe headlined at the Helsinki Times, “What does the US embassy in Baghdad export to Finland and dozens of other countries?” and he reported that:

More than a million kilograms of cargo were shipped from Baghdad to different parts of the world, reveals US embassies procurement documents.

Mysterious cargo shipments from the US Embassy in Baghdad to other American embassies and consulates around the world have been revealed on a Wikileaks’ database. Procurement orders of US embassies are public documents, but Wikileaks put them in a searchable database making it easier to analyse.

The database displaying worldwide US embassy orders of goods and services reveals Baghdad as a postal and shipping centre for tonnes of freight.

Though military freight might be expected between the US and Iraq, records show that embassies across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas and Africa are all receiving deliveries from Baghdad too.

According to Wikileaks’ database, orders to ship more than 540 tonnes of cargo to the US were made in May 2018. The same document shows other main delivery destinations included 120 tonnes of freight to Europe, and 24 tonnes to South Africa, South America and Central Africa respectively. …

On December 29th, Sillitoe had headlined “Guarded warehouse near airport and mysterious cargos from Baghdad; what is the US embassy in Helsinki up to?” and he opened:

Why does the US Embassy in Helsinki need a big warehouse near Malmi Airport and what are the contents of thousands of kilograms of cargo sent to Helsinki from Baghdad?

A dilapidated warehouse in Malmi is being used by the US Embassy for unknown operations after a Wikileaks release revealed its location.

The anonymous looking building on Takoraudantie is notable only for the new 427 meter perimeter fence that according to the Wikileaks’ database was ordered by the US Embassy in April 2018.

Situated across the street from the main entrance of Malmi Airport, the warehouse with its 3 meter high security fence appears an unlikely location for official embassy business. Neighbouring companies include a car yard and a tyre warehouse.

Helsinki Times visited the perimeters this weekend. Security personnel, young Finns in uniforms with American flags on their arms, appeared nervous and suspicious when asked to comment on the warehouse. …

Strategically located US embassy complex in Helsinki and the newly built “Innovation Center”

Sillitoe closed that article by saying: “The searchable Wikileaks database and info about Finland related activities can be found HERE.”

That link leads to a “US Embassy Shopping List” of 24 separate documents, one of which is “RFP 191Z1018R0002 Mission Iraq Shipping Transportation Services”, dated “5/17/18.”

Item 2 there is “Packing of unaccompanied air baggage (UAB) – Throughout Iraq – US Embassy Baghdad, Baghdad International Zone, US Consulate General in Basrah, US Consulate General in Erbil, US Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, US Erbil Diplomatic Support Center (Note: under the specified unit of measure the US Government contemplates ‘per kilogram’ of gross weight in kilograms)”

The “Quantity Estimated” is “100,000” and the “Unit of Measure” is “kilogram.”

Item 7 is “Storage Services – Monthly Storage of containers – Throughout Iraq – US Embassy Baghdad, Baghdad International Zone, US Consulate General in Basrah, US Consulate General in Erbil, US Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, US Erbil Diplomatic Support Center.”

The “Quantity Estimated” is “100” and the “Unit of Measure” is “40’ Container.”

Item “Section B.5 Sub-CLIN:84E” is “From Republic of Iraq to Western European Countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City, Nicosia)”

The “Quantity Estimated” is “5,000” and the “Unit of Measure” is “kilogram.”

Item “Section B.5 Sub -CLIN:84 F” is “From Republic of Iraq to Eastern European Countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Kosovo)”

The “Quantity Estimated” is “5,000” and the “Unit of Measure” is “kilogram.”

By far the biggest categories for shipments are to the eastern US states: “From Republic of Iraq to the Unites [sp.] States Eastern Time-Zone – the following States: VT, ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NJ, DE, MD, DC, NY, PA, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, WV, MI, OH, IN, KY, GA”

There are 11 such categories:

“Section B.5 Sub-CLIN:85A”

“Section B.5 Sub-CLIN:86A”

“Section B.6 Sub-CLIN:84A”

“Section B.6 Sub-CLIN:85A”

“Section B.6 Sub-CLIN:86A”

“Section B.7 Sub-CLIN:84A”

“Section B.7 Sub-CLIN:85A”

“Section B.7 Sub-CLIN:86A”

“Section B.8 Sub-CLIN:84A”

“Section B.8 Sub-CLIN:85A”

“Section B.8 Sub-CLIN:86A”

Each one of those eleven will receive 30,000 kilograms, under the contract.

In each of the eleven, the products will be going “From Republic of Iraq to the Unites [sp.] States Eastern Time-Zone – the following States: VT, ME, NH, MA, RI, CT, NJ, DE, MD, DC, NY, PA, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, WV, MI, OH, IN, KY, GA”

That’s a total of 330,000 kilograms. That’s 727,525 pounds, or 364 tons, which are going from the world’s largest Embassy, America’s in Baghdad, to America’s eastern states.

In addition, around another 1,091,287 pounds are going from the Baghdad Embassy to other locations throughout the world.

The RFP, or Request For Proposal, informs its recipient that “The Contractor shall provide the services for the base period of the contract,” but “base period” isn’t defined in the RFP. However, the contract does specify that there shall be “a firm fixed unit price for any contract line item number in the Base Year,” and therefore the obligations under any contract will continue for at least one year, but possibly longer (if renewed). Furthermore, the “Type of Solicitation” here is not “Sealed Bid (IFB),” but instead “Negotiated (RFP),” which means that the US Government officials who are “Soliciting” these offers will choose whom to request to present an offer; and, if two or more recipients are being approached and make an offer, then the US official will select the winner that he or she prefers, and won’t be required to accept the lowest-priced one, but can instead take some sort of kickback, as long as there is no evidence of having done that. It can easily be arranged. Furthermore, private arrangements bond the two parties, even if the arrangement is just a one-time deal, because neither party will want the private arrangement to be made public, and if ever it does become public, then both parties will be revealed as guilty; it’ll hurt both parties. Moreover, since any contract may be renewed, the offeror of the contract, which is the Embassy employee, holds the power to affect that — the length of term, and everything that’s associated with it, will be controlled by the Embassy’s side, and not by the contractor’s side. And no matter how brief a contract-term might be, and no matter how many non-Americans might be signing any particular type of contract during any given period of years, none of the private parties will have any motive to make public any kickback. Consequently, there is every motive to keep these arrangements private; and the Embassy employee will always be the more powerful one in any private arrangement that is made with any contractor.

Prior RFPs are also online, for example this one from 16 November 2014. The annual amounts seem to be fairly stable.

On 10 October 2007, while the US Embassy in Iraq was still building, the Congressional Research Service issued to Congress their report, “US Embassy in Iraq”, and it said:

The US Ambassador to Iraq (currently Ambassador Ryan Crocker) has full authority for the American presence in Iraq with two exceptions: 1 — military and security matters which are under the authority of General Patraeus, the US Commander of the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), and 2 — staff working for international organizations. In areas where diplomacy, military, and/or security activities overlap, the Ambassador and the US Commander cooperate to provide co-equal authority regarding what is best for America and its interests in Iraq.

By “Patraeus” it meant David Petraeus. He was the person who designed the torture-system that was applied by his assistant James Steele and used in Iraq to extract from prisoners everything they knew about Saddam Hussein’s assistance to the 9/11 event. Petraeus subsequently became a regular participant in the annual meetings of the private and secretive Bilderberg group of representatives of the US and allied nations’ billionaires that constitute The West’s Deep State. Prior to that, Petraeus and Steele had organized and instituted in El Salvador that Government’s death-squads, to eradicate opponents of US control over that country.

The most corrupt parts of the US Government are usually in the military, because the entire Defense Department isn’t audited. It is instead financially an enormous dark hole, even to US Senators and Representatives, and even to the US President. Only members of the US Deep State might have an approximate idea of how much money is getting ‘lost’ in it. After all, the Deep State isn’t, at all, answerable to the public. Since it operates in secret, it can’t be. The consequences of the Deep State, however, can become public, and may contradict what is shown in publicly available documents and public statements, which have been circulated, to the public, by the press. In any nation where a Deep State rules, such contradictions, between public assertions and the actual outcomes, are so commonplace as hardly to be even news at all, if and when they appear, at all.

On 2 July 2017, the great investigative reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva headlined “350 Flights Carry Weapons Diplomatic for Terrorists”, and provided documentation of the US CIA’s intricate global network, which secretly “sends $1 billion worth of weapons” through many countries to jihadists in Syria to take down Syria’s Government. Iraq was mentioned 6 times in the original publication of her article, and is mentioned 9 times in the 29 April 2018 updated version. That secret US supply of weapons to jihadist groups to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and his secular, non-sectarian, Baathist Party, is a secret operation, just like the US State Department’s Baghdad Embassy’s operations are, and that Embassy could even be this particular operation’s headquarters.

The 200-page, December 2017, study, “Weapons of the Islamic State: A three-year investigation”, by Conflict Armament Research Ltd., states in its Conclusion:

IS forces, like most non-state armed groups, acquire significant quantities of weapons and ammunition on the battlefield… Evidence presented in this report, however, confirms that many of the group’s weapons — and notably its ammunition — are newly manufactured, having been delivered to the region since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. These weapons originate in transfers made by external parties, including Saudi Arabia and the United States, to disparate Syrian opposition forces arrayed against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Here are just a few of the details that this passage in the summary was based upon and summarizing:

On pages 36-9:

CAR has documented and traced numerous weapon systems in service with IS forces. Many derive from shipments made to the US government, or to entities operating under US government contracts. The United States has acknowledged its support to Syrian opposition forces, orchestrated primarily through resupply from the territories of Jordan and Turkey.26 All of the shipments originated in EU Member States; in most cases, US retransfers (exports made after purchase by the United States) contravened clauses in end-user certificates (EUCs) issued by the United States to EU supplier governments. The United States signed these certificates prior to transfer, stated that it was the sole end user of the materiel, and committed not to retransfer the materiel without the supplier government’s prior consent. It did not notify the supplier states concerned before [violating that, and] retransferring the materiel. …

On 21 December 2016, Jaysh al-Nasr, a Syrian armed opposition faction active in the Hama Governorate of Syria, published a set of photographs of its fighters.29 In one of these, Jaysh al-Nasr fighters are operating a 9M111MB-1 ATGW30 bearing an identical lot number and a serial number (365) close in sequence to the one CAR documented (286) in Iraq, suggesting both were part of the same supply chain. …

In May 2015, Syrian YPG forces recovered a PG-7T 40 mm rocket from IS forces near Al Hasakah, Syria, where CAR documented it on 20 May 2015. The Government of Bulgaria confirmed that it exported the item to the US Department of the Army through the US company Kiesler Police Supply. The application for the export licence was accompanied by the original EUC issued by the US Department of the Army (with a non-re-export clause) as well as a delivery verification certificate. The item was exported on 23 June 2014.32 … CAR has yet to receive a reply to a trace request sent to the United States regarding these rockets.

Page 54 says:

Like the United States, Saudi Arabia has provided support to various factions in the Syrian conflict, including through the supply of weapons. Working with the Bulgarian authorities, CAR has traced numerous items deployed by IS forces to initial exports from Bulgaria to Saudi Arabia. These transfers were uniformly subject to non-retransfer clauses concluded between Saudi Arabia and the Government of Bulgaria prior to export. In this respect, onward retransfers by Saudi Arabia of these weapons contravene its commitments to the Government of Bulgaria not to re-export the materiel in question without Bulgaria’s prior consent.

Just like in the case of the Baghdad Embassy’s agreements with contractors, the powerful party in any contract will be the party whose side is paying (the buyer), and not the party whose side is supplying the service or goods (the seller). Money always rules.

The CAR report, which was issued just months after Dilyana Gaytandzhieva’s report, was entirely consistent with, and largely overlapped, hers. The US and Saudi Governments were not only using Al Qaeda as their main proxy in southwestern Syria to lead the jihadist groups to overthrow Syria’s non-sectarian Government, but were also using ISIS in northeastern Syria as their main proxy forces there to overthrow Syria’s Government. After Russia’s entry into the war on 30 September 2015 on the side of Syria’s Government, America’s assistance to Al Qaeda in Syria (Al Nusra) continued in order to help replace that Government by one which would be controlled by the Sauds. And America’s assistance to ISIS was almost totally replaced then by its assistance to ethnocentric Syrian Kurds in the northeast as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which were fighting against both the Government and ISIS. Russia, of course, was against both Al Qaeda-led jihadists and against ISIS jihadists. (Turkey was against ethnocentric Kurds, because those people want to take a chunk out of four nations: Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The CIA edited and written Wikipedia’s article on Kurdistan conveniently doesn’t even make note of that key fact.) So: America was using a complex combination in order to take over Syria for the Sauds ultimately to control. But Russia’s entry into Syria’s air-war on 30 September 2015 has overcome that U.S-led and Saudi financed combination against Syria.

Would any secret facility, anywhere in the world, be better situated to manage that operation, on America’s side, than America’s Baghdad Embassy?

So, the question then arises: who benefits from this enormous Embassy, and from the Deep State of which it is a part? The American public certainly do not.

Generally speaking, the people who get paid to promote endless wars, such as sellers of the constantly receding (propagandistic) “light at the end of the tunnel”, support continuing if not intensifying such wars. Typical is the neoconservative (in foreign affairs) and neoliberal (in domestic affairs) David Bradley, who controls and is the Chairman of Atlantic Media, which publishes the neocon-neolib The Atlantic, and many other public-affairs magazines and websites. His “Defense One” site posted, on 22 March 2018, from its Executive Editor, “The War in Iraq Isn’t Done. Commanders Explain Why and What’s Next”, and closed with “‘We need to be very careful about rushing to the exit, and secure this win,’ said the senior US military official. ‘This is a significant win.’” The “senior US military official” wasn’t identified, other than to say that he “spoke only on background.” But, of course, George W. Bush had already told the world all about this “win,” back in 2003. Salespeople just continue their pitches; it’s what they are paid to do, and so they never stop.

The annual military costs alone, for the US to keep being, as its propaganda euphemistically puts the matter, “policeman for the world” (such as, in the Syrian case, by means of those proxy boots-on-the-ground warriors, the jihadists, and the ethnocentrists among Syria’s Kurds) are actually sufficient, even on their own, to cause America’s soaring federal debt — and that’s not a benefit, but an extreme harm, to the public. Future generations of Americans will be paying the tab for this. And the costs for being “policeman for the world” are enormous. Even just militarily, they’re over a trillion dollars each and every year.

Though current US Defense Department budgets are around $700 billion annually, the United States is actually spending closer to $1.2 trillion annually on the military when all of the nation’s military spending (such as for military retirements, which are paid by the Treasury Department not by the Defense Department) are factored in. The only people who benefit from being “policeman for the world” are the billionaires of the US and (though to only a lesser extent) of its allied countries. And, of course, they pay their lobbyists and propagandists. It’s really being policeman for those billionaires, who own and control all of the international corporations that are headquartered in this alliance. The US public isn’t paying the tab by any cash-and-carry basis; instead, future generations of Americans will be paying the tab, for today’s US-and-allied billionaires. Those billionaires today are the chief beneficiaries. It’s all being done for them and their retinues. That’s why America’s Founders didn’t want there to be any “standing army” at all. They didn’t want there to be any permanent-war government. They wanted military only for national defense — not for any billionaires’ protection or ‘insurance policy’, or what might actually be publicly paid and armed thugs in service abroad as if they were the nation’s armed forces — when, in fact, they are the armed forces for only those billionaires and their servants. America’s Founders wanted no military at all that serves the aristocracy. They wanted no aristocracy, at all. They wanted no “standing army” whatsoever. They wanted only a military that protects the public, when a real military danger, from abroad, to the domestic public, exists. Of course, that’s possible only in a democracy, but the US is no democracy now, even if it might have been in the past.

On 11 December 2017, Montana State University headlined “MSU SCHOLARS FIND $21 TRILLION IN UNAUTHORIZED GOVERNMENT SPENDING; DEFENSE DEPARTMENT TO CONDUCT FIRST-EVER AUDIT”, but the Pentagon’s promised audit has failed to materialize. A major accounting firm was hired for the task but soon quit, saying that the Defense Department’s books were too incomplete to proceed further. Three days before that article was published, a colleague of that MSU team headlined at Forbes”Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us?” and said that the answer was yes. All of this ‘lost’ money was spent merely by the Department of Defense. Just managing the more-than-a-thousand US military bases worldwide requires a lot of money. Any actual war-fighting adds to that US military-base cost — the war-fighting costs are extra. Those military bases etc. are the “standing army.” Protection of our billionaires’ investments abroad, and of their access to raw materials in underdeveloped countries (such as to manufacture cellphones), is an enormously expensive operation. Basically, the American public are hugely subsidizing America’s billionaires. But only future generations of Americans will be paying that debt — plus, of course, the accumulated interest on it.

The Department of Defense isn’t the only federal Department that has ever been unauditable. On 18 June 2013, Luke Johnson and Ryan Grim at Huffington Post bannered “GAO Cannot Audit Federal Government, Cites Department Of Defense Problems” and opened: “The Government Accountability Office said Thursday that it could not complete an audit of the federal government, pointing to serious problems with the Department of Defense. Along with the Pentagon, the GAO cited the Department of Homeland Security as having problems so significant that it was impossible for investigators to audit it. The DHS got a qualified audit for fiscal year 2012, and is seeking an unqualified audit for 2013.” However, on 17 November 2014, the Washington Post headlined “Homeland Security earns clean audit two years running”, and Jerry Markon reported that, “For the second straight year, the Department of Homeland Security has achieved a much sought-after clean audit of its financial statements by an independent auditor.” Furthermore: “for nearly all of its first decade of existence, DHS was unable to achieve a clean audit because it had been created by combining 22 federal agencies and components into one massive department. That led to inherent challenges.” That wasn’t the situation at the Defense Department, which was far different. On 8 December 2017, NPR headlined “Pentagon Announces First-Ever Audit Of The Department Of Defense”, and opened: “‘The Defense Department is starting the first agency-wide financial audit in its history,’ the Pentagon’s news service says.” However, almost as soon as the auditing team began their work, they quit it, because the Department’s books were garbage. Only the DOD is like that — almost entirely corrupt.

On 2 October 2018, Project Censored headlined “$21 Trillion in Unaccounted-for Government Spending from 1998 to 2015”. However, it falsified. It opened: “Two federal government agencies, the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), may have accumulated as much as $21 trillion in undocumented expenses between 1998 and 2015.” None of that was actually HUD, it was 100% DOD. And all of “the alleged irregularities in DoD and HUD spending” were not merely “alleged,” but they were, in fact, carefully checked and repeatedly verified, and were only at DOD, despite what Project Censored published. This inaccuracy is important. If people don’t know that DOD is the only unaudited federal Department, then they can’t possibly understand why that is the case. The reason it is the case, is that almost all of the “waste, fraud, and abuse” in the US federal government is at the Defense Department. It has never been auditable. How much do America’s ‘news’-media report this reality?

DOD is consistently, year after year, and decade after decade, the federal Department or federal or local governmental function, that Gallup’s polling has shown to be more respected by the US public than is any other. (It’s identified there as “The military”. It beats, for examples: “The Supreme Court,” “Congress,” “The public schools,” “The presidency,” “The police,” and “The criminal justice system.”) The most corrupt isn’t the most despised; it is the opposite — it is the most respected.

Secret government tends to be costly for taxpayers, and also tends to add a lot to the governmental debt. An unauditable governmental department, such as the Defense Department is, cannot function, at all, without an enormous amount of corruption. This is the reality about America’s military. However, there’s much propaganda contradicting it. The news-media also serve those same billionaires.

How likely, then, is it, that America’s Baghdad Embassy serves the US public? It certainly does not serve the Iraqi public. But it does serve the people — whomever they are — who control the US Government. And that’s the Deep State. That’s the reality, but what’s promoted is fantasyland. And this fantasyland, which is promoted, is called “American democracy”.

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US ‘Regime Changes’: The Historical Record

Global Research, November 29, 2019

First published on February 5, 2019

As the US strives to overthrow the democratic and independent Venezuelan government, the historical record regarding the short, middle and long-term consequences are mixed.

We will proceed to examine the consequences and impact of US intervention in Venezuela over the past half century.

We will then turn to examine the success and failure of US ‘regime changes’ throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Venezuela: Results and Perspectives 1950-2019

During the post WWII decade, the US, working through the CIA and the Pentagon, brought to power authoritarian client regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Brazil and several other countries.

In the case of Venezuela, the US backed a near decade long military dictatorship (Perez Jimenez ) roughly between 1951-58. The dictatorship was overthrown in 1958 and replaced by a left-center coalition during a brief interim period. Subsequently, the US reshuffled its policy, and embraced and promoted center-right regimes led by social and christian democrats which alternated rule for nearly forty years.

In the 1990’s US client regimes riddled with corruption and facing a deepening socio-economic crises were voted out of power and replaced by the independent, anti-imperialist government led by President Chavez.

Image on the right: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2005 (Source: Public Domain)

The free and democratic election of President Chavez withstood and defeated several US led ‘regime changes’ over the following two decades.

Following the election of President Maduro, under US direction,Washington mounted the political machinery for a new regime change. Washington launched, in full throttle, a coup by the winter of 2019.

The record of US intervention in Venezuela is mixed: a middle term military coup lasted less than a decade; US directed electoral regimes were in power for forty years; its replacement by an elected anti-imperialist populist government has been in power for nearly 20 years. A virulent US directed coup is underfoot today.

The Venezuela experience with ‘regime change’ speaks to US capacity to consummate long-term control if it can reshuffle its power base from a military dictatorship into an electoral regime, financed through the pillage of oil, backed by a reliable military and ‘legitimated’ by alternating client political parties which accept submission to Washington.

US client regimes are ruled by oligarchic elites, with little entrepreneurial capacity, living off of state rents (oil revenues).

Tied closely to the US, the ruling elites are unable to secure popular loyalty. Client regimes depend on the military strength of the Pentagon — but that is also their weakness.

Regime Change in Regional-Historical Perspective

Puppet-building is an essential strategic goal of the US imperial state.

The results vary over time depending on the capacity of independent governments to succeed in nation-building.

US long-term puppet-building has been most successful in small nations with vulnerable economies.

Image below: U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the advocate of the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état that installed the right-wing dictatorship (Source: Public Domain)

The US directed coup in Guatemala has lasted over sixty-years – from 1954 -2019. Major popular indigenous insurgencies have been repressed via US military advisers and aid.

Similar successful US puppet-building has occurred in Panama, Grenada, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Being small and poor and having weak military forces, the US is willing to directly invade and occupy the countries quickly and at small cost in military lives and economic costs.

In the above countries Washington succeeded in imposing and maintaining puppet regimes for prolonged periods of time.

The US has directed military coups over the past half century with contradictory results.

In the case of Honduras, the Pentagon was able to overturn a progressive liberal democratic government of very short duration. The Honduran army was under US direction, and elected President Manual Zelaya depended on an unarmed electoral popular majority.Following the successful coup the Honduran puppet-regime remained under US rule for the next decade and likely beyond.

Chile has been under US tutelage for the better part of the 20th century with a brief respite during a Popular Front government between 1937-41 and a democratc socialist government between 1970-73. The US military directed coup in 1973 imposed the Pinochet dictatorship which lasted for seventeen years. It was followed by an electoral regime which continued the Pinochet-US neo-liberal agenda, including the reversal of all the popular national and social reforms. In a word, Chile remained within the US political orbit for the better part of a half-century.

Chile’s democratic-socialist regime (1970-73) never armed its people nor established overseas economic linkage to sustain an independent foreign policy.

It is not surprising that in recent times Chile followed US commands calling for the overthrow of Venezuela’s President Maduro.

Contradictory Puppet-Building

Several US coups were reversed, for the longer or shorter duration.

The classical case of a successful defeat of a client regime is Cuba which overthrew a ten-year old US client, the Batista dictatorship, and proceeded to successfully resist a CIA directed invasion and economic blockade for the better part of a half century (up to the present day).

Cuba’s defeat of puppet restorationist policy was a result of the Castro leadership’s decision to arm the people, expropriate and take control of hostile US and multinational corporations and establish strategic overseas allies – USSR , China and more recently Venezuela.

In contrast, a US military backed military coup in Brazil (1964) endured for over two decades, before electoral politics were partially restored under elite leadership.

Twenty years of failed neo-liberal economic policies led to the election of the social reformist Workers Party (WP) which proceeded to implement extensive anti-poverty programs within the context of neo-liberal policies.

After a decade and a half of social reforms and a relatively independent foreign policy, the WP succumbed to a downturn of the commodity dependent economy and a hostile state (namely judiciary and military) and was replaced by a pair of far-right US client regimes which functioned under Wall Street and Pentagon direction.

The US frequently intervened in Bolivia, backing military coups and client regimes against short-term national populist regimes (1954, 1970 and 2001).

Morales 20060113 02.jpg

In 2005 a popular uprising led to free elections and the election of Evo Morales, the leader of the coca farmers movements. Between 2005 – 2019 (the present period) President Morales led a moderate left-of-center anti imperialist government.

Unsuccessful efforts by the US to overthrow the Morales government were a result of several factors: Morales organized and mobilized a coalition of peasants and workers (especially miners and coca farmers). He secured the loyalty of the military, expelled US Trojan Horse “aid agencies’ and extended control over oil and gas and promoted ties with agro business.

The combination of an independent foreign policy, a mixed economy , high growth and moderate reforms neutralized US puppet-building.

Not so the case in Argentina. Following a bloody coup (1976) in which the US backed military murdered 30,000 citizens, the military was defeated by the British army in the Malvinas war and withdrew after seven years in power.

The post military puppet regime ruled and plundered for a decade before collapsing in 2001. They were overthrown by a popular insurrection. However, the radical left lacking cohesion was replaced by center-left (Kirchner-Fernandez) regimes which ruled for the better part of a decade (2003 – 15).

The progressive social welfare – neo-liberal regimes entered in crises and were ousted by a US backed puppet regime (Macri) in 2015 which proceeded to reverse reforms, privatize the economy and subordinate the state to US bankers and speculators.

After two years in power, the puppet regime faltered, the economy spiraled downward and another cycle of repression and mass protest emerged. The US puppet regime’s rule is tenuous, the populace fills the streets, while the Pentagon sharpens its knives and prepares puppets to replace their current client regime.

Conclusion

The US has not succeeded in consolidating regime changes among the large countries with mass organizations and military supporters.

Washington has succeeded in overthrowing popular – national regimes in Brazil, and Argentina. However, over time puppet regimes have been reversed.

While the US resorts to largely a single ‘track’ (military coups and invasions) in overwhelming smaller and more vulnerable popular governments, it relies on ‘multiple tracks’ strategy with regard to large and more formidable countries.

In the former cases, usually a call to the military or the dispatch of the marines is enough to snuff an electoral democracy.

In the latter case, the US relies on a multi-proxy strategy which includes a mass media blitz, labeling democrats as dictatorships, extremists, corrupt, security threats, etc.

As the tension mounts, regional client and European states are organized to back the local puppets.

Phony “Presidents” are crowned by the US President whose index finger counters the vote of millions of voters. Street demonstrations and violence paid and organized by the CIA destabilize the economy; business elites boycott and paralyze production and distribution… Millions are spent in bribing judges and military officials.

If the regime change can be accomplished by local military satraps, the US refrains from direct military intervention.

Regime changes among larger and wealthier countries have between one or two decades duration. However, the switch to an electoral puppet regime may consolidate imperial power over a longer period – as was the case of Chile.

Where there is powerful popular support for a democratic regime, the US will provide the ideological and military support for a large-scale massacre, as was the case in Argentina.

The coming showdown in Venezuela will be a case of a bloody regime change as the US will have to murder hundreds of thousands to destroy the millions who have life-long and deep commitments to their social gains , their loyalty to the nation and their dignity.

In contrast the bourgeoisie, and their followers among political traitors, will seek revenge and resort to the vilest forms of violence in order to strip the poor of their social advances and their memories of freedom and dignity.

It is no wonder that the Venezuela masses are girding for a prolonged and decisive struggle: everything can be won or lost in this final confrontation with the Empire and its puppets.

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Award winning author Prof. James Petras is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Featured image is from Images.com/Corbis

Listen to Morales at the UN and see why he was overthrown by the Empire

Source

November 15, 2019

This is Evo Morales’ UNSC speech of this Spring:

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