Trump’s Last Hurrah?

THE SAKER • NOVEMBER 25, 2020 

There seems to be a quasi consensus that Trump will not prevail and that Biden and Harris will get into the White House no matter what. To my surprise, even the Russian media seems to be considering that the Trump presidency is over.

Yet, I am not so sure at all.

Why?

Because at this point in time, I think that it would fair to conclude that anybody actually willing to look at what has been revealed by this election will have to agree that this election was stolen, rigged, falsified – chose your expression – and that going to the courts to challenge this obscene miscarriage of the democratic process is a fundamental civil right and something which any democrat (small “d”) should support.

And yet, because we live in a media-created pseudo-reality in which absolutely crucial things like the rule of law seem to have become secondary to ideological imperatives, no matter how extreme, there are those who simply refuse to see the obvious. Yes, the 9/11 false flag trained the western societies well and many now simply lack the lucidity and courage to face reality.

Courts, however, are bound by the rule of law, at least in theory, and don’t have the luxury to simply pretend like crucial evidence presented to them simply does not exist.

True, the lower, state, courts are unlikely to resist the pressure put upon them to come up with the “right” conclusions, but never say never – all it takes is one single principled judge and Trump or, more accurately, the Giuliani team, might get the break they need. Still, it is pretty obvious that Giuliani’s real hopes are with the Supreme Court. This makes sense, local judges are much easy to influence and sway than Supreme Court Justices who are unassailable and who realize that they will make history, the only question being is: how till they go down in history books, as a “profile in courage” or as impotent cowards who betrayed their oath?

I will say that I am, to put it mildly, not impressed by Trump’s demeanor during these crucial days: he completely ceded the narrative to his opponents (a couple of incoherent and poorly phrased “tweets” do not qualify). True, Trump never displayed the qualities of a real leader, so this is hardly surprising.

Giuliani, however, is a tough SOB and he seems to be determined to take this fight right up to the Supreme Court. This is why I believe that it is very dangerous to make any assumptions about what the Justices might or might not do. Is it possible that even the Supreme Court justices would betray their oath and cave in to the Dem’s pressure? Yes, I suppose so. Concepts such as truth, honor, integrity, courage and heroism are very much out of fashion in the modern world, especially in the US. This is why the traditionally hallowed term “hero” is applied left and right to every bureaucrat or civil servant simply doing his/her job: real heroes are long gone.

Then consider this: if the SC sides with Trump and overturns the hundred of thousands of illegal votes, the US will be immediately plunged into an orgy of chaos and violence, all of it encouraged and coordinated by the legacy corporate ziomedia à la CNN. The thugs of Antifa/BLM will immediately engage in Kristallnacht-like rampages in “protest” against the “racist system”. Their main target? White, Christian, males, of course!

Some justices might even feel torn between standing up for what is both legal and moral and the practical considerations of the consequences of an adjudication in Trump’s favor. Their oath ought to be their guiding principles, but considering how often the SC voted along party/ideological lines in the past, I am not very confident that the Justices will strictly do the only legally and morally right thing: uphold the law and vote their conscience.

Finally, whatever we may think of the election itself, it is obvious that the US elites have created the appearance of a fait accompli, hence the kind of nonsense like, say, Biden and his “Office of the President Elect”. It is therefore reasonable to assume that even if the Supreme Court fully sides with the Trump campaign, the US elites will never accept this. They will try to find a way to impeach, legally or otherwise, those Justices who voted “wrong”.

I think that there is also another consideration which we have to remain aware of: Trump’s entire presidency is been one long and never ending prostitution of the United States to the desires and whims of Netanyahu and his gang of thugs. True, as Israel Shamir pointed out, the Israelis failed to deliver anything in return to Trump. And yet, as Philip Giraldi recently explained, Trump is still very much Israel’s prostitute, which is why there are an increasing number of Israeli experts (see here and here) who believe that Trump might strike at Iran as a “farewell” present to the Israelis.

Is that really possible? Could Trump really do something so crazy?

You betcha he could!

One one hand, I have always maintained that Trump is the Zionists’ “disposable president”, meaning a one term president who will do everything the Likudniks want of him and who will then be jettisoned and replaced by a truly “kosher president” like Biden/Harris. On the other hand, however, there is the precedent of the US meekly taking the Iranian missile attacks in retaliation for the murder of General Soleimani which seems to indicate that the Pentagon just does not have the stomach for a full-scale war against Iran.

So which will it be?

Nobody knows. The only thing we can be sure of is that we are certainly entering very dangerous times.

Those who hope that a Biden/Harris presidency might be better are deeply deluded.

Why?

Because, as many have already pointed this out, even if Trump is ejected from the White House, “Trumpism”, as an ideology, is here to stay. Even if you believe that Biden/Harris beat Trump in a fair election, surely must you still realize that there are tens of millions of Americans who feel that the election was stolen and that Biden/Harris are usurpers.

Personally, I take a very dim view of “Trumpism”, but whatever its (many) flaws, this ideology, however vague, has “redpilled” millions of Americans who now realize that they are living in a fake democracy or, to use a Russian expression, “democracy” in the US only means “power of the Democrats”. Simply put: we can call them “1%ers” or the “US Nomenklatura” or the “deep state” or whatever other term which comes to mind, but the bottom line is obvious: the US is not a democracy or a republic, it is a dictatorship of the few over the many, the “best democracy money can buy” and a system based not on one man one vote, but one dollar one vote. Whether they realize it or not, most Americans are serfs of an occupying parasitic regime which sees them solely as a (cheap) commodity.

These ideas used to be corralled into what the Ziomedia liked to call the “extremist fringe” but now millions of Americans are becoming aware of this reality, CNN & Co notwithstanding. Put the Biden/Harris ticket into the White House and millions of people will go into some kind of “resistance mode” – whether that be political activism, civil resistance, local/state insubordination to the Federal power or even armed resistance.

One of the top priorities of the Dems in power will be to crack down, hard, on the First and Second Amendments to the US Constitution. Right there we can expect a lot of local/regional/state resistance because, unlike their ruling “elites” (i.e. masters), most Americans passionately care for what are really the cornerstones of the US political system. Yes, there is a reason why the Founding Fathers placed the First Amendment in first position and the Second one right after!

The Dems will castrate the First Amendment through their control of all the major Internet platforms (YouTube, Google, FaceBook, Twitter, Amazon, etc.) and, since this will not be government censorship, at least technically, but decisions of the private sector, even the ACLU will have nothing to say about this.

The Second Amendment will be trickier to deal with, because there is no private or non-governmental institution which can do to the Second Amendment what big tech companies have done to the First one. However, all it takes is a few well-orchestrated “shootings” or any armed refusal to be disarmed, and the label “domestic terrorist” will be swiftly applied to those who dared to resist Uncle Shmuel.

Again – we are about to enter an extremely dangerous period, both inside the US and on the international front.

Trump’s handlers must realize that the AngloZionist Empire is already finished and that all that’s left is an agonizing United States. The same probably goes for the Biden/Harris handlers. Hence both parties have a huge interest in, first, creating some crisis which can distract from what is really going on and, second, in using whatever power they still have to “fire their last shells” before the ammo box goes empty.

Conclusion: too many variables to call it

The truth is that absolutely anything can happen next. There are simply way too many variables to try to make a prediction. Will Trump attack Iran? I want to believe that this ship has sailed, but I will never say never to something as evil and stupid as an attack on Iran. However, under pretty much any scenario, we can be pretty sure that come January there will be a power vacuum in the Executive and roughly half of all Americans will consider that the election has been stolen. That kind of power vacuum, or even a duopoly, is very dangerous and typically results in even more chaos and violence. Eventually, some kind of “tough” regime comes to power. But this is a threat that we can discuss further down the road.

And now, a message from our friends of the American Jewish Congress about free speech

Source

November 18, 2020

Got that in my inbox today.  And when they say “enough is enough”, they mean it.  The hate free speech and the First Amendment which protects it.


Jews Frustrated They Can’t Silence Their Critics The Way They Used To When They Monopolized All Media

Source

OCTOBER 16, 2020

The Jewish News Syndicate has published another essay demonstrating the incorrigible Jewish hypocrisy and narcissism over free speech — they applaud the recent Facebook censorship of “Holocaust deniers” based solely on the spurious presumption that anyone who wants to know the full truth about what did and did not happen in World War II must necessarily be motivated solely by an irrational, blind hatred of Jews:

…The Internet is the best thing that ever happened to extremists. Prior to its development, denizens of the fever swamps of the far-right and the far-left were limited in their ability to communicate with each other or to publicize their beliefs.

Marginal groups were effectively silenced in an era when print, radio and television outlets were closed to them because major publishing entities acted as gatekeepers that effectively shut them out of the public square. While the Internet opened up new opportunities for communication for every conceivable niche and interest group, and thereby democratized publishing, it also provided a way for hate groups to connect and gave them a megaphone with which to make their toxic messages better known.

That was enabled because Facebook and Twitter were allowed by an obscure legal provision to avoid accountability for what they allowed to be published on their sites. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act allowed an “interactive computer service” to be exempt from the normal perils of publishing—i.e., being held accountable for what was put on their sites. This both protected free speech on the Internet and allowed those responsible for what were thought of as bulletin boards for users, rather than publishing outlets to function without tackling the impossible task of monitoring what their customers were doing. Although the development of social media was far in the future at that point, Section 230 was the law that enabled Facebook and Twitter to eventually dominate modern communications.

In the view of those who are concerned about the spread of hate, that was all well and good when it was just a matter of providing billions of people the ability to post pictures and updates about their lives. Eventually, however, the notion of Zuckerberg, whose current wealth is estimated at $111 billion, enriching himself by enabling Holocaust deniers was seen as intolerable. They felt the same way about Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who is only worth a piddling $4.9 billion…

Of course the original 1996 Communications Decency Act had less to do with “freedom of speech” on the internet per se — it was about protecting children from all the freely available Jewish-produced pornography that was beginning flood into every home in America.

But let’s not forget that it was Jews who have always defended the proliferation of pornography as a form of “free speech” — a complete twisting of the intent of the First Amendment.

And the Section 230 clause that was added to the CDA was a common sense law that made ISPs legally immune for what user’s posted on their websites — without that indemnity, the internet would collapse.

But Section 230 took away the Jews’ go-to tool to silence voices they didn’t like — sue the publisher — make the publication of certain opinions a prohibitive economic liability — the terrible power of the Jewish purse.

Jews view opinions they don’t like in the same way that Christians view pornography — radically different worldviews.

They are demanding their “right” to censor content that offends them –and pedophilia doesn’t offend them but your opinion probably does.

Oh, they are all for “freedom of speech” and “democracy” as long as they own all the publishing houses and television stations — and “count all the votes.”

To do that end, they need to effectively de-claw Section 230 — and by doing so, they can regain their pre-internet monopoly as the sole “gatekeepers” of all opinions and information– and they are doing just that.

Trump Shares Letter That Calls Peaceful Protesters “Terrorists”

Trump Shares Letter That Calls Peaceful Protesters “Terrorists”

By Staff, Agencies

US President Donald Trump on Thursday shared a letter on Twitter that referred to the peaceful protesters who were forcibly dispersed from a park near the White House on Monday evening as “terrorists.”

The letter from veteran attorney and former Trump lawyer John Dowd appears to be addressed to former Secretary of War James Mattis and rebuts Mattis’ Wednesday statement castigating Trump’s response to the nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

“The phony protesters near Lafayette were not peaceful and are not real,” Dowd’s letter claimed, without citing any evidence. “They are terrorists using idle hate filled students to burn and destroy. They were abusing and disrespecting the police when the police were preparing the area for the 1900 curfew.”

Trump’s decision to share the letter and its shocking description of Americans exercising their constitutional rights comes as he continues to lean into his strongman approach to the ongoing demonstrations. On Monday, he declared himself “your President of law and order” as the peaceful protesters just outside the White House gates were dispersed with gas, flash bangs and rubber bullets, apparently so he could visit a nearby church.

He remained at the boarded-up building, brandishing a Bible for the cameras, for only a matter of minutes before returning to the White House.

The letter drew condemnation from the Modern Military Association of America, a nonprofit organization.

“Donald Trump just crossed a very serious line that demands swift and forceful condemnation by every Member of Congress,” said the group’s interim executive director, Air Force veteran Jennifer Dane. “Promoting a letter that labels American citizens peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights as ‘terrorists’ is an egregious breach of his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Now more than ever, it is absolutely crucial that Trump be held accountable for his reckless actions.”

The episode followed nearly a week of protests across the country that at times have turned violent over the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis.

In response to the President’s approach, Mattis released a statement Wednesday cautioning that the US “must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battlespace’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate.’ “

“At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict – a false conflict – between the military and civilian society,” Mattis wrote.

The President has repeatedly defended his response to the protests and even tweeted later Thursday evening that he didn’t have a problem with the National Guard helicopter that was seen flying low over protesters in Washington on Monday night.

The District of Columbia National Guard is investigating the matter and an inquiry has also been requested by Secretary of War Mark Esper.

“The problem is not the very talented, low-flying helicopter pilots wanting to save our city, the problem is the arsonists, looters, criminals, and anarchists, wanting to destroy it [and our Country]!” Trump tweeted.

The helicopter had a “stated mission” in part to “deter” criminal activity including rioting and looting by keeping a presence overhead, according to a defense official who has direct knowledge of the orders the crew was given. The official declined to be identified because the Washington National Guard is now investigating whether flights were conducted appropriately.

The Lakota UH-72 was also supposed to also deter “unlawful assembly,” provide medical evacuation from the crowd if needed and provide surveillance to command and control for force protection, the official said.

The investigation, the official said, is focusing on how those orders resulted in the low-level flights, which sent debris flying and intimidated civilians, the official said.

Related

Why I No Longer Read Facebook

 BY GILAD ATZMON

fb hitler_edited-1.jpg

Source

by Eve Mykytyn

In an effort to stem the torrent of ‘false’ cures and conspiracy theories about COVID-19, Facebook announced it would begin informing users globally who have liked, commented on, or shared “harmful” misinformation about the coronavirus, that the content they reacted to was incorrect and  pointing them in the direction of what Facebook considers to be a  ‘reliable’ source. The reliable source?  The World Health Organization. Here’s the distinctly noninformative WHO Covid 19 website . 


I don’t know what caused Covid 19 to become our disease du jour. Was it a bat? A natural or laboratory mutation? Not only do I not know, but I don’t believe that Facebook, or the WHO know either. Why not let theories abound? Perhaps free speech means that we trust the people to evaluate the source and sort out the facts for themselves. 

The general rule in the US is that no publisher has an obligation to print any particular view: that rule dates from  when ‘publisher’ meant print and print was inexpensive. The founders intentionally strove to open a ‘marketplace of ideas,’ a ‘public square’ with pamphleteers and speeches. Published content was restricted only  by the threat of litigation over libel or defamation which requires publishing material known (or should have known) to be false.

Exceptions to the general rule came about when publishing was through a limited medium regulated by the government. When television stations were a limited resource obtained through government licensing of the  few channels, the government imposed  free speech requirements including an equal time rule, requiring television stations to present both sides of an issue. The rule was dropped, considered unnecessary only when television began to offer a plethora of stations.

So now we get to Facebook( youtube, twitter, etc.). Which is it most like, television or freely available printing?

For many years, including the time that these major platforms became monopolies, the internet depended on cable service which due to the physical nature of cable was a limited resource for which the government issued licenses to certain cable companies. In 1965 , the FCC established rules for cable systems and the Supreme Court affirmed the FCC’s jurisdiction over cable. I believe that  Facebook is also subject to regulation as a monopoly as the government has authority to interfere with monopolies, particularly when they are successful (which is, admittedly another issue) ask AT&T. 

But Facebook wants it both ways.  They don’t admit liability for defamatory statements published on their site. They argue that they behave simply as a platform, a means of transmission. But they also reserve the right to censor content by restricting or deleting material they deem incorrect. So which is it? If they have the power to censor what we see why shouldn’t they be liable for the content?

This censoring of free speech applies broadly. Google favors some content over others in its search engine, Youtube has been on a tear not only deleting videos but replacing videos with others that express an alternative view.   See where they plan to ban holocaust  ‘denial’ (revisionist in any way)  videos and offer wikipedia instead.  Further they intend to offer the banned videos to researchers and NGOs “looking to understand hate in order to combat it,” thereby providing content only to a restricted class of their own choosing.  Twitter inserts a page when a ‘controversial’ link is clicked warning the user that the link has been identified as  malware although Twitter admits that malware warnings are posted based on content. 

What is it that compels these platforms to come down on both sides of the free speech issue?  After all, by editing content Facebook becomes more like a  publisher and less like a mere  platform. Facebook does so because it regularly gets brought before Congress to explain free speech congress doesn’t like. Facebook also defers to European countries that regulate speech.

Facebook argues that internet companies aren’t governments and they can restrict what they like. That’s why they don’t follow the First Amendment and instead enforce more restrictive rules in response to criticism of their content.  See, for ex., The New Yorker on the ‘free speech excuse.’  

I believe that major platforms have become the public square. Yet we allow Facebook to restrict our speech and they do so effectively. As owners of the public square they are uniquely positioned to and do silence  dissenters. Platforms take down posts that don’t fit their ‘standards, and they do so swiftly. Perhaps before we allow Facebook to be the arbitrator of free speech, we should rethink the present day meaning of a marketplace of ideas.

AngloZionist controlled media bans SouthFront

The Saker

AngloZionist controlled media bans SouthFront

Dear friends,

Here is the email I got in my inbox today:
——-

Dear friend,

Once again, SouthFront faced an unprecedented censorship.

On April 30, our Facebook page with about 100,000 subscribers was deleted without any notifications or an option to appeal the decision:

On May 1, YouTube terminated SouthFront’s channels with 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.

This happened despite the fact that our YouTube channels had zero active strikes. 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. There was no so-called “coronavirus conspiracy” content on our YouTube channels.

SouthFront’s YouTube channels were terminated without any warning. All that we got was a single automated email regarding the termination ofour 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.

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.

The explanation may be 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.

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 ask you to cover this situation and, if you have an opportunity, to provide us with informational or juridical help.

Sincerely yours,
SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence

——-

What can I say?

First, the fact that the AngloZionist controlled media wants to silence SouthFront is a sign of how effective SouthFront’s work has been.  They can wear that as a badge of honor.

Second, I don’t believe that there is anything that should/could be done.  The First Amendment only applies to situation in which the state silences somebody, not when corporations do it.

Third, I strongly believe that we all (those in overt resistance to the Empire) should never become dependent on the good-will or decency of AngloZionist controlled media/hosting outlets.  Expect no decency or mercy from these people, they are servants of Satan, quite literally!

Please try to help SouthFront either financially or by lending them a helping hand.  These are good people, doing an important job and, unlike so many others, they have always repaid us with their faithful support and friendship.

By helping SouthFront you help all of us, including the entire Saker Community!

Please do the right thing.

Kind regards

The Saker

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

Civil War Rumblings? Republican Efforts to Redraw Map Along Ideological Lines Point to Dark Days Ahead

Image result for Civil War Rumblings? Republican Efforts to Redraw Map Along Ideological Lines Point to Dark Days Ahead

Robert Bridge

 

February 26, 2020
More American conservatives, frustrated with liberalism and its radical cultural experiments, are joining a rising movement that aims to redraw several state lines. Are such desperate efforts the harbinger of worse things to come?
Native Oregonian and diehard conservative Mike McCarter lives his life according to the simple rule: ‘if you can’t beat the Liberals, leave them.’ But McCarter has no plans to uproot himself from his home state. Instead, he wants southern Oregon to be absorbed into neighboring Idaho.
As leader of the so-called “Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho” movement, McCarter and other disgruntled Republicans envision a chunk of their Pacific Northwest state seceding to Idaho, where the state legislature is controlled by Republicans, and Governor Brad Little is also a red-blooded Republican. Oregon, meanwhile, is under Democratic control, led by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.

Conservative Patriot@co_firing_line

 

 

Some Oregon and California residents are fed up with the liberalism that is destroying their states and want to join Idaho. https://conservativefiringline.com/fed-up-oregon-residents-petition-to-join-idaho-over-frustrating-liberal-policies/ 

Fed Up: Oregon Residents Petition to Join Idaho Over Frustrating Liberal Policies ⋆ Conservative…

Residents of liberal Oregon are petitioning to join Idaho.

conservativefiringline.com

 

 

See Conservative Patriot’s other Tweets

 

Conservatives over the years have watched in silent horror as their state has steadily become more liberal-leaning. Ronald Reagan was the last Republican to win Oregon back in 1984. Idaho, meanwhile, has been a GOP stronghold for much longer. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win the state was Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1964.
The current strife, however, goes much deeper than simply the political alignment of the two states.
Conservative Oregonians might be able to live under Democratic rule if it were not for a raft of intensely divisive actions, including the approval of drivers licenses for illegal aliens, turning a blind eye to Antifa, the radical and frequently violent left-wing group, while declaring Portland, the most populous city in the state, a ‘sanctuary city’ for undocumented migrants.
Just last year, about a dozen Republican legislators reportedly sought refuge in Idaho rather than be forced to vote on a greenhouse gas-emissions bill. Gov. Kate Brown went so far as to authorize the Oregon State Police to haul the Republican senators back to the Capitol building so that a vote on the legislation could take place.
The situation came to head when the Oregon State Republicans launched a petition to oust Governor Brown, accusing her of being unduly focused on “special interests and politically-motivated agendas,” as opposed to the “will of the voters.”
The initiative fell just short of the necessary 280,050 signatures.

Mayor Ted Wheeler

@tedwheeler

 

 

This is an unconscionable consideration by a President who is once again calling into question the moral bearings of our nation. Every human deserves to be treated with dignity. We strongly denounce the cruel efforts of this administration to retaliate against sanctuary cities. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1116742280919044096 

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only….

 

 

143 people are talking about this

 

The situation in Oregon appears as a microcosm for the political climate across the country as a whole. A recent Pew survey revealed a chasm separating the two main political groupings nationwide. Conservatives are about 30% more inclined to agree that it is important to live in a racially homogenous community (77% vs. 48%). At the same time, 42% of right-leaning Americans say it is important to live in a community where most people share their religious views. Just 25% Democrats shared that opinion.
Since the ‘fight’ option appears to be a lost cause for many conservatives in Oregon, ‘flight’ looks to be the only available alternative.
“Rural counties have become increasingly outraged by laws coming out of the Oregon Legislature that threaten our livelihoods, our industries, our wallet, our gun rights, and our values,” McCarter said in a news release. “We tried voting those legislators out, but rural Oregon is outnumbered and our voices are now ignored. This [petition of secession] is our last resort.”
Idaho to the rescue?
In a bid to redraw the Oregon-Idaho border along ideological lines, the Greater Idaho movement has already secured approval from at least three Oregon counties – Josephine, Douglas and Umatilla – to start the secession process. The group needs to collect about 2,400 signatures from Josephine County and about 3,000 from Douglas County for the initiative to appear on the November 2 ballot.
The last time the border between US states was redrawn occurred in 1961 between Minnesota and North Dakota, a move involving a mere 20 acres of land that had nothing to do with partisan politics.
Meanwhile, across the country, West Virginia Governor, Jim Justice, said he would welcome “with open arms” any Virginia counties that wished to secede.
“If you’re not truly happy where you are, we stand with open arms to take you from Virginia or anywhere where you may be,” the West Virginia Governor told a press conference last month. “We stand strongly behind the Second Amendment, and we stand strongly for the unborn.”
The invitation comes after dozens of conservative counties in Virginia have declared themselves “sanctuaries” for the Second Amendment as Democratic state legislators, including Gov. Ralph Northam, have promised to impose tough gun laws. The radical reversal has prompted a showdown between dozens of local towns and districts and state officials.
In January, a Virginia sheriff touched a nerve when he told local legislators that he would not “enforce an unconstitutional law.”
On January 20, an estimated 22,000 gun rights supporters and local militia members, many carrying semiautomatic rifles, ascended on Virginia’s Capitol to demonstrate their opposition to gun restrictions.
At the same time, Virginia has also taken great strides in dismantling years of Republican-mandated requirements on abortions, including the removal of a 24-hour waiting period before the termination of a fetus, as well as requirements for ultrasound and counseling.
Justice extended his secession invitation alongside Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, a Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia. Falwell expressed support for the idea. “What’s happening in Virginia right now is a tragedy in the making,” he said.

 

Are these calls for secession at opposite sides of the country the rumblings of looming political strife down the road? After all, the chances for these initiatives passing state and federal legislators remains very doubtful, yet the frustration and anger that have brought them to life will not go away anytime soon. Indeed, it will only fester and infect the body politic until some sort of solution to accommodate America’s two radically different political ideologies is found. Whether the two sides can achieve that goal without resorting to violence is the real question.

Where Comedy ends and Hasbara Begins

 

atzmon ADL.png

by Gilad Atzmon

Two days ago at the ADL conference Jewish Zionist comedian Sacha Baron Cohen criticised the internet and social media companies for allowing freedom of speech. This grotesque character who has made a career of marginalising oppressed minorities by depicting stereotypical characters and then ridiculing them is now calling on social media to adopt gag orders and to move us further into an Orwellian realm.

Galvanized by the support it received from the Jewish comedian, the ADL is now demanding that 10 social media accounts “should be removed immediately.”

For one reason or another I am included on the list. I need not mention that I have never been charged with any crime let alone a hate crime.  I’ve never once been questioned by a single law enforcement body anywhere in the world. This does not stop the ADL from writing of me: “Gilad Atzmon is an anti-Semitic author and musician who describes himself as an ‘ex-Israeli’ and an ‘ex-Jew.’

I am indeed an ex Israeli and ex Jew and I am also a musician. However, I deny the accusation of anti-Semitism, I have never criticized Jews, or anyone else for the matter, as ‘a people,’ as ‘a race,’ as ‘a biology’ or as ‘an ethnicity.’ In fact, for my entire life I have opposed all forms of racism and this includes Jewish racism. I do criticise Jewish identitarian politics and some aspects of Jewish culture and ideology. I grew up in Israel and as far as I can remember, in the Jewish state, criticism of culture, ideology and politics is considered a perfectly kosher activity.

The ADL says of me that I am an “outspoken promoter of classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” This is an absurd lie as I have repeatedly argued that there are no Jewish conspiracies since it is all done in the open: from Epstein’s Lolita Express, to Israeli war crimes, to advocacy of Zioncon global conflicts and plans for an ‘New American Century.’ The UK chief rabbi’s call for Brits to turn their backs on their opposition party is not exactly a conspiratorial clandestine move, it is actually mainstream news in Britain this morning. There are no Jewish conspiracies, what happens takes place in front of our eyes but we cannot discuss it because Jewish power, as I define it, is the power to suppress criticism of Jewish power.

From then on, what the ADL says about me is somewhat accurate. He is “a fierce critic of Jewish identity.”  I am.

 “He has written that ‘Jewish ideological, political, and cultural discourse is…foreign to universalism and ideas of true equality.’ My exact words can be found here. What I say is “We must find a way to admit to ourselves that the Jewish ideological, political and cultural discourse is a tribal discourse: it is foreign to universalism and ideas of true equality.” Here the ADL is engaged  in a rather obvious attempt to deceive. In my original text, being ‘foreign to universalism and true equality’ elucidates the notion of tribal discourse. You may wonder why the ADL acts in a duplicitous manner.

 The ADL complains that “although Atzmon frequently attacks Zionism, he has also argued that Zionism itself was originally a ‘universalist and humanist’ movement which was ‘hijacked by Judaism.’ In fact, this is exactly what I argue and I wonder, where exactly is the ‘crime?’  The battle between ‘the Israeli’ and ‘the Jew’ was at the centre of the Israeli political debate in the last election. Am I guilty of identifying the core of Israel’s identity crisis a decade before anyone else?

Finally the ADL complains that I say of Israel that it is a  “tyranny inspired by a deep Talmudic intolerance.” I am afraid that the Israeli National Bill is the materialisation of the above.  I think I remember that the ADL’s Abe Foxman also wasn’t pleased with Israel’s National Bill for pretty much the same reasons. Is the ADL going to ask to delete his twitter account?

Sooner or later we will have to examine the question whether the relentless attack by Jewish institutions on freedom of speech, 1st amendments and the core Western ethos has been ‘good for the Jews.’


My battle for truth and freedom involves some expensive legal and security services. I hope that you will consider committing to a monthly donation in whatever amount you can give. Regular contributions will enable me to avoid being pushed against a wall and to stay on top of the endless harassment by Zionist operators attempting to silence me and others.

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No Accountability in Washington. The CIA Wants to Hide All Its Employees

By Philip Giraldi

Global Research, July 25, 2019

Strategic Culture Foundation

Government that actually serves the interests of the people who are governed has two essential characteristics: first, it must be transparent in terms of how it debates and develops policies and second, it has to be accountable when it fails in its mandate and ceases to be responsive to the needs of the electorate. Over the past twenty years one might reasonably argue that Washington has become less a “of the people, by the people and for the people” and increasingly a model of how special interests can use money to corrupt government. The recent story about how serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein avoided any serious punishment by virtue of his wealth and his political connections, including to both ex-president Bill Clinton and to current chief executive Donald Trump, demonstrates how even the most despicable criminals can avoid being brought to justice.

This erosion of what one might describe as republican virtue has been exacerbated by a simultaneous weakening of the US Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which was intended to serve as a guarantee of individual liberties while also serving as a bulwark against government overreach. In recent cases in the United States, a young man had his admission to Harvard revoked over comments posted online when he was fifteen that were considered racist, while a young woman was stripped of a beauty contest title because she refused to don a hijab at a college event and then wrote online about her experience. In both cases, freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment was ruled to be inadmissible by the relevant authorities.

Be that as it may, governmental lack of transparency and accountability is a more serious matter when the government itself becomes a serial manipulator of the truth as it seeks to protect itself from criticism. Reports that the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) is seeking legislation that will expand government ability to declare it a crime to reveal the identities of undercover intelligence agents will inevitably lead to major abuse when some clever bureaucrat realizes that the new rule can also be used to hide people and cover up malfeasance.

A law to protect intelligence officers already exists. It was passed in 1982 and is referred to as the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (I.I.P.A.). It criminalizes the naming of any C.I.A. officer under cover who has served overseas in the past five years. The new legislation would make the ban on exposure perpetual and would also include Agency sources or agents whose work is classified as well as actual C.I.A. staff employees who exclusively or predominantly work in the United States rather than overseas.

The revised legislation is attached to defense and intelligence bills currently being considered by Congress. If it is passed into law, its expanded range of criminal penalties could be employed to silence whistle blowers inside the Agency who become aware of illegal activity and it might also be directed against journalists that the whistleblowers might contact to tell their story.

The Agency has justified the legislation by claiming in a document obtained by The New York Times that “hundreds of covert officers [serving in the United States] have had their identity and covert affiliation disclosed without authorization… C.I.A. officers place themselves in harm’s way in order to carry out C.I.A.’s mission regardless of where they are based. Protecting officers’ identities from foreign adversaries is critical.”

Some Congressmen are disturbed by the perpetual nature of the identification ban while also believing that the proposed legislation is too broad in general. Senator Ron Wyden expressed had reservations over how the C.I.A. provision would apply indefinitely.

“I am not yet convinced this expansion is necessary and am concerned that it will be employed to avoid accountability,” he wrote.

Agency insiders have suggested that the new law is in part a response to increasing leaks of classified information by government employees. It is also a warning shot fired at journalists in the wake of the impending prosecution of Julian Assange of WikiLeaks under the seldom used Espionage Act of 1918. Covert identities legislation is less broad that the Espionage Act, which is precisely why it is attractive. It permits prosecution and punishment solely because someone either has revealed a “covert” name or is suspected of having done so.

But up until now, government prosecutors have only used the 1982 identities law twice. The first time was a 1985 case involving a C.I.A. clerk in Ghana and the second time was the 2012 case of John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer who pleaded guilty to providing a reporter with the name of an under-cover case officer who participated in the agency’s illegal overseas interrogations. Kiriakou has always claimed that he had not in fact named anyone, in spite of his plea, which was agreed to as a plea bargain. The covert officer in question had already been identified in the media.

John Kiriakou also observes how the I.I.P.A. has been inevitably applied selectively. He describes how “These two minor prosecutions aside, very few revelations of C.I.A. identities have ever led to court cases. Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage famously leaked Valerie Plame’s name to two syndicated columnists. He was never charged with a crime. Former C.I.A. Director David Petraeus leaked the names of 10 covert C.I.A. operatives to his adulterous girlfriend, apparently in an attempt to impress her, and was never charged. Former C.I.A. Director Leon Panetta revealed the name of the covert SEAL Team member who killed Osama bin Laden. He apologized and was not prosecuted.”

Kiriakou also explains how the “…implementation of this law is a joke. The C.I.A. doesn’t care when an operative’s identity is revealed — unless they don’t like the politics of the person making the revelation. If they cared, half of the C.I.A. leadership would be in prison. What they do care about, though, is protecting those employees who commit crimes at the behest of the White House or the C.I.A. leadership.” He goes on to describe how some of those involved in the Agency torture program were placed under cover precisely for that reason, to protect them from prosecution for war crimes.

Even team player Joe Biden, when a Senator, voted against the I.I.P.A., explaining in an op-ed in The Christian Science Monitor in 1982 that,

“The language (the I.I.P.A.) employs is so broadly drawn that it would subject to prosecution not only the malicious publicizing of agents’ names, but also the efforts of legitimate journalists to expose any corruption, malfeasance, or ineptitude occurring in American intelligence agencies.”

And that was with the much weaker 1982 version of the bill.

The new legislation is an intelligence agency dream, a get out of jail card that has no expiry date. And if one wants to know how dangerous it is, consider for a moment that if it turns out that serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was indeed a C.I.A. covert source, which is quite possible, he would be covered and would be able to walk away free on procedural grounds.

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Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.

Sovereignists of all countries – unite!

The Saker

Sovereignists of all countries – unite!

June 07, 2019

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

We all know that the Neocons are by far the largest and most influential group of sponsors of US wars of aggression. They are the ones who lobbied the hardest for the invasion of Iraq, and they are the ones which for decades have tried every possible dirty trick to lure the US into acts of aggression against Iran. In fact, in terms of international law, the Neocons could be seen as a gang of international war criminals. Why? Because, as I have already pointed out several times, according to the fundamental positions of the Nuremberg Tribunal, the worst crime possible is not genocide or any other crime against humanity. The worst possible crime is the crime of *aggression* because, according to the experts who set up the Nuremberg Tribunal, the crime of aggression “contains” all the other crimes (by the way, the International Criminal Court takes the same position). In the words of the chief American prosecutor at Nuremberg, Robert H. Jackson, “to initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” By that definition, every single US President would be a war criminal (at least as far as I know; if you can think of a US President who did not commit the crime of aggression – including against Native Americans! – please let me know). As for the Neocons, they could be fairly characterized as a “criminal conspiracy to commit the crime of aggression.” In a sane world, that would make them international pariahs on par with the al-Qaeda crazies (who, whether they realize it or not, were federated by the US Neocons and are still their hired guns not so much against the West but mostly against all the other (non-Takfiri) forms of Islam, primarily Hezbollah and Iran). In fact, while most are still afraid to say so publicly, I believe that there is a growing realization amongst political analysts that the Neocons are a dangerous international gang of warmongering thugs.

What is, however, less known is that inside the US, the Neocons and their allies have been a prime force to dismantle the Bill of Rights, especially the First and Second Amendments.

Today, I want to give a simple yet telling example of how this kind of stuff is quietly happening with very little opposition. And for that example, I will use the US state in which I am currently living, Florida.

Check out this stunning sequence of events:

On April 11th the FL House unanimously (114-0) passed a House Bill 741 which would define anti-Semitism as:

  • “A certain perception of the Jewish people, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jewish people.”
  • “Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism directed toward a person, his or her property, or toward Jewish community institutions or religious facilities.”

The bill also provides many examples of “anti-Semitism,” including:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews, often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Accusing Jews as a people or the State of Israel of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.

The bill also provides that examples of anti-Semitism related to Israel include:

  • Applying a double standard to Israel by requiring behavior of Israel that is not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, or focusing peace or human rights investigations only on Israel.
  • Delegitimizing Israel by denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and denying Israel the right to exist.

On April 29th Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet met in Jerusalem (not a joke!) to proclaim their support for “the Jewish state” (sic) and declare that DeSantis will be the most pro-Israel governor in “America” (sic). The fact that holding that meeting abroad is a violation of Florida law did not bother anybody (except The Florida First Amendment Foundation which filed a lawsuit against this outrage). Neither did the fact that Israel is the last openly and officially racist state on our planet. Sadly, Florida is hardly an exception, two dozen other states (including Texas) have passed similar laws.

The tiny little fig-leaf covering the real anti-civil-rights nature of such laws is the cop-out that such laws do not technically violate the First Amendment since they “only” apply to schools (FL) or that they do not ban free speech as such, but “only” allow for disinvestment from corporations and individuals who dare to profess the “wrong” point of view about Israel (TX).

This is, of course, utter nonsense.

Since the Neocons cannot openly come out and declare “let’s abolish the First Amendment”, they use what I would call a “legislative death by a thousand cuts” meaning that rather than openly repealing the First Amendment, they simply neuter it by imposing innumerable small limitations, regulations, interpretations, restrictions, etc. etc. etc (by the way, that is how the US elites are currently also trying to dismantle the Second Amendment).

As somebody who studied in the USA and obtained two diplomas here (1986-1991), I can attest that before 9/11 US schools and campuses were a wonderful Petri dish for all sorts of opinions and ideas, including very controversial ones. The freedom of speech on US colleges was total, and it was understood and expected that all opinions and ideas were to compete on their intrinsic merits and not carefully parsed for any sign of crimethink. This has now totally changed: with a few exceptions, most US schools (including many colleges!) have now become ideologically monolithic, and the only possible opinion is total hatred for Trump and unconditional support for the Clinton gang.

The most toxic aspect of these freedom-crushing laws is that they are deliberately directed at the young because the ruling plutocracy fully appreciates the fact that young people are far easier to mold ideologically, to indoctrinate. Add to this that the bulk of the US “educational” system (along with the US corporate media) is designed to actually stupidify students and make them compliant (the exact opposite of what “education” is supposed to achieve) since all that is required from 90+% of the US population are just the basic skill-sets needed to serve their overlords and ruling elites (the remaining top 10% of schools are mostly reserved for the children of the ruling US nomenklatura such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.).

There is another aspect of this slo-mo deconstruction of civil rights in the USA which I think is extremely important to point out: I believe that the absolutely outrageous nature of such laws is not only a side-effect of the infinite arrogance of the Neocons but also a deliberate mind-manipulation technique. By being so “in your face” with their ideological arrogance, the Neocons are forcing everybody observing the laws into one of two camps: first, those who meekly accept whatever the Neocons want, and those who dare to resist. The first group then becomes an accomplice, a bystander, who by silence acquiesces, while the second group becomes a target to be silenced, by whatever means necessary. The similarities in other circumstances are apparent: 9/11, MH-17, Skripal, fictional gas attacks in Syria, etc. The rulers of the Empire demand that everybody endorse a narrative which is self-evidently false thereby creating a very accurate tool to measure the degree of political subservience of every person asked whether the official version is true or not.

In this context, it is quite amazing to see that very few people dare to openly question why and how a foreign power acquired such total control over a supposed superpower. There are, of course, many courageous individuals who dare to question all this (the names of Cynthia McKinney, Ron Unz, Philip Giraldi, Paul Craig Roberts, Catherine Austin-Fitts, Bonnie Faulkner and many others come to mind), but their courageous voices are drowned by an CAT5 hurricane of pro-Zionist propaganda. And, of course, when all else fails, the vapid and nonsensical accusation of “anti-Semitism” is used to discredit anybody whose arguments cannot be simply dismissed. Finally, the US deep-state has been very successful in its covert support for all kinds of genuinely racist movements, personalities and media outlets as a means to discredit (by supposed association) anybody critical of Israel or of Zionism. The exact same technique was used to discredit the 9/11 Truth movement which has been negatively affected on a grass-roots level by all sorts of plain stupid theories (nukes, Russian missiles, directed energy weapons, etc.) which helped to “dissolve” the serious and rigorously scientific studies of what really happened on 9/11.

One of the most devastating consequences of this Zio-compatible political orthodoxy in the USA has been that no US politician has successfully challenged the total control of the Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG – a much-discredited term, yet a totally accurate one, in my opinion). Cynthia McKinney tried, and we all know what happened to her. Even more chilling is the fact that even people like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader or Tulsi Gabbard clearly decided to stay away from this issue, lest they be demonized and removed from any position of power like Cynthia McKinney was.

This is all entirely deliberate. Just check the language used by HB 741 which clearly and repetitively conflates any rejection or condemnation of Zionism (which is an ideology) with the hatred of Jews (as a religion, ethnicity or race; FWIW, I personally think of Jews as a tribe, not a race or ethnicity). This conflation is the cornerstone of Zionist power in the West, and this is why any discussion of it is considered as an impeachable evidence of racist crimethink).

Still, those who, like myself, live in the USA are comparatively better off than any European dissidents since in most EU countries (and in Russia, by the way) there are already plenty of laws banning specific forms of free speech including even the so-called “Holocaust denial” and the (vaguely worded) ban on “hate speech”: there is no First Amendment in Europe and the ban on some forms of free speech has always been present in Europe (the French philosopher Alain Soral is now risking a year in jail for various “thought-crimes”. I will write about his plight in the near future).

Conclusion: in so many ways, Russians and Americans have the same problem!

Once we make the decision to call things by their proper names, it becomes evident what the problem is, of the USA: the USA is not a genuinely free or sovereign country, but an “occupied territory” ruled by a transnational gang of thugs whose ideology is as racist, messianic and as hateful as it gets (Zionism); I would, therefore, suggest that a perfect US “liberation slogan” might be “restore full sovereignty to the people”. Russia, I believe, has the same problem, albeit to a lesser degree (the most significant difference is that there are still many patriots in Russia who are willing to speak up against this state of affairs, but without falling into the trap of endorsing racist views). Fundamentally, I think that it would be fair to say that both Russia and the USA are struggling to free themselves from the yoke of a trans-national gang of thugs whose goal is world domination, literally (if you are naïve enough to believe that Zionism is “just” the advocacy of a Jewish homeland and a relocation of any threatened Jews to “Eretz Yisrael” you are totally mistaken, see why here).

Furthermore, both Russia and the USA also suffer from the internal oppression of a ruling class, which is corrupt to the core and profoundly contemptuous of everybody else. And while these people are not united under one leader or organization, and while they don’t have to have secret coordinating meetings, they have such a commonality of interests that they will always and instinctively act in concert. I know that this is not a cool thing to say in 2019, but for all his other mistakes, Karl Marx was quite correct in his realization that class struggles are what defines the structure of most societies and that class consciousness often determines how those in power act.

So, whatever we choose to call them (Neocons, Zionists, Atlantic Integrationists, 5th columnists, etc.), these labels are all situational, and we all know who we are dealing with here and how these people operate. And to those who would (inevitably) accuse us of some kind of crypto-racism we would simply reply with the words of a very famous Jew, Saint Paul, who said: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). Besides, blaming Jews for Zionism is about as logical as blaming Russians for Bolshevism, Germans for National Socialism or blaming US Americans for imperialism: this is both counter-factual and profoundly immoral. But, not to worry, the Pope has already declared that Christians have to ask for pardon for “19 centuries of Christian anti-Judaism”! I suppose that soon the Latins will declare Saint Paul an “optional saint” (like they did with Saint Nicholas). In fact, judging by the Pope’s obsession with denouncing anti-Semitism, we can safely assume that soon such notorious “anti-Semites” like Saint Paul, Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Saint Ambrose of Milan, Saint Justin Martyr and many others will soon be made “optional”. At the end of the day, I fully expect these folks to make Christ Himself “optional,” again for His anti-Semitism (especially in the Gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint John which will surely be “corrected” in the near future).

Russians and US Americans live in very different societies with very different histories. Yet I believe that rather than futilely hoping that Russia will one day become a backer of the (deep-state sponsored and therefore truly racist) Alt-Right, it would be far more realistic and productive to hope that all the people of Russia and the USA, irrespective of their race, ethnicity or religion, join forces to struggle to recover their sovereignty over their country. It does not matter what ideology the trans-national plutocracy happens to advocate as long as the rest of us realize that true sovereignty is the counter-poison which will restore our freedoms and stop wars of aggression (which only the ruling elites benefit from). Today the Neocons are enemy #1 for the US. The Russian 5th columnists are the enemy #1 for Russia. Showing how they work towards the same goals is, I believe, one of the first things which those who resist these thugs must achieve. Paraphrasing Marx, I would suggest this slogan: “sovereignists of all countries – unite!”.

The Saker

Forward/Backward ?

April 30, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

forward backward.jpg

Introduction by GA: Forward’s Editor Jane Eisner is frustrated. She believes that the US and its Constitution have betrayed the Jews. In the following article Eve Mykytyn suggests that Mrs. Eisner doesn’t grasp the constitution and is pretty removed from the American ethos.

By Eve Mykytyn

Jane Eisner wrote an editorial in The Forward on Sunday entitled, “Spare Me your Thoughts and Prayers. The US Has Betrayed Its Jews.”  Her thesis is that by abiding by a “perverted, outdated, self-serving view” of the constitution, the government  has failed in its “oblig[ation] to ensure that citizens have the freedom to live lives of dignity, equality and security.”

Specifically she blames the Second Amendment right to bear arms which she claims “was not meant to turn America into a killing field,” and the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment which she opines, “was not meant to allow a few powerful, private corporations to ignore their civic responsibilities to prevent incitement and promote social harmony.”

Ms Eisner dismissively allows that “scholars” have noted that the Constitution was drafted to define rights as “negative rights.” She bemoans the lack of emphasis on “positive rights,” that would make it the duty of the “government to ensure that citizens have the freedom to live lives of dignity, equality and security.”

Perhaps Ms Eisner has failed to read the Constitution which sets forth the various powers of the federal government and then in its amendments makes clear its intent that the government interfere with its citizens to the least extent possible. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments specifically grant nonenumerated rights and powers to the States or the people. Importantly, even the 14th Amendment which has expanded certain rights of citizens is phrased in the negative. “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens… ; nor …deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person … the equal protection of the laws.”

Nowhere is there a positive obligation placed on the government to ensure that its citizens “live lives of dignity, equality and security.” Instead the constitution prescribes equality under the law and protection from government interference.  Understanding this makes axiomatic the right to own a gun or to allow speech that Ms Eisner does not like.

Yet, Eisner claims the federal government has totally failed in its “central” job to “protect its people.” From what constitutional or other law does Eisner derive this “central job?” Would a government attempt to prevent attacks on what Eisner calls “vulnerable minorities (her list – Jews, African Americans or Muslims or gays and lesbians or random children in a school.) by eliminating guns and free speech deprive all of us of liberties?

The United States has existed for 240 years with our constitution and its particular blend of rights and obligations. Ms Eisner apparently seeks to add additional restrictions in order to ensure the safety of the Jews. This is a dangerous route. The framers (of the Constitution and its Amendments) were wise enough to understand that positive obligations placed on the government must be balanced by the burdens they place on individual freedom. If we were to enact some version of Eisner’s ‘dignity and security’ we would be inviting the government to control more aspects of our lives.

Neither private citizens nor corporations are obliged to let everyone speak nor to police other’s speech. And fortunately, there is no exception to free speech that requires media to “prevent incitement and promote social harmony” even if one could somehow determine precisely what speech that would prohibit. Ms Eisner has it exactly wrong, free speech is most meaningful in allowing political criticism which indeed may not promote social harmony. See.

While some may plan nefarious deeds on Facebook, information can and is published in other ways. The shooter in Poway, John Ernest, posted his manifesto on pastebin. It is also possible that by allowing the type of speech that Ms Eisner does not like, anger may be defused. Christopher Poole, creator of 4chan, said he was often thanked for providing an outlet to vent frustrations.

Ms Eisner charges that “America has failed its Jews.” Her solution is to  change the constitution and limit freedom in ways that are foreign both to the intent and to the various interpretations of the constitution. Nor is it at all clear that suppressing speech and prohibiting guns (especially given the number of guns already owned) would end terrorist shootings.

Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, said that “[the shooting] is clearly Hashem telling the Jews to come home, to return to Jerusalem because “the sanctity of Israel can protect the Jews.” Perhaps Rabbi Berger could explain why God does not protect the Jews wherever they are.

Source: https://www.evemykytyn.com/-

My battle for truth and freedom involves some expensive legal services. I hope that you will consider committing to a monthly donation in whatever amount you can give. Regular contributions will enable me to avoid being pushed against a wall and to stay on top of the endless harassment by Zionist operators attempting to silence me.

Wiki-Gate: Julian Assange Was Framed by the People Who Supported Him

Global Research, April 22, 2019

Julian Assange’s arrest (after almost seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy) constitutes a hideous and illegal act. He is imprisoned in Britain’s Belmarsh maximum security prison, pending his extradition to the United States. 

Statements by US prosecutors suggest that Assange would not be charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. What is contemplated are accusations of conspiring “to commit unlawful computer intrusion based on his alleged agreement to try to help Ms. Manning break an encoded portion of passcode that would have permitted her to log on to a classified military network under another user’s identity.” (NYT, April 11, 2019).

The charges can of course be changed and shifted around. Bolton-Pompeo will no doubt play a role. In a 2017 statement when he was CIA Director Mike Pompeo “referred to WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” which needed to be eradicated.”  

Assange is relentlessly accused by the corporate media of treason, acting on behalf of the Kremlin. An indictment invoking the 1917 Espionage Act remains a distinct possibility with a view to overriding The First Amendment of the US Constitution which guarantees Freedom of Expression.

Assange constitutes a new Russia-Gate media narrative? His arrest coincides with the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report.

Prepare for Wiki-Gate: a long and drawn-out legal procedure which will be the object of extensive media coverage with a view to ultimately misleading the public.  

The unspoken objective of Assange’s indictment is to  create a legal precedent which will enable Washington and its allies to arrest independent and anti-war journalists indiscriminately.

What is at stake, –revealed by Wikileaks– is that politicians in high office are the architects of war crimes. To protect them and sustain their legitimacy, they require the suppression of  freedom of expression, which in turn requires “the criminalization of justice”.

Ironically, from the very outset (over a period of more than 12 years) there has never been a concerted effort on the part of Washington (and its national security intelligence apparatus) to suppress the release of classified US government information or to close down the Wikileaks project. In fact, quite the opposite.

Why?

Because the carefully selected and redacted Wikileaks quotes by the mainstream media have been used to provide legitimacy to US “foreign policy” as well as obfuscate (through omission) many of the crimes committed by US intelligence and the Pentagon.

Wikileaks and the Mainstream Media

It is important to note that Julian Assange from the outset was supported by the mainstream media, which was involved in releasing selected and redacted versions of the leaks. And despite Assange’s arrest and imprisonment, Wikileaks continues to release compromising US diplomatic cables, the latest of which (reported by McClatchy, April 17, 2019) pertains to “evidence that US troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians” including a 5 month old infant. 

At the outset of the Wikileaks project, the mainstream media including the New York Times, The Guardian and the Economist praised Julian Assange. The British elites supported him. Assange became a personality. It was a vast Public Relations campaign. It was a money-making undertaking for the corporate media.

In 2008  The Economist (which is partly owned by the Rothschild family) granted Assange The New Media Award.

About-turn?  Shift in the Mainstream Media Narrative.

Today, ironically  these same corporate media which praised Assange are now accusing him (without a shred of evidence) of being involved in acts of conspiracy on behalf of  the Kremlin. According to John Pilger:

“The Guardian has since published a series of falsehoods about Assange, not least a discredited claim that a group of Russians and Trump’s man, Paul Manafort, had visited Assange in the [Ecuadorian] embassy. The meetings never happened; it was fake.”

Assange has been the object of an all out smear campaign by those who supported him.

The Economist which granted him the New Media Award in 2008 intimates that Assange is an enemy agent responsible for “information anarchy … culminating in the destabilization of American democracy”.

Others think it a long-overdue reckoning with justice for a man who had unleashed information anarchy upon the West, culminating in the destabilisation of American democracy. Is Mr Assange a heroic journalist, reckless activist or even an enemy agent? (The Economist, April 12,2019, emphasis added)

The smear operation is ongoing:

Screenshot Economist headline, April 17, 2019

Starting in early 2017, coinciding with RussiaGate, Assange is depicted as a  “Putin Stooge” working for the Kremlin, Why?

In 2016, some of Mr. Assange’s former American sympathizers turned sharply against him after he made WikiLeaks into an enthusiastic instrument of Russia’s intervention in the American presidential election, doling out hacked Democratic emails to maximize their political effect, campaigning against Hillary Clinton on Twitter and promoting a false cover story about the source of the leaks. (NYT, April 2019, emphasis added)

And then The Guardian, (April 20) with which Assange actively collaborated goes into a high-gear smear operation and  character assassination: “cheap journalism” by the Guardian (read excerpt below):

Was Julian Assange Framed by the People Who Supported Him? 

The latest from the New York Times April 15, 2019, which previously collaborated with Assange, describes him as a threat to National Security, working on behalf of the Russians.

Flashback to 2010:

WikiLeaks published a series of controversial intelligence leaks including some 400,000 classified Iraq war documents, covering events from 2004 to 2009 (See Tom Burghardt, The WikiLeaks Release: U.S. Complicity and Cover-Up of Iraq Torture Exposed, Global Research, October 24, 2010).

These revelations contained in the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs provided “further evidence of the Pentagon’s role in the systematic torture of Iraqi citizens by the U.S.-installed post-Saddam regime.” (Ibid).

The Role of the Frontline Club. Assange’s Social Entourage

While Assange was committed (through the release of leaked government documents) to revealing the “unspoken truth” of corruption and war crimes, many of the people (and journalists) who “supported him” are largely “Establishment”: Upon his release from bail in December 2010 (Swedish extradition order over allegations of sexual offenses) Henry Vaughan Lockhart Smith, a friend of Assange, a former British Grenadier Guards captain and a member of the British aristocracy came to his rescue.  Assange was provided refuge at Vaughan Smith’s Ellingham Manor in Norfolk.

Vaughn Lockhart Smith is the founder of the London based Frontline Club (which is supported by George Soros’ Open Society Institute). In 2010, the Frontline Club served as the de facto U.K “headquarters” for Julian Assange.

Vaughan Smith is a journalist aligned with the mainstream media. He had collaborated with NATO, acted as an embedded reporter and cameraman in various US-NATO war theaters including Afghanistan and Kosovo. In 1998 he worked as a video journalist in Kosovo in a production entitled The Valley, which consisted in “documenting” alleged Serbian atrocities against Kosovar Albanians. The video production was carried out with the support of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

Upon Assange’s arrest on April 10, 2019 Vaughn Smith, while acknowledging his disagreements with Assange, nonetheless expressed his unbending support and concern for Assange:

Smith said that while he didn’t agree that everything Assange released should have been released, he did think the Wikileaks founder “triggered a discussion about transparency that is incredibly important.”

“I support Julian because I think his rights as an individual reflect on us, his fellow citizens,” he told Tremonti.

“I think how we treat somebody who we may not agree with, that tells us truths that we may not wish to know … is a great comment on us.” (CBC, April 10, 2019)

The Role of the Corporate Media: The Central Role of the New York Times

The New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel and El Pais (Spain) were directly involved in the editing, redacting and selection of leaked documents.

In the case of the New York Times, coordinated by Washington Bureau Chief David Sanger, the redacted versions were undertaken in consultation with the US State Department.

Even before the Wikileaks project got off the ground, the mainstream media was implicated. A role was defined and agreed upon for the corporate media not only in the release, but also in the selection and editing of the leaks. The “professional media”, to use Julian Assange’s words in an interview with The Economist, had been collaborating with the Wikileaks project from the outset.

Moreover, key journalists with links to the US foreign policy-national security intelligence establishment have worked closely with Wikileaks, in the distribution and dissemination of the leaked documents.

In a bitter irony, The New York Times, which has consistently promoted media disinformation was accused in 2010 of conspiracy. For what? For revealing the truth? Or for manipulating the truth? In the words of Senator Joseph L. Lieberman:

“I certainly believe that WikiLleaks has violated the Espionage Act, but then what about the news organizations — including The Times — that accepted it and distributed it?” Mr. Lieberman said, adding: “To me, The New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship, and whether they have committed a crime, I think that bears a very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department.” (WikiLeaks Prosecution Studied by Justice Department – NYTimes.com, December 7, 2010)

This “redacting” role of The New York Times was candidly acknowledged by David E Sanger, Chief Washington correspondent of the NYT:

“[W]e went through [the cables] so carefully to try to redact material that we thought could be damaging to individuals or undercut ongoing operations. And we even took the very unusual step of showing the 100 cables or so that we were writing from to the U.S. government and asking them if they had additional redactions to suggest.” (See PBS Interview; The Redacting and Selection of Wikileaks documents by the Corporate Media, PBS interview on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross: December 8, 2010, emphasis added).

Yet Sanger also said later in the interview:

 “It is the responsibility of American journalism, back to the founding of this country, to get out and try to grapple with the hardest issues of the day and to do it independently of the government.” (ibid, emphasis added)

“Do it independently of the government” while at the same time “asking them [the US government] if they had additional redactions to suggest”?

David  E. Sanger is not a model independent journalist. He is member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Aspen Institute’s Strategy Group which regroups the likes of Madeleine K. Albright, Condoleeza Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, former CIA head John Deutch, among other prominent establishment figures.

It is worth noting that several American journalists, members of the Council on Foreign Relations had interviewed Wikileaks, including Time Magazine’s Richard Stengel (November 30, 2010) and The New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadurian. (WikiLeaks and Julian Paul Assange : The New Yorker, June 11, 2007)

Historically, The New York Times has served the interests of the Rockefeller family in the context of a longstanding relationship. In turn, the Rockefellers have an important stake as shareholders of several US corporate media.

Concluding Remarks 

Who are the criminals?

Those who leak secret  government documents which provide irrefutable evidence of extensive crimes against humanity or the politicians in high office who order the killings and atrocities.

What is unfolding is not only “the criminalization of the State”, the judicial system is also criminalized with  a view to upholding the legitimacy of the war criminals in high office.

And the corporate media through omission, half truths and outright lies upholds war as a peace-making endeavor (see below)

 

Empire Versus Democracy and Freedom. Will The Espionage Act Displace the US Constitution?

Global Research, April 18, 2019

The public interest, and democratic political economies, both domestic and internationally, are poison to Empire. But this must be hidden from view, hence war propaganda/fake news is protected by legislation, while Constitutionally-protected, evidence-based real journalism, a dying phenomenon, continues to be attacked.

The First Amendment of the US Constitution, adopted on December 15, 1791,

“prevents the government from making laws which respect an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.” [1]

However, the Constitution is under constant assault by US oligarch[2] ruling classes.

Freedom of the press has been negated by ruling class monopoly ownership and pervasive propaganda. Criminal propaganda is protected while “freedoms of speech” are under constant assault.

The fakery of the news stories is protected by (unconstitutional) laws embedded in the National Defense Authorization Act which blur the lines between reality and spectacle. In an earlier article I wrote,

According to an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the House Bill H.R 5736 (now law), the federal government of the United States can now legally propagandize the domestic public.

Arguably, this makes staged theatrical presentations, featuring crisis-actors, and purporting to be ‘reality’, legal.

And, as if that isn’t enough, Don North writes in “US/NATO Embrace Psy-ops and Info-War” that,

“As reflected in a recent NATO conference in Latvia and in the Pentagon’s new ‘Law of War’ manual, the U.S. government has come to view the control and manipulation of information as a ‘soft power’ weapon, merging psychological operations, propaganda and public affairs under the catch phrase ‘strategic communications.’ “[3]

The Espionage Act[4] also contradicts the US Constitution, but it is being invoked with regard to the indictment against Julian Assange.

Ubiquitous classification of information beneath the mantle of “National Security” serves to sustain the illusion that Empire serves the public interest. Hence, as author and veteran journalist Naomi Wolf asserts, whistleblowers are necessary, as is the transmission of their leaks. This, she says, has been journalism practice for years. It is what real journalists are supposed to do.

The Daniel Ellsbergs and Chelsea Mannings of the world are necessary — Ellsberg is now considered to be a hero.  The Assanges of the world who transmit the truth are also necessary.

If the Espionage Act, the NDAA, and other legislation were to completely displace the U.S Constitution and its First Amendment, then the prospect of real journalism would finally be extinguished. And ruling classes feigning concern for the public interest would be delighted.

In the following video, Wolf walks us through the indictment[5] against Assange and demonstrates the paucity of evidence against him in the government’s on-going efforts to frame him and destroy the messenger with a view to protecting the Supreme International War Criminals currently guiding the Neo-con Imperial Shipwreck.

Notes:

[1] Wikipedia, “First Amendment to the United States Constitution.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution) Accessed 18 April, 2019.

[2] Daniel Kreps, “Jimmy Carter: U.S. Is an ‘Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery.’ “ (https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/jimmy-carter-u-s-is-an-oligarchy-with-unlimited-political-bribery-63262/) Accessed 18 April, 2019.

[3] Mark Taliano, “Fake threats and engineered fears.” 16 July, 2016. (https://ahtribune.com/politics/1073-engineered-fears.html?fbclid=IwAR0qHlFivL8c1QIqMxZsiQO43qYN0R-ITQCPa9jUXAWjU9v8_LjzMFiGlJE) Accessed 18 April, 2019.

[4] Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute, “18 U.S. Code CHAPTER 37—ESPIONAGE AND CENSORSHIP.” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/part-I/chapter-37) Accessed 18 April, 2019.

[5] “In The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, United States of America v. Julian Paul Assange.” 6 March, 2018. (https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/press-release/file/1153481/download) Accessed 18 April, 2019.

School Employee Sues District for israel (apartheid state) Loyalty Oath in Contract

Source

Palestinian protesters walk during a rainy day during a demonstration near the border with Israel east of Gaza city on December 28, 2018.Palestinian protesters walk during a rainy day during a demonstration near the border with Israel east of Gaza city on December 28, 2018.

In a return to the bad old days of McCarthyism, Bahia Amawi, a US citizen of Palestinian descent, lost her Texas elementary school job after refusing to pledge in writing that she would not participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Earlier this month, Amawi sued the school district that fired her.

The BDS movement against Israel has become a hot button issue in the closing month of 2018. A bipartisan group of senators tried to attach the Israel Anti-Boycott Act to the unanimous spending bill that Trump almost signed to avoid the current government shutdown. Meanwhile, Donorbox, a US software company, blocked the BDS fundraising account at the behest of a pro-Israel group.

“The language of the affirmation Amawi was told she must sign reads like Orwellian – or McCarthyite – self-parody, the classic political loyalty oath that every American should instinctively shudder upon reading,” Glenn Greenwald wrote at The Intercept.

On December 12, the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit on Amawi’s behalf in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas against Pflugerville Independent School District, alleging that Texas’ law requiring the oath violates the First Amendment. Amawi’s complaint says the law constitutes an impermissible attempt “to impose an ideological litmus test or compel speech related to government contractors’ political beliefs, associations, and expressions.”

Amawi had contracted with the school district for nine years to work with students with autism and developmental disabilities in Austin. This fall, for the first time, Amawi was required to sign an oath that she would not boycott Israel. When she refused to sign it, she was fired.

“The point of boycotting any product that supports Israel is to put pressure on the Israeli government to change its treatment, the inhumane treatment, of the Palestinian people,” Amawi explained. “Having grown up as a Palestinian, I know firsthand the oppression and the struggle that Palestinians face on a daily basis.”

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

The BDS movement was launched by representatives of Palestinian civil society in 2005, calling upon “international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era … [including] embargoes and sanctions against Israel.”

This call specified that “these non-violent punitive measures” should last until Israel fully complies with international law by (1) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the barrier wall; (2) recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their land as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.

Even though it is a nonviolent movement, Israel sees BDS as a threat to its hegemony over the Palestinians. Israel illegally occupies Palestinian territories, maintaining effective control over Gaza’s land, airspace, seaport, electricity, water, telecommunications and population registry. Israel deprives Gazans of food, medicine, fuel and basic services, and continues to build illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“There will not be progress toward a just peace without pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian rights,” said Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace. “Bringing about that pressure, through a global grassroots mobilization, is exactly what BDS is about.”

After Amawi’s firing, The New York Times editorial board wrote,

It’s not just Israel’s adversaries who find the [BDS] movement appealing. Many devoted supporters of Israel, including many American Jews, oppose the occupation of the West Bank and refuse to buy products of the settlements in occupied territories. Their right to protest in this way must be vigorously defended.

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of BDS, said in an email to The New York Times, “Having lost many battles for hearts and minds at the grass-roots level, Israel has adopted since 2014 a new strategy to criminalize support for BDS from the top” in order to “shield Israel from accountability.”

Barghouti called Shurat HaDin, the group behind the Donorbox action blocking the BDS account, a “repressive organization with clear connections to the far-right Israeli government” that is “engaging in McCarthyite … tactics … in a desperate attempt to undermine our ability to challenge Israel’s regime of apartheid and oppression.”

Twenty-six US states have anti-BDS laws and 13 others are pending. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would have to be reintroduced when the new Congress convenes in January, was supported by Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California) opposed the bill.

Boycotts Are Protected by the First Amendment

The law that triggered Amawi’s firing prohibits the State of Texas from entering into government contracts with companies, including sole proprietorships, that boycott Israel. It defines “boycott Israel” to include “refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict harm on, or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in an Israeli-controlled territory.”

Boycotts are a constitutionally protected form of speech, assembly and association. They have long been used to oppose injustice and urge political change. The Supreme Court has held that “speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values, and is entitled to special protection.” The high court ruled that advocating and supporting boycotts “to bring about political, social, and economic change” – like boycotts of Israel – are indisputably protected by the First Amendment.

The National Lawyers Guild, Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights wrote in a legal memorandum challenging anti-BDS legislation in New York that such laws “harken back to the McCarthy era when the state sought to deny the right to earn a livelihood to those who express controversial political views.” The memo says, “The courts long ago found such McCarthy-era legislation to be at war with the First Amendment,” as they “unconstitutionally target core political speech activities and infringe on the freedom to express political beliefs.”

Even staff members at the right-wing Anti-Defamation League (ADL) opposed anti-BDS laws and admitted they are unconstitutional. Although the leadership officially favors outlawing BDS, ADL staff wrote in an internal 2016 memo that anti-BDS laws divert “community resources to an ineffective, unworkable, and unconstitutional endeavor.”

Greenwald cited the grave danger anti-BDS laws pose to freedom of speech, tweeting, “The proliferation of these laws – where US citizens are barred from work or contracts unless they vow not to boycott Israel – is the single greatest free speech threat in the US.”

Demonstrating the incongruity of allowing Amawi to boycott any entity but Israel, Greenwald noted, “In order to continue to work, Amawi would be perfectly free to engage in any political activism against her own country, participate in an economic boycott of any state or city within the US, or work against the policies of any other government in the world — except Israel.”

The US government remains Israel’s lap dog on the world stage. On December 5 the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. The United States opposed the resolution.

Meanwhile, the BDS movement continues to achieve victories. After more than 24,000 people complained to HSBC, the banking giant pulled out its investments in Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. Elbit sells military equipment, including drones, aircraft, artillery and weapon control systems to the Israeli army, US Air Force and British Royal Air Force. It also provides surveillance equipment to the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

On the legal front, the ACLU has mounted successful court challenges to anti-BDS laws in Kansas and Arizona and has filed litigation in Arkansas and Texas.

Marjorie Cohn

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

Zuckerberg On Denial and Being Wrong

July 20, 2018  /  Gilad Atzmon

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By Gilad Atzmon

In an interview with technology website Recode, Mark Facebook  Zuckerberg stated that posts from Holocaust deniers should be allowed on Facebook.

In response to a question on Facebook’s policy on fake news, Mr. Zuckerberg offered, without prompting, the example of posts by Holocaust deniers.

“I’m Jewish and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” he told reporter Kara Swisher. “I find it deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”

He added, “everyone gets things wrong and if we were taking down people’s accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice and saying that you care about that.”

Despite the fact that FB has earned itself a reputation as a tyrannical Zionist force and an enemy of elementary freedoms, Zuckerberg expressed a clear position consistent with whatever is left of the true American spirit and the 1st Amendment.

The Jewish press is totally upset by Zuckerberg’s policy.  Israeli commentators denounced his remarks.  Here in Britain, the editor of the so called ‘anti-fascist’ magazine Searchlight, Gerry Gable, told the BBC that  “Because of his financial powers, he [Zuckerberg] just does a bit of tinkering without understanding how this material could inspire crazy people to firebomb synagogues, mosques or churches.” I can’t see how comments about the past incite violence against “synagogues, mosques or churches.” But of course, “crazy people” can firebomb anything at anytime, regardless of Zuckerberg’s recent intervention. I’d advise the Gable that the perception of Facebook as a tyrannical Zionist power that silences differing viewpoints may be far more dangerous for Jews and others.

I probably should have finished today’s article here. But I just can’t stop myself from taking this discussion at least one step further.

Here is a point to ponder: with Zuckerberg presenting a reasonable and tolerant attitude to historical debate, WWII, history revisionism and the Holocaust can easily be reduced to an internal Jewish debate. This is the point I make in my recent book, ‘Being in Time.’ I contend that when Jews accept that something about their culture, ideology or politics is perceived as a ‘Jewish problem,’ some Jews are quick to form a satellite opposition.

When it became clear that the criminality of the State that defines itself as the ‘Jewish State’ had become a Jewish problem, Jews for Palestine was created. The Palestine solidarity movement was rapidly reduced to an internal debate among Jews. Here in Britain, some Jews grasped that the Jewish campaign against Jeremy Corbyn is very dangerous for the Jews.  Jews for Corbyn was formed. At the moment, the future of the Labour party has become an internal Jewish debate between the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement and the so called ‘anti’ Jewish Voice for Labour. Neocon wars are now an internal Jewish debate between Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky. In his brave essay, ‘On The Jewish Question,’ Karl Marx comes to the conclusion that Capitalism is a ‘Jewish symptom’. Not surprisingly, many of his followers were of Jewish origin and the battle of capitalism (for and against) became an internal Jewish discourse. It is possible that Zuckerberg, who is not stupid, can sense the growing resentment to FB’s Zio-centrism and he is clever enough to present a new more liberal principled view. He even kindly allows the rest of us to be wrong.

In ‘Being in Time’ I note that the emergence of a Jewish satellite opposition is not necessarily a conspiratorial maneuver. It is only natural for Jews to oppose the crimes committed in their name by the Jewish State. It is equally natural for Jews to oppose Zio-con global wars. It is also reasonable for Zuckerberg to try to amend the negative impression his company bought itself in recent years and to decide to promote basic freedom of speech. The outcome, however, could be problematic. The entire debate on elementary rights and freedoms can easily become an internal Jewish discourse.

To understand ID politics read

Being in Time – A Post Political Manifesto, 

Amazon.co.uk , Amazon.com and  here (gilad.co.uk).

On Jewish controlled opposition:

America Has Become a Nation of Incompetents

Source

George Bush remains the ultimate symbol of ascendant stupidity

A once-proud nation which was the envy of the world now suffers from a kind of omni-present dementia

Having grown up during the second half of the 20th century, I don’t recognize my country today. I experienced life in a competent country, and now I experience life in an incompetent country.

Everything is incompetent. The police are incompetent. They shoot children, grandmothers, cripples, and claim that they feared for their life.

Washington’s foreign police is incompetent. Washington has alienated the world with its insane illegal attacks on other countries. Today the United States and Israel are the two most distrusted countries on earth and the two countries regarded as the greatest threat to peace.

The military/security complex is incompetent. The national security state is so incompetent that it was unable to block the most humiliating attack in history against a superpower that proved to be entirely helpless as a few people armed with box cutters and an inability to fly an airplane destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon itself. The military industries have produced at gigantic cost the F-35 that is no match for the Russian fighters or even for the F-15s and F-16s it is supposed to replace.

The media is incompetent. I can’t think of an accurate story that has been reported in the 21st century. There must be one, but it doesn’t come to mind.

The universities are incompetent. Instead of hiring professors to teach the students, the universities hire administrators to regulate them. Instead of professors, there are presidents, vice presidents, chancellors, vice chancellors, provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, associate deans, assistant deans. Instead of subject matter there is speech regulation and sensitivity training. Universities spend up to 75% of their budgets on administrators, many of whom have outsized incomes.

The public schools have been made incompetent by standardized national testing. The purpose of education today is to pass some test. School accreditation and teachers’ pay depend not on developing the creativity or independent thinking of those students capable of it, but on herding them through memory work for a standardized test.

One could go on endlessly.

Instead, I will relate a story of everyday incompetences that have prevented me from writing this week and for a few more days yet.

Recently, while away from my home, a heavy equipment operator working on a nearby construction site managed to drive under power lines with the fork lift raised. Instead of breaking the wire, it snapped the pole in half that conveyed electric power to my house. The power company came out, or, as I suspect, an outsourced contractor, who reestablished power to my home but did not check that the neutral wire was still attached.

Consequently for a week or so my house experienced round the clock surges of high voltage that blew out the surge protection, breaker box, and every appliance in the house. Expecting my return, the house was inspected, and the discovery was that there was no power. Back came the power company and discovered that high voltage was feeding into the house and had destroyed everything plugged in.

So. Here we have a moron operating heavy equipment who does not understand that he cannot drive under power lines with the lift raised. We have a power company or its outsourced contractor who does not understand that power cannot be reconnected without making certain that the neutral wire is still connected.

So every appliance is fried. Glass everywhere from blown out light bulbs. We are talking thousands of dollars.

This is America today. And the incompetents ruling incompetents want war with Iran, Korea, Russia, China. Considering the extraordinary level of incompetence throughout the United States, I guarantee you that we will not win these wars.

Pandering to israel Has Got to Stop

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Most Americans have no idea of just how powerful Israeli and Jewish interests are. Two recent stories out of Kansas and Texas illustrate exactly how supporters of Israel in the United States are ready, willing and able to subvert the existing constitutional and legal protections that uphold the right to fair and impartial treatment for all American citizens.

The friends of Israel appear to believe that anyone who is unwilling to do business with Israel or even with the territories that it has illegally occupied should not be allowed to do business in any capacity with federal, state or even local governments. Constitutional guarantees of freedom of association for every American are apparently not valid if one particular highly favored foreign country is involved.

Maryland became the most recent state to jump on the Israel bandwagon last week. Currently twenty-two state legislatures have passed various laws confronting boycotts of Israel because of its human rights abuses, in many cases initiating economic penalties on those organizations and individuals or denying state funds to colleges and universities that allow boycott advocates to operate freely on campus.

When governor of South Carolina, current United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, an ardent supporter of Israel, signed the first state law attacking those who support boycotting or sanctioning the Israeli government, the country’s state institutions and its businesses. Haley, who is supposed to be defending American interests, has also stated her priority focus will be opposing “the UN’s…bias against our close ally Israel.”

Both the recent cases in Kansas and Texas involve state mandates regarding Israel. Both states are, one might note, part of the Bible belt. The anti-boycott legislation was sponsored by powerful Christian Zionist constituencies and passed through the respective legislatures with little debate. In Kansas, Esther Koontz, a Mennonite curriculum coach was fired by the State Department of Education as a teacher trainer because she would not certify in writing that she does not boycott Israel. Koontz’s church had passed a resolution in July seeking peace in the Middle East which specifically opposed purchasing products associated with Israel’s “military occupation” of Palestine. With the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Koontz is contesting the Kansas government position.

In Dickinson, Texas, in a case which actually made national news, if only briefly, the city is requiring anyone who applies for disaster relief to sign a document that reads “Verification not to Boycott Israel: By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement.” Dickinson was half destroyed by hurricane Harvey last month and urgently needs assistance, but, in the opinion of Texas lawmakers and local officials, deference to Israel comes first. The ACLU is also contesting the Texas legislation.

The Texas law was signed earlier this year and took effect on September 1st. In January 2016, Governor Greg Abbott met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged Texas to push through the legislation. Abbott responded, and, when signing the bill, commented that “any anti-Israel policy is an ‘anti-Texas policy.’” Abbot is reportedly also considering Israeli endorsed legislation that would ban all business dealings on the part of Texas companies with Iran.

One particular pending piece of federal legislation that is also currently making its way through the Senate would far exceed what is happening at the state level and would set a new standard for deference to Israeli interests on the part of the national government. It would criminalize any U.S. citizen “engaged in interstate or foreign commerce” who supports a boycott of Israel or who even goes about “requesting the furnishing of information” regarding it, with penalties enforced through amendments of two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Act of 1945, that include potential fines of between $250,000 and $1 million and up to 20 years in prison

According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the Senate bill was drafted with the assistance of AIPAC. The legislation, which would almost certainly be overturned as unconstitutional if it ever does in fact become law, is particularly dangerous and goes well beyond any previous pro-Israeli legislation as it essentially denies free of expression when the subject is Israel.

The movement that is being particularly targeted by the bills at both the state level and also within the federal government is referred to by its acronym as BDS, which is an acronym for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. It is a non-violent reaction to the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land on the West Bank and the continued building of Jewish-only settlements. BDS has been targeted both by the Israeli government and by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The AIPAC website under its lobbying agenda includes the promotion of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act as a top priority.

The Israeli government and its American supporters particularly fear BDS because it has become quite popular, particularly on university campuses, where administrative steps have frequently been taken to suppress it. The denial of free speech on campus when it relates to Israel has sometimes been referred to as the “Palestinian exception.” Nevertheless, the message continues to resonate, due both to its non- violence its and human rights appeal. It challenges Israel’s arbitrary military rule over three million Palestinians on the West Bank who have onerous restrictions placed on nearly every aspect of their daily lives. And its underlying message is that Israel is a rogue state engaging in actions that are widely considered to be both illegal and immoral, which the Israeli government rightly sees as potentially delegitimizing.

It is disheartening to realize that a clear majority of state legislators and congressmen thinks it is perfectly acceptable to deny all Americans the right to free political expression in order to defend an internationally acknowledged illegal occupation being carried out by a foreign country. Those co-sponsoring the bills include Democrats, Republicans, progressives and conservatives. Deference to Israeli interests is bi-partisan and crosses ideological lines. Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Grim, writing at The Intercept, observe that “…the very mention of the word ‘Israel’ causes most members of both parties to quickly snap into line in a show of unanimity that would make the regime of North Korea blush with envy.”

Would that the anti BDS activity were the only examples of pro-Israeli legislation, but there is, unfortunately more. Another bill that might actually have been written by AIPAC is called Senate 722, Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017. The bill mandates that “Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Director of National Intelligence shall jointly develop and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a strategy for deterring conventional and asymmetric Iranian activities and threats that directly threaten the United States and key allies in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.”

Senate bill 722 combined with recent de-certification of Iran by the White House is a formula for war and a gift to Israel. And there’s more. A bill has surfaced in the House of Representatives that will require the United States to “consult” with Israel regarding any prospective arms sales to Arab countries in the Middle East. In other words, Israel will have a say, backed up undoubtedly by Congress and the media, over what the United States does in terms of its weapons sales abroad. The sponsors of the bill, want “closer scrutiny of future military arms sales” to maintain the “qualitative military edge” that Israel currently enjoys.

And there’s still more. The most recent trade bill with Europe, signed by President Barack Obama, includes language requiring the European blocking of “politically motivated” efforts to boycott Israel as a factor in bilateral trade agreements, so U.S. business interests will become subordinated to how foreign governments regard Israel. How does all this play out in practice? A Jewish group in New Jersey is seeking to blacklist with the state pension investment fund a Danish bank that has refused to provide loans to two Israeli defense contractors. The bank has argued that it has turned down loans to many companies in many countries for sound business reasons, but that common sense argument apparently is unacceptable to the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations.

And there’s bill HR 672 Combating European Anti-Semitism Act of 2017, which was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on June 14th. Yes, “unanimously.” The bill requires the State Department to monitor what European nations and their police forces are doing about anti-Semitism and encourages them to adopt “a uniform definition of anti-Semitism.” That means that criticism of Israel must be considered anti-Semitism and will therefore be a hate crime and prosecutable, a status that is already de facto true in Britain and France. If the Europeans don’t play ball, there is the possibility of still more repercussions in trade negotiations. The bill was co-sponsored by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida and Nita Lowey of New York, both of whom are Jewish.

There is also a Senate companion bill on offer in the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017. The bill will make the Anti-Semitism Envoy a full American Ambassador and will empower him or her with a full staff and a budget permitting meddling worldwide. There is also a Special Advisor for Holocaust Issues. There are no comparable positions at the State Department specifically monitoring anti-Christian or Muslim activity or for dealing with historic events like the Armenian genocide.

Anyone who thinks that the government in the United States at all levels does not consistently and almost obsessively defer to Israeli and Jewish interests has been asleep. The requirement to sign a document relating to one views of any foreign government to obtain a job or disaster relief is an abomination. Protecting Israel and going on a worldwide search for anti-Semitism or Holocaust deniers are not the responsibility of the American government and they are not what state legislators and congressmen are supposed to be doing to serve the public interest.

Israel is sometimes referred to as the “51st State,” but that is hardly true as it contributes nothing to the United States, collects billions of dollars a year from the U.S. Treasury and is totally unaccountable in terms of the actual damage it does to American interests. The American people are being hoodwinked by their own elected leaders and laws are being passed to make it impossible for them to even complain. Well, enough is enough. It is past time to shut the door on the Israeli influence machine and take back what remains of truly responsive and representational government.

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

‘A legal shield for the Palestine movement in the U.S.’ #BDS

‘A legal shield for the Palestine movement in the U.S.’

By Amjad  Iraqi

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of a Kansas public school teacher who, as a condition for taking her job, was required under a new state law to declare that she would not engage in boycotts of Israel. The law is just one in a growing list of measures in recent years aiming to counter the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the United States.

Political boycotts in the U.S. are meant to be stringently protected under the First Amendment. “The state should not be telling people what causes they can or can’t support,” Esther Koontz, the Kansas teacher, said about her lawsuit.

That’s not necessarily the reality these days, however. “It’s clear that when it comes to talking about Palestine, there’s a suspension of the notion that the government has no authority to interfere in that right,” says Dima Khalidi, founder and director of Palestine Legal.

Established in 2012 in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Palestine Legal has been one of the key players holding the frontline against efforts to suppress BDS activity and speech about Palestine across the U.S., from state legislatures to university campuses. Khalidi and her staff responded to 650 such incidents between 2014 and 2016.

Just last month, Palestine Legal responded to false legal threats sent to activists and professors by a group called “Outlaw BDS New York,” which accused them of violating an anti-BDS law that never actually passed the New York State legislature. Along with its legal work, the organization also tracks anti-BDS laws in all 50 states (21 have already enacted such laws) and at the federal level.

I spoke with Khalidi last month about Palestine Legal’s work and to hear her perspective on the various threats to – and signs of hope for – Palestine activism in the U.S., including BDS. The following was edited for length.

Palestine Legal Director Dima Khalidi (Courtesy photo)

Palestine Legal Director Dima Khalidi (Photo courtesy of Palestine Legal)

How and why was Palestine Legal created? What compelled the need for its existence?

“The idea started with conversations among lawyers and activists who were thinking about what we could do legally on Palestine in the U.S. This was in the context of largely unsuccessful attempts – including by CCR, where I interned and co-counselled – to seek accountability for Israel’s violations of international law through domestic and international legal mechanisms.

“This was also happening in the context of a rise in Palestine activism after the 2008-2009 Gaza war – a mobilization that we hadn’t seen in decades. And at the same time, there was an escalation in the backlash against that movement: 11 students at the University of California, Irvine were being criminally prosecuted for protesting a speech by the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., and the Olympia Food Co-op was being sued for passing a resolution to boycott Israeli goods.

“What I kept hearing from people was the need for help: that talking about Palestinian rights, and challenging Israel’s actions and narrative, opened people up to a huge amount of risk, attacks, and harassment – much of it legal in nature, or with legal implications.

“So with the support of a handful of people – including the instrumental vision of the legendary human rights lawyer Michael Ratner, who passed away last year – I established Palestine Legal. Our work is meant to provide a legal shield for the Palestine movement, to protect and expand the space to advocate on this issue. As an organization dedicated to movement lawyering, we don’t consider ourselves part of the movement per se, but as supporting the movement’s efforts to challenge the status quo, whatever their tactics.”

That can be a tricky distinction to make – being part of a movement versus supporting a movement.

“It is a tricky balance. Movement lawyering requires us to recognize that it’s not the lawyers that lead or dictate the movement, even if we personally disagree with their tactics or know they’ll land people into trouble. All our staff are deeply political people with their own activist and personal histories, but we try to step back from that role and focus instead on responding to the legal needs of activists on the ground.”

File photo of a pro-BDS protest outside Target in Chicago. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

File photo of a pro-BDS protest outside Target in Chicago. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

Does Palestine Legal only deal with the right to boycott, or does it also address the substantive content or arguments of the BDS movement itself?

“We always go back to why people are motivated to speak out and engage in BDS, which are central to why we have the right to do it. Boycotts are a means for people who don’t necessarily have access to power to take collective action in order to influence change – as was done with the civil rights boycotts, boycotts of apartheid South Africa, and boycotts for farm workers’ rights. The U.S. Supreme Court itself recognized this as a legitimate activity protected by the First Amendment in 1982.

“In this case, the goal of boycotts is to achieve justice, freedom, and equality for Palestinians, who have been continuously dispossessed of their land, livelihoods, dignity, and agency for over seven decades. Those opposed to Palestinian rights try to claim otherwise; so it’s imperative to the legal argument that we return to the key issues that describe the Palestinian experience.”

This isn’t the first time in U.S. history that the right to boycott, or free speech in general, has been suppressed. Why is there still a “Palestine exception” to these rights today? What lessons do you take from the past when dealing with your cases?

“When we talk about the Palestine exception, it’s not to say that it’s the only exception. You can look at the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War, when people were forced to sign loyalty oaths and were subjected to witch hunts and blacklists. The response to that McCarthyist era was an eventual strengthening of First Amendment jurisprudence, which now provides better legal protections against ‘compelled speech,’ for example. This is also true of the Civil Rights era, when states tried to issue new laws to stop certain kinds of protests, and to use existing laws to indict people for boycotting – hence the Supreme Court ruling that recognized political boycotts as a right.

“Still, it’s clear that when it comes to talking about Palestine, there’s a suspension of the notion that the government has no authority to interfere in that right. We see all kinds of bogus justifications for strangling Palestine advocacy: it’s anti-Semitism, it’s support for terrorism, it’s propaganda, it’s discriminatory. Our position is to step in and say there’s no exception here. Talking about Palestine is exactly what the First Amendment is supposed to protect: it’s a dissenting view from what the vast majority of our politicians and officials espouse, and it is speech that the government most wants to censor, so it must be vigilantly protected.

“Another part of the reason why Palestine feels different is that the attacks pervade all aspects of our lives today. The backlash can be online (look at outfits like Canary Mission, which profile and harass people); from employers (look at Steven Salaita, fired for tweeting critically about Israel’s war on Gaza); from donors; from institutions (look at the students censored or punished at Fordham University, University of California-Berkeley, or at the Missouri History Museum). This is because there are influential domestic groups and individuals that are doing everything in their power to shield Israel from scrutiny on every forum, and to ensure that the U.S. continues to unconditionally support Israel.”

The head of a major Israel advocacy group was quoted in 2016 saying to BDS activists: “While you were doing your campus antics, the grown-ups were in the state legislature passing laws that make your cause improbable.” What do you take from that? Why is more of the anti-BDS backlash today coming in the form of legislation?

“That quote says a lot about the political dynamics in the U.S. On the one hand, you have an intersectional grassroots movement that’s driven by students and youth. On the other hand, you have a well-resourced and well-connected constituency that’s deeply entrenched in state and public institutions. The way that Israel lobby groups are successful in pushing such blatantly unconstitutional laws, and the way university heads face (and often succumb to) pressure from advocacy groups, alumni, donors, and state officials, further illustrates this top-down approach.

“There’s a growing and visible alliance between Zionist groups in the U.S., the right-wing Israeli government, and far right groups in the US. They believe that they can dictate the discourse on Israel-Palestine, and get around the First Amendment problem, by pandering to Islamophobic sentiment; by conflating nonviolent resistance with terrorism; and by undermining the motivation and rights of the entire Palestine movement. Even many in the Democratic Party and self-described “progressives” blindly support these agendas.

“At the same time, we’re seeing groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) offering different paths. There’s an enormous pushback to the more established right-wing Jewish organizations – and that’s exciting. But at the moment, those organizations still have the ability to drive the narrative from above. We have a long way to go; but in the long run, it’ll become untenable to ignore a powerful and growing grassroots movement.”

In Israel we have an anti-boycott civil law and now another law to deny entry to foreigners who partake in BDS. The right wing seems to think that legislation is an effective way to achieve its goals.

“Indeed. Dissent becomes the exception the more authoritarian the regime is, and we see signs of this in both the U.S. and Israel as forms of protest are being punished. It’s also telling that the language in Israeli laws is showing up in anti-BDS legislation in the U.S., such as the phrase ‘Israeli-controlled territory’ to refer to West Bank settlements. It just goes to show that we’re dealing with the same forces – and ultimately, that translates into advocating for those same things domestically. How can you be for equality in the U.S. when you defend Israel’s discriminatory laws and apartheid policies? It doesn’t add up.”

Anti-Semitism is routinely charged against Palestine activism. How do you address those accusations?

“We’ve had success with this legally on some levels. One of the tactics advanced by pro-Israel groups is to codify a redefinition of anti-Semitism which encompasses the ‘three D’s’: delegitimization, demonization, and double standards toward Israel. You can imagine that any and all criticism of Israel can basically fall into those three categories. But when these things go to court or even government agencies, a clear distinction is made between discrimination on the basis of religion or national origin, versus criticism of states and state actions.

“For example, the U.S. Education Department received complaints under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, claiming that universities are tolerating hostile anti-Semitic activities by allowing groups and events that criticize Israel. The Education Department dismissed the complaints and said that this is political speech, and that just because it might be offensive to some, it doesn’t mean that it’s harassment or discrimination.

“Moreover, the vast majority of Palestine advocates are unequivocal about their opposition to all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. When we put these matters in the context not only of free expression, but also that the Palestine movement opposes all forms of oppression – that’s when we’re able to make the most impact.”

File photo of a pro-Palestine rally in downtown Boston. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

File photo of a pro-Palestine rally in downtown Boston. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

Do all the attacks feel coordinated or concerted?

“Undoubtedly. We see the same two dozen Israel advocacy groups engaging in the same tactics around the country, accusing activists of being threatening, violent, and anti-Semitic for engaging in Palestine activism.

“But it’s also clear that not all those groups agree on tactics. Some, like David Horowitz and Canary Mission, who publicly name and blacklist Palestinian rights advocates as ‘Jew-haters’ and ‘terrorist-supporters,’ are seen as going beyond the pale even among Zionist groups that actively engage in suppression in other ways. There are also disagreements about pursuing anti-BDS legislation, and about imposing the new definition of anti-Semitism mentioned earlier.

“But ultimately, the more ‘extreme’ tactics serve the same purpose as the others: they want to make it so costly to engage in Palestine advocacy that people just become exhausted, give up, and stay silent. I don’t think these tactics are going to work: more and more people are seeing that they can be successfully challenged, more people are learning about the horrors of Israel’s occupation and apartheid, and more people are refusing to stay silent about those policies and the U.S.’s role in enabling them.”

The ACLU recently came out in defense of the right to boycott Israel. How do you reach out to audiences that aren’t your conventional supporters, including those in the American mainstream?

“Palestine is still a lightning rod and there’s still a reluctance to come out on this issue. That said, the more egregious the measures against Palestine advocacy, and the more they attack our fundamental freedoms, the more we see the likes of ACLU being compelled to speak up – even though they still claim neutrality on the underlying political and human rights issues. We’ve worked in several states with ACLU chapters and other groups that typically wouldn’t be willing to step up publicly on these matters, and we’re now seeing them do so because of what’s at stake.

“Steven Salaita’s case is an example of this: when he was fired for tweeting about the 2014 Gaza war, it sent shock waves across academia. Thousands of professors around the U.S. pledged to boycott the university, and a dozen departments voted no confidence in the chancellor. That’s when you see more people being willing to step into the fray, saying that this is dangerous beyond just the matter of Palestine advocacy — that this threatens all our basic rights to dissent and to debate the most important issues of our time.”

What are your thoughts on the future of your work, and on Palestine advocacy in the U.S. in general? What new strategies are you considering?

“We feel like we’ve been on the defensive and putting out a lot of fires over the last five years, which also seem to be coming faster and faster. There’s no doubt that we’ll continue to help those who are under attack; but we’re also thinking about more proactive ways to tackle some of these issues.

“Our lawsuit with CCR against Fordham University – which refused to grant club status to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) because some considered their views too “polarizing”– is an example. The attack on SJP aims to make Palestine activism so radioactive that universities won’t even allow such student groups to form – so it’s crucial that we prevent this from happening. We have a long way to go in enshrining a new narrative that views Palestine advocates as forces for freedom and justice, and their advocacy as protected political expression – but we’re on our way.

“Regarding legislation, our role is to explain to activists and the public what these laws do and don’t do. This is important because one of the main purposes of the legislation is to make people believe that Palestine advocacy is prohibited or criminalized – and that really isn’t the case with most of these laws. So it’s critical to make sure that activists aren’t scared off from their work, but instead feel empowered to confront its challenges.

“There’s also no question that grassroots mobilization has been successful in impacting the political arena, though we hear less about it. Look at the failure of legislative initiatives in states like Virginia, South Carolina, Maryland, and Montana. These victories are because of groups like the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, American Muslims for Palestine, JVP, church groups, and the US Palestinian Community Network. Anti-BDS measures have ultimately strengthened the networks of Palestine advocates across the country, and these coalitions outlast the lifespan of a bill. We believe that the power of these grassroots movements is what will effect change – and that’s what Palestine Legal aims to bolster.”

War Culture – Gun Culture: They’re Related

By Lawrence Davidson

If you go to the Wikipedia page that gives a timeline of U.S. foreign military operations between 1775 and 2010, you are likely to come away in shock. It seems that ever since the founding of the country, the United States has been at war. It is as if Americans just could not (and still cannot) sit still, but had to (and still have to) force themselves on others through military action. Often this is aimed at controlling foreign resources, thus forcing upon others the consequences of their own capitalist avarice. At other times the violence is spurred on by an ideology that confuses U.S. interests with civilization and freedom. Only very rarely is Washington out there on the side of the angels. Regardless, the bottom line seems to be that peace has never been a deeply ingrained cultural value for the citizens of the United States. As pertains to foreign policy, America’s national culture is a war culture.

It is against this historical backdrop that the recent Ken Burns eighteen-hour-long documentary on the Vietnam War comes off as superficial. There is a subtle suggestion that while those American leaders who initiated and escalated the war were certainly deceptive, murderously stubborn and even self-deluded, they were so in what they considered to be a good cause. They wanted to stop the spread of Communism at a time when the Cold War defined almost all of foreign policy, and if that meant denying the Vietnamese the right of national unification, so be it. The Burns documentary is a visual demonstration of the fact that such a strategy could not work. Nonetheless, American leaders, both civilian and military, could not let go.

What the Burns documentary does not tell us – and it is this that makes the work superficial – is that none of this was new. Almost all preceding American violence abroad had been rationalized by the same or related set of excuses that kept the Vietnam slaughter going: the revolutionary War was about “liberty,” the genocidal wars against the Native Americans were about spreading “civilization,” the wars against Mexico and Spain were about spreading “freedom,” and once capitalism became officially synonymous with freedom, the dozens of bloody incursions into Central and South America also became about our “right” to carry on “free enterprise.”

As time went by, when Washington wasn’t spreading “freedom,” it was defending it. And so it goes, round and round.
Understanding the history of this ghastly process, one is likely to lose all faith in such rationales. However, it seems obvious that a large number of Americans, including most of their leaders, know very little of the history of American wars (as against knowing a lot of idealized pseudo-history). That is why Ken Burns and his associates can show us the awfulness of the Vietnam war to little avail. The average viewer will have no accurate historical context to understand it, and thus it becomes just an isolated tragedy. While it all might have gone fatally wrong, the American leaders were assumed to be well intentioned.

Describing the Vietnam War in terms of intentions is simply insufficient. In the case of war the hard-and-fast consequences of one’s actions are more important than one’s intentions. The United States killed roughly 2 million Vietnamese civilians for ideological reasons that its own leaders, and most of its citizens, never questioned.

Most of its citizens, but not all. There was, of course, a widespread and multifaceted anti-war movement. The anti-war protesters were, in truth, the real heroes, the real patriots of the moment. Along with the accumulating body bags, it was the anti-war movement that brought an end to the slaughter. However, once more Burns’s documentary comes off as superficial. Burns leaves the viewer with the impression that the only truly legitimate anti-war protesters were veterans and those associated with veterans. But those were only a small part of a much larger whole. Yet the millions of other Americans who protested the war are essentially slandered by by Burns. The documentary presents them as mostly Communist fellow travelers. We also see various representatives of that non-veteran part of the movement apologize for their positions. There is the implication that the movement had bad tactics. Here is an example: one of the points that the Burns documentary makes is how distasteful was the labeling of returning soldiers as “baby killers.” Actually this did not happen very often, but when it did, one might judge the charge as impolitic – but not inaccurate. You can’t kill 2 million civilians without killing a lot of babies. If we understand war in terms of the death of babies, then there might be fewer wars.

U.S. leaders also sent 58,000 of their own citizens to die in Vietnam. Why did these citizens go? After all, this was not like World War II. North Vietnam had not attacked the United States (the Bay of Tonkin incident was misrepresented to Congress). The Vietcong were not Nazis. But you need an accurate take on history to recognize these facts, and that was, as usual, missing. And so, believing their politicians, the generals, and most of their civic leaders, many draftees and volunteers went to die or be maimed under false pretenses.The inevitable post-war disillusionment was seen by subsequent U.S. leaders as a form of mental illness, and they labeled it “the Vietnam Syndrome.” The “syndrome” was as short-lived as popular memory. In March of 2003 George W. Bush invaded Iraq under false pretenses and U.S. forces proceeded to kill half a million civilians.

In the end, American behavior in Vietnam was not just tragically flawed – it was criminal. But it was also historically consistent – an expression of a long-standing and deep-seated war culture, a culture that still defines the American worldview and has become the very linchpin of its domestic economy. That is why the wars, large and small, never stop.
Gun Culture to Complement the War Culture

America’s propensity to violence in other lands is but one side of a two-sided coin. Callous disregard for civilian lives abroad is matched by a willful promotion of violence at home. That willful promotion is the product of a right-wing ideological orientation (stemming from a misreading of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) that demands a nearly open-ended right of all Americans to own an almost unlimited number and types of firearms.The result is gun regulation laws that are embarrassingly ineffective.

Again, the consequences of this position are much more profound than any claim that its supporters’ intentions are to defend citizens rights to own guns. Since 1968 about as many Americans have been killed in-country by gun violence (1.53 million) as have died in all of America’s wars put together (1.20 million). The numbers are too close to be dismissed as coincidence. Both reflect a culture of exceptionalism that grants at once the United States government, and its citizens, extensive rights to act in disregard of the safety and security of others.
You would think Americans would recognize an obvious contradiction here. You cannot maintain a safe population and, at the same time, allow citizens the right to own and, largely at their own discretion, use firearms. Nonetheless, some Americans imagine that they have squared this circle by claiming that their guns are for “self-defense” and therefore do make for a safer society. This is just like the U.S. government’s constant exposition that all its violence is committed in the name of civilization and freedom. In both cases we have a dangerous delusion. Ubiquitous gun ownership makes us unsafe, just as does the endless waging of war.

The inability to see straight is not the sort of failing that can be restricted to one dimension. If you can’t grasp reality due to ideological blinkers or historical ignorance, you are going to end up in trouble both at home and abroad – not just one place, but both. And, the more weaponized you are, both as a state and as a citizen, the greater the potential for disaster. In the end the United States cannot stop killing civilians abroad unless it finds the wisdom to stop killing its own citizens at home – and vice versa. That is the U.S. conundrum, whether America’s 320 million citizens realize it or not.

Lawrence Davidson is a retired professor of history from West Chester University in West Chester PA. His academic research focused on the history of American foreign relations with the Middle East. He taught courses in Middle East history, the history of science and modern European intellectual history. http://www.tothepointanalyses.com

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