Barbed Wire And Witch Hunt: Globalist Joe Took Power In United States

South Front

21.01.2021

The moment of destiny has finally arrived – Joe Biden is now US President, and Kamala Harris the very first black, Asian and woman Vice President.

As Biden himself proclaimed: Democracy won. And he couldn’t be more right.

After all former US President Donald Trump is now gone, disgraced, deemed a puppet of Putin, having even almost, allegedly, led his supporters to attempt and carry out a coup.

The Republican party capitulated in its entirety, and true Democracy has finally come. Likely, not the kind that most people are expecting – it is simply the kind in which Democrats are in power. And not just any Democrats, but only the most hardcore neo-liberal clique.

Joe Biden’s inauguration as president was spectacular – it is likely a unique event. Not that other US Presidents haven’t been inaugurated, or that they’ve not been Democrats, but it’s likely the first time there’s more National Guardsmen than actual audience.

The impressive event featured everything that true Democracy signifies: barbed wire, armed troops, censorship, and a good, old-fashioned witch hunt for “dissidents” – or as they are now called “Kremlin Agents.”

In contrast, Donald Trump, who was elected after alleged Russian meddling, a “puppet of evil overlord Vladimir Putin” was greeted with a significant crowd, with a mere one third of the number of National Guardsmen and much fewer creative decorations.

Until the end Trump refused to accept that he had lost the election, and it would surprise no one if even his farewell words turn out to be in denial of the results.

Times sure have changed.

And they are changing even more, as Biden’s first undertaking was to issue 17 executive orders. This turned the United States’ policy direction almost 180 degrees on a plethora of issues such as immigration, climate and more. The primary objective declared by the new president is to undo all that was done by his predecessor.

The novelties are of an impressive nature, such as including the first transgender federal official – Rachel Levine. She will assume the post of assistant secretary of health. Finally, Biden officially promised to “promote diversity and accountability in leadership”. So more to come.

Biden’s election and inauguration appears to be a gift that keeps on giving, and it is still in its infancy.

One should remember that nothing speaks of confidence in legitimate election results quite like the presence of the National Guard in such extreme numbers, a barbed wire fence around the Capitol building, the complete shut down of the country’s capital, and the blocking all negative or simply differing opinions on social media. The future is now.

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Baghdad on the Potomac: Welcome to the Blue Zone

Via The Saker

Baghdad on the Potomac: Welcome to the Blue Zone

January 19, 2021

The star of the Joe and Kammy Regime Change Show

The season opening of the Joe and Kammy Regime Change Show could not be a more appropriate roomful of mirrors reflecting the self-described US “political elite”.

During the 2000s, I came face to face with Baghdad’s Green Zone multiple times. I always stayed, and worked, in the hyper-volatile Red Zone – as you may check in my 2007 book Red Zone Blues.

We knew then that blowback would be inevitable.

But still, we could never have imagined such a graphic simulacrum: the Green Zone fully replicated in the heart of imperial D.C. – complete with walls, barbed wire, multiple checkpoints, heavily armed guards.

That is even more significant because it ends a full “new world order” geopolitical cycle: the empire started bombing – and cluster bombing – Iraq 30 years ago. Desert Storm was launched in January 17, 1991.

The Blue Zone is now “protected” by a massive 26,000 plus troop surge – way more than Afghanistan and Iraq combined. The Forever Wars – which you may now relieve through my archives – have come back full circle.

Just like an ordinary Iraqi was not allowed inside the Green Zone, no ordinary American is allowed inside the Blue Zone.

Just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone represent none other than themselves.

The D.C. Blue Zone map

And just like the Green Zone, those inside the Blue Zone are viewed by half of the population in the Red Zone as an occupying force.

Only satire is capable of doing poetic justice to what is, de facto, the Potemkin inauguration of a hologram. So welcome to the most popular president in history inaugurated in secret, and fearful of his own, fake, Praetorian Guard. The Global South has seen this grisly show before – in endless reruns. But never as a homegrown Hollywood flick.

When in doubt, blame China

Meanwhile, trapped inside the Blue Zone, the White House has been busy compiling an interminable list of accomplishments.

Multitudes will go berserk relieving the appalling foreign policy disasters, courtesy of American Psycho Mike Pompeo; debunking the official narrative partially or as a whole; and even agreeing with the odd “accomplishment”.

Yet close attention should be paid to a key item: “Colossal Rebuilding of the Military”.

This is what is going to play a key role beyond January 20 – as Gen Flynn has been extremely busy showing evidence to the military, at all levels, of how “compromised” is the new Hologram-in-Chief.

And then there’s the rolling, never-ending November 3 drama. Blame should be duly apportioned. Impeachment, digital witch hunts, rounding up “domestic terrorists”, that is not enough. “Foreign interference” is a must.

Enter Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe, adamantly stating that “the People’s Republic of China sought to influence the 2020 U.S. federal elections.”

Ratcliffe was referring to a report sent to Congress on January 7 by the DNI’s Chief of the Solutions Division, or analytic ombudsman Barry Zulauf, side by side with an assessment about “foreign interference”.

A legitimate question is why it took them so long to finish this report. And it gets wackier: the full intel on the report about foreign interference was scotched by none other than CIA higher-ups.

The ombudsman states that the groups of analysts working on Russian and Chinese interference used different standards. Russia, of course, was guilty from the start: a categorical imperative. China had the benefit of the doubt.

Ratcliffe actually states that some analysts refused to blame Beijing for election interference because they were – what else – Never Trumpers.

So Langley, we’ve got a problem. Pompeus “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal” Minimus is CIA. He qualifies the Chinese Communist Party as the greatest evil in the history of mankind. How would he not influence his minions to produce, by any means necessary, any instance of Chinese election interference?

At the same time, for the Dem Deep State faction, Russia is perpetually guilty of…whatever.

This rift inside the Deep State roomful of mirrors delightfully reverberates the Blue Zone/Red Zone schism.

Needless to add, in both the ombudsman’s report and Ratcliffe’s letter, there is absolutely no hard evidence of Chinese interference.

As for Russia, apart from election interference – once again, no evidence – the Dem Deep State Dementia apparatus is still busy trying to blame Moscow also for 1/6. The latest gambit centers on a MAGA chick who may have stolen Pelosi’s laptop from her office at the Capitol to sell it to the SVR, Russian foreign intel.

The whole Global South – Baghdad’s Green Zone included – just can’t get enough of the greatest show on earth. Do they sell bananas in the Blue Zone?

Social media’s erasure of Palestinians is a grim warning for our future

Jonathan Cook

26 October 2020 12:39 UTC 

Facebook, Google and Twitter are not neutral platforms. They control the digital public square to aid the powerful – and can cancel any of us overnight

Palestinian critics say Facebook has become ‘another face of occupation’ (AFP/File photo)

There is a growing unease that the decisions taken by social media corporations can have a harmful impact on our lives. These platforms, despite enjoying an effective monopoly over the virtual public square, have long avoided serious scrutiny or accountability. 

In a new Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma, former Silicon Valley executives warn of a dystopian future. Google, Facebook and Twitter have gathered vast quantities of data on us to better predict and manipulate our desires. Their products are gradually rewiring our brains to addict us to our screens and make us more pliable to advertisers. The result, as we are consigned to discrete ideological echo chambers, is ever greater social and political polarisation and turmoil.

Western publics are waking up very belatedly to the undemocratic power social media wields over them

As if to underline the ever-tightening grip these tech corporations exert on our lives, Facebook and Twitter decided this month to openly interfere in the most contentious US presidential election in living memory. They censored a story that could harm the electoral prospects of Joe Biden, the Democratic challenger to incumbent President Donald Trump. 

Given that nearly half of Americans receive their news chiefly via Facebook, the ramifications of such a decision on our political life were not hard to interpret. In excising any debate about purported corruption and influence-peddling by Biden’s son, Hunter, carried out in his father’s name, these social media platforms stepped firmly into the role of authoritarian arbiter of what we are allowed to say and know. 

‘Monopoly gatekeeper’

Western publics are waking up very belatedly to the undemocratic power social media wields over them. But if we wish to understand where this ultimately leads, there is no better case study than the very different ways Israelis and Palestinians have been treated by the tech giants. 

The treatment of Palestinians online serves as a warning that it would be foolish indeed to regard these globe-spanning corporations as politically neutral platforms, and their decisions as straightforwardly commercial. This is to doubly misunderstand their role.How Facebook threatens vulnerable Muslim communities Read More »

Social media firms are now effectively monopolistic communication grids – similar to the electricity and water grids, or the phone network of a quarter of a century ago. Their decisions are therefore no longer private matters, but instead have huge social, economic and political consequences. That is part of the reason why the US justice department launched a lawsuit last week against Google for acting as a “monopoly gatekeeper for the internet”. 

Google, Facebook and Twitter have no more a right to arbitrarily decide who and what they host on their sites than telecoms companies once had a right to decide whether a customer should be allowed a phone line. But unlike the phone company, social media corporations control not just the means of communication, but the content too. They can decide, as the Hunter Biden story shows, whether their customers get to participate in vital public debates about who leads them.

The Hunter Biden decision is as if the phone company of old not only listened in to conversations, but was able to cut the line if it did not like the politics of any particular customer. 

In fact, it is even worse than that. Social media now deliver the news to large sections of the population. Their censoring of a story is more akin to the electricity company turning off the power to everyone’s homes for the duration of a TV broadcast to ensure no one can see it.

Censorship by stealth

The tech giants are the wealthiest, most powerful corporations in human history, their riches measured in hundreds of billions, and now trillions, of dollars. But the argument that they are apolitical – aiming simply to maximise profits – was never true. 

They have every reason to promote politicians who side with them by committing not to break up their monopolies or regulate their activities, or, better still, by promising to weaken controls that might prevent them from growing even more fabulously rich and powerful. 

Social media algorithms help drive decisions on content removal (AFP/File photo)
Social media algorithms help drive decisions on content removal (AFP/File photo)

Conversely, the tech giants also have every incentive to use the digital space to penalise and marginalise political activists who urge greater regulation either of their activities, or of the marketplace more generally. 

Unlike their explicit deletion of the Hunter Biden story, which incensed the Trump administration, social media corporations more usually censor by stealth. That power is wielded through algorithms, the secret codes that decide whether something or someone appears in a search result or on a social media feed. If they desire, these tech titans can cancel any one of us overnight. 

This is not just political paranoia. The disproportionate impact of algorithm changes on “left-leaning” websites – those most critical of the neoliberal system that has enriched social media corporations – was highlighted this month by the Wall Street Journal. 

Wrong kinds of speech

Politicians increasingly understand the power of social media, which is why they want to harness it as best they can for their own ends. Since the shock of Trump’s election victory in late 2016, Facebook, Google and Twitter executives have regularly found themselves dragged before legislative oversight committees in the US and UK.

There, they are ritually rebuked by politicians for creating a crisis of “fake news” – a crisis that, in fact, long predated social media, as the deceptions of US and UK officials in linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11 and claiming that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” testify to only too clearly. 

The online fate of Palestinians points to a future in which the already-powerful will gain ever greater control over what we know and what we are allowed to think

Politicians have also begun holding internet corporations responsible for “foreign interference” in western elections – typically blamed on Russia – despite a dearth of serious evidence for most of their allegations

Political pressure is being exerted not to make the corporations more transparent and accountable, but to steer them towards enforcing even more assiduously restrictions on the wrong kinds of speech – whether it be violent racists on the right or critics of capitalism and western government policy on the left.

For that reason, social media’s original image as a neutral arena of information sharing, or as a tool for widening public debate and increasing civic engagement, or as a discourse leveller between the rich and powerful and weak and marginalised, grows ever more hollow.

Separate digital rights

Nowhere are ties between tech and state officials more evident than in their dealings with Israel. This has led to starkly different treatment of digital rights for Israelis and Palestinians. The online fate of Palestinians points to a future in which the already-powerful will gain ever greater control over what we know and what we are allowed to think, and over who is visible and who is erased from public life.

Israel was well-positioned to exploit social media before most other states had recognised its importance in manipulating popular attitudes and perceptions. For decades, Israel had, in part, outsourced an official programme of hasbara – or state propaganda – to its own citizens and supporters abroad. As new digital platforms emerged, these partisans were only too willing to expand their role.Facebook accused of censoring Palestinians under pretext of fighting hate speech Read More »

Israel had another advantage. After the 1967 occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, Israel began crafting a narrative of state victimhood by redefining antisemitism to suggest it was now a particular affliction of the left, not the right. So-called “new antisemitism” did not target Jews, but related instead to criticism of Israel and support for Palestinian rights. 

This highly dubious narrative proved easy to condense into social media-friendly soundbites. 

Israel still routinely describes any Palestinian resistance to its belligerent occupation or its illegal settlements as “terrorism”, and any support from other Palestinians as “incitement”. International solidarity with Palestinians is characterised as “delegitimisation” and equated with antisemitism. 

‘Flood the internet’

As far back as 2008, it emerged that a pro-Israel media lobby group, Camera, had been orchestrating covert efforts by Israel loyalists to infiltrate the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to edit entries and “rewrite history” in ways favourable to Israel. Soon afterwards, politician Naftali Bennett helped organise courses teaching “Zionist editing” of Wikipedia. 

In 2011, the Israeli army declared social media a new “battleground” and assigned “cyber warriors” to wage combat online. In 2015, Israel’s foreign ministry set up an additional command centre to recruit young, tech-savvy former soldiers from 8200, the army’s cyber intelligence unit, to lead the battle online. Many have gone on to establish hi-tech firms whose spying software became integral to the functioning of social media.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a 2019 cyber industry conference in Tel Aviv (AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a 2019 cyber industry conference in Tel Aviv (AFP)

An app launched in 2017, Act.IL, mobilised Israel partisans to “swarm” sites hosting either criticism of Israel or support for Palestinians. The initiative, supported by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, was headed by veterans of Israeli intelligence services. 

According to the Forward, a US Jewish weekly, Israel’s intelligence services liaise closely with Act.IL and request help in getting content, including videos, removed by social media platforms. The Forward observed shortly after the app was rolled out: “Its work so far offers a startling glimpse of how it could shape the online conversations about Israel without ever showing its hand.”

Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former Israeli military censor who was then assigned to Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, said the goal was to “create a community of fighters” whose job was to “flood the internet” with Israeli propaganda

Willing allies

With advantages measured in personnel numbers and ideological zeal, in tech and propaganda experience, and in high-level influence in Washington and Silicon Valley, Israel was soon able to turn social media platforms into willing allies in its struggle to marginalise Palestinians online.  

In 2016, Israel’s justice ministry was boasting that Facebook, Google and YouTube were “complying with up to 95 percent of Israeli requests to delete content”, almost all of it Palestinian. The social media companies did not confirm this figure.

The Anti-Defamation League, a pro-Israel lobby group with a history of smearing Palestinian organisations and Jewish groups critical of Israel, established a “command centre” in Silicon Valley in 2017 to monitor what it termed “online hate speech”. That same year, it was appointed a “trusted flagger” organisation for YouTube, meaning its reporting of content for removal was prioritised. 

Tech corporations are now the undeclared, profit-driven arbiters of our speech rights. But their commitment is not to open and vigorous public debate

At a 2018 conference in Ramallah hosted by 7amleh, a Palestinian online advocacy group, local Google and Facebook representatives barely hid their priorities. It was important to their bottom line to avoid upsetting governments with the power to constrain their commercial activities – even if those governments were systematically violating international law and human rights. In this battle, the Palestinian Authority carries no weight at all. Israel presides over Palestinians’ communications and internet infrastructure. It controls the Palestinian economy and its key resources.

Since 2016, Israel’s justice ministry has reportedly suppressed tens of thousands of Palestinian posts. In a completely opaque process, Israel’s own algorithms detect content it deems “extremist” and then requests its removal. Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested by Israel over social media posts, chilling online activity. 

Human Rights Watch warned late last year that Israel and Facebook were often blurring the distinction between legitimate criticism of Israel and incitement. Conversely, as Israel has shifted ever further rightwards, the Netanyahu government and social media platforms have not stemmed a surge of posts in Hebrew promoting anti-Palestinian incitement and calling for violence. 7amleh has noted that Israelis post racist or inciteful material against Palestinians roughly every minute. 

News agencies shut down

As well as excising tens of thousands of Palestinian posts, Israel has persuaded Facebook to take down the accounts of major Palestinian news agencies and leading journalists. 

By 2018, the Palestinian public had grown so incensed that a campaign of online protests and calls to boycott Facebook were led under the hashtag “FBcensorsPalestine”. In Gaza, demonstrators accused the company of being “another face of occupation”. Leila Khaled shutdown shows how corporate tech is enemy of free speechRead More »

Activism in solidarity with Palestinians in the US and Europe has been similarly targeted. Ads for films, as well as the films themselves, have been taken down and websites removed. 

Last month, Zoom, a video conferencing site that has boomed during the Covid-19 pandemic, joined YouTube and Facebook in censoring a webinar organised by San Francisco State University because it included Leila Khaled, an icon of the Palestinian resistance movement now in her seventies.

On Friday, Zoom blocked a second scheduled appearance by Khaled – this time in a University of Hawaii webinar on censorship – as well as a spate of other events across the US to protest against her cancellation by the site. A statement concerning the day of action said campuses were “joining in the campaign to resist corporate and university silencing of Palestinian narratives and Palestinian voices”.

The decision, a flagrant attack on academic freedom, was reportedly taken after the social media groups were heavily pressured by the Israeli government and anti-Palestinian lobby groups, which labelled the webinar “antisemitic”.

Wiped off the map

The degree to which the tech giants’ discrimination against Palestinians is structural and entrenched has been underscored by the years-long struggle of activists both to include Palestinian villages on online maps and GPS services, and to name the Palestinian territories as “Palestine”, in accordance with Palestine’s recognition by the United Nations. 

That campaign has largely floundered, even though more than a million people have signed a petition in protest. Both Google and Apple have proved highly resistant to these appeals; hundreds of Palestinian villages are missing from their maps of the occupied West Bank, while Israel’s illegal settlements are identified in detail, accorded the same status as the Palestinian communities that are shown. 

New houses are built in the Nokdim settlement in the occupied West Bank on 13 October (AFP)
New houses being built in the Nokdim settlement in the occupied West Bank on 13 October (AFP)

The occupied Palestinian territories are subordinated under the name “Israel”, while Jerusalem is presented as Israel’s unified and undisputed capital, just as Israel claims – making the occupation of the Palestinian section of the city invisible. 

These are far from politically neutral decisions. Israeli governments have long pursued a Greater Israel ideology that requires driving Palestinians off their lands. This year, that dispossession programme was formalised with plans, backed by the Trump administration, to annex swathes of the West Bank. 

Google and Apple are effectively colluding in this policy by helping to erase Palestinians’ visible presence in their homeland. As two Palestinian scholars, George Zeidan and Haya Haddad, recently noted: “When Google and Apple erase Palestinian villages from their navigation, but proudly mark settlements, the effect is complicity in the Israeli nationalist narrative.” 

Out of the shadows

Israel’s ever-tightening relationship with social media corporations has played out largely behind the scenes. But these ties moved decisively out of the shadows in May, when Facebook announced that its new oversight board would include Emi Palmor, one of the architects of Israel’s online repression policy towards Palestinians. 

Palestinians know only too well how easy it is for technology to diminish and disappear the voices of the weak and oppressed, and to amplify the voices of the powerful

The board will issue precedent-setting rulings to help shape Facebook’s and Instagram’s censorship and free speech policies. But as the former director-general of the justice ministry, Palmor has shown no commitment to online free speech. Quite the reverse: she worked hand-in-hand with the tech giants to censor Palestinian posts and shut down Palestinian news websites. She oversaw the transformation of her department into what the human rights organisation Adalah has called the Orwellian “Ministry of Truth”. 

Tech corporations are now the undeclared, profit-driven arbiters of our speech rights. But their commitment is not to open and vigorous public debate, online transparency or greater civic engagement. Their only commitment is to the maintenance of a business environment in which they avoid any regulation by major governments infringing on their right to make money.

The appointment of Palmor perfectly illustrates the corrupting relationship between government and social media. Palestinians know only too well how easy it is for technology to diminish and disappear the voices of the weak and oppressed, and to amplify the voices of the powerful. 

Many more of us could soon find ourselves sharing the online fate of Palestinians.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.Jonathan CookJonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth since 2001, is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is a past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net

Mail-in ballots: US elites’ ‘plausible deniability’ ploy to retain power

Sunday, 25 October 2020 7:09 AM  [ Last Update: Sunday, 25 October 2020 7:09 AM ]

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Mail-in ballots are processed and counted for the upcoming presidential election in Denver, Colorado, US, October 22, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

By Ramin Mazaheri

Ramin Mazaheri is currently covering the US elections. He is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

The US obsession with mail-in voting is incomprehensible to the rest of the world, but the true reason behind this nonsense is never openly admitted: Mail-in balloting has been a way to ensure that the elites of both parties can contest the election if they lose, thus giving them a way to deny ultimate responsibility for their loss via presenting a way to question the integrity of the election.

Of course this phony debate should be incomprehensible – there have already been dozens of major elections worldwide in 2020 already. The data available to the US is clear: safe in-person voting is easily assurable despite the minor challenges. There has been no correlation between elections and a post-Covid spike, and some elections have even been able to increase voter turnout despite the pandemic.

Therefore, the hysteria which swept the United States in March is not at all logically supportable in October: the need for mail-in ballots, much like the alleged mortality rate of Covid-19, was wildly overstated back then.

Yet the horse is out of the barn: nearly 40% of the US electorate (going by 2016 totals) has already voted early, and this will have a catastrophic effect on the United States because it seemingly guarantees that they will have a disputed election.

To be concise: nobody should expect a declared victor on the night of November 3rd because of the difficulty in counting all these slow-arriving and even late-arriving mail-in ballots, which are already tainted with dispute anyway. Furthermore, we should expect perhaps 1 million ballots to be thrown out for errors, which will obviously create further disputes – mail-in ballots will be an update of the “hanging chads” from 2000’s disputed election.

This is on top of the reality that the US general election is merely a statistical fun fact, anyway, as they vote for their president indirectly via an electoral college: look at five of the eight key “swing” states and polls show the lead of either Donald Trump or Joe Biden is 3 points or less, which is within the margin for error. Furthermore, US pollsters have also likely not solved the “hidden/shy” Trump voter issue, making polls perhaps as unreliable as 2016’s polls obviously were.

Given the certainty of this already equally-divided electorate, increasing the logistical challenges posed by mail-in voting, which will only increase the number of spoiled ballots, made no sense.

But that’s true only if we analyse it from a perspective which gives primacy to the average American citizen – it made perfect sense if we look at mail-in balloting from the point of view of the very elite of Washington’s most-privileged politicians.

What mail-in voting does is give the party elite “plausible deniability” – if Trump loses he will say the election was rigged because of mail-in balloting, and if Democrats lose they will wildly allege that mail-in balloting has drastically reshaped how this election must be counted. This way, no matter who loses the party elite do not have to relinquish power as a result of being genuinely voted out due to their terrible policies, results and platform.

Democrats, for example, will have to make exactly as many changes at the top and concessions to the rising Bernie Sanders faction as they did after 2016’s loss: zero. The Clintonista faction, Nancy Pelosi and their coastal media sycophants all now have a way to achieve the only thing they want – to cling to their privileges.

The accuracy of this analysis is proven by the Russophobia campaign they concocted to deflect blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016. If they would waste three years of America’s time on a phony “Russian meddling” campaign – which concluded with a “Mueller Report” that indicted zero Americans on charges of collusion or election conspiracy – how less preposterous and how less energy-consuming is making constant exhortations to vote by mail?

How much easier is it to instruct lower-rank party officials to keep sending Americans unsolicited government letters encouraging them to vote by mail, or which even chide citizens for not having voted by mail yet? I do not lie when I write that at the very point of submitting this article for publication I got an email from a food home delivery service – a totally apolitical entity, seemingly – asking me, “Want to vote early?” and offering to help me do so. That is how widespread and deep this unnecessary, destructive mail-in balloting campaign has gone in today’s US culture.

Republicans insist that voting by mail is more susceptible to fraud, and while this is true on the surface, the reality is that proven voter fraud is exceptionally small in the US. Republicans oppose mail-in balloting probably, I would guess, because they would secretly like to keep as many of the aristocratic vote restrictions America is founded upon as possible. However, they are far more cognisant of the problems posed by mail-in balloting than Democrats.

The reality is that Donald Trump is by far the loudest Republican objecting to mail-in ballots precisely because he, too, needs a reason to contest the election and deflect blame for a possible loss.

Trump, even though his “outsider populism” – which proved to be fascist (pro-corporate) in nature rather than a genuine and patriotic populism – has been swallowed up by the Republican Party “Washington Swamp” extremely effectively, that actually on this issue reverted back to the early-2016 assertion that his interests are actually quite in opposition to those of one-half of the duopoly which is quite clearly proscribed by the US Constitution – the Republican Party. This open opposition is a huge reason he won the 2016 election – that he is a political outsider who will drain the Swamp – and if Trump does lose a large reason will be that he too-tardily remembered this cause for his original victory: seemingly not until the 2nd and final presidential debate two days ago.

Studies prove that mail-in balloting does not lean Democrat or Republican (at least prior to 2020), so Trump has joined with the covert cause of the Democratic elite to fabricate mail-in balloting into an issue where there was none. Again, it is not a true issue after so many other countries have held successful elections in 2020.

The mail-in balloting controversy makes sense for all the wrong reasons: because the US system prefers to focus attention to issues which are of no consequences to their lower classes, who are also hurt by rabid American capitalism-imperialism; because Americans have a short attention span, and also one guided by sensationalism since the 1960s; but mainly because the very elite factions in power in Washington do not want to give up power if they lose as a justified consequence for their terrible records as public servants.

Even though 2020 has forced us to accept as “normal” so many things which are not normal, we must remind ourselves that a disputed election is not some minor occurrence. And yet there is an acceptance of this inevitability here, mainly because – appallingly – there is very little public discussion permitted of just how bad a disputed election is on any society. (Again, this is precisely because the US elite – uncertain of the outcome – actually wants a disputed election.)

A disputed election necessarily has enormous financial and economic ramifications due to the instability it provokes; it has equally important political ramifications – we cannot understate how many Americans were permanently alienated from the system via the handling of the 2000 disputed election, and how at the same time it also deeply polarised those who remained politically engaged; and it also has huge, long-term cultural and social impacts due to the way it provokes so much rawness on such a personally-sensitive topic.

A disputed election is akin to a bloodless, short-term civil war.

A civil war is easily defined as when brothers fight brothers – a disputed election will make late November’s Thanksgiving national holiday a decidedly unpeaceful affair in many households… and for reasons of no profit to anyone but the US elite, sadly.

Lastly, when we grasp why the US elite desired and orchestrated a disputed election we understand how they have to try and cover their tracks, somewhat. This reality explains the ridiculous, pathetic, preposterous assertion stunningly made on the very eve of the 2nd presidential debate: that Iranian operatives are secretly posing as far-right “Proud Boys” to intimidate Democrats in four states into changing their party affiliation, a scam as obvious as it was insignificant. It’s really a shame Iranian diplomats and journalists have to spend a half-second discussing such absurdities – adults have better things to do – but the reality is that Washington’s elite wants to blame other countries for shaking domestic confidence regarding the integrity of the vote when this confidence has been shaken entirely because of domestic flaws and issues. Of course, concocting the mail-in ballot faux-dispute is merely one of the many integrity-questioning events. Iran is very, very powerful no? They were discussed just 20 minutes into a history-deciding debate even though the US is in the middle of an unprecedented social and economic catastrophe, but this what the moderator/journalist Kristen Welker (widely touted as the “winner” of the final debate) foolishly and irresponsibly chose to focus upon, or was ordered to focus upon. What a shame that such propaganda genuinely does lay sinister groundwork for deadly war (like with Iran), or cold war (like with Russia since 2016), and is not a laughing matter. Welker and all the other US journalists who discussed this laughable and (as always) unproven propaganda at length should consider how dangerous their behavior truly is.

Mail-in balloting has unnecessarily guaranteed election chaos in a year which continues to be economically and socially devastating to the United States, which just started an 8th month of uneven, ineffective and economically unsupportable Great Lockdowns. It’s an utter debacle which the US political and media elite pushed into place – we should understand fully these real reasons why, none of which are hinted at in their mainstream or government media.


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Iran Seeks to Confuse the United States?

By Philip Giraldi

Source

Another story that is more fiction than fact
John Ratcliffe c1317

Those who have been waiting for the elusive October Surprise that will upset the apple cart on election day are admittedly running out of time. The media’s unwillingness to even consider that the antics of Hunter Biden just might constitute an embarrassment of major proportions or even something worse has done much to kill that story. And the old tried and true expedient of starting a little war somewhere is also proving to be a false hope as no one appears ready to provoke the righteously wrathful Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by ponying up a casus belli. Maybe there is still time for a false flag operation, but even that would require more prior planning than the White House appears capable of.

There is, however, one area that might just be exploitable to create a crisis, though it much depends on whether a tired public is willing to go one more round over the issue of “foreign election interference.” And yes, the Russians are presumed to be involved, on this occasion, as they always are, joined by the ever-vengeful Iranians.

On Wednesday Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe held a news conference at which he laid out details of the most recent dastardly plot against American democracy. He described how Iran and Russia both obtained American voter registration data, apparently through publicly accessible databases and through purchases of email lists. Though no actual votes have been altered, they are using that information “to influence the presidential election as it enters its final two weeks.” Ratcliffe elaborated how “This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine…confidence in American democracy.”

Ratcliffe focused mostly on Iran, saying that it had been identified as the source of what he described as a claimed 1,500 “spoofed emails” routed through Estonia that “seek to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump.” Iran was also blamed for other material, to include a video encouraging the casting of illegal ballots both domestically and overseas. Additional intelligence suggests that Iran is planning to take more steps to influence the election in the coming days, though what those measures could possibly be was not revealed.

Other government sources elaborated, indicating that Iranian intelligence has been credited with the sending of the email messages going out to Democratic voters in four states, including hotly disputed Pennsylvania and Florida. The emails falsely claimed to be from the alleged far-right group Proud Boys which has been much in the news.  Their message was that “we will come after you” if the recipients fail to vote for Donald Trump.

It doesn’t take much to realize that threatening messages relating to voting for Trump allegedly coming from a source described as “racist” would undoubtedly motivate most registered Democratic voters to do the opposite, but that seems to have escaped the analysts of the Directorate of National Intelligence. And one must also ask why Tehran would want the re-election of a president who has been unremittingly hostile, including imposing crippling sanctions, withdrawing from a beneficial nuclear agreement, and assassinating a leading Revolutionary Guards general. Even U.S. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer appears to have figured that one out, saying “It was clear to me that the intent of Iran in this case and Russia in many more cases is to basically undermine confidence in our elections. This action I do not believe was aimed… at discrediting President Trump.”

The anti-Trump New York Times has, of course, another, more sinister interpretation, suggesting that “…it may also play into President Trump’s hands. For weeks, he has argued, without evidence, that the vote on Nov. 3 will be ‘rigged,’ that mail-in ballots will lead to widespread fraud and that the only way he can be defeated is if his opponents cheat. Now, on the eve of the final debate, he has evidence of foreign influence campaigns designed to hurt his re-election chances, even if they did not affect the voting infrastructure.”

The Times also notes a broader conspiracy by the dreadful Persians, explaining how “Iran has tinkered at the edges of American election interference since 2012, but always as a minor actor. Last year, it stepped up its game, private cybersecurity firms have warned. They have caught Iranian operatives occasionally impersonating politicians and journalists around the world, often to spread narratives that are aimed at denigrating Israel or Saudi Arabia, its two major adversaries in the Middle East.” Again, however, the article provides no explanation of what Iran could possibly hope to gain from the minimal “tinkering” it might be able to engage in an American election in which billions of dollars will be spent by Democrats and Republicans who are viciously attacking each other without any outside help.

Ratcliffe had less to say about Russia but U.S. media coverage of the story included a referral to a recent account of how the U.S. military’s Cyber Command helped take down a network developed by Russian hackers called TrickBot that had been used in ransomware attacks directed against companies as well as cities and towns across the United States. It also reported how “In recent days, another Russian hacking group called Energetic Bear, often linked to the F.S.B. — one of the successors to the Soviet Union’s K.G.B. — appears to have focused its attention on gaining access to state and local government networks. That has caught the attention of federal investigators because, until now, the group had largely targeted energy firms, including public utilities.”

There was, however, no evidence that either hacking group was being directed against voter systems, so Russia’s inclusion in the front-page Times story headlined “Iran and Russia Seek to Influence Election in Final Days, U.S. Officials Warn” has to be considered questionable editorial judgment. Perhaps scaremongering would be a better description. In any event, the story itself is much ado about nothing. Iran’s sending out 1,500 emails if that actually occurred, would have zero impact. Likewise, the claimed existence of alleged Russian hacking groups that have done nothing directed against voters or balloting systems with only a few days left until the election would appear to be an electoral tactic rather than exposure of any genuine threat. One might even describe it as a bit of deliberate disinformation.

Make America Jeffersonian Again

Make America Jeffersonian Again

October 23, 2020

by Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

The whole planet has every reason to be terminally puzzled at how all those lofty Enlightenment ideals Thomas Jefferson embedded in the 1776 Declaration of Independence ended up with…Trump vs. Biden.

Jefferson borrowed freely from Locke, Rousseau, Hume to come up with an eminently quotable Greatest Hits, featuring “self-evident” truths such as “all men are created equal”, “unalienable rights”, and that searing “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Well, Baudrillard would have dubbed the exercise a mere simulacrum, because in real life none of this uplifting rhetoric applied to Native Americans and enslaved Africans.

Still, there’s something endlessly fascinating about these “self-evident truths”. They actually radiated like Spinoza axioms, spawning abstract truths that can be extrapolated at will. Jefferson’s “self-evident truths” ended up creating the whole, massive structure of what we define as “Western liberal democracy”.

So it’s no wonder that America – perennially self-described as “leader of the free world” – consider these “self-evident truths” as the basis of an ideal society.

And it’s this messianic river of fervent truth flowing out of a Himalaya of Morality that leads Americans to dismiss as “malign actors” every nation or society that is judged to be “deviating” from such obvious evidence.

Those damned furreners. They’re always up to no good.

Cut to a mini-remix of the last Trump-Biden presidential debate. In foreign policy terms, it went something like this.

The moderator is desperate to move on as she’s very much aware of time constraints and looming, incandescent clashes: “Now I want to move on to Defense. It’s established Russia and China are interfering in our election process…”

Here’s classic “self-evident truth” material, delivered according to strict Council on Foreign Relations guidelines.

Cut to Biden: any country that interferes with the American elections “will pay a price”. Russia’s “been involved, China has been involved to some degree, and Iran’s been involved.” They are interfering with “American sovereignty”. Rudy Giuliani was used “as a Russian pawn”. Trump is “unwilling” to confront Putin. Russia has “destabilized NATO” and is “paying bounties to kill Americans in Afghanistan.” And China “has to play by the rules” – or else.

Cut to Trump: “You mean the laptop from hell is another Russia, Russia, Russia hoax?”

For the record: Joe Biden did blame the contents of son Hunter’s laptop from hell on Russia.

And discussing North Korea, when Trump said he got along fine with Kim Jong-Un, Biden stated, “We had a good relationship with Hitler before he invaded Europe.” Incidentally, Germany is and remains in Europe. And it’s quite something to see Biden acknowledging in public proven US industrial and political support to Nazism.

Those damn furreners

So, inevitably, the laptop from hell had to show up.

The FBI had Hunter Biden’s laptop since December 2019 – as it had issued a subpoena for it in the first place. And yet the FBI sat on the laptop for 11 months doing nothing.

That must have given plenty of time for those pesky Russians to steal the laptop and plant incriminating evidence.

Well, not really. The FBI was busy mulling how to conduct an investigation on “money laundering”. And not on child porn – which, according to Giuliani, is the piece de resistance in the laptop. No one knows if these alleged “investigations” are ongoing.

Now, the FBI and the Department of Justice have finally “concurred”: Hunter Biden’s laptop and emails were not part of a Russian disinformation campaign – directly contradicting what Joe Biden said in the debate.

But then, right before the debate, a bombshell presser – including the FBI and Homeland Security – had announced those pesky Russians and Iranians were in fact “trying to influence opinion” on the US elections.

“Self-evident truths” were back with a bang.

One can’t make this stuff up. And it gets even murkier when the actual “election interference” may be coming from inside the US, not from those damn furreners.

This past summer, the Transition Integrity Project (TIP) war-gamed possible scenarios post-November 3. All the scenarios lead to a huge constitutional crisis – forced, as part of the premise, by Trump’s refusal to concede his defeat at the polls.

TIP, predictably, is a proverbial Beltway bubble, composed of assorted Democratic Party higher-ups, Clintonistas, Obamistas and neo-con Never Trumpers.

Their message is now widely accepted as another avatar of “self-evident truths” because of this group’s powerful grip over Anglo-American mainstream media. Reverberations may be seen, for instance, herehere and here.

So the preferred doomsday scenario ahead spells out an engineered unresolved election, wide socio-political chaos, “continuity of government” protocols, even martial law.

What’s “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” got to do with it?

على هامش مناظرة بايدن وترامب On the sidelines of the Biden and Trump debate

Those who followed the recent debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and had previously had the opportunity to follow parallel debates in a number of previous elections, can record fundamental differences from the days of American glory and power, indicating the deterioration of the American situation in status, strength and prestige. During the debate, it occupied a prominent area. Candidates exchange accusations of being dependent on abroad, receiving funds from abroad, having special interests with them, or soliciting their interference in favor of the candidate in the elections. This is what Trump said about Biden and what Biden said about Trump, which are accusations the least that can be said about them, that they are expected in a third world country where America makes their presidents for them, but it is a surprise when the talk is that there is someone who makes America its presidents. NASSER KANDIL

ناصر قنديل

بمعزل عن النقاش الدائر في بعض الأوساط السياسيّة والإعلاميّة حول لعبة الترجيح أو المفاضلة بين المرشحين للرئاسة الأميركية، فتحت المناظرة الأخيرة بين المرشحين الرئيس الحالي دونالد ترامب ونائب الرئيس السابق جو بايدن، باب نقاش وتقييم لبعض الظواهر التي قد لا تكون بعيدة عن التأثير على السياق الانتخابي ومضمونه السياسيّ، لكنها ليست هنا تحت هذا العنوان، فمن تابع المناظرة وتسنّى له سابقاً متابعة مناظرات موازية في عدد من الانتخابات السابقة يستطيع تسجيل فوارق جوهرية عن أيام العز والقوة الأميركيتين، تؤشر الى ما وصلته الحالة الأميركية من تدهور في المكانة والقوة والمهابة، فخلال المناظرة احتلّ مساحة بارزة تبادل المرشحين لتهم التبعية للخارج وتلقي أموال من هذا الخارج أو الارتباط بمصالح خاصة معه، أو استدراج تدخله لصالح المرشح في الانتخابات. وهذا ما قاله ترامب عن بايدن وما قاله بايدن عن ترامب، وهي اتهامات أقل ما يمكن قوله عنها، أنها متوقعة في بلد من بلدان العالم الثالث حيث تصنع أميركا لهم رؤساءهم، لكنها مفاجأة عندما يكون الحديث عن أن هناك مَن يصنع لأميركا رؤساءها.

الإشارة الثانية هي ما كشفته المناظرة بين ترامب وبايدن، من عمق حال الرهاب الأميركية تجاه روسيا والصين وإيران، سواء كان الظاهر من هذا الرهاب لدى المرشحين صادقاً أو مفتعلاً، فإن كان مفتعلاً فهو علامة أخطر من كونه صادقاً لأنه يعني رهان المرشحين على اعتبار الرهاب موجوداً لدى المجتمع ويمكن استثماره إنتخابياً بتوجيه تهمة التبعية للخصم لهذا الخارج. وهذا بحدّ ذاته يؤشر إلى تراجع نظرة أميركا لنفسها ونظرة الأميركيين لأنفسهم، باعتبار الخشية من هذا الخارج، سواء ببعدها العسكري والاقتصادي، أو لجهة الخشية من تدخّلاتها في الشؤون الداخليّة الأميركية وسيطرتها على الاستحقاق الانتخابي والتلاعب بالمرشحين، نوع من الانهزام الداخلي والانكسار النفسيّ الذي يعني قناعة داخلية لدى القادة والنخب والجمهور بأن بلدهم لم يعُد صانع السياسات الأول في العالم، ولا صانع سياسات الدول الأخرى، فلم تعُد الوطنيّة الأميركيّة ذات طابع هجومي وإيجابي قائمة على التاريخ الاستعماري المستند للتباهي بالمكانة، بل صارت وطنية دفاعية سلبية هاجسها الخشية من هيمنة الآخرين وسطوتهم وتدخلاتهم ومشاريع نموّهم الاقتصادي والعسكري.

في المناظرة يسهل اكتشاف أن مشروع ترامب وبايدن نحو الخارج يبدو متقارباً لجهة التسليم بفقدان القدرة على الهجوم، لكن يبدو الأمر مختلفاً داخلياً حيث فقد مشروع ترامب قدرته الهجومية مع الانتكاسة التي رافقت تفشي كورونا وما عاشه الاقتصاد من ركود وتراجع، فصار الصراع على الهوية الاجتماعية للدولة بين خط فوضوي داخلي يمثله ترامب يتحدّث عن وعود وردية بلا برنامج، مقابل برنامج لإعادة دولة الرعاية التي يتبناها الديمقراطيون والقائمة على رفع نسب الإنفاق العام في الصحة والتربية والخدمات لتعزيز الطبقة الوسطى وحماية المهمّشين، ومن وحي البعد الداخلي ينفتح الصراع أيضاً بين خط فوضويّ في السياسة الخارجية يمكن تلخيصه بالخروج من المجتمع الدولي في اتفاق المناخ والتفاهمات حول البيئة والصحة ومنها الاتفاق النوويّ الإيراني من هذا المنظور المفاهيمي للانتظام في قلب العلاقات الدوليّة بعدما استنفدت هوامش التخبّط التي قادها ترامب بالخروج من الاتفاقات والتفاهمات والمواثيق.

على الصعيد الاقتصادي بدا واضحاً تمسّك ترامب بالدفاع المتوحّش عن همجية كارتلات النفط والعقارات بنسختهما الحالية، مقابل التزام بايدن بالاستثمار في نهضة عمرانية تعزّز قطاعاً عقارياً حديثاً متصالحاً مع البيئة، وتفتح طريق الطاقة البديلة، خصوصاً الطاقة الشمسيّة وطاقة الرياح وما تفتحه من فرص العمل وتوفره من مصالحة مع البيئة وتضمنه من تراجع في الكلفة، وهذا لا يعني على الإطلاق ترجيحاً استباقياً لفوز بايدن، بقدر ما يعني أن أميركا أمام خيارين يأخدانها نحو الصراع الشرس المستمرّ مهما كانت نتيجة الانتخابات. فالفوضى والتوحّش لا يصنعان استقراراً في حال الفوز، وهزيمة القوى المستفيدة من التوحّش لا تتحقق فقط في صناديق الاقتراع فقط، فكارتلات النفط وسماسرة العقارات البيض لن يلقوا السلاح بسهولة ولو أخذوا أميركا الى مشروع حرب أهلية في حال الفشل الانتخابي، والمهمّشون الملوّنون وفقراء الأرياف لن يقبلوا المجاعة ومثلهم الطبقة الوسطى المتهالكة لن ترتضي الاستسلام للعنصرية والإفقار وفقدان الخدمات والرعاية، ولو اقتضى ذلك منهم النزول الى الشوارع وربما التسلح أيضاً.

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