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They are not … August 16, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Nazi / Fascist, Racism, Trump, Uncategorized.
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They are not neo-Nazis, they are … NAZIS

They are not the Klan, they are … NAZIS

They are not white supremacists, they are … NAZIS

They are not alt-Right, they are … NAZIS

They are not nationalists, they are … NAZIS

They are not conservatives, they are … NAZIS

If this were 1930s Germany, they would be on their way to power.

If this were contemporary Germany, they would all be in jail.

But this is Trump’s Amerika … 

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Happy Independence Day! July 3, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in First Nations, Genocide, History, Iraq and Afghanistan, Race, Racism, Uncategorized, Vietnam.
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U.S.-Led Airstrikes in Syria Killed Hundreds of Civilians, U.N. Panel Says June 16, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Chemical Biological Weapons, Imperialism, ISIS/ISIL, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Syria, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: It was Flag Day yesterday, and the entire patriotic nation was paralyzed with shock over the non-lethal shooting of a handful of Republican wannabe baseball stars.  In other news, buried in the back pages if noted at all, a report suggests that the U.S. led coalition ion in Syria may have killed up to 3,100 civilians and created 160,000 refugees with its airstrikes.  Of course, it is logical to expect a certain priority for local news.  But wait.  Is the latter not local?  Are the warplanes and bombs not Made in the USA?  Are the pilots not American?  Are they not financed with American taxes?

All lives matter.  That’s what the fake Christian bigots were saying in response to Black Lives Matter?  But of course they don’t really mean it.  When I was a Christian I believed that all lives matter (equally).  I am no longer a Christian.  Yet I still believe it.  Go figure.

isis-deaths-pentagon-syria-iraq-mena

GENEVA — Airstrikes by the American-led coalition against Islamic State targets have killed hundreds of civilians around Raqqa, the militant group’s last Syrian stronghold, and left 160,000 people displaced, a United Nations panel said on Wednesday.

The findings of the panel, which has been documenting the war in Syria with periodic reports almost since the conflict began more than six years ago, reinforced fears by humanitarian groups over the heavy loss of civilian life that would result from the American-led coalition’s airstrikes.

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the Brazilian diplomat who leads the panel, said the airstrikes had escalated as an American-backed militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces moved recently to retake Raqqa, which Islamic State fighters seized in 2014 and made their de facto capital.

“We note in particular that the intensification of airstrikes, which have paved the ground for an S.D.F. advance in Raqqa, has resulted not only in staggering loss of civilian life, but has also led to 160,000 civilians fleeing their homes,” Mr. Pinheiro said in a report, presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

It was the first time Mr. Pinheiro’s panel had focused on American military conduct that has led to heavy civilian casualties and other suffering.

The panel’s investigators found that 300 civilians had been killed in the airstrikes since March 21, panel member Karen Abuzayd told reporters in Geneva later. They included 200 civilians killed in a single incident in March when an airstrike hit a school in the town of Mansoura, she said.

The attack on Mansoura, shortly after midnight on March 21, hit a school building housing families that had fled the fighting around Palmyra and other towns, investigators said. Initial reports said up to 40 people had died in the bombing, but rescue workers and other witnesses interviewed by the panel said that as operations to clear the rubble progressed the death toll had climbed to around 200. The United States military has said it is aware of the reports of higher casualty figures in Mansoura and is investigating.

The Mansoura attack came on a day that the American-led coalition conducted 19 airstrikes on targets in the vicinity of Raqqa and a week after 49 people reportedly died when coalition aircraft struck the village of Al Jinah in western Aleppo Province. In that strike, residents said coalition aircraft had hit a mosque but American officials said they had hit a meeting of Al Qaeda operatives, producing satellite images which showed the mosque was still standing.

The recapture of Raqqa would be a significant step in the drive to eliminate the Islamic State’s hold on Syrian territory, and in the wider battle between President Bashar al-Assad’s government, backed by Russia and Iran, and rebel forces supported by the United States and Arab regional powers to decide the future of Syria.

Mr. Pinheiro’s panel, officially known as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, has been chronicling evidence of war crimes and other atrocities in exhaustive detail.

Success in purging Raqqa of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, would free thousands of civilians from the group’s rule, Mr. Pinheiro said, including women from Iraq’s Yazidi minority who have been held as sex slaves for almost three years. But “the imperative to fight terrorism must not, however, be undertaken at the expense of civilians who unwillingly find themselves living in areas where ISIL is present,” Mr. Pinheiro said.

Its report echoed deepening fears among humanitarian agencies over the toll in civilian lives exacted by American and coalition forces in the campaign to eliminate the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria.

Airwars, a nonprofit group monitoring reports of civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria, has estimated that at least 3,100 civilians were killed in coalition airstrikes since the onset of the war against Islamic State in August 2014 up to March 2017, more than eight times the 352 civilian casualties acknowledged by the United States military.

The number of civilians killed in coalition attacks has raised questions among human rights organizations over whether the greater autonomy the Trump administration has allowed military commanders on the battlefield has diverted attention from protection of civilians. Those concerns were further underscored by reports last week that coalition forces attacking Islamic State positions around Raqqa had used munitions containing white phosphorus, a weapon banned in populated areas under international law. United States officials said last week that the weapons were not being used against people.

The Militarization of Canada: Chrystia Freeland’s Budgetary Coup June 13, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Arms, Canada, Imperialism, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: Justin Trudeau’s Liberals formed a majority government with less than 40 percent of the vote, more or less the same as the previous ultra-right Tory government of Stephen Harper.  He already has reneged on his commitment to re-structure elections in some form of proportional representation.  Now he comes forth with a military budget in response to Trump’s bullying that looks a lot like something Harper would have done.  Regardless of its image as a peacemaker nation, the military industrial complex is alive and well in Canada.

 2017-05-26

The arrogance of power could scarcely be more dramatically demonstrated than by the tag team of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announcing that Canada was going to cave in to Donald Trump’s demand that we spend two percent of GDP on defence. We will be increasing military spending by 70 percent over ten years – an obscenity when so many social needs go unmet.

Not only does this make a mockery of Trudeau’s election pledge to return to Canada’s historic peace-keeping role but surrenders to the absurd one-size-fits-all NATO imperative. Nothing has changed internationally to justify such an increase. There are no existential threats to Canada on any horizon. As Trudeau said in March, Canada more than pulls its weight in NATO: we are the sixth-highest spender in NATO and 16th in the world.

It seems clear that it Chrystia Freeland is driving this militarization of Canada’s foreign policy. Her contradiction-filled foreign policy speech in the House of Commons last week – suggesting that Canada is going to somehow fill the vacuum left by an allegedly isolationist US – just confirms what I suggested a few months back. In the Trudeau government the tail is wagging the dog. Justin Trudeau is so lazy intellectually, so devoid of any personal vision of the country that anyone in his cabinet willing to forcefully pursue a personal agenda gets their way. And Freeland is if nothing if not forceful when it comes to one issue: her obsession with so-called Russian “adventurism.”

In her statement Freeland declared: “The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course.” Really? Just how do we do that by caving into Trump’s demand that all NATO members pony up? In fact the increase in spending – $14 billion over 10 years; 62 billion over 20 –  represents a clear loss of sovereignty, abandoning our sovereign right to make decisions in our national interest to please a rogue US president.

Exactly what kind of global leadership does Freeland think we are now missing? Given that she spoke almost exclusively about defence spending presumably she thinks that a less military-interventionist Trump requires more intervention from Canada. But intervention where, exactly? Our last enthusiastic intervention – celebrated by our last Prime Minister – was in Libya. That “humanitarian” project resulted not only in a failed state but in the creation and arming of ISIS, the flood of desperate refugees to Europe and indirectly the terror attacks Freeland rightly describes as “monstrous.”

US “leadership” is known by another name in scores of countries around the globe: US imperialism. In fact in the last decade that term has gained widespread acceptance by the US political elite where it used to be righteously denied. Does Freeland believe that the illegal war on Iraq is an example of US leadership? Would she, unlike Jean Chretien, have joined in? What about the slaughter in Yemen? Going back a bit further, would Freeland see the literally dozens of US interventions to overthrow democratic governments and install dictators the epitome of US leadership?

The notion that anything Trump says can be taken as rock-solid American foreign or defence policy is laughable. The man is willfully ignorant of anything outside his New York penthouse and incapable of formulating let alone implementing a coherent policy. While he twitter-rants, real decisions are made by others. The US has not announced the closing of any of its 800 military installations around the world. Trump is going to go along with the military’s request for 1,000s of more troops for Afghanistan. And what kind of isolationist president increases military spending – already at $600 billion – by $54 billion?

The increase in military spending announced Wednesday will turn the Defence Department into an unabashed War Department with Harjit Sajjan playing second fiddle to the militant Freeland. Just what existential threats does Canada face? The terrorist threat is handled by our intelligence agencies and police. Russia and the US are the only two countries in close proximity and whether we have 65 jet fighters (Stephen Harper’s plan) or 88 (Freeland’s plan) will make absolutely not one iota of difference. With respect to the Arctic, where there are conflicting interests, it is obvious to all parties that negotiation is the only possible strategy.

But, of course, it’s not about defence. It’s about war. If we look at the planned spending it seems clear that we are gearing up for more Western adventurism, using NATO to prop up a failing finance capitalism by military threats. Freeland stated: “Canadian diplomacy and development sometimes requires the backing of hard power.” She has a duty to explain exactly what that means in the areas she listed as the focus of hard power: North Korea, the civil war in Syria, the Islamic State, Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Baltic states.   Freeland’s stated goal of “peace and stability” will not benefit in any way from an additional $14 billion in war materiel.

It’s hard to say which is the most outrageous aspect of this budgetary coup by the foreign affairs and defence bureaucracies. The transparent rationalization for the spending is simply shocking. Equally disturbing is the complete lack of a mandate for such an increase: it was never mentioned in the election and erases the Liberal election commitment to peace-keeping, it doubles down on Harper’s aggressive foreign policy, and was done with no consultation with Canadians.

There will be blowback to this military build-up. Young people played a major role in electing Sunny Ways Trudeau, and they have the political clout and passion to put him on notice that this is a deal-breaker. Let’s hope they use it.

MURRAY DOBBIN, now living in Powell River, BC has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for over forty years.  He can be reached at murraydobbin@shaw.ca

The Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy: Questions, Hints and Allegations June 10, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in assassination, History, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: just like paranoids can have real enemies, conspiracy theorists can have real conspiracies.

“Robert Kennedy’s death, like the President’s … was perceived as random…. What is odd is not that some people thought it was all random, but that so many intelligent people refused to believe that it might be anything else.”

Most Americans are unable to believe that their country is not different than any other Banana Republic, this after so much evidence that supports that notion.  The murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King by “lone assassins.”  The murders of Malcolm X and Fred Hampton, the two greatest threats to White America.  The stealing of presidency for George Bush by the State where his brother was governor.  Donald Trump!!!!!!!

I think it begins with the schools.  From day one it is drummed into us that America is the world’s greatest, if not history’s greatest nation, the epitome of democracy, the leader of the so-called free world, and the defender of all that is good and moral.  The American child is subject to this indoctrination for at least thirteen thirteen years, the most formative, from Kindergarten through high school.

This initial brainwashing is at the same time reinforced by the mass media and virtually all other forms of cultural expression.  This lifetime of  brainwashing  applied to generation after generation of American children; the Manchurian Candidate applied to an entire population.

There is no doubt in my mind that the JFK and MLK assassinations were government hit jobs.  Below we read about Bobby.  Don’t forget that since World War II the CIA has been involved in several overseas assassinations, the most notorious being that of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo and Che Guevara in Bolivia. It is no wonder that, as Malcolm put it, the chickens have come home to roost.  It is a tragedy of monumental proportions and no coincidence that some of the greatest popular leaders of the twentieth century met their fate long before their time, at the end of a bullet.

Conspiracies.  

9/11?  I keep an open mind.

Global Research, June 06, 2017

f you were going to arrange a political assassination in an indoor crowded setting, would you plan to have one of your operatives (not the assassin) at the murder site be a strikingly curvaceous young woman in a conspicuous white dress with black polka-dots, and then have her flee the scene, yelling, “We’ve shot him, we’ve shot him,” so that multiple witnesses would see and hear her as she made her escape?

Would you have the same woman earlier in the day pick up a salesman in the hotel where the assassination was planned, spend the day with him driving around and having dinner together, while repeatedly inviting (i.e. luring) him to join her later that night at a big public event where they will shoot their famous victim, whom she names?

Would you have your operative tell this man that, although she wasn’t staying at the hotel, and although she had been in town only three days, having flown from NYC where she had arrived from overseas, that she knew the hotel stair routes very well, including an unobtrusive one that she shows the man?

Would you have this woman tell this man that a few days earlier she had met with a very famous political operative (whom she names), diametrically opposed to your victim’s political philosophy and that she would need to flee the country after the assassination and would like the man’s help?

Would you have your operative in the tight dress so conspicuously lay down a trail of breadcrumbs from morning until night, until she made her escape, never to be found despite having been seen by more than a dozen credible witnesses at the shooting site?

I think you would agree that you would have to be extremely stupid to plan an assassination in this manner, except if you were extremely devious, and the voluptuous stand-out girl was part of your intricate plot to create a false lead to someone other than the assassins.

This is exactly what happened when Senator Robert Kennedy, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, was shot shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, after celebrating his victory in the California Democratic Primary. The woman in question came to be known as “the girl in the polka-dot dress,” but unlike the ways we associate girls with innocence, this woman was a key player in hideous evil.

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Former President John F. Kennedy with his wife in a limousine prior to his assassination (Source: Wikipedia)

While many people are aware that President John Kennedy was killed five years earlier in a conspiracy organized by U.S. intelligence operatives and that Lee Harvey Oswald was the “patsy” that he said he was, far fewer realize that Robert Kennedy was also killed as a result of a conspiracy and that the convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan did not kill RFK. In fact, not one bullet from his gun struck the senator. Sirhan was standing in front of Kennedy when, as the autopsy definitively showed, RFK was shot from the rear at point blank range, three bullets entering his body, with the fatal head-shot coming upward at a 45 degree angle from 1-3 inches behind his right ear.In addition, an audio recording shows that many more bullets than the eight in Sirhan’s gun were fired in the hotel pantry that night. It was impossible for Sirhan to have killed RFK.

While Sirhan still sits in prison to this day, the real killers of Senator Kennedy went free that night. For anyone who studies the case with an impartial eye (see this, this,this, this, and this), the evidence is overwhelming that there was a very sophisticated conspiracy at work, one that continued long after as police, FBI, intelligence agencies, and the legal system covered up the true nature of the crime.  That Sirhan was hypnotized to play his part as seeming assassin is also abundantly clear.

But it is not my intention here to detail all the facts of the case that still scream out for justice, as do the linked assassinations of JFK and MLK.  In fact, referring to the Kennedy assassination is a misnomer; we should speak of the Kennedy assassinations, since JFK wasn’t the only one.

I would like to focus on the so-called “girl in the polka-dot dress,” and ask you to think along with me as we explore why she was so conspicuous that day and night, and what function she may have served.  I know you will agree that it is counterintuitive for her to have behaved the way she did. Counterintuitive for the general public, that is.

Image result for The Polka-Dot File: on the Robert F. Kennedy Killing

Source: Amazon

The best detailed day-to-day account of this mysterious girl is in the book linked to above by Fernando Faura, The Polka-Dot File: on the Robert F. Kennedy Killing (see my review here). Faura writes,

“Seconds after the shooting stopped, a young woman in a polka-dot dress ran out of the kitchen, past Sandra Serrano [see video], a Kennedy campaign worker. The woman shouted, ‘We shot him, we shot him.’ Asked who they shot, the woman replied, ‘Kennedy,’ and ran into the morning darkness, never to be found.”

Although Serrano was interviewed by Sandy Vanocur of NBC News on live TV at 1:30 AM shortly after the shooting, she – as well as other eyewitnesses to this girl – was browbeaten by the police to retract her story, yet she never did. The police shut down its pursuit of this girl, despite all the witnesses. The LAPD officer in charge of the investigation, Lt. Manny Pena, was CIA connected, having worked for U.S. AID and been recently brought back to control the investigation. So too was the brutal interrogator, Sgt. Hank Hernandez, CIA affiliated.

It is obvious that this girl was part of a conspiracy to kill Robert Kennedy and that it is equally obvious that she was meant to stand out, be seen, and to be heard shouting what she did.  Why?

Logically  it follows that she was meant to create false leads, and generate mystery when there was none. Writing of the JFK assassination, Vince Salandria, the eminent and early critic of the government’s false conspiracy story, has recently said something quite appropriate to the RFK case and this girl:

“The Kennedy assassination is a false mystery. It was conceived by the conspirators to be a false mystery which was designed to cause interminable debate. The purpose of the protracted debate was to obscure what was quite clearly and plainly a coup d’état….President Kennedy was assassinated by our national-security state…”

While far fewer people have yet to question the false narrative in the RFK case, when or if they do they will find that the polka-dot girl’s actions and her disappearance could keep them guessing for a long time, and that that guessing will lead away from the obvious and essential truth.

The investigative journalist Robert Parry has written about how Richard Nixon sabotaged a possible peace accord in Vietnam in the summer/fall of 1968. This he did through an intermediary, right-wing Republican Chinese émigré Anna Chennault, wife of General Claire Chennault, legendary founder of the Flying Tigers. Parry explains,

“Nixon’s gambit was to have Chennault pass on word to South Vietnamese President Thieu that if he boycotted Johnson’s Paris peace talks – thus derailing the negotiations – Nixon would assure Thieu continued U.S. military support for the war.”

This treachery has been confirmed. Having stumbled on Parry’s work in 2014, the reporter Fernando Faura was startled to find himself connecting the girl in the polka-dot dress to Anna Chennault and to Nixon. This was because he remembered that the man, John Fahey, who had spent all day with the girl on June 4, 1968 and dropped her off in the evening at the Ambassador Hotel, had told him that the political operative she had met with three days before the assassination was Anna Chennault. Faura speculates that perhaps Nixon was therefore connected to RFK’s assassination because he feared that, if Robert Kennedy were to become the Democratic presidential nominee, he would push to end the Vietnam War and would be more likely that anyone else to defeat him in the general election. He speculates that the “peace talks” conspiracy might have been the origin of the Kennedy killing; that the two conspiracies were connected.

But at the same time Faura writes,

“Why is the CIA’s shadow all over this?”

And since the CIA’s shadow is all over the RFK assassination, we are left to ask if Nixon and the CIA were operating on the same page. Or was it the reverse, that Nixon and the CIA were at odds? Did the CIA remove Nixon from office with Watergate? Could the girl have been used to create a false lead to Nixon? Or was it something else again?  Was it simply fortuitous that Sirhan’s Palestinian Arabic origins were emphasized and that his lawyers, who in no way defended him, suggested that he was mad at RFK for supporting the sending of planes to Israel and the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel? What were Kennedy’s positions vis-à- vis Israel? Who was the girl? What country had she come from when she arrived in NYC three days before?

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Sirhan Bishara Sirhan is the convicted assassin of United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. (Source: Murderpedia)

Many questions leading hither and yon originate with this girl. And it is obvious that she was meant to do that: to muddy the waters and keep people guessing once they came to realize that Sirhan obviously did not kill RFK.  And she “disappeared” as quickly as she “appeared.”  And the authorities shut down their investigation and pursuit of her.  They denied her existence against all the evidence.  Meant to stand out, she was also meant to go out, leaving a trail of questions.

Former Congressman Allard Lowenstein, who was investigating Robert Kennedy’s killing and was also strangely murdered, put it well:

Robert Kennedy’s death, like the President’s, was mourned as an extension of senseless violence; events moved on, and the profound alterations that these deaths…brought in the equation of power in America was perceived as random…. What is odd is not that some people thought it was all random, but that so many intelligent people refused to believe that it might be anything else. Nothing can measure more graphically how limited was the general under- standing of what is possible in America.

While such pseudo-innocence prevailed then and is still very widespread, perhaps no one epitomized the twisted mind games played by intelligence agencies more than James Jesus Angleton, the notorious CIA Counterintelligence Chief for so many years, in whose safe were found gruesome photos of Robert Kennedy’s autopsy. Why, one may ask, were those photos there, since Angleton allegedly had no connection to the RFK killing and since Sirhan was said to be the assassin? Was Angleton’s work as CIA liaison with Israeli any way connected?

As I wrote earlier, if one objectively studies the assassination of Senator Kennedy, one cannot but conclude there was a government conspiracy and that Sirhan is not guilty. That much is not particularly complicated, although many people not familiar with the facts of the case may think otherwise.

The mystery girl is another matter. Everything about her has served to hypnotize, first Sirhan, and then those seeking to get to the deeper forces behind this American tragedy.

Robert Kennedy, like his brother John, was a great danger to those virulent forces of war and oppression within his own government, and he died opposing them as a true patriot.

We should honor him on this day – June 6th – that he died; honor him by pursuing the truth of why he died and why it still matters. Because it does.

Featured image: history.com


 

Military Spending is the Biggest Scam in American Politics June 3, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Arms, Imperialism, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: the inner logic of capitalism has been compared with that of a cancer cell, where the consideration that outweighs all other is growth, growth for its own sake.  And we know what that leads to.  That the nation that is one of the most invulnerable to the danger of military aggression is also the nation by far the most heavily armed … that is one pardon the expression atomic irony.  As the article below demonstrates, the stated justifications for the ongoing massive build-up of the instruments of death and destruction, make no sense whatsoever.  This insanity if unchecked will lead to the end of us all.  It has nothing to do with defence or safety and everything to do with filling the pockets of the merchants of death.  That is our reality … unless we change it.

 WuerkerComplex

 

Military spending is the biggest waste of federal taxdollars ever. Both political parties are

equally complicit.

The militarism scam is the best-kept secret in American politics.

When you think about it — but no one in the halls of Congress ever does — it’s hard to think of a country that has less to fear than the United States. Two vast oceans eliminate our vulnerability to attack, except by countries with sophisticated long-range ballistic missiles (5 out of 206 nations). We share long borders with two nations that we count as close allies and trading partners.

Historically, the U.S. has only faced an invasion once, by the British during the War of 1812. (There have been other minor incursions, by Mexico during the 19th century and the Japanese occupation of two remote islands in the Aleutian chain during World War II. The Pearl Harbor attack was a raid, not an invasion.)

Objectively, we have little to worry about beside terrorism — and that’s a job for domestic police and intelligence agencies, not the military. Yet a whopping 54% of discretionary federal spending goes to the Pentagon. The Bush Administration put the Afghanistan and Iraq wars “off the books” of the Pentagon budget. And that’s not counting interest on debt or benefits paid out for old wars. We’re still paying $5 billion a year for World War II. We’re still paying off beneficiaries for the Civil and Spanish-American Wars!

The U.S. accounts for less than 5% of the world’s population. We account for 37% of military spending worldwide, equal to the next seven countries (China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France, Japan) combined. (And the U.S. sells a lot of hardware to most of those countries.)

Russia spends roughly a tenth as much on defense as the U.S. And they have a lot more (and twice as much territory) to defend against: NATO/American missiles to their west in Europe, a southern border full of radical Islamists in unstable countries like Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Afghanistan a stone’s throw away, historical regional superpower rival China next door. Despite its relatively small defense budget, Russia somehow manages to soldier on.

No matter how you look at it, America’s military budget is due for a haircut. If it were up to me, I’d scale quickly down to the Russian level, pro rata for square mileage — lob 95% of this bloated $600 billion a year monstrosity right off the top. But even a less radical budget cutter could do some good. A 10% cut — $60 billion a year — would buy universal pre-school or allow half of America’s four-year college and university students to have free tuition.

Insanely, we’re going the opposite direction.

President Trump wants to increase military spending by $54 billion — roughly 10% — per year.

Republican hypocrisy is brazen and obvious. Most are channeling Dick Cheney’s “deficits don’t matter” to justify huge tax cuts to rich individuals and big business. “I’m not the first to observe that a Republican Congress only cares about the deficit when a Democrat is in the White House,” the economist Alan Krueger says. But even the most strident deficit hawks, though uncomfortable with the tax cuts, have no problem whatsoever with Trump’s proposed hike in military spending.

“Any time we spend more money — even if it’s for something that we need — we need to cut spending in a corresponding aspect to the budget,” says Rand Paul. Slashing other, more needed programs — which is pretty much anything other than the military — is what passes for sanity in the Republican Party.

No one is proposing zero increase, much less a cut.

If anything, the Democrats are even worse. Democrats have promised a fierce Resistance to Trump and his works. But their oft-stated resolve is noticeably absent when it comes to He-Who-Must-Be-Impeached’s lust to jack up a crazy-ass defense budget that doesn’t have much of a justification to exist at all.

“This budget shifts the burden off of the wealthy and special interests and puts it squarely on the backs of the middle class and those struggling to get there … Democrats in Congress will emphatically oppose these cuts and urge our Republican colleagues to reject them as well,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Notice what’s missing? Like other Democratic leaders, Schumer’s beef is with Trump’s proposed cuts to the arts, EPA and other domestic spending, and the tax cuts. He doesn’t say boo about the defense increase.

As usual, Bernie Sanders was better than other Democrats. But even he didn’t explicitly reject the idea of a military increase on its face.

As we move past Memorial Day — the holiday when we remember the war dead, the vast majority who died not to defend America but to oppress people in other countries who never posed a threat to the United States — we should reconsider the assumption that all military spending is good spending.

Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall) is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.
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Mike Pence Is A Theocrat. His Christian Supremacist Followers Seek To Take Over America. Seriously. May 30, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in mike pence, Religion, Republicans, Right Wing, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: welcome to the American Taliban.  If you have Hulu, watch their adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaiden’s Tale,” for a vision of a likely dystopian future.  With all the hullabaloo about Donald Trump and wet dream fantasies about his Impeachment, lurking in the background stands Christian Supremacist, anti-gay bigot, Vice President Mike Pence.  The frightening article below, written just before the Inauguration, connects the dots between the Neo-Nazi alt-right theocratic nightmare and political power in Washington. Of course the military industrial complex is behind it all, but with a monopoly on political power in the hands of American Nazis, we will have reached a new level police-state extremism.

Another article in yesterday’s Daily Kos by the same author (https://www.opednews.com/articles/Mike-Pence-Is-Toast-Anony-by-Daily-Kos-Eric-Prince_Michael-Flynn_Pence-Mike-170529-849.html) documents Pence’s involvement in the Jared Kushner-Mike Flynn Russian business, and suggests that there is enough evidence to bring him down.  We shall see.

Despite all the hand wringing and hysteria about the upcoming “presidency” of Donald Trump, the plain truth is that the Trump campaign stated in no uncertain terms that Vice President Mike Pence will in fact be in charge of “foreign and domestic affairs.”  What will that look like? Again, plainly, Mike Pence is not only the de facto leader of the Republican party, which is no longer the party of conservatism but is now the party of nationalism; but more importantly Mike Pence is at the head of another, far more dangerous Republican group, the “Christian Supremacists;” who are committed to taking over the government of the United States of America.  Preposterous, you say? Please read further.

Mike Pence found religion at approximately the same time that he found a way to succeed in politics. When asked about his religious conversion, Pence has stated that listening to a Christian music festival in college called him to Jesus. However, Pence’s appearance on the airwaves and his appearance at Grace Evangelical Church in Indianapolis both took place in the late eighties, early nineties, perhaps coincidentally.

Pence’s start in radio came when he lost a second Congressional race in 1988 and was commiserating in his law office when he got a call from a Rushville, Indiana woman, Sharon Disinger, who made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.  Disinger wanted Pence to host a talk show on her small radio station in Rush County. Disinger told Pence that his hero, Ronald Reagan got his start in radio; and it goes without saying that Pence had other heros, notably Rush Limbaugh, whose fame on the airwaves Pence openly aspired to.

____________
Pence’s primary hero, however, was evangelist James Dobson. Dobson invited Pence on his radio show on October 5, 2016 and Pence proclaimed that being interviewed by Dobson was, “the greatest honor of my entire life.”  Dobson is virulently anti-gay as is Pence. Dobson is the founder of two anti-gay organizations, Focus On The Family and the Family Research Council and through those two groups Dobson proselytizes anti-gay hate doctrines thinly veiled with evangelical and pro-family language.  Dobson blamed the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on same-sex marriage, and has also gone on record as stating that same-sex marriage could lead the U.S. into another civil war. Dobson’s political awareness is as astute as Ben Carson’s, if even.
Mike Pence followed Sharon Disinger’s advice that keeping one’s name out in the public ear was crucial to success in politics and Pence’s ego soon became inflated with the relative success of “The Mike Pence Show,” which would eventually be syndicated to eighteen Indiana right-wing stations. Unquestionably, Rush was proud, and Pence discovered the power of mass media when he became a local celebrity and actually was able to win his bid to Congress in 2000. Pence credited it all to the Rushville station, where the restrooms were marked “Olivia” for the women and “Elton” for the men, “because they were both johns,” quipped owner Disinger; apparently the Dorothy Parker of Rush County, Indiana.
Pence continued broadcasting his unholy mixture of politics and religion, famously stating at the Republican Convention that he was, “a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third.” Pence and his allies in evangelical circles, headed by the televangelists and the right wing radio talk show hosts; which are the governing board for the garden variety “Christian” evangelicals of today, were making lots and lots of plans. And here is where it gets strange.
One recalls Adolph Hitler and the rise of German Fascism.  Hitler started out preaching his form of political gospel in the beer halls of Germany, where he frequently got a standing ovation.  He honed his message there. Word of Hitler’s speaking came to the ears of Dietrich Eckart, who was a famous German playwright and political activist, specifically the founder of the German Workers’ Party.  Eckhart was also an occultist and the occult society that he belonged to had predicted the coming of a “German Messiah” who would lead the workers forward.  Think of Eckhart as Morpheus and Hitler as Neo from “The Matrix” and you have the concept. So Eckhart, mesmerized by Hitler and wealthy and influential, convinced his equally wealthy and influential friends to embrace Hitler as “the One” and they did; and put their bank accounts behind Hitler and got him onto the radio and into the newsreels as well. Hitler and his followers took Eckhart’s Workers’ Party and morphed it into the Nazi Party.
In parallel fashion, Mike Pence and the Republicans took the party of conservatism and morphed it into the party of nationalism, i.e., white supremacy.  Groups which were previously “fringe” in the Republican Party, to wit the Nazis and the KKK, heretofore languishing and diminishing in numbers, found themselves in 2016 flourishing in a way unprecedented in this century and most of the last. There is a thread of commonality shared by the Nazis and the KKK, which is of course, white supremacy.  The white supremacy theme is amplified and echoed by the Christian Supremacists, (or “evangelicals”) who also see the “traditional” white race, people of Northern European descent and with a bible in hand, as God’s Chosen People.
Supremacists is the idea of patriarchal superiority.  The doctrine of the Christian Supremacists is the same, if not more pronounced, than the Nazis or the KKK where the “natural” role of the sexes is concerned. And the views on so-called deviant sexual behavior are identical in all three groups.  The LGBTQ people are bad. Period. And heterosexual women choosing abortions or even inadvertently having miscarriages are circumspect as well. Sexual behavior is the main plank in the broad platform supporting the new Republican party and particularly the Christian alt-right under the loving guidance of religious fanatic Mike Pence and his friends and mentors in the evangelical/televangelical world.  The need to control other peoples’ sexual behavior is the most emotional doctrine of the Christian Supremacists and fuels their drive for power.
The following was shared on this site December 26th by fellow kossack praesepe in a comments thread and provided the inspiration for this article. Citing from www.yuricareport.com/…
“During the 1980’s I began taping and transcribing Pat Robertson’s 700 Club show because of the alarming anti-Christian political philosophy he was endorsing. He began a drum beat for drastic political and cultural changes to this country.

Robertson’s guests did something I’d never seen before: they reversed the scriptures and called it immoral for the citizens to help the poor through taxation, which, by the way is expressly required in the Old Testament. The accusation was and is that taxation robbed the rich to help the poor.

If you are interested in how the movement reversed Judeo-Christian standards, see Bloodguilty Churches (which is also available at Amazon.com).

Robertson slowly introduced the idea of an American empire; he attacked pluralism, and pleaded that the people of the U.S. “must speak with one voice.” (7/19/85)

The idea of taking over and controlling the United States government began with a series of guest appearances:

On April 4, 1985, Billy Graham appeared on the show, and in a startling announcement said, “I’m for evangelicals “… getting control of the Congress, getting control of the bureaucracy, getting control of the executive branch of government. If we leave it to the other side we’re going to be lost.”

On September 25, 1985, Tim LaHaye, appeared in a film clip with Phyllis Schlafly on the show. In that clip, he laid out the plan to take over the government of the United States. He said:

“Suppose that every Bible believing church—all 110,000—decided to…raise up one person to run for public office and win… If every church in the next ten years did that, we would have more Christians in office than there are positions…there are only 97,000 elective offices.”

Though the idea of right-wing religious conservatives controlling the U.S. government appeared to be a pipedream to most observers I talked with, for the churchgoers who were listening—and by 1985 Robertson’s 700 Club topped the Nielsen ratings with a projected monthly viewing audience of 28.7 million viewers—to those viewers—the idea of gaining and holding the power in this country was a tantalizing and intriguing concept—they began to accept the idea of dominating America step by step, day by day.”

Amongst themselves the evangelicals began to formulate plans to take over the government of the United States, no matter that the constitution clearly prescribes the separation of church and state.  Flying in the face of both constitutional prescription and more importantly the tax exempt status enjoyed by churches, the evangelicals took their fat coffers and converted them into a  “war chest” for all intents and purposes, so that the economic takeover of the Republican party by the evangelical sect of the right wing could be firmly set in place. Mike Pence found a major source of funding in a man named Erik Prince; and even found possible military support for his evangelical quest (should same ever be needed) in a purported “private security” outfit which was called “Blackwater,” which was founded by devout evangelical-family member and former Navy SEAL, Erik Prince.  In point of fact, Blackwater operated as more of a mercenary militia group than as a security agency, as that term is generally understood.  The Washington Post said this on January 1, 2015:

In October, a federal jury in Washington convicted four former Blackwater guards in the 2007 fatal shooting of 14 unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad. But much less well known is the marathon lawsuit in Northern Virginia between the Blackwater founder and Robert Young Pelton, a freelance journalist and owner of a survival-gear business.

[…]

For more than a year, Prince, 45, and Pelton, 59, have been locked in legal warfare over Prince’s 2013 book, “Civilian Warriors,” published by Portfolio Penguin. The memoir, which mostly justifies Blackwater’s behavior in the war zone, sold nearly 46,000 copies in hardcover, according to Nielsen Bookscan. Late last year, the filmmaker behind “The Hurt Locker” reportedly acquired the book’s rights for a Prince biopic.

When they met, Pelton was the solicitous journalist, and Prince was his profile subject. Pelton landed one of the first extensive interviews with Prince for his 2006 book “License to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror.”He portrayed Prince as an energetic entrepreneur determined to “deliver a lighter, faster, smarter army.”

In the summer of 2010, Pelton scored another interview with Prince for Men’s Journal magazine, in which he described Prince as “an ex-CIA assassination point man” who must be asked the same question multiple times before coughing up an answer, “like starting a car with a dead battery.”

Mike Pence and Erik Prince became dear friends, and Prince became Pence’s benefactor.  Remember the Morpheus and Neo analogy from Nazi Germany?  History repeated itself with Prince Morpheus choosing Mike Pence as Neo.  Together they decided that moving Mike Pence as far upwards in the Republican Party as possible was the first step to taking the control that Pat Robertson and Billy Graham spoke of for the Christian Supremacists.
From  Jeremy Scahill’s article in The Intercept, November 15, 2016:

…his close relationship to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater. In December 2007, three months after Blackwater operatives gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square; Pence and his Republican Study Committee, which served “the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the House of Representatives,” organized a gathering to welcome Prince to Washington. But their relationship is not just forged in wars. Prince and his mother, Elsa, have been among the top funders of scores of anti-gay-marriage ballot initiatives across the country and have played a key role in financing efforts to criminalize abortion.

Prince has long given money to Pence’s political campaigns, and toward the end of the presidential election, he contributed $100,000 to the pro-Trump/Pence Super PAC Make America Number 1. Prince’s mother kicked in another $50,000. […] Erik Prince…portrays himself as a mix between Indiana Jones, Rambo, Captain America, and Pope Benedict…

Bear in mind that the $150,000 from mother and son to Mike Pence was a routine gesture; not a one-time contribution.  Also bear in mind the number of anti-gay bills and anti-gay legislators and do the arithmetic on what kind of money it takes to be “among the top funders for scores” of those fund raising drives and campaigns across the country.  A bit more background on Prince and his family, also from The Intercept article:

The Prince family’s support for Pence, and the Christian supremacist movement he represents, has deep roots.  Erik Prince’s father, Edgar, built up a very successful manufacturing business in Holland, Michigan, and became one of the premier bankrollers of what came to be known as the radical religious right. They gave Gary Bauer the seed money to start the Family Research Council and poured money into James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. “Ed Prince was not an empire builder. He was a Kingdom builder,” Bauer recalled soon after the elder Prince’s death. “For him, personal success took a back seat to spreading the Gospel and fighting for the moral restoration of our society.” Erik Prince’s sisterBetsy married Dick DeVos, whose father, Richard, founded the multilevel marketing firm Amway and went on to own the Orlando Magic basketball team. The two families merged together like the monarchies of old Europe and swiftly emerged as platinum-level contributors to far-right Christian causes and political figures.

The Prince and DeVos families gave the seed money for what came to be known as the Republican Revolution when Newt Gingrich became House speaker in 1994 on a far-right platform known as the Contract with America. The Prince and DeVos clans also invested heavily in a scheme developed by Dobson to engage in back-door lobbying activities by forming “prayer warrior” networks of people who would call politicians to advocate for Dobson’s religious and political agenda.Instead of lobbying, which the organization would have been prohibited from doing because of its tax and legal status, they would claim they were “praying” for particular policies.

The Princes consistently poured money into criminalizing abortion, privatizing education, blocking gay rights, and other right-wing causes centered around their interpretation of Christianity. The family, especially Erik, was very close to Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man,” Watergate conspirator Charles “Chuck” Colson. The author of Nixon’s enemies list, Colson was the first person sentenced in the Watergate scandal, after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in the investigation of the dirty tricks campaign against Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Colson became a born-again Christian before going to prison, and after his release, he started the Prison Fellowship, which sought to convert prisoners to Christianity to counter what Colson saw as the Islamic menace in U.S. prisons. Erik Prince funded this as well and went on prison visits with Colson.

Mike Pence sees himself as a crusader and he has sold this image to the evangelical alt-right — “alt-right” merely being a whitewashed term for Nazi, nationalist, white supremacist views. The noxious brew of religion and politics which Mike Pence embraces is in fact the blend of one part white supremacy and two parts religious fanaticism.  Both the nationalists and the evangelicals see Mike Pence as, literally, their great white hope. And only Erik Prince could tell you the full nature and extent of how he views Mike Pence or the role that Pence and Prince should play together in furthering the Christian Supremacist agenda and fighting for the “moral restoration of society,” as Prince’s father fought for, before him.
________

Mike Pence’s political action committee is called “Principles Exalt A Nation.”  It has been opined that this would be Pence’s slogan in his own run for the presidency.  And the principles which exalt the nation of Mike Pence and his followers’ dreams are not the principles of inclusivity, diversity and tolerance, not by a long shot.  Mike Pence and his radical religious right wingers seek the establishment of a Christian theocracy in the United States.  They are thrilled at having the White House, House and Senate under Republican control and seek only to impose their fanaticism on the Supreme Court, hopefully swerving it to the far right for decades to come.

Jeff Sharlet, the author of “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, said:  “The enemy to them, is secularism. They want a God-led government. That’s the only legitimate government. So when they speak of business, they’re speaking not of something separate from God, but they’re speaking of what, in Mike Pence’s circles, would be called biblical capitalism, the idea that this economic system is God-ordained.” In Mike Pence’s God-ordained economic system the serfs will labor and tithe for the good of the theocrats on top, because that is how a theocracy works.  And the warrior class will stand ready to destroy the infidels because that, too, is a fundamental part of a theocracy. The White House is going to need a mass exorcism when this group is finished.  May God truly help us all in the days to come.

Trump Unveils ‘Vicious’ Women’s Health Restrictions During ‘Women’s Health Week’ May 21, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Revolution, Right Wing, Trump, Uncategorized, Women.
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Roger’s note:

It is going to be a very very very bad 4 or 8 years.  Very bad.  Whether Trump hangs in or is replaced by Pence, the policies of this Republican Panzer Brigade are going to create death and suffering, not only in the United States, but around the globe.  The most immediate pain is being felt by Latin American refugees (many of whom have been in the States for decades), who are being rounded up and deported back to bloody homelands.  Health care for women, the elderly and others most vulnerable is in grave danger.  Environmental protections and public education are going down the drain.   The Southern bigot Attorney General is giving the prison industrial complex a shot in the arm and revving up the so-called War on Drugs, which is actually a war on the poor, Blacks and other minorities.  Workers will earn less as the rich pay fewer taxes and enjoy the fruits of deregulation.  I could go on.

All this while the political classes and the mainstream media obsess on Trumps ties to Russia.

As we will see from the article below. the mean-spirited neo-Fascist Republican Party, in control of all three branches of government, is not satisfied with attacking women’s access to safe abortions in the United States, is casting its deathly net in the four corners of the world.

TrumpGlobalGag-NoAbortionBan-©-Lauryn-Gutierrez-2017.3.8_3539-740x525“President Trump’s expansion of the Global Gag Rule is a major assault on those who serve the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women,” CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement.
Lauryn Gutierrez / Rewire

“This policy does not protect life. It jeopardizes the lives of countless women by withholding critical information and access to the full range of reproductive health care,” said Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

May 18, 2017,  Christine Grimaldi, http://www.rewire.news

The newly released details of President Trump’s expanded “global gag rule” have lived up to advocates’ dire expectations.

Sec. Rex Tillerson’s U.S. Department of State on Monday approved the “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” plan, which prohibits all global health assistance, not just family planning funding, from organizations that provide abortion care abroad with their own funds. Under the new framework, the State Department, USAID, and the U.S. Department of Defense are subject to the restrictions with narrow exceptions for their humanitarian assistance efforts.

The guidelines effectively hamstring $8.8 billion—“nearly 15 times as large as the George W. Bush-era Global Gag Rule,” according to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

“President Trump’s expansion of the Global Gag Rule is a major assault on those who serve the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women,” CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement.

“This policy does not protect life. It jeopardizes the lives of countless women by withholding critical information and access to the full range of reproductive health care.”

Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), warned in January that a Trump gag rule has no place in 2017.

“Our worst fears came to light on Monday,” Sippel said in a phone interview.

“This is not based in evidence, it’s not based in global health.”

Historically, the global gag rule is associated with an increase in abortions. Stanford University researchers in 2011 found that abortion rates spiked in 20 sub-Saharan African countries under the George W. Bush version.

Trump initially signed the executive order reinstating and expanding the global gag rule in a photo op that featured only white men. That the administration gave an exclusive on the guidelines to a conservative Christian news site during Women’s Health Week only widened the gulf between words and actions in an administration that pays lip service to so-called women’s rights while actively undermining them.

The timing did not go unnoticed on Capitol Hill.

“The Trump Administration’s new, expanded global gag rule will undermine global health efforts and the reproductive freedom and economic security of women worldwide—and it makes President Trump’s blatantly false statement about concern for women’s health, issued just one day ago, all the more insulting and ridiculous,” Sen. Patty Murray (WA), the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said in a statement.

The lead sponsors of the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives called on Congress to pass the permanent repeal of the “vicious, anti-woman policy.”

“President Trump has shown he cannot be trusted to lead in the global fight for women’s human rights and dignity,” Reps. Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, and Louise Slaughter—Democrats from New York—said in a statement with California Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee.

The full breadth of the consequences is still emerging.

Outlets have reported that the new rule could jeopardize funding for groups working to combat the Zika virus. Trump didn’t even spare George W. Bush’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Bush’s global gag rule had exempted PEPFAR, Slate’s Michelle Goldberg reported, “because it was widely understood that the program couldn’t meet its prevention and treatment targets otherwise … although applying the global gag rule to PEPFAR’s programs ill affects millions of men as well.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, slammed “another reckless move by the Trump Administration designed to cynically please his extremist base without regard for consequences.”

“This egregious expansion puts millions more lives at risk, including those living with HIV and AIDS,” HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof said in a statement. “Withholding U.S. aid as a tool to limit anyone’s access to health is simply un-American and stands in direct opposition to our country’s role as a global leader for democracy and human rights.”

Sippel urged people to contact their lawmakers in support of the HER Act or comparable measures.

“We have data and evidence today that we did not have in 2001, the last time this came into place,” Sippel said. “I think we can get members of Congress to move on this if they’re presented with the evidence.”

After Latest Bombshells, Only Michel Temer’s Removal and New Elections Can Save Brazil’s Democracy May 19, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Brazil, Capitalism, Democracy, Latin America, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: I consider that to refer to any country as a “democracy” is grossly misleading.  In our world there are capitalist democracies and state-capitalist democracies; and these show greatly varying degrees of actual democratic characteristics, where democracy is defined as the actual implementation of the will of the population.  No country is a pure democracy (that would require economic democracy), and no country comes even close.  Some countries, including the Middle Easts theocracies, China, Russia, the United States (!!!) and, cf the article below, Brazil, are fast devolving into near dictatorships, where the level of democracy approaches zero.

The deposing of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil can be characterized as a “soft” coup.  A Latin American country that was advancing towards more democracy, Honduras, was stopped in its tracks by a military coup in 2009.  The elected president, Manuel Zelaya, was arrested and exiled (later to be permitted to return), and a military dictatorship followed, which in turn was followed by a sham election which put into place today’s “democracy,” one of the most violent and corrupt in the world.

So, notwithstanding the title of this article, “democracies” do not get “saved.”  That would suggest that in our capitalist world there could exist a country that came close to expressing popular will.  They go up and down, and until genuine revolutionary change from below, victories will always be enormously incomplete (and that, my friends, includes the future disposal of the current neo-Fascist idiot-president in the United States of America).

So what occurred in Brazil was less than a blow to democracy but rather a right-wing corporatist coup aimed at enriching Brazil’s one percent at the expense of the further impoverishment of its 99%.  

AP_16311829408-1495120647-article-headerMichel Temer greets Sen. Aécio Neves following Temer’s swearing-in ceremony as president of Brazil in Brasilia on Aug. 31, 2016.

WHEN MICHEL TEMER was permanently installed as president less than one year ago after the impeachment of elected President Dilma Rousseff, the primary justification offered by Brazilian media figures was that he would bring stability and unity to a country beset by political and economic crisis. From the start, the opposite has been true: Temer and his closest allies were a vessel for far more corruption, controversy, instability, and shame than anything that preceded them. His approval ratings have literally collapsed to single digits.

But yesterday’s emergence of proof showing just how dirty and corrupt Temer is makes the situation utterly unsustainable. Leaks from the ongoing corruption investigation reveal that Temer was caught on tape in March endorsing an executive’s ongoing payment of bribes to maintain the silence of Eduardo Cunha, the formerly omnipotent, now-imprisoned house speaker who presided over Dilma’s impeachment and belongs to Temer’s party. Temer had already faced allegations of deep involvement in bribes and illegal contributions, but that could be overlooked because — unlike now — no smoking gun existed.

guardiantemer1-1495119822-1000x516

Meanwhile, Dilma’s 2014 opponent in the presidential campaign — conservative Senator Aécio Neves (shown above with Temer at the latter’s inauguration), whose party led Dilma’s impeachment and now dominates Temer’s government — was caught on tape requesting 2 million reals from a businessman. He was removed this morning from his seat by a Supreme Court ruling, had his office raided, and now faces immediate imprisonment. Aécio’s sister was imprisoned this morning as part of the corruption investigation.

In sum, the two key figures driving Dilma’s impeachment were just revealed to be hardened criminals, with documentary evidence — audio recordings, videos, and online chats — which all Brazilians will soon see, hear, and read. The exact type of smoking gun evidence that Brazil’s notoriously biased corporate media searched for with futility for years against Dilma was just discovered against the two key figures that drove her impeachment, one of whom they installed as president.

To say that this situation — Temer’s ongoing presidency — is unsustainable is an understatement. How can a major country possibly be governed by someone who everyone knows just months ago encouraged the payment of bribes to keep key witnesses silenced in a corruption investigation? The sole rationale for Temer’s presidency — that he would bring stability and signal to markets that Brazil was again open for business — has just collapsed in a heap of humiliation and destruction.

 

At this point, Temer’s removal — one way or the other — seems inevitable. Although he is momentarily refusing to resign, his key allies are starting to abandon him. The media stars who installed him are now trashing him. There is open discussion everywhere about the mechanisms that will be used to remove and replace him.

Even for the sleazy power brokers of Brasília, getting caught on tape directly participating in blatant criminality is disqualifying: not to stay in the House or Senate, but to serve as the symbolic face of the country to the world and, more importantly, to capital markets. What’s new is not that Temer is corrupt: Everyone knew that, including those who installed him. What’s new is that the evidence is now too embarrassing — too sabotaging of their project — to allow him to stay.

THIS ALWAYS WAS the towering irony at the heart of Dilma’s impeachment. As those of us who argued against impeachment repeatedly pointed out, removing the democratically elected president in the name of battling criminality was such a farce precisely because her removal would elevate and empower the most corrupt factions, the darkest criminals and bandits, and enable them to rule the country without having won an election.

Indeed, the empowerment of the country’s most corrupt factions was a key goal of Dilma’s impeachment. As shown by yet another secret recording — one revealed last year that captured the plotting of Temer’s key ally, Romero Jucá — the real goal of impeachment (aside from austerity and privatization) was to enable those politicians most endangered by criminal proceedings to use their new, unearned political power to kill the ongoing investigation (“stop the bleeding”) and thus protect themselves from accountability and punishment. The empowerment of the nation’s most corrupt politicians was a key feature, not a bug, of Dilma’s impeachment.

The key question now — as it was then — is what comes next? Those of us who argued against impeachment repeatedly urged that if Dilma were really going to be impeached, only new elections — whereby the citizenry, rather than the band of criminals in the halls of power, chose their new president — could protect Brazilian democracy. The absolute worst option was to allow the corrupt line of succession in Brasília to elevate itself and then choose its own successors. That would ensure that political criminality became further entrenched. As David Miranda and I wrote in a Folha op-ed in April of last year:

If, despite all this, the country is truly determined to remove Dilma, the worst alternative is to permit the corrupt line of succession to ascend to power.

The principles of democracy demand that Dilma Rousseff complete her term in office. If that is not an option, and if she is going to be impeached, the best alternative is new elections. That way, the population would assume its proper place as provided by the Constitution: All power emanates from the people.

Yet that’s exactly what took place. What Brazilian elites fear and hate most is democracy. The last thing they wanted was to allow Brazil’s population to once again choose its own leaders. So they foisted on them a corrupt, hated mediocrity — who could never have been elected on his own, who indeed is now banned from running for any office due to election law violations — and he was tasked with imposing an agenda the country hated.

Brazil’s elite media and political class are now openly plotting the same scam. Many are suggesting that Temer’s replacement should be chosen not by the Brazilian people but by its Congress: one-third of whom are the targets of formal criminal investigations, most of whose major parties are rife with corruption. As we saw with Temer’s installation, allowing corrupt institutions to choose a country’s leaders is the antithesis of democracy and anti-corruption crusades. It ensures that criminality and corruption reign. The only debate should be whether direct elections should include not only Temer’s successor but also a new Congress.

Brazil’s democracy, along with its political stability, has already been crippled by the traumatic removal of the person who was actually elected to lead the country. That her successor has been exposed as a criminal exacerbates the tragedy. But it is not an overstatement to say that allowing the same corrupt factions to choose one of their own to replace Temer — once again denying the right of the people to pick their president and instead imposing on them a leader who emerges from the sleaziest precincts of Brasília’s sewer — would be its death blow.

Glenn Greenwald is one of three co-founding editors of The Intercept. He is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place to Hide, is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. Prior to co-founding The Intercept, Glenn’s column was featured at The Guardian and Salon. He was the debut winner, along with Amy Goodman, of the Park Center I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2008, and also received the 2010 Online Journalism Award for his investigative work on the abusive detention conditions of Chelsea Manning. For his 2013 NSA reporting, he received the George Polk award for National Security Reporting; the Gannett Foundation award for investigative journalism and the Gannett Foundation watchdog journalism award; the Esso Premio for Excellence in Investigative Reporting in Brazil (he was the first non-Brazilian to win), and the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award. Along with Laura Poitras, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013. The NSA reporting he led for The Guardian was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for public service.

Glenn Greenwald

Trump’s Support and Praise of Despots Is Central to the U.S. Tradition, Not a Deviation From It May 4, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Argentina, Barack Obama, Capitalism, Chile, Foreign Policy, Hillary Clinton, Honduras, Human Rights, Imperialism, Iran, Latin America, Nicaragua, Racism, Saudi Arabia, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: United States foreign policy has never been interested in freedom, democracy or human rights.  Never. Going back, if you will, to Christopher Columbus.  The phrase “American interests” is often used to characterize U.S. foreign policy, and it seems more than obvious that that is what foreign policy should advance.  Now, of course, such things as freedom, democracy and human rights could be considered in America’s interest.  That would be nice, wouldn’t it.  

American interests in reality is a code word for advancing the interests of the military industrial complex.  It has little to do with the interests of American people, above all, American workers; unless you still believe in the trickle down theory.  It has everything to do with: oil and minerals, all other resources and products, and, of course, cheap labor.

So when a new president takes office, his advisers will, if need be, brief/him on what those interests are.  US friendly nations, unfriendly nations, inbetweeners.  So it is not in any way surprising that Trump would be eulogizing American friendly tyrants like Egypt’s Sisi, the Philippines’ Duterte, or Turkey’s Erdogan.  What would really be surprising and bring on fits of cognitive dissonance if Trump were cozying up say to Venezuela’s Maduro or Iran’s Khamanei.

But perhaps where Trump is crossing a line is in his friendly overtures towards France’s our and out neo-Nazi presidential candidate, Marine LePen (shades of his refusal to repudiate support domestically from the KKK).  I didn’t like the term that Baby Bush used: Axis of Evil.  But Trump, LePen and ???  It fits.  And it’s scary.

Read on below, another chapter in Your Tax Dollars at Work (to support violence, repression and human rights violations).

 

May 2 2017, 12:13 p.m.

SINCE AT LEAST the end of World War II, supporting the world’s worst despots has been a central plank of U.S. foreign policy, arguably its defining attribute. The list of U.S.-supported tyrants is too long to count, but the strategic rationale has been consistent: In a world where anti-American sentiment is prevalent, democracy often produces leaders who impede rather than serve U.S. interests.

Imposing or propping up dictators subservient to the U.S. has long been, and continues to be, the preferred means for U.S. policymakers to ensure that those inconvenient popular beliefs are suppressed. None of this is remotely controversial or even debatable. U.S. support for tyrants has largely been conducted out in the open, and has been expressly defended and affirmed for decades by the most mainstream and influential U.S. policy experts and media outlets.

The foreign policy guru most beloved and respected in Washington, Henry Kissinger, built his career on embracing and propping up the most savage tyrants because of their obeisance to U.S. objectives. Among the statesman’s highlights, as Greg Grandin documented, he “pumped up Pakistan’s ISI, and encouraged it to use political Islam to destabilize Afghanistan”; “began the U.S.’s arms-for-petrodollars dependency with Saudi Arabia and pre-revolutionary Iran”; and “supported coups and death squads throughout Latin America.” Kissinger congratulated Argentina’s military junta for its mass killings and aggressively enabled the genocide carried out by one of the 20th century’s worst monsters, the Indonesian dictator and close U.S. ally Suharto.

Jeane Kirkpatrick, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President Reagan, was regarded as a top-flight conservative intellectual because of her explicit defense of pro-Western, right-wing dictators, heaping praise on U.S.-supported savage oppressors such as the Shah of Iran and Nicaragua’s military dictator Anastasio Somoza on the ground that “they were positively friendly to the U.S., sending their sons and others to be educated in our universities, voting with us in the United Nations, and regularly supporting American interests and positions even when these entailed personal and political cost.” Unsurprisingly, U.S. foreign policy in the Reagan years, like the decades that preceded and followed them, was defined by economic, military, and diplomatic support for pro-U.S. dictators, death squads, and even terrorists.

Leading U.S. media outlets have long openly celebrated this pro-dictator stance. Upon the 2006 death of Augusto Pinochet — the military dictator imposed on Chile by the U.S. after it overthrew that country’s democratically elected left-wing president — the Washington Post editorial page heaped praise on both Kirkpatrick and Pinochet. While conceding that the Chilean tyrant was “brutal: more than 3,000 people were killed by his government and tens of thousands tortured,” the Post hailed “the free-market policies that produced the Chilean economic miracle,” concluding that like Pinochet, “Kirkpatrick, too, was vilified by the left. Yet by now it should be obvious: She was right.”When a right-wing coup in 2002 temporarily succeeded in removing Venezuela’s elected left-wing President Hugo Chávez, the New York Times editorial page cast it as a victory for democracy: “With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader.”

[As I documented several years ago: In the same editorial, the Times announced that Chávez’s “removal was a purely Venezuelan affair,” even though it was quickly and predictably thereafter revealed that neocon officials in the Bush administration played a vital role. Eleven years later, upon Chávez’s death, the Times editors admitted that “the Bush administration badly damaged Washington’s reputation throughout Latin America when it unwisely blessed a failed 2002 military coup attempt against Mr. Chávez,” though the paper failed to note that it had not only denied that this happened but had itself celebrated that coup.]

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In 1977, Jimmy Carter attended a state dinner in Tehran for the Shah of Iran, the savage U.S.-supported despot who ruled that country for decades after the CIA overthrew its democratically elected leader. It took place shortly after Carter hosted the Shah at the White House. The U.S. president hailed the Iranian tyrant with a long toast, which began this way:

Your Majesties and distinguished leaders of Iran from all walks of life:

I would like to say just a few words tonight in appreciation for your hospitality and the delightful evening that we’ve already experienced with you. Some have asked why we came to Iran so close behind the delightful visit that we received from the Shah and Empress Farah just a month or so ago. After they left our country, I asked my wife, “With whom would you like to spend New Year’s Eve?” And she said, “Above all others, I think, with the Shah and Empress Farah.” So we arranged the trip accordingly and came to be with you.

As Carter spoke, his praise for the homicidal Iranian despot became more flowery and obsequious: “Iran, because of the great leadership of the Shah, is an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world. This is a great tribute to you, Your Majesty, and to your leadership and to the respect and the admiration and love which your people give to you.” Two years later, those same people whom Carter claimed revered the Shah overthrew him and, to this day, loathe the U.S. because of the decades of support and praise it heaped on their dictator.

U.S. devotion to the world’s worst dictators did not end, or even recede, upon the end of the Cold War. Both the Bush and Obama administrations continually armed, funded, supported, and praised the world’s worst dictators.

In 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually said of the murderous Egyptian dictator supported by the U.S.: “I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family.” When Egypt’s defense minister, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, overthrew that country’s first elected government, Clinton’s successor, John Kerry, hailed him for “restoring democracy,” and as Sisi became more brutal and repressive, the Obama administration lavished him with more weapons and money. The U.S. government did the same for the human-rights abusing dictators in Bahrain.

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The U.S. gave at least tacit approval, if not outright encouragement, to the 2009 military coup against Honduras’s elected left-wing government. The Clinton-led State Department then repeatedly denied abundant evidence that the coup government it was supporting was engaging in an assassination program of critics and anti-government activists. Last year, the Washington Post’s Karen Attiah examined “how [the Clinton] State Department’s role in undemocratic regime changes has contributed to violence and political instability in Honduras and Haiti today,” particularly documenting the various steps Secretary Clinton took to protect the military leaders who engineered the Honduran coup.

And then there is Saudi Arabia, long one of the most repressive regimes on the planet and one of the U.S.’s most cherished allies. U.S. devotion to the Saudi tyrants by itself negates virtually every plank of U.S. propaganda about spreading freedom and democracy, given that one administration after the next has worked tirelessly to maintain and strengthen that regime.

Obama, like Bush before him, repeatedly hosted Saudi despots at the White House. When the monstrous Saudi King died in 2015, Obama terminated his state visit to India in order to fly to Riyadh to pay homage to the close U.S. partner, where he was joined by a bipartisan cast of U.S. political stars. As The Guardian put it: “Obama has been forced to defend his unwillingness to challenge Saudi Arabia’s autocratic rulers as he led a U.S. delegation to shore up relations with its new king, just hours after lecturing India on religious tolerance and women’s rights.”

Upon the Saudi King’s death, Obama said of a despot who killed and imprisoned dissidents: “At home, King Abdullah’s vision was dedicated to the education of his people and to greater engagement with the world.” Obama’s gestures of admiration were mild when compared to those of the U.K. government, which ordered all flags be flown at half-mast to honor the deceased monarch, but Obama was not remotely shy about publicly lavishing the Saudi regime with praise.

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In sum, the post-World War II foreign policy of the U.S. — independent of its massive human rights violations committed over and over around the world — has been predicated on overthrowing democratically elected governments and, even more so, supporting, aligning with, and propping up brutal dictators. This policy has been applied all over the world, on multiple continents and by every administration. It is impossible to understand even the most basic aspects of the U.S. role in the world without knowing that.

ALL OF THIS history is now being erased and whitewashed, replaced with jingoistic fairy tales by the U.S. media and leading political officials. Despite these decades of flagrant pro-dictatorship policies, the U.S. media and leading political officials have spent months manufacturing and disseminating a propagandistic fairy tale that casts Donald Trump’s embrace of dictators as some sort of new, aberrational departure from the noble American tradition.

They have repeatedly claimed that the pre-Trump U.S. was devoted to supporting and spreading democracy around the world, while condemning and opposing tyranny. This is rank revisionism of the worst kind: jingoistic propaganda that should shame anyone endorsing it.

Like U.S. support for dictators, these recent bouts of propaganda are too numerous to comprehensively chronicle. Some of the more influential instances will have to suffice.

In February, the New York Times editorial page — writing under the phrase used by Jeane Kirkpatrick to demonize 1984 Democrats as unpatriotic: “Blame America First” — attacked Trump with this propagandistic garbage: “Since taking office, Mr. Trump has shown little support for America’s traditional roles as a champion of universal values like freedom of the press and tolerance.” Imagine what a shock it would be to the people of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Chile, Bahrain, Iran, Argentina, Brazil, and the countless other countries that lived under a U.S.-supported dictator to hear about “America’s traditional roles as a champion of universal values like freedom of the press and tolerance.”

Perhaps the worst example yet came yesterday in a Washington Post article by its White House bureau chief Philip Rucker, who made this claim: “Every American president since at least the 1970s has used his office to champion human rights and democratic values around the world.” He added: “In an undeniable shift in American foreign policy, Trump is cultivating authoritarian leaders.”

Cultivating authoritarian leaders is everything except a “shift in American foreign policy.” Nonetheless, this propagandistic lie has now become commonplace among über-patriotic journalists eager to tell the world that the U.S. before Trump had been devoted to liberating the oppressed peoples of the world from tyranny. Here’s the New York Times political reporter Maggie Haberman — in a widely shared tweet — endorsing these jingoistic falsehoods from Rucker:

Trump, fundamentally uninterested in spreading small-d democracy in dramatic break w predecessors. @PhilipRuckerhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-keeps-praising-international-strongmen-alarming-human-rights-advocates/2017/05/01/6848d018-2e81-11e7-9dec-764dc781686f_story.html?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.aec73ffae856 

Photo published for Trump keeps praising international strongmen, alarming human rights advocates

Trump keeps praising international strongmen, alarming human rights advocates

Trump’s affection for autocrats beyond Putin marks a major shift in U.S. foreign policy.

washingtonpost.com

How can someone possibly be a journalist and believe that Trump’s being “uninterested in spreading small-d democracy” is a “dramatic break” from his predecessors? Yet this is now standard fare for the U.S. media, as evidenced by this segment from CNN this morning pronouncing Trump’s praise of rogue leaders to be “a sharp U.S. policy shift.”

CNN took a policy that has been standard U.S. posture for decades and told its viewers that it represented “a sharp U.S. policy shift.”

One would be remiss to omit this blatantly false propaganda from one of the Democrats’ most beloved members of Congress, Rep. Adam Schiff, who — in a predictably viral tweet — yesterday chided Trump for inviting to the White House the mass-murdering ruler of the Philippines and thus defacing noble U.S. traditions:

There was a time when the U.S. condemned extrajudicial killings, not rewarded them with WH visit. That time was 103 days ago. https://twitter.com/politico/status/858673343670751232 

Aside from the fact that the U.S. has spent decades supporting tyrants and despots whose calling card is “extrajudicial killings” — including many who were feted at the White House — the central war on terror approach of the Obama presidency was exactly that. For years, Obama bombed multiple Muslim countries in order to kill people — including his own citizens — who his administration suspected, but never proved, had connections to terrorism. In other words, he killed thousands of people extrajudicially. It takes a special kind of propagandist to claim that this is a new Trumpian innovation.

WHAT’S REALLY GOING on here is self-evident. Nobody remotely rational, nobody with even a fleeting understanding of U.S. history, believes that the U.S. only began supporting and heaping praise on dictators upon Trump’s inauguration. Responding to criticisms, the Post yesterday edited Rucker’s patriotic tribute to the U.S. by adding the italicized words: “Every American president since at least the 1970s has used his office at least occasionally to champion human rights and democratic values around the world.”

But that claim is still false. Can anyone possibly believe that — even when U.S. leaders paid lip service to human rights improvements — there was anything remotely genuine about it? Condemning human rights abuses is an instrument that the U.S. cynically uses to punish adversaries. And officials admit this when being candid, as this extraordinary passage from a 2013 Washington Post article revealed:

Human-rights groups have also accused the U.S. government of holding its tongue about political repression in Ethiopia, another key security partner in East Africa.

“The countries that cooperate with us get at least a free pass,” acknowledged a senior U.S. official who specializes in Africa but spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “Whereas other countries that don’t cooperate, we ream them as best we can.”

The Post article went on to note that the Bush administration “took the same approach,” and that while “many U.S. diplomats and human-rights groups had hoped Obama would shift his emphasis in Africa from security to democracy … that has not happened.” In fact, “‘There’s pretty much been no change at all,’ the official said. ‘In the end, it was an almost seamless transition from Bush to Obama.’”

That’s how the U.S. uses human rights advocacy: as a weapon to “ream” uncooperative countries to punish them for their disobedience. For regimes that “cooperate” with U.S. dictates, they get “at least a free pass” to abuse human rights as extensively as they want, if not outright support and funding for doing so.

What’s really infuriating those attacking Trump for doing what the U.S. government has been doing for decades — supporting and praising heinous tyrants — is that he’s denying them the ability to maintain the myths they desperately tell themselves about their own country. Being able to claim that the U.S. is devoted to spreading freedom and democracy in the world is central to their internal monologue. From the Washington Post newsroom to the corridors of the State Department, this is the fairy tale that they tell themselves every day in order to justify their position as global arbiters of the behavior of other countries.

Once that veneer is removed, once that fairy tale is dispensed with, then the harsh reality stands nakedly exposed: What they are defending is nothing more than the illegitimate and arbitrary exercise of imperial power. The loss of this fiction imperils their entire moral framework. They aren’t angry that Trump is hugging dictators, obviously. All the other presidents whom they revere did the same. It goes without saying that a political culture that admires Henry Kissinger has no objection whatsoever to embracing tyrants.

They are furious that Trump isn’t as effective or as willing to pretend that he’s not doing this. That means they can no longer pretend that the violence, the wars, the coercion, the interference, the dictator support that they routinely condone has a moral purpose to it.

The reality is that even the fiction, the pretense, of the U.S. as some sort of defender of human rights and democracy is being wildly overstated. As the above examples (and so many others) demonstrate, U.S. officials, including U.S. presidents, have openly feted and praised despots at least as monstrous as Duterte.

Just as it’s comforting to believe that Trump is the byproduct of a foreign villain rather than an American phenomenon, it’s also comforting to believe that his embrace of despots is some sort of novelty. But, especially for journalists, the fact that it feels good to believe a myth does not justify disseminating it.

Watching the U.S. media tell everyone that Trump’s predecessors were devoted to spreading democracy, and that supporting tyrants is a “dramatic break” from the U.S. tradition, is such an obvious break from reality that it is staggering to see, even for those who already view the U.S. media as principally devoted to spreading patriotic state propaganda about the U.S. government.