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Why Bernie Sanders is an Imperialist Pig June 20, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in bernie sanders, Imperialism, War.
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Roger’s note: OMG, an imperialist pig?  St. Bernie.  I post this strong-worded article, not to trash the Senator from Vermont (via the Bronx), rather to underline a central truth that our brainwashing as Americans makes it difficult to comprehend.  The United States is not the defender of freedom and democracy around the world; rather it is and imperial juggernaut whose reach extends to nearly every corner of the globe.  In his campaign rhetoric, Sanders proposed huge investments in health, social services, the environment, education and infrastructure.  With this he captured the minds and hearts of millions, many of them young.  But he avoided telling us how this was going to be financed.  None of these worthy proposals are possible without substantial reduction of the war budget, which is so huge that he human mind has difficulty in its apprehension.  In short, as a continued advocate for military spending, Sanders’ social welfare proposals fall flat on their face.  So is Bernie an “imperialist pig?”  I wouldn’t call him a pig, but the “imperialist” stands.

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by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“The United States does not have a national health care system worthy of the name, because it is in the war business, not the health business or the social equality business.”

The United States is a predator nation, conceived and settled as a thief, exterminator and enslaver of other peoples. The slave-based republic’s phenomenal geographic expansion and economic growth were predicated on the super-exploitation of stolen African labor and the ruthless expropriation of native lands through genocidal wars, an uninterrupted history of plunder glorified in earlier times as “Manifest Destiny” and now exalted as “American exceptionalism,” an inherently racist justification for international and domestic lawlessness.

Assembled, acre by bloody acre, as a metastasizing empire, the U.S. state demands fealty to its imperial project as a substitute for any genuine social contract among its inhabitants – a political culture custom-made for the rule of rich white people.

The American project has been one long war of aggression that has shaped its borders, its internal social relations, and its global outlook and ambitions. It was founded as a consciously capitalist state that competed with other European powers through direct absorption of captured lands, brutal suppression of native peoples and the fantastic accumulation of capital through a diabolically efficient system of Black chattel slavery – a 24/7 war against the slave. This system then morphed through two stages of “Jim Crow” to become a Mass Black Incarceration State – a perpetual war of political and physical containment against Black America.

“The U.S. state demands fealty to its imperial project as a substitute for any genuine social contract among its inhabitants.”

Since the end of World War Two, the U.S. has assumed the role of protector of the spoils of half a millennium of European wars and occupations of the rest of the world: the organized rape of nations that we call colonialism. The first Black U.S. president, Barack Obama, was among the most aggressive defenders of white supremacy in history — defending the accumulated advantages that colonialism provided to western European nations, settler states (like the U.S.) and citizens — having launched an ongoing military offensive aimed at strangling the Chinese giant and preventing an effective Eurasian partnership with Russia. The first phase of the offensive, the crushing of Libya in 2011, allowed the United States to complete the effective military occupation of Africa, through AFRICOM.

The U.S. and its NATO allies already account for about 70 percent of global military spending, but Obama and his successor, Donald Trump, demand that Europeans increase the proportion of their economic output that goes to war. More than half of U.S. discretionary spending — the tax money that is not dedicated to mandated social and development programs — goes to what Dr. Martin Luther King 50 years ago called the “demonic, destructive suction tube” of the U.S. war machine.

The first Black U.S. president, Barack Obama, was among the most aggressive defenders of white supremacy in history.”

The United States does not have a national health care system worthy of the name, because it is in the war business, not the health business or the social equality business. The U.S. has the weakest left, by far, of any industrialized country, because it has never escaped the racist, predatory dynamic on which it was founded, which stunted and deformed any real social contract among its peoples. In the U.S., progress is defined by global dominance of the U.S. State — chiefly in military terms — rather than domestic social development. Americans only imagine that they are materially better off than the people of other developed nations — a fallacy they assume to be the case because of U.S. global military dominance. More importantly, most white Americans feel racially entitled to the spoils of U.S. dominance as part of their patrimony, even if they don’t actually enjoy the fruits. (“WE made this country great.”) This is by no means limited to Trump voters.

Race relations in the U.S. cannot be understood outside the historical context of war, including the constant state of race war that is a central function of the U.S. State: protecting “American values,” fighting “crime” and “urban disorder,” and all the other euphemisms for preserving white supremacy.

War is not a side issue in the United States; it is the central political issue, on which all the others turn. War mania is the enemy of all social progress — especially so, when it unites disparate social forces, in opposition to their own interests, in the service of an imperialist state that is the tool of a rapacious white capitalist elite. Therefore, the orchestrated propaganda blitzkrieg against Russia by the Democratic Party, in collaboration with the corporate media and other functionaries and properties of the U.S. ruling class, marks the party as, collectively, the Warmonger-in-Chief political institution in the United States at this historical juncture. The Democrats are anathema to any politics that can be described as progressive.

“Race relations in the U.S. cannot be understood outside the historical context of war, including the constant state of race war that is a central function of the U.S. State.”

Bernie Sanders is a highly valued Democrat, the party’s Outreach Director and therefore, as Paul Street writes, “the imperialist and sheep-dogging fake-socialist Democratic Party company man that some of us on the ‘hard radical’ Left said he was.” Sanders is a warmonger, not merely by association, but by virtue of his own positions. He favors more sanctions against Russia, in addition to the sanctions levied against Moscow in 2014 and 2016 for its measured response to the U.S-backed fascist coup against a democratically elected government in Ukraine. Rather than surrender to U.S. bullying, Russia came to the military aid of the sovereign and internationally recognized government of Syria in 2015, upsetting the U.S. game plan for an Islamic jihadist victory.

Back in April of this year, on NBC’s Meet The Press, Sanders purposely mimicked The Godfather when asked what he would do to force the Russians “to the table” in Syria:

“I think you may want to make them an offer they can’t refuse. And that means tightening the screws on them, dealing with sanctions, telling them that we need their help, they have got to come to the table and not maintain this horrific dictator.”

Of course, it is the United States that has sabotaged every international agreement to rein in its jihadist mercenaries in Syria.

“We need a strong military, it is a dangerous world,” Sanders told voters in Iowa.”

Sanders is a regime-changer, which means he thinks the U.S., in combination with self-selected allies, is above international law, i.e., “exceptional.”

“We’ve got to work with countries around the world for a political solution to get rid of this guy [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] and to finally bring peace and stability to this country, which has been so decimated.”

During the 2016 campaign, Sanders urged the U.S. to stop acting unilaterally in the region, but instead to collaborate with Syria’s Arab neighbors — as if the funding and training of jihadist fighters had not been a joint effort with Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies, all along.

According to Politico, “As late as 2002,” Sanders’ campaign website declared that “the defense budget should be cut by 50 percent over the next five years.” But all the defense-cutting air went out of his chest after Bush invaded Iraq. Nowadays, Sanders limits himself to the usual noises about Pentagon “waste,” but has no principled position against the imperial mission of the United States. “We need a strong military, it is a dangerous world,” Sanders told voters in Iowa, during the campaign.

Like Paul Street said, he’s an “imperialist…Democratic Party company man.”

“A Sanders-led Party would still be an imperialist, pro-war party.”

At last weekend’s People’s Summit, in Chicago, National Nurses United executive director RoseAnn DeMoro endorsed Sanders for a mission he finds impossible to accept: a run for president in 2020 on the Peoples Party ticket. Sanders already had his chance to run as a Green, and refused. He is now the second most important Democrat in the country, behind the ultra-corrupt Bill-Hillary Clinton machine — and by far the most popular. On top of that, Sanders loves being the hero of the phony left, the guy who gimmick-seeking left-liberals hope will create an instant national party for them, making it unnecessary to build a real anti-war, pro-people party from scratch to go heads up with the two corporate machines.

Sanders doesn’t even have to exert himself to string the Peoples Party folks along; they eagerly delude themselves. However, a Sanders-led Party would still be an imperialist, pro-war party.

The U.S. does need a social democratic party, but it must be anti-war, otherwise it commits a fraud on social democracy. The United States is the imperial superpower, the main military aggressor on the planet. Its rulers must be deprived of the political ability to spend trillions on war, and to kill millions, or they will always use the “necessity” of war to enforce austerity. The “left” domestic project will fail.

For those of us from the Black Radical Tradition, anti-imperialism is central. Solidarity with the victims of U.S. imperialism is non-negotiable, and we can make no common cause with U.S. political actors that treat war as a political side show, an “elective” issue that is separate from domestic social justice. This is not just a matter of principle, but also of practical politics. “Left” imperialism isn’t just evil, it is self-defeating and stupid.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

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.

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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

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.

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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

Obama Gets Paid May 15, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama.
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Roger’s note: the multi-million dollar yacht pictured below belongs to billionaire David Geffen.  It is where the Obamas spent their post presidential vacation in the company of luminaries like Oprah Winfrey, Leonard DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.  In order to recover from this hardship, Barack and Michelle spent a month chilling out in a luxury hotel in Tahiti.  During Obama’s eight years in office, millions of Americans lost their homes and jobs and millions, and millions of immigrants were deported.  No wonder he needed a vacation after all that hard work (and that is not to mention ongoing torture at Bagram, Guantanamo, drone missile massacres, extrajudicial killings,  and illegal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen).  Phew.  It’s exhausting just to think about it.  I wonder if they can find a spot on that yacht for me.

Alas, no time for yachting.  One thing Obama just did for me that I guess I should be grateful for: made me stop thinking about Trump for a half hour.  Now back to the maniacal narcissistic neo-Fascist whose ascendency was paved by Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Carter. Reagan, Ford, Nixon … Christopher Columbus.

FR_obama_sellout screen-shot-2017-04-17-at-4-33-47-pm

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Obama opposed reparations for Black slavery, but gladly pockets payback for his work in ensuring that banks are “too big to jail.” Obama has been on the Lord’s of Capital’s payroll, coming and going, having won the presidency with the largest contributions from Wall Street in history. “The fact that his defenders so casually shrug their shoulders and defend kleptocracy ought to be debated.”

“Obama was and is the latest errand boy for big money but he was hyped as a change agent working for our benefit.”

Barack Obama will be paid $400,000 to speak to a group of finance capitalists. The only thing shocking about the announcement was the reaction from his horrified worshippers. The Obama campaign marketing team should be proud that their salesmanship is so long lived. There were millions of people under the illusion that Obama would represent their interests. He didn’t, of course, and for one very simple reason. He wasn’t hired to work for them. The ruling classes, the 1%, the lords of capital, call them what you will, make the hiring decisions and keep giving out bonuses to the men who do their dirty work.

Of course Obama is getting paid. Wall Street and the banks got their bail outs and then some. They weren’t prosecuted for their crimes which led to loss of jobs and homes. He kept giving and they kept taking and now it is payback time. Obama is just the latest president to get his unjust reward.

The speech at a Cantor Fitzgerald event typifies what former presidents do. So do former prime ministers and presidents of other countries. The capitalists move their capital around the world driving cities into bankruptcy (Detroit) or even nations (Greece) without fear of any hindrance. In return the compliant politicians are well cared for.

“He kept giving and they kept taking and now it is payback time.”

Cantor Fitzgerald describes itself as a “capital markets investment bank.” Its chairman and chief executive supported Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican campaign and John McCain in 2008. The payout to Obama proves that the big money people ultimately can live with Republicans or Democrats. Why shouldn’t they? They get what they want no matter who is in power.

Barack and Michelle Obama recently signed a $65 million book deal and some are asking why that isn’t enough. That is a good and legitimate question but as is always the case with Obama, the naysayers are shouted down as haters or racists.

White presidents get paid, the first black president should get paid, too. So goes the shallow and pathetic defense. Grow up. Be realistic. Don’t be naïve. If those words were a call for true understanding of how the world works, they might be worthwhile. Instead they are used to defend the indefensible, the fact that the people have no say in their sham political system.

“The payout to Obama proves that the big money people ultimately can live with Republicans or Democrats.”

Of course the critics who clutch their pearls need to wake up. Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was a thing of marketing beauty, that is to say it was full of lies. All talk of movement politics was a joke. Obama was and is the latest errand boy for big money but he was hyped as a change agent working for our benefit.

The paychecks from book deals and speeches aren’t the only ways that ex-presidents make a fast buck. Bill Clinton’s “foundation” was an influence peddling slush fund which made him very wealthy. Obama is more subtle and probably won’t do anything so obvious. He’ll get big money for his presidential libraries and anything else he desires. But he’ll also be very serious about helping out the lords of capital.

That is why he has returned to public life as propagandist in chief, lecturing us about the evils of fake news. He has to keep rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic that is capitalism and tell us to believe him and not our lying eyes. This pattern exists all over the world. Former UK prime minister Tony Blair has also enriched himself after leaving office. His current task is trying to undo Brexit and the inconvenience it is causing the 1%.

“Bill Clinton’s ‘foundation’ was an influence peddling slush fund which made him very wealthy.”

It is good thing that Obama was so obvious in genuflecting to the people who make everyone else’s life miserable. He may have provided an opportunity to change the level of discourse. The fact that his defenders so casually shrug their shoulders and defend kleptocracy ought to be debated. The notion that elected leaders of a supposed democracy should so openly be on the take must be strongly disputed.

The question should not be whether Obama ought to take money from his bosses. The question is why they are his bosses at all. Obama will not be the last commodified candidate used to get popular support for a rotten system. There are more Obamas in our future. They will help the rich get richer while sleight of hand gives the appearance of working for the needs of the people. Of course that wouldn’t happen if those claiming to be in a state of resistance really meant it. But bringing down the house of finance capital is not a task for the faint of heart or for those confused about how their country and the world really work.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

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.

 

Marine Le Pen Is What Happens When You Try to Meet Racism in the Middle April 25, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Europe, France, Nazi / Fascist, Racism, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: It’s curious.  The notion of “appeasement” is widely misused to justify all kinds of illegal military invasions.  Chamberlain “appeased” Hitler, so now for all time forward it is legitimate to attack anyone we don’t like.  They must not be “appeased.”  Saddam must not be appeased, Gaddafi must not be appeased, Iran must not be appeased, North Korea must not be appeased, Assad must not be appeased, etc. etc. etc.

(This doctrine, curiously, was not applied to South African Apartheid, to Chile’s Pinochet, Cuba’s Batista, Haiti’s Duvalier and a host of other tyrannical rulers.  Nor is it applied today to Egypt’s Sisi or Turkey’s Erdogan or the Saudis, etc. etc. etc.  Not to mention Israel’s Netanyahu.  Curious.)

But where do we appease when we shouldn’t?  We do we lack the courage or the moral fibre to confront such cancerous social phenomenon as racism?  Read on.

marine-le-pen-france-election-1493045458-article-header Photo: Aurore Marechal/Sipa/AP

SHAME ON THEM all. French leaders from across the political spectrum could not prevent a far-right candidate who has denied the role played by her country’s wartime Vichy government in the Nazi Holocaust from reaching the second and final round of the presidential election.

On Sunday, Marine Le Pen became only the second National Front candidate in French history to make it through to the second round — the first was her Holocaust-denying father, FN founder Jean Marie Le Pen, in 2002 — where she will face independent centrist Emmanuel Macron on May 7. Never before in the history of the French Fifth Republic have both the Socialist and the Republican candidates failed to reach the presidential run-off. This is nothing less than a political cataclysm.

So who is to blame for the rise and rise of Le Pen and the FN? The conventional wisdom says that mainstream French politicians allowed the far right to win votes by letting them monopolize the issue of immigration. The reverse is, in fact, the case: Over the past four decades, both the center-right Republicans and center-left Socialists went out of their way to try and co-opt the xenophobic rhetoric and policies of the Le Pens, which only emboldened — and normalized — both father and daughter.

Go back to September 1984, when the Socialist prime minister, Laurent Fabius, told a TV interviewer that the elder Le Pen, a card-carrying racist and neo-fascist, was posing the right questions but giving the wrong answers. A few years later, the Socialist president, Francois Mitterrand, declared that France had reached a “threshold of tolerance” in terms of the impact of immigrants.

In 1991, after clashes broke out between French police and youths of Arab and North African descent, politicians from the left, right, and center fell over one another to denounce immigration and bash French Muslims. In June of that year, for example, it wasn’t the elder Le Pen who decried an “overdose” of immigrants who brought to France “three or four wives, some 20 children,” plus “noise” and “smell.” It was former center-right prime minister (and later president) Jacques Chirac. A month later, it wasn’t Le Pen who announced that the French government would charter planes to forcibly deport undocumented immigrants. It was then-Prime Minister Edith Cresson, a Socialist. Just a few months later, in September 1991, it wasn’t Le Pen who warned of an “invasion” of immigrants and called for French citizenship to be based on “the right by blood.” It was former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.

Every time the established politicians and parties hardened their stance on immigration, or on Islam, the FN became less fringe, more mainstream. Perhaps the biggest boost to the LePenization of French politics came from Nicolas Sarkozy. As president of France between 2007 and 2012, he actively courted FN voters and helped dismantle the “Republican pact,” under which the two main parties had pledged to work together to defeat the FN at a national and local level. Remember: It was Sarkozy who launched the “Great Debate on National Identity” in 2009; who ordered the ban on the face veil, worn by only 2,000 out of the roughly 2 million adult Muslim women in France, in 2010; who absurdly declared halal meat to be the “issue which most preoccupies the French” in 2012. And it was Sarkozy who called the FN “a democratic party” and deemed its values “compatible with the Republic.”

The French left, however, also has a lot to answer for. Manuel Valls, Socialist prime minister between 2014 and 2016, defended a ban on the burkini and said the “most important thing” is not unemployment but “the identity battle, the cultural battle.” Marine Le Pen herself could not have said it better. Valls’ Socialist colleague Laurence Rossignol, France’s minister for women’s rights, compared Muslim women who choose to wear the headscarf to “American negroes who were in favor of slavery.” And the far left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came fourth on Sunday, condemned the candidacy of a headscarf-wearing female Muslim candidate in the local elections of 2010.

These are the moral depths to which French socialism has fallen.

With enemies like these, who needs friends? Should we be surprised then that Marine Le Pen has pulled off an unashamedly cynical policy of dédiabolisation (or de-demonization) in recent years, based on playing down the FN’s (unpopular) anti-Semitism while playing up its (more popular) Islamophobia? Without much resistance, she has framed the party’s hard-line stance on immigration as a liberal defense of French laicité, or secularism, against fanatical and illiberal Muslims at home and abroad.

Islamophobia long ago united French public figures from across the spectrum. “That anti-Muslim rhetoric can be used from the far left to the far right … illustrates the convergence of points of views about Muslims,” Yasser Louati, a French human rights activist, tells me. “They can disagree on everything but not Islamophobia.”

To fight the FN, he says, there has to be a recognition of the role that endemic racism and religious discrimination still plays in French society, from the boardrooms to the banlieues. A former colonial power like France, argues Louati, has “racism enshrined in its DNA.” The official statistics on rising hate crimes, like Sunday’s election result, seem to back him up.

Nevertheless, to also be fair to the French, the latest polling suggests around two out of three of them will vote against Le Pen and in favor of Macron in the run-off next month. Macron is on course to win a resounding victory — but Le Pen has made clear she is here to stay. Le Pen and her fascist friends will be back in 2022 to fight again, enthused and energized, not to mention legitimized, by achieving such success in 2017 — and by forcing both left and right to dance to their bigoted tunes.

So it’s time for a reckoning. The French elites’ strategy of trying to defeat the Le Pens by aping their rhetoric, stealing their policies, and pandering to their voters has been a political and moral failure. As Gary Younge wrote in The Guardian after Jean-Marie Le Pen’s shock victory in the first round in 2002, “Every step you make in the direction of a racist agenda does not ‘neutralize’ racists but emboldens them.”

Fifteen years on, nothing has changed. You cannot appease fascism by meeting it in the middle; you cannot beat racism by indulging or excusing it. Perhaps French politicians should re-read their national motto. Fighting for égalité and fraternité, regardless of race or religion, is the only way forward.

Top photo: Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen addresses activists at the Espace Francois Mitterrand in Henin-Beaumont, north of France, on April 23, 2017.

Mehdi Hasan

Mehdi Hasan is an award-winning British columnist, broadcaster, and author based in Washington, D.C. He hosts UpFront on Al Jazeera English and has interviewed, among others, Edward Snowden, Hamid Karzai, Ehud Olmert, and Gen. Michael Flynn. He is also the author of two books — a biography of former U.K. Labor Party leader Ed Miliband and an e-book on the financial crisis and austerity economics. Mehdi has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Guardian, and the Times of London, among others, and is the former political director of the Huffington Post U.K. and a contributing editor to the New Statesman. He has been included in the annual list of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world and named as one of the 100 most influential Britons on Twitter.

Obama and Clinton Brought Slavery to Libya April 23, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Africa, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Libya, slavery, Syria, Uncategorized.
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Roger’s note: I am not sure I agree that the evidence of Assad atrocities is “dubious,” but it is clear that the US interventions in Iraq, Syria and Libya were violations of international law (i.e. war crimes) and have resulted in monumental humanitarian disasters.  Be it a Democratic or Republican, US interventions justified at humanitarian are always suspect and almost always result in the opposite.  When trying to understand motives for the MIC in the middle east, remember the code name that Baby Bush was going to use for his invasion of Iraq before someone noticed there might be a problem with it: Operation Iraq Liberation (O.I.L.).

“The dismemberment of Libya is one of many crimes that are conveniently shoved down the memory hole.”

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

According to international observers, “African migrants are being openly bought and sold in Libya” – yet another consequence of “R2P,” the pernicious doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect.” No one is protecting Black Africans from the bestial forces let loose by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Libya in 2011. “America’s first black president is responsible for slavery taking place in a once prosperous African country.”

Nearly every day there is a new report of desperate migrants rescued at sea in the Mediterranean. Some are less fortunate and are among the estimated 12,000 who have died there in the last three years alone. Their point of embarkation is Libya, a nation now a haven for human traffickers because of President Barack Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

Their deliberate destruction of Libya was a war crime by all standards of international law. That country was just one victim of the American plan to eliminate secular governments in the Middle East. Under the guise of a phony “responsibility to protect” and with cover from organizations such as Human Rights Watch, American propaganda gave an atrocity the appearance of a humanitarian act. Now come reports from media and the International Organization for Migration that African migrants are being openly bought and sold in Libya. This practice would not be taking place if Muammar Gaddafi not been murdered by American backed jihadists in 2011.

Obama’s evil success in Libya set off an endless trail of disasters. Libya is a hot bed of ISIS activity along with Iraq and Syria. It is not a coincidence that all three countries were targets of American regime change. Even the American ambassador in Libya fell victim to his government’s machinations in Benghazi.

“Under the guise of a phony ‘responsibility to protect’ and with cover from organizations such as Human Rights Watch, American propaganda gave an atrocity the appearance of a humanitarian act.”

Obama and Clinton hoped to continue their victory in Syria, but president Assad was stronger than they anticipated. When the Russians proved to be fickle allies who were willing to push Assad under the proverbial bus, Obama and Clinton wouldn’t take yes for an answer. They insisted that Assad had to go and they didn’t care how many Syrians they killed or turned into refugees in the process. Now the bloodshed continues under a new administration.

European countries struggle to contend with the flow of people from Syria and Libya who would be in their homelands were it not for America’s designs on that part of the world. Yet the corporate media say nothing. They may report on the refugee crisis and the migrant crisis without ever stating what is easily provable, that the United States is entirely responsible for the suffering.

There can be no plan for reviving the peace movement that doesn’t include a reckoning of responsibility for the disasters that Obama and Clinton brought to the world. “We came, we saw, he died,” is one of the more memorable Hillary Clinton statements, memorable for all the wrong reasons. Obama knew better than to be so crass, but he privately called Libya a “shit show” as if he were a bystander and not the perpetrator.

While the corporate media make hay out of very dubious evidence of atrocities allegedly committed by the Syrian government, the atrocities caused directly by the American government go unmentioned. Or rather they are reported absent of any context of American responsibility.

“There can be no plan for reviving the peace movement that doesn’t include a reckoning of responsibility for the disasters that Obama and Clinton brought to the world.”

Even press reports of slave trading in Libya follow the same proscribed language. They will say that Gaddafi was an autocrat and a dictator, but omit that the humanitarian ,disaster was carried out by the United States, NATO, and Gulf monarchs. The dismemberment of Libya is one of many crimes that are conveniently shoved down the memory hole.

Now we see the supreme and awful irony. America’s first black president is responsible for slavery taking place in a once prosperous African country and his role is covered up by people who once would have condemned his actions.

Black people defended Muammar Gaddafi if no one else did. American presidents made a show of castigating Gaddafi, calling him crazed, fanatical, dictatorial and mentally ill. Black Americans were unanimous in their support whenever he was attacked, whether militarily or even rhetorically. But that support ended when he fell under Obama’s cross hairs. Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency was a curse on black America’s political heritage.

That curse is unlikely to be lifted anytime soon. There was never a great willingness to point out his wrong doing, and now that the despised Trump is president the selective amnesia grows worse.

The corporate media do not fulfill their most basic obligations. They repeat lies if they are told by people they decide to protect. They hide the truth if it is told by the people they decide to disappear from discourse and from history. But that dissembling should not silence people who put themselves in the anti-war camp. When they read or hear about refugees and migrants dying or being sold as slaves they must state loudly and clearly that Obama and Clinton are the villains in the story.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.