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Twittering Bana Gains Sympathy and a Whole Lot of Doubts

pennyforyourthoughts2 - 5 hours 9 min ago
I'm firmly in the doubters camp. So is the NYT's. Clearly.  Or they wouldn't have presented this story in the manner they did.

Bana al Abed- 220,000 followers on Twitter?  

Seriously? Are half of those bots and the rest developmentally handicapped with serious logical thinking impairments? Or is it just a case of being a whole bunch of  mindless followers- Bandwagon. Jump on the bandwagon! Don't ask a question or five?
 

But in an era of internet hoaxes, fabrications and the increased use of fake news around the world to further political agendas, Bana’s Twitter account has also raised some questions of veracity and authenticity.I want to point out that it's been the mainstream media pushing this fabrication without verifying the accuracy. So it is the msm engaging in the promotion of fake news! I wouldn't touch, or present it as real, true or valid.  This whole psyop needs to be outed for what it is. Psychological Operation.
Her messages are sophisticated for a 7-year-old, for example, particularly for one whose native language is not English.This is my reading place where I wanted to start reading Harry Potter but it's bombed. I will never forget. - Bana pic.twitter.com/6fXX2Me8ZB — Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) Nov. 29, 2016 Some people have questioned whether the videos in which Bana speaks were rehearsed or altered.The inaccessibility of much of the Syria conflict to journalists, who often have no way of confirming the provenance of information directly, has amplified those concerns.No way to confirm the provenance of the entire situation- period!
According to Bana’s mother, who describes herself as a 26-year-old teacher of English and who has spoken with The New York Times via Skype and WhatsApp, the Twitter postings originated in eastern Aleppo, where Fatemah said she lived with Bana and her two younger children, Mohamed, 5, and Noor, 3.All appear in photographs and videos posted by the @AlabedBana account. But Bana is the only one who spends significant time on camera or who speaks to the audience in English. She appears in many of the clips to be reading from a card or to have memorized lines.Her family, so called, never or rarely appears with her in front of the camera? No one finds that strange, eh? She reads from cards and speaks memorized lines? That doesn't bother any of the more then 200,000 twits on twitter.
Some have called Bana’s father a violent jihadist affiliated with Qaeda-linked fighters ensconced in eastern Aleppo. Others have called Bana and her mother fictions created by the United States as a propaganda tool to malign the Syrian and Russian governments. There is a very good possibility Bana's father is a violent jihadist- AQ linked!
It's a certainty that Bana and her mother are fictional creations used as propaganda tools by the US and company! They have the most reason to do this... And it's not just to malign Syria and Russia- It's too manipulate the masses. Dupe the gullible. Wrench your hearts and make you irrational and malleable... Mold your minds.

There is some precedent for such cynicism, and a notable example also had a Syrian connection. In 2011, a woman who described herself as a lesbian blogger using the pseudonym Amina Arraf wrote about political persecution in Damascus, the capital, and suddenly disappeared.
The “gay girl in Damascus,” as the blogger came to be known, turned out to be a 40-year-old American man from Georgia. USA.Some precedent?! There is tons of precedent for this skepticism. We'll start with "gay girl in Damascus" Let's go back to June 2011- Nearly the beginning of my more then 5 years covering Syria's destabilization.
Syria-First or Hit Syria First ? Gay blogger in Damascus - Psyops gone amok!! Have we all heard the one about the Syrian lesbian blogger who was treated very, very badly in Syria?? Well if you did and were outraged. You have been suckered! It was a hoax. A psyop. A perception management operation pulled on you!!
Created by an American Student at a British University
His wife may have been in on the act
He is saying, he meant well and you should not dismiss his work, blah, blah, blah.
Bullshit. He was paid to do this work. Either by US or British intelligence.
He is a fraud and his blog is a complete fraud! Gay blogger Girl from Damascus- Hoax

-Then there was Syria Danny- Till he got caught 
-There was the Incubator Hoax for Iraq- Never mind the whole WMD's in Iraq hoax
-The White Helmet Hoax - The Viagra Hoax in Libya.
-Never mind the grandpappy of all media hoaxes...the ones that get you to believe attacking another nation is justified and necessary.
 My mind harkens back to Colin Powell's, attack Iraq, mind manipulation at the UN, including props!
 
Bana, Syria Danny, Gay Damascus blogger girl, Incubator crying princess, WMD's and mushroom clouds, Viagra for Libyan troops are all just facets of the entirety of the constant war waged against you and I. 

Bana is just another in a long line of of manipulations
The New York Times has been able to verify, through comparisons with satellite maps, that at least some videos posted from Bana’s Twitter account were filmed in Al Shaar, a neighborhood in eastern Aleppo.Some but not all of the videos. How many videos were verified?  
Just two videos would allow the NYT's to claims "some videos were verified"- I'm not impressed!
But it is unclear whether all of her Twitter posts — which could be put online from anywhere, by anyone with Bana’s password — originated in eastern Aleppo. Nor is it clear how many posts Bana has composed herself.Bana’s mother did not immediately respond to requests via WhatsApp for clarification on these questions.  Sonia Khush, the Syria director of Save the Children.“In the case of this girl, I don’t know whether it’s true or fake in this age of social media,” she said. Sonia Khush wants you to believe it doesn't matter if it's fake. It does matter. It matters a whole heck of a lot! Because if it's fake, and it is in my opinion, then what else is fake?
Juliette S. Touma, a Unicef spokeswoman for the Middle East and North Africa, acknowledged that there was, in Bana’s case, “no way to verify where the tweets are coming from, or whether they’re coming from the girl or somewhere else.”So why has this been reported on as if its true, factual and real? One reason and one reason only. To manipulate you, the consumer, of this perception managing psychological operation.
 Despite the questions surrounding Bana’s account, news organizations have embraced it as a window into the Syria conflict.Yes, news organizations did embrace it. Because that's what they were supposed to do. Embrace it. Feed it. Nurture it. Encourage it to grow into a massive manipulation. JK Rowling helped with that too. What a whore! (Anything for money, obviously)

Some experts on news media ethics said that, despite the appeal of such a heartbreaking narrative — and with a young girl at its center, no less — news outlets had to approach the account with skepticism, and that some had fallen short. “It’s always a question of whether a 7-year-old is being used as a propaganda tool, and if so, by whom,” said Jane E. Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota. “Sometimes we fall in love with a concept and basically ignore things that would undermine that concept, and ignore things that should be red flags.”
Kathleen Bartzen Culver, the director for the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said some news outlets, including morning network news shows in the United States, seemed to have “suspended skepticism.”“There are times when I will read or watch something when I will think, ‘I just don’t think we have our critical thinking hats on at the moment,’” she said. I had my critical thinking hat on. And Bana's heart tugging twitter recounts didn't appear credible, plausible or believable. However they are despicable! Because I detest when children are exploited and you should too!

hoax- sadly
 
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Oh Sycophant Canada: UN General Assembly Resolution On Syria-

pennyforyourthoughts2 - 6 hours 18 min ago
Reuters:

The United Nations General Assembly voted 122 to 13 on Friday to demand an immediate cessation of hostilities in Syria, humanitarian aid access throughout the country and an end to all sieges, including in Aleppo.

Thirty-six countries abstained in the vote on the Canadian-drafted resolution on the nearly six-year-old Syrian conflict. General Assembly resolutions are non-binding but can carry political weight.
Canadian U.N. Ambassador Marc-Andre Blanchard acknowledged that the resolution was not a solution to the conflict, but an important statement. "It is a reminder that above all else the lives of the Syrian people should be our priority. They are our priority and the world will not stay silent while they suffer without assistance," he said before the vote. I want to wretch reading that! That's how vile that statement is!

Talk of unilateral sanctions? That's how much Canada cares about the Syrian people!
Outraged and disgusted does not even begin to describe how detestable I find the statements of Canada's concern.  


Churkin also slammed unilateral sanctions imposed on Syria.
"You are slowly asphyxiating the population you ardently claim to care about," he said on Friday.

Exactly! That's exactly the plan! Inflict misery on a mass scale. Worse then Canada's already done alongside the US/UK/Israeli axis of evil

Recall: Madeline Albright and the sanctions opposed on Iraq? Killing half a million Iraqi children. She thought it was worth it and apparently so does Canada's fascist regime. (not my government)

There you go Canada- Feel proud of the phony humanitarianism espoused.
I'll take a pass

 
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CFR President Richard Haass:Gap Growing Between Allies and Turkey

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 17:00
 Link

Richard Haass CFR President- direct quotes below and you can listen to  them for yourself 
This man is stating openly Turkey does not toe the "allies" line aka NATO

"the illiberal trend"
"Increasingly Turkey is gathering behind the Assad Government"
"Is far more concerned about Kurds then getting rid of Assad Government"

 Anyone recall me having the ubercreepy CFR video here?Link  Richard Haass was in that too About the Council on Foreign Relations: Members including Fareed Zakaria, Angelina Jolie, and Robert Rubin along with CFR president Richard Haass explains CFR’s critical role in understanding today’s world.
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Ankara More Interested in Counterterrorism Then Assad Departing

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Thu, 12/08/2016 - 12:53
I've more to say on the subject of the Turkish/Syrian situation.. For now a bit of a comment from Rescue & a linked below news  article. With more to follow in another posting when time allows.

This change, spoken openly about, is certain to have gained the ire of the US/UK/Israel Middle East/North Africa remakers. I've written here about the changes taking place that seemed apparent to me and should have been apparent to many others, particularly in the alt media camp. Those who chose to instead engage in 'cult of personality' distraction.

RescueDecember 7, 2016 at 2:55 PMI think Turkey is totally out of the belligerent camp against Syria. Turkey held negotiations last week in Ankara, where Russia & rebel groups for the first time held direct talks. The US was not invited, they are allegedly pretty angry about it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during their meeting in Moscow (AFP)

Ankara reiterated the order of its priorities in Syria, and the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that overthrowing the head of the Syrian regime Bashar Al-Assad is not a priority for it. He added that operation Euphrates Shield in which Turkey supports Free Syrian Army fighters in northern Syria targets “terrorist organisations” and has nothing to do with what is happening in Aleppo. He added that the “nature of the crisis in Syria imposes priorities, the most important of which is to rescue the Syrian people. However, the overthrow of Assad is not a priority”.The Turkish Prime Minister, who made an official visit to the Russian capital Moscow, made these comments in an interview with the Russian news agency Sputnik on Wednesday. He said that there are three major issues in the Syrian crisis that require a quick solution, and that it was necessary to end the continuing bloodshed in Aleppo, put an end to terrorist activities in Syrian areas bordering south Turkey and deter the Syrian Democratic Union Party and its military arm the People’s Protection Units. Turkey considers both of these parties as extensions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which it has classified as a terrorist organisation. Turkey also said that both of these parties are carrying out operations against Turkey from Syrian territory.

As for the fate of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, an issue that has sparked controversy between Moscow and Ankara in recent times, Yildirim said We have to arrange our priorities in this regard. Is Assad’s fate important? Or is the fate of the Syrian state important? Without a doubt, the fate of the Syrian people is more important than the fate of Assad.” This  has been  an ongoing process
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Breaking! "Rebels" aka Terrorists, call for ceasefire as SAA recaptures Aleppo city. Russian Killed. Israeli Strikes & More

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Wed, 12/07/2016 - 07:55
 I've been updating as news is breaking so bear with me, ok?

Aleppo Recovered

Albawaba
Syrian government forces have reportedly recaptured all of Aleppo's historic 'Old City', pushing the last remaining rebels there out.
The British-based monitoring group, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said an army advance on Tuesday and overnight, supported by heavy air strikes and shelling, caused insurgents to withdraw from the Old City.
The report indicates that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, helped by its ally Russia, is closer than ever to what would be its biggest victory of the conflict – retaking eastern Aleppo in its entirety.
The Syrian army advance has already seen rebels lose two thirds of the besieged enclave.

Insurgents /Terrorists are now calling for a five-day ceasefire, talks about Aleppo's future, and medical and civilian evacuations.

The Kremlin however looks in no mood to back down – describing all rebels left in Aleppo as 'terrorists' and announcing that rebel/terrorist shelling has killed a Russian military adviser there.Russian military adviser killed by shelling in Aleppo
 A Russian military adviser working in Aleppo has been killed by artillery shelling carried out by Syrian opposition rebels, Russian news agencies quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying on Wednesday.
The adviser would be posthumously given a top military award, the agencies said.
The death of the military adviser comes two days after two Russian nurses were killed in a rocket attack on a Russian military hospital in Aleppo.The strike on the hospital by terrorists, who were undoubtedly provided coordinates by their allies in US/UK/Israel/NATO

Syria Rejects The Offer of Ceasefire!!!

Syrian government takes Aleppo Old City, rejects proposed ceasefire

The rebels are pushing for a five-day truce and the evacuation of injured people and civilians from eastern Aleppo - but the Syrian government has rejected this proposal.

"We will not accept any truce," Fares Shehabi, a member of parliament for Aleppo, told dpa by telephone. "If they do not leave we will continue our attack," he warned the armed groups. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said all rebels who choose to remain in the collapsing enclave will be deemed as linked to al-Qaeda's wing in Syria, a strong force in the country.

"The exit was offered to them and this issue was discussed earlier," Peskov said about the rebels, according to the Russian state news agency TASS. "Unfortunately, only few have exited," he added.Israeli acts of war

Yesterday in the comment section I'd mentioned breaking reporting of most probably Israeli airstrikes into Syria- And it was! Of course. Read below:

PennyDecember 6, 2016 at 2:06 PMthere is also breaking news that either 3 or 4 planes made strikes into Syrian territory

looking for more verification at this time as the first out was SOHR but we have more news now from i24

As of now I would speculate this was Israel- they used Lebanese airspace and struck Hezbollah in Syria

http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=56440

"unidentified warplanes flew at high altitude in the sky of the areas of Madaya and Zabadani, they carried out four raids on the western mountain of Zabadani, which is controlled by the regime forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah since the second half of last year 2015, and the sources confirmed to the Observatory that the raids targeted 2 checkpoint areas in which members of the Lebanese Hezbollah are positioned, among the checkpoints that besiege Zabadani city, it is not known whether the targeting was for both checkpoint directly or it targeted members who were targeting both checkpoints in the mountain, also no information received about the size of the human losses caused by these raids"

http://www.i24news.tv/fr/actu/international/moyen-orient/131949-161206-syrie-des-raids-aeriens-frappent-des-positions-du-hezbollah-medias

in french with an Israeli leaning obviously

http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/middle-east/131955-161206-hezbollah-positions-in-syria-struck-by-unidentified-warplanes

"Several' militants were injured in the strikes, according to reports and witnesses on the ground

Unidentified fighter jets on Tuesday attacked at least three positions of the Lebanese Hezbollah on Syrian territory around the city of Al-Zabadani, local media reported.

"Several" militants were injured in the strikes, according to reports and witnesses on the ground.

Details on the incident were scarce at time of reporting"

stay tuned..ReplyDeleteYesterday very early reporting seemed to indicate it was Israel- Two strikes in 24 hours

SANA
 The Israeli enemy launched at 3:00 am Wednesday a number of surface-to-surface missiles from inside the occupied territories to the west of Tall Abu al-Nada (hill) that landed in the surroundings of al-Mezzeh Airport west of Damascus, a military source said. The source told SANA that the attack caused a fire to erupt in the site where the missiles hit, adding that no human casualties were reported. The source noted that the attack is part of the “desperate attempts” of the Israeli enemy to support the terrorist groups and raise their deteriorating morale.
This attack, the source stressed, will only make the Syrian Arab Army “even more determined to cut off the hands of the terrorist agents of the Zionist entity, which should be held fully responsible for the repercussions and consequences of these criminal attacks.” Today’s attack came a week after the air force of the Israeli army fired from the Lebanese airspace two missiles on al-Sabboura area in the western countryside of Damascus, in an attempt to divert attention from the successes which the Syrian army has been making against the terrorist organizations.Link
Israeli warplanes hit an area near Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's palace early morning, causing multiple fires and explosions at Damascus' military airport.No deaths or injuries have been reported and neither the Syrian nor the Israeli armed forces have commented on the attack which struck Mezzeh Military Airport around 4am.It is understood that Israel was targeting Hizballah positions near the airport, in the second such strike in 24 hours.If you have a barf bag handy feel free to read this joint statement on Aleppo. It is truly nauseating:

 The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the United States gave a joint statement on the situation in Aleppo. Joint statement on Aleppo: 7 December 2016

*Notice the absence of Turkey in that joint statement?


Whew! The past 24 hours have been busy!
 
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US Strikes on Syrian Troops? Accidentally on Purpose. Data Contradicts Mistakes Claims

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Tue, 12/06/2016 - 18:53
The US did, accidentally on purpose, strike the SAA positions.
Meaning: Deliberately, but feigning accident.Accidentally, on purpose


Middle East Eye- US strikes on Syrian troops: Report data contradicts 'mistake' claims

The summary report on an investigation into US and allied airstrikes on Syrian government troops has revealed irregularities in decision-making consistent with a deliberate targeting of Syrian forces.

The report, released by US Central Command on 29 November, shows that senior US Air Force officers at the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar, who were responsible for the decision to carry out the September airstrike at Deir Ezzor:

    *misled the Russians about where the US intended to strike so the Russia could not warn that it was targeting Syrian troops
    
   * ignored information and intelligence analysis, warning that the positions to be struck were Syrian government rather than Islamic State
    
   * shifted abruptly from a deliberate targeting process to an immediate strike in violation of normal Air Force procedures

Keep in mind the US didn’t want to stick to the ceasefire agreement at that time
How the strikes killed off ceasefire deal

The strikes against two Syrian army positions were the pivotal event in the breakdown of the Syrian ceasefire agreement reached between the United States and Russia in September. Both Moscow and Damascus denounced the strikes as a deliberate move by the Obama administration to support Islamic State and cited the attacks as the reason for declaring an end to the ceasefire on 19 September.

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigan, commander of US Air Forces Central Command and of the CAOC, who was the central figure in all the decisions, apparently had a motive for a strike against Syrian forces.US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter had strongly opposed a provision in the US-Russian ceasefire agreement that would have established a US-Russian “joint integration center” to coordinate airstrikes against both Islamic State (also known as Da’esh) and the then-Nusra Front, which was to become active after seven days of effective ceasefire. Last week Brig. Gen. Richard Coe, the lead US official on the investigating team, told reporters that the U.S. airstrikes in Deir Ezzor on 17 September, which killed at least 62 - and possibly more than 100 - Syrian army troops, was the unintentional result of “human error”.Since Ash Carter didn’t want to cooperate with Russia because they didn't want to target their assets, it was certainly in the interest of the US to kill the ceasefire deal. The US had motive. The US had the means. And the US was the beneficiary of this decision to strike Syrian Army. The ceasefire ended. No joint cooperation. No coordination of airstrikes. And at the same time a boost for ISIS!!
From earlier: Syrian “rebels” aka terrorists talk surrender & evacuation with US. 75% of Aleppo Recovered!

In a press briefing on 13 September, Harrigan stated that his readiness to join such a joint operation with the Russians “is going to depend on what the plan ends up being.” He added: “[I]t would be premature to say we’re going to jump right into it. And I’m not saying yes or no. I’m saying we’ve got work to do to understand what the plan is going to look like.”
Three days later, Harrigan’s command sent a drone to investigate a site three kilometers southwest of Deir Ezzor airfield. It showed images of a tunnel entrance, two tents and 14 adult males, according to the investigation report. That move led to a swiftly-moving decision process that resulted in the airstrike against two Syrian army bases the following day.What the US failed to tell the RussiansThe investigation report summary reveals that the CAOC sent misleading information to the Russians before the strike about the location of the targets.  The Russians were informed that the targets were nine kilometres south of Deir Ezzor airfield: they were actually only three and six kilometres from that airfield, respectively, according to the summary of its findings.

Brig. Gen. Richard Coe, who briefed reporters on the team’s report, acknowledged that the misleading information had prevented the Russians from intervening to stop the strike. “Had we told them accurately, they would have warned us,” he told reporters.There is a bit  more to that claim then just the team gave the Russians misleading information
Recall?  Russia Called US Twice To Stop US Airstrikes on SAA

No one at the operations center for the U.S.-led coalition could figure out what the Russian officer on the other end of the line was on about. (Really? I don't believe that. Do you?) So he hung up, and called back.
By time the Russian officer found his designated contact — who was away from his desk — and explained that the coalition was actually hitting a Syrian army unit, “a good amount of strikes” had already taken place, U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. John Thomas told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday.  A Russian officer actually contacted the US operations centre only to be given the run around!

What the US Failed to Tell The Russian's continues
Coe said that the provision of that misleading information to the Russians before the strike was “unintentional”. However, neither he nor the redacted summary of the report offered any explanation as to how such misleading information could have been passed to the Russians unintentionally.
Nevertheless, those positions were quickly identified as belonging to Islamic State, based primarily on the clothing worn by the personnel at the sites. The report describes the personnel at the two sites as dressed in “a mix of traditional wear, civilian attire and military style clothing that lacked uniformity”.

But a former US intelligence analyst with long experience in image interpretation in combat situations told Middle East Eye that the claim that Islamic State troops could be distinguished from Syrian army troops on the basis of their clothing “sounds completely bogus”. He said he had seen images of Syrian Republican Guards in the field who were not wearing regular uniforms or were dressed in various colors.Concerns about identity of IS positionsThe report also mentions a series of what it calls “breakdowns” regarding intelligence reporting and analysis on the identification of the positions with Islamic State that allegedly was never seen by those making the decisions on targeting.

The regional station belonging to the Air Force’s Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) is the main source of Air Force analysis of intelligence from aerial surveillance. It responded to the initial identification of the positions as belonging to Islamic State by raising “concerns” that the ground force in question could not have belonged to the group.But those concerns never reached Harrigan or his staff, according to the report.Thirty minute before the strike was scheduled, someone called into the CAOC to report a “possible flag” in one of two target areas. The call, which contradicted the accepted identification based on the absence of flags at the site, “went unacknowledged”, according to the report.The report also reveals that a map prepared by an intelligence agency, whose identity is redacted, that was available at the CAOC contradicted the classified map showing areas occupied by the Syrian Army and IS in the vicinity of the Deir Ezzor airfield.So two maps, one contradicting the other. (Muddying the waters?)
The classified map supported the decision to proceed with the strike. But the officials involved in targeting decisions denied any knowledge of another map.The report and Coe’s press briefing both explained the conclusion that the positions were under IS control as a result of “confirmation bias”, which means that people seek and accept information that confirms their existing biases.
But citing that concept implies that those responsible for the strike began with an interest in finding evidence to justify an action they already wanted to take.In plain talk- those launching the strikes wanted their targets to be IS so they claimed they were, even though it appears they knew it was SAA they were intending to hit. The made the evidence fit the agenda. Confirmation bias.

The report is critical of the discussion on the identification issue within CAOC for focusing only on “what could be seen on the ground rather than what we knew about the ground situation” (emphasis in original report).

That language clearly suggests that Harrigan and his staff were ignoring basic facts about the positions of the Syrian army and IS in the area that were well known to US intelligence.The switch to 'Dynamic Targeting'Journalist Elijah Magnier of the Kuwait daily newspaper Al Rai has followed the struggle between the Syrian army and IS for control of Deir Ezzor closely for years.

He told Middle East Eye in an email that at the time of the airstrike the defence of the airport depended entirely on four interconnected Syrian army positions on the Thardeh mountain chain.    The report faults those who made the decisions on the targeting of the strike for failing to follow normal Air Force procedures

Magnier said IS forces had been carrying out “daily attacks” on Deir Ezzor airport prior to the US airstrikes but had failed, mainly because of the higher elevation of the four Syrian bases in relation to the positions occupied by IS further south. Of course once the US struck SAA, ISIS took advantage and gained control of the area
Fabrice Balanche, a leading French expert on Syria who is now a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said in an interview with Middle East Eye that the Syrian army had maintained continuous control over the base at Thardeh mountain from March 2016 until the US airstrikes, which then resulted in IS gaining control of it.Recall as it happened: US Airstrikes Hit Syrian Arab Army to Support ISIS - Intentionally! 62 dead, 100's injured.

"Immediately after the airstrike by coalition planes, Islamic State militants launched their offensive. Fierce fighting with the terrorists is currently underway in the area of the airport where for a long a time humanitarian aid for civilians was parachuted,” Konashenkov said. The Switch to Dynamic Targeting....The report faults those who made the decisions on the targeting of the strike for failing to follow normal Air Force procedures. Originally, the CAOC had initiated a process called “Deliberate Targeting”, which is used for fixed targets and requires extensive and time-consuming work to ensure the accuracy of the intelligence on the targets,  according to the report. But that had been changed abruptly to “Dynamic Targeting”, which involves “fleeting targets” – those that are either moving or about to move - for which intelligence requirements are less stringent.The authors of the report found that change to be improper, given that the sites being targeted were clearly identified as defensive positions and could not therefore justify such a switch to a hastily prepared strike. But again, it offers no explanation as to why. The report revealed more than previous investigations into US military operations that resulted in embarrassment. This can be explained by the role of its co-author, whose identity was redacted as “foreign government information”. He or she is most likely a general, belonging to one of the other three members of the “Operation Inherent Resolve” coalition whose planes participated in the Deir Ezzor strike, which would narrow it down to the UK, Denmark or Australia. The two co-authors also went through lengthy negotiations to resolve the differences in the summary report. This is indicated by the repeated postponement of the report’s release, which was originally planned for two weeks earlier, according to sources at Central Command. As a result, the report was certainly less pointed in describing the decision-making than the unidentified co-author would have preferred.The report observes that it was unclear who has the responsibility/authority to decide between continuing deliberate target development versus conducting a dynamic strike.” However such decisions could only have been made with the approval of the commander of CAOC - Lt. Gen. Harrigan, who is also commander of US Air Forces Central Command.The decision to avoid identifying Harrigan as responsible for that decision may be related to the fact he was also the recipient of the report.Recall some additional posts covering this incident? If not they are relinked below:

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Syrian “rebels” aka terrorists talk surrender & evacuation with U.S. 75% of Aleppo Recovered!

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Tue, 12/06/2016 - 15:40
Washington Post sans gibberish

BRUSSELS — The United States is discussing with Syrian rebels their surrender and evacuation from Aleppo

“Those who refuse to leave of their own accord will be wiped out,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Moscow. “There is no other solution.”So, terrorists, leave or die!- Pretty straightforward.
“Lavrov charged, and administration officials sharply denied, that the United States had “revoked” the Friday evacuation proposal.Serious conversations with our partners do not work,” (direct quote) he said, adding that the United States had notified Moscow that it would not attend a new meeting on the plan.(attributed to Lavrov without direct quotation so I don’t know, can’t be certain, that Lavrov actually made this statement) “Russia and China vetoed the resolution”Covered that in yesterday's post: Russia AND China Veto Aleppo Ceasefire Resolution. While France Deplores..

Gibberish from Britain’s UN Ambassador excluded from this post- Cause it’s just more of the usual.

“Meanwhile, Kerry told reporters here that he was “not aware of any specific refusal” to meet with Lavrov”. Kerry is unaware, or so he is claiming, which is a face saving statement. Particularly if one is going to have to own their actions
Rebel leaders acknowledged that they were discussing evacuation with the United States but said they had yet to be presented with a comprehensive proposal. “The U.S. and Russia couldn’t agree, so there was no plan put up for acceptance,” said one person close to the opposition who spoke on the condition of anonymity as the rebels confront their own disagreements.The evacuation plan — under which U.S.-backed rebels and civilians would depart the city under secure conditions, leaving only the forces of the al-Qaeda-linked group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusrais different from previous plans”Russia maintains that the group — which Moscow and Washington deem a terrorist organization — is the only target of the assault on Aleppo. An earlier proposal by the United Nations called for the group’s fighters to leave the city, with guaranteed secure travel to their stronghold in the neighboring province of Idlib.
As we are? Or should be aware? The rebels aka terrorists opted to not evacuate the last time..

Then there was the time the UN negotiated a "truce", so called,  to give the terrorists a chunk of Aleppo Autonomy For Eastern Aleppo Terrorists? UN Truce Terms Refused by Syria!

Fars is NOT a always reliable site-  However, I absolutely believe the US is attempting to get their assets out of eastern Aleppo- In this case Fars and WaPo are on the same page!

  Washington has urged for negotiations with Moscow over a deal that would envisage providing a safe passage to the US intelligence officers and terrorists in Eastern Aleppo to Turkey via the Castillo corridor in lieu of handing over the remaining districts to the Syrian army, media reports said Tuesday. The Arabic-language al-Hadas news website quoted unnamed informed sources as saying on Tuesday that the negotiations are meant to help the US intelligence officers, including Balal Abdel Karim and another one who administered the battles of Aleppo, leave the Aleppo city.

Good News! We're talking  nearly 75% of Aleppo recovered. Taken from terrorists.

BEIRUT: Syrian government troops seized five new districts of eastern Aleppo on Tuesday, including the strategic Shaar neighbourhood, a monitoring group said.

“Regime forces took full control of Shaar, Dahret Awad, Juret Awad, Karam Al Beik, and Karam Al Jabal,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

According to the Observatory, the fresh advance puts the government in control of more than 70 per cent of the former rebel stronghold in Aleppo’s east. Syria Says It Seized Nearly 75 Percent of Eastern Aleppo
 Syrian government forces and allied militias captured Aleppo's centrally located al-Shaar neighborhood from rebels on Tuesday, securing nearly three quarters of the besieged enclave
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Russia AND China Veto Aleppo Ceasefire Resolution. While France Deplores..

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Mon, 12/05/2016 - 18:55
About that UN Resolution mentioned in the previous post?

SAA & Allies Control 2/3rds of East Aleppo- Aleppo psyop ended?

UN Security Council Vote Today on Aleppo Ceasefire Plan


The United Nations Security Council is due to vote Monday on a resolution calling for a seven-day cease-fire in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo and unimpeded access for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
The resolution drafted by Egypt, Spain and New Zealand says the council would consider seven-day extensions to the halt in fighting. The text bans attacks "with any weapons," including airstrikes and mortars that have been used to devastate large areas in both rebel-held and government-controlled parts of Aleppo.
Here's the latest! 

Russia, China veto UN demand for seven-day truce in Syria

Russia and China together!

From Al Arabiya:
Russia and China on Monday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have demanded a seven-day truce in Syria’s Aleppo, with Russia arguing it would allow rebels to regroup and that time was needed for talks between Washington and Moscow.
After criticizing the Security Council’s incapability to reach a solution over Syria, Egypt envoy to UN Amro Abu Al-Atta gave a heartfelt plea. In a direct address to regional powers, he said “what are you fighting for in Syria when you see a woman holding her dying baby…Syrians trying to find help from strangers?”Egypt- the nation that does Israel's bidding by slamming the doors on Palestinians. 

Crocodile Tears Dampen The Floors at  the UN

More from Al Arabiya about the blocked U.N. resolution:

The United Nations Security Council voted on a resolution — that Egypt helped to draft — demanding an initial seven-day ceasefire in Aleppo, sources have confirmed to Al Arabiya. Egypt, New Zealand and Spain drafted the resolution demanding the truce after extensive negotiations with Russia.As I mentioned earlier.. Egypt and friends drafted the resolution.

mon Dieu!: France Deplores the VETO 

France undoubtedly spouting heartfelt rhetoric and shedding  crocodile tears too.

As France bombs Syrians in Syria...

Some additional links
DW- Russia and China on Monday blocked a UN Security Council resolution aimed at establishing a seven-day ceasefire in the besieged city of Aleppo in Syria.Digital JournalFrom earlier today and one from yesterday!
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SAA & Allies Control 2/3rds of East Aleppo- Aleppo psyop ended?

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Mon, 12/05/2016 - 09:14
UPDATE BELOW!
 
Good news for Syria

France24
Syria's army and allied forces seized a new neighbourhood from rebels in east Aleppo overnight, a monitor said Monday, and now hold around two-thirds of the former rebel bastion.The army seized the Qadi Askar neighbourhood after earlier capturing the Karm al-Myessar, Karm al-Qatarji and Karm al-Tahan neighbourhoods, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The Britain-based group said the advances left the large Shaar neighbourhood effectively encircled by government forces and in danger of falling from rebel control. With the capture of Shaar, the army would hold 70 percent of east Aleppo, four years after rebels first seized it.Reporting on that news must be tough for the one man show that is SOHR!

UPDATED!

UN Security Council Vote Today on Aleppo Ceasefire Plan

The United Nations Security Council is due to vote Monday on a resolution calling for a seven-day cease-fire in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo and unimpeded access for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
The resolution drafted by Egypt, Spain and New Zealand says the council would consider seven-day extensions to the halt in fighting. The text bans attacks "with any weapons," including airstrikes and mortars that have been used to devastate large areas in both rebel-held and government-controlled parts of Aleppo.  According to so many Egypt was Syria's new buddy.....  Recall my wondering where the heck this jibber jabber about Egypt was coming from? Egyptian Troops in Syria? " These Allegations Exist Only In the Imagination Of Those Who Promote Them"

Strange?

A ceasefire at this time. Who would benefit from that?
The new resolution also demands the implementation of a political process outlined in a December 2015 resolutionDuring a news conference Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the resolution as a "provocative step."Psyops are us?

Of course western media is very 'concerned' about the alleged JK Rowling fan who, it is claimed,  tweets out of Aleppo... Nice psyop. Saw a whole handful of stories about this PR operation this morning! The Twitter account was deleted yesterday! Wonder who really deleted it??

"The Twitter account Bana al-Abed shares with her mother was deleted on Sunday"

From earlier today:Less then 24 hours ago.. 
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Turkey Faces Economic Sabotage. Turkey Paid IMF Debt in 2013

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Mon, 12/05/2016 - 08:45
 In 2013 Turkey Paid off all of it's debt to the IMF- 2013........

Bloomberg
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said his political enemies are trying to sabotage the economy by speculating on the stock market, foreign exchange rate and interest rates after failing to overthrow his administration in July.

Erdogan is trying to verbally stem a run on the lira, which has lost more than any other emerging market currency over the past month, damping everything from consumer sentiment to economic growth

“Someone is trying to force this country to its knees by economic sabotage after failing to seize it with tanks, guns and F-16s on July 15,”

“This is not a new game and we’re used to it. Especially in the last three years, they are constantly attempting to use economic crisis as a trump card.
Especially in the last three years? So, since 2013? In 2013 Turkey paid off the IMF.
Turkey’s Economy Coordination Board met under Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Ankara on Dec. 2 and decided to “take necessary measures with regards to public finances, banking and the financial sector, the real sector and the labor market, which will be announced to the public” next week, his office said in a statement.

Central Bank Governor Murat Cetinkaya was among top economic policy makers who attended the board meeting, the prime minister’s office said.

“We need to solve the interest question. I know I’m alone, but I will keep fighting. I’m determined,” Erdogan said. “We need to stand up for our economy like we stood up for our future on July 15.”Looks like the Turkish government, in it's entirety, is involved in preventing the sabotage of the Turkish economy.

Turkey Wants to Trade with Iran, Russia & China in Local Currencies

Dec 4 : Turkey is taking steps to allow commerce with China, Russia and Iran to be conducted in local currencies, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, the government's latest effort to shore up the tumbling lira.
The business district of Levent as it is seen from the Saphire tower in Istanbul, Turkey  Isn't it interesting that Turkey's always presented as this backward/poor/rigidly religious nation? Really? 
 
Daily Sabah
Turkey is taking steps to allow commerce with China, Russia and Iran to be conducted in local currencies, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday, the government's latest effort to shore up the tumbling lira.

In a speech during an inauguration ceremony in the central city of Kayseri, Erdogan also said that Prime Minister Binali Yildirim would bring up the issue with Moscow during a forthcoming trip to Russia.

"If we buy something from them [foreign countries], we will do that in their currency; if they buy something from us, they will do it in our currency."Erdogan noted that Turkey will "play its own game" in the economic arena against "all games" played against it.
Turkish Parliament approves pipeline deal for Southstream:
Russian energy minister Alexander NovakTurkey's foreign relations commission has approved the bill ratifying the agreement between Russia and Turkey to build the undersea gas pipeline Turkish Stream, parliament’s official website announced.
It s expected that the bill will be submitted for approval at the plenary session of parliament before the prime minister Binali Yildirim visits Russia, scheduled for December 6-7.
Turkish Stream will directly connect the large gas reserves in Russia to the Turkish gas transportation network.
The offshore component of the system will be built by Gazprom. The offshore pipeline will consist of two parallel pipelines, with 15.75bn m³/year each, running under the Black Sea
Pipe-laying work for the Turkish Stream gas pipeline will begin in 2017 and end in late 2019, according to the Russian energy minister Alexander Novak.
Economic and Political Sabatoge

- EU Votes To Freeze Turkish Accession Talks-NATO Destabilized

- Waging Financial Warfare Against Turkey

- September 23/2016- Moody's Downgrades Turkey's Issuer and Bond Ratings

FortuneCredit ratings agency Moody’s Investor Service has downgraded Turkey’s sovereign credit rating to non-investment grade citing worries about the rule of law following an attempted coup, risks from external financing and a slowing economy.Turkey's GDP has been excellent compared to the US (no exact figure, but am certain it's poor) & Canada ( Canada: 2ndquarter:  - 1.6, yes that negative 1.6 )... So why did Moody's undertake this action against Turkey.  It's purely political!  Surprise!

- Turkey/Halkbank: Gold for Trading with Iran- circumventing US sanctions against Iran

- Gold Trader arrested charged in US with Violating US Imposed Sanctions Against Iran

Turkey payed off it’s IMF Debt- May 2013

*Turkey pays off final IMF installment
Turkey took its first loan from the IMF in 1961, according to Mr Babacan. It last borrowed in 2008, and today’s payment will mark the first time Turkey has no outstanding debt to the fund since 1994, he added.

When Erdogan’s government came to power in 2002, it owed the IMF $23.5 billion, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency. *Turkey terminates decades of IMF Debt

TURKEY has paid off all debt owed to the IMF which extended its first loans more than 50 years ago, and is now set to contribute to the fund's operations, owing to economic growth that gave a priority to the private sector, Turkish officials say.

"After a long period, Turkey has paid off, cut to zero its debt with the IMF," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told deputies from his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

"I hope this development will be positive for our country."Turkey among 11 countries cleared of IMF debt

The IMF prefers nations in debt. To them. War creates destruction, death and DEBT.
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"Qualified Immunity": What Cops and Slave Overseers Have in Common

freedominourtime - Sun, 12/04/2016 - 12:31


The late Kelly Thomas, following his fatal encounter with the slave overseers of the Fullerton PD.



Michael Slager
, the former North Charleston, South Carolina police officer killed an unarmed man and then attempted to frame the victim, will not be convictedof murder. Nor is he likely to be convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter. Slager’s jury deadlocked because a single member of the panel insisted that he could not “in good conscience” vote to convict Slager of criminal homicide. This is not because the facts of the case are in dispute. Slager was captured on video fatally shooting unarmed, 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as he fled a traffic stop, and then placing a Taser next to his fatally traumatized body.The critical issue for that juror, apparently, was whether Slager’s state of mind as he committed these acts transmuted them from criminal homicide and obstruction of justice into an exercise of state-conferred authority protected by “qualified immunity.” Specifically: Was the officer acting out of “total fear,” as he claimed, following what he said was a struggle in which Scott attempted to grab his Taser? Or was Slager acting out of “passion” – in this case, anger and outrage over Scott’s refusal to submit?If Slager weren’t a member of the state’s punitive priesthood, these questions wouldn’t matter.  As a police officer, however, Slager enjoys precisely the same privileged status in the exercise of discretionary violence that was once afforded to slave owners and overseers in the antebellum South. Under what we are required to pretend is the “law,” Slager – like any other police officer – is authorized to detain any citizen who provokes his suspicion, and to obtain that citizen’s submission using whatever increment of force he deems reasonable. From the point of such a seizure, the officer exercises a proprietary claim over the detainee until or unless he decides to release him – and any assertion of self-ownership on the part of the detainee can potentially be punished through summary execution. In “The Constitution of Police Violence,” a soon-to-be published article for the UCLA Law Review, Dr. Alice Ristroph of the Seton Hall Law School describes case law regarding law enforcement encounters with citizens as “a blueprint for police violence. It invites officers to interrupt civilians, sometimes with minimal suspicion and sometimes with no suspicion at all. Once interrupted, the citizen must comply with the officer’s requests [which are more accurately described as `demands’] or risk expanding the officer’s authority. Actual or perceived non-compliance rapidly ratchets up the officer’s authorization to use force, and any non-compliance perceived to be dangerous empowers the officer to kill.” (Emphasis added.)
Every police agency in the country teaches its officers a “use of force continuum” that “sets the expectation of escalation,” continues Dr. Ristroph; “after the first resistance, force will escalate until the suspect is subdued or dead.” The resistance in question can be a purely verbal assertion of self-ownership – as in Eric Garner’s exasperated protest about the unwarranted harassment he had experienced, coupled with the declaration, “It stops today!”
As Ristroph observes, defiance of this variety constitutes “the uncodified but very real offense called `contempt of cop.’” A Mundane who refuses to acknowledge the proprietary claim made by the officer who detains him can expect summary punishment of the same kind once visited on slaves by their overseers, and for exactly the same reason. It was exceedingly uncommon for abusive slave “owners” or overseers to be punished. In similar fashion, only in exceptionally egregious cases will a police officer face prosecution for brutalizing a citizen.
One useful illustration of the scope of permissible police violence is seen in the fact that none of the eight Fullerton, California police officers who beat to death an unarmed, helpless, mentally ill man named Kelly Thomas five years ago was ever convicted of a criminal offense. That case also usefully underscores the fact that the slave overseer mindset of police is not a function of racial bias.
Only two of the assailants – Officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cincinelli – were prosecuted, and they were acquitted. Dr. Steven Karch, an “expert witness” routinely deployed to defend criminal behavior by police, gave a credulous jury an excuse to pretend that the 160-pound Thomas somehow posed a threat to eight police officers, and that rather than being killed by the officers who beat, kicked, tasered, and suffocated him, Kelly just happened to die from the long-deferred consequences of methamphetamine use several years earlier.
As an overture to the beating, Officer Ramos theatrically snapped on latex gloves while taunting the victim: “See these fists? There’re getting ready to f*ck you up.” Cincinelli, who repeatedly clubbed the victim’s face with the butt of his Taser, later gloated that he had “just smashed his face to hell.”
Photographs taken of Kelly while he was in an irreversible coma attest to the thoroughness with which Cincinelli and his comrades carried out their mandate to obtain submission through criminal violence. I suspect that if photography had been available in 1839, similar pictures would exist of a slave woman named Mira who was beaten and scourged to death by a North Carolina resident named Hoover who presumed to claim her as his property.

So grotesque was the disfigurement of Mira’s mortal remains that Hoover was indicted for murder and then convicted of that offense by a jury culled from a population that was inured to the routine barbarism typical of chattel slavery.
In the ruling State v. John Mann ten years earlier, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Thomas Ruffin wrote that “The power of the master must be absolute, to render the submission of the slave perfect.”
A slave is “one doomed in his own person, and his posterity, to live without knowledge, and without the capacity to make anything his own, and to toil that another may reap the fruits,” Ruffin explained, and the slave would accept this only if the master exercised “uncontrolled authority over his body” – without that authority being subject to judicial review. In that 1829 case, a man who had leased a slave named Lydia had shot and wounded her when she tried to escape. The only salient issue for Ruffin was whether someone who had leased the labor of a human claimed as the property of another enjoyed the same legal immunities as the “owner” himself.
Ruffin dealt with similar questions a decade later in North Carolina v. Hoover. The appellant insisted that he had been required to exercise the “rights” explained by Ruffin’s earlier decision with great severity, because Mira “had attempted to burn his barn, and was disobedient and impudent to her mistress.” Hoover also claimed that Mira had attempted to poison his family. The “evidence” for those accusations was a confession extracted from the helpless woman through torture. At the time she was killed, Mira had just delivered a child and was too weak to work.
The trial judge had explained to the jury that they could acquit Hoover, or find him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter, if they determined that the victim’s conduct provided “legal provocation” to the killer – which would have included disobeying “the orders of her master.” They could likewise find extenuation on Hoover’s behalf if the killing followed such a provocation so quickly that “his passion had not a reasonable time to cool and subside”; in those circumstances the offense would be manslaughter, rather than murder.
Slave “owners” and overseers, like contemporary cops, were expected to follow a “use of force continuum” in the exercise of power no human being can rightfully wield against another – and on those vanishingly rare occasions that resulted in prosecution, the courts were expected to prioritize leniency.
Ruffin’s ruling in North Carolina v Hoover was unalloyed barbarism lacquered with genteel language. He offered an extravagant apology to the killer as he explained that he could not find sufficient grounds for overturning the conviction – and not for want of effort.“A master may lawfully punish his slave,” Ruffin declared, “and the degree must, in general, be left to his own judgment and humanity, and cannot be judicially questioned. But the master’s authority is not altogether unlimited. He must not kill. There is, at the least, this restriction upon his power; he must stop short of taking a life.”
The slave’s is a lesser life than that of the person claiming to own him, to be sure, and wherever possible, means will be found to justify the lethal exercise of a slave master’s discretion: “If death unhappily ensue from the master’s chastisement of the slave, inflicted apparently with a good intent, for reformation or example, and with no purpose to take a life, or to put in in jeopardy, the law would doubtless tenderly regard every circumstances, which, judging from the conduct generally of masters toward slaves, might reasonably be supposed to have hurried the party into excess.”
Buried beneath that avalanche of adverbs is a principle now known as “qualified immunity,” which is now invoked to justify the criminal violence of police officers like Michael Slager.

"You can't fight City Hall!" we are told. Guess what? I'm fighting City Hall -- and I explain why in this week's Freedom Zealot Podcast:  

Please visit The Libertarian Institute -- you will be glad that you did!






Dum spiro, pugno!

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Nigeria: Amnesty International “You’re an agent of destabilization”

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Sun, 12/04/2016 - 12:22
Quite an accusation. Quite accurate. Let’s read it, together. I have real problems beleiving Amnesty Internations or Human Rights Watch or many,  many other NGO's who demonstrate extreme bias in their human rights 'concerns' Concerns that always work out so well for the global tyranny known as NATO
IPOB killing: You’re agent of destabilisation, Group tells Amnesty Int’lA Civil Society Organization, Stand Up Nigeria, SUN, has accused Amnesty International, AI, of doctoring its report that alleged the killing of 150 IPOB members with a plot to destabilize Nigeria, just like it did in Libya, Iran and Syria.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, SUN Director of Public Affairs, Rev. Christie Amor described Amnesty International as “agent of destabilization” and “merchant of war”

“in early 2011, Amnesty International gave the world a bogus report on whose strength a no-fly zone was imposed on Libya. The sequence of event after this led to the ouster and eventual murder of Muammar Qaddafi. By June of the same year, the same Amnesty International’s investigation admitted that the international NGO cannot prove that Qaddaffi’s troops committed the rights violations as it previously claimed.”

“Instead, AI found that the so called rebels  “made false claims and manufactured evidence.”

“In 1990, Amnesty International was pivotal to the decision by members of a western coalition to invade Iraq and consequently spark off the chain of events that produced today’s basket case called Iraq.”

According to her, the lesson from these two major catastrophic outings did nothing to dissuade Amnesty International from meddling in the affairs of nations, saying the organization has persisted in disregarding the sovereignty of countries in which it interferes so long as there is a war to be started.

The group accused the organisation of also having a hand in the ongoing Syrian war, saying “the foreign interventions provoked on the strength of its fantasy reports has eroded the ability of the Syrian military forces to decisively clear out the foreign terrorists that overran their country since attacks on ISIS are inevitably researched as massacre of civilians.”

Amor said it appears AI has now shifted its attention to Nigeria as it has repeatedly tried to carry out such tactics which led to outbreak of war in other countries.

She said, “If we look closely, the three countries – Iraq, Syria and Libya – have direct bearing on the growth of Boko Haram in Nigeria. The growth of ISIS in Iraq and Syria was a morale booster for insurgents in Nigeria while the arms supplied to moderate rebels in those places found their way across the Mediterranean to African shores from where a now porous and borderless Libya ensure those advanced weapons end up with Boko Haram. One string runs through all the country: Amnesty International.”
She said it is suspicious that in the United States where police departments were reported to have extra judicially executed 997 people between 2015 and now, Amnesty International has not made any public report in the “tragic systematic execution of ethnic minorities.”

She said, “if Amnesty International has been able to issue any report about this tragic systematic execution of ethnic minorities, then the report must have been specifically kept secret.”

Speaking further, Amor said what is crystal clear is that Amnesty International has concluded and is resolute on giving  Nigeria the Libya treatment whereby this country would not be able to defend itself against the so called “unarmed activists" who we know as Biafra separatists.”

According to her, “this is why it issued its recent report that lied about 150 Biafran separatist terrorists being killed by the army. Amnesty International’s research methodology and even the wording in this case is frighteningly similar to the one it issued in Libya and Iraq before then, with heavy reliance on the testimonies of the “activists”.

“From experience we now know that the NGO usually plant such witnesses to present accounts that suit its agenda.”

“In the past we have simply dismissed such ploys as mischief but in this instance we have to warn that the scheme has done too far and must no longer be ignored by citizens and government alike.”
“We therefore ask pertinent questions as citizens: Who protects the common masses should the military decide to go to bed?”

“In whose interest would it be for our army to become incapacitated as being pursued by Amnesty International: the masses or the terrorists and hoodlums who carry out these criminal infractions? ”

“What is our government waiting for before expelling Amnesty International or taking other decisive steps?”

She therefore demanded that the Federal Government takes decisive actions against Amnesty International knowing that the citizens of Nigeria who bear the pains of activities of this group have rights to life.

She said, “this would be consistent with Articles 3 and 30 of  the Universal Declaration on Human Rights that envisaged that citizens’ rights take priority far and above miscreants that torment, terrorize and humiliate others in the society using crude force.”
Then we’ll have a flashback...
Let’s recall all together how often NGO’s have done the dirty work for NATO.
Most probably there is more then one post here covering the deceitful ways employed to destroy Libya

2011-Humans Rights Imposters used to spawn NATO's fraudulent war on Libya

hattip Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
excerpting...
The war against Libya is built on fraud. The United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions against Libya on the basis of unproven claims, specifically that Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was killing his own people in Benghazi. The claim in its exact form was that Qaddafi had ordered Libyan forces to kill 6,000 people in Benghazi. These claims were widely disseminated, but always vaguely explained. It was on the basis of this claim that Libya was referred to the U.N.  Sliman Bouchuguir is an unheard of figure for most, but he has authored a doctoral thesis that has been widely quoted and used in strategic circles in the United States. This thesis was published in 1979 as a book, The Use of Oil as a Political Weapon: A Case Study of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. Bouchuguir’s analytical thesis reflects an important line of thinking in Washington, as well as London and Moreover, Bouchuiguir did his thesis at George Washington University under Bernard Reich. Reich is a political scientist and professor of international relations. He has worked and held positions at places like the U.S. Defense Intelligence College, the United States Air Force Special Operations School, the Marine Corps War College, and the Shiloah Center at Tel Aviv University. He has consulted on the Middle East for the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. State Department and received grants such as the Defense Academic Research Support Program Research Grant and the German Marshal Fund Grant. Reich also was or is presently on the editorial boards of journals such as Israel Affairs (1994-present), Terrorism: An International Journal (1987-1994), and The New Middle East (1971-1973).It is also clear that Reich is tied to Israeli interests. He has even written a book about the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel. He has also been an advocate for a “New Middle East” which would be favourable to Israel.A New Middle East including North Africa.... Well that's a familiar theme, isn't it?
As Nigeria is being destabilized for the remake?


Embedding yet again, as in 2011:



 




 Part 2 Here
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Donald Trump and the greatest show on earth - Winter, 2016

The Rise of Russia - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 19:19
After eight years of President Barack Obama and the rampant globalization, multiculturalism and ultra-liberalism of his administration, I guess a President Donald Trump was a mathematical inevitability, if not indeed a consequence of supernatural intervention. What happened on the night of November 08, 2016 was a watershed moment in American politics. What happened on the night of November 08 was essentially an internal mutiny and a popular revolution against the comfortably entrenched yet utterly corrupt, elitist two-party political and financial system in place in the United States. Suddenly, the two century old facade of a political political system touted to be the finest in human history was shattered in front of our eyes. Before I continue with the rest of my commentary, I would like to point out that in my opinion there are essentially two main components in assessing Donald Trump's rise to power: The first one is the hard fought presidential campaign which revealed a lot about the entrenched elitist political system in the United States and the second one is the question as to whether or not Donald Trump will do (or rather be allowed to do) the things he promised his supporters during the presidential campaign. These are the two fundamental aspects of the recent presidential race in the United States I want to reflect on in this blog commentary.

The greatest circus/show on earth

As with all presidential contests in the United States, this one was also setup to be a well choreographed show. As it had been for generations before, this presidential race was to be a closed-circuit political contest between professional politicians from the two factions of the American empire's ruling elite. This presidential race was essentially setup to give Hillary Clinton the presidency. Then came Trump. Then came chaos. The show soon turned into a global spectacle. No one in the political establishment in the United States could predict the groundswell of support the bombastic billionaire from New York would garner in a very short period of time, and no one in Washington DC expected a relative outsider like Donald Trump to burst into their town and ruin their two-ring circus. Speaking of circuses and shows, more-and-more people are coming to recognize the political system in the United States as a circus. The following television documentary by Showtime is a pretty good depiction of this year's highly choreographed show -
The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth: http://www.hulu.com/the-circus-inside-the-greatest-political-show-on-earthAll the odds were stacked against the Trump campaign right from the very beginning. Right from the start not only was Donald Trump facing strong opposition from liberals and Democrats but also from conservatives and Republicans; not only was he facing strong opposition from bankers on Wall Street but also from the nation's powerful propaganda organs; not only was he facing strong opposition from non-white, minority groups but also from liberal Jews (a vast majority of American Jewry). At times the Trump campaign faced what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. This was the first presidential contest in the United States, perhaps in the entire world, where the duly nominated presidential candidate of a major political party was not only not fully endorsed by members of his party but viciously attacked by it as well. Frankly, I really didn't think Donald Trump would win the contest. But he did. But it wasn't easy or pretty or even democratic.

The Trump campaign, Wikileaks, Project Veritas, some influential right-wing Jews and elements within the Anglo-American establishment itself (as suggested by the meddling of "Brexit" officials in the affair and the FBI's strange behavior in the closing weeks of the presidential campaign) put up a gargantuan fight and Middle America responded en masse. Speaking of Donald Trump's influential backers and Middle America -
We don’t believe there is a functional conservative party in this country, and we certainly don’t think the Republican Party is that... It’s going to be an insurgent, center-right populist movement that is virulently anti-establishment, and it’s going to continue to hammer this city, both the progressive left and the institutional Republican Party” - Steve Bannon in a 2010 interviewAs we can see from Donald Trump's controversial political strategist's quote, merely two years into Barack Obama's presidency the United States was already looking ripe for a major political shakeup. Reading the quote the reader can clearly see that those behind Donald Trump's rapid rise to power in Washington DC already knew some years ago what needed to be done and the kind of person that could do it. It is now apparent that Donald Trump was precisely that person influential elements within the United States were desperately looking for.

With the United States ready for a political makeover, Trump's presidential campaign hit a raw nerve soon after its commencement. Sidelined for many decades, Americans of the of the country's "Heartland" had suddenly found a reassuring voice in Donald Trump. After years of being shunned and maligned, here was someone speaking their language and he was doing so in a manner they readily understood and, needless to say, fully appreciated. Presidential candidate Donald Trump was publicly and angrily talking about things most American politicians would not dare talk about in public. What he was essentially doing was expressing in public what was on the minds of tens-of-millions of disgruntled, White Americans across the United States. Trump was giving a very prominent voice to a very major yet literally dying constituency in the country. It worked. Middle America responded en masse to presidential candidate Trump's call to "make America great again". It now feels very surreal saying the words, President Trump.

In the end, although two millions more votes were actually cast for Hillary Clinton - which was somewhat to be expected because American society has become increasingly liberal, increasingly feminist, increasingly homosexual, increasingly immigrant, increasingly non-White and increasingly non-Christian - the Electoral College, albeit not very "democratic" in nature, worked exactly as it was meant to by the nation's founding fathers. Simply put: The Electoral College was designed to give the nation's sparsely populated, rural states some degree of political voice because the bulk of the voting constituency in the United States has historically been concentrated in the nation's more populated coastal states. Because the nation's rapidly growing liberal, immigrant and minority demographics today are also concentrated along the nation's coastal states, I predict there will be a fight in coming years to do away with the Electoral College system. So, in a sense, Donald Trump's victory, if it does achieve some of its stated goals, may indeed be the last chance "White America" has to maintain its so-called Whiteness (i.e. European heritage).

In my opinion, what happened on the night of November 08 was indeed a rebellion, an uprising and, in my opinion, also an internal mutiny. What we saw on November 08 was no doubt a revolution and at its core, this revolution was represented by America's White, Christian, native born, conservative, rural and working-class demographics - an erstwhile dominant constituency in the United States and one that has been maligned and ignored in recent decades by the political establishment in Washington DC. This demographic group, concentrated mainly in the American Heartland, has now risen to the occasion and observers are taking note. After eight years of Barack Obama and liberalism gone wild, the deplorables have risen and Whites have lashed out.

From the very start this year's presidential elections in the United States had very high expectations especially in the category of entertainment and suspense. Saying it surpassed all expectations would be a gross understatement. This year's presidential elections more than lived up to its reputation as the greatest show on earth. I may be wrong but I have also felt a very strong sense of destiny in the air, as if Donald Trump's political saga was preordained by higher powers. Mainstream political observers also seem to be feeling similarly. Are there higher powers attempting to put the United States on the straight-and-narrow path? Does Donald Trump's political victory have esoteric underpinnings? I have no way of knowing any of this for sure but his victory did remind me of the following passage I had read in a book some years ago -
"Of course, any good theory which seeks to explain why the world is as it is must also help predict what will happen next, and the last chapter reveals what that will be - always presuming, of course, that the great cosmic plan of the secret societies proves to be successful. This plan will encompass a belief that the great new impulse for evolution will rise in Russia, that European civilization will collapse and that, finally, the flame of true spirituality will be kept burning in America" - The Secret History of the World by Mark Booth (2008)Are Secret Societies, or at least some of them, behind some of the political phenomenons we have witnessed in recent years? Is there a new global impetus behind Moscow's recent successes? Was London's Brexit somehow related to any of this? Are the mini-revolutions going on in continental Europe somehow connected to any of this? Are influential elements in the Western world trying to ally with a rising Russia? Are influential elements in the Anglo-American world trying to remake global order by retreating into a self-imposed isolation? Will Donald Trump's victory usher in a new period of non-interventionism and political enlightenment in the United States? Is the United States finally in the midst of a major reformation, readjustment or perhaps a downsizing of sorts?

Only time will have the answers to these questions. For now, we the people can only hope.

For many years I have been hoping for the downsizing of the American empire not only because I wanted Washington DC to stop its crimes against humanity but also because I wanted to see the survival of the United States itself. The American empire has become too decadent. The American empire has become too violent. The American empire has become too unsustainable. The American empire needs a downsizing. Donald Trump's victory has been the first glimmer of hope I have felt in this regard in my lifetime. I hope to see this new phase in American politics finally usher in a period of wisdom, humility and reflection. Such a thing may or may not yet happen, as the signs from the Trump camp remain mixed, but there is now at least an atmosphere of hope. I, like President Putin, want to see the development of better relations between Russia and the United States. If a Trump administration does nothing else but improve Russian-American relations, that would be good enough for me because better Russian-American relations is crucially important for global peace. Needless to say, better Russian-American relations can also be very beneficial for Armenia.

Flaws of the American political system now showing
Throughout much of the 20th century the many flaws of American democracy lay hidden behind the perception that something much worst existed overseas. For Americans, the existence of totalitarian powers such as Nazi Germany, Communist China and the Soviet Union confirmed this belief. As long as dictatorial regimes and communist governments existed around the world, the American political system enjoyed a feeling of supremacy. As long as there were backward peoples and bountiful lands to exploit, their capitalism would continue to work. As long as parts of the world burned, the Anglo-American world felt secure in their blissful isolation. As long as the United States was the biggest bully on the block, Americans felt like global hegemons. As long as Joe on Main Street had a steady job, weekend sports to watch on his television set and a cold six-pack of beer at his disposal, the political charade in the United States would continue indefinitely.

With the rise of Russia and China in recent years, the Uncle Sam understands that it is no longer the only biggest or the baddest bully on the world stage. As recent events in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria have revealed, the United States is no longer a global hegemon. With falling wages and rising unemployment, Americans are now looking around and taking note. What they are seeing is a nation that is rapidly changing for the worst. What they are seeing is a nation where they no longer feel they are a part of, a nation they feel is being sold to the highest bidder by their officials. While Middle America lived well, the corruption in Washington DC did not concern them, essentially because it did not directly affect them. Unfortunately for Uncle Sam, this is changing. Americans on both sides of the political divide are slowly awakening. The proliferation of social media is facilitating this political renaissance, not only in the United States but around the world.

The fundamental worry for the political/financial elite is not that Donald Trump got elected to the presidency but that this election cycle has finally exposed the lies of American democracy. So, the jig is up as they say in American parlance. Consequently, we are seeing a rash of highly critical observations about the utter corruption in Washington DC -
"When Louis XVI gave Ben Franklin a diamond-encrusted snuffbox, the gift troubled Americans: it threatened to corrupt him by clouding his judgment. By contrast, in 2010 the Supreme Court gave corporations the right to spend unlimited money to influence elections"The United States has come a long way from when a group of enlightened men, albeit Freemasons supported by the king of France, led a nation of farmers to defeat the British monarchy and commence the American experiment. In recent times, the United States has come to resemble the powers it had defeated on its rise to global hegemony: Imperial Britain, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In a sense, the United States had become the monsters is had fought and defeated. What we have in Washington DC today is a government that has been usurped by big money (which includes international donors) and power-hungry individuals willing to blindly serve it. Corruption in American politics has reached profound depths. 

All of this was until very recently kept away from the public's eye. They had created the perception that the United States was the world's gold standard when it came to "free and fair" governance. This myth has now been shattered. Perhaps forever. The mask has come off. The unmasking began eight years ago when the nation's financial/political elite put into power their House Negro and began an earnest push to thoroughly liberalize American society. This, needless to say, angered and deeply disillusioned tens-of-millions of the country's White/Christian demographic. From the perspective of Middle America, the nation's political elite was gradually transforming the United States into a third world nation. Donald Trump's presidential candidacy cleverly managed to coalesce and give direction to the anger that had been building up on Main Street, USA.

When he first appeared in the presidential two-ring circus last year Donald Trump was expected to be a political prop and an eye-catching stage decoration. Quite unexpectedly for all, he instead emerged as the leader of the anti-corruption, anti-establishment, anti-globalist and anti-immigration movements that were already brewing in the country. In response, Republican officials intentionally tried to throw this contest as they had done back in 2012 when they intentionally failed to make the case against Barack Obama. This time again it seemed that the Republican party would rather see Hillary Clinton, someone the party has supposedly hated since the 1990s, win the presidency. Therefore, derive your conclusions. The Republican elite in Washington DC had plans other than what their constituents wanted or what the country needed. As it had been for the past few decades, the political/financial elite in Washington DC had plans other than what was actually good for the United States.

In hindsight, it is now obvious that Americans were ready and eagerly waiting if I may add for a person like Donald Trump. That said, had it not been for Wikileaks, Julian Assange, influential Jews, Project Veritas, those behind Brexit and an internal rebellion by officials in the FBI and perhaps the NSA, there is no way Donald Trump could have won the presidency. So, in the end, what got Trump into the presidency was anything but democracy.

Nevertheless, no playwright, no novelist, no movie producer - from Hollywood to Bollywood - could have scripted a work this exciting, this entertaining, this captivating and this thrilling. The corruption, the bribery, the insider deals, the scandals, the ties to Islamic terrorism, the ties to the occult, the ties to pedophiles, the violence, the abuse of power, the vote rigging, the voter fraud, the illegals voting, the hacked electronic voting machines, the conspiracies, the societal tension, the hate, the tribal politics, the mysterious deaths, the calls for authoritarianism, the calls to curb democracy, the polarization, the divisions and the insults witnessed in the "greatest democracy on earth" have sent shock-waves around the world. Many around the world are wasting no time now in exploiting the sociopolitical plight the United States suddenly finds itself in. And many others still must be left wondering, what the hell happened to that "shinning city on the hill", that wonderful "leader of the free world", that ever bright "beacon of democracy", that most "exceptional" of nations ever known to humanity?

Speaking of political observers, I hope Armenians have been watching all this excitement very carefully. More specifically, I hope that the brain-dead idiots of Armenia's "democracy" and "civic society" movements have been closely observing the utter corruption and criminality of precisely those who have been directly funding them and encouraging them to foment a revolution in their homeland -
Open Society Foundations Armenia grant list for 2016: http://www.osf.am/about-company/grants-lists/2016/ US spent $585mn on ‘promoting democracy’ worldwide in past year: https://www.rt.com/news/367436-us-promoting-democracy-kerry/ Armenia's Westernizers and Democratizers must now be feeling somewhat uneasy. Their Western masters have been revealed to be a bunch of well-dressed criminals. Armenian officials are taking note. Many millions of people around the world must now be finding themselves surprised at the depth and seriousness of societal, economic and political problems that exists in the United States of America. But they shouldn't have been surprised at any of it. There is in fact nothing new to what has been happening in the United States. If people are surprised, amazed or shocked at the current state of affairs in the US, it's simply because they just didn't know American society and the American political system well enough. The only difference between now and the past is that in the past America's political problems - its internal dirty laundry so to speak - was well hidden below the country's expertly polished political facade. The nation's serious flaws was hidden underneath a cover of hype and myth expertly created by the nation's political/financial elite via powerful propaganda tools like Hollywood, educational curriculum and the mainstream news media. In the past, everything in the United States was tightly controlled. In the past, there was no such thing as internet, hacking, twitter or social media.

Now, suddenly, the dirty-stinky laundry of American society and politics is being showcased for all to see. For this we can only thank Donald Trump, Julian Assange, Wikileaks, Project Veritas and to some extent America's favorite socialist, Bernie Sanders. The aforementioned essentially shattered age-long myth of American democracy. In doing so, they also helped liberated tens-of-millions of minds around the world, including that of Americans, from the psychological bondage of blindly believing in the perceived superiority of the American political system. The following articles speak for themselves -
Americans are losing faith in democracy - and in each other: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-are-losing-faith-in-democracy--and-in-each-otherAmericans Don’t Trust Their Institutions Anymore: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/americans-dont-trust-their-institutions-anymore/ How hackers eroded Americans' trust in democratic process:  http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Passcode/2016/1107/How-hackers-eroded-Americans-trust-in-democratic-process From Trump to Brexit: Trust in Government Is Collapsing Around the World: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/07/trust-institutions-trump-brexit/489554/All in all, at least on the surface, Donald Trump's victory was a victory for real American patriots and a symbolic defeat for the neoliberal, neoconservative, multicultural and globalist agenda in the country. I hope that the powers that helped put Donald Trump into power will continue their mutiny against the nation's two-party elite and help bring the United States back to its republican roots. If the mutineers in question do not pursue what they started to the very end and truly drain the swamp, Trump's victory will prove to have been in vain. If Trump's administration does not genuinely try to breakaway from Washington DC's disastrous policies around the world, his victory will eventually prove to have been in vain. If Washington DC does not abandon its collaboration with Zionists, globalists and Islamists, nothing will change and America's decline will continue unabated. As I said at the beginning of this commentary, while I have some hope, I am also ready to be disappointed. The signs from the Trump camp are mixed -
Trump Taps Hollywood’s Mnuchin for Treasury and Dines With Romney: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/us/politics/steven-terner-mnuchin-trump-treasury-secretaryNetanyahu calls Trump 'a true friend' of Israel: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/netanyahu-trump-israel-true-friend Trump and the Neoconservatives: John Bolton for secretary of state?: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/trump-and-the-neoconservatives/I have always said this and I'll say it again: Presidential elections in the United States are basically about two interrelated groups of well funded and well connected people competing for the American empire's control-panels. There has not been "free and fair" elections in the United States for generations, if ever. The political system entrenched in the United States is rigged to be a two-party show and Democrats and Republicans are consequently two sides of the same coin. In a sense, every four years the political/financial elite in the country decide what shirt the sheeple will wear and the sheeple are given the "democratic" choice of picking between two colors. Sometimes they are not even given that choice. The political system in the United States is also like a two-ring circus managed by a ringmaster that the audience does not get to see. In other words, American presidents are appointed by powerful people to be elected by the sheeple. American presidents are therefore tasked with being the spokesmen - or salesmen - for the powerful special interests running the show behind the scenes. More recently, the United States has come to resemble a multi-national corporation in which the American citizenry is its work force.

The political system in the United States is most certainly rigged. The elite that had come to control the nation's political and economic life had crafted a system that allowed a select few people into their closed-circuit club only if they played by the rules that were set by them. This is why the Democrat party establishment rigged the elections process against Bernie Sanders and the Republican party establishment did its best to rig the elections process against Donald Trump. It's not like Sanders and Trump were total outsiders, but the problem for the ruling establishment was that they were not totally submissive insiders. But then again, it was yet another group of insiders that rose unexpectedly and pushed Donald Trump past the finish line. I would also like to add that when Donald Trump talks about nationalism, making peace with Russia, shutting down the US border with Mexico and bring back American businesses from places like China, he may be cleverly appealing to the average American, but he is unnerving the country's international elite -
Trump catches attention of Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg, Trilateral: https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/trump-catches-attention-of-cfr-bilderberg-trilateral/The world's current economic/financial paradigm, with the United States and Britain at its epicenter, was created by secretive and elitist organizations like the three noted in the link above. They made the US Dollar into the world's reserve currency, a move that has proven resilient. They based the Anglo-American economic model on a growth principal, which in reality is unsustainable. They created credit ratings and standards for the world economy, which in reality are politically motivated. In other words, when it comes to global trade, economy or finance, they created a system where everything is based in the Anglo-American world, the US Dollar and profit.

It's this international elite that has wanted to contain/isolate potential competitors like Russia. It's this international elite that created the International Monetary Fund/World Bank. It's this international elite that created the United Nations. It's this international elite that created the European Union. It's this international elite that convinced American officials to outsource US industry to nations like China, Vietnam, Singapore and Mexico. It's this international elite that designed the trade agreement North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to create an interdependent North American superstate. It's this international elite that designed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to make Asia-Pacific nations economically dependent on the United States. It's this international elite that has transformed the US from an industrial superpower to a consumer-based service sector economy. It's this international elite that has convinced American officials to wide-open US borders to third world migration in order to continue feeding their economic system with low wage workers.

American industry and businesses have been moving to other countries not because American businessmen are stupid or simply greedy as we are told by the elite's propaganda organs (i.e. mainstream news media) but because the international elite that controls global commerce and the economic/financial strings of the American empire simply wants it that way. This agenda of theirs was started in the early 1970s and it was implemented for the sole purpose of economically and financially tethering economies of strategic nations around the world to the north American imperial behemoth they had created. Once we educate ourselves about this topic and listen closely to what high ranking policymakers in the US (not "elected politicians" but appointed senior officials like Ben Bernanke, Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski) have to say about the reasons why American officials have been outsourcing American businesses and crafting trade agreements like NAFTA and TPP, we will begin to understand that the economic/financial system in place in the United States today has actually very little to do with what's good for the country. The following are some pertinent articles I recently came across that I want to share with my readers -
TPP Is a National Security Imperative: http://www.wsj.com/articles/trade-is-a-national-security-imperative-1463440063 A Retreat From TPP Would Empower China: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/opinion/a-retreat-from-tpp-would-empower-china.htmlCan Globalization Be Salvaged?: http://www.wsj.com/articles/can-globalization-be-salvaged-1478102789Reading between-the-lines of the articles I linked to above one can come to the conclusion/realization that trade deals such as NAFTA and TPP are essentially the sacrificing of American interests in the name of raw capitalism and hegemonic imperialism. By outsourcing American businesses to countries with low wages and lax business regulations, internationally run corporations based within the United States continue accumulating immense wealth and make strategically important nations such as China and Mexico dependent on the American economy for survival. This is essentially why industrial production in the US has been outsourced and the once industrial behemoth that was the US economy has been turned into a consumer-based service economy. This is why tens-of-millions of people in the world's wealthiest and most powerful country are unemployed or underemployed. This is why poverty in the United States is on the rise and the middle class continues to shrink. This is why the so-called American Dream is dead.

All in all, it's a capitalistic and an imperialistic calculus formulated by those who are behind influential organizations like Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission and Bilderberg Group, and it's something that is negatively impacting not only the United States but also the rest of the world.

It was the above mentioned international elite that had come to control the US during the Cold War period and it was this international elite that had transformed the US into the epicenter of various globalist projects. The US has thus been a catalyst for globalist agendas - be it economic, be it political, be it financial, be it cultural  - since the end of the Second World War. This has drastically altered the character of the US and has all but decimated its middle class. Actually, the country's infrastructure is failing also as a result of the ruling elite's aforementioned policies. Allow me to explain in simple terms: While American officials claim they do not have the funds to repair the country's failing infrastructure - and boost the country's economy and the middle class in the process by creating millions of well paying jobs throughout the country - they somehow have the funds - $5 TRILLION and counting to be exact - to fight hegemonic wars in the Middle East and elsewhere. While they cry about not having the money to spend on the country, they somehow have the tens-of-billions of dollars to waste. An immense wealth is being wasted in imperial pursuits of grandiose agendas while the country itself slowly transforms into a third world status; the country's once famed civil liberties slowly disappear; and the US, once seen as the world's policeman, begins to be seen as "the biggest threat to world peace".

The US economy today, as well as its politics, has less to do with the interests of the American people per se and more to do with the international elite's desire to maintain their wealth and global hegemony. The faster Americans (who have been convinced by the ruling elite that a lot of what I have just outlined here is a "conspiracy theory") realizes all this, the faster will they begin to make better sense of what has happened to their country. The good news is that a reawakening of some sort may be taking place. An internal push-back to all this was, at least in part, what the Trump and Brexit phenomenons may have been all about. The following is an American economist's take on this topic -
Economist Who Predicted Brexit and Trump Explains Capitalism's Collapse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K8bf6dbYt4A reaction against all this - the internal mutiny I referred to above - is essentially what put Donald Trump into the White House. At the end of the day, we don't exactly know who is behind Donald Trump. Some of the "Secret Societies" I referred to above, at least elements within them, may also be among those supporting him from behind-the-scenes. His support may also be coming from an internal palace coup somewhat similar to the FSB-led coup that put Vladimir Putin into power in Russian in the late 1990s. We won't know for sure.
 
Although much of the public support Donald Trump had was a direct reaction to the above mentioned aspects of American politics, unfortunately, it can also be said that just like all other American presidents before him, Donald Trump was also more-or-less appointed to high office by internal and still somewhat mysterious forces. Like all other presidents before him, a President Trump will therefore have no choice but to fall in-line and do the bidding of his handlers as well. My only hope at this point is that his handlers may prove wiser than what Washington DC has had in recent decades. Believe me, that is no small hope to have.

They are in damage control mode

With the proverbial cat out of the bag, i.e with the corruption of the system now fully exposed, the political establishment in Washington DC is panicking and are currently in damage control mode as a result. Having come to terms with a Trump victory, they are beginning to put a spin on it. Therefore, disregard the lofty talk about the "vibrancy of American democracy" and that "the system worked even if we don't like its outcome". In reality, the "American political system" imploded in front of our very eyes. There was nothing "democratic" about the presidential elections we all witnessed recently.

Yes, Donald Trump did have the support of tens-of-millions of Americans (although around two million more votes is said to have gone to Hillary Clinton) but his victory on November 08 was no doubt made possible by mysterious groups of people and an internal mutiny. With the lies of American democracy therefore exposed for all to see, the entrenched elite is now seriously panicking.

The country's founding fathers and its political/financial elite thereafter knew very well that democracy - the notion that ignorant masses of a given nation-state can be periodically entrusted with making political and/or economic decisions - would not work, especially for a nation as big, as diverse, as wealthy, as powerful and as influential as the United States. Their plan was to therefore have their subjects simply believe that they were participants in the political system. It worked quite well for a very long time. Generations of Americans truly believed they were part of a vibrant democratic system. The system in question was essentially based on faith; blind faith to be exact. Then came Donald Trump. Then came laud accusations that the political process in the United States is rigged and therefore undemocratic. And the world was watching. This is why they are panicking -
A Reckless Trump Undermines Democracy: http://iowastartingline.com/2016/10/21/a-reckless-trump-undermines-democracy/
The Lasting Damage From Trump's False 'Voter Fraud' Allegations: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/11/trump-vote-fraud/508868/ Analysis: Trump 'rigged' vote claim may leave lasting damage: https://www.yahoo.com/news/analysis-rigged-election-claims-may-leave-lasting-damage-064725181.html?soc_src=mail&soc_trk=maMainstream political punditry and government officials in the United States have been emphasizing the very crucial importance of the American voters' "confidence" in the system. God forbid that the myth of the American political system's divinity is shattered and Americans finally begin to question Uncle Sam's moral standing in the world. Thanks to Donald Trump their nightmare has now become reality. All of a sudden the United States no longer looks like a very exceptional country, nor does it look like a global authority, nor does it look like the world's policeman. Perhaps Philippine President Duterte put it best -
I refuse to be their laboratory rabbit... The days are over when Europe or America announced something and it was just acceptedThe panic they are feeling as a result of how this presidential election went down actually brings up an important matter I want to touch upon. As we all have seen, the political establishment in the United States acknowledges the paramount importance of having the electorate believe that they are part of a healthy political system. American officials acknowledge the strategic importance of positive attitudes and good morale in a country, which means they fully understand the serious dangers of cynicism and political apathy -
In 1969, British historian and aesthetician Sir Kenneth Clark stated the following: “It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilization. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs” A Dutch paper in 2004 called “The Effects of Strategic News on Political Cynicism, Issue Evaluations, and Policy Support” stated the following: “A Two-Wave Experiment found that the way the news media presents the news can cause political cynicism.”Interestingly, those panicking about the "importance of public confidence" in the United States toady are those who constantly try to destroy public confidence in countries around the world. For many decades Western powers have utilized NGOs, activists and propaganda outlets posing as news media to carry-out an information war against targeted societies. They have done this to sow societal despair and destroy morale in nations that would not submit to Western rule. Through their information war they would first seek to destroy the spirit, after which they would try to destroy the body either through economic sanctions, financial blackmail or war. Therefore, yes, in any society, confidence in one's government is crucially important. As we can now clearly see, what Western officials have feared most in their societies is EXACTLY what they have tried their best to export to societies like Armenia, Russia, China and Iran. I really hope Armenia's "Democratizers" and "Westernizers" have been closely watching what has been transpiring in their spiritual homeland.

Another aspect of their damage control efforts was their accusations that Russian intelligence was behind the email leaks by Julian Assange and Wikileaks. The email hacking in question was most probably carried-out by elements right within the Anglo-American intelligence apparatus or by elements within the secret societies I referred to above. Because Russia and President Putin have been vilified for decades by American officials and American news media, it was expedient for the Clinton camp and its backers to accuse Moscow of meddling. By accusing the Kremlin, they automatically created ambiguity and plausible deniability for the Clinton camp. For a short while it seemed like a brilliant move.

A day before Julian Assange had announced Wikileaks was going to release thousands of hacked emails which was expected to contain damaging information about Hillary Clinton and her political aides, American officials announced that Russians were behind the email hacking. Needless to say, expecting for a massive information storm to hit them, blaming Moscow was a strategic measure meant to delegitimize and cast doubt on whatever it was that was to be released by Wikileaks. And because the American sheeple has been made to believe that Russians are evil, they were for the most part believing the spin put out by the Clinton camp.Throughout the ordeal the Clinton camp and its supporters were even suggesting that the hacked emails may have been "doctored" by Russian intelligence -
These are hacked, stolen documents by the Russian government, which has weaponized WikiLeaks to help elect Donald Trump,” Glen Caplin, a senior Clinton campaign spokesman, told Yahoo News. “We’re not going to confirm the authenticity of any specific alleged communication.” Amazingly, after decades of meddling in Russian politics, Washington DC was all of a sudden accusing Moscow of meddling in American politics - and Americans were by-in-large believing it. This is the power of mental conditioning, brainwashing, societal engineering and psy-ops. If Russia is bad and Putin is evil, Americans would naturally be suspicious of anything and everything that involves Russia and Putin. To further distract the American public's attention, supporters of the Clinton campaign released audio recordings of sexist comments Donald Trump had made about women over ten years ago. The Clinton camp must have known for sure that Americans today are so dumbed-down and out of touch with reality that they would be distracted by the audio recordings in question and simply ignore her hacked emails. It worked as well. All the talk in the country for a while was about Russian meddling and Trump's silly comments. As a result, little attention was given to the Clinton's very damning emails. If news media executives in the United States wanted it they could have made a very big deal of Hillary Clinton's emails because the information disclosed in the hacked emails truly astonishing. Yet, they didn't do it because they knew the Clinton camp would have had no chance against Donald Trump. The country's powerful mainstream news organizations, including so-called conservative ones among them, were therefore directly involved in the conspiracy against Donald Trump as well as the manipulation and deception of American voters themselves. So, what we saw was a clear case of political meddling not by Russia but by the mainstream news organizations in the United States. Moscow must be enjoying the free publicity the accusations over the email hacking it was getting for as the American saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

I would like to put the American news media into a proper context to the reader by pointing out the following: It is only a handful of agencies - six that control 90% of the nation's news media - decide what Americans see, read and hear and these operate under the supervision of the CIA. There is no such thing as a "free press" in the United States. Consequently, certain news items will be hyped-up, certain news items with be falsified, certain news items will be whitewashed and certain news items will be totally ignored - and all news items will laced with political spin, as deemed appropriate by the CIA. Mainstream news media in the US is actually in the business of creating an alternative reality. More and more people, including Americans, are beginning to see all this.  This is why Russia's RT is among the most popular news organizations in the world today.
Donald Trump versus America's ruling elite

One of the most important things that Donald Trump's recent political saga accomplished was to reveal the extent to which Jews have penetrated and are controlling the political life in the United States. Similar to what they have done with the country's news media, entertainment industry and its banking and finance, Jews have established a great degree of control over the political landscape in the United States as well. Not only are they firmly entrenched in the Democrat party, they also control the Republican party. Not only are they firmly entrenched within the country's liberal movements, they also control the country's conservative movement.

So, regardless of what political side an American may choose to be on, he or she is actually choosing a side that is managed at the very top by American Jewry.

When Donald Trump first announced his candidacy none of the political pundits or the entrenched establishment men in the country expected him to do so well. He was supposed to be a stage decoration or an interesting sideshow. Needless to say, he suddenly and quite spectacularly stole the show. It was as if he had been waiting and preparing all his life for this moment. He knew early on in his life that he would one day seek presidential office. I believe that Donald Trump's presidential bid and his subsequent win was his manifest destiny, and it has proven to be a watershed moment in American history. The United States will never be the same as a result. 

Trump was mentally preparing for this day for a very long time, and he thought he had laid the proper groundwork for himself. After all, he had built a multi-billion dollar business dynasty. He had turned his name into a national brand. He had established ties with both sides of the political isle in Washington DC. He had married his beloved daughter Ivanka into Judaism. He had surrounded himself with Jewish political advisers and campaign managers. Yet, Jewish owned news organizations in the US were crying:if you are a Jew, you should be very afraid of Donald Trump” and neoconservative Jewish warmongers were asking - is this the end of the West as we know it?"

The anti-Trump frenzy had gotten so bad, that Max Boot (who Senator Marco Rubio's "foreign policy adviser" and a well known American imperialist, neoconservative, Council on Foreign Relations member and Russian-born son of Jewish dissidents) went on record to publicly claim that he "would sooner vote for Josef Stalin than vote for Donald Trump".

The Jewish establishment in the US and by extension everyone else within news media and government in the US remained largely against Donald Trump throughout his presidential campaign. Consequently, the country's neoliberal establishment (the Jewish-led left wing) was against him and the country's neoconservative establishment (the Jewish-led right wing) was against him. Consequently, most political pundits and news media outlets in the US (mostly Jewish and/or Jewish owned) have been attacking him incessantly and viciously, which has continued even after Trump's victory.

Why do we see this unbridled hysteria about a Trump presidency within the Jewish community? In my opinion, because unlike other presidential candidates who are willingly and enthusiastically surrendering themselves to the Jewish establishment in the United States, Trump and his backers are seen as independent players merely seeking to cooperate with them. This was very apparent in a talk Trump gave to a room full of influential Republican Jews early in his presidential bid. Listen carefully to his words -Donald Trump Speaks at Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum (12-3-15): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQYOvDmWqjoIf one had to identify the single event that turned the Jewish establishment in the US against Donald Trump, it would have to be this speech. From a Jewish perspective: Trump come across as intelligent, shrewd, aggressive, energetic, manipulating, patriotic, ambitious, entertaining, controversial, independent, charismatic, provocative and arrogant. He of course also had name recognition and he was very wealthy. The Jewish establishment quickly understood that Trump did not need and, more importantly, did not want financial support from them or from anyone else for that matter. The Jewish establishment also saw that Trump had populistic potential. Millions of enthusiastic and loyal supporters were rallying around him. Trump's message, or rather his message coupled with his aggressive/bombastic attitude, proved very appealing in particular to a disgruntled White America; the once all-powerful demographic in the country that has quite literally been dying off in recent years. Trump has suddenly and quite unexpectedly become a powerful political force, a movement, in a increasingly polarized nation that was utterly disillusioned with Washingtonian politics. Trump had become a powerful voice in a nation put into decline by the ruling establishment in Washington DC and Wall Street. This set off alarm bells among the Jewish establishment. The feeling among Jews must have been that they had experienced something similar to this before.

Trump's populist persona, his German pedigree, his immense popularity among White Christians and some of his rhetoric has reminded his detractors of historic figures like Hitler and Mussolini. From the Jewish perspective: Once a immensely popular public figure like Donald Trump, who has a following of tens-of-millions of White Christians in the country, rises to power in American politics on a nationalistic ideological platform based on anti-establishment, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiments... it's a very small leap thereafter to that thing called "antisemitism".

In my humble opinion, the fear Jews seem to have towards Donald Trump is primarily a primordial fear. Consequently, although Trump has gone out of his way to pander to the country's Jewish ruling elite to gain their approval, the Jewish ruling elite instinctually fears that he and his backers are not something they can't directly own or easily control. Trump will therefore not be trusted by them.

Ultimately, the US is too wealthy, too large, too powerful, too influential in the world, and the ruling elite in the country is too invested in the American empire to simply share power with a populist outsider who is not totally owned or controlled by them. The US is therefore too important because it is a powerful catalyst through which they have been pushing their agendas, including their Zionism, around the world for decades. When it comes to Washington DC and American politicians, the Jewish establishment will therefore seek total domination. 

We therefore had a situation in the US recently where there was a presidential candidate who was doing his utmost best to work with and from within the political system at hand; a presidential candidate who was immensely popular throughout the country; a Republican presidential candidate who was drawing large numbers of Democrat and independent voters into the Republican party... but also a Republican presidential candidate that the Republican establishment (and virtually everyone else in Washington DC) was vehemently opposed to. Instead of being happy that in the Trump campaign the Republican Party had finally gotten someone that record numbers of American voters are excited about, they were viciously attacking him. It was an extraordinary day in American history when the Republican establishment represented by former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney officially set out to subvert the will of the American people -Mitt Romney: Donald Trump is a 'phony, a fraud': http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/03/politics/mitt-romney-presidential-race-speech/ And it was not only Mitt Romney that was openly plotting against Donald Trump -  
Open Letter on Donald Trump from GOP National Security Leaders: http://warontherocks.com/2016/03/open-letter-on-donald-trump-from-gop-national-security-leaders/At Secretive Meeting, Tech CEOs And Top Republicans Commiserate, Plot To Stop Trump:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/aei-world-forum-donald-trump_us_56ddbd38e4b0ffe6f8ea125d?2oz85miBut what about the will of American voters? What happened to that wonderful thing called "democracy"? A well known American systematically worked his way into the political system setup by the country's ruling elite, but was being attacked by the same system because he was perceived to be too independent and too popular? Donald Trump's presidential bid has inadvertently revealed that even within a rigged, tightly controlled two-party system, which is designed to be in essence a closed circuit apparatus, there can be serious problems when a presidential candidate exhibits certain traits (e.g. popularity and independence) that the ruling elite does not like to see in presidential candidates. None of this makes any sense - until one looks at the bigger picture and realizes who and what controls political life in the US today. 
The US has become a showcase for Jews on the left and Jews on the right
What we are witnessing lately is birth of a new political paradigm in the US. Once upon a time Anglos (WASPs) exclusively and jealously ran the country. That is no longer the case today. America's WASP class has relinquished virtually all power to American-Jews and the international elite, a network of powerful entities around the world in which Jews play an influential role as well. But American-Jews in particular have achieved near total domination in the US today.
Today, Jews represent the American left (George Soros' neoliberal types), Jews represent the American right (Leon Strauss' neoconservative types). One side brings you imperial wars, along with "Judaeo-Christian" values, big business and American flags; the other side brings you imperial wars, along with abortions, feminism, multiculturalism, immigrants, welfare state and rainbow flags. Although Jews maintain close ties with their "conservative" shabbos goyim known as "Christian Zionists", they remain much more prolific and proactive in America's left. The US and by extension the Western world has thus become a test-tube and a playground for the Jewish elite. Virtually all American politicians - both Democrat and Republican - eat from Jewish hands. Immense amounts of Jewish money finances both sides of the political spectrum. They do this to have a firm footing and a say in any given political discourse.

The US has thus become a showcase for Jews on the left and Jews on the right - and those in the middle getting screwed is the average American. 

Jewish influence in the US today is so pervasive that when the "right" fights the "left", what we essentially see is Jewish infighting. We can clearly see this unique dynamic in modern America play out when they sometimes air their dirty laundry. When disagreements are sometimes observed between the US and Israel, you can bet it is Jewish infighting. Nevertheless, regardless of what political side you may think you are on, you are actually on their side. Jews are America's new ruling elite, as the following proves -Ivanka Trump is happy to be Jewish: http://www.timesofisrael.com/ivanka-trump-happy-to-be-jewish/Ted Cruz says: "If You Won't Stand With Israel, I Will Not Stand With You": http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2014/09/11/ted-cruz-under-fire-if-you-won-t-stand-with-israel-i-will-not-stand-with-you/ Senator Marco Rubio – Israel First, America Last: http://www.veteranstoday.com/2015/03/20/senator-marco-rubio-israeli-firsterBernie Sanders Is Jewish, but he doesn’t like to talk about it: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/25/us/politics/bernie-sanders-jewish.html?_r=0Hillary Has Jewish Roots: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hillary-has-jewish-roots/So, when the time came for AIPAC to organize a show of force, all the Shaboz goyim enthusiastically lined-up and one-by-one they got on their knees and begged for mercy. This of course including Donald Trump. In front of thousands of influential Jews, they took turns paying their homage. As the Jewish elite watched, the goyim fought hard to outdo each other in proving their unconditional allegiance to Jews and the Zionist state. Interestingly, the only candidate that was not present at the gathering was the only ethnic Jew in the bunch. Bernie Sanders obviously did not feel the need to pander to his kind. But in Trump's case, Jews were not impressed nor were they forgiving -Why most 2016 candidates are speaking at AIPAC:  http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/why-most-2016-candidates-are-speaking-at-aipac/ Donald Trump Full Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference (3-21-16): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHmINZRwiZU Donald Trump’s AIPAC Speech: “I Love Israel”: http://www.globalresearch.ca/donald-trumps-aipac-speech-i-love-israel/5516675AIPAC’s apology for Trump speech is unprecedented: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/03/22/aipacs-apology-for-trump-speech-is-unprecedented/This all affirms that Jews today are America's kingmakers. Jews today are the Western world's most holy of holies. Jews have once again managed to become their host nation's ruling class, a ruling class within which the ruled can only speak about in whispers. Yet, most dumbed-down and zombified Americans (a direct consequence of post Second World War social engineering they have been subjected to by Jews themselves) are not aware of the Jewish hijacking of US politics. And those few that are aware won't dare openly speak ill of it - lest they be branded as haters, racists, anti-Semites and Nazis.
As the reader can see, Jews therefore have not only captured the nation's centers of power, they have also captured the American people's minds. Through the proliferation of Holocaust propaganda in recent decades, Jews have succeeded in convincing the ever-naive goyim that it is a great sin to criticize Jews. Subsequently, the naive goy today wouldn't think twice about criticizing or attacking "Muslims", "Russians", "Chinese", "Arabs", "Europeans" or even "Christians"... but God forbid anyone criticizes God's chosen, the Jews.
I remain convinced that this is primarily a result of "social engineering" and mental conditioning that comes from either growing up in a Western nation or in a nation under Western influence. Through engineering tools like school curriculum, cinema, music, television programming, print media and news media, Jews have succeeded in thoroughly brainwashing the masses. That is actually how they have traditionally operated. They use cultural levers to brainwash and/or distract the masses, they use financial levers to buy officials and subvert governments. That is how they ruined Russia; that is how they ruined Germany; that is how they ruined the Middle East; that is how they are currently ruining the US. Organized Jewry plays a parasitical role in the human ecology. I say parasitical literally in the biological and ecological senses of the word and not as an ethnic slur.

Simply put: Jews stole America while Americans were too drunk, too high and too preoccupied with sex, television, shopping or baseball to notice it.  
Consequently, Jews today represent all that is modern America - in all its glory and gore. Consequently, much of what the world hates and/or fears about America today - be it its warmongering, multiculturalism, ultraliberalism, neoliberalism or its neoconservatism - can be traced to American Judaism. It's this Jewish nature and character - with its inherent hatred of Christians, Muslims, Europeans, Russians, Arabs and Persians - that will eventually destroy the US. The US is already in decline because subservient officials in Washington DC have been pursuing policies both at home and abroad that are beneficial to Jews and Israel but detrimental to the US.

Looking at the American political landscape, I now feel that it's final: To be considered for high office in America today, you have to be either fully Jewish, partially Jewish or simply more Jewish than Jewish. And Donald Trump has been taught a dear lesson in Jewology.

There is no democracy in the US
All aspects of politics in the Western world is tightly controlled by its deeply entrenched elite. The so-called democratic processes in places like the United States and the United Kingdom will never therefore be allowed to get outside their clearly defined parameters. Yet, Uncle Sam's greatest strength continues to be is its devilish ability to deceive even the healthiest of minds. Which reminds me of a powerful quote by the great German philosopher Goethe -
"None are more hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free"
Due to the power of propaganda and social engineering, most Americans today continue to think they are a free people. Until very recently, most Americans were still under the impression that there was a functioning democracy in the US. If you are one of these sad simpletons, I ask you to please wake up, open your eyes and realize that despite what political party you “decide” to support in the US, the imperial elite in the US has already decided what kind of country you will live in. Everything else is just an elaborate show meant to distract fools. So, if the US is not really a democracy, then what is it? 

Many scholars actually see the US as a mix of corporatocracy, plutocracy and oligarchy. And one glance at the political process in the country is enough to see that the US is a two party, closed circuit political system under constant supervision by a handful of powerful groups. The political system in the US is like a two ring circus carefully managed by ringmasters the audience does not get to see. And the ringmasters in question are: The country's Jewish establishment; Council on Foreign Relations; Trilateral Commission; Pentagon; CIA; the military industrial complex; international bankers; Wall Street; Federal Reserve; energy lobby; pharmaceuticals lobby; the insurance lobby.

It should also be added that always present within the highest levels of the above mentioned special interests in Washington DC are the international elite and their secret orders, the exclusive clubs where members of European and American ruling dynasties (old money) get together and essentially plot ways to preserve their wealth and their power. Some of societies I am referring to are Freemasonry, Illuminati, Rosicrucians and of course the more modern Bilderberg group. Then there are organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations that are connected to them in various ways. These groups prove that real power and real wealth in this world continues to be inherited.

There are in fact many exclusive clubs for high society folks in the US and Europe. One such group known as Saint Hubertus briefly revealed itself recently when Justice Scalia died. By pointing this out the only thing I am suggesting is that elitist clubs are real and they are present in the highest echelons of Western governments. While we have no accurate way of measuring just how influential they are in politics, they do nevertheless seem omnipresent in centers of power in the Western world. We can see their handiwork when we look at organizations like the United Nations and the World Bank; movements such as globalism and socialism; the promotion around the world of climate change awareness, atheism, democracy, planned parenthood, human rights, homosexuality, feminism, GMOs, ecumenism and interracialism.

It is safe to conclude that the international elite in question does yield great power in places like Washington DC, London and Brussels.

Getting back to American democracy, if the political facade in the US looks a bit more professional or even somewhat more "democratic" when compared to other nations, it's simply because the US has been slowly developing and fine-tuning its closed circuit, two party political system for well over two hundred years. Yet at its very core the US is essentially the same as all other top-heavy, authoritarian governments around the world.  

Ultimately, the US is too wealthy, too powerful, too large and too influential globally to allow a silly thing called democracy to get in the way. Those who are therefore hoping that Uncle Sam will one day tighten it's belt, willingly abandon the business of empire (the business it's been in since the Second World War) and begin transforming the US back to being a republic will be disappointed. Once a hegemonic predator gets to live on top of the global food-chain, it becomes virtually impossible for it to live or survive anywhere else. American officials willingly abandoning their imperial ambitions is like a person willingly quitting a high paying profession on Wall Street to work at McDonald's. It just won't happen. Those who run the American empire will therefore never willingly allow the "people" to have a real say in American politics.

Uncle Sam has therefore evolved quite sophisticated methods to manage and/or manipulate the people's will during elections without making it look too obvious. These undemocratic practices even have impressive sounding names: "Electoral College", "Super-delegates" and "Gerrymandering". And this is how crazy some of this stuff actually is -
It's crazy, it's legal, and it's undemocratic. Adam Ruins Everything explains gerrymandering: https://www.facebook.com/Upworthy/videos/1184373084936881/ Because Democracy! How Bernie beat Hillary but lost New Hampshire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxkzXeZTUso What we have with the above is basically the flowering of "institutionalized corruption" in the Western world. Just think: It's not a majority of votes that puts a presidential candidate into the White House but a majority of "delegates"; and the "super-delegates" in the bunch are government insiders that basically work to close the deal and thus ensure the status quo. The system in place essentially makes it more important for presidential candidates to gain a majority of insider support than a majority of the people's votes. These processes are tools that serve to add complex layers to the political system thereby making it susceptible to insider manipulation and controlThese are the tools with which they cleverly control the people's will. This is how they oversee, manage and direct the nation's political process. This is how the system is rigged and why American politics will never be allowed to get out of its predetermined parameters. It's a very dazzling, foolproof and tightly controlled political system, but obviously not every democratic. The American political system was indeed founded by geniuses! 

We therefore had a situation in the recent presidential race where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders were more-or-less even in actual votes during the Democrat party primary, but in the "super-delegate" count (which is the number that counts) Clinton was leading Sanders by several hundred points. Therefore, the two presidential candidates of the Democrat party were more-or-less even in number of votes they had gotten from the voters, but the one that had "insider" support was way ahead in the delegate count. And that's not all, people from influential "insider groups" such as the Council on Foreign Relations regularly vet and "consult" presidential candidates -
Donald Trump and other candidates held briefings with Council on Foreign Relations: http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/03/03/donald-trump-held-briefing-with-richard-haass-head-of-council-on-foreign-relations/As the reader can clearly see with all this, the US is actually a top-heavy, semi-authoritarian democracy in which the ruling establishment tightly controls the parameters of the political system. So, ask yourselves: How is this any different from semi-authoritarian democracies of Russia and Iran, or even Armenia for that matter?

Iran has a democracy in which the country's religious establishment tightly controls the parameters of the country's political system. The clerics in Tehran vet the political players, define boundaries of the political process and go on to administer it all from above. Cuba also has a democracy but one that  is tightly controlled by the nation's communist party. Similarly, Russia's FSB closely monitors the country's democratic process throughout the Russian Federation. This is all done to keep their respective societies in order and politics in-line with the interests of the respective nations. It's also done to keep out foreign (i.e. Western) meddling. So, how is any of this different from what happens in the US?!

Would Russian or Iranian officials get away with the kind of corruption Washingtonians get away with on a regular basis? Never! In fact, in 2012, Russia had one of the most orderly and democratic elections in the world, yet the West was crying foul. In fact, Iran has had a very well organized election process, but the West has been crying foul. Very well, I accept the notion that Russia, Iran or even Armenia are far from being perfect... but where are Western-funded NGOs decrying the undemocratic processes we are seeing take place throughout the US? At its core the political system in the US is essentially the same as the ones we see in other, more authoritarian parts of the world. At the end of the day, the US is too wealthy, too powerful, too large and too influential. Those who run the American empire will therefore never allow the "people" to make important political decisions and they will never allow outsiders like Donald Trump to change the parameters of the game.

I reiterate: If the political facade in the US looks shinier, more refined, more sophisticated, more developed or more palatable, it's simply because the US has had an uninterpreted two hundred year head-start in the game of politics and economics. In my opinion, the US differs from nations like Russia, Iran and Armenia only with the sophistication with which it fools its electorate and keeps the country's political life stable and orderly.

Manipulation of the political process via dirty tricks is nothing new in American politics. But this year's presidential campaigns have brought the flaws and the rampant corruption in the system to the forefront like never before. What we are seeing take place in this year's election process in the US is blatant examples of the deeply rooted institutionalized corruption (i.e the kind of corruption that is reserved only for upper echelons of society) in the Western world. The following are some additional materials to ponder -
US elections, rigged and computer codes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEzY2tnwExsCould computers fail on election day? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnI1FtdzuP0&feature=plcpThis Hoax Affects Everyone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKEchuRO4gsTwo-Party Dictatorship: US choosing lesser evil? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQye2ykp2rU&feature=plcpRon Paul 100% proof of Maine Election fraud! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxYXVaUWSiA Stealing a U.S. election? Nothing's easier! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot4rVVa5lL0&feature=plcpBut, it's all good. I am actually not criticizing the US for not being a democracy. I am not even criticizing the US for being an authoritarian state. The problem with the US is not that it is an authoritarian state or that it lacks democracy. The primary problem with the US is its destructive imperial pursuits around the world. The problem with the US is also that it  portrays itself as a democracy, which has fooled millions of people around the world, which has caused serious political unrest in numerous countries.
 
So, I am not criticizing the US for not being a democracy. Democracy, in its purest form, is a very destructive political process. In fact, the ruling elite in the US knows this very well. They know that entrusting a nation’s politics to the whims of its ignorant masses is the surest and fastest way to political and economic ruin, which is why there is no democracy in the US. Democracy's destructive nature is the reason why Western powers have been using military might and economic sanctions to impose it on nations targeted with either destruction or subjugation. Russia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Ukraine readily come to mind. The American ruling establishment is very experienced and very intelligent. I therefore don't blame them for not wanting real democracy to ruin what they have meticulously created during the past two centuries. My intention here is to therefore break the myth of American democracy and finally allow the sheeple around the world to see that they have been fooled by savvy wolves in sheep's clothing. When it comes to governance and women, with rare exceptions, I believe top heavy is always better.

Top heavy is better
I do not believe in the silly notion that the ignorant masses are entitled to make serious political decisions through a voting process, nor do I think that numerous political parties competing against each other for power is a healthy thing for any nation, especially for a poor and/or developing nation like Armenia. Therefore, as noted above, I do not want to come across as if I'm rejecting the idea of an elitist system of government as an effective form of governance. In fact, in various degrees, much of the civilized world today is in fact made up of elitist governments and oligarchies. A political system with few, well established political players can in fact be very effective if such a system is practiced by a homegrown and nationalistically motivated political and financial elite, and if the citizenry of the aforementioned political system is well conditioned for such participation. The main problem I have with the political system in the Western world is that is it not the "democracy" it wants the world to think of it as, and the US duopoly is unfortunately not even controlled by a homegrown American elite that has the nation's best interests in mind. The type of democracy prescribed for the developing world by Western officials today (increasingly at the tip of a bayonet) is inherently flawed and destructive in nature.
I personally believe in top heavy, nationalistic governments where limited forms of democracy and regulated forms of capitalism are practiced. I see National Socialism and Constitutional Monarchy as the best forms of government in existence today. 

Nationalistic and top heavy governments are particularly important for peoples without much experience in statehood (i.e. Armenians) and for peoples with certain nonconforming cultural/genetic traits (i.e. Armenians). Close observation of Armenians and Armenian history reveals that Armenians tend to be by nature fiercely independent, individualistic, egotistical, restless, materialistic, competitive, aggressive, possessive, suspicious, jealous, clannish, arrogant, intelligent, crafty and overly ambitious. These unique traits (which lies at the root of Armenian success outside of Armenia) does not allow Armenians to be easily governed (especially when the governing is being done by other Armenians). More importantly, such traits do not encourage sociopolitical stability. Democracy and Armenians will therefore not mix well. Armenians therefore have the need to be ruled by top heavy, authoritarian and nationalistic governments.

Due to its peculiarities as a nation, Russians also have a natural need for authoritarian governments. But, unlike Armenians, Russians seem to understand this. More importantly, they seem to actually embrace it. The following survey reveals why Russia remains a powerful nation despite the immense odds stacked against it -
Poll: Just 7 Percent Of Russians Care About Democracy: http://dailycaller.com/2016/01/18/poll-just-7-percent-of-russians-care-about-democracySpeaking of Russia: Moscow is increasingly nationalizing its national assets; passing laws to curb unwanted foreign influences; clamping down on rampant corruption; promoting nationalism; encouraging domestic production; increasing funds to rebuild its national infrastructure; increasing funds to rebuild its military; monitoring the activities of its national bank; implementing social care programs and regulating its "free market" economy. This approach to governance is in essence what National Socialism is all about, although Russian officials would never categorized it as such due to the negative connotation the term continues to have as a result of the Second World War and the decades of Anglo-American-Jewish propaganda that followed thereafter. The following three articles from the American press discusses Russia's transformation into a top heavy, well-armed and Russocentric democracy and a regulated market economy. But I would like to once again remind the reader to read between-the-lines because these articles are written by Western presstitutes and they are meant to cast a negative light on Russia and its president -Russian Lawmakers Aim at Foreign Cars, Films and Schooling in Patriotic Purge: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/world/europe/russian-lawmakers-move-to-purge-foreign-influences.html?_r=0Putin Wants U.S. Dollar Banned From Russian Trade: http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/10/putin-wants-u-s-dollar-banned-from-russian-trade/ Russia to bar Soros, other foreign NGOs: http://www.politico.eu/article/russia-to-bar-soros-other-foreign-ngos/ With the rise of Donald Trump, is the United States heading in a similar direction? It's interesting that Donald Trump appearance on the political scene in the United States has put "nationalism" back into the American lexicon and his ideas about trade and the economy sounds quite similar to ideas espoused by National Socialism. 

Nevertheless, barring some rare exceptions, mankind in general is by nature incapable of properly governing itself. This human condition is more pronounced in certain types of peoples (e.g. Armenians, Greeks and Arabs) who have genetic and cultural traits that do not mix well with democratic values. Because of human nature democracy will not work for most for most of the time. Those who control levers of government in the Western world fully recognize the inherent flaws found in a democratic system. This explains why Western governments are by design elite-based systems with relatively very few political players. All this is why I am an advocate of political systems where political parties and corporate entities are tightly regulated and are made to operate under the close supervision of a nation's homegrown political, financial and military elite. Two such successful forms of governments today are Russia and China.
Free societies shoot to great heights, but they burnout almost as fast. When it comes to governing, top heavy will always be more efficient and longer lasting. That said, I want my Armenian compatriots to stop their utter stupidity when it comes to politics in Armenia. Armenians need to wake up and see that corruption is in fact much worst in the US. Armenians need to wake up and see that there is no democracy in the US. Armenians need to wake up and realize that the existence of characters like Paruyr Hayrikyan, Jirayr Sefilian, Raffi Hovanissian, Vartan Oskanian and Levon Petrosyan within the political scene in Armenia is ample proof that Armenia is, unfortunately, more democratic than the US. Armenians also need to wake up and realize that the US did not become as wealthy, as developed and as powerful as it has been because of "democracy" "humanitarian values" or "liberalism".
It is troubling for me that a lot of people are still under the impression that the Western world, the US in particular, become wealthy and powerful as a result of democracy and/or liberalism. We must dispel this false notion because it is misleading millions of people around the world. We must also dispel this flawed mindset because by feeding the minds of the masses of people yearning for a better life with false notions and poisonous misconceptions it is causing serious sociopolitical unrest around the world.

Protected by oceans, the political and financial elite in the United States (Freemasons being prominent among them) took over two hundreds years to grow the country to what it is today. During that time period, the United States became a wealthy world power essentially as a result of the industrial revolution; mass scale enslavement of Africans; the systematic extermination of native American Indians and the confiscation their resource rich lands; global wars for plunder; and the total control over global trade and commodities as a result of such wars.
The aforementi0ned, coupled with effective governance by very intelligent and farsighted officials, were the fundamental reasons why the United States reached historic prominence within the 20th century. In fact, voting rights for women in the United States did not come about until the 1920s and racial minorities did not get their right to vote until the 1960s. In my opinion, had the United States been an actual democracy it would not have made it this far or made it this big. Democracy therefore had nothing to do with the rise of American wealth and power. In fact, it can be argued that "democratic values" such as liberalism, multiculturalism and the loss of traditional/conservative values in the US as a result are the fundamental reasons why American civilization and by extension European civilization are in decline today.

As the Western world slowly commits suicide via - genetically modified foods, sex tourism, low quality pop culture, psychiatric drugs, celebrity worship, proliferation junk foods, government sanctioned multiculturalism, over-taxation, underage drinking and drug abuse, proliferation of pharmaceuticals, institutionalized atheism, over-regulation, dwindling natural resources, epidemic of suicides, over-entertainment, modern art, Holocaust worship, under-education, radical feminism, Satan worship, abortion, low birth rates, culture of violence, glorification of war, consumerism, commercialism, selfishness and individualism, mass homicides, child prostitution, child pornography, interracialism, illegal immigration, third world immigration, sexual debauchery, breakdown of traditional family, governmental corruption and the promotion of homosexuality - others in the world are slowly plotting course for a new period in human history.
Democracy is not a panacea
Who was it gave us the stupid idea that the masses of any given society are capable of deciding who their nation's leaders should be and how their nation should be run? Who was it that gave us the stupid idea that the masses are entitled to a "free and fair" democratic process? Was this cruel fairytale placed into the heads of the world's sheeple by the world's most corrupt and most blood-drenched criminals in the West? Who gave reptiles in Washington DC the right to categorize, label, rate or attack nations based on their self-serving perception or expectation of how government should be practiced in any given nation?

Besides, how democratic was the United States for the first two hundred years of its existence? In fact, just how democratic is the United States today? 

Recent world events have shown as that the imposition of democracy on any given society can prove very destructive if not suicidal. Even for developed societies, unsupervised democracy can cause stagnation, instability and decline. In a democratic system, a shrewd minority, or a select few special interests, will always manage to co-opt government. Governments that for one reason or another risk playing with democracy will either tightly control it or risk being killed by it.

The practice of democracy in the Western world is a tightly controlled process by its ruling elite. As Donald Trump found out, the democratic processes in places like the United States or Great Britain for instance will never be allowed to get outside of their clearly defined parameters. Actually, Switzerland and Iceland may be one of the very few nation-states on earth today that practice the closest/purest forms of democracy.
 
Before the leadership of any developing country allows their citizenry to participate in nation's political processes, the political system in the country first needs to develop well established national institutions and political parties that are fully subservient to them. Before a government can allow its people a limited say in political matters, it also needs a well conditioned citizenry. Armenia's so-called "political opposition" today as well as the events of March 1, 2008 have clearly demonstrated that Armenia is at least several decades away from being able to practice some forms of democracy without the danger of committing national suicide. In their transitional phases, developing nations need powerful leaders with courage and vision. Having said that, however, I hope to see Russians and Armenians eventually begin moving away from personality-based political parties and begin supporting ideology-based political movements that operate under the umbrella of deeply rooted national institutions. Until that day arrives, however, people like Russians and Armenians need strongmen in power. Speaking of strong men, Britain's Winston Churchill is said to have once said - 
"The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter"What this pudgy war criminal meant with that statement is painfully obvious and it supports my theses that generally speaking mankind is incapable of properly governing itself and that the average citizen of any nation is incapable of understanding politics. In societies that are highly developed and well established (e.g. US, Germany, Canada, Britain, France, Japan), the democratic process in which the masses are allowed to participate is managed and manipulated to a great degree by the nation's ruling elite through its system of education, laws and its information media. The democratic process in the Western world is therefore all about social engineering, public relations and the careful management or psychological conditioning of society through mass propaganda. The following are excellent documentaries that are ultimately related to this topic. Please devote some time and watch them all -
The Century Of The Self: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ3RzGoQC4s The Power of Nightmares: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTg4qnyUGxgPut aside all their lofty rhetoric and recognize that Western governments are in the business of manipulating public sentiments and conditioning the minds of their subjects in order to make them more manageable. When it comes to managing the masses, the biggest problem Western governments face is education, for a truly educated populace is a government's worst enemy. Westerners acknowledged this - "Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education" - Franklin D. Roosevelt"Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few" - George Bernard ShawFor limited forms of democracy to exist one of the things that it needs is a voting constituency that is well informed. For a people to safely make political decisions via the ballot box they first need to have a good understanding of politics and the world in general. Moreover, limited forms of democracy can be safely practiced in societies that are racially homogeneous and have deeply entrenched national institutions. Needless to say, there aren't many nations today with these qualifications. Societies that are essentially just coming out of the old world and stepping into modernity (a vast majority of nations in the world today), the imposition of democracy and capitalism as per Western expectations and standards will only cause chaos, bloodshed, economic ruin and cultural decay. For nations that are more-or-less just stepping out of the old world (nations such as Russia) or out of centuries of occupation (nations such as Armenia) uncontrolled forms of democracy can prove fatal. Rule by the ignorant masses is no way to develop a newly formed nation. This is why Western powers have been promoting and at times imposing democracy on certain areas of the world.

In fact, there cant be a better argument against the imposition of democracy and capitalism on inexperienced nations than what happened in Armenia and Russia during the 1990s. There can't be a better argument against the imposition of democracy and capitalism on inexperienced nations than what has recently been happening in nations like Ukraine, Iraq, Libya and Syria. Democracy and capitalism has brought utter chaos and destruction to parts of the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Central Asia.

The kind of democracy being promoted by Western powers around the world in recent decades – with its system of beliefs known as Free Trade, Open Society, Westernization or globalization – are for Western powers today what Christianity was for European powers during the past one thousand years and what Roman civilization and Hellenism was for them centuries before that: A means of manipulation, subjugation, exploitation and when needed, destruction. Now, let's see what else Winston Churchill thought about democracy -
"Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."The reader should note here that the quote above is coming from a person that lived in a centuries old Constitutional Monarchy. Besides, have "all the others" really been tried?! National Socialism in Germany and Italy was working well, in fact amazingly well before Western and Jewish interests joined hands to destroy it. Moreover, for some societies like Vietnam, Cuba and Angola, communism worked incredibly well, which is essentially why the main proponent of "democracy" in the world began attacking them as well. In other words, did they give any other form of government a chance to develop or reach maturity for a war criminal who lived in a Constitutional Monarchy to make such a statement? In a certain sense, however, the war criminal who unsurprisingly went unpunished for his genocidal crimes around the world, was fundamentally right in his conviction.
Democracy, specifically the kind that has been practiced by the Anglo-American world, is indeed the best way a ruling elite can fool its subjects into thinking that they are partaking in the political process. This more-or-less is why Winston Churchill preferred democracy. Basically: Western democracy allows the existence of a very wealthy elite. And as long as a political system has a well entrenched oligarchy and deeply rooted national institutions, the sheeple of that political system can be allowed to participate in the semblance of democracy. This is how Western elite pacify their street. Nevertheless, despite what Churchill believed or wanted his sheeple to believe, democracy has always been a system where a small handful of clever men manage to attain levers to control a vast majority of lesser men -
"Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses" - Henry L. MenckenWhat we fundamentally need to understand here is that most of today's most powerful, most wealthy and most progressive nations got to where they today are through exploitation (of humanity and mother nature), war and plunder. Undermining nations with notions of democracy, freedom and civil liberties is part of their strategic plan to subjugate nations around the world -“[The Dulles brothers] were able to succeed [at regime change] in Iran and Guatemala because those were democratic societies, they were open societies. They had free press; there were all kinds of independent organizations; there were professional groups; there were labor unions; there were student groups; there were religious organizations. When you have an open society, it’s very easy for covert operatives to penetrate that society and corrupt it” - Stephen KinzerHaving fattened itself for hundreds-of-years at mother nature's and humanity's expense, the Western elite today does not desire any kind of competition on the world stage. Western powers have lived comfortably on top of the world's food chain for quite a while. Competition from upstarts like Russia and China therefore endangers their hegemony. Therefore, what better way to undermine or subjugate the competition than by imposing democracy upon them?

In my opinion, similar to how people of a society need training or a license to operate machinery or have a practice, the very complex and potentially volatile machinery that is the nation-state today likewise needs to be operated by qualified individuals who truly appreciate and understands its mechanisms and by those who have a serious stake in the systems overall well-being. Generally speaking, those qualified to do this are the highly educated, high level military officials and, unfortunately, the wealthy. That said, let's also be mindful that democracy, prosperity and political stability are not at all interrelated: They never have been, they never will be. Westerners know this -"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote" - Benjamin Franklin"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide" - John Adams

"Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people" - Oscar WildeDemocracy may indeed be the worst form of government in existence today. It’s a shame how well-meaning people these days talk about “democracy” as if it’s a magic drug that cures everything. Just take it and you’ll be fine, they tell us. Well, come to think of it, democracy is a drug. But the problem with the drug in question is that it's a very toxic one, one that has hallucinatory and at times deadly side-effects. But as we have seen, the political West (those who do most of the democracy drug peddling around the world, as well as the trafficking of conventional narcotics but that’s another story for another time) is actually far from being an actual democracy. Western official know better than allowing their masses any say in politics. Western nations, as well as every single prosperous nation-state in existence today have achieved success through non-democratic processes. How did the “people” live in the elite-based political systems in the US or Britain in the 19th century? There are quite a few literary works about the unspeakable plight of the masses in both countries at the time.

It was only after the rise of communism and socialism in the 20th century that the Western elite felt compelled to begin giving a little back to their people.

Despite their touting, “democracy” or “freedom” has never had much to do with the Western world’s rise to global power and prosperity. We cannot make the mistake of attributing Western power or wealth to democracy. Western powers rose to prominence as a direct consequence of industrialization, war and human exploitation.
 

The US was founded by a very intelligent group of people who saw themselves as part of an elitist system. The US today continues to be an elite-based system. The US has historically been a nation where the top one percent has thoroughly dominated the rest of the ninety-nine percent. However, the American citizenry, the ninety-nine percent, has been better managed in recent decades through the provision of bare-essentials (i.e. low paying jobs and government assistance), entertainment (i.e. proliferation of television programing, celebrity worship, cinema and sports) and mind control methods in the form of information control through the mainstream news media and school curriculum. Powerful national institutions overseeing and sometimes directly guiding the so-called “democratic process” is exactly how the Western world manages itself.
 

As the reader can see, democracy is not a panacea. Democracy is actually a dangerous drug. Developing nations of the post-Soviet space are in no shape to risk playing with such a toxic drug. A nation cannot afford playing with risky political experiments when the nation is culturally unprepared and politically immature. A nation cannot afford playing with risky political experiments when it does not have a democratic tradition or lacks powerful national institutions. A nation cannot afford playing with risky political experiments while it is still in a developmental phase. In their transitional phases, developing nations need patriotic leaders, authoritarian governments and conforming populations. In the meanwhile, may God help protect nations from democracy and all it’s peddlers.

Trump may be too little, too late
After all is said and done, one things remains for sure: President-elect Trump will soon find out that the world he lives in looks very different when viewed from inside the White House. In the closing paragraph of my blog commentary titled "Donald Trump and the current state of American politics", I wrote the following passage -
"The American empire is too large, too powerful, too corrupt and too set in its ways, and Trump is too little, too late. Trump will not change the system, the system will more likely change Trump. If Trump gets the Republican nomination and goes on to beat the witch or the socialist for the nation's presidency, he will only do so by coming to terms with the powers that be. There is no other way forward for him - unless he wants to risk his well being. In my opinion, Trump will not live to see the White House if he does not fully submit himself to the ruling elite or at the very least "cut a deal" with them. The last time the US had a populist leader that really wanted to change things for the better, he was murdered by his own. I am not suggesting that they may kill Trump. They won't go that route because it would be too obvious. Besides, assassinations of high officials by the deep state are reserved as a drastic measure of last resort, a trump card, pardon the pun. But they do have other ways to ruin people's lives. In any case, Trump won't risk anything. He is simply not that type. As we have already seen, he has already been signalling his strong willingness to work with the country's Jewish establishment and the military industrial complex. That in itself is bad enough and nothing good can come out of it. Trump wants to be part of the ruling establishment, even if the ruling establishment does not trust him. But if it comes down to it, the ruling establishment will make a deal with him."I may be hopeful about a Trump administration but I am under no illusions. If a President Trump ever attempted to be truly independent I believe he would face the risk of assassination. I would like to also point out that his vice-presidential pick is a typical establishment man and he is now one heartbeat away from the presidency. If President Trump does not fall in-line with the political agendas of those who helped him win the presidency, or even if he crosses the line with the other side that opposed him, there is virtually a limitless supply of potential "lone-wolf" assailants waiting to carryout the given task. I am pretty sure President-elect Trump knows this. I am also pretty sure that a President Trump is not the type that would take such risks.

Donald Trump will not be able to change the system, the system will most probably change Donald Trump. I'd like to remind the reader that many months before he defeated Hillary Clinton he was already coming to terms with powers that be. There was no other way forward to the White House for him. Donald Trump and his backers would have never lived to see the White House if they did not "cut a deal" with those who run the empire. I personally think that Donald Trump and his backers have come to some kind of an understanding with the ruling elite. Consider the following chronology:
They didn't trust presidential candidate Donald Trump at first -The Neocons vs. Donald Trump: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/13/opinion/sunday/the-neocons-vs-donald-trump.html The Real Reason Neocons Are So Upset About Donald Trump: https://www.thenation.com/article/the-real-reason-neocons-are-so-upset-about-donald-trump/ Here’s why Trump’s foreign policy terrifies neocons: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-trumps-foreign-policy-really-scares-neoconsDonald Trump then began surrounding himself with establishment men and more-or-less began cutting deals with Zionists -Trump Already Surrounding Himself With Establishment Men: http://www.ronpaullibertyreport.com/archives/trump-already-surrounding-himself-with-establishment-men Donald Trump Held Briefing With Richard Haass, Head of Council on Foreign Relations: http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/03/03/donald-trump-held-briefing-with-richard-haass-head-of-council-on-foreign-relations/?_r=1Now, President-elect Trump is taking resumes from them -Trump Taking Résumés From Neocons: http://www.activistpost.com/2016/11/trump-taking-resumes-neocons.html With Trump, a Major US Shift in Mideast: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/trump-major-us-shift-mideast-43460149 Zionists 4 Trump: https://www.facebook.com/Zionists4Trump/ Is Trump a Populist or a Pro-Zionist Spoiler?: https://americanfreepress.net/is-trump-a-populist-or-a-pro-zionist-spoiler/ Ron Paul: Trump Needs To Resist Neocons And Shadow Government Elites: http://www.infowars.com/ron-paul-trump-needs-to-resist-neocons-and-shadow-government-elites/ Ron Paul to Trump: Don’t Listen to Neocons: https://www.antiwar.com/blog/2016/11/11/ron-paul-to-trump-dont-listen-to-neocons/As I have always said, the American empire is too large, too wealthy, too powerful, too corrupt and too set in its ways, and even if Donald Trump and company mean well, they may still be too little and too late. At the end of the day, Uncle Sam is too deeply involved in imperial pursuits around the world to simply tighten his belt and rediscover wisdom and humility. Perhaps this is why now that Donald Trump has been elected he has been reaching out to various servants of the political and financial establishment in Washington DC and New York. Perhaps this is why throughout his presidential campaign he was signalling his desire to work closely with the country's powerful Jewish establishment as well as the country's powerful military industrial complex. That said, what's particularly worrying about Donald Trump is his rhetoric about Iran and, to some extent, China and Saudi Arabia.

At the end of the day, realpolitik may make a Trump administration come to terms with Russia and the likes of Bashar Assad of Syria - but the Trump camp's approach to matters pertaining to Iran and China in particular are something that should worry everyone. I hope I'm wrong but I feel that this is all part of a long-term, strategic agenda formulated by interests behind Donald Trump. I fear that those who helped put him into power clearly have an agenda that goes beyond domestic matters. I have a feeling they may seek to reach some sort of a deal with Russia in order to deal more forcefully with Iran, Saudi Arabia and China
.
Concerning China: For the past few years we have been seeing a re-vectoring of US relations vis-à-vis Beijing. There seems to be some form of a departure from what the ruling elite in the Western world had started in the 1970s. Which begs the question: Has China also grown too powerful in their eyes? Is a Sino-US confrontation therefore inevitable? Concerning Saudi Arabia: The biggest sponsor of Islamic terrorism around the world may be next on the Anglo-American-Zionist chopping block. If so, I don't have a problem with that, as long as their long-term agenda is not to get Saudis and Iranians into a major war. Concerning Iran: It is well known that Israel's main strategic concern in the Middle East today is not Turkey, not Egypt, not Saudi Arabia, not Jordan, not Lebanon, not Syria, not ISIS, not Al-Qaeda, not Al-Nusra - but the country of Iran. I'd like to once more point out to the reader that the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance's primal fear is the development of an "Iranian arc" in the region. This fear of theirs is reaching critical levels as a result of Bashar Assad's impending victory in Syria -
Israel’s Main Concern in Syria: Iran, not ISIS: http://www.wsj.com/articles/israels-main-concern-in-syria-iran-not-isis-1458207000It is also well known that keeping regional nations embroiled in never-ending wars and political/economic unrest is also a Zionist strategy of survival in the inhospitable region, if not a matter of expansion -
The Zionist Plan for the Middle East: http://www.globalresearch.ca/greater-israel-the-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east/5324815 As soon as the Soviet Union stopped being a factor in the region some twenty-five years ago, they began sowing unrest in the Middle East. With the Soviet Union out of the way, they embarked upon an ambitious plan to redo the map of Middle East. The agenda in question had become increasingly violent in recent years. Consequently, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Syria are now all but destroyed and the rest of the region's Muslim majority nations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey are become increasingly vulnerable. Once Israel's staunchest opponents, Syria, Iraq and Libya will henceforth pose no serious challenge for Israel, at least not for a generation or two. Much to their dismay, the only nation that has come out of the region's turmoil unscathed has been a nuclear capable Iran. What's more, the war in Syria has helped elevate Iran's political stature in the Middle East and has increased its military footprint on the Mediterranean Sea.

There is now an Iranian zone of influence stretching from western Afghanistan to the eastern Mediterranean. This Iranian arc of influence will not be tolerated by the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance.

Let's therefore wait and see how the Trump administration (which includes many influential Zionists) will approach matters pertaining to Iran. I think the first real test for him in this regard will be in Syria; and it will come very soon. The bloody conflict there is in its final phase. The strategic city of Aleppo is about to fall to Syrian, Iranian and Russian forces. Let's see how the Trump administration will handle it. The next test for the Trump administration in my opinion will come by the way of China. So, let's wait and see how a President Trump will deal with Beijing. Recent developments between Washington DC and Beijing are giving rise to dire predictions -
‘The Coming War on China’ John Pilger on his newest film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG7Bve0baPoWith President-elect Trump merely weeks away from the White House, let's continue watching the kind of people he will surround himself with. As I said, some of the signs I'm seeing are worrisome. I'm seeing a number of dangerous neocon types that were around during the disastrous Bush II presidency, as well as some typical Wall Street types. Moreover, I'm not very comfortable with the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu and others in Israel's hard right (including many Zionists in the US) being so happy about a Trump presidency. Moreover, the news agency known as "Breitbar" is in reality a Zionist publication and its Stephen Bannon may prove to be just another "Christian-Zionist". Nothing good can come out of these kinds of people.

I guess what I'm essentially trying to convey to the reader here is that our hate towards one group of dangerous people (e.g. the Clinton camp) should not blind us to another group of potentially dangerous people. With all that said, I still remain cautiously optimistic about a Trump presidency.
In closing, I would like say that in my opinion, the surge of nationalism we are seeing in Europe and the United States recently has evolved as an indirect consequence of Vladimir Putin's presidency in Russia. The presence of President Putin's Russia on the global stage in recent years, since the summer of 2008 to be exact, has had a very positive psychological impact on the western society and a very negative impact on imperial/globalist designs of Western powers. President Putin's Russia showed westerners who have been drowning in liberalism, globalism and multiculturalism in recent times that there is another way. And as we saw in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, President Putin's Russia also managed to successfully check the imperial ambitions of Western powers. In my humble opinion, Europe's rekindling nationalism, Brexit and the very recent election of Donald Trump can be traced back to the FSB-led internal palace coup that put Vladimir Putin in power back in 2000. President Putin's Russia set the precedence some seventeen years ago. So, ask yourselves: Where would the world be today had it not been for President Putin and the Russian nation?

This election cycle in the United States, as well as political developments around the world in recent years, may have forever exposed the fairytales that Western officials had comfortably wrapped themselves in for generations. This election cycle has brought many of the fallacies and flaws of the United States to the forefront of public discourse. The man-made hype about American democracy is finally fading. The global community has finally begun to see that the much touted political system in place in the United States was after all more hype than substance. They are seeing that the "leader of the free world' is not all that different from authoritarian nations around the world. Donald Trump's political saga showed that one can be a billionaire, a nationally recognized celebrity, maintain years of close personal relationships with high level officials, enjoy the support of tens-of-millions of American voters, pander to the powerful Jewish establishment, embrace the military industrial complex and still be viciously attacked and still not have a chance at the presidency had it not been for the support he received from inside the US government and from unnamed groups around the world.

We can now therefore safely conclude that there is in fact no democracy in the United States. And now millions of people around the world have finally seen what individuals like myself have been saying for many years.
As to President-elect Donald Trump, time will tell. In the past, time has taught us to be prepared for letdowns. Therefore, while we can be hopeful about a new administration in Washington DC, we also need to be prepared for Trumpian disappointments. While Donald Trump is not a depraved criminal like the Clintons and their entourage, he is nevertheless still beholden to powerful special interests that still control the empire's control-board in Washington DC. This is basically why Trump has gone out of his way to pander to Jews/Zionists; this is why Trump is pandering to the military industrial complex; and this is why Trump never says anything about the Federal Reserve. While a Trump administration is more preferable to a Clinton administration, the US itself is too deep into its imperial agendas and American civilization is too steep in its decline to be saved by any one administration.

So, will President-elect Donald Trump, as he promised, attempt to actually "drain the swamp" and "make America great again"? Chances are he wont, not because he does not want to but because he can't. As I said, the United States is too deeply involved in empire to retreat from its imperial ambitions and be downsized without the risk of collapse.


The recent presidential race revealed a great rift that has developed in the United States in recent times. The country has essentially split into two nations. There is an America that is liberal, secular, cosmopolitan, globalist, Black, Hispanic, Jewish, homosexual, immigrant, interracial, multicultural, feminist, atheist, pro-abortion and anti-gun, and there is an America that is White, Christian, rural, blue collar, patriotic, conservative, pro-gun, anti-abortion, xenophobic and libertarian. These two America's are diametrically opposed to each another and the two will never-ever be reconciled. Seriously tampering with the political and/or economic system in place in the country, despite good intentions, may cause its collapse or its fragmentation. I don't think any presidential administration in Washington DC will be allowed to take such a risk.

The question therefore remains: Will the United States abandon it's imperial pursuits and humbly revert back to being a republic? The answer is, most probably not. Will the American empire re-calibrate or readjust its policies and agendas around the world and make room for multipolarity in global governance? Probably yes. Hopefully yes. If those who put Donald Trump in power truly place their emphasis on fixing America's many domestic problems and in the process downsize the country's political and military footprint in the rest of the world, that would be good enough for me. If a Trump administration does nothing else but develop better relations with Moscow, it would be good enough for me as well. Ultimately, time will reveal the real agenda of those behind Donald Trump. At this point, all the rest of us can do is wait and hope.

Arevordi
Winter, 2016


***

Trump’s Revolution - Now beware the counter-revolution


Donald Trump has done the unthinkable – unthinkable, that is, to the sneering elites: the “journalists” who have been spending their days snarking at Trump on Twitter, the DC mandarins who disdained him from the beginning, and the foreign policy “experts” who gasped in horror as he challenged the basic premises of the post-World War II international order. And he did it by overcoming a host of the most powerful enemies one could conjure: The Republican Establishment, the Democratic party machine, the Money Power, and a media united in their hatred of him.

That this is a revolution is a bit of an understatement: revolutions are usually national in scope. This is an earthquake that will shake the whole world.

The United States is a global empire, and from the Korean peninsula to the Baltic states, our protectorates are quavering in panic that the system they’ve depended on for over half a century is about to come down. During the election, America’s client states all but formally endorsed Hillary Clinton, and expressed their unmitigated horror at the prospect of a Trump presidency. After all, the GOP candidate pledged to make our allies start paying their own way, a possibility that naturally fills them with dread. And Trump committed the biggest heresy of all by not only openly questioning the continued existence of NATO, but also by asking “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get along with Russia?”

The Clinton campaign’s response was to do what no presidential candidate has done since the earliest days of the Republic: they accused Trump of being a Russian “puppet.” Former CIA director Mike Morrell, in endorsing Clinton, wrote that Trump is “an unconscious agent” of the Kremlin. In the hothouse atmosphere of Washington, D.C., this was not only acceptable: it was the conventional wisdom. Indeed, it no doubt still is. However, out in the real world, it fell flat: no normal American believed that for a minute. Endless articles appeared in the media, linking Trump to the Kremlin: a major piece of “evidence” for the “puppet” theory is that the Trump people pushed to keep a plank calling for arming Ukraine out of the Republican party platform. What the new McCarthyites didn’t understand, however, is that nobody cares about Ukraine, as polls consistently show.

The political class is reeling: how could this have happened?

We’ll doubtless be subjected to endless essays on the subject of who or what is to “blame” for Trump: FBI Director James Comey? The “alt right”? WikiLeaks? Putin?

Their problem is that these people live in a bubble: the conservative writer Mollie Hemingway tweeted the night of the election that “ I was at a small DC dinner several weeks ago where several people said they knew not a single Trump supporter. I was like, ‘I know 100s.’” This evokes the famous Pauline Kael quote, who is reputed to have responded to Richard Nixon’s 1972 landslide victory by saying: “I don’t know how Nixon won. I don’t know anybody who voted for him.” Actually, the acerbic film critic didn’t say that, exactly. What she really said was far more telling:

“I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

This puts it succinctly: the inhabitants of the “special world” of the political class — self-satisfied pundits, self-serving politicians, avaricious hedge fund managers, arrogant academics, less-than-thoughtful thinktankers, politically correct scolds, neoconservative warmongers – couldn’t imagine a world in which Donald Trump could win the White House. They laughed at him when he announced, they sneered at him even as he was winning the primaries, and they unleashed more venom than an army of rattlesnakes when he won the Republican nomination, even as they claimed he was headed for a Goldwater-like defeat. The American ruling class lives in a world entirely separate from that of their subjects: even as the peasants with pitchforks gathered in the shadow of the castle, they never saw the Trumpian revolution coming.

In short, they have no idea why he won because they live on a different planet than the rest of us. And yet the reason for his victory is very simple, and it’s no secret. He stated it clearly and succinctly in a remarkable television ad in the final days of the campaign.

Trump understands that, as I put it in my last column, “The main issue in the world today is globalism versus national sovereignty, and it is playing out in the politics of countries on every continent.” A transnational ruling elite, the types who flock to Davos every year, has arisen that believes it has the right to manipulate the peoples of the world like pawns on a chessboard. These lords of creation engage in “regime change” when a government they don’t like challenges their imperial prerogatives: they move entire populations around as if they were human dust – they manipulate currencies, “manage” the world economy — and woe to those who challenge their rule!

And the epicenter of this global ruling elite is located in Washington, D.C., with the White House as the inner sanctum of the whole rotten system. And now that Fortress of Power has been breached. Thus, the panic of the elites.

Trump rode into office promising that “we’ll get along with everybody” who wants peace with the United States, as he said in his victory speech. He campaigned on a platform of “America First” that his enemies derided as “isolationist” and which was, in reality, simply the foreign policy of the Founders of this country. While his stance on immigration provoked a lot of hostility, I would argue that the real reason for the sheer hatred directed at him by both parties is his foreign policy views – especially his radical condemnation of the Iraq war, in which he not only rightly denounced it as a disaster but also said that we were lied into that war. And he sent a message to the neoconservative authors of that war in his April foreign policy speech sponsored by The National Interest magazine. In outlining a new foreign policy vision for this country, he said:

“I will also look for talented experts with new approaches, and practical ideas, rather than surrounding myself with those who have perfect résumés but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.’”

As I put it in my column on the subject: “Here he is openly telling the neocons, who have inveigled themselves into every administration since the days of Ronald Reagan, that they will be kicked to the curb if and when he takes the White House.”

Which brings me to an important point: we must hold Trump’s feet to the fire on this pledge. This is the task of those anti-interventionists who supported him – and there are many – as well as those who stood aside. Let our battle cry be heard: no more neocons!

Trump has said that NATO is “obsolete” – and let’s hold him to that evaluation, and its clear implications. The Soviet Union has been dead since 1989. It’s time to put NATO in mothballs. Trump has said Japan and Korea must start providing for their own defense: let’s hold him to that one, too. It’s high time to pull US troops out of South Korea, where they are sitting ducks, and out of Japan as well. The Korean war is over: so is World War II. These countries are wealthy, as Trump has repeatedly pointed out: let them defend themselves.

The Saudis depend on us for their defense: we send them weapons, we train their troops, while they fund terrorism and run one of the nastiest regimes on earth. They’re filthy rich, as Trump has remarked many times: it’s time to cut them loose, too. In short, it’s time to pressure the new President to keep his promises. Because you can be sure, as the sun rises in the West, that the War Party will try to co-opt the new administration, and do everything in their power to make sure that they retain their hegemony over US foreign policy.

We can’t let that happen.

Trump is sincere, but he’s only one man – yes, he’s the President, but even the chief executive of the United States runs up against limitations; I’m talking about not only political limitations but also the power of the “deep State” – the permanent national security bureaucracy that guards it power and agenda jealously. President Trump cannot stand alone against these powerful forces: he needs a mass movement to stand behind him and, if necessary, push him in the right direction.

This is a great victory for our cause, and I can’t help but feel elated. Yet our job won’t get any easier: indeed, in many ways it will get harder. We are up against an enemy that will fight tooth and nail to retain its dominance, and who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. We must be as determined to stop them as they are to resist the revolutionary wave that is lapping at their feet. Yes, the revolution has arrived. But this is no time for complacency. Quite the contrary: we must be prepared for the counter-revolutionary reaction that is already setting in. We must ready ourselves to fight – and win.
Source: http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2016/11/08/trumps-revolution/

A Government Is Seizing Control of Our Election Process, and It Is Not the Russians

There is an attempt underway for a government to take control of our election process and throw the election to Hillary Clinton. It is not the Russian government. Mark this day – it is when we came to understand that the American government decided to elect a president. (Note: I understand in the minds of the mass media the most important issue in America today is Trump’s crude remarks, but there are indeed real things to be concerned about otherwise.)  Here’s how:
Two days before the second presidential debate, the government of the United States officially accused Russia of a hacking campaign aimed at interfering in the U.S. election. In a joint statement, absent any specifics or technical details, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence stated “the recent [hacked email] disclosures… are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts… based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

The statement goes on to detail how only Democratic servers were attacked, meaning the American government is claiming that Russia is trying to throw the election to Donald Trump, plain and simple. It is left unsaid why the Russians would risk cyberwar with the United States to do this, as many have suggested Trump is a neocon in spirit whose loose finger will be on the nuclear button from day one. Clinton is much more of a political realist, comfortable with the business-as-usual of the past eight years that has gone in Russia’s favor in the Ukraine and Syria. She in fact seems like the stable known known, always a preference.
 Though the first “Russian” hacks were reported in July, it is only 48 hours before the second presidential debate that the statement was released. It could easily have been held until Monday, there is no national security urgency for this to come out Friday. However, with the timing, Trump, essentially tied with Clinton in the polls, will now spend much of the debate defending himself. Since the statement includes no details, only accusations, it is hard to see how anyone could defend themselves. It would be near-impossible for Trump to come out ahead Sunday night; this is a near-coup.
 Despite the certainty with which the US government has accused Russia of trying to influence the election by hacking into secured email servers, the FBI maintains there is no evidence the Russians or anyone else accessed Clinton unsecured, unencrypted email server laden with actual classified materials, including during Clinton’s first trip to Moscow when she sent and received encrypted email over the Internet and WiFi.
 In the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton broadly speculated that Donald Trump had paid no taxes. Days later, several pages of Trump’s tax returns, documents that had been sought unsuccessfully by the media for over a year, arrive at the New York Times, who front pages a story. In the Vice Presidential debate which followed, Trump’s running mate spent time on the defensive defending his boss’ deductions.
 Clinton sent and received classified material on an unsecured, classified server. That violated the most basic rule of information security. She lied about it. She deleted emails and “lost” both the majority of her devices and many, many emails. The FBI and the Department of Justice, ahead of the Democratic nominating convention, found she violated no law. The Department of Justice granted broad immunity to key Clinton staffers, and allowed two of them to destroy their devices. No further investigation will thus be possible.
 The State Department aided and abetted Clinton for over four years in hiding her private server, and avoiding her responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act and the Federal Records Act. Only under court order has the Department stopped slow-walking its “review” process to release emails publicly. There has been no investigation. Emails released show a tangle of interests among State Department decisions, the Clinton Foundation and access to Hillary as Secretary of State (“pay for play”). Clinton sought Pentagon and State Department contracts for Chelsea’s friend. There has been no investigation.
 The State Department and White House coordinated to “crush” Clinton’s email coverage. If you can add it up any other way than direct interference by the White House, the State Department, the Department of Justice, the FBI and the intelligence community, it would be interesting to hear how that works. The comments are open to make a benign case for these actions.

Source: https://www.antiwar.com/blog/2016/10/09/a-government-is-seizing-control-of-our-election-process-and-it-is-not-the-russians/
Trump Victory Brings Uncertainty Abroad





Republican leader’s populist and protectionist stances are set to alter Washington’s role in world
For the world, Donald Trump’s victory portends a profoundly new geopolitical climate. From Berlin to Beijing, leaders are watching whether Mr. Trump will follow through on populist and protectionist pledges that could curb America’s global engagement and capsize deeply established policies on trade, defense and immigration. If he does, America’s foreign policy would likely shift to some degree away from traditional allies, toward a longtime nemesis, Russia. Mr. Trump’s antagonism toward longstanding international norms threatens to upend alliances forged by U.S. President Barack Obama to confront a host of global problems including climate change, the Syria conflict and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
On Wednesday, old American allies said they were ready to work with Mr. Trump, but signaled a potential for conflict. French President François Hollande said he would engage with Mr. Trump but warned that some of his campaign positions “must be contrasted with the values and interests that we share with the United States.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was ready to work closely with Mr. Trump, but on the basis of a “respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent from origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views.”

In Asia, Mr. Trump’s anti-free-trade stance is raising fears about the possibility of a world-changing trade war with China, the second-biggest economy. The Republican leader’s mercurial style and isolationist rhetoric also may give Beijing “strategic opportunities for China to exploit,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. Japan and South Korea are urgently seeking clarity from Mr. Trump on whether he intends to follow through on pledges to withdraw tens of thousands of U.S. troops from their countries unless they boost payments. At a special national security meeting on Wednesday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said the country needed to quickly build cooperative ties with the new U.S. administration.

Many view the vote’s outcome with apprehension. In Germany, Norbert Röttgen, an influential lawmaker with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, warned that the U.S. could lose its role as the linchpin of the Western world order. “We must wait and see how he acts in office,” Mr. Röttgen said. “I think he doesn’t know yet himself how he will act.” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday said Europe “must not flinch” in the face Mr. Trump’s election and those of other populist forces surging on both sides of the Atlantic. “We must try to understand what this new president will do,” Mr. Ayrault said on French radio, “because what he has said until now is worrying.”

In Latin America, Mexico is steeling itself for a president who has vowed to scrap trade agreements, build a wall and send millions of undocumented immigrants home. Cuba also faces new concerns, with Mr. Trump pledging to undo President Obama’s historic re-establishment of ties between Washington and Havana, which awakened new hopes in the country for foreign investment.

Not everyone is worried. Right-wing politicians across Europe see Mr. Trump’s victory as feeding an international wave of antiestablishment sentiment. Future electoral victories by the European right, they say, would help establish a new trans-Atlantic order based on opposition to trade deals, immigration and further political integration of the European Union. Mr. Trump’s presidency will “allow French diplomacy to express itself in a more balanced world, less dominated by American hegemony,” said Florian Philippot, a leading figure in the National Front, France’s main right-wing party. Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders wrote on his official Twitter page after Mr. Trump won Florida and Utah: “The people are taking their country back. So will we.”

British backers of a hard break from the EU have been cheered by Mr. Trump’s embrace of their cause. Mr. Obama made clear before the Brexit vote in June that the U.K. would go to the “back of the queue” on forging a new trade arrangement with the U.S. Mr. Trump has said a deal with the U.K. would be among his top priorities. For months, diplomats at North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels have been nervously watching Mr. Trump. Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, waded into the fray three times to push back against Mr. Trump’s critical comments about the alliance. On Wednesday, Mr. Stoltenberg congratulated Mr. Trump, saying “U.S. leadership is as important as ever.”

After Mr. Trump won the election, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Douglas Lute, on Wednesday played down any risks. He said the organization is already taking steps that have addressed Mr. Trump’s criticism, by raising European military spending and appointing a new intelligence chief. In the Mideast, Mr. Trump is seen as an advocate of wielding America’s military might, despite his vows to disengage from the region.

His vows to defeat Islamic State by working with regional allies has rebels in Syria hopeful that they will arm them. But as a candidate he also promised to improve relations with Russia, which is fighting the Syrian opposition. Many officials in the region worry any U.S. disengagement there will translate into gains for Russia in places like Syria and Turkey. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Mr. Trump, saying he hoped they could end a crisis in U.S.-Russian relations and work together on global security and international issues, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

Mr. Trump’s victory raises some hopes in India of more U.S. help to buttress New Delhi’s efforts to pressure Pakistan, after Mr. Trump recently said the U.S. would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with India to fight “radical Islamic terrorism.” But Indian policy makers will also be seeking assurances from the Trump administration in light of his criticism of immigration, outsourcing and trade, all crucial pillars of ties between Washington and New Delhi. In Africa, some analysts said Mr. Trump could make dramatic changes to Washington’s regional engagement, deploying a more muscular troop presence in the fight against terror, while pulling back from aid commitments.

Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-victory-brings-uncertainty-abroad-1478677782


Conspiracy Theorists Vindicated: FBI Docs Reveal “Shadow Government” Protecting Hillary Clinton

As the torrent of Podesta emails from WikiLeaks continues to expose the crimes of the Clinton dynasty, the FBI on Monday, began releasing their own documents. Buried inside 100 pages of heavily redacted interview summaries from the FBI’s investigation into Clinton are a series of allegations that are nothing short of a bombshell — documenting an ultra-secret, high-level group within the government, who were actually referred to as ‘The Shadow Government.”
This Shadow Government has long been kept in the dark realms of conspiracy theory. However, thanks to these newly released FBI documents, the truth has now become stranger and even more corrupt than fiction. The document sheds light on the reason Hillary Clinton has been able to escape any and all accountability — she was protected by this ‘Shadow Government.’ According to the document, any Freedom of Information Act requests, in relation to Clinton, were sent to a secret group for review.

Within the FBI documents, an unidentified person describes how FOIA requests having to do with Clinton were routed through these special channels. “There was a powerful group of very high-ranking STATE officials that some referred to as ‘The 7th Floor Group’ or ‘The Shadow Government.’ This group met every Wednesday afternoon to discuss the FOIA process, Congressional records, and everything CLINTON-related to FOIA/Congressional inquiries,” the FBI’s interview summary said.

According to a report in CNBC, that group, according to the summary, argued for a Clinton document release to be conducted all at once “for coordination purposes” instead of on a rolling basis as would normally be the case. But the “Shadow Government” did not get its way, and the agency in charge decided for a rolling release, the FBI summary said.

However, the summary does not go on to note how many other instances in which this Shadow Government was called in to protect her highness. Also, as the Free Thought Project reported last week, Clinton had help from the FBI, according to a high-level agent who blew the whistle on what they say was a politically motivated, top-down decision to not recommend Hillary Clinton face criminal charges for her mishandling of classified intelligence.

As Heavy notes, a State Department official, Patrick Kennedy, offered a “quid pro quo” if the FBI would flip at least one email from “classified” to “unclassified,” so that it could be released to the public in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The FBI denies that it acted on any such“quid pro quo,” which according to the documents would have involved allowing the FBI to place agents in countries where they previously were prohibited from doing so — namely Iraq. The FBI also quickly released a statement denying any such arrangement.

On a separate yet similarly corrupt note, according to CNBC, one claim from the FBI documents that was receiving attention online was that one interviewee said there was a “stark difference” between Clinton’s “obedience to security and diplomatic protocols” and that of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Clinton, the interviewee said, “blatantly” disregarded such protocols, including her frequent refusal to attend foreign diplomatic functions with the local ambassador.

“This frequently resulted in complaints by ambassadors who were insulted and embarrassed by this breach of protocol,” the interview summary said, adding that the subject claimed that “Clinton’s protocol breaches were well known throughout Diplomatic Security and were ‘abundant.'”

When the FBI is releasing documents that refer to a ‘Shadow Government’ that protects who will likely be the next president of the United States, the paradigm is shifting. This willingness to expose their own corruption likely means one of two things. Either the government is being more transparent because society is demanding it — or, they know the people can’t do anything to stop them, so secrecy no longer matters. Either way, 2016 is quickly becoming the year conspiracy theorists were proven right.

Source: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/breaking-fbi-docs-shadow-government/

The Clintons and Soros launch America’s Purple Revolution
 

Defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is not about to «go quietly into that good night». On the morning after her surprising and unanticipated defeat at the hands of Republican Party upstart Donald Trump, Mrs. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, entered the ball room of the art-deco New Yorker hotel in midtown Manhattan and were both adorned in purple attire. The press immediately noticed the color and asked what it represented. Clinton spokespeople claimed it was to represent the coming together of Democratic «Blue America» and Republican «Red America» into a united purple blend. This statement was a complete ruse as is known by citizens of countries targeted in the past by the vile political operations of international hedge fund tycoon George Soros. 

The Clintons, who both have received millions of dollars in campaign contributions and Clinton Foundation donations from Soros, were, in fact, helping to launch Soros’s «Purple Revolution» in America. The Purple Revolution will resist all efforts by the Trump administration to push back against the globalist policies of the Clintons and soon-to-be ex-President Barack Obama. The Purple Revolution will also seek to make the Trump administration a short one through Soros-style street protests and political disruption.

It is doubtful that President Trump’s aides will advise the new president to carry out a diversionary criminal investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s private email servers and other issues related to the activities of the Clinton Foundation, especially when the nation faces so many other pressing issues, including jobs, immigration, and health care. However, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said he will continue hearings in the Republican-controlled Congress on Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and Mrs. Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin. President Trump should not allow himself to be distracted by these efforts. Chaffetz was not one of Trump’s most loyal supporters.

America’s globalists and interventionists are already pushing the meme that because so many establishment and entrenched national security and military «experts» opposed Trump’s candidacy, Trump is «required» to call on them to join his administration because there are not enough such «experts» among Trump’s inner circle of advisers. Discredited neo-conservatives from George W. Bush’s White House, such as Iraq war co-conspirator Stephen Hadley, are being mentioned as someone Trump should have join his National Security Council and other senior positions. George H. W. Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker, a die-hard Bush loyalist, is also being proffered as a member of Trump’s White House team. There is absolutely no reason for Trump to seek the advice from old Republican fossils like Baker, Hadley, former Secretaries of State Rice and Powell, the lunatic former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, and others. There are plenty of Trump supporters who have a wealth of experience in foreign and national security matters, including those of African, Haitian, Hispanic, and Arab descent and who are not neocons, who can fill Trump’s senior- and middle-level positions.

Trump must distance himself from sudden well-wishing neocons, adventurists, militarists, and interventionists and not permit them to infest his administration. If Mrs. Clinton had won the presidency, an article on the incoming administration would have read as follows:

«Based on the militarism and foreign adventurism of her term as Secretary of State and her husband Bill Clinton’s two terms as president, the world is in store for major American military aggression on multiple fronts around the world. President-elect Hillary Clinton has made no secret of her desire to confront Russia militarily, diplomatically, and economically in the Middle East, on Russia’s very doorstep in eastern Europe, and even within the borders of the Russian Federation. Mrs. Clinton has dusted off the long-discredited ‘containment’ policy ushered into effect by Professor George F. Kennan in the aftermath of World War. Mrs. Clinton’s administration will likely promote the most strident neo-Cold Warriors of the Barack Obama administration, including Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, a personal favorite of Clinton».

President-elect Trump cannot afford to permit those who are in the same web as Nuland, Hadley, Bolton, and others to join his administration where they would metastasize like an aggressive form of cancer. These individuals would not carry out Trump’s policies but seek to continue to damage America’s relations with Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, and other nations.

Not only must Trump have to deal with Republican neocons trying to worm their way into his administration, but he must deal with the attempt by Soros to disrupt his presidency and the United States with a Purple Revolution

No sooner had Trump been declared the 45th president of the United States, Soros-funded political operations launched their activities to disrupt Trump during Obama’s lame-duck period and thereafter. The swiftness of the Purple Revolution is reminiscent of the speed at which protesters hit the streets of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in two Orange Revolutions sponsored by Soros, one in 2004 and the other, ten years later, in 2014.

As the Clintons were embracing purple in New York, street demonstrations, some violent, all coordinated by the Soros-funded Moveon.org and «Black Lives Matter», broke out in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oakland, Nashville, Cleveland, Washington, Austin, Seattle, Philadelphia, Richmond, St. Paul, Kansas City, Omaha, San Francisco, and some 200 other cities across the United States.

The Soros-financed Russian singing group «Pussy Riot» released on YouTube an anti-Trump music video titled «Make America Great Again». The video went «viral» on the Internet. The video, which is profane and filled with violent acts, portrays a dystopian Trump presidency. Following the George Soros/Gene Sharp script to a tee, Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova called for anti-Trump Americans to turn their anger into art, particularly music and visual art. The use of political graffiti is a popular Sharp tactic. The street protests and anti-Trump music and art were the first phase of Soros’s Purple Revolution in America.

President-elect Trump is facing a two-pronged attack by his opponents. One, led by entrenched neo-con bureaucrats, including former Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and Bush family loyalists are seeking to call the shots on who Trump appoints to senior national security, intelligence, foreign policy, and defense positions in his administration. These neo-Cold Warriors are trying to convince Trump that he must maintain the Obama aggressiveness and militancy toward Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and other countries. The second front arrayed against Trump is from Soros-funded political groups and media. This second line of attack is a propaganda war, utilizing hundreds of anti-Trump newspapers, web sites, and broadcasters, that will seek to undermine public confidence in the Trump administration from its outset.

One of Trump’s political advertisements, released just prior to Election Day, stated that George Soros, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, and Goldman Sachs chief executive officer Lloyd Blankfein, are all part of «a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities». Soros and his minions immediately and ridiculously attacked the ad as «anti-Semitic». President Trump should be on guard against those who his campaign called out in the ad and their colleagues. Soros’s son, Alexander Soros, called on Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner, to publicly disavow Trump. Soros’s tactics not only seek to split apart nations but also families. Trump must be on guard against the current and future machinations of George Soros, including his Purple Revolution.

Source:http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/11/11/clintons-and-soros-launch-america-purple-revolution.html

In 2012 George Soros predicted riots, police state and class war in America

Billionaire investor George Soros has a new prediction for America. While it might be as dire as it gets for the financial wiz, this bet concerns more than just the value of the buck. According to Soros, there's about to be an all-out class war.

Soros, 81, previously bet against the British pound in the early 90s and made $1 billion off its collapse. In the years since, he’s remained active in investing, but also in advocacy. He’s helped keep Wikipedia afloat thanks to impressive contributions and through donations to the Tides Center, has indirectly funded Adbusters, the Canadian anti-capitalist magazine that put Occupy Wall Street on the map. Speaking to Newsweek recently, Soros neglected to acknowledge his past successes, but instead offered a word of warning: a period of “evil” is coming to the western world.

“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”

Soros goes on to compare the current state of the western world with what the Soviet Union was facing as communism crumbled. Although he would think that history would have taught the globe a thing or two about noticing trends, Soros says that, despite past events providing a perfect example of what is to come, the end of an empire seems imminent.

“The collapse of the Soviet system was a pretty extraordinary event, and we are currently experiencing something similar in the developed world, without fully realizing what’s happening,” adds Soros.

Soros goes on to say that as the crisis in the Eurozone only worsens, the American financial system will continue to be hit hard. On the way to a full-blown collapse, he cautions, Americans should expect society to alter accordingly. Riots will hit the streets, says Soros, and as a result, “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”

The recent adoption of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 and the proposed Enemy Expatriation Act, if approved, have already very well paved the way for such a society. Under the NDAA, the US government is allowed to indefinitely detain and torture American citizens suspected of terror crimes without ever bringing them to trial. Should lawmakers Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Charles Dent (R-PA) get their Enemy Expatriation Act through Congress, the US will also be able to simply revoke citizenship without trial, essentially removing constitutional rights from anyone deemed a threat.

Others have cautioned that, as inequality becomes more rampant in America, the country’s citizens are becoming increasingly agitated with those on the other side of the extreme. In a recent survey released by the Pew Research Center, 66 percent of the adults studied believe that either “very strong” or “strong” conflicts exist between America’s elite and the impoverished, a statistic that has skyrocketed in recent years. Between 2009 and 20011, the proportion of those that sense conflicts exist as such between the class groups grew by 19 percentage points. While less than half of Americans fearing a fight brewing at the dawn of the Obama administration, today two-out-of-three Americans feel that there is a strong conflict between both extremes of society.

Addressing the issue of inequality, Soros tells Newsweek that the main issue that will make or break a reelection for US President Barack Obama will be whether or not the rich end up being taxed more. Among the current frontrunners in the Republic Party’s race for the GOP nomination, wealth and taxes have been of the biggest concern of party rivals. The top candidates have made millions off of investments, and at a time of immense inequality, represent what 99 percent of Americans don’t. Taxing the rich to a bigger degree might finally bring a chance, and Soros says, “It shouldn’t be a difficult argument for Obama to make.”

Soros adds that if the US manages to make it through the troubled times to come, it come allow the nation to enter another golden era. “In the crisis period, the impossible becomes possible. The European Union could regain its luster. I’m hopeful that the United States, as a political entity, will pass a very severe test and actually strengthen the institution,” he tells Newsweek. With almost seven percent of Americans living below half of the poverty line, four unemployed Americans for each job, a shrinking middle class and an increasingly overzealous police state, it could very well be a tough road to get there, though.

Source: https://www.rt.com/usa/george-soros-class-war-619/
Poll: 90 Percent Of Voters Lack Confidence In America’s Political System

This year’s presidential primary has left many voters feeling helpless and alienated from their political parties, according to a new poll, which found that Democrats and Republicans alike want to see major changes in the way presidential candidates are chosen. The survey, conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and published Tuesday, reported that a full 90 percent of voters lack confidence in the country’s political system while 40 percent went so far as to say that the two-party structure is “seriously broken.”

Seventy percent of voters, including equal proportions of Democrats and Republicans, said they feel frustrated about the 2016 presidential election and 55 percent reported feeling “helpless.” The survey, which was conducted May 12-15, comes as voters on both sides of the aisle have expressed historic dislike for the two leading candidates, GOP nominee Donald Trumpand Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

The issue of superdelegates—elected officials and Democratic elites—has gotten a lot of attention this year because of the overwhelming number that, even before the primaries began, backed party favorite Clinton over challenger Bernie Sanders. According to AP‘s numbers, Clinton has won just 274 more pledged delegates than Sanders, but boasts having the support of 525 superdelegates to his 39. According to the survey, 53 percent of voters say that the Democrats’ use of superdelegates is a “bad idea” while just 17 percent support the system. Moreover, 70 percent of voters said they prefer that primaries and caucuses would be open to all voters, rather than “closed” to all but registered party members.

“It’s kind of like a rigged election,” Nayef Jaber, a 66-year-old Sanders supporter from San Rafael, California, told AP. “It’s supposed to be one man one vote. This is the way it should be.”

Most Americans believe that neither political party represents the views of ordinary voters. Just 14 percent say the Democratic Party is responsive to the opinions of the average voter while 8 percent say the same about the Republicans. Similarly, voters said that neither party is receptive to fresh perspectives. “Only 17 percent of the public say the Democratic Party is open to new ideas about dealing with the country’s problems; 10 percent say that about the Republican Party,” the survey reports. And despite arguments that Sanders’ refusal to step down has hurt Clinton’s chances in the general election, 64 percent of Democrats say his bid for the nomination has been good for the party, along with 43 percent of Republicans. Overall, the survey found that while the 2016 election has captured the public’s interest, “only 37 percent are feeling hopeful about the campaign, 23 percent are excited, and just 13 percent say the presidential election make them feel proud.”

Source: http://www.mintpressnews.com/216874-2/216874/

Russian News Group Walks Tightrope in Covering U.S. Election

The American news media is wildly overplaying Russia’s role in a major email leak. The Democratic National Convention was troubled by chaos and dissent. Donald J. Trump’s request for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to hack Democratic emails was a joke that American pundits simply did not get. Such is the worldview presented by RT, the state-run, Moscow-based international news organization that, this week, found itself in a strange position: covering an American presidential election where Russia is suddenly playing a major role.
The network, formerly known as Russia Today, has long been scrutinized for being a propaganda outlet of sorts for the Putin government, which oversees its finances. But its American arm, which attracts about eight million weekly viewers, has aspired to more mainstream success, hiring a team of on-the-ground journalists and familiar, if past-their-prime, television stars like Larry King and the former MSNBC anchor Ed Schultz.
 That balancing act has been strained by Russia’s suspected role in the release of stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, a leak widely viewed as an attempt to meddle with the American election process. But the small group of RT journalists in Philadelphia said this week that their only instructions were to find fresh angles in a crowded news marketplace.
 “People think, as a reporter for state media, that I have to toe this line, and speak to a narrative all the time,” Lindsay France, the channel’s lead presidential campaign correspondent, said in an interview. Have I ever gotten a phone call that says, ‘You need to cover a story this way or that way’? No,” Ms. France said. She added: “If I had serious dilemmas, I would have left a long time ago.”
 Still, RT’s coverage has tended to emphasize a theme of America in disarray. President Obama’s convention speech on Wednesday was notable for being “upstaged by T.P.P. protesters and other noisy audience members,” according to the opening paragraph of an article on the channel’s website. On Friday, its lead story on Hillary Clinton’s climactic address was an item about Bill Clinton being “caught napping” during the remarks. Then there is Mr. Trump, who shocked the American foreign policy establishment by seemingly inviting Mr. Putin to hack the emails of the Democratic leader. RT’s site features a skeptical headline — “MSM Misses Trump’s Joke on Russia & Hillary Emails” — and notes that American news outlets “freaked out.”
 “Mainstream media can apparently no longer tell the difference between when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is being bombastic and when he’s joking,” read the article, which ran without a byline, as is the case with other RT articles. (Mr. Trump has said his remarks were sarcastic.) Contacted for this article, representatives from RT issued a lengthy statement from the network’s editor in chief, Margarita Simonyan, who wrote: “There is no special policy for treating any news stories differently when they pertain to Russia.”
 But, Ms. Simonyan added, “It is alarming to see the American political and media establishments across the political spectrum painting Russia as the ultimate boogeyman, referring to it exclusively as a menace, a thug, or a dictatorship.”

“The same talking heads never mention the rampant crackdowns by the absolute monarchies, theocracies and ruthless strongmen allied with the U.S.,” Ms. Simonyan added.
 
RT was founded in 2005 as an arm of a state-owned news conglomerate, RIA Novosti, intended to serve as a counterbalance to coverage by Western media companies. (Current slogan: “Question More.”) RT America, based in Washington, began in 2010, and its site pledges to deliver “stories overlooked by the mainstream media to create news with an edge.”
 This week, those stories have focused on dissatisfied supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who were infuriated by the leaked Democratic emails. Mrs. Clinton’s nomination came amid “sharp divisions and mass disappointment of Sanders’s delegates,” the network reported.
 Video of skirmishes between protesters and the police in Philadelphia were prominently featured, even though such episodes were relatively rare at a convention that was more peaceful than some observers had expected it to be. Ms. Simonyan, the editor in chief, said that the American news media’s focus on Russia’s presumed role in the leak was overblown.
 “There are 10 times as many articles about Russia’s supposed involvement with the DNC emails than there are about what’s actually in the emails,” Ms. Simonyan wrote. “Hypothetical Russia connections are being used by other Americans to discredit a major party’s nominee, and yet Russia’s the one sabotaging the process?”
 Ms. France, the correspondent, put it this way: “People call us propaganda. We take a look at what we see every day, and we do something different.” In an interview, Mr. King, the former CNN star who now anchors a prime-time interview show on RT, said that he had never received directions on coverage from the network. He said he was surprised that Russia was now such a dominant focus of the American political conversation.
 “I’m almost expecting Putin to come to America to make a speech,” Mr. King said by telephone from Los Angeles. “Obviously, Putin wants Trump to be the president. I’ve never heard that before from a Russian president.”
 His biggest concern, Mr. King said, is that Mr. Trump, whom he has known for decades, has so far declined to appear on his show during this election cycle. “Donald Trump is the easiest guy to book in the world,” said Mr. King, who has said he will probably vote for Mrs. Clinton. “He has not responded lately, and I have no reason for it. I’ve always been friends with him, we go back 40 years.”  “He keeps saying, ‘next Tuesday, a week from Tuesday,’ ” Mr. King said. “I’m a little disappointed.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/31/us/politics/russia-media-rt-dnc.html?_r=0

Hacking the Democratic Party’s servers is part of Putin’s plan to prove that democracy doesn’t work

Vladimir Putin has a grand strategy for Russia, and he has not exactly been secretive about its goals. “First and foremost, it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” Putin said in a 2005 national address. Through bodies like the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Eurasian Customs Union, he has sought to build Russian-dominated institutions to rival NATO and the European Union as part of his plan to return Russia to its 20th-century glory. Putin’s efforts have met with some success. Russia is a far bigger player on the international stage than it was 20 years ago, and some former Soviet republics have maintained or returned to close ties with Moscow, including Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. But others, like Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan have, in varying ways and to varying degrees, rejected Russian involvement in their affairs and sought closer ties with the West.

The single biggest obstacle to Putin’s goal of a Eurasia united economically and militarily behind Moscow has been the persistent global consensus that democracy is the best form of government. This consensus, most firmly established in 1991 when the Cold War ended on American terms, has taken root across the globe, even in countries profoundly hostile to democracy. Most modern autocrats do not claim dynastic legitimacy or divine authority or historical materialism as the basis for their sovereignty; they rely on bogus elections to legitimize their rule, which is itself a testament to the broad acceptance of democracy as the only legitimate form of government. This global Democratic Consensus has hindered Putin’s global aspirations in two ways. The first and more obvious is that sometimes the citizens of former Soviet republics choose to elect governments that promise to align with the West, rather than Moscow. In response, Russia has sought to undermine such governments through promoting corruption and organized crime, mounting cyberattacks on telecommunications and power infrastructure, inciting local ethnic Russians to rebellion, and even intervening militarily with the Russian Army.


The other challenge that the Democratic Consensus poses to Putin’s strategy is more abstract. In democratic contests between pro-Moscow and pro-West candidates, the pro-West candidates have a rhetorical advantage: EU members are democracies, and Russia and most of its allies aren’t. It stands to reason that people voting in democratic or semi-democratic elections are inclined to choose the path that is more likely to preserve democracy in their own country, at least as long as democracy is associated with the relative peace, prosperity, and freedom currently enjoyed by EU members. So at some point, Putin set out to break that association. In 2008, he sent the Russian Army into Georgia to punish its citizens for electing a pro-Western president and attempting to join NATO, and to demonstrate to the Georgian people that they should associate democracy and the West with fecklessness and betrayal, not freedom or prosperity. After all, Germany and France had only months earlier blocked Georgia from receiving a NATO Membership Action Plan, and then the alliance stood by while Russian troops dismembered the country.

In 2013, Ukrainian protestors took to the streets after pro-Russian President Yanukovych refused to sign a popular EU Association Agreement. Putin, again eager to demonstrate the costs of democracy, worked behind the scenes to escalate the conflict until he had a pretense to invade and annex strategic parts of the country. This naked aggression frightened not only Putin’s adversaries, like the pro-West regimes in the Baltic States, but even his allies, like Belarus and Kazakhstan, whose leaders have benefitted from Russian largesse, but who fear falling under Moscow’s domination themselves.

Today, Putin’s ambitions for dismantling the Democratic Consensus extend far beyond the former Soviet states. For the past three years, the linchpin of his strategy has been Russia’s Syrian policy. Promoting chaos and suffering in Iraq and Syria through military intervention and other means serves the triple purpose of a) maintaining Russia’s access to Syrian ports, b) undermining the Democratic Consensus in the Arab world by demonstrating the incompetence of democratic rule in Iraq and the threat of Sunni populism in Syria, and c) weakening the Eastern Hemisphere’s greatest example of and advocate for democracy: the European Union. A steady flow of refugees into the heartland of Europe has ensured a rise in radical politics, a surge in Euro-skeptism, and now the departure from the EU of Russia’s greatest critic, Britain. Brexit stands as Moscow’s greatest geostrategic accomplishment since the end of the Cold War. Unthinkable only a few years ago, Britain’s abandonment of the European project was a direct result of 18 months of Muslim refugees streaming into the EU. Without a winter of terrorist attacks and refugee flows (unrelated in reality, but closely linked in many voters’ minds), Leave simply could not have won.

Having excised his most vociferous critic from their biggest political and economic rival, Putin now hopes to decapitate its chief military adversary, NATO. Russia scored an easy and costless victory last week when NATO’s largest military attempted a coup d’état, and has now itself been temporarily sidelined while it is being purged. Turkey is now undergoing its biggest retreat from democracy in decades. This unexpected catastrophe is a windfall for Moscow, but Putin’s eyes remain on the real prize, the United States. Here, we have a major-party candidate who speaks about Putin in glowing terms, and now has begun to question our commitment to NATO integrity, even as American foreign policy leaders call for greater support to the Baltic states most vulnerable to Russian incursion. Donald Trump, like Putin, advocates for strength and sovereignty, rather than democracy and human rights, as the guiding principles of statecraft, and has promised to transform our international presence into a protection racket. Putin has covertly aided right-wing parties and politicians in Western Europe for years, knowing that such movements undermine the social cohesion and political solvency of rival states, but the White House would be a prize beyond his wildest dreams.

A Trump presidency would strengthen Russia’s implicit argument that democracies are too vulnerable to the mob’s baser instincts. It would lend credence to his belief that democracies are too internally divided to commit to long term strategic goals. Most of all, it would leave the NATO alliance leaderless in the face of further Russian expansionism. The Kremlin so strongly favors a Trump presidency that it is actively attempting to sabotage the Clinton campaign, employing the same information-warfare tactics against an American presidential candidate that the Russians have used against Eurasian political adversaries for years. If they are successful, Russian hackers and propagandists will have achieved one of the Kremlin’s greatest strategic victories in a hundred years without ever firing a shot.

Source: http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016/07/vladimir-putins-best-summer-ever

Alexander Dugin: We consider Trump the American Putin

Donald Trump on Monday took one of his first truly important calls as America’s next commander in chief, and Vladimir Putin was on the other end. Mr. Trump told the Russian supreme leader that he seeks a “strong and enduring relationship” with Moscow, per the Kremlin readout. His promised re-reset with Moscow is on track.

Rapprochement starts in Syria, where the president-elect has welcomed U.S.-Russian cooperation against Islamic State. That’s not a departure from current policy, contrary to hysteria on the left. Mr. Trump didn’t forge the de facto alliance with Moscow in Syria; his predecessor did. But to avoid the missteps of the last reset, Mr. Trump would do well to understand the ideological vision that shapes Kremlin strategy.

There is perhaps no better guide to Russian thinking today than the philosopher Alexander Dugin. One of the main “ideologists” behind Moscow’s aggressive foreign policy, Mr. Dugin is an influential intellectual with ties to the Kremlin. He has argued vociferously in favor of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the U.S. Treasury sanctioned him last year over his alleged role in “violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Mr. Trump’s election elated Mr. Dugin. “For us it is joy, it is happiness,” he says in a telephone interview this week. “You must understand that we consider Trump the American Putin.”

Correctly or not, Mr. Dugin views the president-elect as a kindred spirit—a “conservative nationalist” and “realist” who speaks Mr. Putin’s language. “Two realists can better understand each other,” Mr. Dugin says of the two men. By realism Mr. Dugin means a worldview that emphasizes “the sovereignty of nations.” A realist Washington, he says, “will focus on domestic affairs and leave in peace Europe and the Middle East.”

Take Ukraine and Syria. These two trouble spots “don’t enter into the immediate interests of the United States,” he says. The implicit message is that they do implicate Russian interests. A White House willing to concede these areas would find a Russia where “there is no reason for anti-American feeling.”

Perhaps that sounds like music to the ears of some in Mr. Trump’s coterie. But the incoming administration should weigh the price associated with such a deal. Mr. Dugin isn’t asking for an exchange of mutual strategic respect between Washington and Moscow. At stake is America’s political and military supremacy over a liberal international order centuries in the making.

“Liberalism”—by which Mr. Dugin means individual rights and free markets—“is globalist by its very nature.” Since they were first proclaimed by the philosophes of the Enlightenment and their followers in the American colonies, liberal ideas have conquered the globe, and a succession of liberal powers, most recently the U.S., has overseen world order.

Mr. Dugin equates liberalism with moral license and spiritual poverty. “Liberalism is totalitarianism,” he says, an invasive weed that Orthodox Russia, forever poised between East and West, must resist. A U.S. that no longer seeks to uphold liberal order, then, would be a long-brewing triumph for ideas that Mr. Dugin and like-minded thinkers on the nationalist far right in Russia and Europe have championed for decades.

Such a development would represent a passage from “unipolarity to multipolarity,” he says. “All those who reject universalism and globalization have an opening. . . . That is a theological and metaphysical shift, and we underestimate what is going on.” It would be “a real shift in the balance of power.” In his book “The Fourth Political Theory,” Mr. Dugin puts it less delicately: “The American Empire should be destroyed. And at one point, it will be.”

Developing structures to replace the old liberal international order is the other half of Mr. Dugin’s philosophical project. In a post-liberal world, he says, the great powers would pursue “regional globalization” instead of “global globalization.” The aim wouldn’t be to resurrect the pure nation-state “as it existed before globalization.”

Instead, there would be “balanced spaces of integration,” with an Anglo-American sphere, a European sphere as well as a Eurasian sphere that encompasses Russia, Shiite Iran and parts of Eastern Europe. If that latter sounds a bit like a sophisticated philosophical alibi for Mr. Putin’s imperial ambitions in the territory between the Baltic and Black Seas, well, it is. But Mr. Dugin says the Eurasian regional integration he envisions needn’t be coercive.

“Eurasianism is a defensive step against a globalization applied by all the power of the U.S.,” he says. But if Washington were to step back, “we can accomplish this more democratically.” And what about the bad memories, in places like Poland and the Baltic States, of the last time Russia “integrated” its neighbors? Mr. Dugin says he’s sympathetic but that these nations must “adapt to multipolarity.” He adds: “There were also good memories.”

Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-meaning-of-trumps-re-reset-with-moscow


A Reckless Trump Undermines Democracy

What is happening to our country?
For generations, going all the way back to the 13 colonies, the Founding Fathers wanted this place to be different from other nations. People in America would be able to speak and think freely and move about at will. People would get to vote on the people who would make decisions. And there would be a Constitution that spelled this all out. John Winthrop made the trek in 1630 from England to what we know today as Massachusetts. He described the America that he found as a beacon for people looking for a better, more prosperous and secure future.

“We must always consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us,” Winthrop told the colonists.

Today, 386 years after Winthrop’s observations, we are a couple of weeks away from an election to choose the next president of the United States. But instead of celebrating the role of everyday Americans in the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next, instead of appealing to our patriotism and urging us to support his vision for our nation, Trump is waging a campaign like none of us has ever witnessed before. He is rocking the foundation upon which our nation was built. He warns that the election is being stolen right out from under him by a candidate he calls “evil.” And if he is victorious, Trump tells his audiences he will put Hillary Clinton — “Crooked Hillary,” as he calls her — in jail.

What is happening to our country?

This is not some dictatorship where the losing candidates are strung up from a tree or shot at sunrise. This was not some heat-of-the-moment comment Trump uttered once. The inflammatory comments have been a fixture at his rallies for months, with his supporters chanting “lock her up, lock her up.” During an event in Lakeland, Fla., a few days ago, Trump jumped on the chants. “Lock her up is right,” he said. “She has to go to jail.”

Trump is going where no candidate has gone in our lifetimes. Richard Nixon didn’t have deep affection for John Kennedy. But he did not crisscross the country calling Kennedy a crook and trying to undermine public confidence in the election.

After Kennedy won by a whisker, Nixon conceded defeat and let the new president get on with the task of healing the divisions the hard-fought campaign left. Nixon didn’t tell audiences day after day after day that he had been robbed by Kennedy, by the Democrats, or by some supposed international conspiracy. He didn’t accuse Kennedy of trying to destroy the sovereignty of the United States. Nixon didn’t do that in 1960. Al Gore didn’t do that in 2000. But Donald Trump is doing that this year.

Trump just grins when people at his rallies spout off about Clinton or declare they are ready to take up arms if the election is “stolen” from their man. Trump is silent when his supporters, even people who should know better like Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee, Wis., talk about rampant government corruption. Trump was silent when Clarke commented a few days ago that an election loss will mean it is “Pitchforks and torches time.”

A woman in Newton last week stood up at a Mike Pence rally and said she was “ready for a revolution” if Trump and Pence lose. To his credit, Pence, the level-headed one in this year’s Republican ticket, told the woman, “Don’t say that.” But I have no confidence Trump would have tried to tamp down such crazy talk. Trump has been very comfortable sowing suspicion among his fans that the Nov. 8 election will be bogus because of what he calls a “sinister deal” cooked up by those who oppose him. But his allegations are offered without one shred of evidence.

Voter fraud is a virtually nonexistent problem in the United States. A study by the Loyola University law school found that of the 1 billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014, only 31 known cases of fraud have been found. Beyond that, Trump’s beating the drum of doubt creates the potential that a President Hillary Clinton and Republicans and Democrats in Congress would have to try to govern a nation divided by these baseless suggestions of an illegitimate president.

This isn’t the hand-wringing of a worry wart. A new Associated Press poll found that one-third of Republicans have a great deal or quite a bit of concern that votes will not be counted fairly on Election Day.

For all of the damage Trump has inflicted on our nation during this campaign — with his name-calling, his smearing of immigrants and Muslims and the disabled, with his foul language and vilification of those who disagree with him — the greatest harm, and Trump’s most lasting legacy, would be if he succeeds in undermining public faith in our system of free and fair elections. We don’t need some crackpot to hear Trump’s incendiary comments and decide to take a gun and “fix” that problem for Trump.

What is happening to our country?

Source:http://iowastartingline.com/2016/10/21/a-reckless-trump-undermines-democracy/


Hacking Voting Machines: Easier Than Ever Imagined



Millions of Americans are already waiting for hours outside of polling places to vote for the next president of the United States. All of that might not matter though, as some security pros say the entire election can be rigged all too easily. In one example, it wouldn’t take much more than ten dollars’ worth of parts from any RadioShack store to steal and manipulate votes. It’s called a man-in-the-middle attack and the computer program that logs the results on electronic voting machines isn’t even compromised.
“It’s a classic attack on security devices,” Roger Johnston tells Popular Science. “You implant a microprocessor or some other electronic device into the voting machine, and that lets you control the voting and turn cheating on and off. We’re basically interfering with transmitting the voter’s intent.”
According to the magazine, anyone from a high-school student to an octogenarian could corrupt the voting process. Johnston is the head of the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory and has done it himself, even on camera. It wouldn’t be hard for others, he says, and some fear that that could easily be the case on Election Day. And with many prediction polls estimating a close contest between President Barack Obama and Republican Party challenger Mitt Romney this year, it wouldn’t take much to render the entire contest corrupted.
On the website for Argonne, Johnston says Americans believe too often that election officials assume — incorrectly — that it takes a computer genius capable of a nation-state cyberassault or a frazzled, Hollywood-designed hacker to turn an electronic voting machine on its head. And while that route is once that can be taken too, it isn’t the only way to ruin an election. Insider threats from election officials or anyone with access to a voting machine could easily alter contests, and monitors aren’t necessarily on the look-out for that kind of unauthorized access.
“And a lot of our election judges are little old ladies who are retired, and God bless them, they’re what makes the elections work, but they’re not necessarily a fabulous workforce for detecting subtle security attacks,”
Johnston tells Popular Science. In the example of hijacking the computer transmission with a few bucks’ worth of electronics, it wouldn’t require much more than walking into a polling place and entering a booth with the right knowhow and intent, and most machines can be access without even requiring a two-dollar lockpick and a tiny tension bar.
“No one signs for the machines when they show up. No one’s responsible for watching them. Seals on them aren’t much different from the anti-tamper packaging found on food and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Think about tampering with a food or drug product: You think that’s challenging?” he asks.
Johnston has recorded himself demonstrating how a logic analyzer, an Allen wrench and a screwdriver is all it takes to change votes to register for one candidate instead of another by using a man-in-the-middle attack. Although it hasn’t been verified yet, a video posted to YouTube early on November 6 from an account registered to “Centralpavote” shows what is reported to be a similar machine showing signs typical of exactly that kind of abuse —not in a test setting, though, but only hours before the polls close for real [VIDEO].
This Election Day, the touchscreen Diebold Accuvote-TSX will be used by more than 26 million voters in 20 states, while the push-button Sequoia AVC machine will be deployed to four states for use by almost 9 million voters. Johnston says purchasing a $10 logic analyzer from RadioShack is easily enough to snoop and see who any voter intends on electing, and from there those digital transmissions can be hijacked and told to mean something else. For experts, though, there are even other ways to wreak havoc on the polls.
Johnston says the machines don’t transmit data with encryption, so anyone with a basic understanding of digital communications can figure out how a user votes if they’ve accessed the machine with one of those logic analyzers. Sequoia — the company responsible for making a good share of America’s electronic voting machines — do encrypt the results of each vote, though. Well, kind of.
Andrew W. Appel of Princeton, NY bought a few used AVC Advantage voting machine made by Sequoia off an online auction site for only $82 just a couple of years ago. Once they arrived, he accessed the machine’s innards and says it was easy to start to see how things worked.
“I was surprised at how simple it was for me to access the ROM memory chips containing the firmware that controls the vote-counting,” Appel writes on his personal website. Despite claims from Sequoia that the machine wasn’t easily hackable, Appel says, “The AVC Advantage can be easily manipulated to throw an election because the chips which control the vote-counting are not soldered on to the circuit board of the DRE. This means the vote-counting firmware can be removed and replace with fraudulent firmware.”
In another study carried out at The University of Iowa in 2003, Douglas W Jones from the school’s Department of Computer Science found that any voting machine purchased second-hand — like even those Diebold machines deployed across a good chunk of America — can also be hacked with ease.
“It appeared that the security keys for the encryption used by the I-mark software were hard-coded into the voting application,” he found when examining a Diebold Accuvote TS. “As things stood, their system relied on security through obscurity, so they must take measures to assure that their code remains obscure and that no copy of their code ever leaks out into public. I told them that the moment one of their machines goes to the landfill or is otherwise disposed of, someone might extract their encryption key and all of their security claims would become meaningless.”
According to Jones, even claims made by voting machine companies that their devices are secure are just that — mere accusations hard for the layperson to verify without first learning a few things about electronics, encryption or just how to disassemble the front panel from an electronic voting machine. Viruses can also be sent to machines, malwares can corrupt code and nothing sure by pristine, 100 percent out-of-the-box sterility can assure voters that they aren’t casting ballots on a tampered machine.
“We've all used ATMs, and most everyone (except my quasi-Luddite self) has something such as an iPod. Now, have you ever, anytime, anywhere, had one of these electronic devices switch data input on you?” asks Selwyn Duke of American Thinking in a recent article. “So how is it that in our high-tech universe of flawlessly functioning electronic gadgets, voting machines are the only ones prone to human-like ‘error’? If there's an explanation other than human meddling, again, I'd truly like to hear it.”
Given the post-election discussion on fraud, intimidation, chads and corrupted computerized tally machines that have come with seemingly every political contest in recent years, explanations — valid or not — are expected to be rampant following this week’s vote. If history is any indication, though, don’t expect these things to work themselves out before 2016.

Source: http://rt.com/usa/news/voting-machine-election-hack-088
Voting machine password hacks as easy as 'abcde', details Virginia state report

Touchscreen voting machines used in numerous elections between 2002 and 2014 used “abcde” and “admin” as passwords and could easily have been hacked from the parking lot outside the polling place, according to a state report. The AVS WinVote machines, used in three presidential elections in Virginia, “would get an F-minus” in security, according to a computer scientist at tech research group SRI International who had pushed for a formal inquiry by the state of Virginia for close to a decade.
In a damning study published Tuesday, the Virginia Information Technology Agency and outside contractor Pro V&V found numerous flaws in the system, which had also been used in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. Jeremy Epstein, of the Menlo Park, California, nonprofit SRI International, served on a Virginia state legislative commission investigating the voting machines in 2008. He has been trying to get them decertified ever since. Anyone within a half mile could have modified every vote, undetected, Epstein said in a blog post. “I got to question a guy by the name of Brit Williams, who’d certified them, and I said, ‘How did you do a penetration test?’” Epstein told the Guardian, “and he said, ‘I don’t know how to do something like that’.”
Reached by phone, Williams, who has since retired, said he did not recall the incident and referred the Guardian to former colleagues at Kennesaw State University who have taken over the certification duties he used to perform for Virginia and other states. “You could have broken into one of these with a very small amount of technical assistance,” Epstein said. “I could teach you how to do it over the phone. It might require an administrator password, but that’s okay, the password is ‘admin’.” Bypassing the encrypted WEP wireless system also proved easy. The password turned out to be “ABCDE”, according to the state’s security assessment – and getting the password “would take a few minutes and after that you don’t need any tools at all”, said Epstein.
The commission that stripped the machines of certification also found that the version of Windows operating on each of them had not been updated since at least 2004, that it was possible to “create and execute malicious code” on the WINVote and that “the level of sophistication to execute such an attack is low”. The WINVote machine, manufactured by Advanced Voting Solutions, a now-defunct Texas company, has been under siege by Epstein and others for years; the units have been used in at least two dozen elections across the state. Mississippi and Pennsylvania stopped using them several years ago. Epstein said it is likely no one will ever know whether or not they were tampered with.
“There are no logs kept in the systems,” Epstein said. “I’ve examined them.” In order to determine anything about the machines’ histories, in fact, a very high level of technical sophistication would be required, on a level with the FBI looking at images of deleted files on a suspect’s hard drive. “Bottom line is that if no Virginia elections were ever hacked (and we have no way of knowing if it happened), it’s because no one with even a modicum of skill tried,” Epstein wrote on his blog.

Source:http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/15/virginia-hacking-voting-machines-security
7 Ways Republicans and Democrats are exactly the same 
Cats vs. dogs. Coke vs. Pepsi. Democrats vs. Republicans. These are the great divisions of life. But what if one of those rivalries isn’t actually much of a division at all? Don’t worry, I’m not trying to reignite the cola wars of the 90s. (Besides, we all know Coke is the clear winner: Do you order a Jack and Pepsi?) No, I’m talking about Democrats and Republicans—or rather, the out-of-date and out-of-step establishments of both parties. For libertarians, saying both parties are the same is a common theme. Democrat and Republican partisans dismiss such critiques as cynical or unserious, but there’s a real case to be made if we look at the cold, hard facts.
Here are 7 big reasons there’s no difference between establishment Democrats and Republicans:
1. Both support endless war. It’s been more than a decade since the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and America’s entanglements are far from over. Though Bush is remembered as the consummate hawk, Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama has used his time in office to start or maintain additional wars in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. Now, he wants to add Syria to the list. My generation can barely remember peace—and there’s no end in sight for a foreign policy with devastating human and financial costs.
2. Both engage in out-of-control spending. Yes, deficit spending has accelerated under Barack Obama. But you know what? There was also a massive acceleration under Bush. The fact is, debt is a bipartisan problem, and neither party is innocent. With $17 trillion of debt (and rapidly counting) as the consequence of decades of bipartisan irresponsibility, the time has passed for pointing fingers and dubbing a slightly slower rate of spending growth a “historic cut.”
3. Both ignore our most basic rights. CNN recently asked “When can a government kill its own people?” but for President Obama and some old guard GOP leaders like Sen. John McCain, that question has already been answered: Pretty much whenever it’s convenient. In fact, the U.S. government has already assassinated a 16-year-old American citizen by drone strike, killing a boy who was neither accused nor suspected of any crime. 
4. Both have no respect for the rule of law. Obama swept into office promising a new attention to the rule of law after years of (correct) complaints that Bush often ignored it. “I take the Constitution very seriously,” he maintained to a nation weary for lawfulness. Bush and his GOP Congress were rightly critiqued for rampantly flouting the Constitution, especially the 4th and 5th Amendments (rights to privacy and a fair trial). But as Gitmo remains open, the NDAA makes indefinite detention a possibility for any American, and the list of NSA abuses reaches absurd proportions, Obama’s campaign promise is overdue for a death certificate.
5. Both are bought and paid for by big business. You know what’s the best original idea in politics today? Making politicians wear suits like NASCAR drivers, which display their biggest corporate sponsors. Democrats and Republicans alike would be plastered with logos. So is it any wonder that many of these same businesses get massive favors from the government at taxpayers’ expense? DC spends upwards of $100 billion on corporate welfare annually, not to mention huge one-off expenditures like the bailouts.
6. Both care most about their own power. President Obama recently joked, “That’s the good thing about being president, I can do whatever I want.” And while he was just kidding around, his humor was in line with the bipartisan presidential mindset. In the recent State of the Union address, the President announced his intention to continue expanding the power of the Executive at Congress’ expense. Republicans were duly upset at this power grab, but historically GOP Presidents have actually averaged slightly more executive orders than Democrats have.
7. Both have a long record of expanding government and shrinking liberty. Finally, take a look at the big picture:
Our government is reading our emails and monitoring our calls. It gropes us at the airport, wants to keep track of our cars, and plans to subject us to random security sweeps at concerts and train stations. We can’t decide for ourselves what to consume, whether to buy insurance, or who to marry. All our income until mid-April goes directly to the government. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, and minorities are subject to unfair, disproportionate punishment. Is this really the land of the free? In 2014, it’s very difficult to answer that question in the affirmative. But it’s easy to see that partisanship isn’t the answer—and neither is bipartisan big government. As America moves toward a new, liberty-friendly policy consensus, let’s toss this outdated left vs. right rivalry and focus on the real fight: Washington vs. us.

Source:http://rare.us/story/7-ways-republicans-and-democrats-are-exactly-the-same/#8U5KkO7U40AszEKP.99
The Lies Of Democracy and the Language Of Deceit

In an increasingly media-driven age, language is everything and is often used by officialdom to tyrannise meaning. With the deaths of millions on its hands since 1945, the US has become the world’s number one terror state. By the 1980s, former CIA man John Stockwell had put the figure at six million. As a recent article has indicated, from mass bombing in Southeast Asia to employing death squads in South America, the US military and the CIA have been directly and indirectly responsible for an updated figure of an estimated ten million deaths (1). But it’s not called mass murder these days. Ironically, the US has hijacked the word ‘terror’ to justify its brand of tyranny through a war on terror.
You can also add to that ten million, countless others whose lives have been sacrificed on the altar of corporate profit, which did not rely on the military to bomb peoples and countries into submission, but on a certain policy. It’s not browbeating. It’s structural adjustment.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have taken their own lives over the past decade and a half largely as a result of US agribusiness manipulating global commodity prices courtesy of policies enacted on its behalf by the US government or due to the corporate monopoly, or frontier technology, of terminator seeds that also landed farmers in debt which was just too much for them to bear (2).
The plight of Indian farmers is not unique. How many lives have been cut short across the world because of the inherent structural violence or silent killing of the everyday seemingly benign functioning of predatory capitalism? The built-in inequalities of the system have effectively stolen years from people’s lives, the health from their bodies, the livelihoods from their hands, the water from their taps and food from their plates. From the UK to Africa, the subjugated classes – the now often discarded economic fodder, the cannon fodder during times of war or the returning heroes to be thrown overboard by the system on coming home, the people who are to be manipulated and exploited at will via bogus notions of nationalism or the national interest – have had their lives cut short or stripped bare of opportunities due to the hardships imposed by the iron fist of capitalism (3).
The appropriation of wealth through a system that funnels it from bottom to top via a process of accumulation by dispossession (4) is celebrated as growth, prosperity, and freedom of choice, despite evidence that, from Greece to Spain, the reality for the majority has been increasing poverty, the stripping away of choice and misery. You wouldn’t know much about this if you just used the mainstream media for information, though. Sure, you may have been told to tighten your belt because we are all in it together and must make some sacrifices in these difficult economic times.
And just for good measure, as much of the country (any country) is thrown onto the scraphead because it is surplus to requirements now that their jobs have been outsourced abroad, we simply must attack Mali, Syria, Libya, Iran (the list goes on) because not to do so would let the evil-doers take over the world. And then where would we be without such high-minded notions? It’s not resource plunder. It’s humanitarianism.
Well, we would be precisely where we are right now because the evil-doers are already in control and waging war not only on the people of those countries just mentioned, but on the people within their own countries too via the tools of surveillance, the penal system, the comotosing effects of spymaster imported illegal drugs or the infotainment industry and the barrage of legislation that is serving to strip away civil liberties. The game is up, the dominant Western economy (the US) is broken beyond repair (5). Imperialism and militarism won’t save it, but dissent won’t be allowed.
And as private bankers entrap us all even further via their licence to print and loan currencies to national governments then also loan them the interest on it that spirals out of hand so it can never be paid back (6), they are able to line their pockets even further by buying up national assets on the cheap from the countries they bankrupted in the first place. It’s not racketeering. It’s austerity.“And now they’re coming for your social security. They want your retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all sooner or later because they own this place.” Gorge Carlin, writer, critic and comedian.And where is the mainstream media in all of this? Where are those journalists whose claim to respectability is their rigid professionalism, their accountability, their objectivity? If you can call professionalism, accountability and objectivity being in the pocket of and not wishing to offend advertising interests, officialdom, lobbyists or corporate think tanks then they are paragons of absolute virtue!
Peddling their high salaried lies, they have failed and continue to fail the public. By shining their dim ‘investigative’ light on ‘parliamentary procedures’, personalities, the rubber stamping of policies and the inane machinations of party politics, they merely serve to maintain and perpetuate the status quo and keep the public in the dark as to the unaccountable self-serving power broking and unity of interests that enable Big Oil, Big Banking, Big Pharma, Big Agra and the rest of them to keep bleeding us all dry.
Looking back to the BBC’s reporting of the NATO bombing of Libya provides quite revealing insight into the mainstream media. The coverage was disgracefully one-sided. Is the public to pay for a ‘public service’ broadcaster in order to be misled and for it to secure our compliance for illegal state-corporate policies? There was little analysis of ‘mission’ drift’ or of where the insurgents where getting their arms from despite a UN-sanctioned arms embargo. Much less of NATO’s moral right to bomb a path into Tripoli. No talk there of what University of Johannesburg professor Chris Landsberg said was NATO’s violation of international law or of the 200 prominent African figures who accused western nations of subverting international law.
On the other hand, though, what we are served courtesy of the mainstream media each time Britain decides to wage war is a tasty dish of nationalistic sentiment and the old colonial mentality of ‘our boys’ going out ‘there’ to help civilise the barbarians.
But that’s the role of the media: to help reinforce and reproduce the material conditions of an exploitative and divisive social system on a daily basis. It’s called having a compliant, toothless media. It’s liberal democracy. That’s the role not only of the media, but the education system and the political system too.
And that’s why former British PM was some years ago told by his financial masters to sell of what was laughingly regarded as ‘the nation’s gold’ at a knock down price on behalf of bankers’ (not the nation’s) interests without being held up to genuine public scrutiny. Some say that was the first ‘bail out’ (7). That’s why taxpayers’ money, unbeknown to most of the taxpayers, is being used unaccountably and undemocratically to help prop up banks and to topple various countries and bring death and destruction to thousands via ‘covert ops’. Covert – hidden from the public who remain blissfully unaware of where their hard earned dollars, pounds or euros are actually going.
That’s why the state-corporate fraudsters, murderers and liars who wrap themselves in the language of freedom and democracy have been getting away with it for so long. Sadly, that’s why they continue to do so.

Source:http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-lies-of-democracy-and-the-language-of-deceit/5319515

Why Ignorance Is Democracy's Bliss

The Iowa caucuses marked the official beginning of the presidential election cycle. For the next 10 months or so, the American public will endure polls, pundits, canned stump speeches and negative ads—the media circus that passes for 21st-century democracy. Despite this flood of coverage, one troubling feature of our elections will go largely unmentioned: The typical American voter is uninformed about political basics. Consider these facts:• The vast majority of voters can't name their congressman or a single congressional candidate. • 45% of adults don't know that each state elects two senators. • 40% of Americans can't name the vice president. • 63% can't name the chief justice of the U.S.This isn't a recent phenomenon. In 1964, at the height of the Cold War, only 38% of Americans knew that the Soviet Union wasn't part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In December 1994, a month after the Republican takeover of Congress, 57% of Americans had never heard of Newt Gingrich. As Winston Churchill once said, "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
Yet despite this, voting remains the best way to elect leaders. Churchill, as usual, said it best: "Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."
Why are democracies so vibrant even when composed of uninformed citizens? According to a new study led by the ecologist Iain Couzin at Princeton, this collective ignorance is an essential feature of democratic governments, not a bug. His research suggests that voters with weak political preferences help to prevent clusters of extremists from dominating the political process. Their apathy keeps us safe.
To show this, Dr. Couzin experimented on a rather unlikely set of subjects: fish. Many different species, such as schooling fish and flocking birds, survive by forming a consensus, making collective decisions without splintering apart. To do so, these creatures are constantly forced to conduct their own improvised elections.
The scientists trained a large group of golden shiners, a small freshwater fish used as bait, to associate the arrival of food with a blue target. They then trained a smaller group to associate food with a yellow target, a color naturally preferred by the fish. Not surprisingly, when all the trained golden shiners were put in one aquarium, most of them swam toward the yellow dot; the stronger desires of the minority, fueled by the shiners' natural preference, persuaded the majority to follow along.
But when scientists introduced a group of fish without any color training, yellow suddenly lost its appeal. All of a sudden, the fish began following the preferences of the majority, swimming toward the blue target. "A strongly opinionated minority can dictate group choice," the scientists concluded. "But the presence of uninformed individuals spontaneously inhibits this process, returning control to the numerical majority."
Of course, many political scientists have criticized this extrapolation from golden shiners to democratic government, noting that not all independent voters are ignorant—some are simply moderate—and that a minority doesn't always represent an extreme view.
Nevertheless, this research helps to explain the importance of indifference in a partisan age. If every voter was well-informed and highly opinionated, then the most passionate minority would dominate decision-making. There would be no democratic consensus—just clusters of stubborn fanatics, attempting to out-shout the other side. Hitler's rise is the ultimate parable here: Though the Nazi party failed to receive a majority of the votes in the 1933 German election, it was able to quickly intimidate the opposition and pass tyrannical laws.
So the next time a poll reveals the ignorance of the voting public, remember those fish. It's the people who don't know very much who make democracy possible.
Source: http://online.wsj.com/article


Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

In this visualization, we see the tipping point where minority opinion (shown in red) quickly becomes majority opinion. Over time, the minority opinion grows. Once the minority opinion reached 10 percent of the population, the network quickly changes as the minority opinion takes over the original majority opinion (shown in green). (Credit: SCNARC/Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

"When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority," said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. "Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame."

As an example, the ongoing events in Tunisia and Egypt appear to exhibit a similar process, according to Szymanski. "In those countries, dictators who were in power for decades were suddenly overthrown in just a few weeks." The findings were published in the July 22, 2011, early online edition of the journal Physical Review E in an article titled "Social consensus through the influence of committed minorities."

An important aspect of the finding is that the percent of committed opinion holders required to shift majority opinion does not change significantly regardless of the type of network in which the opinion holders are working. In other words, the percentage of committed opinion holders required to influence a society remains at approximately 10 percent, regardless of how or where that opinion starts and spreads in the society.

To reach their conclusion, the scientists developed computer models of various types of social networks. One of the networks had each person connect to every other person in the network. The second model included certain individuals who were connected to a large number of people, making them opinion hubs or leaders. The final model gave every person in the model roughly the same number of connections. The initial state of each of the models was a sea of traditional-view holders. Each of these individuals held a view, but were also, importantly, open minded to other views.

Once the networks were built, the scientists then "sprinkled" in some true believers throughout each of the networks. These people were completely set in their views and unflappable in modifying those beliefs. As those true believers began to converse with those who held the traditional belief system, the tides gradually and then very abruptly began to shift.

"In general, people do not like to have an unpopular opinion and are always seeking to try locally to come to consensus. We set up this dynamic in each of our models," said SCNARC Research Associate and corresponding paper author Sameet Sreenivasan. To accomplish this, each of the individuals in the models "talked" to each other about their opinion. If the listener held the same opinions as the speaker, it reinforced the listener's belief. If the opinion was different, the listener considered it and moved on to talk to another person. If that person also held this new belief, the listener then adopted that belief.

"As agents of change start to convince more and more people, the situation begins to change," Sreenivasan said. "People begin to question their own views at first and then completely adopt the new view to spread it even further. If the true believers just influenced their neighbors, that wouldn't change anything within the larger system, as we saw with percentages less than 10."

The research has broad implications for understanding how opinion spreads. "There are clearly situations in which it helps to know how to efficiently spread some opinion or how to suppress a developing opinion," said Associate Professor of Physics and co-author of the paper Gyorgy Korniss. "Some examples might be the need to quickly convince a town to move before a hurricane or spread new information on the prevention of disease in a rural village."

The researchers are now looking for partners within the social sciences and other fields to compare their computational models to historical examples. They are also looking to study how the percentage might change when input into a model where the society is polarized. Instead of simply holding one traditional view, the society would instead hold two opposing viewpoints. An example of this polarization would be Democrat versus Republican. The research was funded by the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) through SCNARC, part of the Network Science Collaborative Technology Alliance (NS-CTA), the Army Research Office (ARO), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

The research is part of a much larger body of work taking place under SCNARC at Rensselaer. The center joins researchers from a broad spectrum of fields -- including sociology, physics, computer science, and engineering -- in exploring social cognitive networks. The center studies the fundamentals of network structures and how those structures are altered by technology. The goal of the center is to develop a deeper understanding of networks and a firm scientific basis for the newly arising field of network science. 

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110725190044.htm

Scientists say America is too dumb for democracy to thrive


They know what's best for the country
The United States may be a republic, but it’s democracy that Americans cherish. After all, that’s why we got into Iraq, right? To take out a dictator and spread democracy. “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.” “One person, one vote.” We are an egalitarian society that treasures the mandate of its citizenry. But more than a decade’s worth research suggests that the citizenry is too dumb to pick the best leaders. Work by Cornell University psychologist David Dunning and then-colleague Justin Kruger found that “incompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people’s ideas,” according to a report by Life’s Little Mysteries on the blog LiveScience.
“Very smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don’t have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is,” Dunning told Life’s Little Mysteries.
What’s worse is that with incompetence comes the illusion of superiority. Let’s say a politician comes up with an ingenious plan that would ensure universal health care while decreasing health care costs. According to Dunning-Kruger, no matter how much information is provided, the unsophisticated would 1) be incapable of recognizing the wisdom of such a plan; 2) assume they know better; and 3) have no idea of the extent of their inadequacy. In other words, stupid people are too stupid to know how stupid they are. If this seems elitist to you, you are probably not alone. Maybe we should only let Ph.D.’s, Mensa members and Jeopardy! champions vote? At least require a passing an IQ test before you get to cast a ballot?
The scientists do say that the incompetent can be trained to improve, but only if they acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, which would seem to be a catch-22 since they are too ignorant to do so on their own. Life’s Little Mysteries said that Mato Nagel, a sociologist in Germany, ran a computer simulation of a democratic election based on Dunning and Kruger’s theories: “In his mathematical model of the election, he assumed that voters’ own leadership skills were distributed on a bell curve — some were really good leaders, some, really bad, but most were mediocre — and that each voter was incapable of recognizing the leadership skills of a political candidate as being better than his or her own. When such an election was simulated, candidates whose leadership skills were only slightly better than average always won.”
It would appear then that democracy dooms us to mediocrity and misinformed choices. Not exactly encouraging news for the next round of California’s ballot initiatives.
Source: http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2012/03/09/scientists-say-america-is-too-dumb-for-democracy-to-thrive/

The Decline of Democracy: Greece displays the post-liberal variety, Egypt the pre-liberal one. Both are rotten

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. Everyone knows who said this, and everyone thinks it's true. But is it, really?
After last weekend I've begun to have my doubts. In Egypt, the ruling military junta reacted to the apparent victory of Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi by stripping the presidential office of its powers. That came just days after Egypt's top court dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament, which had been freely elected only a few months ago. How arbitrary. What an affront to the Egyptian people. Now let's hope it works.
Then there's Greece, which also had an election over the weekend. The Greeks are supposed to have made the "responsible" choice in the person of Antonis Samaras, the Amherst- and Harvard-educated leader of the center-right New Democracy party. Responsible in this case means trying to stay in the euro zone by again renegotiating the terms of a bailout that Greeks cannot possibly repay and will not likely honor.
Yet the more depressing fact about the election is that Mr. Samaras didn't even get 30% of the vote. The rest was divided among the radical-left Syriza (27%), the socialist Pasok (12.3%), the anti-German Independent Greeks (7.5%), the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (7%), the center-left Democratic Left (6.2%) and, finally, the good old Communist Party (4.5%).
In other words, the Greeks gave a solid 46% of their vote to parties that are evil, crazy or both, even while erring on the side of "sanity" with parties that are merely foolish and discredited. Imagine that in 1980 Jimmy Carter had eked out a slim victory over a Gus Hall-Lyndon LaRouche ticket, and you have the American equivalent to what just happened in Greece.
Should anyone be surprised that democracy is having such a hard time in the land of Pericles? Probably not—and not just because Greece is also the land of Alcibiades. Despite its storied past, modern Greek democracy, like much of modern European democracy, is of a post-liberal variety. Post-liberalism seeks to replace the classical liberalism of individual liberty, limited government, property rights and democratic sovereignty with a new liberalism that favors social rights, social goods, intrusive government and transnational law.
In practice, post-liberalism is a giant wealth redistribution scheme. It bankrupted Greece and will soon bankrupt the rest of Europe. What happens to bankrupt democracies? Think Weimar Germany, Perón's Argentina, and, more recently, Yeltsin's Russia.Now take Egypt. There, instead of post-liberal democracy, you have the energetic stirrings of pre-liberal democracy.
What is pre-liberal democracy? It is democracy shorn of the values Westerners typically associate it with: free speech, religious liberty, social tolerance, equality between the sexes and so on. Not only in Egypt, but in Tunisia, Turkey and Gaza, popular majorities have made a democratic choice for parties that put faith before freedom and substituted the word of God for the rule of law.
Apologists for this sort of democracy argue that it still beats the alternatives, not just the coarse authoritarianism typified by Hosni Mubarak but also the progressive-autocratic model that used to prevail in Turkey. They also argue that democracy has a way of taming ideologically extreme political leaders by tethering them to the needs and wishes of the people, just as a talented cowboy will rope and halter an unruly horse.
But there's a problem with this analogy: In pre-liberal societies, it is the people who are the horse and the leaders who do the roping, not the other way around. An Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood will respect democratic procedure only to the extent that it does not infringe on the Brotherhood's overarching goals: "Restoring Islam in its all-encompassing conception; subjugating people to God; instituting the religion of God; the Islamization of life," according to Khairat Al Shater, the Brotherhood's de facto leader.
That's the kind of democracy we can soon expect from Egypt unless the military somehow gets the upper hand politically. Don't bet on it. If post-liberal democracy is unsustainable ("They always run out of other people's money," as Margaret Thatcher quipped), pre-liberal democracy is irresistible. The objections of an aged and ambivalent junta will not long stand in the way of millions of Egyptians demanding their right to choose unfreedom freely.
The good news is that Egyptians may have a wider conception of freedom in 30 years or so, about the same amount of time it took Khomeinism to lose the masses in Iran. In 30 years, too, the Greeks may have a better appreciation of the notion of responsibility, both personal and political. As for what remains of the liberal democratic world, maybe the weekend elections will be a reminder of another famous political maxim: "A republic—if you can keep it."
Source: http://online.wsj.com/article


How Ancient Rome Killed Democracy

Rome holds a special place in the popular imagination. Cast as a culture steeped in myth, with values reminiscent of our own, it is often treated as the forebearer of our own political system, an ancestral democracy that provides a republican link between the present and the ancient past. From architecture to literature to political system, Rome is where it all began. But in his latest book, Richard Alston wants us all to think a little more critically about our beloved Rome.

Alston is a Professor of Roman History at the University of London’s Royal Holloway, and the inspiration for Rome’s Revolution: Death of the Republic and Birth of the Empire came from his own dissatisfaction with the existing body of work on Roman politics. He saw how the idealized vision of Roman culture that these works present influenced the way his students thought about Rome. “Somehow,” Alston writes in the preface, “it was all too nice … but the Roman accounts of their revolution are anything but nice. They were shocked and shocking.”

The revolution in question is the upheaval following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, and the eventual shift from republic to empire that Rome experienced in the 70 years that followed. The murder of Caesar by members of the Roman senate is as much part of popular culture as history, a historical turning point that’s been passed down through the centuries. But while both rhetoric at the time and common knowledge today suggests that the assassination was a win for republicanism, Alston quickly sets about skewering that narrative.

As Alston points out, Rome quickly devolved into civil war, with three men eventually bringing peace and beginning the consolidation of power. Mark Antony, Lepidus, and Octavian put into place a government predicated on a state of emergency, reserving for themselves unprecedented levels of power while using the rhetoric of the republic to pander to Roman values. After all, if Caesar had to be killed in order to set to rights the republic he co-opted, the legitimacy of those who came after him depended on playing to republican institutions and the illusion of senatorial leadership.

It was a slow and complex march toward empire from there, as Antony and Lepidus were eliminated by Octavian through civil war, political maneuvering, and careful manipulation of the public. By making sizable payments to Roman soldier and citizens, while using violence and fear to maintain order, Octavian gradually secured power for himself and positioned his family as a dynasty. When he died in 14 AD, Rome was an empire and the republic was no more.

While fascinating, those who don’t have a very solid background in Roman history may find the barrage of names, changing titles, and places in the ancient world overwhelming at times. The close attention to detail and examination of places where fact and political narrative possibly diverge back up the claims that Alston makes regarding the violence and competition in Roman society. But they also make the book an involved read that’s easy to get turned around in. The same goes for the complicated network of marriages, divorces, political targeting, and infighting that define the leading families, illustrating the messy web of loyalties that’s difficult to follow for a casual reader.

Where Rome’s Revolution shines, though, is in the bigger picture. Alston carefully deconstructs the myths Romans held about their own origins and political values, breaking down the narratives about civilization and democracy to show the messy inner workings of an ancient system built on hierarchy and violence. When the senators stabbed Caesar, it was a bloody and symbolic attempt to return to the “good old days” of Roman strength, ending dictatorship in order to get back to a more pure manifestation of their values as a state. As the shift from republic to empire begins, leaders claiming a desire to save Rome from moral failings, by imposing restrictions on the private lives of citizens, look to the past to justify their decrees, albeit a past that was selectively chosen from a far more complex context.

Comparisons between Rome and the United States are common and often alarmist speculation about the possible decline of the United States. But in Rome’s Revolution, the possible lessons learned feel decidedly more applicable given the current political climate. A glorified myth of past greatness, espoused values that clash with the reality of leadership, and attempts to govern the supposed morality of citizens all feel very contemporary. The fact that a movement to restore the state to the mythic stature it once supposedly had failed is perhaps a far more realistic lesson to draw from Rome than the possible signs of the end of a former world power.

Although at times daunting for a reader unfamiliar with the intricacies of Roman politics, Rome’s Revolution is still a strikingly poignant examination of the dangers in self-aggrandizing myths of national glory, and the ways in which efforts to return to a non-existent past can push a state further from their supposed values. The inconsistency of ideology, action, and rhetoric in Rome feels entirely too relatable at times, while our own readiness to take Roman historical narratives at face value rather than critically looking at those inconsistencies calls into question the way Rome fits into our own flawed sense of exceptionalism. For Rome, the greatest threat to republicanism wasn’t outside forces, but internal power grabs cloaked in the rhetoric of popular government. Perhaps that is the cautionary tale the U.S. should be looking towards.
Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/12/09/how-ancient-rome-killed-democracy.html

When Democracy Weakens


As the throngs celebrated in Cairo, I couldn’t help wondering about what is happening to democracy here in the United States. I think it’s on the ropes. We’re in serious danger of becoming a democracy in name only. While millions of ordinary Americans are struggling with unemployment and declining standards of living, the levers of real power have been all but completely commandeered by the financial and corporate elite. It doesn’t really matter what ordinary people want. The wealthy call the tune, and the politicians dance.
So what we get in this democracy of ours are astounding and increasingly obscene tax breaks and other windfall benefits for the wealthiest, while the bought-and-paid-for politicians hack away at essential public services and the social safety net, saying we can’t afford them. One state after another is reporting that it cannot pay its bills. Public employees across the country are walking the plank by the tens of thousands. Camden, N.J., a stricken city with a serious crime problem, laid off nearly half of its police force. Medicaid, the program that provides health benefits to the poor, is under savage assault from nearly all quarters. The poor, who are suffering from an all-out depression, are never heard from. In terms of their clout, they might as well not exist. The Obama forces reportedly want to raise a billion dollars or more for the president’s re-election bid. Politicians in search of that kind of cash won’t be talking much about the wants and needs of the poor. They’ll be genuflecting before the very rich.
In an Op-Ed article in The Times at the end of January, Senator John Kerry said that the Egyptian people “have made clear they will settle for nothing less than greater democracy and more economic opportunities.” Americans are being asked to swallow exactly the opposite. In the mad rush to privatization over the past few decades, democracy itself was put up for sale, and the rich were the only ones who could afford it. The corporate and financial elites threw astounding sums of money into campaign contributions and high-priced lobbyists and think tanks and media buys and anything else they could think of. They wined and dined powerful leaders of both parties. They flew them on private jets and wooed them with golf outings and lavish vacations and gave them high-paying jobs as lobbyists the moment they left the government. All that money was well spent. The investments paid off big time.
As Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson wrote in their book, “Winner-Take-All Politics”: “Step by step and debate by debate, America’s public officials have rewritten the rules of American politics and the American economy in ways that have benefited the few at the expense of the many.”
As if the corporate stranglehold on American democracy were not tight enough, the Supreme Court strengthened it immeasurably with its Citizens United decision, which greatly enhanced the already overwhelming power of corporate money in politics. Ordinary Americans have no real access to the corridors of power, but you can bet your last Lotto ticket that your elected officials are listening when the corporate money speaks.
When the game is rigged in your favor, you win. So despite the worst economic downturn since the Depression, the big corporations are sitting on mountains of cash, the stock markets are up and all is well among the plutocrats. The endlessly egregious Koch brothers, David and Charles, are worth an estimated $35 billion. Yet they seem to feel as though society has treated them unfairly.
As Jane Mayer pointed out in her celebrated New Yorker article, “The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry — especially environmental regulation.” (A good hard look at their air-pollution record would make you sick.)
It’s a perversion of democracy, indeed, when individuals like the Kochs have so much clout while the many millions of ordinary Americans have so little. What the Kochs want is coming to pass. Extend the tax cuts for the rich? No problem. Cut services to the poor, the sick, the young and the disabled? Check. Can we get you anything else, gentlemen?
The Egyptians want to establish a viable democracy, and that’s a long, hard road. Americans are in the mind-bogglingly self-destructive process of letting a real democracy slip away. I had lunch with the historian Howard Zinn just a few weeks before he died in January 2010. He was chagrined about the state of affairs in the U.S. but not at all daunted. “If there is going to be change,” he said, “real change, it will have to work its way from the bottom up, from the people themselves.” I thought of that as I watched the coverage of the ecstatic celebrations in the streets of Cairo.
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/opinion/12herbert.html?partner=rss&emc=rss


Trump and Political Circuses Are Nothing New

Roman politicians whipped up crowds, warned about ‘outsiders’ and insulted their rivals.
Ancient Romans would find the drama of American primary elections eerily familiar. Like us, the Romans treated politics as theater, attending speeches and rallies where political figures worked the crowd. They held popular elections and supported charismatic leaders who thrived on celebrity. When Cicero ran for consul around 63 B.C., his brother Quintus wrote a fascinating manual of political advice. Quintus urged Cicero to be available night and day to citizens who needed his services, to look alert and interested when voters spoke, and to make them believe he cared. It was the beginning of a romance, when followers come to believe that what leaders do, they do for them.
But before aspiring officeholders can be seen as worthy of public affection, they first must be seen. Reality-TV star Donald Trump is a modern-day master at capturing public notice, but he is no trailblazer. Those seeking power have always found ways to achieve celebrity. Romans vying for office bleached their togas a brilliant white, making them stand out. Candidates also surrounded themselves with throngs of supporters to attract maximum attention. The “social media” campaigns of Julius Caesar and Augustus featured flattering portraits displayed in public places. After being elected, they stamped their profiles on coins to further enhance their celebrity.
Star power fueled narcissism then as it does now. Julius Caesar was a deft schmoozer, adept at working the crowd. Affable and adored by soldiers, he was the kind of guy you could drink the famed Falernian wine with. But his narcissism undermined him. Caesar became hated for his arrogance, and dozens of Roman senators joined the conspiracy to assassinate him.
Winning political arguments has always required style, not just substance. And nobody in the age of the Republic was better at style than Cato the Censor. As the Senate debated around 149 B.C. what action to take against its old foe Carthage, Cato produced a cluster of grapes from the folds of his toga. He declared, no doubt falsely, that they had been picked in Carthage the same day. His dramatic performance worked. Though Carthage hadn’t posed a serious threat for over half a century, Cato energized his compatriots’ fears of its resurgence, silenced critics and shaped a docile following. Rome declared war and finally destroyed Carthage in 146 B.C.
Charismatic leaders are good actors. Whether facing constituents, competitors or enemies, they present themselves as dominant and fit. When Gaius Popilius Laenas first encountered the Seleucid King Antiochus IV in 168 B.C., he used a stick to draw a circle in the sand around the king. He ordered him not to cross it until he agreed to do Rome’s bidding. Intimidated by the brazen act, the king acquiesced. Roman leaders knew that anger stunts contemplation. Opponents excoriated one another with vitriolic insults. Cicero accused Mark Antony of having been a male prostitute in his youth and of frequenting brothels later in life. Such slurs, difficult to disprove, distracted attention from Antony’s achievements and Cicero’s flaws.
Shared feelings and actions have always been used by charismatic leaders to bring people together in common cause. At Julius Caesar’s funeral Mark Antony whipped mourners into a collective frenzy by revealing the dead man’s lacerated body. Today the synchronous chants of “Bernie!” and “Hillary!” or the contagious booing and applauding at the Republican debates help transform individuals into easy-to-lead collectives. Overstating the threat posed by “outsiders” also reinforces the common identity of the “insiders.” Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, suggested around 33 B.C. that his rival, Mark Antony, had become the plaything of the enemy’s most famous seductress, Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. Octavian warned that if Antony came to power, then a foreigner would become Rome’s queen. Now Mr. Trump professes concern that the Canadian-born Ted Cruz could become president.
As the politically savvy Quintus understood, voters are romanced more by appearance than reality. Roman leaders knew that politics is theater, and much depends on the power of the script and the stardom and charisma of the  performer. In this sense, political figures through the ages are cut from the same bleached cloth.

Source:http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-and-political-circuses-are-nothing-new-1456445966


'Democracy in the US is a fraud’

A rigged democratic system, a “grotesque” military fighting unwinnable wars under the “drone commander in chief”, and the future of the movement behind presidential candidate Bernie Sanders were the focus of Day One at the Left Forum in New York City. This weekend’s theme “Rage, Rebellion, Revolution” brings thousands to John Jay College from Friday through Sunday. Journalist Chris Hedges, author and activist Tariq Ali, and Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin headlined the opening plenary with fiery remarks moderated by Laura Flanders.

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, addressed the nature of power in the 2016 presidential election. “It is our job to make the powerful frightened of us,” he said. “That is what movements do. Movements keep power in check, and as any good anarchist will tell you, power is always the problem, no matter who holds it.” According to Hedges, who doesn’t hold out hope for Sanders getting the Democratic Party nomination, said it was a mistake to run within that party and that both Sanders and his supporters are now dealing with the fact that the system is rigged.“The cost of running the primaries is that paid for by the taxpayers,” Hedges said. “And yet, the primary rules are determined by the Democratic Party, so that they can manipulate a system as they did in Nevada, to steal the vote from Sanders.” Citing the exclusion of independents in closed primaries and the dominance of superdelegates and super PACs, Hedges added: “It’s very clear that without all of these mechanisms, Sanders would win the nomination.” He insisted there is “palpable evidence that democracy within the United States is a fraud,” and referred to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s high unfavorability ratings to highlight the importance of creating movements outside the system of “the mantra of ‘the least worst.’” As for outgoing President Barack Obama, Hedges said his attack on civil liberties has been worse than that by George W Bush, pointing to his use of the Espionage Act.
Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin, the Code Pink activist known for infiltrating Congressional hearings and the Republican convention, started by disagreeing with Hedges’ opinion that Sanders should have run as an independent, describing the party as Clinton, Wall Street, and the weapons industry on one side and people who “really want the Democratic Party to represent their values and they are values that Bernie Sanders is standing for” on the other. Benjamin took an impromptu straw poll of those in the room, asking who was voting for Hillary Clinton, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, libertarian Gary Johnson, or Republican Donald Trump. Stein won by a huge majority, showing that the “lesser of two evils” argument may not force Sanders supporters to settle for Clinton. Benjamin praised Obama, a frequent adversary, for his “successes” with the Iran nuclear deal and Cuba, adding, “Let’s not forget, they did not happen while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.” Her lovefest for the current president quickly ended when she referred to him as “the drone commander in chief,” reminding everyone of the way he spread “horrendous technology” and failed to reduce terrorism. While giving props to Donald Trump’s NATO skepticism, she emphasized, “Let’s not be fooled by Trump,” noting that his campaign built on Islamophobia, anti-immigration and the fact that he is open to bringing back torture. Benjamin ended on a positive by highlighting how the “localized economy” could replace the war economy, encouraging people to invest in credit unions, buy from local farmers, and choose thrift shops over sweatshops. “This is the kind of economy we have to build,” she said.

Tariq Ali

Legendary activist Tariq Ali, the supposed inspiration of the Rolling Stones hit “Street Fightin’ Man”, brought an international perspective to the US election and said “we are on the verge of change,” referring to the mobilization of people around Sanders, which has brought people together “more than any other time in recent US history.” He then brought the crowd across the pond to talk about Jeremy Corbyn’s remarkable uphill struggle within his own party and the establishment, citing the senior army general who told Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times that if Corbyn was elected Prime Minister, there would be “mutinies in the army and they would refuse to follow orders.” Ali also took a wary view of London’s new Muslim Labour Party Mayor Sadiq Khan, particularly how his centrist views clash with Corbyn’s vision for the party. An early session on Saturday takes us inside the cooperative revolution in Jackson, Mississippi, which currently faces pushback from the Republican governor and state legislature. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and Socialist city councilmember Kshama Sawant headline Saturday’s events, while Sunday features what promises to be an electric conversation between Democracy Now host Amy Goodman and public intellectual Slavoj Žižek. Shandre Delaney, mother of Carrington Keys - one of the Dallas 6 who took a stand against prison abuse at the hands of officers in a Pennsylvania state prison, and a coordinator of the Justice for the Dallas 6 Support Campaign, will also be taking part in panel discussion on Sunday entitled "Leadership and Power for the Movement for Prisoners’ Rights, and against Solitary Confinement." Others in attendance over the weekend include Debra Sweet from the World Can't Wait group, which, as per its website, aims "to halt and reverse the terrible program of war, repression and theocracy that was initiated by the Bush / Cheney regime and the ongoing crimes."

Source: https://www.rt.com/usa/343942-left-forum-day-two/

Former President Jimmy Carter Is Correct that the U.S. Is No Longer a Democracy

On July 28th, Thom Hartmann interviewed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and, at the very end of his show (as if this massive question were merely an aftethought), asked him his opinion of the 2010 Citizens United decision and the 2014 McCutcheon decision, both decisions by the five Republican judges on the U.S. Supreme Court. These two historic decisions enable unlimited secret money (including foreign money) now to pour into U.S. political and judicial campaigns. Carter answered:
"It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we've just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. ... At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell."
He was then cut off by the program, though that statement by Carter should have been the start of the program, not its end. (And the program didn't end with an invitation for him to return to discuss this crucial matter in depth -- something for which he's qualified.) So: was this former president's provocative allegation merely his opinion? Or was it actually lots more than that? It was lots more than that.
Only a single empirical study has actually been done in the social sciences regarding whether the historical record shows that the United States has been, during the survey's period, which in that case was between 1981 and 2002, a democracy (a nation whose leaders represent the public-at-large), or instead an aristocracy (or 'oligarchy') -- a nation in which only the desires of the richest citizens end up being reflected in governmental actions. This study was titled "Testing Theories of American Politics," and it was published by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page in the journal Perspectives on Politics, issued by the American Political Science Association in September 2014. I had summarized it earlier, on 14 April 2014, while the article was still awaiting its publication.
The headline of my summary-article was "U.S. Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy Says Scientific Study." I reported: "The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's 'news' media)." I then quoted the authors' own summary: "The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."
The scientific study closed by saying: "In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule--at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes." A few other tolerably clear sentences managed to make their ways into this well-researched, but, sadly, atrociously written, paper, such as: "The preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of 'affluent' citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do." In other words, they found: The rich rule the U.S.
Their study investigated specifically "1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002 in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change," and then the policy-follow-ups, of whether or not the polled public preferences had been turned into polices, or, alternatively, whether the relevant corporate-lobbied positions had instead become public policy on the given matter, irrespective of what the public had wanted concerning it.
The study period, 1981-2002, covered the wake of the landmark 1976 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Buckley v. Valeo, which had started the aristocratic assault on American democracy, and which seminal (and bipartisan) pro-aristocratic court decision is described as follows by wikipedia: It "struck down on First Amendment grounds several provisions in the 1974 Amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act. The most prominent portions of the case struck down limits on spending in campaigns, but upheld the provision limiting the size of individual contributions to campaigns. The Court also narrowed, and then upheld, the Act's disclosure provisions, and struck down (on separation of powers grounds) the make-up of the Federal Election Commission, which as written allowed Congress to directly appoint members of the Commission, an executive agency."
Basically, the Buckley decision, and subsequent (increasingly partisan Republican) Supreme Court decisions, have allowed aristocrats to buy and control politicians.
Already, the major 'news' media were owned and controlled by the aristocracy, and 'freedom of the press' was really just freedom of aristocrats to control the 'news' -- to frame public issues in the ways the owners want. The media managers who are appointed by those owners select, in turn, the editors who, in their turn, hire only reporters who produce the propaganda that's within the acceptable range for the owners, to be 'the news' as the public comes to know it.
But, now, in the post-Buckley-v.-Valeo world, from Reagan on (and the resulting study-period of 1981-2002), aristocrats became almost totally free to buy also the political candidates they wanted. The 'right' candidates, plus the 'right' 'news'-reporting about them, has thus bought the 'right' people to 'represent' the public, in the new American 'democracy,' which Jimmy Carter now aptly calls "subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors."
Carter -- who had entered office in 1977, at the very start of that entire era of transition into an aristocratically controlled United States (and he left office in 1981, just as the study-period was starting) -- expressed his opinion that, in the wake now of the two most extreme pro-aristocratic U.S. Supreme Court decisions ever (which are Citizens United in 2010, and McCutcheon in 2014), American democracy is really only past tense, not present tense at all -- no longer a reality. He is saying, in effect, that, no matter how much the U.S. was a dictatorship by the rich during 1981-2002 (the Gilens-Page study era), it's far worse now.
Apparently, Carter is correct: The New York Times front page on Sunday 2 August 2015 bannered, "Small Pool of Rich Donors Dominates Election Giving," and reported that: "A New York Times analysis of Federal Election Commission reports and Internal Revenue Service records shows that the fund-raising arms race has made most of the presidential hopefuls deeply dependent on a small pool of the richest Americans. The concentration of donors is greatest on the Republican side, according to the Times analysis, where consultants and lawyers have pushed more aggressively to exploit the looser fund-raising rules that have fueled the rise of super PACs. Just 130 or so families and their businesses provided more than half the money raised through June by Republican candidates and their super PACs."
The Times study shows that the Republican Party is overwhelmingly advantaged by the recent unleashing of big-corporate money power. All of the evidence suggests that though different aristocrats compete against each other for the biggest chunks of whatever the given nation has to offer, they all compete on the same side against the public, in order to lower the wages of their workers, and to lower the standards for consumers' safety and welfare so as to increase their own profits (transfer their costs and investment-losses onto others); and, so, now, the U.S. is soaring again toward Gilded Age economic inequality, perhaps to surpass the earlier era of unrestrained robber barons. And, the Times study shows: even in the Democratic Party, the mega-donations are going to only the most conservative (pro-corporate, anti-public) Democrats. Grass-roots politics could be vestigial, or even dead, in the new America.
The question has become whether the unrestrained power of the aristocracy is locked in this time even more permanently than it was in that earlier era. Or: will there be yet another FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) to restore a democracy that once was? Or: is a president like that any longer even possible in America? As for today's political incumbents: they now have their careers for as long as they want and are willing to do the biddings of their masters. And, then, they retire to become, themselves, new members of the aristocracy, such as the Clintons have done, and such as the Obamas will do. (Of course, the Bushes have been aristocrats since early in the last century.)
Furthermore, the new age of aristocratic control is not merely national but international in scope; so, the global aristocracy have probably found the formula that will keep them in control until they destroy the entire world. What's especially interesting is that, with all of the many tax-exempt, 'non-profit' 'charities,' which aristocrats have established, none of them is warring to defeat the aristocracy itself -- to defeat the aristocrats' system of exploitation of the public. It's the one thing they won't create a 'charity' for; none of them will go to war against the expoitative interests of themselves and of their own exploitative peers. They're all in this together, even though they do compete amongst themselves for dominance, as to which ones of them will lead against the public. And the public seem to accept this modern form of debt-bondage, perhaps because of the 'news' they see, and because of the news they don't see (such as this).
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/jimmy-carter-is-correct

Princeton Study Confirms 'US Is An Oligarchy'Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened. - From a recent study titled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern UniversityIn response to the publication of an academic study that essentially proves the United States is nothing more than an oligarchy, many commentators have quipped sentiments that go something like “so tell me something I don’t know.” While I agree that the conclusion is far from surprising to anyone paying attention, the study is significant for two main reasons.  
First, there is a certain influential segment of the population which has a disposition which requires empirical evidence and academic studies before they will take any theory seriously. Second, some of the conclusions can actually prove quite helpful to activists who want to have a greater impact in changing things. This shouldn’t be particularly difficult since their impact at the moment is next to zero.
What is most incredible to me is that the data under scrutiny in the study was from 1981-2002. One can only imagine how much worse things have gotten since the 2008 financial crisis. The study found that even when 80% of the population favored a particular public policy change, it was only instituted 43% of the time. We saw this first hand with the bankster bailout in 2008, when Americans across the board were opposed to it, but Congress passed TARP anyway (although they had to vote twice).
Even more importantly, several years of supposed “economic recovery” has not changed the public’s perception of the bankster bailouts. For example, a 2012 study showed that only 23% percent of Americans favored the bank bailouts and the disgust was completely bipartisan, as the Huffington Post points out. 
Personally, I think the banker bailouts will go down as one of the most significant turning points in American history. Despite widespread disapproval, Congress passed TARP and it was at that moment that many Americans “woke up” to the fact they are nothing more than economic slaves with no voice. That they are serfs. Even more importantly, once oligarchs saw what they could get away with they kept doubling down and doubling down until we find ourselves in the precarious position we are in today. A society filled with angst and resentment at the fact that the 0.01% have stolen everything.
Another thing that the study noted was that average citizens sometimes got what they wanted, but this is almost always when their preferences overlap with the oligarchs. When this occurs it is entirely coincidental, and in many cases may the result of public opinion being molded by the elite-controlled special interest groups themselves. How pathetic. I read the entire 42 page study and have highlighted what I found to be the key excerpts below. Please share with others and enjoy:
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism. Until very recently, however, it has been impossible to test the differing predictions of these theories against each other within a single statistical model that permits one to analyze the independent effects of each set of actors upon policy outcomes. A major challenge to majoritarian pluralist theories, however, is posed by Mancur Olson’s argument that collective action by large, dispersed sets of individuals with individually small but collectively large interests tends to be prevented by the “free rider” problem. Barring special circumstances (selective incentives, byproducts, coercion), individuals who would benefit from collective action may have no incentive to personally form or join an organized group. If everyone thinks this way and lets George do it, the job is not likely to get done. This reasoning suggests that Truman’s “potential groups” may in fact be unlikely to form, even if millions of  peoples’ interests are neglected or harmed by government. Aware of the collective action problem, officials may feel free to ignore much of the population and act against the interests of the average citizen. As to empirical evidence concerning interest groups, it is well established that organized groups regularly lobby and fraternize with public officials; move through revolving doors between public and private employment; provide self-serving information to officials; draft legislation; and spend a great deal of money on election campaigns. Moreover, in harmony with theories of biased pluralism, the evidence clearly indicates that most U.S. interest groups and lobbyists represent business firms or professionals. Relatively few represent the poor or even the economic interests of ordinary workers, particularly now that the U.S. labor movement has become so weak. What makes possible an empirical effort of this sort is the existence of a unique data set, compiled over many years by one of us (Gilens) for a different but related purpose: for estimating the influence upon public policy of “affluent” citizens, poor citizens, and those in the middle of the income distribution. Gilens and a small army of research assistants gathered data on a large, diverse set of policy cases: 1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002 in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change. In any case, the imprecision that results from use of our “affluent” proxy is likely to produce underestimates of the impact of economic elites on policy making. If we find substantial effects upon policy even when using this imperfect measure, therefore, it will be reasonable to infer that the impact upon policy of truly wealthy citizens is still greater. Some particular U.S. membership organizations – especially the AARP and labor unions– do tend to favor the same policies as average citizens. But other membership groups take stands that are unrelated (pro-life and pro-choice groups) or negatively related (gun owners) to what the average American wants. Some membership groups may reflect the views of corporate backers or their most affluent constituents. Others focus on issues on which the public is fairly evenly divided. Whatever the reasons, all mass-based groups taken together simply do not add up, in aggregate, to good representatives of the citizenry as a whole. Business-oriented groups do even worse, with a modest negative over-all correlation of -.10. The estimated impact of average citizens’ preferences drops precipitously, to a non-significant, near-zero level. Clearly the median citizen or “median voter” at the heart of theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy does not do well when put up against economic elites and organized interest groups. The chief predictions of pure theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy can be decisively rejected. Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all. By contrast, economic elites are estimated to have a quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy. This does not mean that theories of Economic Elite Domination are wholly upheld, since our results indicate that individual elites must share their policy influence with organized interest groups. Still, economic elites stand out as quite influential – more so than any other set of actors studied here – in the making of U.S. public policy.The incredible thing here is that they use the 90th percentile to gauge the “economic elite,” when we well know that it is the “oligarchs” themselves and the businesses they run that call all the shots. It would have been interesting if they isolated the impact of the 0.01%.
These results suggest that reality is best captured by mixed theories in which both individual economic elites and organized interest groups (including corporations, largely owned and controlled by wealthy elites) play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence. In our 1,779 policy cases, narrow pro-change majorities of the public got the policy changes they wanted only about 30% of the time. More strikingly, even overwhelmingly large pro-change majorities, with 80% of the public favoring a policy change, got that change only about 43% of the time.Amidst all of the bad news in this study, there is one conclusion from which we can find a silver lining.
The importance of business groups’ numerical advantage is also revealed when we rescale our measures of business and mass-oriented interest group alignments to reflect the differing number of groups in each of these categories. Using this rescaled measure, a parallel analysis to that in table 4 shows that on a group-for-group basis the average individual business group and the average mass-oriented group appears to be about equally influential. The greater total influence of business groups in our analysis results chiefly from the fact that more of them are generally engaged on each issue (roughly twice as many, on average), not that a single business-oriented group has more clout on average than a single mass based group. Relatively few mass-based interest groups are active, they do not (in the aggregate) represent the public very well, and they have less collective impact on policy than do business-oriented groups – whose stands tend to be negatively related to the preferences of average citizens. These business groups are far more numerous and active; they spend much more money; and they tend to get their way.What the paragraphs above demonstrate is that the public has become very, very bad at organizing and that they aren’t even in the same ballpark as the the business groups. While mass-based interest groups will never be able to compete financially, we now live in a world of crowd-funding and a great deal of angst. Thus, there appears to be some low hanging fruit available for the activist community to pick at and become more organized.
Furthermore, the preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of “affluent” citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do. To be sure, this does not mean that ordinary citizens always lose out; they fairly often get the policies they favor, but only because those policies happen also to be preferred by the economically elite citizens who wield the actual influence.But sure, keep chanting USA! USA! and keep sending your children to die overseas for no good reason.
Of course our findings speak most directly to the “first face” of power: the ability of actors to shape policy outcomes on contested issues. But they also reflect – to some degree, at least – the “second face” of power: the ability to shape the agenda of issues that policy makers consider. The set of policy alternatives that we analyze is considerably broader than the set discussed seriously by policy makers or brought to a vote in Congress, and our alternatives are (on average) more popular among the general public than among interest groups. Thus the fate of these policies can reflect policy makers’ refusing to consider them rather than considering but rejecting them. (From our data we cannot distinguish between the two.) Our results speak less clearly to the “third face” of power: the ability of elites to shape the public’s preferences. We know that interest groups and policy makers themselves often devote considerable effort to shaping opinion. If they are successful, this might help explain the high correlation we find between elite and mass preferences. But it cannot have greatly inflated our estimate of average citizens’ influence on policy making, which is near zero.So what’s the conclusion? Well we aren’t a Democracy and we aren’t a Constitutional Republic. As I and many others have noted, we have descended into something far worse, an neo-fedualistic Oligarchy.
What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our  findings indicate, the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it. A possible objection to populistic democracy is that average citizens are inattentive to politics and ignorant about public policy; why should we worry if their poorly informed preferences do not influence policy making? Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does. Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends, when deciding which policies to support. But we tend to doubt it. We believe instead that – collectively – ordinary citizens generally know their own values and interests pretty well, and that their expressed policy preferences are worthy of respect. Moreover, we are not so sure about the informational advantages of elites. Yes, detailed policy knowledge tends to rise with income and status. Surely wealthy Americans and corporate executives tend to know a lot about tax and regulatory policies that directly affect them. But how much do they know about the human impact of Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, or unemployment insurance, none of which is likely to be crucial to their own well-being? Most important, we see no reason to think that informational expertise is always accompanied by an inclination to transcend one’s own interests or a determination to work for the common good. All in all, we believe that the public is likely to be a more certain guardian of its own interests than any feasible alternative. Leaving aside the difficult issue of divergent interests and motives, we would urge that the superior wisdom of economic elites or organized interest groups should not simply be assumed. It should be put to empirical test. New empirical research will be needed to pin down precisely who knows how much, and what, about which public policies. Our findings also point toward the need to learn more about exactly which economic elites (the “merely affluent”? the top 1%? the top 0.01%?) have how much impact upon public policy, and to what ends they wield their influence. Similar questions arise about the precise extent of influence of particular sets of organized interest groups. And we need to know more about the policy preferences and the political influence of various actors not considered here, including political party activists, government officials, and other non-economic elites. We hope that our work will encourage further exploration of these issues.Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.So when Sam Zell or any other oligarch prances around on television saying that the “poor should be more like the rich,” what he’s really saying is you need to sell your soul and attempt to become an oligarch. Otherwise, you’re fucked. This is a truly excellent study and I suggest you read the entire thing here, if you have the time.
Source: New Report from Princeton and Northwestern Proves It: The U.S. is an Oligarchy

Controlled by shadow government: How top U.S. officials are at the mercy of the “deep state”


A corrupt network of wealthy elites has hijacked our government, ex-GOP staffer and best-selling author tells Salon
One of the predominant themes of the 2016 presidential campaign thus far — and one that is unlikely to lose significance once the primaries give way to the general election — is the American people’s exasperation with a political system they see as corrupt, self-serving, disingenuous and out of touch. It is not an especially partisan or ideological sentiment; you can just as easily find it among supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders as among fans of Donald Trump. You can even find those who support paragons of the status quo, like Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush, making similar complaints. It’s about as close to a consensus position as you’re likely to find nowadays in American politics. Yet despite the widespread agreement that something is seriously wrong with democracy in the U.S., there’s much less of a consensus as to what that something is — and, crucially, how to fix it. The answers Bernie Sanders offers, for example, are not exactly the same as those proffered by Donald Trump. Is the problem too much government? Not enough government? Too much immigration? Not enough immigration? Too much taxing and regulating? Not enough taxing and regulating? Our lack of a systemic analysis of the problem is part of the reason why our answers are so diffuse and ill-fitting. And that’s just one of the reasons why “The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government,” the new book from ex-longtime GOP staffer turned best-selling author Mike Lofgren, is so valuable. Lofgren puts a name and a shape to a problem that has often been only nebulously defined; and while his conclusions are not exactly uplifting, the logic and sophistication of his argument is hard to resist. Recently, Salon spoke over the phone with Lofgren about his book, the deep state and his read on the current sorry state of American government and politics. Our conversation, which also touched on President Obama’s relationship with the deep state, was edited for clarity and length.
How should we think about the deep state? Is it an elite conspiracy? A loosely defined social group? A network of specific institutions? How should we conceive of it?
Well, first of all, it is not a conspiracy. It is something that operates in broad daylight. It is not a conspiratorial cabal. These are simply people who have evolved [into] a kind of position. It is in their best interest to act in this way. And given the fact that people would rather know about Kim Kardashian than what makes up the budget or what the government is doing in Mali or Sudan or other unknown places, this is what you get: a disconnected, self-serving bureaucracy that is … simply evolving to do what it’s doing now. That is, to maintain and enhance its own power.
When do you think the American deep state first started?
Probably, it started in WWII, when we had the Manhattan Project, which was a huge secret project that required tens of thousands of people to be working in complete secrecy — and we actually built enormous cities [for the project’s workers] … and no one knew they existed. You also had the so-called Ultra and Magic secret [operations], the decoding of the Nazi and Japanese codes that required an enormous number of people to be doing absolutely top secret work that they did not reveal to anybody for decades. So, WWII created this kind of infrastructure of the deep state, which increased and consolidated during the Cold War.
What are the key institutions and players within the deep state? 
The key institutions are exactly what people would think they are. The military-industrial complex; the Pentagon and all their contractors (but also, now, our entire homeland security apparatus); the Department of Treasury; the Justice Department; certain courts, like the southern district of Manhattan, and the eastern district of Virginia; the FISA courts. And you got this kind of rump Congress that consists of certain people in the leadership, defense and intelligence committees who kind of know what’s going on. The rest of Congress doesn’t really know or care; they’re too busy looking about the next election.
So that’s the governmental aspect. What about in the private sector?
You’ve got Wall Street. Many of these people — whether it is David Petraeus … or someone like [Bill] Daley, who is the former chief of staff to President Obama … or Hank Paulson, who came from Goldman Sachs to become Treasury Secretary and bailed out Wall Street in 2008; or the people that Obama chose to be Treasury secretary — like Tim Geithner. They all have that Wall Street connection. And the third thing now is Silicon Valley.
Oh? Why is Silicon Valley now so central?
Because they generate so much money that they are rivaling and sometimes surpassing Wall Street. The heads of Google or Apple make more money than the guys running Wall Street. They make more money than Jamie Dimon. So that’s the new source of cash to run the deep state.
Silicon Valley provides a lot of money. But it also has access to an unfathomable amount of information. Which do you think is more valuable to the deep state — the cash or the info?
I think you can’t distinguish the two. There is a tremendous amount of money coming, in terms of lobbying, for Silicon Valley to get what it wants in terms of intellectual property and so forth. At the same time, NSA insiders have told me that they couldn’t even operate without the cooperation of Silicon Valley, because the communication backbones that are set up and operated by Silicon Valley provide the vast majority of information that the NSA and other intelligence agencies are going to exploit — and they can’t do it themselves. They need the willing or unwilling cooperation of Silicon Valley.
But when the Snowden leaks first hit, a lot of Silicon Valley elites implied they didn’t knowingly or willingly work with the government, no?
There was a certain amount of deception there, after the Edward Snowden revelations. They claimed, Oh, well, the NSA made us do all these things! — but not really, because NSA, CIA, and these other intelligence organizations were also involved in giving seed money or subsidies to various Silicon Valley companies to do these things.
Source: http://www.salon.com/2016/01

The Myth of U.S. Democracy and the Reality of U.S. Corporatocracy
Polls show that on the major issues of our time -- the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, Wall Street bailouts and health insurance -- the opinion of We the People has been ignored on a national level for quite some time. While the corporate media repeats the myth that the United States of America is a democracy, Americans, especially Wisonsiners and Ohioans, know that this is a joke.
On March 3, 2011, a Rasmussen Reports poll declared that "Most Wisconsin voters oppose efforts to weaken collective bargaining rights for union workers." This of course didn't stop Wisconsin Governor Walker and the Wisconsin legislature from passing a bill that -- to the delight of America's ruling class -- trashed most collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. Similarly in Ohio, legislation to limit collective bargaining rights for public workers is on the verge of being signed into law by Governor Kasich, despite the fact that Public Policy Polling on March 15, 2011 reported that 54 percent of Ohio voters would repeal the law, while 31 percent would keep it.
It is a myth that the United States of America was ever a democracy (most of the famous founder elite such as John Adams equated democracy with mob rule and wanted no part of it). The United States of America was actually created as a republic, in which Americans were supposed to have power through representatives who were supposed to actually represent the American people. The truth today, however, is that the United States is neither a democracy nor a republic. Americans are ruled by a corporatocracy: a partnership of "too-big-to-fail" corporations, the extremely wealthy elite, and corporate-collaborator government officials.
The reality is that Americans, for quite some time, have opposed the U.S. government's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but We the People have zero impact on policy. On March 10-13, 2011, an ABC News/Washington Post poll asked, "All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, or not?"; 64 percent said "not worth fighting" and 31 percent said "worth fighting." A February 11, 2011, CBS poll reported Americans' response to the question, "Do you think the U.S. is doing the right thing by fighting the war in Afghanistan now, or should the U.S. not be involved in Afghanistan now?"; only 37 percent of Americans said the U.S. "is doing the right thing" and 54 percent said we "should not be involved." When a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll on December 17-19, 2010, posed the question, "Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan?" only 35 percent of Americans favored the war while 63 percent opposed it. For several years, the majority of Americans have also opposed the Iraq war, typified by a 2010 CBS poll which reported that 6 out of 10 Americans view the Iraq war as "a mistake."
The opposition by the majority of Americans to current U.S. wars has remained steady for several years. However, if you watched only the corporate media's coverage of the 2010 election between Democratic and Republican corporate-picked candidates, you might not even know that America was involved in two wars -- two wars that are not only opposed by the majority of Americans but which are also bankrupting America.
How about the 2008 Wall Street bailout? Even when Americans believed the lie that it was only a $700 billion bailout, they opposed it; but their opinion was irrelevant. In September 2008, despite the corporate media's attempts to terrify Americans into believing that an economic doomsday would occur without the bailout, Americans still opposed it. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll in September 2008, asked, "Do you think the government should use taxpayers' dollars to rescue ailing private financial firms whose collapse could have adverse effects on the economy and market, or is it not the government's responsibility to bail out private companies with taxpayers' dollars?"; only 31 percent of Americans said we should "use taxpayers" dollars while 55 percent said it is "not government's responsibility." Also in September 2008, both a CBSNews/New York Times poll and a USA Today/Gallup poll showed Americans opposed the bailout. This disapproval of the bailout was before most Americans discovered that the Federal Reserve had loaned far more money to "too-big-to-fail" corporations than Americans had been originally led to believe (The Wall Street Journal reported on December 1, 2010, "The US central bank on Wednesday disclosed details of some $3.3 trillion in loans made to financial firms, companies and foreign central banks during the crisis.")
What about health insurance? Despite the fact that several 2009 polls showed that Americans actually favored a "single-payer" or "Medicare-for-all" health insurance plan, it was not even on the table in the Democrat-Republican 2009-2010 debate over health insurance reform legislation. And polls during this debate showed that an even larger majority of Americans favored the government providing a "public option" to compete with private health insurance plans, but the public option was quickly pushed off the table in the Democratic-Republican debate. A July 2009 Kaiser Health Tracking poll asked, "Do you favor or oppose having a national health plan in which all Americans would get their insurance through an expanded, universal form of Medicare-for-all?" In this Kaiser poll, 58 percent of Americans favored a Medicare-for-all universal plan, and only 38 percent opposed it -- and a whopping 77 percent favored "expanding Medicare to cover people between the ages of 55 and 64 who do not have health insurance." A February 2009 CBS News/New York Times poll reported that 59 percent of Americans say the government should provide national health insurance. And a December 2009 Reuters poll reported that, "Just under 60 percent of those surveyed said they would like a public option as part of any final healthcare reform legislation."
In the U.S. corporatocracy, as in most modern tyrannies, there are elections, but the reality is that giant corporations and the wealthy elite rule in a way to satisfy their own self-interest. In elections in a corporatocracy, as is the case in elections in all tyrannies, it's in the interest of the ruling class to maintain the appearance that the people have a say, so more than one candidate is offered up. In the U.S. corporatocracy, it's in the interest of corporations and the wealthy elite that the winning candidate is beholden to them, so they financially support both Democrats and Republicans. It's in the interest of corporations and the wealthy elite that there are only two viable parties--this cuts down on bribery costs. And it's in the interest of these two parties that they are the only parties with a chance of winning.
In the U.S. corporatocracy, corporations and the wealthy elite directly and indirectly finance candidates, who are then indebted to them. It's common for these indebted government officials to appoint to key decision-making roles those friendly to corporations, including executives from these corporations. And it's routine for high-level government officials to be rewarded with high-paying industry positions when they exit government. It's common and routine for former government officials to be given high-paying lobbying jobs so as to use their relationships with current government officials to ensure that corporate interests will be taken care of.
The integration between giant corporations and the U.S. government has gone beyond revolving doors of employment (exemplified by George W. Bush's last Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, who had previously been CEO of Goldman Sachs; and Barack Obama's first chief economic adviser, Lawrence Summers who in 2008 received $5.2 million from hedge fund D. E. Shaw). Nowadays, the door need not even revolve in the U.S. corporatocracy; for example, when President Obama earlier in 2011 appointed General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt as a key economic advisor, Immelt kept his job as CEO of General Electric.
The United States is not ruled by a single deranged dictator but by an impersonal corporatocracy. Thus, there is no one tyrant that Americans can first hate and then finally overthrow so as to end senseless wars and economic injustices. Revolutions against Qaddafi-type tyrants require enormous physical courage. In the U.S. corporatocracy, the first step in recovering democracy is the psychological courage to face the humiliation that we Americans have neither a democracy nor a republic but are in fact ruled by a partnership of "too-big-to-fail" corporations, the extremely wealthy elite, and corporate-collaborator government officials.
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-e-levine/the-myth-of-us-democracy-corporatocracy_b_836573.html

We are Becoming a Plutocracy
Call it Crony Capitalism, or the 1% versus the 99%, or the the tension between Wall Street and Main Street: One of the major themes in America today is how the wealthy use their money and position to influence policy and the idea of success. The accepted notion that our capitalist democratic system is excessively deferential to people with money will be the theme of President Obama’s State of the Union speech this coming week. It is the theme of the Pope’s 2014 message to the world, and was a major topic of conversation in Davos last week. And it is in the looking glass of progressive folk around politics like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, members of the academy as well as the media. And it isn’t going away. Think of it. Fifty years after LBJ called for a war to eradicate poverty, there are 47 million people using food stamps to provide food for their families. The true rate of unemployment, if you add in those no longer looking for a job, is probably 12-13%. And there are millions of families with income around $26,000 a year, which is the cutoff point for being considered in poverty.
By now most Americans who read the press are aware that the top 1% of Americans are pulling away from the 99%. The top 1% grew their incomes by 86.1% since 1933; the top 5%, or 15 million individuals, have seen their incomes rise while everyone else is flat to down. But the real plutocrats are the top 1/10th of 1%: the 350,000 individuals that receive 11.33% of overall income. At the very peak are the 1/100th of 1%: the 35,000 individuals with 5.47% of overall income. This is the amazing cohort at the very peak of our economy, and I believe they, or others who will replace them, are likely to receive these benefits well into the future. I don’t rightly see what countervailing power there is to reduce their take or level it out. They are the individuals with foundations, hedge funds, private equity firms and social media magnates who are the new symbols of financial firepower. They help make Presidents, defeat or pass special legislation, build hospitals, museum wings, endow universities, libraries, music halls and more.
I’d say whatever corruption of the political process is believed to happen is overshadowed by charitable philanthropy and the creation and support of good works NGOs. That’s why I reckon proposals to raise taxes seriously on the 1% are going to fall on deaf ears from the power center of the nation. At most, the capital gains tax might be nudged a bit higher and the deduction for interest on mortgages perhaps capped. But then again, maybe not, due to the very influence of effective lobbyists in this ever-growing pot of money.
In short, we’re bound to always have the Koch brothers and the Sheldon Adelsons who spent more on 2012 elections than the citizens of 12 states taken together. I don’t think you can reverse this trend unless there is another economic and financial disaster that wipes out a good portion of these obscene fortunes held by several of the 1%. (Gates and Buffett and their ilk excluded) Those with the outsize fortunes are bound to have the outsize influence to influence public policy. What does need to be slowed down is the ability of the 1% to mobilize the distribution of even more resources to themselves. For the mobility of the 39% is at stake in the U.S. As Sen. Marco Rubio put it the other day — and he is no lefty, progressive ‘tax the rich’ fellow — “It is the lack of mobility, not just income inequality that should be focused on.” On Tuesday night, we’ll find out if the President has any fresh, innovative, credible programs to achieve that end.
Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlenzner/2014/01/26/those-with-affluence-have-all-the-influence-in-america/#75f260e13b6d

Dark money, gerrymandering, super-majorities, undemocratic actions that leave the plutocrats in charge

The third week in December brought two startling stories highlighting the ongoing Dixiefication of the Midwest, a key ingredient in how the GOP, with its aging white male demographic base, is nonetheless strategically outmaneuvering the Democratic Party on multiple fronts. They are sharp reminders of how our politics are being reshaped in state legislatures and on the ground—and how inattentive to basics the Democrats have become since the demise of the 50-state strategy.
The story from Wisconsin concerns the secret signing of two laws, which Common Cause of Wisconsin called an “assault on democracy in Wisconsin,” that “sets good government back to the 19th Century,” while Rep. Terese Berceau, a Democrat, earlier called the bills nothing short of “an effort to create a permanent one-party state.” The story out of Michigan is about the sort of dire consequences that can come from such crippling of democracy: specifically, how the state, via the dictatorial rule of an appointed “emergency manager,” actively, horrifically poisoned the young children of Flint with lead, leading the mayor to declare a state of emergency in hopes of getting the state and federal assistance her citizens so desperately need. It wasn’t just the young children, of course, but young children are the ones most heavily impacted, their thinking ability impaired for the rest of their lives. The story from Flint is most shocking and devastating, but it cannot be understood outside of the larger framework, which is why I’ll turn to the Wisconsin story first, where that framework itself is the story, and deal with Flint’s story in a followup.
First, a short note about what I mean by “Dixiefication.” It’s a complex process—economically, a regressive shift toward low-wage, deregulated oligopoly; culturally, an anti-modernist shift toward backwards-looking, fear-infused myth and fantasy obsession; politically, an authoritarian shift toward culture war, demonization, exclusion, and erosion of accountability. It’s been reflected in both states in a variety of ways—for example, both Michigan and Wisconsin have become so-called “right to work” states since 2010—a hallmark anti-labor measure pioneered in the South, which severely weakens both the bargaining power and political influence of unions. But what most clearly situated their Dixiefication in national politics was their key roles in the extreme anti-democratic gerrymandering that helped the GOP keep control of the House in 2012, despite losing the popular vote for House seats by more than half a million votes—which at the same time gave them a stranglehold on state government ever since.
From Union-Busting to Election-Busting
Although other aspects were also present, in Wisconsin its dynamic was centrally driven by its core economic logic, a drive toward a corporate-friendly, low-wage, Deep South-style economy, as described by Ed Kilgore in relationship to Governor Scott Walker’s purported “budget bill” aimed at crippling public employee unions. That bill began the story, which culminated in the recent secret bill signings giving free rein to political corruption in Wisconsin—another common feature of Dixiefication. The budget bill sparked massive protests and a powerful recall movement, which Walker survived with massive outside spending assistance from dark-money groups, which in turn led to a judge-supervised, grand jury-like “John Doe” investigation looking into potentially illegal coordination and campaign contributions between Walker’s campaign with outside dark money groups. The probe was halted last July by a controversial 4-2 decision by the ethically compromised Wisconsin Supreme Court, which effectively gutted Wisconsin campaign finance law. Two of the justices involved had received substantial support from Walker’s backers, but refused to recuse themselves from the case—a further demonstration of Wisconsin’s rapid slide into corruption.
In October, Republicans introduced three bills to consolidate and extend the damage the court had done. The first, passed that month, prohibited John Doe investigations of political corruption. The other two were just signed into law by Walker on Dec. 16, cementing the GOP’s power grab into place. One eviscerates state campaign finance laws, retroactively legalizing everything Walker and his allies did, and allowing virtually unlimited corporate spending. The other gets rid of the state’s highly respected Government Accountability Board—a nonpartisan body composed of six retired judges overseeing elections, campaign finance, ethics and lobbying, considered a model for other states—and replaces it with two partisan-appointed bodies, designed for FEC-like gridlock at best. “The destruction of the eight-year-old, non-partisan Government Accountability Board was based on completely discredited charges, false premises, character assassination and outright falsehoods,” Common Cause of Wisconsin charged, adding:The entire process under which Assembly Bills 387 and 388 were first unveiled in October, fast-tracked through a single public hearing in Madison only, and then rammed through committees and rushed to the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly and slammed through, before being stalled for a week in the State Senate, has been among the most abusive, disrespectful, secretive and utterly anti-democratic in the history of the Wisconsin Legislature.The hurried, haphazard process described, although shocking by traditional Wisconsin standards, is a microcosm of “normal politics” in a Dixiefied state, which the two laws were designed to help foster. The campaign finance law doubles the limits on direct contributions to candidates, and allows unlimited donations from individuals to political parties. It also allows corporations to give directly to political parties, for the first time in over 100 years in Wisconsin, and it allows candidates to coordinate with outside dark-money groups. In fact, there’s not much it doesn’t allow. The GAB was established in 2007, with overwhelming bipartisan support following a major corruption scandal. It passed the State Senate 33-0, and passed the Assembly 97-2. “Twelve Republican State Senators who voted to establish the GAB in 2007, voted to destroy it,” Common Cause pointed out. “Nothing changed in the intervening 8 years except the politics. So these 12 State Senators were all for the GAB before they turned against it.” The politics that changed was all about the money. And to really grasp what the new laws will do, it helps to trace that change, starting just after Walker’s election in 2010.
The Role of Money
Even before the union-busting budget bill was taken up, Walker had signed $117 million in tax cuts. When his first two-year budget bill was signed in June 2011, Citizens for Tax Justice reported that cuts to Medicaid and a range of other programs “amount to $2 billion worth of support yanked out from underneath the working poor. Yet, in his frenzy of service cuts, Governor Walker somehow found room for $2.3 billion in tax breaks over the next decade.” The big picture here is straight out of the scenario Kilgore described when, during the initial union-busting battle, he wrote:Walker also has an economic vision for his state….based on a theory of economic growth that is not only anti-statist but aggressively pro-corporate: relentlessly focused on breaking the backs of unions; slashing worker compensation and benefits; and subsidizing businesses in order to attract capital from elsewhere and avoid its flight to even more benighted locales….. [S]tudents of American economic history will recognize it as the “Moonlight and Magnolias” model of development, which is native to the Deep South.But even beyond massive tax breaks, there were plenty of very targeted favors for big donors. In 2010, Walker campaigned on a promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first term, a target he missed by more than 100,000 jobs. As I’ve written about before, his primary job growth mechanism was to replace the state commerce department with a private nonprofit, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, but in 2014 it was reported that, “nearly 60 percent of some $975 million in assistance distributed by WEDC went to firms that had contributed to Walker or the Republican Governor’s Association…. Walker received more than $1 million in direct campaign funds and another $1 million via the RGA from WEDC aid recipients.” This all came in very handy when it came to fighting the recall election. As the Center for Public Integrity reported:The Wisconsin vote captured national attention, and a flood of out-of-state money. Of the $63.5 million spent, $45 million came from Walker’s campaign and supporters, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The record spending total was made possible thanks to the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision—which had the effect of invalidating Wisconsin’s century-old ban on independent expenditures by corporations and unions—and a state law that allowed unlimited contributions to the incumbent in recall elections.The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign listed special interest group spending, including $3.7 million from the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, $4 million from Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and $9.4 million from the Republican Governors Association’s Right Direction Wisconsin PAC. So, to review: Walker comes in with a reverse Robin Hood agenda, cuts billions in support for the working poor, while giving billions away in tax cuts, plus a lucrative side dish of paybacks to funders through the WEDC, and gets floods of money from out-of-state big money interests to fight off a recall by the citizens of his state. It’s picture-perfect illustration of Dixiefication in action. Neatly connecting that backstory to the laws just signed, a recent analysis by Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy explained how these monied interests and the politicians they fund were motivated to pass the new laws, the better to hide what they’re up to. Regrading the WEDC, Fischer recounted:In one case, Walker’s administration urged WEDC to give a $500,000 unsecured loan to a company owned by Bill Minahan, who a few months earlier had maxed-out on contributions to Walker’s campaign. The Minahan loan didn’t go through the underwriting required by law, and his company ultimately went bust, with the taxpayer-funded half-million-dollar loan not being repaid. WEDC handed out hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the form of bonds, grants, loans, and tax credits to Walker donors, and could only account for 5,680 jobs as of 2014, according to a Center for Media and Democracy analysis. All this was uncovered by the press “because those donations were disclosed,” Fischer wrote. But the new campaign finance law would keep that secret forever. If politicians and donors know what’s going on, but the media and ordinary voters don’t, that informational imbalance can translate into enormous political power. It’s like a basketball game with one team wearing blindfolds. Fischer went on to cite an example of how this was already working in Wisconsin:The other centerpiece of Walker’s job creation effort was a rewrite of the state environmental laws to pave the way for a Florida-based mining company, Gogebic Taconite, to build an open-pit iron ore mine in a pristine area of Northern Wisconsin. A year after the proposal became law, documents emerged in the John Doe probe showing that G-Tac’s CEO had secretly donated more than $700,000 to a dark money group associated with Scott Walker’s campaign. The public and press had no knowledge of these contributions as the hotly-contested mining bill was being debated; the secret donations were more than 22 times the amount of disclosed contributions to candidates.With the chance of normalizing and legalizing such underhanded dealings, it’s not surprising that people oppose what they’re trying to do, while Walker’s donors eagerly support them. Regarding popular opposition, Fischer noted, “Common Cause Wisconsin has counted thousands of calls and messages from Wisconsinites to state senators urging them to reject these bills,” in line with consistent polling showing that voters in both parties want less money in elections and more transparency about where it’s coming from.
On the other side, Fischer noted a small handful of well-funded groups supporting the three laws introduced in October. The only group lobbying to support the bill replacing the GAB was David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity, which also lobbied for the bill exempting political corruption from John Doe investigations, along with Wisconsin Family Action, “a group that was implicated in the John Doe probe,” Fischer noted. The third bill’s supporters were an instructive bit of a suprise. The avowedly pro-corporate groups stayed out of it, with the forced childbirth group, Wisconsin Right to Life, taking the lead instead. Tellingly, however, their executive director was a former AFP leader. In summary, Fischer wrote, “[These special interest groups], funded by out-of-state billionaires like the Koch brothers, are apparently calling the shots within the Wisconsin legislature, regardless of what voters think.” And with these new laws in place, that will only become more commonplace in the years ahead.
Source: http://www.salon.com/2016/01/09/t
Super PACs a disaster for democracy

In 1907, Congress banned corporate contributions to federal candidates in the wake of the robber baron-era scandals. In 1947, the ban was formally applied to corporate expenditures and extended to cover labor unions. In 1974, Congress enacted limits on individual contributions to federal candidates and political committees in the wake of the Watergate scandal. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United case declared the corporate expenditure ban unconstitutional, holding that independent expenditures could not be constitutionally limited in federal elections, and implicitly that corporations could give unlimited amounts to other groups to spend, as long as the expenditures were made independently from the supported candidate. Subsequently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in the SpeechNow case held that the limits on individual contributions to groups that made independent expenditures were unconstitutional.
Thus was born the super PAC.
And thus was born the national campaign finance scandals that are unfolding daily in the 2012 elections. Super PACs are federally registered political action committees that raise unlimited contributions from the super rich, corporations, labor unions and other entities and spend these funds to make "independent" expenditures in federal elections. They are an unmitigated disaster for the American people. A recent study by Demos and the U.S. Public Interest Group found that, as Politico reported, "Super PACs raised about $181 million in the last two years -- with roughly half of it coming from fewer than 200 super-rich people." The study also found that 93% of the itemized contributions raised by super PACs came in contributions of $10,000 or more, with more than half of this money coming from just 37 people who each gave $500,000 or more.
Super PACs are a game for millionaires and billionaires. They are a game for corporations and other wealthy interests. Meanwhile, citizens are pushed to the sidelines to watch the corruption of our democracy. In the 2012 presidential election, an even more insidious version of the super PAC was born -- the candidate-specific super PAC. Every significant presidential campaign has had a super PAC -- created and run by close associates of the candidate -- that raises unlimited contributions to spend only to support that presidential candidate. Presidential candidate-specific super PACs are simply vehicles for the presidential candidates and their supporters to circumvent the limits on contributions to candidates enacted to prevent corruption. Most of the super PAC money has been spent on attack ads.
We already have seen Sheldon Adelson and his wife give $10 million to the presidential super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich. One couple! $10 million! The claim that these presidential super PACs are operating "independently" from the presidential candidates, as is required by law, is absurd and has no credibility. Last week, President Barack Obama reversed course and agreed to send Cabinet members, White House staff and campaign officials to speak at and participate in fundraising events for Priorities USA Action, the allegedly "independent" super PAC supporting Obama's re-election. Days later, Mitt Romney's campaign announced that senior Romney campaign aides would do the same and appear and speak at fundraising events for Restore Our Future, Romney's allegedly "independent" super PAC.
Sound independent?
According to the Supreme Court's view, a corporation that spends $30 million to elect a senator will not be able to buy corrupting influence over the senator's positions because the corporation has not "coordinated" its expenditures with the senator. Democracy 21 believes these super PACs are indeed engaging in illegally coordinated activities and is requesting the Justice Department to investigate. Super PACs corrupt our political system in two ways. First, super PACs allow a relatively few super-rich individuals and other wealthy interests to have greatly magnified and undue influence over the results of our elections. Second, super PACs allow the super rich and wealthy interests to buy influence over government decisions, in the event the candidate wins.
The Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case that unleashed this is built entirely on a fiction: that "independent" expenditures by corporations cannot have a corrupting influence on federal officeholders. This is fantasy, not reality. Important steps can and must be taken to deal with candidate-specific super PACs within the boundaries of the destructive Citizens United decision. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, has introduced the DISCLOSE 2012 Act to close gaping loopholes in the disclosure laws. It requires super PACs immediately to disclose their donors and campaign expenditures, and requires the PACs' top five donors, and the amounts they gave, to be listed on each of their ads. This legislation is essential to inform citizens about who is providing the money to influence their votes.
In addition, Democracy 21 is preparing legislation to shut down super PACs that are closely tied to the candidate they are supporting. The legislation would treat these super PACs legally as arms of the candidate's campaign and subject to the contribution limits that apply to the candidate. Five Supreme Court justices have done enormous damage to our country with one of the worst decisions in the history of the court. This will not be allowed to stand. Citizens will rise up to demand and achieve fundamental reforms, as we have before when threatened with the systemic corruption of our government and officeholders.
Source: http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/15/opinion/wertheimer-super-pacs/



Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the money to capture the White House


They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two: finance and energy. Now they are deploying their vast wealth in the political arena, providing almost half of all the seed money raised to support Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, a New York Times investigation found. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.
These donors’ fortunes reflect the shifting composition of the country’s economic elite. Relatively few work in the traditional ranks of corporate America, or hail from dynasties of inherited wealth. Most built their own businesses, parlaying talent and an appetite for risk into huge wealth: They founded hedge funds in New York, bought up undervalued oil leases in Texas, made blockbusters in Hollywood. More than a dozen of the elite donors were born outside the United States, immigrating from countries like Cuba, the old Soviet Union, Pakistan, India and Israel. But regardless of industry, the families investing the most in presidential politics overwhelmingly lean right, contributing tens of millions of dollars to support Republican candidates who have pledged to pare regulations; cut taxes on income, capital gains and inheritances; and shrink entitlement programs. While such measures would help protect their own wealth, the donors describe their embrace of them more broadly, as the surest means of promoting economic growth and preserving a system that would allow others to prosper, too. 
Mostly Backing Republicans
“It’s a lot of families around the country who are self-made who feel like over-regulation puts these burdens on smaller companies,” said Doug Deason, a Dallas investor whose family put $5 million behind Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and now, after Mr. Perry’s exit, is being courted by many of the remaining candidates. “They’ve done well. They want to see other people do well.”
In marshaling their financial resources chiefly behind Republican candidates, the donors are also serving as a kind of financial check on demographic forces that have been nudging the electorate toward support for the Democratic Party and its economic policies. Two-thirds of Americans support higher taxes on those earning $1 million or more a year, according to a June New York Times/CBS News poll, while six in 10 favor more government intervention to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly seven in 10 favor preserving Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are. Republican candidates have struggled to improve their standing with Hispanic voters, women and African-Americans. But as the campaign unfolds, Republicans are far outpacing Democrats in exploiting the world of “super PACs,” which, unlike candidates’ own campaigns, can raise unlimited sums from any donor, and which have so far amassed the bulk of the money in the election.
The 158 families each contributed $250,000 or more in the campaign through June 30, according to the most recent available Federal Election Commission filings and other data, while an additional 200 families gave more than $100,000. Together, the two groups contributed well over half the money in the presidential election -- the vast majority of it supporting Republicans. “The campaign finance system is now a countervailing force to the way the actual voters of the country are evolving and the policies they want,” said Ruy Teixeira, a political and demographic expert at the left-leaning Center for American Progress.
Like most of the ultrawealthy, the new donor elite is deeply private. Very few of those contacted were willing to speak about their contributions or their political views. Many donations were made from business addresses or post office boxes, or wound through limited liability corporations or trusts, exploiting the new avenues opened up by Citizens United, which gave corporate entities far more leeway to spend money on behalf of candidates. Some contributors, for reasons of privacy or tax planning, are not listed as the owners of the homes where they live, further obscuring the family and social ties that bind them.
But interviews and a review of hundreds of public documents — voter registrations, business records, F.E.C. data and more — reveal a class apart, distant from much of America while geographically, socially and economically intermingling among themselves. Nearly all the neighborhoods where they live would fit within the city limits of New Orleans. But minorities make up less than one-fifth of those neighborhoods’ collective population, and virtually no one is black. Their residents make four and a half times the salary of the average American, and are twice as likely to be college educated.
Most of the families are clustered around just nine cities. Many are neighbors, living near one another in neighborhoods like Bel Air and Brentwood in Los Angeles; River Oaks, a Houston community popular with energy executives; or Indian Creek Village, a private island near Miami that has a private security force and just 35 homes lining an 18-hole golf course. Sometimes, across party lines, they are patrons of the same symphonies, art museums or at-risk youth programs. They are business partners, in-laws and, on occasion, even poker buddies.
Living Near One Another
More than 50 members of these families have made the Forbes 400 list of the country’s top billionaires, marking a scale of wealth against which even a million-dollar political contribution can seem relatively small. The Chicago hedge fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin, for example, earns about $68.5 million a month after taxes, according to court filings made by his wife in their divorce. He has given a total of $300,000 to groups backing Republican presidential candidates. That is a huge sum on its face, yet is the equivalent of only $21.17 for a typical American household, according to Congressional Budget Office data on after-tax income. The donor families’ wealth reflects, in part, the vast growth of the financial-services sector and the boom in oil and gas, which have helped transform the American economy in recent decades. They are also the beneficiaries of political and economic forces that are driving widening inequality: As the share of national wealth and income going to the middle class has shrunk, these families are among those whose share has grown.
Mainly in Finance and Energy
The accumulation of wealth has been particularly rapid at the elite levels of Wall Street, where financiers who once managed other people’s capital now, increasingly, own it themselves. Since 1979, according to one study, the one-tenth of 1 percent of American taxpayers who work in finance have roughly quintupled their share of the country’s income. Sixty-four of the families made their wealth in finance, the largest single faction among the super-donors of 2016.
But instead of working their way up to the executive suite at Goldman Sachs or Exxon, most of these donors set out on their own, establishing privately held firms controlled individually or with partners. In finance, they started hedge funds, or formed private equity and venture capital firms, benefiting from favorable tax treatment of debt and capital gains, and more recently from a rising stock market and low interest rates. In energy, some were latter-day wildcatters, early to capitalize on the new drilling technologies and high energy prices that made it economical to exploit shale formations in North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Others made fortunes supplying those wildcatters with pipelines, trucks and equipment for “fracking.”
In both energy and finance, their businesses, when successful, could throw off enormous amounts of cash — unlike industries in which wealth might have been tied up in investments. Those without shareholders or boards of directors have had unusual freedom to indulge their political passions. Together, the two industries accounted for well over half of the cash contributed by the top 158 families.
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/11/us/politics/2016-presidential-election-super-pac-donors.html
Exposed! How the Billionaires Class Is Destroying Democracy

Out of the guts of the internet, we find an endless stream of misattributed quotes and made-up stories that end up in chain emails that you eventually receive from your loopy uncle in Texas who's trying to justify right-wing economics or anti-Obama conspiracy theories. It's just one of the headaches of the Internet Age. But, there's one quote in particular that's always attributed to an obscure Scottish historian, Sir Alexander Frasier Tytler (as if that gave it great credibility), and it seemed to both make sense and prophecy the end of the American Republic.
Tytler was supposed to have said: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess of the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship." Tyltler goes on to talk about the process by which democracies fail as a result of this "voter selfishness."
The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years," he was rumored to have said. "These nations have progressed through this sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from great courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependency back again to bondage."
Now, here's the reality: Tytler never said any of these words. They can all be tracked back to right-wing American businessmen in the early decades of the twentieth century. And why would right-wing businessmen say such things? Because, in actual point of fact, the thing that corrupts democracies is not "the voters" demanding "free stuff" (to paraphrase Romney), but, instead, its businessmen buying off politicians. It's not the powerless who corrupt democracies, as that viral right-wing quote would suggest; it's the powerful who corrupt democracies. And money is the source of that power.
Yes, over the last hundred years, average American people have voted themselves benefits like Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. But at the same time, they've also supported tax increases to pay for all of these things. Remember, the Social Security tax only applies to the first $113,000 of wages - earned income. People like Paris Hilton and Mitt Romney, when they get all their money from capital gains, dividends, and carried interest, don't pay a penny of Social Security taxes on their millions of income. And the average top CEO in America, with an income of $13.7 million a year, over a million a month, only pays Social Security taxes on his first few days of income every year - every other day is Social Security tax-free. Quite literally, as Leona Helmsley famously said, only the "little people" pay such taxes. The safety net program for working class people is exclusively paid for by working class people.
On the other hand, when the Billionaire Class extracts benefits from the government for themselves, the generally don't pay higher taxes. The billions in taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil, trillions in bailouts and bonuses for Wall Street banksters, and hundreds of billions for war profiteers are always accompanied by demands for more tax cuts at the top.
And, truth be told, billionaires aren't even receiving these benefits by voting for them. Instead, they always get them through the simple process of buying politicians. For example, Sheldon Adelson spent $150 million in the last election. That's more than any American spent in any election in American history. And he spent all that money to give himself the "benefits" of derailing an Obama Justice Department investigation into his casino in China and to get his taxes cut even further.
Billionaires also corrupt democracy to get their benefits through billionaire-funded think tanks, like the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council that writes legislation to benefit Corporate America, and then has Republicans state lawmakers introduce and pass laws in state after state, across the nation. But despite this very clear reality of who is demanding largesse from our government, it's still working people and average voters who are targeted by right-wingers and their viral emails as the selfish "takers." That's the reason why the Business Roundtable is saying the best way to fix insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare is to raise the retirement age to 70 and voucherize Medicare.
Of course, the average CEO for an S&P 500 company doesn't need Social Security. But they know that by raising the retirement age, they're shielding themselves from any tax increases that may come with raising that payroll tax cap, so even billionaires pay into Social Security, which will quickly and easily make that insurance program solvent forever. America's fiscal problems have nothing to do with voters. In fact, the Billionaire Class is trying to make it harder and harder for people to vote by pushing for voter suppression ID laws and restrictions on early voting.
America's fiscal problems are a direct result of the Billionaire Class working behind the scenes of our democracy and syphoning off massive amounts of wealth for themselves while paying lower taxes than they've paid in a half-century. As Senator Bernie Sanders points out, a quarter of all profitable corporations in America pay zero federal taxes. And Mitt Romney and Paris Hilton's income tax rates top out at 20 percent.
Tytler didn't really say those words that the Billionaire Class think-tanks and email shills attribute to him. But, had he said them, he probably would have something more along the lines of this: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the billionaires discover that they can steal for themselves largess of the public treasury through buying politicians. From that time on the billionaires will always buy candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship."
If we are concerned about the future of our American democratic republic, the way to preserve it isn't to protect it from greedy Social Security recipients by pushing the retirement age back to 70. It's to get money out of government, thus neutering the political power of the Billionaire Class. And that means reversing two core doctrines that the US Supreme Court has created out of thin air (at the request of big business and billionaires): that corporations are people, and that money is speech. The best way to do that is through a constitutional amendment that says corporations are not people, and money is property and not speech.
Source: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/14011-exposed-how-the-billionaires-class-is-destroying-democracy

How Money Corrupts American Politics
Money cannot always buy election results; weak candidates often lose even when they outspend their opponents. Nor is outright bribery very common; elected officeholders rarely sell specific votes directly Yet the perfectly legal flood of money that pervades American politics has fundamentally corrupting effects. The effects of money are manifold, subtle, and hard to pin down, but a number of pathways of influence can be laid out. Most are based on judgments about the best available evidence, short of irrefutable proof. But on certain key points the quantitative evidence is fairly conclusive. Political scientist Gary Jacobson and other scholars have pinned down how monetary advantages affect chances of winning congressional elections Large amounts of money are virtually essential if a candidate is to have any serious chance of winning. Inability to raise big money leads to losing general elections, losing party nominations, or giving up even before getting started. Thus the need to raise money acts as a filter, tending to eliminate public officials who hold certain points of view – even points of view that are popular with most Americans.
The need for money tends to filter out centrist candidates. Most congressional districts are gerrymandered to ensure a big advantage for one party or the other, so that election outcomes are actually decided in low-salience, low-turnout, one-party primary elections. Primaries are usually dominated by ideological party activists and money givers, who tend to hold extreme views and to reject all but the purest partisan candidates. This contributes to party polarization and legislative gridlock in Congress.
The need for money filters out candidates on the economic left. Democratic as well as Republican candidates have to raise big money, most of which comes from economically successful entrepreneurs and professionals who tend to hold rather conservative views on taxes, social welfare spending, and economic regulation. As a result, few candidates whose views are not broadly acceptable to the affluent are nominated or elected.
The quest for money tilts candidates' priorities and policy stands. Countless hours spent grubbing for money from affluent contributors changes candidates' priorities and sense of constituent needs. As they speak with potential donors, candidates hear repeatedly about resentment of progressive taxes and "wasteful" social spending. Special tax breaks for corporations and hedge fund managers start to sound reasonable.
Affluent citizens get extra influence by turning out to vote, working in campaigns, and contacting officials. Campaign contributions are not the only way in which affluent people get involved in politics; these same people tend to be active in other ways too, underscoring their importance to candidates.
Money can tip the outcome of close elections. Money spent on media, organizing, and turnout tends to increase vote totals, giving a significant advantage to candidates favored by money givers.
Money buys access to officials. When big contributors contact officials they tend to get attention. Their economic resources enable them to get a hearing, to offer help with information and expertise – even to draft bills. Research shows that these processes boost the influence of the affluent on the policy topics and ideas officeholders consider, biasing the public agenda toward the concerns of the affluent.
The quest for re-election money affects officials' priorities and policy stands. From the moment they win office, candidates look ahead to the money they must raise for reelection, and this is bound to steal time from official duties and slant their attention toward constituents who are substantial donors.
In sum, the net effects of money in politics include distraction from the public business, exacerbation of polarization and gridlock, and distortion of policy making in wasteful, inefficient, and anti-democratic directions. These are not trivial costs to American democracy, and their impact raises the obvious question: what can be done? There is little immediate prospect for a Supreme Court decision or Constitutional amendment to reduce the impact of money on politics. But the effects of big private money could be greatly diluted through public funding – for example, by letting all citizens contribute with "democracy vouchers" (as legal expert Larry Lessig has proposed) or instituting some other system of matching small contributions. To make something like this happen – over the likely resistance of wealthy big contributors – would require a broad, bipartisan social movement. Citizens of various ideological persuasions would have to join together, much as Americans once did in broad reform movements during the Progressive Era of the early twentieth century.
Benjamin Page is the Gordon Scott Fulcher Professor of Decision Making at Northwestern University. Click here to learn more about Ben's research and advocacy.
Source: http://www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org/how-money-corrupts-american-politics

Gerrymandering creates undemocratic situationOne would hope that the crazy behavior shown by some Republicans in the U.S. House would be mitigated with the next election cycle by turning these obstructionists out of office and replacing them with more level headed adults. But don’t hold your breath. The fact is that so many U.S. House districts have been gerrymandered so badly that it is impossible to change the structure of the House without either changing the outlines of the districts or changing the perspective of the voters that keep sending them to Washington.
A casual look at a district map will show you that if you took a twenty five square mile area that contained 10,000 eligible voters, that square has been so gerrymandered that you have only thirty percent of the voters in that square holding all of the power while the other seventy percent have been alienated. It puts a lie to American democracy. It would be as if the entire state of Wyoming were a single district but only Cheyenne and Gillette got to choose who we send to Washington. It is inherently wrong. So that leaves trying to get those few voters that hold all of the power to cast off their dogma and really look at what’s in the best interest of the nation. I hope that one day, before those extremist representatives have so fouled up this country that a Gordian knot would be simpler to unravel, these voters see how they are being manipulated by the entrenched corporate entities that are behind the tea party movement.
Remember the old adage of, `follow the money’. Ask yourself who has been making money under the current health care system? Insurance companies for sure. Medical device manufacturers for another. These are the people opposing the Affordable Care Act and they’ve hoodwinked conservative voters into believing many of their lies while their puppets in Congress make fools of themselves and risk the future of America just to keep the money flowing. No, we won’t see House districts changing anytime soon and we won’t see these corporate tools thrown out of Congress. It’s sad to think that such a small portion of the nation's voters can bring the entire thing down. Such is a republic.
Source: http://trib.com/opinion/letters/gerrymandering-creates-undemocratic-situation/article_4587076d-764f-5c16-b284-b837dd91bb54.html
The Anti-Democratic Electoral College

America was once a world leader in democracy, with innovations like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with its Bill of Rights. While the early republic had major flaws, our nation was nonetheless an innovator in democracy at a time when monarchies ruled. Since that time, many nations have adopted the American principles of separation of powers in government but they have avoided many of the idiosyncrasies in the American system. Most modern democracies avoid our single-seat winner take-all-elections, using some form of proportional representation instead. No modern democracy has adopted the American system that denies citizens in their national capital the right to have a voting representative in Congress. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on the fact that no other country uses our anti-democratic Electoral College.
Often when I discuss the Electoral College with Americans who don't spend much time thinking about politics, they suggest, "it's been working for hundreds of years, so whatever problems it has are probably not so bad." This reflects a basic pattern in American society where we want the latest technology for our computers, televisions and cell phones but we complacently trudge along using archaic voting technology while ignoring the improvements that have occurred since the late 1700s. Defenders of the status quo start to perk up when I mention that the Electoral College makes it possible to capture the presidency by winning only eleven states and disregarding the rest of the country or that four times the presidential candidate that won the popular vote lost the election. When I remind them that no country uses the Electoral College model for electing a leader, they start wondering what aspects of the Electoral College are most problematic.
That is when I emphasize that, by design, the Electoral College fundamentally undermines the basic principle of one citizen-one vote mentioning democratic lowlights such as: (1) States with smaller populations have far more representatives per population than states with larger populations. For example, residents of the three least-populated states -- Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota -- have one congressional representative for every 200,000 people, while those in the three states with the highest population -- California, Texas, and New York -- have only one congressional member for every 670,000 people. This representational inequality clearly gives citizens from small population states a much stronger voice per citizen than those residing in large states when it comes to electing the president (see graph).


(2) Forty-eight states allocate all of their Electors to one candidate (Maine and Nebraska use proportional representation). This state-level decision of how to allocate Electors produces the issue of swing-state distortion, where citizens in states that are relatively evenly split between the two parties have far more influence in selecting the president than citizens in states where a majority are clearly voting for one party. Moreover, citizens are often discouraged to vote in presidential elections if they know that the allocation of all of their state's electors is a foregone conclusion. Campaign activity exemplifies the implications of this all-or-nothing allocation issue and its egregious undermining of the principle of one citizen-one vote. Candidates rarely invest campaign funds in states that aren't "in play" -- i.e., states whose electoral votes are considered to be already won or lost based on large margins of victory in previous elections and on current polling. For example, in the 2008 presidential election, the campaign of then-candidate Barack Obama spent nearly $40 million on advertising in Pennsylvania, a swing state with twenty-one electoral votes, and about $25,000 in Illinois, with an equivalent number of electors. The Obama strategists knew that there was no reason to spend any time courting voters in his home state, Illinois, since he would clearly win the majority of Illinois's popular votes and all twenty-one of its electoral votes. Republican and third-party supporters in Illinois had no chance of having their voices heard and citizens living in Illinois were being told very clearly that they are much less important than those living in Pennsylvania.
(3) "Faithless" Electors: After all of the undermining of one citizen-one vote that we described above, there is still the issue that the Elector doesn't actually have to vote for whom they pledged. For example, in 2000, D.C. elector Barbara Lett-Simmons abstained rather than vote for Al Gore as she had pledged. Her feeble protest resulted in silencing the voices of thousands of D.C. residents.
Few Americans would contend today that if we were designing a system to elect a president from scratch, the Electoral College would be the optimal solution. Using the popular vote would be the most obvious choice and a majority of Americans support this change. it would be easy to implement since the popular vote is already counted and some variant of preferential voting could be introduced so that third-parties can have a stronger voice.
Yet, inertia is a powerful force and so I don't anticipate America discarding this system anytime soon. Until the time comes when America drops the Electoral College or there is sufficient support for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, all states should mirror the practice of Maine and Nebraska of allocating their electoral votes based on proportional representation. This corrects the current all-or-nothing system used in forty-eight of the fifty states and its resulting overweighting or underweighting of votes based on whether or not you live in a swing state. More importantly, it will force candidates to take the votes of every American seriously, not just that small percentage living in swing states. Unfortunately, self-interest often trumps what is most fair or appropriate. Consequently, it is unlikely that many other states will follow Maine and Nebraska's lead since proportional allocation diminishes the power of the majority party in the state and opens the opportunity for third parties to have a stronger voice (an action that leadership in both the Democratic and Republican parties wouldn't want).
Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-steven-friedman/antidemocratic-electoral-college_b_1744138.html
Super-duper-delegates: 'Undemocratic system used by Democratic Party'

Any grassroots candidate in the Democratic Party like Sanders could be run out by the use of the undemocratic superdelegates system which favors the party elite and Congress people, says Patrick Henningsen from 21st Century Wire.com. Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary on February, 9 but due to peculiarities in the Democratic National Committee’s method of assigning delegates Hillary Clinton received the same number of delegates as Sanders. "The difference between the Democrat and Republican primaries is that in a DP primaries there are no winner takes all states. They are all proportional. So, the delegates will be divided proportionally. Each candidate has to be very aggressive in their delegate strategy. And there is a number of superdelegates as well that could decide this election - maybe for the first time since superdelegates have come on the scene in the US electoral system on the Democratic side. They could decide this election more than any other election in the past. It could even go: Bernie Sanders could win the popular vote and Hillary Clinton could win the delegate count based on superdelegates. If we look the AP early polls showed that superdelegates, 98 percent of them in early polling say they would vote for Hillary Clinton, no matter what at the convention, as opposed to two percent for Sanders. I mean, that could swing a ‘neck & neck’ election, come convention time", Patrick Henningsen told RT.
"In total I think for the Democratic Party there are 700 superdelegates, there are a number there pre-pledged to Hillary Clinton absolutely. But there are also a number of undecided as well. The problem with this and the big criticism about the superdelegates system is that it is highly undemocratic. So, this is basically something that came in as a result of George McGovern election in 1968; the McGovern commission that came out of that came up with this plan which allow people to think as outsiders. So, anybody like a grassroots candidate in the Democratic Party like Sanders could be absolutely run out by the use of the superdelegates system. It is undemocratic, it favors the party elite, high party office holders within the Democratic hierarchy, but also Congress people who get one superdelegate…one vote in real terms is equal to 10,000 average American voters in a Democratic primary if you map it out mathematically. It is ironic that the Democratic Party would have such an undemocratic system factored into their sort of party politics. Clearly, the Democratic Party elite are backing Hillary because she is coming into this with her own power base which she has accumulated over two decades. And also through her time in the Senate and through past campaigns, and her husband, former president Bill Clinton," he said.
Source: https://www.rt.com/op-edge/332295-sanders-superdelegates-clinton-elections/
We're suffering the consequences of too much democracy Democracy, you could argue, is pretty much like sunshine, cold beer and ice cream. They’re all great - until you have too much
Too much Democracy? That’s not possible, is it? In fact it may be. Some economists and political scientists are suggesting as much in the wake of the Brexit vote and the subsequent wave of “Leave the EU” sentiment that’s sweeping across Europe. And you can look to a big honking use case right here in the US to make that argument.
It’s way too early to tell how Brexit will affect the economy of the UK at this point — although early days have been rocky enough with the crashing pound, stumbling stock market, and political chaos. But I would argue the biggest negative of Brexit will be the messiness and uncertainty that ensues. The UK will be forced to rewrite tax rules, as well as draft and implement new legislation. It will have to craft a new relationship with Europe. And the UK will more than likely haggle over referendums in Scotland and Northern Ireland. An OECD report says Brexit could cost the UK 3.3% of its GDP by 2020.
Despite those headaches and risks, “Leavers” across Europe have taken up the call — including those in France, the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Austria and Finland. A Citibank note says “… political risks in Europe are high and probably rising, in our view, and ‘referendum risk’ contributes significantly to these risks …” Those risks include outright withdrawal from the EU, scuttling of EU policies, and shying away from EU-centric policies that could bolster local economies. Citi notes that Italy and Hungary will likely both have referendums on matters pertaining to the EU this year. So what does this have to do with the US, besides the collateral damage of a potentially basket-case Europe — (no small thing that by the way)? Because while referendums are actually rare in the UK, (the Brexit vote is only the third to cover the whole UK), they are much more common in the US.
Twenty-six states — mostly Western ones — plus Washington D.C., allow for initiatives and referendums. And over the years, there have been various successes and failures, never mind wackiness. (One of my favorites was the 2006 Arizona Voter Reward Act which would give a single Arizona citizen $1 million in every general election. It was defeated.) But other ballot initiatives of course are more serious and in some states referendums and such have had real teeth. Nowhere more so than in California, where it has been elevated to a powerful form of governance, with its high-profile Propositions. For those of you old enough to remember, the watershed moment of the California Proposition movement was 1978 with the passage of Proposition 13, which capped real estate taxes. (Remember Howard Jarvis — the leader of the movement — on the cover of Time Magazine: Tax Revolt!)
The success of that vote ushered in a golden age of referendums for the Golden State, although that may be a mischaracterization. Since then the state has voted on hundreds of referendums on gun control, abortion, marijuana and the death penalty. But mostly the initiatives have tended towards the fiscal, i.e., taxes, budgets and bond issues. To some this has been a shining era of democracy. Others are not so sanguine, saying Prop 13, for example, helped lead to the gutting of education budgets. One thing that is undoubtedly true is that this so-called direct democracy model has made governing more difficult. The Economist delved into this in great length in a 2011 special report:
“This citizen legislature has caused chaos. Many initiatives have either limited taxes or mandated spending, making it even harder to balance the budget. Some are so ill-thought-out that they achieve the opposite of their intent: for all its small-government pretensions, Proposition 13 ended up centralizing California’s finances, shifting them from local to state government. Rather than being the curb on elites that they were supposed to be, ballot initiatives have become a tool of special interests, with lobbyists and extremists bankrolling laws that are often bewildering in their complexity and obscure in their ramifications. And they have impoverished the state’s representative government. Who would want to sit in a legislature where 70-90% of the budget has already been allocated?”
The best evidence of the effects of this dysfunction perhaps is that during this period, California experienced a precipitous decline in its credit rating. In 1980, California had a triple AAA rating. By the early 1990s it had fallen to single A, and it bounced around that level for decades until as recently as 2014, when it was the second-lowest rated state in the nation. (This is a state of course with Silicon Valley, Hollywood, oil and gas, timber, minerals and the richest farmland in the nation.) Say what you will about Jerry Brown, (twice!) Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson, but it ain’t all the governors’ fault. In fact it may be Jerry Brown’s multi-term experience with government by referendum that has allowed him get a handle on the state’s finances and help boost its credit rating back up to AA (from S&P), its highest rating since 2001. But that’s hardly consolation.
Direct democracy does have a shining example of efficacy, and that is Switzerland, though there certainly are reasons particular to that country — homogeneity being one — that explain why it has worked there. Otherwise, I would argue that direct democracy is best used sparingly, for local initiatives perhaps. A big drawback of direct democracy is that those who want change — no matter its validity — are much more fired up than those who want to maintain the status quo, and therefore many more of the “Changers” go to the polls, as was perhaps the case in the Brexit vote. Think about the consequences of that.
I know it sounds horribly anachronistic, but checks and balances, branches of government, and slow, messy and deliberate governance actually has its place. It is true that both in the case of Britain’s relationship with the EU and with real estate taxes in California in the 1970s, real change was needed. In cases like this, and probably just in general, politicians need to step up more briskly than they are typically comfortable doing. But putting the onus all back on the people may not be the answer. One thing’s for sure, it certainly has its consequences.
Source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/brexit-direct-democracy-referendums
The Age of Authoritarian Democracy

The world is currently being shaken by tectonic changes almost too numerous to count: the ongoing economic crisis is accelerating the degradation of international governance and supranational institutions, and both are occurring alongside a massive shift of economic and political power to Asia. Less than a quarter-century after U.S. political scientist and author Francis Fukuyama declared "the end of history," we seem to have arrived at the dawn of a new age of social and geopolitical upheaval.
Dramatically, the Arab world has been swept by a revolutionary spring, though one that is rapidly becoming a chilly winter. Indeed, for the most part, the new regimes are combining the old authoritarianism with Islamism, resulting in further social stagnation, resentment and instability. Even more remarkable, however, are the social — and antisocial — grassroots demonstrations that are mushrooming in affluent Western societies. These protests have two major causes.
First, social inequality has grown unabated in the West over the last quarter-century, owing in part to the disappearance of the Soviet Union and, with it, the threat of expansionist communism. The specter of revolution had forced Western elites to use the power of the state to redistribute wealth and nurture the growth of loyal middle classes. But when communism collapsed in its Eurasian heartland, the West's rich, believing that they had nothing more to fear, pressed to roll back the welfare state, causing inequality to rise rapidly. This was tolerable as long as the overall pie was expanding, but the global financial crisis in 2008 ended that.
Second, over the past 15 years, hundreds of millions of jobs shifted to Asia, which offered inexpensive and often highly skilled labor. The West, euphoric from its victory over communism and its seemingly unstoppable economic growth, failed to implement necessary structural reforms, although Germany and Sweden were rare exceptions. Instead, Western prosperity relied increasingly on debt.
But the economic crisis has made it impossible to maintain a good life on borrowed money. Americans and Europeans are beginning to understand that neither they, nor their children, can assume that they will become wealthier over time. Governments now face the difficult task of implementing reforms that will hit the majority of voters hardest. In the meantime, the minority that has benefited financially over the past two decades is unlikely to give up its advantages without a fight.
All of this can only weaken Western democracy's allure in countries like Russia, where, unlike in the West or to a large extent the Arab world, those who are organizing the massive demonstrations against the government belong to the economic elite. Theirs is a movement of political reform, demanding more freedom and government accountability. It is not a social protest — at least not yet.
A few years ago, it was fashionable to worry about the challenge that authoritarian-style capitalism — for example, in China, Singapore, Malaysia or Russia — presented to Western democratic capitalism. Today, the problem is not only economic. Western capitalism's model of a society based on near-universal affluence and liberal democracy looks increasingly ineffective when compared to the competition. Authoritarian countries' middle classes may push their leaders toward greater democracy, as in Russia, but Western democracies will also likely become more authoritarian.
Indeed, measured against today's standards, former French President Charles de Gaulle, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower were comparatively authoritarian leaders. The West will have to readopt such an approach or risk losing out globally as its ultraright and ultraleft political forces consolidate their positions and its middle classes begin to dissolve.
We must find ways to prevent the political polarization that gave rise to totalitarian systems — communist and fascist — in the 20th century. Fortunately, this is possible. Communism and fascism were born and took root in societies demoralized by war, which is why all steps should be taken now to prevent the outbreak of war.
This is becoming particularly relevant today, as the smell of war hangs over Iran. Israel, which is facing a surge of hostile sentiment among its neighbors in the wake of their "democratic" upheavals, is not the only interested party. Many people in the advanced countries, and even some in Russia, look increasingly supportive of a war with Iran, despite — or perhaps owing to — the need to address the ongoing global economic crisis and failure of international governance.
At the same time, huge opportunities beckon in times of far-reaching change. Billions of people in Asia have extricated themselves from poverty. New markets and spheres for applying one's intellect, education and talents are appearing constantly. The world's power centers are beginning to counterbalance one another, undermining hegemonic ambitions and heralding a creative instability based on genuine multipolarity, with people gaining greater freedom to define their fate in the global arena. Paradoxically, today's global changes and challenges offer the potential for both peaceful coexistence and violent conflict. Whether fortunately or not, it is up to us — alone — to determine which future it will be.
Source: http://indrus.in/articles/2012/03/16/the_age_of_authoritarian_democracy_15173.html

Why China’s Political Model Is Superior



THIS week the Obama administration is playing host to Xi Jinping, China’s vice president and heir apparent. The world’s most powerful electoral democracy and its largest one-party state are meeting at a time of political transition for both. Many have characterized the competition between these two giants as a clash between democracy and authoritarianism. But this is false. America and China view their political systems in fundamentally different ways: whereas America sees democratic government as an end in itself, China sees its current form of government, or any political system for that matter, merely as a means to achieving larger national ends. 
In the history of human governance, spanning thousands of years, there have been two major experiments in democracy. The first was Athens, which lasted a century and a half; the second is the modern West. If one defines democracy as one citizen one vote, American democracy is only 92 years old. In practice it is only 47 years old, if one begins counting after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — far more ephemeral than all but a handful of China’s dynasties. Why, then, do so many boldly claim they have discovered the ideal political system for all mankind and that its success is forever assured?
 The answer lies in the source of the current democratic experiment. It began with the European Enlightenment. Two fundamental ideas were at its core: the individual is rational, and the individual is endowed with inalienable rights. These two beliefs formed the basis of a secular faith in modernity, of which the ultimate political manifestation is democracy. In its early days, democratic ideas in political governance facilitated the industrial revolution and ushered in a period of unprecedented economic prosperity and military power in the Western world. 
Yet at the very beginning, some of those who led this drive were aware of the fatal flaw embedded in this experiment and sought to contain it. The American Federalists made it clear they were establishing a republic, not a democracy, and designed myriad means to constrain the popular will. But as in any religion, faith would prove stronger than rules. The political franchise expanded, resulting in a greater number of people participating in more and more decisions. As they say in America, “California is the future.” And the future means endless referendums, paralysis and insolvency. 
In Athens, ever-increasing popular participation in politics led to rule by demagogy. And in today’s America, money is now the great enabler of demagogy. As the Nobel-winning economist A. Michael Spence has put it, America has gone from “one propertied man, one vote; to one man, one vote; to one person, one vote; trending to one dollar, one vote.” By any measure, the United States is a constitutional republic in name only. Elected representatives have no minds of their own and respond only to the whims of public opinion as they seek re-election; special interests manipulate the people into voting for ever-lower taxes and higher government spending, sometimes even supporting self-destructive wars.
The West’s current competition with China is therefore not a face-off between democracy and authoritarianism, but rather the clash of two fundamentally different political outlooks. The modern West sees democracy and human rights as the pinnacle of human development. It is a belief premised on an absolute faith.
China is on a different path. Its leaders are prepared to allow greater popular participation in political decisions if and when it is conducive to economic development and favorable to the country’s national interests, as they have done in the past 10 years. However, China’s leaders would not hesitate to curtail those freedoms if the conditions and the needs of the nation changed. The 1980s were a time of expanding popular participation in the country’s politics that helped loosen the ideological shackles of the destructive Cultural Revolution. But it went too far and led to a vast rebellion at Tiananmen Square.
That uprising was decisively put down on June 4, 1989. The Chinese nation paid a heavy price for that violent event, but the alternatives would have been far worse. The resulting stability ushered in a generation of growth and prosperity that propelled China’s economy to its position as the second largest in the world. The fundamental difference between Washington’s view and Beijing’s is whether political rights are considered God-given and therefore absolute or whether they should be seen as privileges to be negotiated based on the needs and conditions of the nation.
The West seems incapable of becoming less democratic even when its survival may depend on such a shift. In this sense, America today is similar to the old Soviet Union, which also viewed its political system as the ultimate end. History does not bode well for the American way. Indeed, faith-based ideological hubris may soon drive democracy over the cliff.
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/opinion/why-chinas-political-model-is-superior.html?_r=0 

Armenia: What Could Democracy Be? (Part I)

Some older readers may recall a statement by one of the self-described “Velvet Revolutionaries” in Eastern Europe a quarter of a century ago, to the effect that there is no such thing as proletarian democracy or bourgeois democracy; rather, he said, there is just DEMOCRACY, plain and simple. Unfortunately, my internet searches have not succeeded in locating the exact quote, but it went like that. Back then one heard many such statements. By 1990, Yerevantsi’s were fed up with high-handed bosses who called themselves communists and claimed to rule in the name of some higher form of democracy. They were fed up with one-party rule, and they wanted responsive, representative leaders.
Democracy—and, of course, Free Markets--were catchwords inscribed on the hearts of protest leaders in Yerevan. At the same time, the protest leaders insisted that the people of Soviet Armenia should not participate in the Union-wide March 17, 1991 referendum on whether to keep their confederation and reform it. Armenia abstained from the referendum, but voting took place in nine of the fifteen Soviet republics, and by the end of the process 76% of voters in those republics—an absolute majority of eligible voters in the Soviet Union--opted to retain and reform the union.

As we know, the August 18 coup, followed by Boris Yeltsin’s counter-coup, scuttled the democratic decision. When Yeltsin dismantled the Soviet Union in defiance of the expressed democratic will of the referendum, he did so in the name of democracy.

Democracy-talk served as a powerful ideological bulldozer to destroy the last remnants of socialism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. But in the years since then, surveys and studies have described a U-turn in public opinion. As a Pew Global Attitudes report released in December 2011 stated, “Enthusiasm for democracy and capitalism has waned considerably over the past 20 years, and most believe the changes that have taken place since 1991 have had a negative impact on public morality, law and order, and standards of living.”

In case after case, as we know, the inflated hopes have shriveled, and the former Captive Nations have ended up with capitalist bosses even more imperious than their Soviet predecessors--and far less constructive. Two Czech writers recently described the aftermath of their “Velvet Revolution” in terms that Armenians will recognize:
After 25 years, Czech society finds itself in crisis, yet the rest of the world seems not to know about it. Few listen to the concerns of ordinary people. In 1989, most of them believed that victory belonged to all. However, the narrative of the Velvet Revolution serves today to maintain the truth of a very narrow class of people who have made a new cult. The elites claim that there has never been a better time than now and never will be. It makes sense for them to say so. But we do not believe it. (Lukas Rychetshy and Jaroslav Fiala, “Czech’s Look Back on 1989, a Revolution Betrayed,” originally published in A2 Cultural Bi-Weekly, November 17, 2014.) If citizens of the Czech Republic or the Republic of Armenia have lost enthusiasm for democracy, this is because their thought-trainers in the West have succeeded in neatly identifying democracy with capitalism. If you succeed in convincing recently impoverished Armenians that there is just democracy plain and simple, and that it must come with capitalism, then a large number of them will conclude that it is not something worth wishing for.

The resulting demoralization works to the benefit of the rulers, since it leads those whom they rule to dial back their expectations about democracy “plain and simple.” Demoralized people are easier to rule. But what if another sort of democracy were possible?

Definitions of Democracy Differ

The word democracy is certainly more ambiguous than the Velvet Revolutionaries and their admirers in Yerevan had assumed. It does not come pre-packaged with its own definite meaning, and it does not name one and only one political setup. Consider, for example, the common conception of democracy as majority rule. We know that this definition does not stand up to the record: where, across the panorama of democratic regimes today does the majority rule? Actually, it is fortunate for minorities that majority rule has been so rare.

In Azerbaijan and Armenia twenty-five years ago, self-described democratic movements had no problem evicting Armenian and Azeri minorities from their homes in these respective countries. These examples illustrate the familiar view that democracy, conceived ONLY as rule by the majority, opens the door to the abuse of minorities, whether national, ethnic, or otherwise.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines democracy as “a system of government in which all the people of a state or polity […] have the right to take part or vote.” When we consider the cases of, say, ancient Athens, the American South, and the apartheid Republic of South Africa, we encounter the technical but crucial question: what constitutes a “person”? Native birth, skin color, and ownership of property have loomed large when it comes to citizenship and the franchise. Gender, too: the United States of America, that self-designated global custodian of democracy, had been in existence for 144 years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment to its constitution, extending voting rights to women. By contrast, Article 22 of the first Soviet Constitution had established the right of women to vote two years earlier, right after the October Revolution.

If democracy is the rule of the many, then what are we to make of the constitutional “checks and balances” in the most powerful states today? The framers of the U.S. Constitution, a document that was widely admired as a prototype of other constitutions, were profoundly opposed to majority rule, to the detriment of “the minority of the opulent,” as James Madison, “the father of the American constitution,” put it. To this day, democracy in the United States of America is not EVEN the rule of the majority.

American-style democracy has lost much of its glitter these days. Judging from the proposals to reform Armenia’s constitution along parliamentary lines, our compatriots today are more likely to look to Europe for their democratic models than to the United States.

The Appeal of Western Democracy

What Armenians admire most about liberal democracies in the West are such things as their alleged emphases on limited government, “rule of law,” civil liberties, individual rights, due process, and accountability, as well as their smoothly functioning judiciaries, the right of appeal, and so on. But let us not forget that, with few exceptions, these features of the most admired political systems and political cultures in the West have, with few exceptions, been wrenched by force from resistant capitalist rulers, thanks to pressure from below: the abolition of child labor, the right of workers to bargain collectively, the eight-hour work day, universal suffrage, consumer safety legislation, civil rights gains, safeguards for individual liberties, social security, and one thousand other achievements—none of these were the concessions of soft-hearted rulers; rather, they were the results of stubborn popular resistance to those rulers.

In country after country, thousands of people lost their lives in these struggles. When this resistance has been sustained, it has typically developed in the direction of greater self-organization by workers, farmers, former slaves, women, and civil rights advocates. But as soon as the pressure from below has ebbed, the achievements have disappeared, one after the other.

Democracy for Whom?

We have seen that there is no such thing as democracy plain and simple. But who defines democracy? It seems that this, too, is a stake of political struggle, of class struggle. We have witnessed what happens when organized resistance recedes in countries like the United States of America, as wages have slipped, the super-rich have become enormously richer, personal freedoms have eroded, and state agencies have subverted democratic rights and the last vestiges of privacy. And we have seen what has happened in countries like Armenia when workers are stripped of every last remnant of institutional power. No number of constitutional provisions or checks and balances can safeguard the achievements of liberal democracy without organized vigilance from below.

Here, at long last, we have a lesson that regular folks in Armenia can profitably learn from the West: if one day Armenia is to obtain the kind of democracy that will redound to the benefit of most of its citizens, then the least advantaged of them will have to come together, organize themselves independently, and fight for the democratic and civil rights they claim. And after that, they will have to fight to defend and extend those rights.
 There are reasons to believe that if we reach far enough, this goal is not beyond our grasp. For one thing, the numbers are there: In Armenia, households headed by wage earners, the unemployed, the underemployed, the self-employed, small farmers, and people on fixed income make up a large majority demographic. If small business owners join this alliance, then we have a potential constituency for a very broadly based democracy.

The big capitalists that have been ruling Armenia for the past twenty-five years have diminished the population, dispossessed and impoverished the majority, debased the security and status of women, depleted large swaths of the forests and water, and otherwise despoiled the country.

Unfortunately, this ruling class is not likely to give up state power unless it is forced to do so. To challenge it will require organizing along working-class lines. To this end, Armenia needs militant unions and a party of labor that is willing and able to defend the rights of minorities while fighting for a democracy of the working class majority.
Source: http://hetq.am/eng/news/59449/armenia-what-could-democracy-be.html 
What Could Democracy Be? (Part II)

Part II of III:  Democracy and the Dangers of Demoralization (Part I)
Adults in Yerevan these days seem to have doubts about the word democracy. In view of the record, this is not surprising.  But the doubt comes with its own dangers, including the danger of masking a very different sort of democracy from the sort that exists in Armenia. The doubt has been a while coming, and it was born in part by confusion.  A focus-group survey conducted fifteen years ago by a Washington-based foundation concluded that, “Democracy is a hard concept to understand in Armenia today. It means many things to many different people.” (Thomas Carson and Gevork Pogosian, “Public Attitudes toward Political Life,” International Foundation for Election Systems, August, 2000, p. 21)
Participants in the survey described democracy variously as “conducting free elections,” “protection of rights and freedoms” of citizens, and even state provision of “equal financial conditions for everyone.”  No wonder, then, that it has been so hard to understand what Armenians have meant by “democracy.” 
Democracy-Talk Has Lost Its “Wow-Power”
According to the survey report, a majority of the target population had by then come to associate democracy with “bad economic conditions, unemployment, and lower standards of living.”  After noting low voter turnout, the authors wrote that, “The main reason many do not participate in elections is the belief that their vote does not count.”   “As proof of this claim,” they wrote, “participants pointed to the unexpected (and popularly rejected) results of the 1996 and 1998 Presidential elections” in Armenia.  (Carson and Pogosian, p. 3) 
The career of the first President of the Third Republic of Armenia shadowed that of Russia’s first post-Soviet President, Boris Yeltsin, and both account for the waning fortunes of democracy-talk in Armenia. After the grotesque 1996 presidential election in Russia and the contested reelection that same year of Levon Ter-Petrosyan, democracy-talk lost its “wow-power”, just as the 1998 devaluation of the Ruble flopped a wet blanket on the Free Market fever. And so it was that the counterrevolutionary figureheads who captured power in Moscow and Yerevan in 1991 relinquished their respective offices in 1998, without much in the way of public regret. By that time, though, the damage had been done.  David Satter, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, writing in the conservative Wall Street Journal, described the consequences of the victory of Democracy in Russia: 
Between 1992 and 1994, the rise in the death rate in Russia was so dramatic that Western demographers did not believe the figures. The toll from murder, suicide, heart attacks and accidents gave Russia the death rate of a country at war; Western and Russian demographers now agree that between 1992 and 2000, the number of “surplus deaths” in Russia–deaths that cannot be explained on the basis of previous trends–was between five and six million persons. (http://www.hudson.org/research/4893-boris-yeltsin; accessed April 8, 2015)
Within roughly the same range of years the average life expectancy of a Russian male fell from 65 to 57.5 years.  Even the likes of the anti-Soviet journalist Paul Klebnikov described Yeltsin’s legacy as “one of the most corrupt regimes in history.”No wonder, then, that by the time Yeltsin left office, he had an approval rating of 2%.  (CNN, 2002)   But by that time it didn’t matter:  “democracy” had stolen the election from the Communist candidate in Russia, reinstated a pliant client in Yerevan, and advanced the interests of Berlin and Washington.
Since then, contested elections have continued apace in Yerevan as in Moscow, and more recent surveys have indicated that the disillusionment has only deepened. Instead of the promised Free Market prosperity, privatization plunged most inhabitants into abject poverty; unemployment soared, and Armenia slid into years of recession, from which the country had not yet emerged before it felt the effects of Western sanctions against Russia and falling oil prices.  Between rigged elections and economic ruination, the street-level euphoria about Democracy and Free Markets went the way of Vano Siradeghian.
Democracy as a Cloak for Class Rule
One of the most salient functions of democratic institutions these days—electoral arrangements, legislatures, constitutional set-ups, and so-forth—is their powerful role in legitimizing plutocracy.  Democratic institutions function to legitimize the rule of capitalists as a class the way divine right used to justify the king’s absolute authority in the Middle Ages.  
Indeed, as the eminent Canadian political thinker C.B. Macpherson noted in his book, The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, “The concept of a liberal democracy became possible only when theorists—first a few and then most liberal theorists—found reasons for believing that ‘one man, one vote’ would not be dangerous to property, or to the continuance of class-divided societies.”  Over the course of the last two centuries, democracy itself has been defined and redefined in keeping with the practices that have proven effective in this legitimating function.  Where “rule by the many” has not been conducive to capitalist class rule—such as workplace democracy--it has been rejected.  In such supposedly exemplary democracies as the United States of America, for example, democracy goes hand in hand with the power of Corporate America over “the people.”
Democracy, then, legitimizes established political rule.  In this sense representative electoral political systems are “merely formal”:  real power is never at stake in elections, and as we have seen time and again—from Iran to Guatemala and from Chile to Egypt—the poor can never capture political power through the ballot box alone.
The widespread recognition of this fact accounts for democracy’s diminished prestige in places like Russia and Armenia today. Among the opposition leaders in Yerevan there are ambitious men, would-be saviors, who offer nothing more than a return to the disastrous policies of the first post-Soviet administration.  Despite their best efforts and their personal fortunes, these personalities have failed to capture the imagination of the public.  When the “democratic” opposition fails to gain support against an unpopular administration, the disillusionment is complete. 
The Danger of Disillusionment
But disillusionment with “democracy” poses its own dangers. When the prescribed version of democracy fails to perform its legitimating function, ruling classes, or factions of them, have time and again adopted anti-democratic methods of control, by state institutions as well as non-state ones. Europeans witnessed this process eighty years ago in Germany, Italy and then again twenty-five years ago in places like Croatia, Kosovo, and a dozen locales in the former Warsaw Pact countries. 
More recently, in Georgia, Central Asia, Ukraine, and half a dozen other former Soviet locales, anti-democratic regimes have stepped in to save the day for capitalist rule, in the face of widespread dissatisfaction with democratic capitalist regimes.  In times of rising anger, it is child’s play for capitalist rulers to blame their own democratic institutions for the problems that their economic system created. When widespread disaffection with democracy sweeps a country, the first horse out of the gate is fascism.  And job number one for fascism is to terrorize workers—the very social force that holds out the best long-term hope for countries like Armenia.
Deepening economic crises and mounting social conflict could lead to greater and greater repression in Armenia, too.  Until Armenia has a mass-based democratic opposition that has built a sustainable institutional presence on the ground and that presents a realistic way forward, the country could face the damaging political upheaval and the pointless radicalism that has been so disastrous in Georgia, Ukraine, and elsewhere.
The debacle in the name of democracy in the former Soviet Union could not have taught a clearer lesson if it had been scripted by a Disney screenwriter:  elections in Russia and Armenia show that democracy, at least the version operating in Russia and Armenia these days, functions to legitimate the rule of oligarchs and their foreign benefactors over everyone else.  So far, elections have served as little more than a scrim hiding the dictatorship of capitalists as a class and legitimizing its monopoly of power.  If people have been convinced that democracy consists of little more than casting futile votes in fixed elections, then the stage is set for demagogues of the strongman variety to step in to save capitalist rule. 
But democracy--at least some form of it--can do more than just legitimize plutocracy.  In the next installment of this series, we will consider a couple other functions of democracy, conceived more broadly and taken more seriously. 
Source: http://hetq.am/eng/news/60030/what-could-democracy-be.html
What Could Democracy Be? (Part III)

Part III of III:  More than a Pretext for Plutocracy (Pt. 1, Pt. 2)
Democracy, or rather liberal democracy, advertises itself as a system of government in which individual rights prevail, but more accuratelyit is the name given to various political systems in which the “consent of the governed” legitimizes the political monopoly of capitalists as a class.  As it turns out, though, there is an alternative model of democracy for a system that could actually benefit the majority population of the country.  To see what this alternative model could bring, we should first take a closer look at the limited sort of democracy that prevails in places like Armenia today.
The Market Model of Democracy 
Western agencies prescribe a certain model of democracy for vulnerable countries like Armenia, namely, “the market model of democracy.”  According to this model, democratic participation is an act of separate individuals, each with his or her own pre-given preferences.  It is the job of a democratic systemmerely toregister these individual preferences and pile them together, to determine policy, legislation, and candidate choice. That is the official story.  In actuality, this version of democracy has a lot to do with WHAT KINDS of preferences it registers; but that is another discussion for another time.  The point to stress here is that for most of the population, the decisive political act is voting, which is little more than choosing this or thatpre-selected candidate.  
Like shopping,then, democracyis supposed to be another way for individuals to pursue theirprivateinterests. American-funded economics textbooksexplicitly connect democracy to shopping, though in a typically backwards and one-sided manner:  consumer choice, they say, is “economic democracy,” and shopping amounts to casting votes for and against goods and services. My decision to vote for candidate A over candidate B is all about which of them is likely to serve my private needs and the private needs of my most immediate family.  Customers are voters, and voters are customers; candidates are would-be service providers, and electoral campaigns are advertising campaigns.  
Liberal democracy characteristically appeals to self-interest narrowly conceived, rather than a collective good.  In this view, the goal of democratic politics is the optimal compromise among private interests. Back-and-forth haggling in the market of democracy produces diminished expectations, cynicism, and the priceless lesson that the rich will always be in power. The resulting low voter turnout and limited participation--an effect of the system--further strengthens that very system by constricting the range of choices and destroying hope for real change.  Thus, the market model of democracy reduces participation of a large part of the electorate, usually without compromising its legitimacy. 
And yet in Armenia as elsewhere, candidates and politicians still know that they can advance their interests by conjuring “the will of the people,” “national interests,” and various flavors of nationalism.  Collective ideals die hard, even in a country where the electorate is exhausted and disillusioned. 
The market model of democracy could only prevail in Armenia by doing violence to deeply held traditional assumptions and motifs that emphasize the broader welfare of the neighborhood, the town or village, and “the people.”  Our older compatriots, women and men who lived longest within the Soviet order, could tell us this, if we would for a moment listen to what they have to say instead of constantly denigrating their lives and ideals.
Armenians are understandably angry about bribery, ballotstuffing, back-room deals, fraud, and other “irregularities” of the election process in their country.  It is surprising that the most brazen of these “irregularities” have persisted for so many years.  Perhaps Armenia’s plutocrats have made the mistake of assuming that the coming generation will remain as docile in the face of theirdepravities as thecounterrevolutionary generation has been.  In any case, patronage,back-room haggling, and the manipulation of the electorateare natural expressions of a liberal democratic political culture in which public institutions are, at best, just service providers for customer-voters.  
“Political scientists” in the West have long acknowledged this.  In his book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (first published in 1942), for example, the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter argued that the electorate is inveterately ignorant and easily manipulated by politicians, who set the agenda. Instead of the “rule of the people,” Schumpeter argued that democracy is—and should be--a mechanism whereby leaders compete for influence the way private companies compete for business.  Although periodic elections legitimize governments and keep them accountable, the participatory role of individuals is severely limited, and the policy program is—and should be--very much in the hands of an elite leadership.Schumpeter’s views are influential among academics in the West, but for obvious reasons Western propagandists do not showcase these views.  They have convinced us to accept what they themselves do not really believe, namely, that liberal democracy is all about popular sovereignty, and that elite leadership was the sole province of non liberal-democratic states, such as the old Soviet Union.  
In the absence of a robust conception of the greater good, what remains of public office aside from payment for services rendered?  If the pursuit of private interests is job number one in politics as in daily life, thenit is not surprising that politicians, bureaucrats, and even traffic cops should view their “customers” as a source of income.This cautionary observation applies to the liberal opposition groups in Yerevan today just as much as it does to the current government that they denounce. 
Indignation is growing, though, and it is likely that in the coming years the most blatant of the“irregularities”will disappear, as it becomes clear that continued abuses threaten to undermine the political legitimacy of the regime.  But even at that, the country’s electoral politics and official political culture will remain every bit as limited, one-sided, and rigged in favor of the candidates of the plutocracy.  
If the market model of democracy is the only game in town, then aside from the “irregularities,” Armenia today already has a rather pure form of liberal democracy.  And even when it comes to corruption, it is not clear that it is worse in Yerevan today than it was in, say, theUnited States of America (that self-imagined paragon of liberal democratic rectitude)during the Gilded Age.  The pro-Western liberal democratic opposition in Yerevan really does not have much to complain about--or at least they do not have solutions for the problems that they identify, because they do not provide a genuine alternative.  
Democracy and the Common Good
As it turns out, there is an alternativeconception of democracy, one in which democratic institutions open up a public space for discussion ofcollective interests, instead of exclusively private interests.  Within this public space, or forum, open discussion and debate transform personal preferences, creating new conceptions of the greater good. 
Open debate discourages the public expression of blatantly self-serving preferences.In open debate, if a party with narrowly self-serving aims does not castits proposals in terms of public good,then it risks losing the debate.  Itsself-serving arguments will come up against counterarguments, whether self-serving or not. Before a mining company can buy votes for politicianswho will look the other way when it dumps waste water into a river, the corporation’s mouthpieces will have to come to the forum with arguments, strong or weak, to the effect that their preferred candidate will pursue the greater good.  They will have to change the minds of voters, by making the casethat their “market solution” actually will redound to the benefit of more people.  Environmentalists, local residents, and farmerswill come to the forum with a different perspective, presenting their own arguments to make the opposing case. 
The forum, then, will function very differently from the market.  Rather than merely registering pre-given preferences and then pretending to come up with a compromise, politics would change preferences through public debate.  Rather than merely casting votes for pre-selected candidates, the decisive political act would beengaging in public debate, with a view to transforming preferences of participants in the broader democratic process.
This alternative model sometimes goes by the name of deliberative democracy.  This model of democracydoes not require the participation of every citizen in politics.  People are different, and many people simply do not wish to engage in the political process.  (In this respect, political deliberation differs from the market, which requires the participation of pretty much everyone.)  Nevertheless, it is likely to bring many more into the political process than currently bother with it under the existing regime. It is certainly the case that deliberative democracy operates, to greater or lesser degrees, within many contemporary liberal democracies.  In the major examples that come to mind, though, deliberation is highly constrained and deliberative democracy is subordinate to the market model. 
There are reasons to believe that, in capitalist Armenia today, a new political culture is taking form, outside of the framework of official political institutions.  To a limited extent, as we know, deliberative democracyalready exists in Armenia, thanks in large part to the work of investigative journalists, community and environmental groups,and consumer advocacy groups, applying external pressure on the political system. Public deliberation and ground-level activism have scored victories, at least marginally, against the ruling class.  The victories and near-victories include the closure of polluting mines and rapacious logging operations, the removal of corrupt magistrates, the prosecution of cronies, successful protests here and there against evictions and the privatization of public land; strikes for payment of back wages, and campaigns against domestic violence, bus fair increases, and repression of political dissidents.  Even within the context of capitalist political systems, public debate and the activism that comes with it have forced the windows open and pointed beyond prevailing relations of domination.  
We should keep in mind, though, that what has made these victories possible was action OUTSIDE of the rigged political system.  The lesson is that if anyone but the plutocrats and their foreign benefactors are to make themselves heard, then they must apply pressure from below.  The political system itself, whether it calls itself democratic or anything else, is an obstacle to the power of the working-class majority of Armenia. 
Deliberative democracy alone, then, is not a cure-all. The decisive difference between a well-functioning deliberative democracy and the market model of democracy could and should lie in the character of state institutions themselves:  are they committed at the outset to the political power of the working class majority, rather than a handful of plutocrats? But a well-functioning deliberative democracy at the level of state institutions will not simply arrive on the scene of their own accord.  There is no way around considerations of the class character of the state:  if the state is a capitalist state, then every conflict between a corporation and the greater good will be rigged against the greater good. 
Expanded deliberative democracy could also play a pivotal role within a future context of workers’ power.  Here, unfortunately, the historical record provides tragic lessons as to what NOT to do.  Soviet leaders, starting with Stalin, failed to make the connection between democracy and accountability, and this had disastrous effects:  in the absence of democratic oversight, inefficient, brutal, and ultimately self-defeating policies proliferated.  Open debate is the closest thing there is to a safeguard against inefficient and dysfunctional legislation, leadership, and state policies—or at least against the indefinite continuation of them.  It would be hard to overstate the importance of this point. 
*        *        * 
The Republic of Armenia is a state in which big capitalists as a class hold a monopoly on political power. The prevailing market model of democracy is part of a closed and privatized political culture that legitimizes an economic and political order that has dealt one blow after another to the majority of households in Armenia.  An alternative model, deliberative democracy, could help set the stage for the emergence of a new unofficial political culture.  In fact, there is evidence that this is what is taking place in Armenia today, as a younger generation is repudiating—in practice, of not explicitly—the political, economic, and philosophical assumptions of the counterrevolutionary generation of 1991.  But until and unless thestate itself is changed fundamentally, it is folly to expect state policies and status-quo politicians of their own accord to pursue a greater good that will actually benefit the majority population of the country.
Source: http://hetq.am/eng/news/60542/what-could-democracy-be.html
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2 US Warships/Amphibious Assault & 4,000 Troops Arrive In Mediterranian

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Fri, 12/02/2016 - 12:08
Cause for concern? 

 Four-thousand US sailors and marines from the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) have arrived in the Mediterranean Sea after transiting the Suez Canal, according to a release from the US navy.

USS Wasp (LHD 1). © U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Wilkes  The Wasp re-entered the US 6th fleet after spending more than three months supporting Operation Odyssey Lightning (OOL) with precision airstrikes from 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aircraft in Sirte, Libya. Navy.mil

 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) with embarked Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) transited the Suez Canal and entered the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations, Dec. 1.

Travelling through the canal and into the Mediterranean Sea marked a significant milestone for the 4,000 Sailors and Marines of the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) as they enter the final stages of their six-month deployment.

Quotes:

"After completing our time in 5th Fleet, the Wasp ARG will now be supporting the maritime security mission in the Mediterranean Sea. This sea lane is vital to our global economy, and it remains secure because of the strong relationships between the navies that operate together here." - Commander, Wasp ARG, Capt. F. Byron Ogden

"Our security team was responsible for making sure that we had a safe transit so we can continue our mission in the Mediterranean. We're fortunate because Wasp's Security Department is augmented by the Marines, who have become a really cohesive part of our team. With both of us on the watch, we have a lot of defensive depth, which is essential during such a long transit." - Senior Chief Petty Officer Albert Spiess, Security Department leading chief petty officer

Quick Facts:

Wasp re-entered U.S. 6th Fleet after having spent over three months supporting Operation Odyssey Lightning (OOL) in Sirte, Libya, with precision airstrikes from 22nd MEU aircraft.

Amphibious transport dock USS San Antonio (LPD 17), the third ship in the Wasp ARG, is currently supporting OOL.

While in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility, Wasp, Whidbey Island, and the 22nd MEU supported theater security cooperation efforts and maritime security operations.


Both ships safely completed the journey north through "The Ditch," as Sailors often refer to the 101-mile-long Suez Canal, in 15 hours.

The canal connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, allowing vessels to avoid the approximately 7,000 kilometer trip around the Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost point of Africa.

Wasp and Whidbey Island are deployed as part of the Wasp ARG to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. Commander, Amphibious Squadron 6 commands the Wasp ARG, which consists of Wasp, Whidbey Island, and San Antonio. The 22nd MEU is currently embarked on the Wasp ARG.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

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Turkish Airstrike Kills US & German "Officers" in Aleppo, Syria?

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 18:17
German and US Military Officers? My, my, my..... This is certainly interesting.
We've even got names....

As announced by the YPG/PKK. Ooops I mean SDF ;)

Link
 "Michel Israel from the US state of California, also known as Robin Akri, and Antoun Lesjek, also known as Vazana Juan, from Germany were killed in the Turkish air raids on Kurdish positions in the Western part of Manbij city on November 26," the council announced.
Admittedly I'm really wondering if these two were truly from the US and Germany?
Didn't notice the US acknowledging this american's death? 
The council declined to reveal any further detail about the two, including their mission in Northern Syria. Both the US and German armies have deployed spies and military trainers in Northern Syria.”
Turkish Fighter Jets Kill US, German Military Officers in Syria’s Aleppo

Europe/Balkan News

A Turkish airstrike in Syria has killed two militants - one from the United States and one from Germany - from a group allied with the main Kurdish militia in the country, according to a statement from a local Syrian military council on Thursday.The two were killed near the northern Syrian city of Minbij.
???????????????

From Earlier Today:

Lavrov Denies Russian & Syrian Role in Turkish Soldier Deaths
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Lavrov Denies Russian & Syrian Role in Turkish Soldier Deaths

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 16:37
Contrary to the spin Turkey did not blame the Syrian Arab Army
Link

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Moscow and Damascus were not behind an air strike in northern Syria that killed four Turkish soldiers last week.

“Neither Russia nor Syria, its air force, had anything to do with this,” Lavrov told a news conference in the southern Turkish resort of Alanya, alongside his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Our president’s, our views on Assad are known,” said Cavusoglu. “We know that Assad is responsible for the deaths of 600,000 people. We may at times have different views on Assad with Russia, that is natural but in general on cease-fire, on humanitarian aid and a political solution — we are in agreement with Russia.”

Cavusoglu said Turkey wanted to “deepen” cooperation with Russia while Lavrov said the two nations agreed that the “normalization (of ties) must be achieved fast.”Digital Journal

Moscow and Damascus were not behind an air strike in Syria last week that killed four Turkish soldiers, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday, refuting Turkish claims.

"Neither Russia nor Syria, its air force, had anything to do with this," Lavrov told a news conference in the southern Turkish resort of Alanya, alongside his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

"Our (Russian and Turkish) representatives had discussed this issue right after the incident on various levels," he said.Baku – APA. The airstrikes that wounded Turkish soldiers in Syria were carried out by neither the Russian armed forces or the Syrian armed forces, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.Lavrov, who is paying a visit to Turkey, told a press conference following the meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.-Southfront: No Confirmation Of Syrian Strikes on Turkish Mil- One Year Anniversary Date Russian Jet Shootdown
-Putin and Erdogan Talk Syria Etc.- Today-Putin and Erdogan: Two Talks in Two Days- Oh to be a fly on the wall....Contained in this post: This Is The End Of Syria (?) Turkey and Russia are still communicating.
The latest sees Turkey and Russia Moving Forward With Relations Normalization
- Russian diplomat says Moscow, Ankara taking steps to restore tiesALANYA, December 1. /TASS/. Moscow and Ankara have been taking specific steps in order to restore full-fledged relations, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov told reporters on Thursday."Not only have we been discussing possible measures with our Turkish counterparts, but we also have been taking specific steps on the path to restoring full-fledged relations," he noted. "Today’s meeting is one of these steps."

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is holding a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in the Turkish city of Alanya. The two ministers will take part in a session of the Joint Group for Strategic Planning.
And there you have it. No SAA  jets hit the Turkish soldiers. No Russian jets hit the Turkish soldiers
anonymous commenter has raised the prospect, again, of a third party. Similar to what occured with the Belgians:
AnonymousDecember 1, 2016 at 8:55 AMhttp://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-belgium-diplomacy-idUSKCN12L0S1

Belgium scenario?ReplyDeleteReplies
  1. PennyDecember 1, 2016 at 9:01 AMInteresting... so your suggesting that the strike was done by a third party- with this scenario setting the precedent?Delete

anonymous quoted Lavrov who is clearly alluding to someone..

AnonymousDecember 1, 2016 at 10:00 AM"We have coordination aimed at avoiding unintentional incidents with the US-led coalition, and Turkey is part of it," Lavrov noted. "So I believe it is necessary to verify through these channels who carried out flights."
Reads to me as if Lavrov is saying ask the US led coalition....

As of now I'm most suspicious about the US. For reasons already mentioned. Rescue has also spoken of  the Israelis as a possibility.
It seems most sensible that Turkey and Russia both  know who did the deed but, they aren't saying.

 
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This Is The End Of Syria (?)

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 19:54
I hope it is not the end of Syria. However, the writer from Alternet is clearly not optimistic. The title accompanies the alternet article- The question mark is mine.

Vijay Prashad

The Souk - Old Aleppo
"The Syrian Arab Army is now within sight of taking back all of Aleppo. For several years now, the eastern part of Aleppo – one of Syria’s oldest and most beautiful cities – has been in the hands of the armed opposition. The western part has been in the hands of the Syrian government. Now with the Syrian army hastily taking the Hanano as well as Jabal Badro and Baadeen districts, the corridor used by the opposition fighters to resupply them from the Syrian countryside (via Iraq) and from across the Turkish border is now substantially closed. Apart from small pockets of hardened resistance, the bulk of Aleppo will soon be in the hands of the government. Several factors came together to make the assault on the eastern part of Aleppo possible. It was not the presence of Hezbollah and the Iraqi and Iranian militias nor was it the presence of Russian air support that made the difference for the Syrian army. These assets had been available to the Syrian government for several years now. There had been no appetite to use them previously. Attacks had been made on eastern Aleppo, but nothing of the scale as has been seen now – nor with the ferocity and speed with which the Syrian army moves to close the corridor out of eastern Aleppo. Civilian casualties are certainly high, and so too have been the attacks on key infrastructure in this part of the city. The Syrian army is now attacking not to put pressure on the armed opposition, but to defeat it.
The thrust to take all of Aleppo came for other – mainly three - reasons, says a well-informed contact in the Syrian armed forces.  These three reasons are (1) the withdrawal of Turkish support for the armed opposition, (2) the collapse of the Western-backed rebels in southern Syria and  (3) the Iraqi-Western push against ISIS in Mosul.
 Let's talk about withdrawal of support by Turkey. As reported here at the blog there was an agreement between Russia and Turkey!  

Pretty certain I mentioned this on more then one occasion. Here's one post on the topic: Russia and Turkey Plot The Endgame in Aleppo

You may also want to look at the article written by Ollie Richardson from StalkerZone.org
subject of the post before this one:Erdogan Declares War on Syria or Just More Sensationalist Spin from Alt Media Analysts
 
 " Russia’s agreement with Turkey involving the latter’s entrance in the Syrian theatre did not provisionally include any definite red lines. Thus, these lines will be drawn in the sand where ever and when ever it is deemed necessary"
The Souk in Old Aleppo But  for now we'll go back to the Alternet piece

(1)Turkey’s withdrawal: The main reason for the Syrian army’s thrust, says my contact, is that the Turkish government has withdrawn its material support for the armed opposition inside Aleppo. Essential supplies from the Gulf Arab states and from Turkey had come across the border crossing at Azaz. (That’s done) Previous comments from Rescue who informed us all that this had occurred:
RescueNovember 29, 2016 at 10:59 AMYes. The Turks removed all their terrorist proxies from the SW Aleppo front & moved them to N. Aleppo. Later they have moved many more from Idlib to their occupation zone. They have also prevented the rebels inside & out from receiving more arms. Encouraged rebel civil wars ect. This has weakened the rebels, & is the cause of the SAA imminent liberation of Aleppo.
RescueNovember 29, 2016 at 5:09 PMThe removal of Turkish backed terrorists from
the Aleppo frontline was public news. All analysts are now claiming this is the reason for Aleppos liberation. Pro-rebel accounts are furious with Turkey, right now.
The Citadel The alternet author cites some incidents they believe influenced Turkey’s decision to withdraw support- I don’t agree with the way they are presented though they aren’t entirely off base. - Three biggies IMO would be the Reyhanli bombing. The PKK restarting their war with the Turkish state.(The Gezi park protests being part of the PKK kick off)  And finally the coup.

You can read  the authors contention at the linked article

2) Collapse of southern rebels- Note that this author never mentions Israel as a supplier of terrorists and arms- so we're getting a limited hangout even here!

“Collapse of the Southern Front. The West – particularly the United States – has long recognized that the armed opposition are closely linked with one form or another of radical extremism.  Lack of confidence from their main backers – the West – revived tensions within the Front. One of its main constituents, the Syrian Revolutionary Front, faced a leadership crisis. The old al-Qaeda group – Jabhat al-Nusra – had renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham to attempt to rebrand itself as a nationalist formation. Its leadership – namely Saleh al-Hamwi – called for a new leadership in the Syrian Revolutionary Front, to depose the more nationalist minded leaders and substitute them for Islamists. This was the final blow to the attempt to create a ‘moderate’ force against the Damascus government”In my opinion, rather then this being about extremism in the 'moderates'- Which, the US was cool with, as was Israel. In fact it suited them just fine!  More sensibly the problem was all the bad PR associated with the US/Israel’s thugs. That was the final straw- No one was believing the moderate rebel meme. No one at all. The battle for your mind and my mind had failed.

 3) Battle for Mosul (Iraq): Finally, the Iraqi government – fully backed (questionable???) by the West – launched a major attack on ISIS-controlled Mosul in Iraq. This was on 21 October 2016. A week later, the Syrian government opened up its own offensive in Aleppo. My Syrian interlocutor who is in the armed forces told me that there were two reasons for the push in November. The first is that the government knew that the attack on eastern Aleppo would bring heavy casualties. They calculated that the Iraqi-Western push into Mosul would also produce a large number of casualties. The West would, therefore, have to be more forgiving of the Syrian advance given that there is no possibility of taking a city without great hardship and death. The French desire to have UN Security Council action to prevent the final push by the Syrian Army will amount to little. The second reason is that once the West helps the Iraqis to take Mosul, they will make a dash for Raqqa. The Syrian army wants to take Aleppo and then turn its energy towards Raqqa. Agreed that this the Syrian army wants and has to take Raqqa.

And this is where it all goes back to al Bab!
*All Eyes On al-Bab: Putin Confirms- No Russian Jets Struck Turkish Soldiers Turkey and Russia are still communicating.Syria is still working on reconciling.And there is more to read at alternet, if you choose to, as for me... I'm saying goodnight!From earlier today- thanks again Ally :)
Erdogan Declares War on Syria or Just More Sensationalist Spin from Alt Media Analysts
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Erdogan Declares War on Syria or Just More Sensationalist Spin from Alt Media Analysts

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Wed, 11/30/2016 - 18:53
I'm hattipin' Ally for this beauty!! I could have wrote this post myself, thankfully, someone else did the work for me.  Thank- You Ollie Richardson, whoever you are?

Unfortunately I can't put any of it here- But I encourage you to read it.
 Ollie Richardson absolutely takes down Zero Hedge and the Duran for their utter sensationalist nonsense yesterday.

Charles and I had a discussion about so called alt media- No real difference from main stream media.
PennyNovember 30, 2016 at 5:51 AMCharles: "Are you implying all of these news sources are working with the west to demonize Erdogan and destabilize Turkey?"

A good many of them are. And the rest are repeaters. Simple repeaters. Like the Duran. I read their hype yesterday.. NO context. Who was Erdogan's audience?

I ended that comment to Charles with this statement

 However simplistic one dimensional cartoon character like presentations "cult of personality' are always used as a tool of distraction. Which is why I don't get into it.
UPDATED: Mr Ollie Richardson stopped by and kindly provided me with the text for his article- You can read the complete article in the comment section below- I still recommend you go to his article directly for the images included within which include:

 -Zero Hedge's shameless sensational headline, shown for all to see

-And as Ollie Richardson said.. The Duran couldn't make up it's mind on the level of hyperbole it was wanting to engage in- Having two sensationalistic headlines up. Both Duran headlines shown in linked piece.

A brief excerpt as follows:
"In the grand scheme of things, this incident certainly had importance, but nothing like the shooting down of a Russian Su-24 on the Syrian-Turkish border. This resulted in the placement of the S-400 SAM system at Russia’s Hmeymim airbase in Latakia – a move that essentially ended US hegemony in the Middle East.

A more recent example of an event that could be interpreted as a “declaration of war” is the bombing of Damascus by Israeli warplanes on 29th November, 2016. Four missiles were launched from outside Syrian territory, likely at Hezbollah targets. But alas – there were no sensationalist headlines on display regarding this incident from both the mainstream and the “alternative” media. It was just simply another day in Syria.

But Erdogan’s statement about “removing Assad” is apparently different. A few initial questions can be asked in order to examine this combination of words:

1) Did Turkey attack any Syrian Army positions during Operation Euphrates Shield?

The answer here is no. The focus of the operation was the displacement of the Kurds, under the guise of fighting ISIS, and asserting Turkish influence in northern Syria. The recent incident involving the Syrian airforce bombing Turkish proxies outside al-Bab has been logically explained as the “reformatting of the Rules of Engagement”. Russia’s agreement with Turkey involving the latter’s entrance in the Syrian theatre did not provisionally include any definite red lines. Thus, these lines will be drawn in the sand where ever and when ever it is deemed necessary. For Russia, al-Bab is clearly a red line, and Turkey now knows not to cross it


2) Did Russia attack Turkey when it initially crossed the border during Operation Euphrates Shield?

Again, the answer here is no. In fact, Russia was silent about the US air support accompanying the Turkish tanks crossing the border near Jarablus. A statement was made by the Syrian President condemning the incursion, but the Russian side was relatively quiet – no condemnation was forthcoming

3) How did the Russian side react to Erdogan’s statement?

The Russian side is quoted as saying, “We tried to understand whether it was quoted as it had been said. It was not a direct quote, but a retelling of what had been said ‘off-the-record’. We rely on the public statements”. I.e. Russia knows how the PR game works, and will treat “statements” with “statements”. Or in other words, nothing to see here, move on!

So, linking together the chain of events – the actions and reactions – it becomes very difficult to describe Erdogan’s 29th November statement as anything other than political rhetoric"
Again read the article and check the images: "Erdogan declared war on Syria" Or just more sensationalist social media spin
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All Eyes On al-Bab: Putin Confirms- No Russian Jets Struck Turkish Soldiers

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 16:56
 Not a totally terrible article from the Independent
"The attacks, less than a mile from the Turkish frontier, are in reaction to what is unfolding 30 miles to the north. Three forces which have been engaged in a bitter struggle against each other in Syria’s civil war are closing in on a city which is a strategic prize for an offensive on Raqqa.

Rebel Sunni Arab fighters of the FSA ( Free Syrian Army) with Turkish military backing; A Kudish led alliance with American advisors and air support and the regime’s army with Russian backing are closing in on al-Bab in Aleppo Province.Al-Bab, or The Gate, is the last remaining significant stronghold left for Isis before Raqqa.What happens in al-Bab will not only have a major bearing on the future of Raqqa, but also events in Aleppo and the aftermath of the operations there as the Assad regime carries out a push to take the rebel held east of the city" Or events in Aleppo will have an effect on al-Bab? As most of us know Aleppo for the most part has been taken back by SAA and allies.

Syrian soldiers fly their flag near Sakhur district, which had been in rebel hands for four years (Reuters)
Syrian forces storm southeast Aleppo as UN warns of rebel capitulation
UN envoy’s concern for terrorists is oh so touching

The UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said on Tuesday that he could not say how long the rebel resistance would last.

"Clearly, I cannot deny - this is a military acceleration and I can't tell you how long eastern Aleppo will last," he told the European Parliament. "There is a constant increase of movement on the military side."







Igor Konashenkov, a major general and spokesman for the Russian defence ministry, said on Monday: "During the last 24 hours, thanks to very well prepared and careful actions, Syrian soldiers were able to radically change the situation,"

"Practically half of the territory occupied by rebels in recent years in the eastern part of Aleppo has been completely liberated."
Back to the Independent:

-Al-Bab supplied the largest contingent of fighters during the battle for Aleppo in 2012

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has publicly declared that he wants the rebels his government is supporting with a 10,000 strong Turkish force, “Operation Euphrates Shield”, to move to the city. Gaining possession would not only provide a natural defence point for the 5,000 square kilometre “security zone” Ankara wants to establish, but act as a check on expansion of regime forces if and when they take Aleppo.“Opposition fighters supported by Turkish armour and warplanes captured the villages of Umm Shukyaf, Umm Adshah and Anifiyah at the weekend, while at the same time launching attacks against the American backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in nearby Sab Wiran and Sheikh Nassir. The results of the attacks were inconclusive and the SDF, led supposedly, led DEFINITELY, by the Kurdish militia YPG with (little to no) Arab groups in the ranks, claimed to have destroyed a Turkish tank. Meanwhile the SDF YPG continued its offensive, backed by US air strikes, against Isis, capturing the villages of Tal al-Jijan and Tal Unayb, west of al-Bab after prolonged and intense clashes.”

Regime forces, while continuing its offensive to capture the eastern part of Aleppo from rebels, advanced towards al-Bab, taking the villages of Khirbat Duwayr, Amad Taltinah, Shaalah and Tal Al-Khashkhashat. Hizbullah and the pro-Damascus Kurdish group, Kafr as Saghir Martyrs, took part in the fighting.Turkish backed rebels maintain that the SDF provided fire support for the regime forces – more evidence, they insisted, to back their charge of collusion between Bashar al-Assad and the Kurds.
Turkey’s rebels clarify this statement, I’ll highlight it.

The complex and violent tapestry on the ground holds the increasing risk of outside players being sucked further into the conflict. President Erdogan called Vladimir Putin at the weekend after air strikes by Assad regime warplanes, had killed four Turkish soldiers and injured nine others near al-Bab. The two leaders, say Turkish officials, are in regular contact with each other over Syria, a process started by the rapprochement which the confrontation following the shooting down of a Russian plane by the Turks last year.
I stand firm that it was US planes that struck the Turkish soldiers.
Russia denies targeting Turkish troops in Al-Bab, Syria

"Russia has confirmed directly, by Mr. [President Vladimir] Putin, that the jets which conducted that attack did not belong to them," Numan Kurtulmus said after a Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.Here's the clarification of the above statement- highlighted
There seems little prospect, however, of the accusations and recriminations on the ground coming to an end. Motassim Khalid Abdullah, an officer with a Free Syrian Army (FSA) acting alongside Turkish troops in Syria spoke of his bitterness about the activities of the SDF. “They are Kurdish, YPG (a Kurdish militia) controlled. They say they are fighting Daesh (Isis) but they are also fighting us and it is for definite that they are helping Bashar when it suits them” he declared. “We have proof that they were using their artillery when the regime advanced on al-Bab at Amad Taltinah and Shaalah. We are not saying they want Bashar to get al-Bab. They have already said they want al-Bab themselves. They want to create a Kurdistan out of Syria, Iraq and Turkey. The Turks know this and that is the reason they are in Syria. The Americans must also know this, but they keep on supporting the Kurds. It is some kind of a game the Americans are playing.”US officials announced recently that the SDF would withdraw from Manbij, another town recently captured from Isis, leaving it to the FSA and Arab tribal militias. The Kurds, however, still maintain a presence there and have accelerated operations to gain territory nearby.Kurdish militias never left, I've already covered this: Here
"My understanding is they were departing and they were doing that today," Dorrian said after being pressed by Anadolu Agency to explain the apparent contradiction.

"But as far as whether every single one of them is gone, I would be very uncomfortable saying every single one," he added”
American backed Kurdish militias  not gone from Manbij!
This lays the ground for another scenario. The outside powers would lose interest – a very real possibility in the case of America under a Trump presidency – or rein back having reached their strategic objectives. The groups they had fed and watered will meanwhile carry on their vicious internecine strife, making the prospect of peace in Syria even more remote.
From Earlier Today:
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While the Cat's Away? Israel Plots Largest Settlement In SYRIAN Occupied Golan

pennyforyourthoughts2 - Tue, 11/29/2016 - 12:57
Still waiting for an answer to the question posed in today's earlier post? : Egyptian Troops in Syria? " These Allegations Exist Only In the Imagination Of Those Who Promote Them"
"The priority is that we support the national armies to impose control over the territory, deal with the extremists, and impose the necessary stability in Libya, Syria and Iraq," he said.

"When you refer to the National Army in Syria, do you mean the Syrian army?" the presenter asked, to which Sisi replied: "Yes." Can someone explain how it is that quoted statement turned into Egyptian boots on the ground in Syria?
 Israel Plots Largest Settlement Expansion in Occupied Syrian Golan since 1980


Al-Marsad: Arab Human Rights Center in the Golan announced, in a press release, that it has written to the European Union, European governments and the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council regarding Israel’s plans to expand Katrzin settlement and establish ‘Hermon National Park’ in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

The Israeli Finance Ministry approved plans to build 1,600 additional settlement units in Katzrin in October. About 8,000 settlers live in Katzrin atop the destroyed Syrian villages of Qasrin, Shqef and Sanawber. It is the largest settlement in the occupied Syrian Golan.

“This will be the largest expansion of an illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Syrian Golan since the 1980s,” a letter from Al-Marsad to the Delegation of the European Union to Israel reads.


Al-Marsad also calls attention to a second Israeli plan for the occupied Syrian Golan, called ‘Hermon National Park.’ The park depends on appropriating 25,000 acres (more than 82,000 dunams) of agricultural land used by residents of Majd al-Shams and Ein Qynia. Majd al-Shams stands to be particularly devastated by the plan: the park would surround the village from the north and west, thus prohibiting any future expansion of it and essentially besieging it. According to Al-Marsad, about 800 families living in Majd al-Shams are in urgent need of housing, but cannot secure an Israeli construction permit to build.Israel very big on refugee creation. Always.
In hopes of disrupting the plans, Al-Marsad calls on:
The international community to strongly condemn plans for the construction of 1,600 settlement units in the illegal settlement of Katzrin and the planned expropriation of Syrian land under the guise of the ‘Hermon National Park’ plan; and obtain binding commitments from Israel that it will stop these activities. The organization also “invites foreign governments and international organizations to send fact-finding missions to the Occupied Syrian Golan to witness, firsthand, the deteriorating human rights situation.” Israel forcibly transferred 130,000 Syrians from the Golan and destroyed 300 of its towns and villages in 1967 to clear the way for its ongoing illegal occupation.
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