Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trump: America for the Americans!

As the patriotic pageantry of Inauguration Day gave way to the demonstrations of defiance Saturday, our new America came into view. We are two nations now, two peoples.

Though bracing, President Trump’s inaugural address was rooted in cold truths, as he dispensed with the customary idealism of inaugurals that are forgotten within a fortnight of the president being sworn in.

Trump’s inaugural was Jacksonian.

He was speaking to and for the forgotten Americans whose hopes he embodies, pledging to be their champion against those who abandon them in pursuit of higher, grander, nobler causes. Declared Trump:

“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed.”[Full text]

Is this not true? American wages have stagnated as scores of thousands of factories were shut down or shipped abroad. Five of the six wealthiest counties in the U.S. today, measured by median household income, are the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

New President, New World

“Don’t Make Any Sudden Moves” is the advice offered to the new president by Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations, which has not traditionally been known as a beer hall of populist beliefs.

Haass meant the president should bring his National Security Council together to anticipate the consequences before tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem or shooting down a missile being tested by Kim Jong Un.

In arguing against rash action, Haass is correct.

Where the CFR and the establishment are wrong, and Donald Trump is right, however, is in recognizing the new world we have entered.

The old order is passing away. Treaties and alliances dating from the Cold War are ceasing to be relevant and cannot long be sustained.

Economic patriotism and ethnonationalism, personified by Trump, seem everywhere ascendant. Transnationalism is yielding to tribalism.

The greater danger for President Trump is that the movement he led will be abandoned, its hopes dashed, and the agenda that Trump rejected and routed will be reimposed by a Republican Establishment and its collaborators in politics and the press.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I Have Come to the Conclusion the Country Does Not Need a CIA

President-elect Donald Trump is accusing CIA Director John Brennan of being the source of “fake news” about him, essentially calling our new supreme leader a Russian stooge and accusing him of taking part in a sexual kink in full view of Russian intelligence cameras in a Moscow hotel room several years ago.

I have no idea whether or not Trump, during a visit to Moscow in 2010, hired prostitutes to urinate on a Four Seasons Hotel Presidential Suite mattress because the Obamas had once slept there. I don’t care. I also have no idea if the Russian government “hacked” the Democratic National Committee and stole Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails. I have not seen any CIA, FBI, or NSA evidence, so I have come to the personal conclusion that the hacking story is overblown. All countries spy on each other. It’s a fact of life. The U.S. spies on just about everybody in the world. So I have a problem with the righteous indignation that I’m seeing from so many of my friends and former CIA colleagues about the Russians.

With that said, the Russia hacking story distracts from real and important issues surrounding the CIA and its future in U.S. policy.

One of those real issues is that the CIA has consistently lied to the American people for many, many years. Why would Trump conclude that Brennan was spouting fake news? Well, in the past 15 years, the CIA said that it was not torturing its prisoners. That was a lie. The CIA said that it had not created an archipelago of secret prisons where it was holding hundreds of people, including innocent civilians. That was a lie. The CIA said that it had not created and used a dungeon torture center called the “Salt Pit” in Afghanistan. That was a lie. The CIA said that it was not sending prisoners to third world countries to undergo torture with a wink and a nod from the CIA’s leadership. That was a lie. The CIA said that it had not hacked into computers belonging to investigators of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence while they were writing the definitive report on the CIA torture program. That was a lie.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

The Scheme to Take Down Trump

The U.S. intelligence community’s unprecedented assault on an incoming U.S. president – now including spreading salacious rumors – raises questions about how long Donald Trump can hold the White House, says Daniel Lazare.

Is a military coup in the works? Or are U.S. intelligence agencies laying the political groundwork for forcing Donald Trump from the presidency because they can’t abide his rejection of a new cold war with Russia? Not long ago, even asking such questions would have marked one as the sort of paranoid nut who believes that lizard people run the government. But no longer.

Thanks to the now-notorious 35-page dossier concerning Donald Trump’s alleged sexual improprieties in a Moscow luxury hotel, it’s clear that strange maneuverings are underway in Washington and that no one is quite sure how they will end.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper added to the mystery Wednesday evening by releasing a 200-word statement to the effect that he was shocked, shocked, that the dossier had found its way into the press. Such leaks, the statement said, “are extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security.”

Clapper added: “that this document is not a US Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC. The IC has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions. However, part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.”

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Will the CIA Retaliate Against Trump?

In a truly remarkable bit of honesty and candor regarding the U.S. national-security establishment, new Senate minority leader Charles Schumer has accused President-elect Trump of “being really dumb.”

Was Schumer referring to Trump’s ideology, philosophy, or knowledge about economics or foreign policy?

None of the above. According to an article in The Hill, he told Rachel Maddow on her show that Trump was dumb for taking on the CIA and questioning its conclusions regarding Russia.

“Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you…. He’s being really dumb to do this.”

Maddow then asked Schumer what he thought the intelligence community might do to Trump to get back at him.

Schumer’s response was fascinating and revealing. He responded, “I don’t know.”

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Iran Nuclear Deal – Alive or Dead?

Though every Republican in Congress voted against the Iran nuclear deal, "Tearing it up … is not going to happen," says Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Hopefully, the chairman speaks for the president-elect.

During the campaign, Donald Trump indicated as much, saying that, though the U.S. got jobbed in the negotiations – "We have a horrible contract, but we do have a contract" – he might not walk away.

To Trump, a deal’s a deal, even a bad one. And we did get taken.

In 2007 and 2011, all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies assured us, "with high confidence," that Iran did not have an atomic bomb program.

Yet our folks forked over $50 billion for an Iranian show and tell to prove they were not doing what our 17 intelligence agencies told us, again and again, they were not doing.

Why did we disbelieve our own intelligence, and buy into the "Chicken Little" chatter about Iran being "only months away from a bomb"?

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Friday, January 06, 2017

Purge the CIA

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified at a hearing on “Russian interference” in the election that there’s a difference between “skepticism” of the intelligence community’s assessment and “disparagement” of said community. While stopping short of asking for a “safe space,” this admitted liar used the opportunity to cry on the shoulders of Donald Trump’s assembled enemies: “We’re not perfect,” he burbled, but hey everybody makes mistakes.

Clapper’s remarks were clearly aimed at Trump, who has tweeted his contempt for the effort by the CIA and allied agencies to conjure up a Russian conspiracy to put him in the White House. Citing Julian Assange’s statement to Sean Hannity that a teenager could’ve hacked the Podesta emails, Trump’s tweets evoked the rage of the Washington Establishment – how dare he question those who failed to prevent 9/11, told us Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction,” and failed to foresee the rise of ISIS, which they (through President Obama) characterized as “the JV team”!

The hearing quickly degenerated into a “Hate Assange” session, with McCain asking Clapper "if any credibility should attached to this individual” given WikiLeaks’ “record of leaking materials that put U.S. lives in direct danger.”

"Not in my view," Clapper replied.

Only in Washington would this exchange not be followed by howls of jeering laughter. It was Clapper, after all, who lied under oath to Sen. Ron Wyden and the Senate when asked about the extent of spying on US citizens engaged in by the National Security Agency, and later was forced to apologize for it.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

‘Pro-Israel’ Hawks Are No Good for the U.S. or Israel

Bloomberg’s editorial condemning the U.S. abstention on UNSCR 2334 is comically overwrought:

President Barack Obama’s ill-advised decision to order the U.S. to abstain on a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements breaks with past U.S. policy, undermines a vital ally and sets back the cause of Middle East peace.

There are many weak arguments against the recent Security Council resolution, but the claim that it “sets back the cause of Middle East peace” stands out for its sheer bad faith. There is a broad international consensus that settlement-building in the occupied territories is both illegal and a barrier to a negotiated resolution of the conflict. No one who is genuinely interested in securing a negotiated resolution of the conflict thinks that continued settlement construction makes a peace agreement more likely. One of the main reasons for continued construction is to establish de facto control over most of the territory that has been occupied while leaving less and less land for the Palestinians so that it becomes impossible for them to have their own state. If that continues, it sets Israel up to rule over a stateless, subject people in perpetuity, and that will be a disaster for all involved. If making an attempt to oppose that dreadful outcome constitutes “betrayal,” I shudder to think what loyalty is supposed to look like.

Calling out Israel for its ongoing illegal behavior becomes unavoidable when there is no progress in resolving the conflict, and the current Israeli government has made it very clear that there won’t be any progress. Criticizing Israel for behavior that has contributed to its increasing isolation in the world is not an unfriendly or treacherous act, and it ought to serve as a wake-up call to warn Israel away from a ruinous path. The fact that many so-called “pro-Israel” Americans are denouncing the decision not to veto the resolution as a “betrayal” reminds us just how bad conventional “pro-Israel” advocates are for both the U.S. and Israel.

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Monday, January 02, 2017

2016: The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Endless wars. Toxic politics. Violence. Hunger. Police shootings. Mass shootings. Economic downturns. Political circuses. Senseless tragedies. Loss. Heartache. Intolerance. Prejudice. Hatred. Apathy. Meanness. Cruelty. Poverty. Inhumanity. Greed.

Here’s just a small sampling of what we’ve suffered through in 2016.

After three years of increasingly toxic politics, the ruling oligarchy won and “we the people” lost. The FBI’s investigation of Hillary’s emails ended with a whimper, rather than a bang. FBI director James Comey declared Clinton’s use of a private email server to be careless rather than criminal. Bernie Sanders sparked a movement only to turn into a cheerleader for Hillary Clinton. Clinton won the popular vote but lost the election. Donald Trump won the White House while the American people lost any hope of ending the corporate elite’s grip on the government.

The government declared war on so-called “fake news” while continuing to peddle its own brand of propaganda. President Obama quietly re-upped the National Defense Authorization Act, including a provision that establishes a government agency to purportedly counter propaganda and disinformation.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

John Kerry Pins Israel’s Netanyahu to the Mat on International TV

It’s hard for me to find that I’m on John Kerry’s side on ANYTHING.

But I tuned in at about 11:45 AM EST on 12-28-16 to witness US Secretary of State John Kerry pinning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the proverbial wrestling mat on international TV.

It was like going through a portal into the twilight zone.

There is nowhere for Netanyahu and his murderous Likud crowd to go after Kerry’s vehement, impassioned, and even sometimes eloquent, explication of the current Israeli-Palestinian situation.

My conclusion is that Kerry’s address was the end result of years of pent-up frustration, and righteous anger, from being figuratively car-jacked around at gun point by the bully, master-liar, and genocidal sociopath Netanyahu. Kerry and Obama must be FED UP with Netanyahu’s disgusting, arrogant, and condescending attitude.

One new to this subject may ask: How can Netanyahu bully the United States?  See the end of this article for the answer, especially if you have been confined to getting information about the Mideast from the Big Mainstream Media.

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