Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why is CIA Director Weighing in With Policy Advice on Iran?

Are we once again witnessing the politicization of intelligence of the kind that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq? Only applied to Iran this time?

There are a number of indications that such a process may indeed be underway. The latest was disclosed in the wake of Monday’s certification by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Iran is indeed complying with the letter of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal.

The New York Times published part of the backstory shortly after the certification was formally delivered to Congress. Here’s the most interesting paragraph (although the whole article needs to be read in order to get a better sense of how just how close the United States is to a real crisis both with its allies and Iran):

At an hourlong meeting last Wednesday, all of the president’s major security advisers recommended he preserve the Iran deal for now. Among those who spoke out were Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser; and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to an official who described internal discussions on the condition of anonymity. The official said Mr. Trump had spent 55 minutes of the meeting telling them he did not want to.

I found it passing strange that Trump used all but an hour to keep saying that he didn’t want to approve the certification. After all, such a conversation would become mighty trying for all parties (except the principal), something similar to persuading a really stubborn four-year-old he had to go to the dentist because he would otherwise lose his teeth. And it was very difficult to imagine that Trump was, by himself, making substantive or even political arguments as to why he shouldn’t certify that Iran was complying with the JCPOA in the absence of any real evidence that it wasn’t.

Read the entire article

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Real Crimes of Russiagate

For a year, the big question of Russiagate has boiled down to this: Did Donald Trump’s campaign collude with the Russians in hacking the DNC?

And until last week, the answer was “no.”

As ex-CIA director Mike Morell said in March, “On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians … there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all. … There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark.”

Well, last week, it appeared there had been a fire in Trump Tower. On June 9, 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with Russians — in anticipation of promised dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

While not a crime, this was a blunder. For Donald Jr. had long insisted there had been no collusion with the Russians. Caught in flagrante, he went full Pinocchio for four days.

And as the details of that June 9 meeting spilled out, Trump defenders were left with egg on their faces, while anti-Trump media were able to keep the spotlight laser-focused on where they want it — Russiagate.

Read the entire article

Friday, July 14, 2017

Russia Baiters and Putin Haters

“Is Russia an enemy of the United States?” NBC’s Kasie Hunt demanded of Ted Cruz. Replied the runner-up for the GOP nomination, “Russia is a significant adversary. Putin is a KGB thug.”

To Hillary Clinton running mate Tim Kaine, the revelation that Donald Trump Jr., entertained an offer from the Russians for dirt on Clinton could be considered “treason.”

Treason is giving aid and comfort to an enemy in a time of war.

Are we really at war with Russia? Is Russia really our enemy?

“Why Russia is a Hostile Power” is the title of today’s editorial in The Washington Post that seeks to explain why Middle America should embrace the Russophobia of our capital city:

“Vladimir Putin adheres to a set of values that are antithetical to bedrock American values. He favors spheres of influence over self-determination; corruption over transparency; and repression over democracy.”

Read the entire article

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Israeli Persecution of Mordechai Vanunu. Israel’s Unspoken Nuclear Weapons Program

Vanunu is a heroic whistleblower, viciously persecuted by Israel for revealing its nuclear armed and dangerous.

In 1986, he was kidnapped, beaten, drugged, secretly tried, and politically imprisoned for 18 years, mostly in harsh solitary confinement – for revealing what everyone has a right to know.

Since release in 2004, he’s been relentlessly hounded and monitored, imprisoned without justification, his fundamental freedoms denied, re-imprisoned several times.

Israel won’t give him a moment’s peace even though he has no updated information on its nuclear program since the mid-1980s. He’s got no new secrets to reveal.

He’s denied the right to renounce his Israeli citizenship, leave the country, and be free from its ruthless persecution. He’s barred from having unauthorized contacts with journalists, including Israeli ones.

He’s denied the right to do most everything without official permission. Israel holds him hostage to its viciousness.

Read the entire article

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Syrian Test of Trump-Putin Accord

The immediate prospect for significant improvement in U.S.-Russia relations now depends on something tangible: Will the forces that sabotaged previous ceasefire agreements in Syria succeed in doing so again, all the better to keep alive the “regime change” dreams of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists? 

 Or will President Trump succeed where President Obama failed by bringing the U.S. military and intelligence bureaucracies into line behind a cease-fire rather than allowing insubordination to win out? 

 These are truly life-or-death questions for the Syrian people and could have profound repercussions across Europe, which has been destabilized by the flood of refugees fleeing the horrific violence in the six-year proxy war that has ripped Syria apart. 

 But you would have little inkling of this important priority from the large page-one headlines Saturday morning in the U.S. mainstream media, which continued its long obsession with the more ephemeral question of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would confess to the sin of “interference” in the 2016 U.S. election and promise to repent. 

 Thus, the headlines: “Trump, Putin talk election interference” (Washington Post) and “Trump asks Putin About Meddling During Election” (New York Times). There was also the expected harrumphing from commentators on CNN and MSNBC when Putin dared to deny that Russia had interfered. 

Read the entire article

Thursday, July 06, 2017

NYT Finally Retracts Russia-gate Canard

The New York Times has finally admitted that one of the favorite Russia-gate canards – that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred on the assessment of Russian hacking of Democratic emails – is false.

On Thursday, the Times appended a correction to a June 25 article that had repeated the false claim, which has been used by Democrats and the mainstream media for months to brush aside any doubts about the foundation of the Russia-gate scandal and portray President Trump as delusional for doubting what all 17 intelligence agencies supposedly knew to be true.

In the Times’ White House Memo of June 25, correspondent Maggie Haberman mocked Trump for “still refus[ing] to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.”

However, on Thursday, the Times – while leaving most of Haberman’s ridicule of Trump in place – noted in a correction that the relevant intelligence “assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

The Times’ grudging correction was vindication for some Russia-gate skeptics who had questioned the claim of a full-scale intelligence assessment, which would usually take the form of a National Intelligence Estimate (or NIE), a product that seeks out the views of the entire Intelligence Community and includes dissents.

Read the entire article

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

IS AMERICA STILL A NATION?

In the first line of the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson speaks of “one people.” The Constitution, agreed upon by the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia in 1789, begins, “We the people …”

And who were these “people”?

In Federalist No. 2, John Jay writes of them as “one united people … descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs. …”

If such are the elements of nationhood and peoplehood, can we still speak of Americans as one nation and one people?

What do YOU think? Do we have more or less freedom now that Trump is in office? Sound off in the WND Poll!

We no longer have the same ancestors. They are of every color and from every country. We do not speak one language, but rather English, Spanish and a host of others. We long ago ceased to profess the same religion. We are evangelical Christians, mainstream Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, agnostics and atheists.

Read the entire article

Friday, June 30, 2017

Russia-gate Is No Watergate or Iran-Contra

Russia-gate, the sprawling investigation into whether Russia meddled in last year’s U.S. election, is often compared to the two big political scandals of the latter half of the Twentieth Century, Watergate and Iran-Contra. Sometimes you even hear that Russia-gate is “bigger than Watergate.”

Yet what is perhaps most remarkable about those two Twentieth Century scandals is how little Official Washington really understands them – and how these earlier scandals significantly contrast, rather than compare, with what is unfolding now.

Although the historical record is still incomplete on Watergate and Iran-Contra, the available evidence indicates that both scandals originated in schemes by Republicans to draw foreign leaders into plots to undermine sitting Democratic presidents and thus pave the way for the elections of Richard Nixon in 1968 and Ronald Reagan in 1980.

As for Russia-gate, even if you accept that the Russian government hacked into Democratic emails and publicized them via WikiLeaks, there is still no evidence that Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with the Kremlin to do so. By contrast, in the origins of Watergate and Iran-Contra, it appears the Nixon and Reagan campaigns, respectively, were the instigators of schemes to enlist foreign governments in blocking a Vietnam peace deal in 1968 and negotiations to free 52 American hostages in Iran in 1980.

Though Watergate is associated directly with the 1972 campaign – when Nixon’s team of burglars was caught inside the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate building – Nixon’s formation of that team, known as the Plumbers, was driven by his fear that he could be exposed for sabotaging President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968 in order to secure the White House that year.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

THE GENIUS FAMINE: The Death of Religion Will Lead to the Death of Genius and the Death of Civilization

British code-breaker Alan Turing was the father of computer science. It is difficult to imagine what life would be like in 2017 if Turing hadn’t lived and hadn’t been employed by a university to research. But, as the movie The Imitation Game poignantly showed, Turing had few friends, was chronically shy, lacked social skills and was often shunned by his colleagues. Turing was a genius. But there’d be very few people like him working at universities today. This is a serious problem and, according to a new academic book recently published in the UK, the decline of religion is part of the reason for it.

So argue anthropologist Edward Dutton (Oulu University, Finland) and psychiatrist Bruce Charlton (Newcastle University, UK) in their fascinating 2016 tome, The Genius Famine. According to the two British academics, geniuses are a distinct psychological type.

They have extremely high intelligence, meaning they excel at quickly solving cognitive problems. This strongly predicts socioeconomic, educational and even social success. But geniuses combine this with relatively low conscientiousness and low empathy. They also tend to be uninterested in worldly things–money, sex, power–focused intensely on the intellectual pursuit of solving whatever seemingly unsolvable problem has come to obsess them. New ideas always break established rules and offend vested interests, but the genius couldn’t care less, claim Dutton and Charlton. This is why it is the genius who is able to make original, fantastic breakthroughs.

These kinds of people are fundamental to the growth and survival of civilization, the authors maintain. They are behind all major innovations. But, frighteningly, levels of genius have been in decline during the twentieth century. Measured from 1455 to 2004, macro-inventions–those that really changed the course of history–peaked in the nineteenth century and are now in on the slide. So, what has happened? Why is genius dying-out?

Read the entire article

Monday, June 26, 2017

Who Tried to Kill Putin – Five Times?

Oliver Stone’s series of interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin – conducted between July 2015 and February 2017 – has garnered a lot of attention, albeit in most cases not for the right reasons. In a much-noted appearance of Stephen Colbert’s comedy show, the liberal host attacked Stone for not confronting the Russian leader for his alleged crimes – which simply shows that Colbert didn’t bother seeing the interviews, because Stone most certainly did question Putin about this and other related matters. A review in Salon follows a similar pattern: the reviewer apparently did view at least some parts of the interviews, but predictably focused on the most superficial material: Putin loves Judo, he’s not a feminist, and won’t be marching in any Gay Pride events. Shocking!

In the present atmosphere of Russophobic hysteria, no honest account of what is happening in Russia or what Putin is really all about is likely to be taken at face value. What’s astonishing, however, is that this four-part documentary was even made at all– and shown on Showtime, where it is currently playing. Less surprising is the fact that the interviews contain several news-making revelations that the “mainstream” media has so far largely ignored.

It gets interesting right from the beginning when Stone delves into Putin’s early career. As a KGB officer stationed in East Germany, then the German Democratic Republic, he describes the GDR as entirely lacking the “spirit of innovation,” a “society [that] was frozen in the 1950s.” Hardly what one would expect from the caricature of a Soviet apparatchik Western profiles of Putin routinely portray. And also right from the beginning there is a tension between Stone, with his often archetypal liberal-left views, and Putin, whose perspective – if it has any American equivalent – might be called paleoconservative.

When Stone tries to identify Putin with Mikhail Gobachev, the Soviet liberal-reformist leader – “he has a resemblance to you in that he came up through that system. Very humble beginnings” – Putin rejects this outright with laconic disdain: “We all have something in common because we’re human beings.” Gorby, a favorite of American liberals, is seen by Putin as someone who “didn’t know what [he] wanted or know how to achieve what was required.”

Read the entire article

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Saudi Arabia, Israel to Establish Economic Relations for First Time: The Times

Saudi Arabia and the Israeli regime are in clandestine talks to establish official economic relations for the first time since the entity was created on the Palestinian territories some 69 years ago, a report says.

The Times, citing unnamed Arab and American sources, said in a report on Saturday that forming economic connections between to two, which would be gradual and step by step, could begin by allowing Israeli companies to open shops in the Arab kingdom, or granting El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. permission to fly over Saudi airspace.

“However, any such progress would bolster the alliance between Iran’s two most implacable enemies and change the dynamics of the many conflicts destabilizing the Middle East,” the report speculated.

So far Saudi officials have had some open meetings with senior officials in Israel, trying to gradually pave the way for establishing ties with the occupying regime.

Back in May last year, Israeli newspaper Arutz Sheva reported that Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies, namely Jordan and Egypt, had been sending messages to Israel through various emissaries, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. They had asked Tel Aviv to resume Middle East negotiations under new terms, which included changes to the Saudi initiative.

Read the entire article

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Phyllis Schlafly’s Dark Prophecy—Demographics Are Destiny, Even in GA-6. The Only Answer: An Immigration Moratorium

Establishment GOP candidate Karen Handel reportedly could lose to Democrat Jon Ossoff in Tuesday’s critical GA-6 special election, although Republicans have held this direct since the 1970s [Karen Handel Is Keeping Donald Trump At Arm’s Length In Georgia’s 6th District, by Henry J Gomez, Buzzfeed, June 17, 2017]. This is partly because she is (of course) useless on immigration, as Paul Nachman noted last night.  But the greater truth: regardless of any “Trump Effect,” demographics is destiny in American politics, even in GA-6. And Republicans can’t say they weren’t warned.

The late Phyllis Schlafly pointed out that mass immigration would ultimately doom conservatism:

Because immigrants and their adult children overwhelmingly favor big government, there is no issue more important for conservatives than reducing the future number of legal immigrants allowed into the country each year. Otherwise, legal immigration will continue to add millions of liberal voters every decade, making it extremely unlikely that conservatives will be successful on all the issues they care about.

[How Mass (Legal) Immigration Dooms a Conservative Republican Party: A Comprehensive Review of Surveys in Immigrant Communities Showing Their Support for Big Government, Eagle Forum, February 4, 2014]

Read the entire article

Friday, June 16, 2017

Pat Buchanan: The Long History of Leftist Hatred

James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, who aspired to end his life as a mass murderer of Republican Congressmen, was a Donald Trump hater and a Bernie Sanders backer.

Like many before him, Hodgkinson was a malevolent man of the hating and hard left.

His planned atrocity failed because two Capitol Hill cops were at that Alexandria baseball field, providing security for House Whip Steve Scalise. Had those cops not been there, a massacre would have ensued with many more dead than the gunman.

Recall. There were no armed citizens at that Tucson grocery in 2011, when six were murdered and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was gravely wounded along with a dozen others. The nutcase doing the shooting was only wrestled to the ground when he dropped a clip trying to reload.

The Alexandria attack brings back memories of long ago.

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