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Thread: USA under presidency of a know-nothing, neo-fascist, racist, sexist, mobbed-up narcissist!!

  1. #901

    Default The polarization of the two party system and oncoming collapse of US Polity

    THE NUNES MEMO: SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION FROM REALITY

    Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from @realDonaldTrump / Twitter and The White House.
    Late last Friday, President Donald Trump blocked the release of a classified Democratic memo supposedly rebutting the claims of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) that the FBI deceived a secret court while investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
    The White House claimed that Trump’s decision was based on the national security concerns of his Department of Justice.
    But a week earlier, Trump ignored similar qualms from DOJ when he allowed the release of the Nunes memo.
    It is possible a redacted version of the Democratic document may ultimately be released. But since even Republican policymakers and conservatives did not find the Nunes document very persuasive, it is likely that most of the public has lost interest by now.
    Yet how the memo was framed, how it generated media attention, and the questions it raises remain relevant.
    Not so long ago, government openness and accountability were issues that drew bipartisan support. Progressive and conservative groups that championed these issues often worked together.
    But in late January, a new Twitter campaign, ostensibly about open government, was launched by staunch political partisans who urged Congress and the president to #ReleaseTheMemo.
    The campaign had authentic roots among Trump supporters — but recent investigations point to Russian bots helping amplify the Twitter hashtag, and drawing mainstream media attention.
    #ReleaseTheMemo demanded public disclosure of an analysis of how the FBI convinced a secret court to authorize the surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Nunes, who chairs the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence (HPSCI), framed the issue as a fight for transparency. House Republicans on HPSCI voted to release the classified memo, and Trump agreed.

    The Nunes memo assailed the FBI for convincing a judge to permit the surveillance of Page without stating that the bureau relied on evidence paid for by the Clinton campaign.
    Only the memo itself does not corroborate that accusation, and Nunes reportedly now concedes that the FBI — in a footnote — did tell the court that it based the justification for the surveillance in part on findings from a “political” source. The memo’s release did not provoke much praise, even from the right. Several conservative groups and media outlets critiqued Nunes’s effort. National Review’s headline, “The Memo Doesn’t Make Its Case,” was one of the kindest.
    Nevertheless, Nunes says he will now be taking his investigation to potential abuses at the State Department.
    Interestingly, the people who for years have formed bipartisan alliances to make government more open and accountable were largely missing from this fight.
    Why? They contend that Nunes’s effort was not the crusade he made it out to be. Indeed, it’s defined by what it is not.
    1) Not about transparency
    “Nunes is using the tools and the rhetoric of transparency not for broad accountability but to advance a very particular agenda of his own,” Steven Aftergood told WhoWhatWhy. Aftergood, who directs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, is worried that Nunes’s attempt to cloak his effort under the mantle of openness “could taint transparency initiatives by making them all seem trivially partisan.”
    Aftergood and others in the transparency community make the case that the memo itself was not actually a government document. Instead, it was based on a “perception” of the underlying classified documents by Republicans with an agenda.
    What makes this ploy all the more, uh, transparent — advocates charge — is that House Republicans on HPSCI voted to release only a Republican memo based on classified materials, and not a rebuttal memo from committee Democrats. (After the Nunes memo was released, and days later, HPSCI unanimously voted on February 5 to make public the Democratic counter-memo that Trump on Friday refused to release.)
    That’s not how Congress operates, says Daniel Schuman, Policy Director for DemandProgress and a former congressional staffer, referring to the established process for congressional committees to conduct hearings and oversight in a way that respects the views of all members. “You don’t have a random staffer go off and write a memo, and then drop it on the minority 20 minutes before the vote, and say, ‘Okay, this is the thing we’re reporting out and you don’t get to say anything about it.’”
    2) Not about vindication
    Trump claimed in a tweet that the Nunes memo “totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in [Russia] probe,” but it seems he’s pretty lonely in that assertion. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who co-wrote the memo and actually read the classified documents, tweeted that it “does not undermine the Mueller investigation in any way.”
    House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) made the same point, stating that the memo “does not impugn the Mueller investigation or the deputy attorney general.”

    3) Not about congressional oversight
    In the same press briefing where Ryan walked away from Trump’s claim, he strongly asserted that the Nunes memo was about “legitimate oversight” of the executive branch intelligence agencies.
    But Schuman contends that is absolutely not the case.
    “If Nunes was serious and not just politically posturing, then he would have brought this up during the 702 fight,” he said. Critics worry that Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has been used by intelligence agencies spying on foreign communications to also “incidentally” collect and search information on Americans without first obtaining a warrant. Section 702 was reauthorized by Congress last month.
    “If he thought that there was a real problem with the way FISA works, he wouldn’t have worked to expand the powers of the government to engage in mass surveillance, including the surveillance of Americans without a warrant,” Schuman charged. If Nunes truly had these qualms, he said, “the time to bring it up is during the reauthorization. But he waited right until it was done, and then he picked this fight.”
    And Aftergood points out that even if Nunes had concerns only about the Russia inquiry, a staff memo was not the way to do oversight.
    “You have hearings, you do an investigation, you get officials on the record, and you publish a real report that summarizes the evidence and the conclusions,” he said. “The 3 1/2 page staff memo is not that report. At best, it’s a justification for why a real investigation should be done. But it cannot possibly exhaust the subject that it addressed.”
    4) Not the finest hour for either Democrats or Republicans on HPSCI
    Certainly, Republicans on the committee have received the strongest criticism. DemandProgress and the Project on Government Oversight, both known for their willingness to work with conservative groups on government openness and accountability, called on Ryan to fire every Republican member of HPSCI save one — Gowdy — from the committee. Their reason? The other committee Republicans, including Nunes, had voted to release the memo without seeing the underlying classified information on which it was based.
    In their letter, the groups assert that the Republicans’ vote “constitutes such a severe lack of judgment” and demonstrates “an inability to fulfill their constitutional oversight obligations” or “to maintain public trust in their findings and recommendations” that they should be replaced.
    Schuman also had harsh words for the committee’s ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (CA), who, he charged, also failed the oversight test. Nunes and Schiff had, “only days before, joined hands” to defeat bipartisan efforts in the House to amend the 702 law to provide US citizens with more surveillance protections.
    Rep. Adam Schiff (D CA). Photo credit: US House / Wikimedia

    5) Not Communication, It’s Manipulation
    Aftergood worries that Nunes’s rhetoric may have exacerbated a situation in which it is becoming more difficult to reach consensus on the meaning of words like “transparency.” There are people, many of them Trump backers, who support the Nunes memo as revealing “hidden truths,” he said, while others “including myself” believe it a “manipulative exercise.”
    “It is proving very difficult for people with those diverging views to communicate with one another. It’s as if we are entering separate incompatible political universes,” Aftergood laments. “That’s a dangerous place to be. It makes it harder to work in a cooperative, democratic fashion to solve the many problems that we have.”
    The Nunes flap also reinforces the failings of HPSCI, something 34 progressive and conservative groups addressed in a detailed letter calling for reforms to the committee. The letter was released in September 2016.
    The letter called for a change in the way members of the committee are selected, to ensure that a diversity of views from both parties would be included, and that members of other crucial committees — including Homeland Security, Armed Services, and Judiciary — be included. Now, the choice of members rests entirely with the majority and minority leaders of the House, Schuman said. This selection process, he insisted, creates a committee whose members are known for their “fealty to the intelligence community.”
    Another reform would have assigned a staffer to each HPSCI committee member with the security clearance to read classified documents. Without that staff support, panel members likely don’t get the briefings they need to conduct meaningful oversight.
    The letter also called for a more transparent process to help inform the public about HPSCI’s oversight, permitting HPSCI to release a classified document unless two-thirds of the 22-member panel voted against it.
    Those reforms have not been adopted. Indeed, partisan rancor on HPSCI is so intense that Republicans are erecting a wall to separate Democratic and Republican staffers.
    6) An Unhealthy Elevation of the FBI
    Schuman and others worry that far too many progressives are becoming enamored of the FBI and the Department of Justice. This trend began far before Trump, Schuman says, as many Americans looked to law enforcement and spy agencies to protect the US from terrorism post-9/11. “If you look at this as a civil liberties issue, then the left and right are working against the middle. A lot of Americans have been happy to trust law enforcement,” Schuman said.
    But what’s new and disquieting, he added, are the changing attitudes of many on the progressive end of the spectrum.
    “The left’s weird elevation of the FBI as the people who are going to protect us is unusual,” Schuman said. “If they think about communities of color and religious minorities and recent history they would know that’s not the case. The FBI is a profoundly anti-progressive entity in many respects.”
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  2. #902

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren Johnson View Post
    Tracy,

    Would you mind specifying how you think the Russians interred in the elections? This is not a trolling question btw? I just need some clarity from you.
    Lauren, we don't know all the details yet, but I've tried to collect what I can in the Red Don thread...
    https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums...d#.WoLxbZ3wayc
    ...and to a lesser extent the Fake News for the Win thread.
    https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums...n#.WoLyo53wayc

    But briefly: accepting laundered Russian money into GOP campaign coffers; data mining, fake news stories in US social media, disseminating hacked emails, attempting to break into local voting computer systems, meeting with Trump campaign officials. That's what we know so far.


    “The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has requested that a data analytics company called Cambridge Analytica turn over internal documents as part of its investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Cambridge Analytica specializes in what’s called “psychographic” profiling, meaning they use data collected online to create personality profiles for voters. They then take that information and target individuals with specifically tailored content”
    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-polit...r-flynn-russia

    “Donald Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions from a Ukrainian-born oligarch who is the business partner of two of Russian president Vladimir Putin's favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank.”
    https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/c...-gop-campaigns

    “Perhaps it's a coincidence that so much of the information in question was republished on a website called HelloFLA by a Florida Republican and former congressional staffer named Aaron Nevins, who was connected to Trump associate and longtime political operative Roger Stone. It could be completely random that among the core group of Mueller antagonists, those calling the probe a "coup d'état" and demanding purges of members of the "deep state" are Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who proposed that Mueller's funding be cut off, and the aforementioned Rep. Francis Rooney, who's been all over TV talking about purging the FBI. Indeed, as journalist Marcy Wheeler pointed out a while back, one of the ringleaders of the movement to discredit the Department of Justice and Robert Mueller, Rep. DeSantis, directly benefited from Guccifer 2.0’s leak to Nevins after the latter published five documents regarding the DCCC’s recruitment of DeSantis’ Democratic opponent, George Pappas. According to The Wall Street Journal, Guccifer 2.0 even sent a link with a HelloFLA article directly to Roger Stone, who told reporters he didn’t forward the hacked material to anyone -- the answer to a question nobody asked. If Mueller's team is looking into the digital operation and Roger Stone's interactions with Guccifer 2.0, as one would expect them to do, then these shenanigans in Florida are also coming into view. That may explain why this little circle of Sunshine State GOP congressmen are so anxious to shut him down.”
    https://www.salon.com/2017/12/28/why...g-bob-mueller/

  3. #903

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    Peter, I'm not on any "team." I'm only interested in the truth. Let's not forget that Trump was a Democrat for many years. Mike Flynn still is a registered Democrat. Personally, I'm an ex-Republican turned independent. Following up on your post about Devin Nunes -

    http://www.newsweek.com/nunes-memo-t...age-fbi-802710


    BY JEFF STEIN ON 2/11/18 AT 9:10 AM

    Watching the Devin Nunes memo blow up like a trick cigar a few weeks ago, Andrew Janz called himself “probably the happiest man in the country.”
    An assistant district attorney vying to oust Nunes from his California congressional seat, Janz said last week that his campaign war chest had more than tripled since Nunes announced he was releasing highly edited Top Secret information to discredit the FBI and Justice Department investigations into “Russiagate.” That’s not saying much: The Democrat’s $240,000 purse would hardly cover the cost of robocalls in today’s congressional elections, where winning candidates spend an average of $1.3 million—and Nunes already has three times that figure. And while there were some signs the incumbent’s grip was slipping—a January poll commissioned by Janz showed Nunes leading a reelection bid by only five percent against a generic Democratic opponent—his highly edited release of the documents was proving popular among Republicans.
    Still, Janz told me, “I’m feeling great, man. You've seen the memo. I think there's going to be plenty for folks on the Democratic side, and even some folks on the Senate Republican side, to poke holes in.”

    Which is what they did. “The Nunes Memo fizzled and failed,” said former Nixon White House counsel-turned Watergate witness John Dean in a representative view. “The only thing it established is that Nunes is a nut job, and he has released anew the putrid stench of neo-McCarthyism.”
    “Nut job” has clung to Nunes’s reputation as long as he’s been chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI, in Washington-speak). Or at least among Democrats (and some Republicans) who have decried Nunes’s transformation of a once bipartisan national security panel into a GOP platform to attack Democrats.
    Janz thinks he knows why: Nunes’s mentorship by Michael Flynn, the now disgraced former Trump national security adviser. “I know that they had a pretty close relationship,” he said. Nunes served on the executive committee of the Trump transition team with Flynn, he noted, which was headed by Vice President Mike Pence, “and it seems to me like he never left. He's still on that team.“
    A descendent of Portuguese Azorean immigrants, Nunes grew up on a Central Valley, California farm and concentrated on water issues when he came to Congress in 2003. But his fundraising prowess for fellow Republicans endeared him to Representative Paul Ryan and House Speaker John Boehner, who in 2013 anointedhim chairman of the intelligence panel.
    Like many hawks back then, Nunes was in awe of Flynn, who had won praise for revolutionizing the hunt for terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This guy was one of the best intelligence officers in several generations,” Nunes told me in a December 23, 2016 interview. “I don't know if you've ever met him, but Flynn is extremely smart. He really is top notch.”
    Nunes was speaking fives months after Flynn had startled many former military officers by leading “Lock her up” chants against Hillary Clinton at the Republican National Convention. It was also two years after the Obama White House has forced Flynn’s resignation as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. “What happened,” Nunes told me, “is...he went out and said a lot of things that Obama didn't like…”
    But that’s not close to the full story on Flynn, whose battlefield talents didn’t transfer well to running the DIA from 2012 to 2014. Not only were his executive skills lacking, according to many observers, including former Army general and Secretary of State Colin Powell, he quickly developed a reputation for indulging in conspiracy theories—or “Flynn facts,” his aides derisively called them.
    But Nunes embraced them. During Flynn’s tenure, the neophyte intelligence overseer and the general came to share a number of beliefs. One was that the CIA was suppressing the release of documents captured from Osama Bin Laden’s lair that supposedly showed a closer relationship between Al-Qaeda and Iran than the Obama White House, then conducting backchannel talks with Tehran on halting its nuclear weapons program, wanted known. Nunes, according to a then-close observer, demanded the CIA open up its files for him and Flynn one Saturday. “He was going to sneak up on them” on a weekend, the source snorted, speaking on terms of anonymity to discuss the sensitive incident. Nunes denied that excursion, but said he did go down to Central Command headquarters in Tampa “to meet with the team that was doing exploitation of the documents in 2013.”

    He and Flynn seemed to share an obsession with Iran. Nunes concurred with Flynn’s insistence that Tehran was involved with the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate and annex in Benghazi, and oversaw a two-year investigation into the incident, focusing on what Republicans had portrayed as] the Obama administration’s inept responses. But the committee’s final report, signed by its then-chairman Mike Rogers, “debunk[ed] a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies” and concluded that “there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria,” according to the Associated Press’s account. The report also found no evidence tying Benghazi to Iran. Nunes called it a “whitewash.”
    The congressman’s “nutty” reputation was enhanced in 2013 when he insisted on moving a joint U.S.-U.K intelligence base from England to the Azores, his ancestral home. The $1.2 billion price tag and national security concerns about relocating to such an obscure spot in the mid-Atlantic doomed the effort, according to an investigation by the National Review. But in an early preview of charges that he “cherry-picked” items for his Russiagate memo to undermine the FBI and Justice Department, the Pentagon accused Nunes’s staff of manipulating the numbers on the Azores gambit.
    No evidence has surfaced that then-DIA Director Flynn, a native of Rhode Island, home to thousands of Azorean immigrants, had anything to do with that affair. But he and Nunes paired up to champion another issue, one that they were right about: whistleblower accusations that U.S. Central Command leaders were manipulating intelligence reports to burnish the Obama administration’s record against the Islamic State group. Flynn, according to The Weekly Standard, was annoying the White House with, “assessments that Al-Qaeda had doubled in strength over The preceding two years.” Nunes was helping lead a Republican-led joint congressional task force into the issue. At one point, he flew down to CENTCOM headquarters demanding to see documents, according to reports, but “once in Tampa...was denied access to the analysts and their findings, creating further schisms between the parties.” The task force ultimately backed up the whistleblower complaints. So did the Pentagon’s inspector general.

    Nunes and Flynn evidently maintained close ties through the election and beyond, even as Flynn’s world was beginning to unravel with questions about his payments from Kremlin mouthpiece Russia Today, secret talks with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and a confidential lobbying contract with a law firm tied to Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “I talk to Flynn virtually everyday, if not multiple times a day,” Nunes told me in the late December 2016 interview. “Seldom there's a day that goes by that I don't talk to Flynn, and especially right after the campaign, directly.”


    Despite the troubling revelations about Flynn’s Turkish dealings, Nunes accompanied him to a January 18 breakfast at the Trump Hotel in Washington featuring Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to a report in the Istanbul newspaper Daily Sabah. Questioned by U.S. reporters. Nunes’s spokesman Jack Langer called the meeting “a large breakfast event” attended by ”20-30 ambassadors to the U.S. and about 10 other foreign dignitaries and officials.” But the Daily Sabah, which is considered close to the Erdogan regime, contradicted that statement, saying Cavusoglu was the “only foreign leader at the breakfast,” which was closed to the press and featured “topics on the U.S.-Turkish agenda.” Langer told the fact-checking site Snopes that “if [he did speak to Cavusoglu], it would’ve been among all the other ambassadors and officials at the event. There was no separate, private meeting.”

    Flynn’s ties to the Erdogan regime may have had a darker side. About six weeks before the elections, Flynn and two business associates attended a secret New York meeting with Cavusoglu and Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law and the country’s energy minister. Also present: former CIA Director and then-Trump senior adviser James Woolsey. The topic: Plans to kidnap the prominent exiled anti-Erdogan cleric Fethullah Gulen in Pennsylvania and return him to Turkey. The meeting stayed secret until late March 2017, when The Wall Street Journal exposed it. In that account, Woolsey said he had cautioned Flynn and the others not to carry out any illegal operations and reported the discussion to a mutual friend of Vice President Joe Biden. Muller opened an investigation into Flynn’s Turkey ties last November, according to multiple reports.

    Asked whether Flynn ever discussed the plot with Nunes, his spokesman Langer responded only, "And with this question, Newsweek has completed its transformation into The National Enquirer."

    Nunes, meanwhile, was busy defending Flynn and Trump on another matter: the national security adviser’s secret conversations with Kislyak. Had the president-elect approved those talks, and did they include promises to reverse the Obama administration’s punishment of the Kremlin for its interference in the 2016 elections? In an unusually partisan step, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who was supposed to be leading an investigation into Russian subversion and Team Trump, anointed himself one of the administration’s leading defenders. Trump and and Flynn, he opined, were “so busy” that they wouldn’t have had time to discuss talking to Kislyak.

    A Washington Post headline called Nunes’s explanation “strange” and printed it in full:
    “No, look, I think this whole issue with General Flynn—General Flynn is an American war hero, one of the—put together one of the greatest military machines in our history providing the intelligence to basically eliminate al-Qaeda from Iraq. And he was the national security adviser designee, he was taking multiple calls a day from ambassadors, from foreign leaders and look, I know this because the foreign leaders were contacting me trying to get in touch with the transition team and folks that wanted to meet with President Trump or — President-elect Trump and Vice President-elect Pence.”
    Nunes could not rescue Flynn from disgrace—or later, special counsel Robert Mueller, with whom the former national security adviser negotiated a guilty plea on a charge of lying to the FBI.

    But Nunes’s efforts to distract attention from Russiagate didn’t cease with Flynn’s departure from the administration a year ago. And even his now-famous “midnight run” to the White House weeks later indirectly involved Flynn: According to multiple reports, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, whom Flynn put in charge of intelligence matters on the White House national security council despite his scant, low level experience at the DIA, helped provide Nunes with classified documents that the congressman claimed to show—falsely—as it turned out, that Obama had “wiretapped Trump Tower.” That stunt prompted complaints from good-government groups that Nunes had improperly obtained and publicized classified information.

    When the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation, Nunes stepped down from his panel’s slow-moving investigation into Kremlin election interference. Temporarily. And on the sidelines, critics noted, Nunes was continuing his campaign to deflect questions about Team Trump’s contacts with the Russians, which climaxed with the memo to discredit the Justice Department and FBI probes. That was just Nunes’s first step, Axios reported. The chairman is preparing as many as five more reports on politically motivated “wrongdoing” at those agencies, as well as the State Department.
    Longtime observers of congressional oversight called such activism on behalf of an administration unprecedented. Partisanship has waxed and waned over the years at HPSCI, depending on who held the gavel, said former senior CIA official Larry Pfeiffer, but “we saw nothing compared with what we are seeing with Chairman Nunes, he told Newsweek. “I don’t envy our successors at Langley. We didn’t call HPSCI, ‘The Island of Misfit Toys’ for nothing!”
    Nunes, said David Barrett, an authority on Congress and the spy agencies, has added to the partisan rancor on the Hill instead of isolating the committee from the political wars, which it needs to gain the trust of the CIA and other intelligence agencies to admit their mistakes. When the intelligence committees become political, he told The New York Times, oversight of the intelligence agencies becomes “just about impossible.”

    “None has ever been so partisan as the current HPSCI chair,” Loch Johnson, a leading intelligence historian at the University of Georgia, told Newsweek. “Worst yet, Mr. Nunes has become Capitol Hill's cheerleader-in-chief for the Trump administration on anything dealing with intelligence.”

    But is there a point when such partisanship moves beyond cheerleading into obstruction of justice? Nothing prevents the feds from looking into it, says Edward J. Loya, a former prosecutor in the Justice Department’s public integrity section. “The DOJ and FBI can initiate an obstruction of justice charge against anyone, including Congressman Nunes,” he told Newsweek. But “it would be highly inappropriate for special counsel Mueller to conduct an obstruction investigation about whether Nunes is obstructing Mueller’s own investigation. The more appropriate course,” said Loya, now in private practice with Epstein Becker Green in Washington, “would be for the DOJ to appoint a different special counsel to review this matter.”
    Nunes would no doubt denounce such a move as “political.” And he might get some traction with the charge, considering that more than seven out of 10 Republicans polled after his memo’s release said they believed that “members of the FBI and Department of Justice are working to delegitimize Trump through politically motivated investigations.”

    Back in the Central Valley, Janz says he’s ready to combat Nunes on Russiagate if he gets the nomination. After all, he says, some of the Trump administration’s own officials have been saying that the Russians are already meddling in this fall’s elections. He plans to pound Nunes on why he’s not focusing on that instead of undermining federal probes into Kremlin subversion.
    “The best we can do is speak factually about what is going on...” he said. “All Americans should be alarmed. People in this district are asking why Nunes is going to such great lengths to cover for Trump. There must be some motivation behind what he is doing.”



  4. #904

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    from a neo-Cold War outlook. Russia ultimately is not the enemy. Trump and neofascists like him in our own nation are much more dangerous than any boogey men in Russia. Russia has its mafioso and it oligarchs and its undemocratic authoritarian features - and so increasingly does the US.
    This is vital to understand - we've been seeing an increasingly close alliance between the mobsters and oligarchs in Russia (aka Putin's regime) with the fascists in the GOP. Much of the alt-left (Oliver Stone etc) IS NOT GETTING THIS.

    How the GOP Became the Party of Putin
    Republicans have sold their souls to Russia. And Trump isn’t the only reason why.
    https://www.politico.com/magazine/st...f-putin-215387
    By JAMES KIRCHICK July 18, 2017

    “Would somebody please help me out here: I’m confused,” read the email to me from a conservative Republican activist and donor. “The Russians are alleged to have interfered in the 2016 election by hacking into Dem party servers that were inadequately protected, some being kept in Hillary’s basement and finding emails that were actually written by members of the Clinton campaign and releasing those emails so that they could be read by the American people who what, didn’t have the right to read these emails? And this is bad? Shouldn’t we be thanking the Russians for making the election more transparent?”

    Put aside the factual inaccuracies in this missive (it was not Hillary Clinton’s controversial private server the Russians are alleged to have hacked, despite Donald Trump’s explicit pleading with them to do so, but rather those of the Democratic National Committee and her campaign chairman, John Podesta). Here, laid bare, are the impulses of a large swathe of today’s Republican Party. In any other era, our political leaders would be aghast at the rank opportunism, moral flippancy and borderline treasonous instincts on display.


    Instead, we get this from the president of the United States, explaining away his son’s encounter with Russian operatives who were advertised as working on behalf of the Kremlin: “Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!” And from elected Republicans, we get mostly silence—or embarrassing excuses.

    Never mind that Trump Jr. initially said the meeting was about adoption, not a Russian offer of “ultra sensitive” dirt on Hillary Clinton. We’ve gone from the Trump team saying they never even met with Russians to the president himself now essentially saying: So what if we did?

    None of this should surprise anyone who paid attention during last year’s campaign. Trump Sr., after all, explicitly implored Russia to hack Clinton’s private email server. He ran as the most pro-Russian candidate for president since Henry Wallace helmed the Soviet fellow-traveling Progressive Party ticket in 1948, extolling Vladimir Putin’s manly virtues at every opportunity while bringing Kremlin-style moral relativism to the campaign trail. Worst of all, GOP voters never punished him for it. This is what they voted for.

    Nor was Trump Jr. the only Republican to seek Russian assistance against Clinton. In May, the Wall Street Journal reported that a Florida Republican operative sought and received hacked Democratic Party voter-turnout analyses from “Guccifer 2.0,” a hacker the U.S. government has said is working for Russia’s intelligence services. The Journal has also reported that Republican operative Peter W. Smith, who is now deceased, “mounted an independent campaign to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton’s private server, likely by Russian hackers.”

    Amid a raft of congressional and law enforcement probes into Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election, it’s still unclear whether members of Trump’s campaign actively colluded with Moscow. But we now know that they had no problem accepting the Kremlin’s help—in fact, Trump Jr. professes disappointment that his Russian interlocutors didn’t deliver the goods. Forty-eight percent of Republicans, meanwhile, think Don Jr. was right to take the meeting. During the campaign, as operatives linked to Russian intelligence dumped hacked emails onto the internet, few Republicans stood on principle, like Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and condemned their provenance. “I will not discuss any issue that has become public solely on the basis of WikiLeaks,” Rubio said at the time. And he issued a stark warning to members of his party who were looking to take advantage of Clinton’s misfortune: “Today it is the Democrats. Tomorrow it could be us.”

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of Rubio’s GOP colleagues completely ignored his counsel. Suddenly, Republican leaders and conservative media figures who not long ago were demanding prison time (or worse) for Julian Assange were praising the Australian anarchist to the skies. Every morsel in the DNC and Podesta emails, no matter how innocuous, was pored over and exaggerated to maximum effect. Republican politicians and their allies in the conservative media behaved exactly as the Kremlin intended. The derivation of the emails (stolen by Russian hackers) and the purpose of their dissemination (to sow dissension among the American body politic) have either been ignored, or, in the case of my conservative interlocutor, ludicrously held up as an example of Russian altruism meant to save American democracy from the perfidious Clinton clan.

    Contrast Rubio’s principled stand with that of current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who, while now appropriately calling WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service” that “overwhelmingly focuses on the United States while seeking support from antidemocratic countries,” was more than happy to retail its ill-gotten gains during the campaign. Today, just one-third of Republican voters even believe the intelligence community findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, no doubt influenced by the president’s equivocations on the matter.

    I was no fan of Barack Obama’s foreign policy. I criticized his Russian “reset,” his Iran nuclear deal, his opening to Cuba, even his handling of political conflict in Honduras. For the past four years, I worked at a think tank, the Foreign Policy Initiative, that was bankrolled by Republican donors and regularly criticized the Obama administration. Anyone who’s followed my writing knows I’ve infuriated liberals and Democrats plenty over the years, and I have the metaphorical scars to prove it.

    What I never expected was that the Republican Party—which once stood for a muscular, moralistic approach to the world, and which helped bring down the Soviet Union—would become a willing accomplice of what the previous Republican presidential nominee rightly called our No. 1 geopolitical foe: Vladimir Putin’s Russia. My message for today’s GOP is to paraphrase Barack Obama when he mocked Romney for saying precisely that: 2012 called—it wants its foreign policy back.

    ***

    I should not have been surprised. I’ve been following Russia’s cultivation of the American right for years, long before it became a popular subject, and I have been amazed at just how deep and effective the campaign to shift conservative views on Russia has been. Four years ago, I began writing a series of articles about the growing sympathy for Russia among some American conservatives. Back then, the Putin fan club was limited to seemingly fringe figures like Pat Buchanan (“Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?” he asked, answering in the affirmative), a bunch of cranks organized around the Ron Paul Institute and some anti-gay marriage bitter-enders so resentful at their domestic political loss they would ally themselves with an authoritarian regime that not so long ago they would have condemned for exporting “godless communism.”

    Today, these figures are no longer on the fringe of GOP politics. According to a Morning Consult-Politico poll from May, an astonishing 49 percent of Republicans consider Russia an ally. Favorable views of Putin – a career KGB officer who hates America – have nearly tripled among Republicans in the past two years, with 32 percent expressing a positive opinion.


    It would be a mistake to attribute this shift solely to Trump and his odd solicitousness toward Moscow. Russia has been targeting the American right since at least 2013, the year Putin enacted a law targeting pro-gay rights organizing and delivered a state-of-the-nation address extolling Russia’s “traditional values” and assailing the West’s “genderless and infertile” liberalism. That same year, a Kremlin-connected think tank released a report entitled, “Putin: World Conservativism’s New Leader.” In 2015, Russia hosted a delegation from the National Rifle Association, one of America’s most influential conservative lobby groups, which included David Keene, then-president of the NRA and now editor of the Washington Times editorial page, which regularly features voices calling for a friendlier relationship with Moscow. (It should be noted here that Russia, a country run by its security services where the leader recently created a 400,000-strong praetorian guard, doesn’t exactly embrace the individual right to bear arms.) A recent investigation by Politico Magazine, meanwhile, revealed how Russian intelligence services have been using the internet and social networks to target another redoubt of American conservativism: the military community.

    Today, it’s hard to judge this Russian effort as anything other than a smashing success. Turn on Fox News and you will come across the network’s most popular star, Sean Hannity, citing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a reliable source of information or retailing Russian disinformation such as the conspiracy theory that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich—who police say was killed during a robbery attempt—was the source of last summer’s leaks, not Russian hackers. Fox’s rising star Tucker Carlson regularly uses his time slot to ridicule the entire Russian meddling scandal and portray Putin critics as bloodthirsty warmongers. On Monday night, he went so far as to give a platform to fringe leftist Max Blumenthal — author of a book comparing Israel to the Third Reich and a vocal supporter of the Assad regime in Syria — to assail the “bootlicking press” for reporting on Trump’s Russia ties. (When Blumenthal alleged that the entire Russia scandal was really just a militarist pretext for NATO enlargement, Carlson flippantly raised the prospect of his son having to fight a war against Russia, as he did in a contentious exchange earlier this year with Russian dissident Garry Kasparov. At the time, I asked Carlson if his son serves in the military. He didn’t respond).

    Meanwhile the Heritage Foundation, one of Washington’s most influential conservative think tanks and a former bastion of Cold War hawkishness, has enlisted itself in the campaign against George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist whose work promoting democracy and good governance in the former Soviet space has made him one of the Kremlin’s main whipping boys.

    And it’s not just conservative political operatives and media hacks who have come around on Russia. Pro-Putin feelings are now being elucidated by some conservative intellectuals as well. Echoing Kremlin complaints that Russia is a country which has been “frequently humiliated, robbed, and misled” – a self-pitying justification for Russian aggression throughout history – Weekly Standard senior editor Christopher Caldwell extolls Putin as “the pre-eminent statesman of our time.”

    How did the party of Ronald Reagan’s moral clarity morph into that of Donald Trump’s moral vacuity? Russia’s intelligence operatives are among the world’s best. I believe they made a keen study of the American political scene and realized that, during the Obama years, the conservative movement had become ripe for manipulation. Long gone was its principled opposition to the “evil empire.” What was left was an intellectually and morally desiccated carcass populated by con artists, opportunists, entertainers and grifters operating massively profitable book publishers, radio empires, websites, and a TV network whose stock-in-trade are not ideas but resentments. If a political officer at the Russian Embassy in Washington visited the zoo that is the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, they’d see a “movement” that embraces a ludicrous performance artist like Milo Yiannopoulos as some sort of intellectual heavyweight. When conservative bloggers are willing to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from Malaysia’s authoritarian government to launch a smear campaign against a democratic opposition leader they know nothing about, how much of a jump is it to line up and defend what at the very least was attempted collusion on the part of a brain-dead dauphin like Donald Trump Jr.?

    Surveying this lamentable scene, why wouldn't Russia try to “turn” the American right, whose ethical rot necessarily precedes its rank unscrupulousness? It is this ethical rot that allows Dennis Prager, one of the right’s more unctuous professional moralists, to opine with a straight face that “The news media in the West pose a far greater danger to Western civilization than Russia does.” Why wouldn’t a “religious right” that embraced a boastfully immoral charlatan like Donald Trump not turn a blind eye toward—or, in the case of Franklin Graham, embrace—an oppressive regime like that ruling Russia? American conservatism is no better encapsulated today than by the self-satisfied, smirking mug of Carlson, the living embodiment of what Lionel Trilling meant when he wrote that the “conservative impulse” is defined by “irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.”

    ***


    The entire Trump-Russia saga strikes at a deeper issue which most Republicans have shown little care in examining: What is it about Donald Trump that attracted the Kremlin so?

    Such an effort would be like staging an intervention for a drunk and abusive family member: painful but necessary. One would have thought a U.S. intelligence community assessment concluding that the Russians preferred their party’s nominee over Hillary Clinton would have introduced a bit of introspection on the right. Moments for such soul-searching had arrived much earlier, however, like when Trump hired a former advisor to the corrupt, pro-Russian president of Ukraine as his campaign manager last summer. Or when he praised Putin on “Morning Joe” in December of 2015. Republicans ought to have considered how an “America First” foreign policy, despite its promises to build up the military and “bomb the shit out of” ISIS, might actually be more attractive to Moscow than the warts-and-all liberal internationalism of the Democratic nominee, who, whatever her faults, has never called into question the very existence of institutions like the European Union and NATO, pillars of the transatlantic democratic alliance. Now that he’s president, Trump’s fitful behavior, alienating close allies like Britain and Germany, ought give Republicans pause about how closely the president’s actions accord with Russian objectives.

    But alas there has been no such reckoning within the party of Reagan. Instead, the Russia scandal has incurred a wrathful defensiveness among conservatives, who are reaching for anything – paranoid attacks on the so-called American “deep state,” allegations of conspiracy among Obama administration holdovers – to distract attention from the very grave reality of Russian active measures. To be sure, the Republican Congress, at least on paper, remains hawkish on the Kremlin, as evidenced by the recent 98-2 Senate vote to increase sanctions against Russia for its election meddling and other offenses. But in no way can they be said anymore to represent the GOP party base, which has been led to believe by the president and his allies in the pro-Trump media that “the Russia story” is a giant hoax. It wasn’t long ago that the GOP used to mock Democratic presidential candidates for supposedly winning “endorsements” from foreign adversaries, like when a Hamas official said he “liked” Barack Obama in 2008. Today, most Republicans evince no shame in the fact that their candidate was the clearly expressed preference of a murderous thug like Vladimir Putin.

    If Republicans put country before party, they would want to know what the Russians did, why they did it and how to prevent it from happening again. But that, of course, would raise questions implicating Donald Trump and all those who have enabled him, questions that most Republicans prefer to remain unanswered.

  5. #905

    Default GREAT new book by Giroux on America in the time of Trump!!!!! Just Great I think! A MUST read book!

    The Public in Peril - Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism

    Routledge 2018


    This is one of the first books to critique thoroughly the rise of Trumpism
    and its potential impact, nationally and globally. One of the world’s
    leading social critics, Giroux offers new critiques of Trump and his
    cabinet choices in the context of longer-term trends, including the rise
    of right-wing populism, the threat of planetary peril, anti-intellectual
    fervor, the war on youth, a narrowing political discourse, deepening
    inequality and disposability, authoritarianism, the crisis of civic culture,
    the rise of the mass incarceration state, and more. Giroux dissects the
    diverse forces that led to Trump’s rise and points to pathways for
    resisting his authoritarian instincts. Offering a new language of hope
    and possibility, Giroux’s optimism is rooted especially in the resurgence
    of progressive politics among youth. Giroux reclaims the centrality of
    education to politics and boldly articulates a vision in which the radical
    imagination merges with civic courage as part of a broad-based struggle
    for a radical democracy. Deep inquiries into fast-changing and pressing
    issues of our time make this book ‘the essential Giroux’ that citizens
    and students must read, debate, and act upon.
    Henry A. Giroux is currently the McMaster University Professor for
    Scholarship in the Public Interest and the Paulo Freire Distinguished
    Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books include Dangerous
    Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (2015), co- authored with
    Brad Evans, Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of
    Spectacle (2015), and America at War with Itself (2017).

    The Public in Peril
    This is one of the first books to critique thoroughly the rise of Trumpism
    and its potential impact, nationally and globally. One of the world’s
    leading social critics, Giroux offers new critiques of Trump and his
    cabinet choices in the context of longer-term trends, including the rise
    of right-wing populism, the threat of planetary peril, anti-intellectual
    fervor, the war on youth, a narrowing political discourse, deepening
    inequality and disposability, authoritarianism, the crisis of civic culture,
    the rise of the mass incarceration state, and more. Giroux dissects the
    diverse forces that led to Trump’s rise and points to pathways for
    resisting his authoritarian instincts. Offering a new language of hope
    and possibility, Giroux’s optimism is rooted especially in the resurgence
    of progressive politics among youth. Giroux reclaims the centrality of
    education to politics and boldly articulates a vision in which the radical
    imagination merges with civic courage as part of a broad-based struggle
    for a radical democracy. Deep inquiries into fast-changing and pressing
    issues of our time make this book ‘the essential Giroux’ that citizens
    and students must read, debate, and act upon.
    Henry A. Giroux is currently the McMaster University Professor for
    Scholarship in the Public Interest and the Paulo Freire Distinguished
    Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books include Dangerous
    Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (2015), co- authored with
    Brad Evans, Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of
    Spectacle (2015), and America at War with Itself (2017).

    2 INTRODUCTION
    It is hard to contemplate the new administration without
    experiencing alarm bordering on despair: Alarm about the risks of
    war, the fate of constitutional democracy, the devastation of a
    century of social progress. Trump’s populism was a total fraud.
    Every single Trump appointment has come from the pool of
    far-right conservatives, crackpots, and billionaire kleptocrats.
    More alarming still is the man himself—his vanity, impulsivity,
    and willful ignorance, combined with an intuitive genius as a
    demagogue. A petulant fifth-grader with nuclear weapons will
    now control the awesome power of the U.S. government. One has
    to nourish the hope that Trump can yet be contained. Above all,
    that will take passionate and strategic engagement, not just to resist
    but to win, to discredit him and get him out of office while this is
    still a democracy. We can feel sick at heart—we would be fools
    not to—but despair is not an option.1
    Kuttner rightly mitigates such despair with a call for resistance. Yet,
    such deep-seated anxiety is not unwarranted given the willingness of
    contemporary politicians and pundits during the 2016 presidential battle
    to use themes that echoed alarmingly fascist and totalitarian elements
    of the past. According to Drucilla Cornell and Stephen D. Seely,
    Trump’s campaign mobilized a movement that was “unambiguously
    fascist.”2 They write:
    We are not using the word “fascist” glibly here. Nor are we
    referencing only the so-called “alt-right” contingent of his
    supporters. No, Trump’s entire movement is rooted in an ethnic,
    racial, and linguistic nationalism that sanctions and glorifies
    violence against designated enemies and outsiders, is animated by
    a myth of decline and nostalgic renewal and centered on a masculine
    cult of personality.3
    Large segments of the American public have been written out of politics
    over what they view as a failed state and the inability of the basic
    machinery of government to serve their interests.4 As market mentalities

    INTRODUCTION 3
    and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic
    institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether
    disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from public schools to
    health-care centers—there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of
    community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good.
    This grim reality has been called a “failed sociality”—a failure in the
    power of the civic imagination, political will, and open democracy.5
    As the consolidation of power by the corporate and financial elite
    empties politics of any substance, the political realm merges elements
    of Monty Python, Kafka, and Aldous Huxley. Mainstream politics is
    now dominated by hard-right extremists who have brought to the center
    of politics a shameful white supremacist ideology, poisonous xenophobic
    ideas, and the blunt, malicious tenets and practices of Islamophobia.
    On the other side of the political spectrum, the Democratic Party
    operates in the service of the war machine, financial elite, and various
    registers of the military-industrial-academic-surveillance complex. In the
    current political climate, centrism and extremism increasingly become
    indistinguishable. The older political establishment’s calls for regime
    change and war are now supplemented by the discourse of statesanctioned
    torture, armed ignorance, and a deep hatred of democracy.
    One consequence is that both parties have thrown, in different degrees,
    immigrants, poor minorities of class and color, refugees, the working
    class, and especially young people under the bus. Neoliberalism, with
    its full-fledged assault on the welfare state and public goods, the
    destruction of the manufacturing sector, and a dramatic shift in wealth
    to the upper 1 percent, has destroyed the faith of millions in democracy,
    which lost its power to contain the rich in a runaway form of casino
    capitalism. With the erosion of the social contract and the increasing
    power of the rich to control both the commanding institutions of society
    and politics itself, democracy has lost any legitimacy as a counterweight
    to protect the ever widening sphere of people considered vulnerable and
    disposable. One consequence has been that the dangerous playbook to
    neo-fascist appeals has gained more and more credence. In addition,
    large portions of the American public have turned willingly to Trump’s
    brand of authoritarianism.

    4 INTRODUCTION
    Trump’s election has produced widespread despair, fear, and anxiety
    in the most vulnerable, largely confirmed by the fact that “over a
    thousand hate crimes have been reported since Donald Trump won the
    U.S. presidential election.”6 Even more foreboding is the fact that not
    only does Trump inherit the repressive policies and practices that
    followed 9/11 such as a growing national security state, the National
    Defense Authorization Act, a permanent war culture, the paramilitar -
    ization of the police, widespread intrusive surveillance, and the illegality
    of drone assassinations, but he has at his disposal the ability to wield a
    massive degree of executive power. As Kuttner makes clear:
    But one should not minimize the perils. Trump will wield a massive
    amount of executive power. This is a man with a short fuse and a
    long enemies list . . . he can use the power of the presidency to
    conduct vast surveillance, threaten the commercial interests of the
    free press, selectively prosecute, and further weaken the labor
    movement while his allies in Congress change the ground rules of
    federalism to undermine progressive policies of blue states and cities.
    Trump will float above cadres of conservative professionals with
    detailed playbooks. They will try to back-load the impact of un -
    popular policies such as deep cuts in Social Security and Medicare.7
    The future looks bleak, especially for youth as they are burdened with
    debt, dead-end jobs, unemployment, and, if you are black and poor, the
    increasing possibility of being either incarcerated or shot by the police.8
    Trump has redefined government as the enemy of economic and social
    justice and in doing so has created a number of cabinet positions that
    will run what might be called ministries of repression and injustice. The
    United States has become a war culture and immediate massive forms
    of resistance and civil disobedience are essential if the planet and human
    life is going to survive.9 Domestic terrorism defined as intentional and
    criminal acts of violence by the state against civilian populations has
    become the new norm in the United States.
    The savagery of a war culture and its sundry forms of domestic
    terrorism was on full display in the United States with the September 13, 2006 shooting of Tyre King, a 13-year old child who ran from police while holding a BB gun. Tyre was 5' tall and weighed less than 100 lbs and was in 8th grade.


    ....and another stunning 324 pages.....
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 02-17-2018 at 06:20 PM.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lemkin View Post
    The Public in Peril - Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism

    Routledge 2018


    This is one of the first books to critique thoroughly the rise of Trumpism
    and its potential impact, nationally and globally. One of the world’s
    leading social critics, Giroux offers new critiques of Trump and his
    cabinet choices in the context of longer-term trends, including the rise
    of right-wing populism, the threat of planetary peril, anti-intellectual
    fervor, the war on youth, a narrowing political discourse, deepening
    inequality and disposability, authoritarianism, the crisis of civic culture,
    the rise of the mass incarceration state, and more. Giroux dissects the
    diverse forces that led to Trump’s rise and points to pathways for
    resisting his authoritarian instincts. Offering a new language of hope
    and possibility, Giroux’s optimism is rooted especially in the resurgence
    of progressive politics among youth. Giroux reclaims the centrality of
    education to politics and boldly articulates a vision in which the radical
    imagination merges with civic courage as part of a broad-based struggle
    for a radical democracy. Deep inquiries into fast-changing and pressing
    issues of our time make this book ‘the essential Giroux’ that citizens
    and students must read, debate, and act upon.
    Henry A. Giroux is currently the McMaster University Professor for
    Scholarship in the Public Interest and the Paulo Freire Distinguished
    Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books include Dangerous
    Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (2015), co- authored with
    Brad Evans, Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of
    Spectacle (2015), and America at War with Itself (2017).

    The Public in Peril
    This is one of the first books to critique thoroughly the rise of Trumpism
    and its potential impact, nationally and globally. One of the world’s
    leading social critics, Giroux offers new critiques of Trump and his
    cabinet choices in the context of longer-term trends, including the rise
    of right-wing populism, the threat of planetary peril, anti-intellectual
    fervor, the war on youth, a narrowing political discourse, deepening
    inequality and disposability, authoritarianism, the crisis of civic culture,
    the rise of the mass incarceration state, and more. Giroux dissects the
    diverse forces that led to Trump’s rise and points to pathways for
    resisting his authoritarian instincts. Offering a new language of hope
    and possibility, Giroux’s optimism is rooted especially in the resurgence
    of progressive politics among youth. Giroux reclaims the centrality of
    education to politics and boldly articulates a vision in which the radical
    imagination merges with civic courage as part of a broad-based struggle
    for a radical democracy. Deep inquiries into fast-changing and pressing
    issues of our time make this book ‘the essential Giroux’ that citizens
    and students must read, debate, and act upon.
    Henry A. Giroux is currently the McMaster University Professor for
    Scholarship in the Public Interest and the Paulo Freire Distinguished
    Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books include Dangerous
    Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (2015), co- authored with
    Brad Evans, Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of
    Spectacle (2015), and America at War with Itself (2017).

    2 INTRODUCTION
    It is hard to contemplate the new administration without
    experiencing alarm bordering on despair: Alarm about the risks of
    war, the fate of constitutional democracy, the devastation of a
    century of social progress. Trump’s populism was a total fraud.
    Every single Trump appointment has come from the pool of
    far-right conservatives, crackpots, and billionaire kleptocrats.
    More alarming still is the man himself—his vanity, impulsivity,
    and willful ignorance, combined with an intuitive genius as a
    demagogue. A petulant fifth-grader with nuclear weapons will
    now control the awesome power of the U.S. government. One has
    to nourish the hope that Trump can yet be contained. Above all,
    that will take passionate and strategic engagement, not just to resist
    but to win, to discredit him and get him out of office while this is
    still a democracy. We can feel sick at heart—we would be fools
    not to—but despair is not an option.1
    Kuttner rightly mitigates such despair with a call for resistance. Yet,
    such deep-seated anxiety is not unwarranted given the willingness of
    contemporary politicians and pundits during the 2016 presidential battle
    to use themes that echoed alarmingly fascist and totalitarian elements
    of the past. According to Drucilla Cornell and Stephen D. Seely,
    Trump’s campaign mobilized a movement that was “unambiguously
    fascist.”2 They write:
    We are not using the word “fascist” glibly here. Nor are we
    referencing only the so-called “alt-right” contingent of his
    supporters. No, Trump’s entire movement is rooted in an ethnic,
    racial, and linguistic nationalism that sanctions and glorifies
    violence against designated enemies and outsiders, is animated by
    a myth of decline and nostalgic renewal and centered on a masculine
    cult of personality.3
    Large segments of the American public have been written out of politics
    over what they view as a failed state and the inability of the basic
    machinery of government to serve their interests.4 As market mentalities

    INTRODUCTION 3
    and moralities tighten their grip on all aspects of society, democratic
    institutions and public spheres are being downsized, if not altogether
    disappearing. As these institutions vanish—from public schools to
    health-care centers—there is also a serious erosion of the discourses of
    community, justice, equality, public values, and the common good.
    This grim reality has been called a “failed sociality”—a failure in the
    power of the civic imagination, political will, and open democracy.5
    As the consolidation of power by the corporate and financial elite
    empties politics of any substance, the political realm merges elements
    of Monty Python, Kafka, and Aldous Huxley. Mainstream politics is
    now dominated by hard-right extremists who have brought to the center
    of politics a shameful white supremacist ideology, poisonous xenophobic
    ideas, and the blunt, malicious tenets and practices of Islamophobia.
    On the other side of the political spectrum, the Democratic Party
    operates in the service of the war machine, financial elite, and various
    registers of the military-industrial-academic-surveillance complex. In the
    current political climate, centrism and extremism increasingly become
    indistinguishable. The older political establishment’s calls for regime
    change and war are now supplemented by the discourse of statesanctioned
    torture, armed ignorance, and a deep hatred of democracy.
    One consequence is that both parties have thrown, in different degrees,
    immigrants, poor minorities of class and color, refugees, the working
    class, and especially young people under the bus. Neoliberalism, with
    its full-fledged assault on the welfare state and public goods, the
    destruction of the manufacturing sector, and a dramatic shift in wealth
    to the upper 1 percent, has destroyed the faith of millions in democracy,
    which lost its power to contain the rich in a runaway form of casino
    capitalism. With the erosion of the social contract and the increasing
    power of the rich to control both the commanding institutions of society
    and politics itself, democracy has lost any legitimacy as a counterweight
    to protect the ever widening sphere of people considered vulnerable and
    disposable. One consequence has been that the dangerous playbook to
    neo-fascist appeals has gained more and more credence. In addition,
    large portions of the American public have turned willingly to Trump’s
    brand of authoritarianism.

    ....and another stunning 324 pages.....
    Only the most serious and high quality books get published by Routledge.
    "We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

    "We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl

  7. #907

    Default

    This is THE book I've been waiting for....impossible to put down! Beats up on Trumpism, Republican sycophants, and the Democrats all - shows the entire system in the USA, and increasingly throughout the World to be morally/politically/ethically/financially/ecologically bankrupt - and heading in only perilous directions at breakneck speed. Brilliant insights and clear thinking/writing. Then he offers solutions - now there is a thought!!!
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 02-18-2018 at 03:55 AM.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  8. #908

    Default Putin and Trump, etc. etc.

    Since the "KGB" FSB or whoever has a troll farm in Leningrad with untold numbers of workers, does anybody know if our own CIA or other agencies have anything comparable. It would seem like they would have to. Please inform--James Lateer
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 02-18-2018 at 04:30 AM.

  9. #909

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by James Lateer View Post
    Since the "KGB" FSB or whoever has a troll farm in Leningrad with untold numbers of workers, does anybody know if our own CIA or other agencies have anything comparable. It would seem like they would have to. Please inform--James Lateer

    One only has to read something like one of Bill Blum's excellent books Killing Hope or Rouge State [as well as many other books I could name] that detail the loooong list of US. Intelligence [and sometimes military] roles in tampering with foreign elections or overthrowing democratically elected governments. The list is too long for me to feel up to listing this morning...but we clearly tampered with the Italian elections just after WWII and overthrew democratically elected governments in Chile, Iran, Greece and about 40 other countries and tried in many more. In fact, the list of countries we have not done so in is shorter than those we have!!! Rather famously the US Intel. community and mil. intel and just plain mil. had a 'special election' to which the American People were not invited on 11.22.63!!! Smedley Butler exposed how US Oligarchs planned to overthrow FDR in a coup. It is now quite clear that U.S. Oligarchs tampered with and even help set up the USSR and Nazi Germany - both long and somewhat complex stories - but well documented. Now, to get more to your point of whether the US has troll farms. I think the NSA qualifies - as do their proxies such as MS, Facebook, Twitter, Google, et al. Most of the big electronics and social media firms have been built by or infiltrated by US electronic intel units/entities for the purpose of controlling narrative, viewpoints (read propaganda), election results, so-called 'history', facts (again so-called), and more. Snowden's revelations clearly show a pervasive effort to take in all electronic communication and positioning/banking/images/spying worldwide and also to disseminate alternatives to suit the Empire. I would say that most Presidential and many Congressional and even state and local elections in the USA have been tampered with by this electronic US secret cabal - not to mention their work on foreign ones, as well. That said, I know of no specific hub other than Mother [NSA HQ] and its Five Eyes quadruplets who do this. Surely they have places and hackers who would appear to be working on their own outside of he Mother, but I'm hard pressed to name a location, although hackers who have done their bidding are known - most not by name, a few by name. Maybe someone else can come up with specific locations and names. I'll bet Snowden and others like him could. It is a sure bet we have and IF the Russians, Chinese or anyone else is now also doing this defensively or offensively they are latecomers to this game, which in military, economic, and electronic terms was all but invented in its modern form by the US secret government.

    Oh...yes...nearly forgot the US Cyber Command. Secret Army + some Intel entity - do you think they are only doing defensive work - I think not! They put the Stuxnet virus in the system in Iran...and who knows what else they have done we don't know about - even making it look like other nations are attacking us [its called false flag].

    N.B. Sorry the post above mine by J.L. seems to be edited by me....middle of the night and am not awake....hit wrong button and have corrected and put my reply where it belonged here. Sorry.
    Last edited by Peter Lemkin; 02-18-2018 at 03:33 PM.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

  10. #910

    Default

    ‘One in nine elections’

    Dov Levin, an academic from the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University, has calculated the vast scale of election interventions by both the US and Russia.
    According to his research, there were 117 “partisan electoral interventions” between 1946 and 2000. That’s around one of every nine competitive elections held since Second World War.
    The majority of these – almost 70 per cent – were cases of US interference.
    And these are not all from the Cold War era; 21 such interventions took place between 1990 and 2000, of which 18 were by the US.
    “60 different independent countries have been the targets of such interventions,” Levin’s writes. “The targets came from a large variety of sizes and populations, ranging from small states such as Iceland and Grenada to major powers such as West Germany, India, and Brazil.”
    It’s important to note that these cases vary greatly – some simply involved steps to publicly support one candidate and undermine another.
    But almost two thirds of interventions were done in secret, with voters having no idea that foreign powers were actively trying to influence the results.
    Levin told FactCheck he was surprised by how common US election interference was. “Such interventions can frequently have significant effects on election results in the intervened country, increasing the vote share of the assisted side by 3% on average – enough to determine the identity of the winner in many case.”
    According to Levin’s research, those countries where secret tactics have been deployed by the US include: Guatemala, Brazil, El Salvador, Haiti, Panama, Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Greece, Italy, Malta, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, South Vietnam and Japan.
    For Russia, the list of covert interventions includes: France, Denmark, Italy, Greece, West Germany, Japan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Congo, Venezuela, Chile, Costa Rica, and the US.
    Levin’s research points out that, historically, election meddling has actually been far more common than other methods of political intervention, like military invasions and coups.
    US interference and meddling

    Covert interventions have been done by many countries over the years and – because they are shrouded in secrecy – it’s impossible to get a comprehensive picture of every instance across the world.
    Part of the reason why we know about lots of US operations is that its government is relatively transparent when compared to some others. (‘Relatively’ is the key word here: there is much we may never know about its secret foreign plots, but the release of many historical documents do allow us to shed some light – albeit usually years later).
    One of the earliest examples of covert US interventions came with Italy’s 1948 election, when the CIA helped the Christian Democrats beat the Communist Party.


    Nearly 50 years later, a former secret agent admitted: “We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their political expenses, their campaign expenses, for posters, for pamphlets.”
    The Washington Post has reported the CIA’s operation also included “forging documents to besmirch communist leaders via fabricated sex scandals,” and “spreading hysteria about a Russian takeover and the undermining of the Catholic Church”.
    Over the years, many of America’s interventions have involved ploughing funds into their preferred candidate’s campaign.
    For instance, throughout the 1950s and 60s, the US secretly financed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, despite denials from party leaders. Former intelligence officials have said America’s aim was to undermine the Left and make Japan one of Asia’s most strongly anti-communist countries.
    In the 1980s, an American official confirmed to the New York Times that “about $20,000” had been given to support Nicolas Barletta presidential campaign in Panama.
    And, in 1990, $400,000 was given to organisations Czechoslovakia, which were leading the revolution against Communist rule, and which become political parties for the country’s first free elections in decades.
    Funding was also provided for parties in Albania. According to reports, one US diplomat explained: “If Albania votes for socialism in this election, a lot of Western investors and governments are going to direct their aid elsewhere.”
    Coup d’etats

    All this is to say nothing of US-backed coups against democratically elected leaders.
    For instance, in 2013 the CIA finally admitted it had been behind the coup against Iran’s secular prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq, which took place 60 years earlier.
    Reports say that the UK persuaded President Eisenhower to take action after Mosaddeq nationalised the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, (later known as BP). The CIA duly planned to install a “pro-western government” in Iran.


    An internal CIA document stated: “The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government.”
    It was a similar story in Guatemala, with the overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954.
    The New York Times has likened his personal politics to a “European-style democratic socialist”, but Arbenz’s reforms angered the American multinational United Fruit Company, which had huge landholdings in the Guatemala.
    Declassified CIA documents reveal how it launched a huge $3m clandestine operation against the government, including “attempts to subvert and or defect Army and political leaders, broad scale psychological warfare and paramilitary actions”.


    They trained military groups and set up a “clandestine broadcasting station” which aired anti-communist propaganda designed to “intimidate” public officials.
    Secret agents also made up fake reports claiming that the Soviet Union was sending submarines full of weapons to help arm the Arbenz regime. (Eventually a real shipment did materialise).
    The CIA itself justified action citing Arbenz’s “communist influence and a hardening anti-U.S. policy”.
    More recent interventions

    Reports of American interference in other countries is not confined to Cold War history. But with more recent cases, there is generally less evidence available because secret documents have yet to be declassified.
    This means many of these incidents broadly remain allegations, without the detail to tell the full story.
    The Honduran coup of 2009 saw President Zelya being “seized and, still in his pyjamas, hustled onto a plane to Costa Rica“.


    The US refused to join other countries in declaring it as a “coup”, claiming that – if they did – “you immediately have to shut off all aid including humanitarian aid”.
    What’s more, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said there were “very strong arguments” for the coup which had “followed the law”. And crucially – rather than calling for the democratically elected president’s return – America pushed for fresh elections.
    Clinton later admitted developing plans to ensure “elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelya moot”.
    There are also questions around America’s role in the Ukraine. After the country’s government made a trade policy u-turn, towards Russia rather than the west, Senator John McCain joined protesters in the capital. He said he was there “to support your just cause” and supported “a grassroots revolution”.
    Later, a leaked phone conversation between the US Ambassador to Ukraine and the US Assistant Secretary of State hinted at extensive involvement. They spoke about the need to “midwife this thing” and said Arseniy Yatsenyuk was “the guy”, shortly before he became president.
    The true extent to which America was actually involved in these cases may not be known for years.

    -------------

    The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere










    By Ishaan Tharoor October 13, 2016 Email the author

    U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shakes hands with Chilean Foreign Minister Ismale Huerta Diaz during break in the Latin Foreign Ministers Conference in Mexico City, Feb. 22, 1974. (Ed Kolenovsky?AP)
    One of the more alarming narratives of the 2016 U.S. election campaign is that of the Kremlin's apparent meddling. Last week, the United States formally accused the Russian government of stealing and disclosing emails from the Democratic National Committee and the individual accounts of prominent Washington insiders.
    The hacks, in part leaked by WikiLeaks, have led to loud declarations that Moscow is eager for the victory of Republican nominee Donald Trump, whose rhetoric has unsettled Washington's traditional European allies and even thrown the future of NATO — Russia's bête noire — into doubt.
    Leading Russian officials have balked at the Obama administration's claim. In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the suggestion of interference as “ridiculous,” though he said it was “flattering” that Washington would point the finger at Moscow. At a time of pronounced regional tensions in the Middle East and elsewhere, there's no love lost between Kremlin officials and their American counterparts.
    To be sure, there's a much larger context behind today's bluster. As my colleague Andrew Roth notes, whatever their government's alleged actions in 2016, Russia's leaders enjoy casting aspersions on the American democratic process. And, in recent years, they have also bristled at perceived U.S. meddling in the politics of countries on Russia's borders, most notably in Ukraine.
    While the days of its worst behavior are long behind it, the United States does have a well-documented history of interfering and sometimes interrupting the workings of democracies elsewhere. It has occupied and intervened militarily in a whole swath of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America and fomented coups against democratically elected populists.
    The most infamous episodes include the ousting of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 — whose government was replaced by an authoritarian monarchy favorable to Washington — the removal and assassination of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba in 1961, and the violent toppling of socialist Chilean President Salvador Allende, whose government was swept aside in 1973 by a military coup led by the ruthless Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
    For decades, these actions were considered imperatives of the Cold War, part of a global struggle against the Soviet Union and its supposed leftist proxies. Its key participants included scheming diplomats like John Foster Dulles and Henry Kissinger, who advocated aggressive, covert policies to stanch the supposedly expanding threat of communism. Sometimes that agenda also explicitly converged with the interests of U.S. business: In 1954, Washington unseated Guatemala's left-wing president, Jacobo Arbenz, who had had the temerity to challenge the vast control of the United Fruit Co., a U.S. corporation, with agrarian laws that would be fairer to Guatemalan farmers. The CIA went on to install and back a series of right-wing dictatorships that brutalized the impoverished nation for almost half a century.
    A young Che Guevara, who happened to be traveling through Guatemala in 1954, was deeply affected by Arbenz's overthrow. He later wrote to his mother that the events prompted him to leave “the path of reason” and would ground his conviction in the need for radical revolution over gradual political reform.
    Aside from its instigation of coups and alliances with right-wing juntas, Washington sought to more subtly influence elections in all corners of the world. And so did Moscow. Political scientist Dov Levin calculates that the “two powers intervened in 117 elections around the world from 1946 to 2000 — an average of once in every nine competitive elections.”
    In the late 1940s, the newly established CIA cut its teeth in Western Europe, pushing back against some of the continent's most influential leftist parties and labor unions. In 1948, the United States propped up Italy's centrist Christian Democrats and helped ensure their electoral victory against a leftist coalition, anchored by one of the most powerful communist parties in Europe. CIA operatives gave millions of dollars to their Italian allies and helped orchestrate what was then an unprecedented, clandestine propaganda campaign: This included forging documents to besmirch communist leaders via fabricated sex scandals, starting a mass letter-writing campaign from Italian Americans to their compatriots, and spreading hysteria about a Russian takeover and the undermining of the Catholic Church.
    “We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their political expenses, their campaign expenses, for posters, for pamphlets,” recounted F. Mark Wyatt, the CIA officer who handled the mission and later participated in more than 2½ decades of direct support to the Christian Democrats.
    This template spread everywhere: CIA operative Edward G. Lansdale, notorious for his efforts to bring down the North Vietnamese government, is said to have run the successful 1953 campaign of Philippines President Ramon Magsaysay. Japan's center-right Liberal Democratic Party was backed with secret American funds through the 1950s and the 1960s. The U.S. government and American oil corporations helped Christian parties in Lebanon win crucial elections in 1957 with briefcases full of cash.
    In Chile, the United States prevented Allende from winning an election in 1964. “A total of nearly four million dollars was spent on some fifteen covert action projects, ranging from organizing slum dwellers to passing funds to political parties,” detailed a Senate inquiry in the mid-1970s that started to expose the role of the CIA in overseas elections. When it couldn't defeat Allende at the ballot box in 1970, Washington decided to remove him anyway.
    “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people,” Kissinger is said to have quipped. Pinochet's regime presided over years of torture, disappearances and targeted assassinations. (In a recent op-ed, Chilean-American novelist Ariel Dorfman called on Hillary Clinton to repudiate Kissinger if she wins the presidential election.)
    After the end of the Cold War, the United States has largely brought its covert actions into the open with organizations like the more benign National Endowment for Democracy, which seeks to bolster civil society and democratic institutions around the world through grants and other assistance. Still, U.S. critics see the American hand in a range of more recent elections, from Honduras to Venezuela to Ukraine.
    Meanwhile, the threat of foreign meddling in U.S. elections is not restricted to fears of Russian plots. In the late 1990s, the specter of illicit Chinese funds dominated concerns about Democratic campaign financing. But some observers cautioned others not to be too indignant.
    “If the Chinese indeed tried to influence the election here . . . the United States is only getting a taste of its own medicine,” Peter Kornbluh, director of the National Security Archive, which is affiliated with George Washington University, said in a 1997 interview with the New York Times. “China has done little more than emulate a long pattern of U.S. manipulation, bribery and covert operations to influence the political trajectory of countless countries around the world.”
    -------------------
    Note: for all of Chomsky's 'blindness' on certain issues - he is correct here:


    Noam Chomsky On The Long History Of US Meddling In Foreign Elections

    • by: C.J. Polychroniou

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    Noam Chomsky

    A wide range of politicians and media outlets have described the alleged Russian interference in the last US presidential election (by way of hacking) as representing a direct threat to American democracy and even to national security itself. Of course, the irony behind these concerns about the interference of foreign nations in the domestic political affairs of the United States is that the US has blatantly interfered in the elections of many other nations, with methods that include not only financial support to preferred parties and the circulation of propaganda but also assassinations and overthrows of even democratically elected regimes. Indeed, the US has a long criminal history of meddling into the political affairs of other nations — a history that spans at least a century and, since the end of World War II, extends into all regions of the globe, including western parliamentary polities. This interview with Noam Chomsky reminds us that the United States is no stranger to election interference; in fact, it is an expert in this arena.
    C. J. Polychroniou: Noam, the US intelligence agencies have accused Russia of interference in the US presidential election in order to boost Trump’s chances, and some leading Democrats have actually gone on record saying that the Kremlin’s canny operatives changed the election outcome. What’s your reaction to all this talk in Washington and among media pundits about Russian cyber and propaganda efforts to influence the outcome of the presidential election in Donald Trump’s favor?
    Noam Chomsky: Much of the world must be astonished — if they are not collapsing in laughter — while watching the performances in high places and in media concerning Russian efforts to influence an American election, a familiar US government specialty as far back as we choose to trace the practice. There is, however, merit in the claim that this case is different in character: By US standards, the Russian efforts are so meager as to barely elicit notice.
    Let’s talk about the long history of US meddling in foreign political affairs, which has always been morally and politically justified as the spread of American style-democracy throughout the world.
    The history of US foreign policy, especially after World War II, is pretty much defined by the subversion and overthrow of foreign regimes, including parliamentary regimes, and the resort to violence to destroy popular organizations that might offer the majority of the population an opportunity to enter the political arena.
    Following the Second World War, the United States was committed to restoring the traditional conservative order. To achieve this aim, it was necessary to destroy the anti-fascist resistance, often in favor of Nazi and fascist collaborators, to weaken unions and other popular organizations, and to block the threat of radical democracy and social reform, which were live options under the conditions of the time. These policies were pursued worldwide: in Asia, including South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Indochina and crucially, Japan; in Europe, including Greece, Italy, France and crucially, Germany; in Latin America, including what the CIA took to be the most severe threats at the time, “radical nationalism” in Guatemala and Bolivia.
    Sometimes the task required considerable brutality. In South Korea, about 100,000 people were killed in the late 1940s by security forces installed and directed by the United States. This was before the Korean war, which Jon Halliday and Bruce Cumings describe as “in essence” a phase — marked by massive outside intervention — in “a civil war fought between two domestic forces: a revolutionary nationalist movement, which had its roots in tough anti-colonial struggle, and a conservative movement tied to the status quo, especially to an unequal land system,” restored to power under the US occupation. In Greece in the same years, hundreds of thousands were killed, tortured, imprisoned or expelled in the course of a counterinsurgency operation, organized and directed by the United States, which restored traditional elites to power, including Nazi collaborators, and suppressed the peasant- and worker-based communist-led forces that had fought the Nazis. In the industrial societies, the same essential goals were realized, but by less violent means.

    Yet it is true that there have been cases where the US was directly involved in organizing coups even in advanced industrial democracies, such as in Australia and Italy in the mid-1970s. Correct?
    Yes, there is evidence of CIA involvement in a virtual coup that overturned the Whitlam Labor government in Australia in 1975, when it was feared that Whitlam might interfere with Washington’s military and intelligence bases in Australia. Large-scale CIA interference in Italian politics has been public knowledge since the congressional Pike Report was leaked in 1976, citing a figure of over $65 million to approved political parties and affiliates from 1948 through the early 1970s. In 1976, the Aldo Moro government fell in Italy after revelations that the CIA had spent $6 million to support anti-communist candidates. At the time, the European communist parties were moving towards independence of action with pluralistic and democratic tendencies (Eurocommunism), a development that in fact pleased neither Washington nor Moscow. For such reasons, both superpowers opposed the legalization of the Communist Party of Spain and the rising influence of the Communist Party in Italy, and both preferred center-right governments in France. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger described the “major problem” in the Western alliance as “the domestic evolution in many European countries,” which might make Western communist parties more attractive to the public, nurturing moves towards independence and threatening the NATO alliance.”
    US interventions in the political affairs of other nations have always been morally and politically justified as part of the faith in the doctrine of spreading American-style democracy, but the actual reason was of course the spread of capitalism and the dominance of business rule. Was faith in the spread of democracy ever tenable?
    No belief concerning US foreign policy is more deeply entrenched than the one regarding the spread of American-style democracy. The thesis is commonly not even expressed, merely presupposed as the basis for reasonable discourse on the US role in the world.
    The faith in this doctrine may seem surprising. Nevertheless, there is a sense in which the conventional doctrine is tenable. If by “American-style democracy,” we mean a political system with regular elections but no serious challenge to business rule, then US policymakers doubtless yearn to see it established throughout the world. The doctrine is therefore not undermined by the fact that it is consistently violated under a different interpretation of the concept of democracy: as a system in which citizens may play some meaningful part in the management of public affairs.
    So, what lessons can be drawn from all this about the concept of democracy as understood by US policy planners in their effort to create a new world order?
    One problem that arose as areas were liberated from fascism [after World War II] was that traditional elites had been discredited, while prestige and influence had been gained by the resistance movement, based largely on groups responsive to the working class and poor, and often committed to some version of radical democracy. The basic quandary was articulated by Churchill’s trusted adviser, South African Prime Minister Jan Christiaan Smuts, in 1943, with regard to southern Europe: “With politics let loose among those peoples,” he said, “we might have a wave of disorder and wholesale Communism.” Here the term “disorder” is understood as threat to the interests of the privileged, and “Communism,” in accordance with usual convention, refers to failure to interpret “democracy” as elite dominance, whatever the other commitments of the “Communists” may be. With politics let loose, we face a “crisis of democracy,” as privileged sectors have always understood.
    In brief, at that moment in history, the United States faced the classic dilemma of Third World intervention in large parts of the industrial world as well. The US position was “politically weak” though militarily and economically strong. Tactical choices are determined by an assessment of strengths and weaknesses. The preference has, quite naturally, been for the arena of force and for measures of economic warfare and strangulation, where the US has ruled supreme.
    Wasn’t the Marshall Plan a tool for consolidating capitalism and spreading business rule throughout Europe after World War II?
    Very much so. For example, the extension of Marshall Plan aid in countries like France and Italy was strictly contingent on exclusion of communists — including major elements of the anti-fascist resistance and labor — from the government; “democracy,” in the usual sense. US aid was critically important in early years for suffering people in Europe and was therefore a powerful lever of control, a matter of much significance for US business interests and longer term planning. The fear in Washington was that the communist left would emerge victorious in Italy and France without massive financial assistance.
    On the eve of the announcement of the Marshall Plan, Ambassador to France Jefferson Caffery warned Secretary of State Marshall of grim consequences if the communists won the elections in France: “Soviet penetration of Western Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East would be greatly facilitated” (May 12, 1947). The dominoes were ready to fall. During May, the US pressured political leaders in France and Italy to form coalition governments excluding the communists. It was made clear and explicit that aid was contingent on preventing an open political competition, in which left and labor might dominate. Through 1948, Secretary of State Marshall and others publicly emphasized that if communists were voted into power, US aid would be terminated; no small threat, given the state of Europe at the time.
    In France, the postwar destitution was exploited to undermine the French labor movement, along with direct violence. Desperately needed food supplies were withheld to coerce obedience, and gangsters were organized to provide goon squads and strike breakers, a matter that is described with some pride in semi-official US labor histories, which praise the AFL [American Federation of Labor] for its achievements in helping to save Europe by splitting and weakening the labor movement (thus frustrating alleged Soviet designs) and safeguarding the flow of arms to Indochina for the French war of re-conquest, another prime goal of the US labor bureaucracy. The CIA reconstituted the mafia for these purposes, in one of its early operations. The quid pro quo was restoration of the heroin trade. The US government connection to the drug boom continued for many decades.
    US policies toward Italy basically picked up where they had been broken off by World War II. The United States had supported Mussolini’s Fascism from the 1922 takeover through the 1930s. Mussolini’s wartime alliance with Hitler terminated these friendly relations, but they were reconstituted as US forces liberated southern Italy in 1943, establishing the rule of Field Marshall [Pietro] Badoglio and the royal family that had collaborated with the Fascist government. As Allied forces drove towards the north, they dispersed the anti-fascist resistance along with local governing bodies it had formed in its attempt to establish a new democratic state in the zones it had liberated from Germany. Eventually, a center-right government was established with neo-fascist participation and the left soon excluded.
    Here too, the plan was for the working classes and the poor to bear the burden of reconstruction, with lowered wages and extensive firing. Aid was contingent on removing communists and left socialists from office, because they defended workers’ interests and thus posed a barrier to the intended style of recovery, in the view of the State Department. The Communist Party was collaborationist; its position “fundamentally meant the subordination of all reforms to the liberation of Italy and effectively discouraged any attempt in northern areas to introduce irreversible political changes as well as changes in the ownership of the industrial companies … disavowing and discouraging those workers’ groups that wanted to expropriate some factories,” as Gianfranco Pasquino put it. But the Party did try to defend jobs, wages and living standards for the poor and thus “constituted a political and psychological barrier to a potential European recovery program,” historian John Harper comments, reviewing the insistence of Kennan and others that communists be excluded from government though agreeing that it would be “desirable” to include representatives of what Harper calls “the democratic working class.” The recovery, it was understood, was to be at the expense of the working class and the poor.
    Because of its responsiveness to the needs of these social sectors, the Communist Party was labelled “extremist” and “undemocratic” by US propaganda, which also skillfully manipulated the alleged Soviet threat. Under US pressure, the Christian Democrats abandoned wartime promises about workplace democracy and the police, sometimes under the control of ex-fascists, were encouraged to suppress labor activities. The Vatican announced that anyone who voted for the communists in the 1948 election would be denied sacraments, and backed the conservative Christian Democrats under the slogan: “O con Cristo o contro Cristo” (“Either with Christ or against Christ”). A year later, Pope Pius excommunicated all Italian communists.
    A combination of violence, manipulation of aid and other threats, and a huge propaganda campaign sufficed to determine the outcome of the critical 1948 election, essentially bought by US intervention and pressures.
    The CIA operations to control the Italian elections, authorized by the National Security Council in December 1947, were the first major clandestine operation of the newly formed agency. CIA operations to subvert Italian democracy continued into the 1970s at a substantial scale.
    In Italy, as well as elsewhere, US labor leaders, primarily from the AFL, played an active role in splitting and weakening the labor movement, and inducing workers to accept austerity measures while employers reaped rich profits. In France, the AFL had broken dock strikes by importing Italian scab labor paid by US businesses. The State Department called on the Federation’s leadership to exercise their talents in union-busting in Italy as well, and they were happy to oblige. The business sector, formerly discredited by its association with Italian fascism, undertook a vigorous class war with renewed confidence. The end result was the subordination of the working class and the poor to the traditional rulers.
    Later commentators tend to see the US subversion of democracy in France and Italy as a defense of democracy. In a highly-regarded study of the CIA and American democracy, Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones describes “the CIA’s Italian venture,” along with its similar efforts in France, as “a democracy-propping operation,” though he concedes that “the selection of Italy for special attention … was by no means a matter of democratic principle alone;” our passion for democracy was reinforced by the strategic importance of the country. But it was a commitment to “democratic principle” that inspired the US government to impose the social and political regimes of its choice, using the enormous power at its command and exploiting the privation and distress of the victims of the war, who must be taught not to raise their heads if we are to have true democracy.
    A more nuanced position is taken by James Miller in his monograph on US policies towards Italy. Summarizing the record, he concludes that “in retrospect, American involvement in the stabilization of Italy was a significant, if troubling, achievement. American power assured Italians the right to choose their future form of government and also was employed to ensure that they chose democracy. In defense of that democracy against real but probably overestimated foreign and domestic threats, the United States used undemocratic tactics that tended to undermine the legitimacy of the Italian state.”
    The “foreign threats,” as he had already discussed, were hardly real; the Soviet Union watched from a distance as the US subverted the 1948 election and restored the traditional conservative order, keeping to its wartime agreement with Churchill that left Italy in the Western zone. The “domestic threat” was the threat of democracy.
    The idea that US intervention provided Italians with freedom of choice while ensuring that they chose “democracy” (in our special sense of the term) is reminiscent of the attitude of the extreme doves towards Latin America: that its people should choose freely and independently — as long as doing so did not impact US interests adversely.
    The democratic ideal, at home and abroad, is simple and straightforward: You are free to do what you want, as long as it is what we want you to do.
    If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglass
    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
    "Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn

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