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Trump’s State of the Union address: half MAGA rally, half Resistance Protest, full-on reality TV drama

By Sarah Abed | February 6, 2020

Tuesday’s State of the Union dubbed “the launching of the great American comeback” came just a day after the Iowa caucuses in the 2020 presidential election and a day before Trump was acquitted of both articles of impeachment by the Senate. What could best be described as a reality TV drama on steroids, part MAGA rally and part Resistance protest with several theatrical performances that tugged at the heart strings and others that took exploitation and emotional manipulation to another level, this year’s SOTU had a little something for everyone.

The most talked about incident, however, was when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi proceeded to rip a copy of President Trump’s speech while still on camera, as soon as he had finished his hour and a half long annual address. In what could be described as a wrestling match between the opposing parties US political divide was on full display for the world to mock.

Pelosi’s attempts to downplay or justify her actions by saying “it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives”, didn’t do much to stifle the bipartisan condemnation she received. The disgraced 79-year-old Democratic leader’s bold nonverbal message speaks more of her inability to effectively handle the pressures that come with this coveted position than any sort of resistance message she was hoping to send to the Left. Some have even called for her to resign as House Speaker.

On Wednesday, US President Donald J. Trump became the third US president in history to be impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate. Ending the impeachment process and almost guaranteeing him a second term, the president was acquitted during the Senate trial on both articles of impeachment.

The only Republican that voted in favor of convicting President Trump was Mitt Romney of Utah. Romney is also the only Senator in US history to vote to remove a president from his own party in an impeachment trial. Romney voted “guilty” on article 1, for abuse of power, and “not guilty” on article 2, for obstruction of Congress. On the Senate floor Romney said that he supports a lot of what President Trump has done but his promise before God was to apply impartial justice and to put his feelings and political biases aside. What did Romney benefit from his vote? Nothing, aside from maybe a little favor with the liberals.

After two months of what Trump referred to as a “witch hunt”, the fact-finding and closed-door depositions were followed by public hearings in December.  Now with the acquittal a disgraceful chapter in the Democratic Party’s book has closed and with it any chance of Trump being forced out of office before his term is over.

Democrats have essentially gifted Trump his next presidency on a silver platter. One can’t help but wonder how incredibly inept and poorly executed their plans have been since the 2016 election. The “he is not my president” crowd led by the white coat mafia is spiteful and undeniably biased. These individuals wouldn’t dare criticize the previous administrations many faults, some of which led us into wars that have cost millions of people their lives but they will eagerly scrutinize the current administrations every word and deed, and regardless if it’s to the nations benefit or not, they will trash it.

The left claims to be working in the best interest of the average American but has essentially created the perfect storm which not only gives President Trump’s his highest job approval ratings since he took office in 2017, which according to Gallup polls has risen to 49% but inflates his already enormous ego. Why is it that war crimes and crimes against humanity which were committed by the Obama administration never warrant a mention? If Democrats had a just bone in their body, they would have named and shamed previous President’s just as they have done to the current administration but that’s never going to happen.

It’s hard to tell what’s worse, the Left who is blinded by hate and is willing to burn the country down to get rid of President Trump or the Right which considers Trump their Lord and Savior and chooses to live in ignorant bliss and blindly accepts whatever Emperor Trump and his administration dish out.

Anyone who hasn’t been brainwashed into thinking either of the two parties have our best interest at heart can see that both parties are flawed and suffer from the inability to effectively discern fact from fiction or put biases aside and focus on America first.

However, in this political circus, at least since 2016 till 2024 it looks like the Republicans are on top and the Democrats, by their own doing, are digging themselves into a deeper grave by the day.

Now to say that the Left and Right can’t agree on anything would be an exaggeration. During the State of the Union address there were a few nauseating moments where both sides seemed in sync. One such rare show of solidarity came when both sides eagerly applauded the failed US-puppet Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. Guaido isn’t the legitimate president of Venezuela, but like a scene out of a zombie movie, President Trump introduced the stiff CIA-backed puppet and the crowd went wild with applause.  Braindead attendees rose in unison to give him a standing ovation. Had Guaido and his US sponsors not failed miserably to unseat President Nicholas Maduro, Guaido wouldn’t currently be on tour trying to garner support leading him to the White House.

If the Left truly cared about the US’s domestic and foreign policies and wanted to bring about any meaningful change, they need to bring more to the table than just boycotts and protests, to be taken seriously.

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , | 1 Comment

‘All roads lead to Putin!’ Pelosi tells Americans impeachment not really about Ukraine but all about… Russia

RT | December 5, 2019

For Americans still confused why exactly Democrats want to impeach President Donald Trump – something about Ukraine, maybe? – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has helpfully clarified that it’s all about Russia and always has been.

Briefing reporters on the impeachment inquiry on Thursday, Pelosi (D-California) made sure to point out that “this isn’t about Ukraine, this is about Russia.”

“Russia. It’s about Russia. Russia invading eastern Ukraine …all roads lead to Putin. Understand that.”

That may come as a surprise given the Democrats’ recent line of argument that Trump must be impeached because he tried to force new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open a corruption investigation into the gas company that had Joe Biden’s son Hunter on its board – a “quid pro quo” that qualified as bribery and election interference, somehow.

However, as Pelosi explained, it was Russia that somehow “benefited” from Trump withholding US military assistance to Kiev – though she did not say how, since the aid was actually delivered on time. Curiously, she didn’t mention the fact that it was actually the Trump administration which approved military aid to Ukraine in the first place, while the Obama administration refused to, worrying about a worse flare-up in violence.

Perhaps fearing that the case for impeachment on the basis of the alleged “quid pro quo” isn’t quite stacking up the way Democrats wanted it to, Pelosi seems to have reverted to an easier tactic of just shouting “Russia!” and hoping it sticks.

“Sometimes people say I don’t know about Ukraine, I don’t know that much about Ukraine — well, our adversary in this is Russia,” Pelosi continued.

Got that? Never mind that the original story about “collusion” between Trump and Russia crashed and burned after a two-year investigation by Robert Mueller, who couldn’t find any. Never mind that the details about Ukraine’s place in the whole alleged scandal don’t quite add up, or that Zelensky himself denied ever being pressured, or that the facts of the story don’t seem as clear-cut as Democrats and the media claim. None of that matters, really, because… Russia.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Lecturing the ‘peons’? Pelosi blames voter disenchantment on outside forces who ‘poisoned’ social media

RT | October 27, 2019

Dark forces have tainted social media and turned optimistic, hopeful, Americans into unhappy voters, Nancy Pelosi has conveniently claimed. The House Speaker’s explanation for the current political mood did not impress Twitter.

The senior Democratic lawmaker told a crowd in Iowa on Saturday that any negative or ambivalent feelings about US politics likely stems from actors “inside and outside” the country who have “poisoned” social media.

[They use social media to] undermine the mindset of what is America. America is optimistic, entrepreneurial, about the American dream and things can be better. And what they do with their poison is discourage – ‘nobody is paying attention to you, it’s no use for you to vote.’

Paraphrasing Pelosi’s rather disjointed remarks, journalist Michael Tracey noted: “So if social media makes you pessimistic, you are the victim of ‘interference’ rather than a critical thinker.”

Her comments elicited considerable internet heckling, with Twitter users accusing Pelosi of deflecting criticism of her party.

Others suggested that Pelosi was just bitter that social media users don’t take orders from her “oligarch masters” – making the platforms far harder to control than traditional news outlets.

October 27, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Russophobia | , | 2 Comments

Lavrov responds to Pelosi claim Russia ‘had a hand’ in Trump-Zelensky impeachment scandal

RT | September 27, 2019

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claims that Russia was involved in the Trump-Zelensky phone conversation scandal as “obvious paranoia” and yet another “deadly sin” to pin on Moscow.

“Russia’s been accused of all the deadly sins, and then some,” Lavrov said at a press conference at the UN General Assembly on Friday, addressing a question about Pelosi’s claims that his country was somehow involved in the alleged quid pro quo between US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“It’s paranoia, and I think it’s obvious to everyone.”

In an interview with MSNBC that aired earlier on Friday, Pelosi had claimed that Russia “has a hand in” what she referred to as Trump’s “shakedown” of the Ukrainian president during a telephone conversation back in July – released this week by the White House – as well as the subsequent “cover-up of the cover-up.”

Trump is “undermining our national security” by withholding military aid from Ukraine, she insisted, and “violated the constitution by overriding an act of Congress.”

The Democrats claim that Trump threatened to withhold military aid unless Ukraine restarted a corruption probe into the gas company that employed Hunter Biden, the son of then-vice president and current Democratic front-runner Joe Biden.

Pelosi launched an impeachment inquiry on Tuesday while admitting she had not read a transcript of the fateful call between the two leaders. She nevertheless accused Trump of betraying his oath of office, national security, and “the integrity of our elections.”

The call transcript, released the following morning, did not include any discussion of military aid, and mentioned the Biden investigation only in passing – a subject that was broached by Zelensky, not Trump.

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Climate Hysterics Skyrocket Even As Weather Disasters Haven’t

By Paul Driessen | Climate Change Dispatch | January 21, 2019

Call it climate one-upmanship. It seems everyone has to outdo previous climate chaos rhetoric.

The “climate crisis” is the “existential threat of our time,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her House colleagues. We must “end the inaction and denial of science that threatens the planet and the future.”

Former California Governor Jerry Brown solemnly intoned that America has “an enemy, though different, but perhaps very much devastating in a similar way” as the Nazis in World War II.

Not to be outdone, two PhDs writing in Psychology Today declared that “the human race faces extinction” if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels.

And yet “even people who experience extreme weather events often still refuse to report the experiences as a manifestation of climate change.” Psychologists, they lament, “have never had to face denial on this scale before.”

Then there’s Oxford University doctoral candidate Samuel Miller-McDonald. He’s convinced the only thing that could save people and planet from cataclysmic climate change is cataclysmic nuclear war that “shuts down the global economy but stops short of human extinction.”

All this headline-grabbing gloom and doom, however, is backed up by little more than computer models, obstinate assertions that the science is settled, and a steady litany of claims that temperatures, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts et cetera are unprecedented, worse than ever before, and due to fossil fuels.

And on the basis of these hysterics, we are supposed to give up the carbon-based fuels that provide over 80% of the U.S.’ and global energy, gladly reduce our living standards – and put our jobs and economy at the mercy of expensive, unreliable, weather dependent, pseudo-renewable wind, solar and biofuel energy.

As in any civil or criminal trial, the burden of proof is on the accusers and prosecutors who want to sentence fossil fuels to oblivion. They need to provide more than blood-curdling charges, opening statements and summations. They need to provide convincing real-world evidence to prove their case.

They have refused to do so. They ignore the way rising atmospheric carbon-dioxide is spurring plant growth and greening the planet. They blame every extreme weather event on fossil fuel emissions, but cannot explain the Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age or extreme weather events decades or centuries ago – or why we have had fewer extreme weather events in recent decades.

They simply resort to trial in media and other forums where they can exclude exculpatory evidence, bar any case for the fossil fuel defense, and prevent any cross-examination of their witnesses, assertions and make-believe evidence.

Climate models are not evidence. At best, they offer scenarios of what might happen if the assumptions on which they are based turn out to be correct.

However, the average prediction by 102 models is now a full degree F (0.55 C) above what satellites are actually measuring.

Models that cannot be confirmed by actual observations are of little value and certainly should not be a basis for vital energy policymaking.

The alarmist mantra seems to be: If models and reality don’t agree, reality must be wrong.

In fact, even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels climbed to 405 parts per million (0.0405% of Earth’s atmosphere), except for short-term temperature spikes during El Niño ocean warming events, there has been very little planetary warming since 1998; nothing to suggest chaos or runaway temperatures.

Claims that tornadoes have gotten more frequent and intense are obliterated by actual evidence. NOAA records show that from 1954 to 1985 an average of 56 F3 to F5 tornadoes struck the USA each year – but from 1985 to 2017 there was only 34 per year on average.

And in 2018, for the first time in modern history, not a single “violent” twister touched down in the United States.

Harvey was the first major (category 3-5) hurricane to make US landfall in a record twelve years. The previous record was nine years, set in the 1860s. (If rising CO2 levels are to blame for Harvey, Irma and other extreme weather events, shouldn’t they also be credited for this hurricane drought?)

Droughts differ little from historical trends and cycles – and the Dust Bowl, Anasazi, and Mayan droughts, and other ancient dry spells were long and destructive. Moreover, modern agricultural and drip irrigation technologies enable farmers to deal with droughts far better than they ever could in the past.

Forest fires are fewer than in the recent past – and largely due to failure to remove hundreds of millions of dead and diseased trees that provide ready tinder for massive conflagrations.

Arctic and Antarctic ice are largely within “normal” or “cyclical” levels for the past several centuries – and snow surface temperatures in the East Antarctic Plateau regularly reach  -90 °C (-130 F) or lower.

Average Antarctic temperatures would have to rise some 20-85 degrees F year-round for all its land ice to melt and cause oceans to rise at faster than their current 7-12 inches per century pace.

In fact, the world’s oceans have risen over 400 feet since the last Pleistocene glaciers melted. (That’s how much water those mile-high Ice Age glaciers took out of the oceans!)

Sea level rise paused during the Little Ice Age but kicked in again the past century or so. Meanwhile, retreating glaciers reveal long-lost forests, coins, corpses, and other artifacts– proving those glaciers have come and gone many times.

Pacific islands will not be covered by rising seas anytime soon, at 7-12 inches per century, and because corals and atolls grow as seas rise. Land subsidence also plays a big role in perceived sea level rise – and US naval bases are safe from sea level rise, though maybe not from local land subsidence.

The Washington Post did report that “the Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer, and in some places, the seals are finding the water too hot.” But that was in 1922.

Moreover, explorers wrote about the cyclical absence of Arctic ice long before that. “We were astonished by the total absence of ice in Barrow Strait,” Sir Francis McClintock wrote in 1860. “I was here at this time in [mid] 1854 – still frozen up – and doubts were entertained as to the possibility of escape.”

Coral bleaching? That too has many causes – few having anything to do with manmade global warming – and the reefs generally return quickly to their former glory as corals adopt new zooxanthellae.

On and on it goes – with more scare stories daily, more attempts to blame humans and fossil fuels for nearly every interesting or as-yet-unexplained natural phenomenon, weather event or climate fluctuation.

And yet countering the man-made climate apocalypse narrative is increasingly difficult – in large part because the $2-trillion-per-year climate “science” and “renewable” energy industry works vigorously to suppress such evidence and discussion … and is aided and abetted by its media and political allies.

Thus we have Chuck Todd, who brought an entire panel of alarmist climate “experts” to a recent episode of Meet the Press. He helped them expound ad nauseam on the alleged “existential threat of our time” – but made it clear that he was not going to give even one minute to experts on the other side.

“We’re not going to debate climate change, the existence of it,” Todd proclaimed. “The Earth is getting hotter. And human activity is a major cause, period. We’re not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not.”

The only thing left to discuss, from their perspective was “solutions” – most of which would hugely benefit them and their cohorts, politically and financially.

Regular folks in developed and developing countries alike see this politicized, money-driven kangaroo court process for what it is.

They also know that unproven, exaggerated and fabricated climate scares must be balanced against their having to give up (or never having) reliable, affordable fossil fuel energy. That is why we have “dangerous man-made climate change” denial on this scale.

That is why we must get the facts out by other means. It is why we must confront Congress, media people and the Trump Administration, and demand that they address these realities, hold debates, revisit the CO2 Endangerment Finding – and stop calling for an end to fossil fuels and modern living standards before we actually have an honest, robust assessment of supposedly “settled” climate science.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and author of articles and books on energy, environmental and human rights issues.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

US’ Iran Regime-Change Plan: Hit Economy, Orchestrate Protests, Engage MEK Cult to Chant “Democracy”

By Elliot Gabriel | Mint Press News | June 28, 2018

Iran’s latest wave of protests against the suffering state of the economy and the plunging value of the rial appeared to have come and gone by Wednesday, as crowds dissipated and businesses opened up shop following a two-day strike. While clashes between security forces and protesters during the protests were far from widespread, the very fact that the protests broke out hints at the extreme duress Iran is undergoing thanks to President Donald Trump’s renewed economic war on the country.

Judging by the enthusiastic response to the demonstrations in the U.S., Saudi, and Israeli press, anti-Iranian forces are clearly banking on the possibility that the sanctions that will soon be reimposed in the next several months could dislodge the Islamic Republic, clearing the way for a regime friendly to the West.

Thus we have witnessed anti-Iran publications like the Israeli Jerusalem Post frothing over with excitement over scenes of alleged Iranian citizens chanting “Death to Palestine,” “Let go of Syria – think about us,” and the much-beloved anti-Ayatollah Khamenei mainstay “Death to dictator.”

While videos from Iran depict what could very well be an organic groundswell of social protest against government policies, photos published in papers like the Post show a different story: middle-aged Persian men gripping English-language signs and the flags of the toppled Iranian monarchy, along placards bearing the portrait of an unlikely figure: the mustachioed, mysterious and long-disappeared charismatic cult leader who is considered an outlawed terrorist and traitor to the nation — Massoud Rajavi.

Rajavi was the leader of the group that lies at the center of the anti-Iran alliance’s “regime change” dreams: Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), or the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). A fanatical militant group whose title translates literally to the “The People’s Holy Warriors,” this eccentric left-nationalist, pseudo-religious cult has been led by Massoud’s wife, Maryam Rajavi, since the 1980s.

Formed in 1965, the group’s tortured history has seen it transformed from a movement of communist-influenced, Islamist-tinged anti-imperialists who carried out attacks on U.S. military officers in Iran into an authoritarian de facto mercenary army serving anyone opposed to the Islamic Republic – be it Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Israel, or the United States.

The group wields major PR clout and outsized influence in Western capitals through countless front groups like the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), through which it depicts itself as “a political coalition that represents all of Iran’s religious, ethnic, and political groups proportionately;”  stresses feminist, Islamist, free-speech and pro-free-market values; and is firmly “committed to a secular, democratic, non-nuclear republic” in Iran.

The RAND Corporation described the group as “skilled manipulators of public opinion,” but a cursory look at its publications shows a rather ham-fisted and self-celebratory pile of cultish jargon. Throughout the past week, publications like Iran Focus or Iran News Update – the latter of which bills itself as “Insider News & Analysis in Iran” – have pumped out articles boosting NCRI as “the only viable alternative to the Iranian regime” and claiming:

As protests in Iran continue to multiply and intensify, the regime’s claim to power is looking more and more tenuous. If the people were to overthrow their tyrannical government, the only democratic organization in the position to take over governance would be the NCRI … The regime’s reign of terror is at its close.”

The MEK was one of the first groups to be named a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department, but its extreme opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran and generous donations to politicians has led to its eventual delisting. The roster of politicians and influential figures tied to the MEK and its fronts spans much of the U.S. political spectrum, from the far right to the left-of-center.

Trump’s White House is a virtual all-star cast of MEK associates – explaining the administration’s frenzied push to scrap the nuclear deal and push to topple Tehran. Among the top supporters of MEK is White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, whose hatred of Iran’s government verges on the pathological.

A congressional foreign-policy aide who attended an Iranian New Year celebration hosted by an MEK front group told Foreign Policy magazine:

Bolton is positively predisposed to the MEK …  they will have some access to this White House, [to say] the least.”

From revolutionary anti-imperialists to bizarre mercenary cult

The MEK once enjoyed a decently-sized support base within Iran and even played a role in the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew U.S.-loyal Shah Reza Pahlevi and opened up a new period of national independence for the nation. Following the revolution, the group’s political struggles with the faction led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and failure to secure widespread support led it to deploy its Shah-era “armed struggle,” or terrorist tactics, against officials and clergy loyal to Khomeini, claiming the lives of dozens of key figures in the newly-formed government.

The Mojahedin (jihadists), whom the Islamic Revolution’s leader regularly derided as monafeghin (hypocrites) – an allusion to those in the Quran who conspired against the Prophet while feigning loyalty – became the top enemies of the Islamic Republic.

Faced with the full brunt of the Islamic Republic’s retribution, the group fled to Iraq in the 1980s and became a virtual “Iranian Legion” for Saddam Hussein, who equipped the group with heavy armor, uniforms, and artillery so that it could fight alongside Iraqi forces during the Iran-Iraq war. Following the war, the self-styled “national liberation army” launched a series of cross-border raids against Iranian civilian and military targets, sacrificing nearly all of its remaining support among Iranians.

The drop in Iranian support led to a push to replenish MEK ranks by targeting family members, wealthy potential donors, and expatriate Iranians in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. True to their form as a cult, the group promised to connect prospective recruits with a lifeline of assistance as the trade-off for their enlisting in the group.

According to the RAND Corporation:

Many were enticed not with promises of an opportunity to fight the IRI, but rather through promises of paid employment as translators, assistance in processing asylum requests, free visits to family members, public-health volunteer opportunities, and even marriage. All ‘recruits’ were brought into Iraq illegally and then required to hand over their identity documents for ‘safekeeping,’ effectively trapping them at MeK compounds. These findings suggest that many MeK recruits since 1986 were not true volunteers and have been kept at MeK camps in Iraq under duress.”

Watch | Cult of the Chameleon 

Tens of thousands of the group’s members remained under the protection of the Iraqi dictator, even participating in the bloody massacres that followed the Shia Arab and Kurdish uprisings of 1991, until the fall of the Ba’athist regime in 2003 when the U.S.-led coalition bombed the Saddam loyalists’ camps.

Seeing continued use for the MEK for their own anti-Iran efforts, however, the U.S. placed 3,800 members of the group under protective custody at Camp Ashraf, the sprawling city-sized base built for them by Saddam. Those who escaped the group had to undergo cult deprogramming.

Watch | Introducing Camp Ashraf

According to RAND, the group – which claims to uphold women’s equality – ensured that lines were “painted down the middle of hallways separating them into men’s and women’s sides” at the camp, prior to their expulsion by Iraqi forces in 2013. Many were shipped by the U.S. to Albania, the only country willing to accept them.

Yet while a major portion of the group’s membership spent over three decades imprisoned in Ba’athist Iraqi camps near the border with Iran, a significant chunk of the group – such as leader Maryam Rajavi – nestled into the Iranian expatriate communities in Paris, Washington, and other capitals. The group spent decades relentlessly lobbying Western governments and lawmakers to support its attempts to bring “reform” to Iran, and has even furnished intelligence to U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies in hopes to provide a casus belli for hostile policies and even military actions versus Tehran.

The “Iranian Resistance” wags the dog in Washington

In the U.S. capital, the group was enormously successful in its efforts to recruit an auxiliary brigade of highly influential top politicians to its cause. Even the far-right Washington Times, owned at the time by charismatic cult leader Reverend Sun Myung-Moon, issued glossy “special report” inserts hailing the militaristic group as the bringers of “freedom” to Iran. The publication included words of praise from Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the late Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), among many, many, others.

A brief list of these MEK supporters in the Republican Party reads like a who’s-who of anti-Iran officials from the neoconservative administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump:

  • In 2000, future Bush administration attorney general and Republican then-Senator John Ashcroft intervened on behalf of MKO military commander Mahnaz Samadi, who has been detained by immigration authorities due to her failure to disclose past terrorist ties — hailing the former anti-Iran combatant as a “highly regarded human-rights activist” and a “powerful voice for democracy.”
  • Former Pennsylvania Governor and first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge praised the National Council of Resistance in Iran as “the single most visible, most credible, and most effective democratic movement with a clear and specific program to bring a democratic Iran to existence,” led by the “steady hand and inspiring leadership” of cult leader Maryam Rajavi.
  • Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, Florida, who served as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been a major leader in legislation calling for regime-change measures against Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, and even called for Fidel Castro’s assassination in 2006. In 2003, she came out in defense of MEK as a group that “loves the United States” and is an ally in the “war on terrorism.”
  • Tea Party leader, Bush confidante and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey promoted the MEK while working for lobbying firm DLA Piper. Armey also represented Saeid Ghaemi, an Iranian expatriate in the U.S. who paid almost $910,000 to the lobbying firm “for Armey’s services bringing issues relating to Iran to the attention of Congress, the State Department, the Department of Defense, the White House, the National Security Council and the Department of Treasury.”

Watch | Giuliani Leads MEK “Regime Change” Chant

And then we have the top luminaries from President Donald Trump’s circle, including:

  • Former New York City Mayor and top White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who co-signed a letter along with various bipartisan officials urging a newly-inaugurated Trump to “establish a dialogue” with NCRI, and was revealed to have been a paid advocate for the removal of MEK from the State Department terror group list. Giuliani has been an almost annual guest at MEK functions in Paris and a regular anti-Iranian voice on television.  In 2015, Giuliani stood before a crowd of MEK supporters in Paris and shouted:

The ayatollah must go! Gone! Out! No more! I will not support anyone for president of the United States who isn’t clear on that slogan behind me. What does it say? It says regime change!”

  • Trump adviser and GOP elder Newt Gingrich, who ripped on former President Obama for bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia, but was caught on camera bowing to Maryam Rajavi – whom the conservative ultra-patriot sees as an Iranian version of U.S. founding father George Washington.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, the elite Taiwanese-American wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has received honoraria in the amounts of $50,000 and $17,500 to speak for MEK front groups like the Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri and the NCRI. At the same Paris event attended by Giuliani, Chao sat as guest of honor alongside “president-elect” cult leader Rajavi before delivering a feminist-themed speech slamming Iran’s government.

And then, of course, there’s John Bolton, a ravening ultra-hawk with a nearly obsessive hatred of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Speaking to Foreign Policy magazine, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior fellow Karim Sadjadpour commented:

I suspect Bolton’s interactions with the MEK were above all motivated by financial interests … The MEK may be a backward cult with little to offer, but they are the enemy of his enemy. And they pay handsomely.”

The same can likely be said about the rest of the elected “representatives”-for-hire in Washington, whose belief in the MEK’s ability to lead a post-IRI Iranian state is no doubt on par with their trust in the late Rev. Moon’s claims to be the one and only messiah.

While the hard-hit Iranian economy is likely to continue reeling, driving more protesters into the streets, one shouldn’t mistake their social demands or financial pain for a desire to subject themselves to a totalitarian cult with hardly a fraction of the support enjoyed by the Shia clergy helming the Islamic Republic — no matter the extent to which Washington and the Saudis attempt to foist the Rajavi group on the Iranian nation.

Yet despite the group’s dearth of political legitimacy, the congressional aide who spoke to FP understands why they remain a mainstay in the U.S. Capitol:

They’re useful as provocation … They’re useful as a signal to the Iranian government that we’re coming to get you.”

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador.

June 28, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Video | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

North Korea: Pelosi versus Peace

By Thomas L. Knapp | William Lloyd Garrison Center | June 12, 2018

Which is worse: The specter of nuclear war, or giving US president Donald Trump credit for a significant diplomatic accomplishment?

In her official statement on Trump’s Singapore summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi makes it clear that a few million incinerated human beings are a small price to pay to keep the 68-year-old Korean War going. Maybe not forever, but at least until there’s a Democrat in the White House.

“[T]he President handed Kim Jong-un concessions in exchange for vague promises that do not approach a clear and comprehensive pathway to denuclearization and non-proliferation,” Pelosi complains.

What were these dangerous “concessions?”

First, the US armed forces will, conditional upon progress toward North Korean denuclearization, stop conducting the threatening military exercises that they’ve conducted on North Korea’s border and off its coast since the 1953 ceasefire. Some “concession.” If US and South Korean forces aren’t prepared for a new outbreak of hostilities after 65 years of training, they never will be.

Secondly, again conditional upon North Korea holding up its end of the developing bargain, the US will provide “security guarantees.” Which means, the US and South Korea won’t invade North Korea, just like they haven’t invaded North Korea since 1953. Again, some “concession.”

Would a Democratic president, at the kind of summit with North Korea’s ruler that Trump managed to swing — unlike any past president, Democrat or Republican — have refused those two obvious first-step “concessions?” Not a chance. They were the bare minimum, and if a Democrat had offered them, Pelosi would have publicly celebrated them as like unto the Second Coming.

“President Trump elevated North Korea to the level of the United States while preserving the regime’s status quo,” Pelosi continues, ignoring the fact that every president since Eisenhower has “preserved the regime’s status quo” — until Trump, who recognized, diplomatically speaking and in relation to the issue at hand, that North Korea is already at “the level of the United States.”

If the Korean War is going to be sorted out, it will be the belligerents — North Korea, South Korea, China and the United States, likely with significant input from Russia — doing the sorting.

But Pelosi, the Democratic Party, and the party’s allies in the media, would rather it NOT get sorted out.

That’s disgusting.

Posturing America as “the exceptional nation,” Kim as a supplicant in rags, and those other governments as mere hangers-on could have had only two possible outcomes. One was the status quo ante. The other — a danger faced by then-president Barack Obama in negotiating the Iran nuclear deal — was those other parties negotiating their own deal, leaving a petulant, marginalized America to watch their parade from the sidelines.

A genuine and durable peace on the Korean peninsula may or may not be achievable, but Trump seems to be giving it the old college try. Pelosi and her party, having proven unable to lead and unwilling to follow on the matter, should at least have the decency to get the hell out of the way.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

June 12, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Top Democrats demand $300mn to protect the midterms from Russia intervention

Press TV – February 21, 2018

US Democratic leaders have called for more than $300 million in new funding to protect upcoming midterm elections from Russian interference.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi demanded a budget boost Wednesday, claiming that the amount is necessary to safeguard November’s elections.

The extra money should go to the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Election Assistance Commission, they said in a letter to the Republicans.

“We’re not drawing lines in the sand,” Senator Schumer told reporters. “We hope we can get bipartisan support.”

The Democrats’ move was made in the wake of mounting pressure against the administration of US President Donald Trump over possible collusion with Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign and election.

The president and his associates have been under increased pressure since Friday, when special counsel Robert Mueller released an indictment in the ongoing Russia probe.

The investigation seeks to find out whether the Russian government coordinated with Trump’s aides after the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Kremlin helped with the New York billionaire’s campaign effort ahead of winning the White House, an allegation dismissed both by Moscow and the president.

Democrats are, meanwhile, attempting to persuade the GOP to back the effort.

“There is some support out there, but it has never gotten to the Republican leadership level,” Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar told reporters. “If they want to do this, they could get it done — but instead of just having introduced bills, they’re going to have to take this on and help us.”

In an emailed statement to Politico, a Senate Republican aide asserted that the offer would be “considered.”

“This request will be carefully considered along with the thousands of individual choices and decisions that will have to be weighed and made as a FY2018 omnibus bill is written,” wrote the GOP aide.

According to the spokeswoman for the Republican speaker of the US House of Representative, Paul Ryan, lawmakers will be informed “on ways to protect the 2018 election.”

“We won’t be negotiating the omnibus through the press,” AshLee Strong said.

February 21, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Democrats’ Russia-gate Obsession

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is one of the leading “lights” of the “progressive Democrats” pushing the Russiagate nonsense. Pettiness or misguidedness is not their sin but criminal complicity in putting humanity —and all life on this planet—at the risk of extinction in pursuit of abject goals.

By Norman Solomon | Consortium News | July 6, 2017

Some leading Democrats in Congress are eager to turn the summit meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin away from avenues for improvements in U.S.-Russian relations, even if that means deflecting it toward World War III.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that “the White House announced that the meeting with Mr. Putin would be a formal bilateral discussion, rather than a quick pull-aside at the economic summit meeting that some had expected.”

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized the lack of a “specific agenda” for the Trump-Putin discussion and tweeted “the first few things that come to my mind” — with 10 items denouncing Russia and not a single step to help avert a nuclear war between that country and the United States.

What a contrast with another Democrat, former Sen. Sam Nunn, who signed a June 27 open letter that urged Putin and Trump to focus on “urgently pursuing practical steps now that can stop the downward spiral in relations and reduce real dangers.” The letter emphasized “reducing nuclear and other military risks.”

But these days, apparently, the Democratic leadership in Congress has much bigger fish to fry than merely trying to avert a global nuclear holocaust.

The Democratic Party leaders on Capitol Hill can’t be bothered with squandering much political capital or sound-bite airtime on the matters highlighted by the open letter, which Nunn — a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — signed along with former top British, German and Russian diplomats.

Four Proposals 

The open letter offered four crucial proposals for the meeting between Trump and Putin:

— “The starting point could be a new Presidential Joint Declaration by the United States and the Russian Federation declaring that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. This would make clear again that leaders recognize their responsibility to work together to prevent nuclear catastrophe, and would be positively received by global leaders and publics.”

–“A second step could be to increase military-to-military communication through a new NATO-Russia Military Crisis Management Group. Restarting bilateral military-to-military dialogue between the United States and Russia, essential throughout the Cold War, should be an immediate and urgent priority. The focus of these initiatives should be on reducing risks of a catastrophic mistake or accident by restoring communication and increasing transparency and trust.”

–“A third step could be to collaborate to prevent ISIS and other terrorist groups from acquiring nuclear and radiological materials through a joint initiative to prevent WMD terrorism. There is an urgent need to cooperate on securing vulnerable radioactive materials that could be used to produce a ‘dirty bomb.’ Such materials are widely available in more than 150 countries and are often found in facilities, such as hospitals and universities, that are poorly secured.”

–“Fourth, discussions are imperative for reaching at least informal understandings on cyber dangers related to interference in strategic warning systems and nuclear command and control. This should be urgently addressed to prevent war by mistake. That there are no clear ‘rules of the road’ in the strategic nuclear cyber world is alarming.”

Low Priority

But top Democratic Party leaders hardly give high priority to such concerns. On the contrary: For many months now, their preoccupation has been to double, triple and quadruple down on an insidious — and extremely dangerous — political investment. Party leaders have positioned themselves to portray just about any concession from Trump in bilateral talks as a corrupt payoff.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was ringing a familiar bell when she proclaimed on CNN in mid-May: “Every day I ask the question, ‘What do the Russians have on Donald Trump financially, politically or personally that he’s always catering to them?’”

“Given their vehement political investment in demonizing Russia’s President Putin,” I wrote in late April, “Democratic leaders are oriented to seeing the potential of détente with Russia as counterproductive in terms of their electoral strategy for 2018 and 2020. It’s a calculus that boosts the risks of nuclear annihilation, given the very real dangers of escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow.”

Days ago, looking ahead to the scheduled discussion between the two presidents at the G-20 summit in Germany, the home page of the Washington Post carried this headline: “Months of Russia controversy leaves Trump ‘boxed in’ before Putin meeting.” The tagline noted that “whatever course Trump takes will likely be called into question.”

Powerful custodians of the USA’s hugely profitable military-industrial complex prefer it that way. They aren’t much interested in any course toward Russia other than antagonism if not belligerence. There is enormous commitment to heading off the “threat” of genuine diplomacy and rapprochement.

‘Madness of Militarism’ 

Elite guardians of the U.S. warfare state, committed to what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism,” certainly don’t want a modern-day incarnation of the “spirit of Glassboro” that emerged 50 years ago when President Lyndon Johnson met at length with Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin.

Standing next to Kosygin at the end of their summit at a New Jersey college, Johnson said: “I have no doubt about it at all” that “it does help a lot to sit down and look a man in the eye all day long and try to reason with him, particularly if he is trying to reason with you.”

If Trump says anything like that after meeting with the Kremlin’s leader this week, you can expect some misguided Democratic partisans to denounce him as a Putin tool.

While many people are eager for constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia, on Capitol Hill the efforts to prevent such a possibility are fierce and unrelenting. Ultra-hawks like Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain are among quite a few Republicans doing all they can to prevent genuine diplomacy between Washington and Moscow. But much of the most unhinged rhetoric is coming from Democrats, often with the “progressive” label.

To sample just how far downhill the discourse has gone in the frenzy to take genuine U.S.-Russian diplomacy off the table, consider this tweet that a longtime member of Congress with an antiwar past, Democrat Maxine Waters, sent out a week ago: “When Trump goes to kiss Putin’s ring at the G20 meeting, maybe he should just return to Russia w/ him & their favorite amb. Sergey Kislyak.”

The director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, Matthew Rojansky, pointed out days ago: “The momentum in relations between the world’s two big nuclear powers is now so negative, that it really is time to call a halt to anything that looks like further escalation or deterioration.”

Yet that negative momentum is what many members of Congress are trying to increase. Words like “irresponsible” and “reckless” don’t begin to describe what they are doing.

July 9, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Boeing Union Workers Forced Into Massive Concessions

By Jack Rasmus | January 5, 2014

This past weekend, more than 30,000 union workers at Boeing Corp. in Seattle, were forced to accept deep concessions in their union contract, gutting their pensions, future healthcare benefits, wages, and other benefits. Their contract with Boeing had not even expired but they were forced into concessions nonetheless. Nor was the company, Boeing, in any financial distress. It had registered record profits in consecutive years, and had in November 2013 bought back $10 billion in stock from its shareholders and paid another $2 billion in dividends to the same. Nevertheless Boeing demanded concessions, having received communication from Union (IAM) International leadership beforehand of their willingness to grant the same. The combination of Union International leadership pressure, countless Democratic Party politicians, and the Company’s new offensive, proved too much for local workers to resist. The new concessions will effectively end workers’ defined benefit pensions, cutting retirement benefits to the bone, and allow the company to end its healthcare insurance benefits by 2018 in accordance with the Obama new health care plan. Wages for new hired workers are projected to decline to levels of minimum wage or less over the next 11 years of the new contract term.

This kind of attack on pensions and healthcare–or what this writer calls the ‘social wage’ was predicted in this writer’s article, ‘Concession Bargaining at the Crossroads’ two years ago in 2011. That article is reproduced here in its original draft form once again.

CONCESSION BARGAINING AT THE CROSSROADS

“The history of collective bargaining since the Second World War has consisted of several stages or phases. The first phase was roughly from 1947 to 1979. During it collective bargaining was expanded both in terms of its ‘scope’ and its ‘magnitude’. Scope refers to new areas of bargaining, such as cost of living adjustments, supplemental unemployment benefits, pensions and health care benefits, union and worker rights, etc. Magnitude refers to increasing the dollar value of wages and benefits. Up to 1979 both expanded.

In contrast, from the mid-1970s to 2007, concession bargaining became the growing practice. But it was concession bargaining focused on giving back ‘magnitude’ gains of the previous decades, not necessarily the scope of bargaining. Workers in the private sector gave ground on wages and benefits in a decades-long attempt to protect their jobs.

First Stages of Concession Bargaining

Among the first to feel the effects were workers in the construction sector, starting in the 1970s. Employers formed early in the decade the ‘Construction Industry Users Roundtable’. Its strategy was to undermine the then powerful building trades unions by a new tactic: the ‘double breasted operation’. This simply put was a way to undermine the construction unions by setting up parallel, non-union companies. The unions ignored the threat more or less, since the double breasted operations were set up in the suburbs and outlying regions. The urban bastion of unionization in construction wasn’t immediately impacted. Employers progressively then moved jobs and work to the non-union operations. The loss of jobs in the unionized operations eventually forced workers and unions to start granting concessions in an attempt to prevent their work shifting to the non-union companies. Concessions soon expanded. Saving jobs in exchange for givebacks on wages and benefits eventually became the norm.

In the late 1970s the strategy of forcing workers to give up wage and benefit gains to keep their jobs leap-frogged into the manufacturing sector. The pilot and defining event was the Chrysler bailout of 1979. It worked so well the model was planned for application to manufacturing in general. By then the Construction Industry Users Roundtable’ had expanded into what is now known as perhaps the most formidable and effective Big Business organization today—the Business Roundtable. Big manufacturing and service companies joined with the Construction employers. The construction industry union-busting model was transported to other sectors of the economy.

The tactic of double breasted operations took on a new form. Alternative union-free operations were set up. But not across town, as in construction. It was now across borders. The manufacturing analog of the double breasted operation was the runaway shop, as manufacturers moved operations offshore.

In these they were aided by the most pro-business President since Coolidge—Ronald Reagan and a compliant Congress. Manufacturers were provided generous economic incentives to set up offshore. Tax incentives were generously granted. Deregulation was introduced. Then in 1988 and 1993 ‘free trade’ agreements were established with Canada and Mexico to facilitate the movement of US capital to those countries to set up operations. Free ‘trade’ is not just about export-import of goods and services; it is even more about negotiating favorable conditions for US foreign direct investment in those countries. Tax [breaks] for investing offshore plus free trade plus deregulation devastated jobs in the US beginning in the early 1980s, and continuing ever since. Under pressure of losing jobs, workers in manufacturing began the long, dead-end road toward concession bargaining in an attempt to save their jobs. But it didn’t. More than 10 million jobs have been off-shored ever since.

The pressure to grant wage concessions intensified in the 1990s. In addition to the threat of job loss, now escalating double-digit annual increases in health care costs provided a second hammer. That ushered in what was called ‘maintenance of benefits bargaining’. Now desperate to maintain their health care coverage, workers gave up more wages in exchange for keeping health benefits. But that too did not last long.

Health care cost shifting accelerated by 2000 and into the next decade. To assist in paying for rising health care premiums and costs, the federal government permitted companies to drag surplus funds from workers’ defined benefit pension plans to cover rising health costs. Up to 20% of health cost increases were subsidized in this manner. But that represented giving up wages—i.e. concessions—in order to maintain benefits as well. Only this time it was workers’ ‘deferred wages’ that went into their pension funds instead of their immediate paychecks. But a wage is a wage, whether immediate or deferred. And concessions on nominal (immediate) and deferred wages became the increasing rule by the late 1990s.

This evolving concession bargaining since the late 1970s into the last decade represents the second phase of the history of collective bargaining in the US. The first, as noted above, was the phase during which collective bargaining expanded both in terms of ‘scope’ and ‘magnitude’—that is, in terms of new areas of bargaining added to negotiations as well as in terms of advances in wages and benefits. The second phase of bargaining in the US, from the late 1970s to around 2000, represents the first stage of concession bargaining.

Stage Two: From ‘Magnitude’ to ‘Scope’ Concession Bargaining

This first stage of concession bargaining (1975-2000) began to change for the worse in the past decade, shifting to a new stage during which workers and their unions have been forced to grant concessions not only in terms of magnitude or levels of wages and benefits, but now in terms of scope and entire areas of bargaining as well. Defined benefit pensions were abandoned for 401k personal pension plans at an accelerating rate. Not only were pensions increasingly privatized, but the de-collectivization of health insurance plans also accelerated under George W. Bush with the introduction of what were called ‘health savings accounts’—the analog on the health benefits side to 401ks on the pensions side.

Employer provided health insurance benefits were now dropped in growing numbers altogether. Or they were dumped onto the union, as in the Auto Industry, in the form of VEBAs (voluntary employment benefit agreements). Employers removed in effect any negotiating over companies paying for health care for workers from union collective bargaining agreements. In a similar fashion, once widespread Cost of Living clauses in collective bargaining agreements were stripped from union contracts. Ditto for supplemental unemployment benefits (SUBs). More and more companies simply discontinued unilaterally retirees health care coverage from bargaining, aided now by court decisions that ruled such were not bona fide subjects of bargaining any longer. Union rights were increasingly circumscribed in agreements, as management rights clauses were expanded. In other words, concession bargaining was no longer simply about ‘magnitudes’—i.e. how much wages or benefits would be reduced in order to keep jobs or the companies from moving offshore or from being outsourced and reduced to mere skeleton crews. Not entire key areas of union contracts were being ‘conceded’ and thus wiped out, removed from the very subject of bargaining altogether.

Stage Three: Concession Bargaining Extends to the Public Sector

In the past two years this second phase of concession bargaining—i.e. cutting levels of wages and benefits and giving up entire areas of bargaining—is now being applied to public sector workers as well, in a vicious attack now unfolding throughout the country. Politicians of both political parties, public sector employers, and wealthy billionaires and millionaires who pay for the elections of these same politicians, are in the process of imposing concession bargaining on public workers.

Furthermore, concession bargaining is occurring in an especially compressed form. Both magnitude and scope are occurring simultaneously and in a matter of just a few years instead of the few decades in which it was deepened in the private sector of the economy. The entire process is effectively ‘telescoped’ and thus taking place is a particularly intense form. All across the country today, in state after state, politicians are declaring bargaining over pensions and health care no longer will be the practice. They are unilaterally discontinuing defined benefit pensions and replacing them with 401k plans. They are moving to eliminate union and agency shop agreements with the open shop, placing ‘caps’ on wage negotiations, and in general attempting to return to the days of ‘civil service’ rules and regulations in lieu of bona fide collective bargaining.

Stage Four: Concession Bargaining’s New Target: ‘Social Wage’ Reduction

Concession bargaining is morphing still further, however. It is now moving from the level of taking back money wages and benefits at the ‘shop-floor level’—both in the private and public sectors—to the level of ‘social wage’ concession bargaining.

The ‘social wage’ is money wages that workers give up in exchange for pay they will receive at a later date. Social wages are thus deferred wages. Social wages are most notably Social Security and Medicare taxes that workers pay in the form of payroll taxes, in order to receive the wage paid upon retirement in the form of social security pension and medicare health care benefits. The focus since the 2010 midterm elections in the US is now on austerity—a codeword for cutting so-called ‘entitlements’ like social security and medicare. But social security and medicare represent wages paid by workers in the past for claims in the future. Not content with concessions from current wage and benefits, Corporate America—the rulers behind the throne of Congress and the Presidency and Courts—now want reductions in the ‘social wage’ as well. Why? So they can maintain their historic tax cuts enacted over the past three decades and not have to pay the costs of the bailouts and economic crisis [as well as the wars for Israel – Aletho News] that they themselves caused.

The dimensions of the Great American Tax Shift of the past three decades, still on-going and expanding under Obama and the Democrats (and about to expand further still) are the subject of another analysis. But briefly, a tip of the iceberg view is: In the 1960s corporations paid 30% of total federal tax revenues; today they contribute 6.6%. In the 1960s the top income brackets paid 45% of total federal tax revenues; today the effective top bracket tax paid by the wealthiest individuals is only 16%.

The latest phase of concession bargaining now emerging in the past year—concessions giving back the ‘social wage’—is historic. It represents concession bargaining over workers’ income that is shifting to the political level on a grand scale. It is ‘grande scale concession bargaining’. Not content with concessions in money and benefits at the shop level in the private sector, not even content with extending that in intensified form today to the public worker sector, corporate interests now demand concession bargaining over social wages at the political level.

What’s especially onerous about the new concession bargaining is that politicians are making the decisions. Workers don’t even have the option of voting on the concessions, or striking in opposition, as they might when undertaken in cases of earlier concession bargaining at the shop level. They now have virtually no say in the process short of taking to the streets to have their voices heard—which appears increasingly as the only alternative. Moreover, the dollar value of the concessions being, and about to be, offered are now also immensely greater. As the recent debt ceiling debate illustrates clearly, the coming attack on Medicare represents social wage concessions approaching half a trillion dollars. Concessions involving social security retirement that will soon follow in 2012 will amount to a like amount, at minimum, with even more Medicare cuts. In just a few short years, several times the value of total givebacks in concessions in wages and benefits at the shop level since 1979 may occur. It is a massive transfer and shift of income from working and middle class America to the wealthiest households and their corporations.

Behind the facade of Washington politics are the same corporate interests, however. Only now instead of directing their managers at the bargaining table, they now direct their political managers by means of their immense, and growing, campaign contributions and billion dollar lobbying efforts.

Occasionally an example slips through the veil of confusion about who’s behind it all. The veil drops revealing the ‘Wizards of Oz’ pulling the levers and the curtains. Witness the notorious relationship between Wisconsin governor, Walker, and the billionaire Koch brothers. But there are ‘Koch brothers’ lurking everywhere behind the veil, in Ohio, in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Georgia, and even California. They are driving the fundamental strategy, directing the elected politicians in exchange for campaign contributions and day to day lobbying largesse.

The Empty Legacy of Concession Bargaining

What concession bargaining has proven over the past three decades—whether at the political level or the shop floor level—is that concessions only result in demands for more concessions.

Concessions in the private sector over the past three decades haven’t saved jobs. What they have achieved is a stagnation and decline in the income for 100 million families that is choking off consumer spending and economic growth and therefore economic recovery. The second phase, concession bargaining in the public sector, will now add to this consumption decline. And the now emerging third phase, expanding concession bargaining to the level of social wages, about to begin with the direct attack on social security and medicare will not ‘save’ those programs any more than concession bargaining in the past ‘saved jobs’.

Concession bargaining will only result in a deepening crisis in those programs and lead, inevitably in turn, to more demands by corporate interests for still further cuts (i.e. concessions) in those programs. Calls by politicians for ‘shared sacrifices’ are really concession bargaining by another name: to reduce the social wage represented by social security and medicare.

Nothing positive whatsoever has come from concession bargaining the past three decades in the private sector. Good jobs have continued to disappear by the tens of millions. Wages and earnings for the 100 million non-supervisory workers in the US have stagnated and fallen. Giving up wages to ‘maintain health and retirement benefits’ have fared no better. Pensions have nearly disappeared and employer provided health care coverage has declined by the millions of companies, and will not last out the current decade. Nor will anything beneficial come from the intensification of concession bargaining now penetrating the public sector. Union leaders will give up wages and benefits, but that will not stop the millions that are slated for layoffs in the public sector over the next few years—at minimum 500,000 in the year ahead alone! The extension of concession bargaining to the public sector, now accelerating at a pace far worse than that which previously occurred in the private sector, will produce the same results—only now telescoped into a much shorter time period. Not least, nothing positive will come from granting concessions over social wages—i.e. agreeing to reduce social security and medicare benefits. Those programs will not be ‘saved’ by concessions. They will be destroyed by them.

The only way to stop concession bargaining in any of its forms, including the most virulent now attacking the ‘social wage’, is to refuse any and all concessions. ‘No cuts and No Concessions’ is the only effective bargaining demand.

And just as, at the shop floor, when union leaders cave in to employer demands for concessions, they should be thrown out and replaced with leaders who will refuse to do so and stand firm—so too should any politician who agrees to concessions from social security and medicare be thrown out. Indeed, any politician who fails to actively resist such concessions should be thrown out. Not in the next election. But by immediate recall.

Finally, any political party that allows its elected to members to agree to concessions in social security and medicare, or whose elected members stand by silently while the fight to defend the social wage takes place, should be replaced by another political party whose members consider the social wage ‘non-negotiable’.

Unfortunately, it appears the political party—the Democrats—who introduced and once championed social security and medicare are now becoming participants in its destruction. Not only President Obama, but Senate leader Harry Reid and House leader Nancy Pelosi, have all publicly indicated this past summer they are prepared to concede and to cut medicare before year end 2011 in some form. Next it will be social security retirement. And medicare again.

But once starting down that road of initial concessions, it will only lead to further concessions—as the history of concession bargaining at the shop floor over the last three decades sadly shows.

If that happens, and the leadership of the Democratic Party abandon social security and medicare to concession bargaining, as it appears they will, the only answer to stopping concession bargaining is to create a new party of labor, every member of which must solemnly pledge to expand the social wage, to defend and expand social security and medicare, to stand firm on the question of concession bargaining. There can be no ‘Bi-Partisan’ compromise. It is time to raise the flag, with the motto boldly proclaiming across it: ‘No Concessions! No Retreat!.

Jack Rasmus, August 7, 2011

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Torture and the CIA

What agenda lies behind the latest defense of “enhanced interrogation”?

By Philip Giraldi • The American Conservative • May 23, 2012

Former CIA Deputy Director for Operations Jose Rodriguez has written a book with the assistance of former Agency press officer Bill Harlow. Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives is largely a defense of Rodriguez’s role in the CIA’s use of torture on suspected terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11. Rodriguez argues that what he describes as “enhanced interrogation techniques” were necessary to obtain information on terrorist activities. His employment of the euphemism underscores his argument that these procedures were found to be legal by Bush administration lawyers and that they do not constitute torture, which is a war crime.

In November 2005, Rodriguez, who was a classmate of mine at CIA, ordered on his own authority and contrary to Agency general counsel advice the destruction of 92 videotapes that recorded interrogation sessions in a secret prison in Thailand. This was done, he says, to protect the identities of CIA interrogators from possible reprisals by terrorists, not to cover-up waterboarding being used to obtain information, a procedure he claims was both an acceptable interrogation technique and one that was subject to congressional oversight before it was employed. He does not explain exactly how terrorists could obtain the tapes or be able to make identifications from them; perhaps the idea is that someday the recordings might leak to the public. Whatever its plausibility, or lack thereof, his argument might just as well be a deliberate deception if the primary purpose of his actions was to eliminate evidence of what many would consider a war crime. I leave it up to the reader to decide what explanation is most likely. For what it’s worth, Amazon reviews are running about five to one in praise of the book rather than condemning what it describes.

To promote Hard Measures, Rodriguez has been appearing on a number of television programs. I have seen him on “60 Minutes” with Lesley Stahl and on Bill O’Reilly’s program. He has also appeared with Sean Hannity. Stahl failed to push Rodriguez on the illegality of torture and frequently allowed him to drift into the kind of mumbo-jumbo tradecraft language that we former spies use when we don’t want to answer a question. Rodriguez stated that we (CIA) are part of the “dark side — that’s what we do.”  That was the end of the story for “60 Minutes.”

O’Reilly’s interview was somewhat different. Rodriguez seemed unsure of himself, sometimes inarticulate, and was helped along to make the point that the information obtained from enhanced interrogation could not have been obtained any other way. O’Reilly walked him through his assertion that then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew all about the waterboarding, but then brought up the account of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah presented by FBI Special Agent Ali Soufan. Soufan, a member of the interrogation team and Arabic speaker, maintains, with considerable credibility backed up by documents, that the only good information obtained came through established interrogation techniques employed before any torture took place.  Rodriguez denied that was so to O’Reilly and became hung up on a discussion of who played the lead role in the interrogation, the CIA or the FBI, before questioning Soufan’s personal history and his reliability as a source.

Agency operations in Afghanistan in 2001-2 were superbly conceived and executed by its Counterterrorism Center, where Rodriguez was deputy, but his book inevitably focuses on trying to defend the indefensible practices that followed. There has been considerable speculation over why the book, with its attendant media blitz, has come out now, in light of the fact that the manuscript had to be approved by the Agency’s Publications Review Board. Was there CIA collusion in its release? Though the review is only supposed to prevent security violations, the Agency tends to be very friendly and helpful to books depicting it in positive terms and hostile to anything perceived as critical. Given the upcoming presidential elections, Hard Measures is also being seen by some as a preemption of any attempt to turn the torture issue into a political football, particularly as Mitt Romney has explicitly approved of the practice. Rodriguez (and the Agency) might be attempting to backstop the Romney position, which otherwise could be difficult to defend.

Another theory is that the long-awaited Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on CIA interrogation techniques is about to come out and will conclude that the enhanced procedures were, in fact, ineffective. Rodriguez’s account might be intended to stake out a position in advance implying that the Senate report, written by a Democratic majority committee, is politically motivated and therefore “flawed.”

What is most disturbing to me about the book and the interviews is that Rodriguez is apparently seen by some in the media as the “new normal” and even some kind of hero. CIA officers overseas are indeed operating on the “dark side,” in that spying overseas is illegal in the countries where one is operationally engaged. But that does not mean all gloves are off in terms of international and U.S. law, especially in the case of war crimes. It is worth noting that Japanese Army officers were executed in 1946 for waterboarding Allied prisoners, while the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution explicitly forbids “cruel and unusual punishment.” The United States is also a signatory to the International Convention on Torture and to the Geneva Conventions. And then there is the War Crimes Act of 1996, which requires the United States Justice Department to prosecute anyone involved in torture, no exceptions.  President Obama has refused to permit justice to be served, making him as complicit in war crimes as his predecessor was.

Rodriguez presents himself and his “dark side” persona as representative of CIA thinking about the proper way to fight terrorism, but that is just not so. The assumption that there is broad support inside the Agency for the use of torture presumes that anyone working there was ever actually asked for an opinion. The CIA undoubtedly has a peculiar culture that breeds an us-against-them mentality, but I would guess that few employees would have supported waterboarding if they had known it was occurring. The procedure was top secret inside the Agency, a clear indication that even the upper echelons of CIA management knew that it was at best questionable. The impression that CIA, which has something like 20,000 employees, marches in lockstep as some kind of secret army is ridiculous. Nobody checks his or her conscience at the door when entering the building. Agency analysts resisted endorsing the false intelligence used to justify war with Iraq, and they continue to hold the line against a conflict with Iran. I would also note the large number of former intelligence officers who have become outspoken in the antiwar movement: Ray McGovern, Michael Scheuer, Paul Pillar, Bill and Kathleen Christison, and Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett.

Rodriguez might find comfort in his apologia pro vita sua, but I rather suspect his is a voice in the wilderness. Thankfully, I do not know anyone inside the intelligence community who considers torture morally acceptable under any circumstances, and most intelligence officers would regard its use ipso facto as an egregious failure. Secret prisons, renditions, and enhanced interrogations are characteristic of police states, not constitutional republics. Thirty-six years ago Rodriquez and I together took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Today he would be well advised to remember that moment.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

May 26, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 2 Comments