Tuesday, December 26, 2017

John Grant: GUILTY OF IMPERIAL MISCONDUCT: POOR, ABUSED HONDURAS GROPED AGAIN @ This Can't Be Happening



Mr. Hern├índez and his allies control the much-protested ballot-counting process, the election oversight commission, the army — which under Honduran law moves the ballots — and all appeals processes.
-- U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, (D) Illinois


Poor Honduras.

The word honduras means depth or profundity in Spanish. It’s also the name of one of the most abused nations in the Western Hemisphere. Its citizens are largely poor and overwhelmed by a state of corruption historically linked with the much more sophisticated and wealthy network of corruption that overwhelms the citizenry of the United States. The November 26 election for president of Honduras was the latest chapter in this sad historic reality.

Honduras is now embroiled in street protests following an election count that stinks like week old fish in the sun. President Juan Orlando Hernandez was running for a second term, despite an apparently un-amendable Constitutional provision that precludes a second term. Former sportscaster and TV game-show host Salvador Nasralla ran against Hernandez. Hernandez was favored to win. The Organization of American States says the election count was seriously flawed and it’s pushing for a new vote. Here’s how the count went: The day after the election, it was announced Nasralla led the vote count by five percentage points, which suggested a real upset. A third candidate for president conceded Nasralla was the winner. At that point, the election tribunal suddenly stopped communicating with the public. After a hiatus, the next communication was to declare Hernandez the winner by one-and-a-half percentage points. Immediately, the nation erupted in protests that included fatalities. Knowing how important the United States is to Honduras, Nasralla flew to the US to consult with friends and the OAS. The OAS publicly called for a new election.

The Rex Tillerson State Department said this: “The United States notes that Honduras’ Supreme Election Tribunal has declared incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez the winner.” The United States notes . . . Such tentative language suggests the Trump administration can’t deny the smell of rotten fish in Honduras, so it’s being coy in its support for Hernandez’s spurious re-election count. Based on past actions, Hernandez is said to harbor a strong authoritarian ambition. Many members of the police and army, however, are reportedly reluctant to be harsh with protesters; they seem to know what’s going down. How far they're willing to go is a looming question. If Hernandez can’t put down the rioting and make the citizens of Honduras accept his corrupt election, then the US will have no choice but to assume another posture. The State Department said if Mr. Nasralla is unhappy with the count, well, he should submit an appeal. Of course, they know, as Rep. Schakowsky points out above, Hernandez controls the appeal process…


For the rest of this article by JOHN GRANT in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively-run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/3744


With independent news organizations under attack, it’s time to support TCBH!

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The Intercept,Dec. 22, 2017

Editor’s Picks
Hypocrisy of the GOP

For a half-century, civil rights groups have rightfully complained about the FBI operating as a rogue force that harasses, surveils, and arrests innocent citizens. In recent months, the right wing has joined this chorus, after the FBI began investigating the Trump campaign. The Intercept’s Trevor Aaronson reports on the exquisite irony of the right’s sudden concern with FBI excesses. While the FBI has indeed committed rampant abuses since its founding, its investigation of possible Russian interference in the 2016 election has been by the book.

Reporter Jon Schwarz investigated another facet of GOP hypocrisy around the Russia investigation – the Republican Party’s willingness to meekly follow President Donald Trump if he tries to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Schwarz notes that the GOP has long been a lawless party connected to deceptions about the Vietnam War, Iran-Contra, Watergate, and more. We should not be surprised by its latest betrayals of law and democratic order.
Peter Maass
Senior Editor
The FBI Routinely Abuses Its Powers but the Trump Investigation Has Been By the Book
Trevor Aaronson
Republicans are suddenly upset about the FBI invading homes and surveilling citizens. Civil rights groups have complained about this for 50 years.
 
Republican Attacks on Robert Mueller Are Absurd. But the GOP Has Been Lawless for Decades.
Jon Schwarz
From Vietnam to Watergate, Iran-Contra and the Clinton impeachment, the Republican Party has proved itself an awesome force of lawlessness.

Tom Tomorrow: TRUMP VOTERS ARE ECSTATIC OVER PRESIDENT'S PERFORMANCE @ The Nation

The Nation, Nov. 28, 2017.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Subject to Discussion: "WHITHER THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT?" by Daniel Martin

Introduction

Thanks to Medea Benjamin for flagging this article on the UFPJ list. It's from The American Conservative, a magazine associated with Patrick Buchanan in the past. (She's quoted in the second paragraph.) Martin starts by saying the anti-war movement is "a bust." He asks: "Why has it failed so miserably?" United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and A.N.S.W.E.R. come in for some criticism for things like "dilution of the message" and not attacking liberal Democrats. 


Then there's the technological rise of drone warfare and all the confusions associated with it, such as how it kills "bad guys" and saves our troops from harm ("the illusion of less war") while it clocks up collateral damage and foments more enemies for the US. 

Then Martin asks what can the anti-war movement do? He raises this sacrilegious idea: "Perhaps [the antiwar movement] should begin by tempering its far-left impulses and embracing its allies on the right who have been made to feel unwelcome." He adds a new line to John Lennon's opening song lyric: "Imagine there are no parties." Not sure how Martin would respond to the fact Steve Bannon wants to "de-escalate" US militarism. This antiwar activist ain't gonna "get in bed" with that kind of player. Still, it's a great article to get the movement thinking of new strategies and new bed-fellows for the future. 

As I see it, the antiwar movement needs to get over itself; for one, stop congratulating itself on ending the Vietnam War. That was then; this is now. My response to this article is to suggest antiwar activists analyze the problem and throw out all the unhelpful, Utopian assumptions about Peace. Perfection is impossible in this world, and the notion of "abolish war" is preposterous. Curtail violence and work to end wars? Yes. Work for more understanding of the notion of forgiveness and moving-on versus fueling fear and vengeance? 

Yes. All of us living in this huge, affluent nation are in some way complicit and have some of it on us. What we call Politics (jawboning and compromising) is a flawed, never totally satisfying method of creating Peace in the world. But it's better than the strategies and tactics employed so far by the antiwar movement that Martin and others deem have been "a bust." Personally, I'm re-evaluating all my politics. As a journalist/activist, I will talk with anyone of any political stripe. 

Pragmatism, the only thoroughly American school of philosophy, provides better answers than A.N.S.W.E.R. I'd reduce Pragmatism to the posture of "looking out the damn window" to see what's up and what works rather than righteously fantasizing in our minds a state-of-perfection reached via a revolution that simply ain't gonna happen but will only amount to more marginalization. 

So how do we fix a broken antiwar movement? We crawl out of our marginalized, out-of-the-way little ponds of righteousness, hone our tools and jump into the ocean with all its ravenous sharks. The antiwar Left needs to break itself of the Identity Politics trap and follow Teddy Roosevelt into "the arena." [See below Martin's article.]  Members of the antiwar movement need to talk this stuff over.     --- John Grant 

Whither the Anti-war Movement?
By Daniel Martin


“Imagine there’s no heaven…and no religion too.”

A more useful line when it comes to our current wars may be “Imagine there’s no duopoly.” It’s hard to fault John Lennon for his idealism, of course. In his day, many blamed religion on the wars of history. But a much bigger obstacle right now, at least in the U.S., is partisanship. The two major political parties, in power and out, have been so co-opted by the war machine that any modern anti-war movement has been completely subsumed and marginalized—even as American troops and killer drones continue to operate in or near combat zones all over the world.

Aside from the very early days of the Iraq war, the anti-war movement has been a small, ineffectual pinprick on the post-9/11 landscape. A less generous assessment is that it’s been a bust. After liberals helped elect the “anti-war” Barack Obama, the movement all but disappeared, even though the wars did not. By putting a Nobel Peace Prize-winning Democratic face on his inherited wars, Obama expanded into new conflicts (Libya, Syria, Yemen) with little resistance, ultimately bombing seven different countries [1] during his tenure. By 2013, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin lamented [2], “We’ve been protesting Obama’s foreign policy for years now, but we can’t get the same numbers because the people who would’ve been yelling and screaming about this stuff under Bush are quiet under Obama.”

It’s easy to blame the military-industrial complex, the corporate media, and the greed and malleability of politicians. But what about the anti-war movement itself? Why has it failed so miserably, and can it revive as President Donald Trump continues the wars of his predecessors and threatens new ones?

The rallies and protests in the early 2000s attracted significant numbers but they were weighed down by far-left organizations like the World Workers Party, which brought with them myriad other issues beyond war like global warming and poverty. There was also long-held and fairly broad skepticism [3] about the intentions of United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) and the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, which organized most of the big protests over the last 17 years. This was due to the “big tent” affiliations of some of their steering committee members, which critics say led to a dilution of the message and drove the anti-war movement further from the mainstream.

Perhaps the movement’s biggest weakness was that it shied away from directly attacking its own—the liberal Democrats who voted for the war in Congress.

In a sense, Democrats did emerge as the de facto anti-war party during the Iraq war, but that was only because a Republican—George W. Bush—was commander-in-chief. And what of the Democrats who voted for the war and continued to fund it? Out of 77 senators who supported the resolution authorizing military force against Iraq in 2002, 20 are still in office and roughly half are Democrats, while out of the 296 votes in favor in the House, 90 are still in office and 57 of them are Democrats. Some of them, like Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, went on to become party leaders. Two others, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, went on to become secretaries of state and their party’s nominees for president in 2004 and 2016 respectively. All went on to support new military interventions and regime changes, albeit under a new, liberal interventionist, Democratic banner.

Conversely, steadfast non-interventionist Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who voted against the resolution, failed badly in both his 2004 and 2008 attempts at his party’s presidential nomination. Bottom line: Support for the war was hardly a deal-breaker for voters, any more than opposition to it was a dealmaker.

Reaction to war is just a microcosm of the political landscape, a manifestation of partisan-driven, short-term memory. Sure there might have been momentary disapproval, but when it came time to decide whether supporters of the war stayed or went, the sins of one’s party leaders meant very little in the zero-sum game of electoral politics. Parties outside the duopoly be damned.

The same thing happened to the anti-war right, as the Ron Paul movement took off in 2008 with an immense level of grassroots energy. One of the singular successes of his movement was the ability to reach people on an intellectual and practical level about the folly of our foreign interventions and the waste, fraud, and abuse of tax dollars. Paul didn’t shy from criticizing his own party’s leaders and actions. He explained the Federal Reserve’s relationship to the monetary costs of war.

Ultimately, media blackouts and distortion of Paul’s message (for example, conflating his non-interventionist foreign policy views with “isolationism”) helped kill his campaign. After Paul’s 2008 defeat, conservative political activists seized upon the Texas congressman’s libertarian-leaning revolutionary momentum and channeled it into the Tea Party—while leaving the non-interventionist impulses behind. By 2011, national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin acknowledged [5], “On foreign policy probably the majority [of Tea Party Patriots] are more like [hawks] Michele Bachmann or Newt Gingrich.”And don’t underestimate how the escalation of drone warfare during the Obama presidency muted the anti-war effort. Drone attacks made fewer headlines because they supposedly caused less collateral damage and kept U.S. troops out of harm’s way, which was portrayed by administration officials and the war establishment in Washington as progress.


What the drone program did, in essence, was to create the illusion of “less war.” Nevertheless, studies [7] showing an increase of terrorism since the beginning of the “war on terror” indicate precisely the opposite: Civilian drone deaths (not always reported) create more enemies, meaning more of our troops will be put in harm’s way eventually.

So where should the anti-war movement go from here? Perhaps it should begin by tempering its far-left impulses and embracing its allies on the right who have been made to feel unwelcome. They could take a lesson from right-leaning places like Antiwar.com and TAC that have long been open to writers and activists on the left.

Meanwhile, flying “Resist Trump” signs at rallies not only misses the mark by suggesting that our needless wars aren’t a bipartisan, systemic problem, but creates a non-inclusive atmosphere for anti-war Trump voters. Ironically, not much “resistance” was heard when Democrats recently helped pass Trump’s $700 billion 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and failed to repeal the original post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force, as was advocated for by Senator Rand Paul this year.

In addition, the few on the anti-war left who oppose war based on pacifist or religious reasons need to acknowledge that the majority of Americans believe in a strong national defense as outlined in the Constitution. Most people are willing to accept that there’s a big difference between that and the terrible waste and tragedy that comes with waging unnecessary wars overseas.

They are also averse to their lawmakers doing favors for special interests. Focusing on the money and influence that giant defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have on Capitol Hill—essentially making war a business—makes the anti-war point by raising the issue of crony capitalism and the cozy relationship between politicians and big business, which increasingly leaves the American public out of the equation.

These corporations, along with Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, have accounted for $42 million in contributions to congressional candidates since 2009, with $12 million in the 2016 cycle alone. The majority of these funds have targeted Armed Services Committee [8] members, such as perennial war hawk John McCain. In addition, influential neoconservative think tanks have received millions in grants over the years from “philanthropic” organizations such as the Bradley [9] Foundation and the Olin [10] Foundation, which have corporate backgrounds in the defense industry. The conservative Heritage Foundation is reportedly considering the vice president of Lockheed as its new president. [11]

Furthermore, mantras and slogans like, “you’re either with us or against us” and “support our troops” have been used as powerful psy-ops to create a false dichotomy: you either support the war policy or you’re not patriotic. Debunking this by pointing out how these wars profit the elite while serving as a pipeline that puts more American military servicemembers—often from working-class backgrounds—into harm’s way should appeal to the current populist spirit on both sides of the political fence. In fact, it could begin to draw new, disenchanted voters into the movement.

Americans today are tired of war, which is good, for now. Unfortunately, without a strong anti-war movement, there won’t be much resistance when the next “big threat” comes along. The two major parties have proven to be false friends when it comes to opposing war—they only do it when it suits them politically. Moving beyond them and becoming stronger with allies and numbers—imagine, there’s no parties—is the best way to build a real opposition.

__________________

Daniel Martin is an anti-war activist, musician, and rock journalist from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter @MartysInvasion.


_______________

Excerpt from a speech (in sexist male language) by then ex-President Teddy Roosevelt, given in Paris at the Sorbonne in 1910. The speech was called . . .


"Citizenship In a Republic." 


It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dave Lindorff: REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS ARE THE PROBLEM: STUPIDITY AND BLINDNESS HAVE DESTROYED WHAT DEMOCRACY EXISTS IN THE UNITED STATES @ This Can't Be Happening!



Okay, somebody has to say this, so it might as well be me.

The American political system exists as it is because of two reasons:

1. The majority of Republican voters are either incredibly ignorant or are simply incredibly selfish, and

2. The majority of Democratic voters are so blinded by their fear of Republicans that they will vote for the most puerile, manipulative, deceitful, greedy and/or feckless candidates, as long as they are Democrats, and will re-elect them even after having been betrayed by them time and time again.

There, I’ve said it.

Reason number one is why we currently have Donald Trump for president. The man cannot hold a train of thought for the ten or 15 seconds it takes to express it or to type it into a Tweet, lies so often I don’t think he even knows when he’s doing it half the time, and has no moral core. And yet a third of American voters think he’s just great. And even though all his policies are damaging the very people — the poor, forgotten white working class — that he likes to highlight as being his main concern, those people, who are now at risk of losing their subsidized health insurance available under Obamacare, their Medicaid, their Supplemental Security Income checks (available to the disabled and to children and young single parents left in need by the death of a working parent/spouse) and the protection against predatory lenders afforded by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), continue to back him, and will likely vote for him in 2020.

Reason number two is why, despite proof that the Democratic Party leadership and its pre-annointed 2016 presidential candidate preference Hillary Clinton, worked hand-in-glove to steal the nomination from Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and his tens of millions of supporters last year, and despite the knowledge that that same corrupt leadership is hard at work now blocking progressive efforts to democratize the next Democratic primary, and to run real progressives as candidates for House and Senate in 2018 instead of more of the same corporatist mob, Democratic voters will submissively cave in as always and vote for those same lackluster and corrupted corporatists, either handing wins to Republican opponents, or electing/re-electing ineffective, self-aggrandizing hacks.

There are other problems too, of course. To a certain extent, both Republican and Democratic voters in the US are blinded to reality. In the case of Republicans, who tend to be less well educated, or even if they have higher degrees, to be in thrall to fanatic religious doctrines that over-ride any scientific thinking they might once have learned, this blindness to reality is celebrated. Among Democrats, who fancy themselves to be the “reality-based” voters, however, there is also a blindness to reality…

For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, sixt-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/3737

With independent news organizations under attack, it’s time to support TCBH!

These are clearly dangerous times we are heading into Now more than ever, independent sources of honest news are going to be critically important. Please contribute whatever you can to support our work to keep giving you that news.

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Thank you from all of us at the ThisCantBeHappening! Collective

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Prof. Richard Wolff on The Jimmy Dore Show



Some portions of this interview are not available, consider subscribing to Jimmy Dore's comedy show at his YouTube channel.






Professor Richard Wolff's main media outlet is "Democracy At Work."





Below the latest edition of Prof. Richard Wolff's weekly "Economic Update" published Nov. 26, 2017.