Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sanders-Clinton Brooklyn Debate: Moderate Insanity?

The Democratic Party's debate in Brooklyn last Friday in preparation for New York's April 19 primary showed that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are not too far behind the lunatic ideological standards of the GOP. Here's how:

1.  Bernie Sanders continued to call the 2003 Iraq invasion a mere "blunder."

When the U.S. forced Iraq to disarm and then invaded and massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians, this after a decade of imposing economic sanctions that former UN Humanitarian Coordinator Dennis Halliday called "genocidal," it was a crime against the Iraqi people. The threat or use of force is illegal under international law. Washington did not care.  Bernie Sanders voted against the invasion; Hillary Clinton voted for it. Sanders should stop trivializing the crime by calling it a mistake. It's not just the right thing to do, it's also a good way to erode support for what Louis Farrakhan calls "that wicked woman" (Hillary Clinton).

2.  Said Hillary, with no trace of shame:  "I remain one of the poorer members of the United States Senate."

Whatever her relative standing in that plutocratic body, she and her family are fabulously wealthy. Daughter Chelsea recently moved into her new digs in one of the most prestigious neighborhoods of New York City, which take up an entire city block. Of course she earned her wealth doing "charity" for the Clinton foundation. Right. And Hillary left the White House "dead broke," as she once absurdly claimed.

3.  Sanders referred to the U.S. criminal justice system as "broken."

Politicians love mechanical metaphors because when faced with mechanical break-down nobody cares about how the break-down occurred, only that it promptly be fixed. But politics is not like mechanical break-down. Politics is policy, and when policy leads to ruinous outcomes for millions of people over a long period of time, it's never in a fit of absent-mindedness, as the "broken" metaphor would have us believe. It's because of the vested interest of powerful groups who benefit from exploitation and abuse. So the U.S. criminal justice system is not, in fact, broken, but rather humming along nicely railroading the poor into prison, gunning innocent black people down in the streets, and generating impressive revenues for the prison-industrial complex. That's what it's supposed to do. 

4.  Sanders, in referring to what our nation's energy mix should be, said that "you certainly don't phase nuclear (power) out tomorrow."

This is intended to be a "reasonable" statement, implying that only crazy people would insist that nuclear power be banned right away. But didn't Japan essentially phase out nuclear power "right away" in the wake of its multiple-meltdown at Fukushima? [There are currently three operating nuclear plants in Japan; there used to be over fifty.] What are we waiting for, our own Fukushima? The fact is that nuclear power is not just carcinogenic, but mutagenic, which threatens the genetic fabric of life itself with uncontrolled mutation. Is that the future we want? Right now, Fukushima is contaminating sea life all over the world, with predictably horrendous consequences for marine life and for the human race, which stands at the top of the food chain. This is an energy form that was developed and protected by the government because no insurance company could pay for damages in a Fukushima-like accident without going bankrupt.  In short, it was never a viable industry and it's long overdue that we got rid of it.

5. Hillary said, "The Libyan people deserve a chance at democracy and self-government. And I, as president, will keep trying to give that to them."

This is a truly terrifying promise. The destruction of Libya, was for Hillary, as Diana Johnstone called it,"a war of her own." (See Johnstone's terrific book, "Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton," published by Counterpunch last year.) The daily terror bombings destroyed the country with the highest standard of living in Africa, handing it over to terrorist gangs. That is what her quest for "democracy" wrought. Before the war Libyans enjoyed free healthcare, education, electricity, water, training, rehabilitation, housing assistance, disability and old-age benefits, interest-free state loans, subsidies to study abroad, buy a new car, help when they married, almost free gasoline, and more. Now all that is gone, replaced by terror and chaos.

6.  Sanders called Qaddafi a "horrific dictator."

Except the U.N. Human Rights council praised Qaddafi in its January, 2011 "Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Libya Arab Jamahiriya," saying his government "protected not only political rights, but also economic, educational, social and cultural rights." It also lauded his treatment of religious minorities, along with the "human rights training" of its security forces. And Qaddafi enjoyed overwhelming popular support. After NATO attacked Libya, hundreds of thousands of people openly rallied for him. On July 1, 2011, 95% of Tripoli's population, over a million people, expressed their support in Green Square. Before the war, he felt safe enough to drive unprotected through Tripoli's streets, not something a "horrific dictator" would likely do.

7.  Sanders ritually genuflected at the reference to evil dictators that supposedly justify Washington's blood-soaked foreign policy, to wit:  "Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein are brutal, brutal murdering thugs. No debate about that."

There's no debate about that in the U.S. corporate media because of the ideological controls placed over debate in those forums. But elsewhere there would be plenty of debate at Sanders' assertion. In any event, Hussein's Iraq was a much favored U.S. client state for years, including when he killed dozens of U.S. sailors aboard the USS Stark in 1987, so why didn't Washington ever do anything to stop its "brutal murdering thug?" As for Qaddafi, aside from his domestic popularity and positive human rights record, already mentioned, he supported the Palestinian struggle for liberation, opposed Israel's occupation and the siege of Gaza, backed anti-apartheid struggles in South Africa, as well as liberation movements elsewhere such as in Ireland and Spain. Maybe the world needs more "brutal murdering thugs" and fewer "free market democracies" that kill millions with bombs, bullets and economic blockades?

8.  Sanders said, "our fight is to destroy ISIS first, and to get rid of Assad second."

Wrong. Our fight is to reign in U.S. imperial forces everywhere and develop a real national defense policy for the first time ever. Using state violence to "destroy" enemies created by prior campaigns of state violence just generates more and deadlier enemies. Sanders appears to be no closer to realizing this than Donald Trump.

9.  Clinton said: " . .  . we know they (Russia) want to rewrite the map of Europe."

Since NATO has violated agreements made in the Gorbachev era not to expand to the east, this is an understandable desire. NATO is far more the aggressor in Europe than Russia, and Putin has shown considerable restraint. When Cuba put nuclear missile emplacements 90 miles from the U.S., the Kennedy administration nearly launched a nuclear war, but somehow NATO is justified in moving nuclear bombs right up to the Russian border long after the demise of the "aggressive" Soviet Union terminated the ostensible justification for NATO to even exist. NATO should be disbanded, the sooner the better.

10.  Sanders described himself as "100% pro-Israel" while stating contradictorily that the U.S. should play an "even-handed role" in the Israel-Palestine conflict. He boldly stated that Prime Minister Netanyahu is "not right all of the time," which is like saying that Donald Trump isn't subtle and sophisticated all the time. He said that Israel "has every right in the world to destroy terrorism," but that "we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity," as though the effort "to destroy terrorism" weren't precisely the reason that Palestinians don't enjoy respect, dignity, or even safety. Finally, he said that Israel's 2014 Gaza massacre was "disporportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life," as opposed to the necessary loss of innocent life. Say what? Why is killing innocent people ever necessary?

11. Sanders said:  " . . . it (Palestine) is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Carter and others have tried to do the right thing."

This is a sensible statement only if "the right thing" is taken to mean provide cover for Israel to rob, swindle, torture, and murder Palestinian Arabs, which has gone on from 1948 to the present. Sticking to just Carter, since Sanders made favorable mention of him, he implemented a diplomatic catastrophe with the Camp David accords, which were negotiated without representation for the PLO, recognized around the world as the Palestinians' "sole legitimate representative." The accords gave less than one-third of Palestinians municipal authority in Palestine, but not national self-determination and statehood, in one-fifth of the area that was robbed from them by the creation of Israel, with the vast majority of Palestinians consigned to permanent exile and statelessness in a life devoid of national hope or meaning. They also secured Israel's southern border by removing Egypt from the Arab military alliance, thus encouraging the Jewish state to launch a long planned invasion of Lebanon to the north, which it promptly did, with disastrous consequences, among them planting the seed of revenge in Osama bin Laden. Sanders has a lot to learn about Palestine.


CNN debate transcript available at:

"The Illegal War on Libya," edited by Cynthia McKinney (Clarity Press, 2012)

"Queen of Chaos:  The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton," by Diana Johnstone (Counterpunch, 2015)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tax Havens: Minority Heaven, Majority Hell

 “To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.” 
Raymond Williams

An old story well known to a few has been brought a new life for many with revelations of the rich stashing their wealth in tax havens that cost the rest of us trillions in their unpaid denial of social bills and national responsibilities. A whistle blower-leaked tale about a Panamanian firm handling accounts for some of the global rich cheats and scammers is being carefully screened by mind managers and consciousness controllers before revealing names, but ultimately the public will be better informed about still another way that the rich rule by their profit and the rest pay for it through our loss.

Initial names dropped in the western, especially american, media repeat Putin and Assad as often as possible, in keeping with propaganda campaigns  of demonization that will not stop until the balance of global power has changed for the good of humanity and ended for the very rich these revelations may help finally defeat. It seems that Putin’s daughter had a wedding in a hotel owned by someone whose name appears among those so far revealed, not surprising given that Russia is a capitalist country and numbers a minority of extremely rich people among its population. And wonder of wonders, Putin may even know and deal with some of them. Imagine. Nothing like that could be true in the USA. If we keep our heads stuffed in a part of our anatomy that never sees the sun.

Actually, many American politicians are rich even before elected, and many who aren’t become so shortly after. And ex presidents, and their wives, often become multi millionaires upon leaving office. This should not be a late breaking bulletin to our citizenry but given the status of our education and information dispensing institutions it may be. Nevertheless, with selected releases and even attempted censorship this enormous cache of elitist cash swindling info may ultimately drop some American names. Maybe.

It is important to know that our richest thieves and legal book jugglers really don’t need offshore tax havens since there are many right here in the USA, with Delaware and Nevada long offering comfortable places to incorporate firms without giving any names as to who actually owns them and thus protect identities and avoid responsibility. The issue of money remaining free from tax collection and being laundered so as to clean it from the criminal ways it is often procured by organized crime, corporadoes or politicians, are really very old stories which may not have originated here but have a long history of practice in the good old marketplace culture of the USA.

Still, and despite this silly Putin-Assad stress that not only leaves Americans unmentioned but also seems not to notice quite a few Israeli firms and stockholders among the wealthy welfare chiselers – imagine that! - there is much that may be revealed to people for the first time, teaching them more about how they are robbed by the oligarchs in their societies. This, at a time when Americans and Europeans are under great stress having had government services and public spending viciously slashed in favor of private profits for that class of global royalty, may even help produce a bigger vote among the already great outpouring of disgust for established power through new parties in europe and for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump here in the almost endless American primary race. Sanders and Trump hardly speak the same language but attract some of the same people totally disgusted with the establishment parties they belong to but whose politics they hardly represent.

While the mass of information collected by what seems a major financed media funded source has led to healthy speculation, it has also caused much of the suspicion fueled by establishment lies that finds anything and everything that happens that seems to be even slightly anti-establishment to be a plot, conspiracy or twisted scheme organized by that very establishment. Or nearly mystical manifestations of power attached to often biblical codes, racial theories born of those codes, or simple beliefs that only a chosen few can possibly understand anything and the other billions of us are too dumb to fathom anything beyond the Super Bowl, the World Cup or Downton Abbey.

Just as many if not most american voters are brain bludgeoned into the crack pot realism ordering them to vote for lesser evils since nothing good can ever come from voting, the despair of ugliness at the core of so much of perceived reality can reduce once hopeful people to give up and accept less than half a loaf or no loaf at all.

But the growing reaction of anger at things as they are and desire to transform reality to something much better may ultimately bring even some of the most despairing to see a light at the end of humanity’s tunnel. We should expect that every step forward, including this small one towards revelation of another way in which the rich minority takes advantage of the majority, will be seen as just another ploy by “them” to further induce ignorance and despair such as the wise ones are all too aware of, and continue us on the path to failure. Truly, some of this could almost make the Pope succumb to cynicism, but his inherent hope and faith based on spiritual yearning balanced with material intelligence is very much like what is going on in the world among growing numbers of human beings of different nations and cultures.

Facing a near total breakdown of political economics and the environment that sustains us all, many are saying: enough, we can’t go on this way and must have radical change or the human race, let alone our various nations, will face disaster. Whoever the original revealers were and whatever provoked them, ultimately it is humanity which will be served by what is revealed, however established authority will try to suppress that information, and its gullible handmaidens in communities of perpetual doubt will innocently help by spreading their message of hopelessness and despair.

We live in a time of no secrets, anytime, anywhere. While it can seem that only means gossip, trivia and propaganda, at least to some, the rest of us are learning that there will be no place to hide for anyone on earth if we allow our world to succumb to the ravages of it and its inhabitants being treated like nothing more than a “branded” commodity for sale at a market. We also know that those most responsible for bringing us to this point have to be removed from power and replaced by democracy. Echoing the opening quote, it is time for the truly radical to so convince those remaining in despair.
That is our only hope, and it should be no secret anymore.