Admittedly, it is not hard to imagine how someone can predict a vision of hell in a country like Syria which has become a hornet’s nest of terrorism and that which is tumbling into further chaos and bloodshed.
Lakhdar Brahimi, who represents the United Nations and the Arab League, has predicted as 100,000 people could be killed
“in the next year as Syria moves toward Somalization and rule by warlords.”
Apart from his foreboding tone, his remarks are testimony to a broader gamut of interference at the hands of those who have infiltrated into the country from abroad. In point of fact, what is corroding Syria is not an internal unrest but a ‘foreign-made’ crisis.
The Syrian opposition group insists that the start of dialogue would be made possible only with the departure of President Assad and says that it would not be ready to engage in any dialogue with Russia without any clear agenda.
“If Russia has a proposal to stop the bleeding in Syria, it should submit it and we will respond,” Mouaz al-Khatib, head of the main bloc of Syrian opposition groups, has told Al Jazeera. “We can’t meet with the Russians without a clear agenda.”
Russia and Iran are playing pivotal roles in preventing a human catastrophe in the country and seeking to resolve the crisis through diplomacy.
After talks in Moscow on Saturday with Lakhdar Brahimi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia could not press Assad to give up power. Besides, he has once againclarified his country’s stance on Syria and said Russia “isn’t in the business of regime change. He has repeatedly said, both publicly and privately, including during his meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi not long ago, that he has no plans to go anywhere, that he will stay in his post until the end, that he will, as he says, protect the Syrian people, Syrian sovereignty and so forth. There is no possibility of changing this position.”
The implication is very simple. Russia does not want a regime change in Syria as there is supposedly no point in seeking such a solution. This policy is also strongly shared and seconded by Iran which has already set forth a six-point peace plan for Syria. Hossein Sheikholeslam, an advisor to Iran’s Majlis speaker for international affairs has said that Tehran’s six-point peace plan would be the only solution to the unrest in Syria and that no country should intervene in the internal affairs of the Arab country.
“The six-point plan presented by Iran is a very appropriate solution to the crisis in Syria because it has been prepared based on international principles.”
The proposal was originally announced on October 14, when Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi submitted it to Lakhdar Brahimi during a meeting in Tehran.
According to Iran’s six-point peace plan, the Syrian nation has the legitimate right to decide their fate and future through an internationally-recognized democratic process.
In brief, the plan urges:
- an immediate end to any armed actions;
- ushering in a UN-monitored democratic process;
- Damascus and the opposition to cooperate with UN and its special committee to stop armed operations especially in the residential areas to restore peace and stability;
- an immediate, serious and just distribution of humanitarian aids to Syrian people;
- the lifting of economic sanctions on the Syrian people in order to prepare the ground for the return of all Syrian refugees to their homeland;
- the resumption of comprehensive national dialogues by different opposing social and political parties and Damascus to rapidly form a national reconciliation committee in order to unanimously form a transitional government;
- a free and competitive election for the formation of a new parliament and senate and the composition of a constitution;
- the immediate release of all political prisoners from all parties by the government and opposition groups, and establishment of a competent court of justice to investigate cases of those who committed crimes in that country.
The plan also urges that media stop spreading wrong information about Syria.
Though a comprehensive plan which can technically and practically put an end to the ongoing crisis in Syria, it was looked upon with an eye of pessimism and cynicism by the opposition group in Syria.
In a statement, the Syrian National Coalition slammed Iran’s initiative as a “last-ditch bid to save the regime of President Bashar al-Assad”.
“As the free forces of the Syrian people accomplish one decisive political and military victory after another, the regime and its allies keep on launching lackluster and overdue political initiatives,” said the National Coalition.
“The Iranian initiative represents one example of these desperate attempts to throw a lifeline to the inevitably sinking ship of the Assad regime,” it said in a statement.
Despite all this, Syria says it will respond to any initiative meant to solve Syria’s 22-month-old crisis through talks
While impertinently attributing the crisis in Syria to “the brutality and ruthlessness of ruler Bashar al-Assad and the family clique around him, and their supporters in Iran and Russia”, an editorial on Washington Post which, evidently reflects Washington’s policies, lashes out at the West for its “massive failure”, and “particularly American leadership” and implicitly encourages the West’s prompt action against the government of Assad.
After all, the materialization of a meaningful peace in Syria cannot and should not be pursued through irrational anger and abortive resort to any brute means such as hiring and infiltrating mercenaries into Syria, psyching public mind about the possibility that the government of Assad may use chemical weapons against its own people.
Instead of ignoring Iran’s constructive and effective initiative to put an end to the bloodbath in Syria, the opposition group could have seized the chance, looked at Iran as a regional well-wisher and resolved the crisis in the country.
What is vitally important at this juncture in time is that a tragedy of immeasurably inhumane proportions is taking place in Syria and a rapid solution should be carved out before it’s too late.
Indeed, Syria is by slow gradation descending into hell whose flames are devouring the innocent and the guilty alike and even on a more appalling scale as Mr. Brahimi has predicted, tens of thousands of people will die soon and as long as there is resistance to any peace-inspiring proposal in the country, Syria will inch towards an eventual Balkanization.
At church this weekend, our minister explored the violence that killed 20 2nd and 3rd grade children and six adults in Newtown, CT. With point blank accuracy, one 20 year old disturbed kid, stilled the life of those young children. The father of one of the slain, Robbie Parker said of his daughter Emilie, “I was honored to be her father.” I wept as did one of our other ministers. Hundreds of others in the congregation visibly shuddered.
This tragedy follows in the wake of Columbine in Littleton, Colorado 13 years ago with Harris and Klebold. This fall a man named James Holmes shot up an entire movie theater, also in Denver. A Muslim U.S. Army Major Hasan shot 42 innocent people. The Times Square bomber and thousands of other acts of violence have devolved us into a violent, unsafe and frightening culture.
It’s not the individual acts that make us a violent culture. We promote violence on TV with incredibly violent programs like NCIS in NYC, in Los Angeles and in Miami. Criminal Minds TV show creates horrific and sickening criminal torture and death plots. Springer, Povich, Cunningham and other moronic TV shows celebrate illiteracy, the dregs of society and sheer violence. We create unspeakable brutality via other TV shows. Our movies depict the sickening world of masochists and sadists while movie goers absorb these graphics deep within their minds.
In every town, you may go to a video arcade and watch kids commit murder, mayhem, slaughter and staggering acts of violence—with glee, joy and a sense of victory. All of it mindless, yet potent toward further real life carnage within our society.
On our highways, drunk drivers killed 17,000 to as high as 20,000 innocent lives every single year with their weapon of choice—a 4,000 pound missile speeding down the highway at 75 miles per hour drunk or high on drugs—but we refuse to construct drunk driving laws that would make the crime more prohibitive than the offense. We promote alcoholism via beer commercials sensationalizing the lifestyle of alcohol, replete with beautiful women and fast cars.
Our U.S. Congress reeks of warmongering by starting the Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm War and Iraq War for no valid reason whatsoever. We killed millions of people and destroyed millions of parents, adults and children. Millions! We remain in Afghanistan, long after bin Laden met his death—still killing their people and ours—with no positive result.
Over the decades, our drones and bombs have created hundreds of thousands of “Newtown, Connecticut’s” where millions of people have died in the aforementioned countries. We insist on maintaining 450,000 military personnel on 700 bases around the world to show-case our ability to kill anyone whose perspective doesn’t match ours.
After the 10 year Vietnam War, over 200,000 of our soldiers became so distraught from their experiences—they committed suicide. Today, an average of four present and former US soldiers commit suicide daily from their war traumas. Millions more emotionally limp along from drugs, depression, PTSD and alcoholism. Some experts predict another 200,000 U.S. soldiers will commit suicide from their military service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While we war upon other countries for decades, and after Columbine’s mass murders, we fail to take care of our own youth such as the young man who just killed 26 innocent human beings. An average of 18 teenagers commit suicide in America every single day of the year, every year, every decade—without pause.
A mind-numbing 15,000 people kill others with their knives and guns annually, year after year, decade after decade. Equally lethal, although self-imposed, smokers of tobacco kill themselves off at 450,000 annually.
Let’s talk about men beating wives, girlfriends and lovers:
* There are 1,500 shelters for battered women in the United States. There are 3,800 animal shelters. Cruelty to animals abounds in the USA. (Schneider, 1990).
* Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands, or male lovers. (“Women and Violence,” Hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Hearing, 101-939, pt. 1, p. 12.)
* One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation).
Our federal officials have arrested and slammed 37 million kids into jail for smoking a joint in the past 41 years of the “War on Drugs”—while alcohol and booze have killed endless millions—legally.
As our government foments, creates and imposes wars on countries 10,000 miles away, we suffer the cruelty of 14 million jobless Americans, 47.7 million living on food stamps, 1.5 million homeless and 2.3 million Americans subsisting in prisons.
The final costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan War will reach into the trillions of dollars when that money could have been used to create a more just, hopeful and prosperous society for all our citizens.
What we need to do
An evolutionary vision must occur within our country. We citizens must create peace in our schools and communities. We must vote for leaders who insist on peace rather than war. We need to move away from TV, movie and arcade violence to peaceful understanding. “Yes,” you say, “but what can I do?”
We need to shift from war spending toward life-enhancing contributions to flourish our society. We spend trillions of dollars on war and a tiny fraction for education and betterment of our society.
What not to continue because it doesn’t work:
- Stop engaging in useless, costly, deadly and meaningless wars overseas
- Stop our empire building by bringing home 450,000 military personnel from those 700 bases. It wastes money, people and resources and it accomplishes nothing.
- Stop meddling in hundreds of countries’ business as if the U.S. ethnocentric position constitutes the bottom line of righteousness
- Stop the War on Terror, War on Drugs and War on Poverty because the energy of fighting anything pales in comparison to the support of human dignity
- Stop violent video games, violent movies, violent TV programming
Transfer war funds to peace funding for our society:
- Spend billions for jobs that give dignity to citizens
- Spend billions on after-school classes, activities and playgrounds
- Spend billions on mental health, emotional health and well-being in families
- Spend billions on high school marriage, relationship and child rearing classes to support fathers and mothers in workable marriages, which will result in viable lives for children
- Spend billions to build personal responsibility, personal accountability and educational excellence for all our citizens to grow our civilization into a positive future
- Spend billions on raising healthy, happy and balanced children with mental health services, parental training and guidance
We Americans need to reassess ourselves. We need to invent or discover another path. We need to open toward a spiritual awakening. We need to move toward slower living, inter-related living and environmentally balanced living. We need to eschew 80,000 chemicals injected into our air, water and ground 24/7—most definitely scrambling our emotions, body chemistries and minds. We need to live and grow in smaller, community-oriented cities. (As John Muir said, “There is not a single sane man in all of San Francisco.) We need both fathers and mothers for our children so they grow into healthy adults who value themselves and know they are essential. We must extricate ourselves from the pervasive violence in our culture by moving toward peaceful solutions, love and kindness.
This transformation requires you, your actions, your passions, your energy and your optimism for the future.
World View: The world decided to back the rebels last week, but this is no fight between goodies and baddies…
It is one of the most horrifying videos of the war in Syria. It shows two men being beheaded by Syrian rebels, one of them by a child. He hacks with a machete at the neck of a middle-aged man who has been forced to lie in the street with his head on a concrete block. At the end of the film, a soldier, apparently from the Free Syrian Army, holds up the severed heads by their hair in triumph.
The film is being widely watched on YouTube by Syrians, reinforcing their fears that Syria is imitating Iraq’s descent into murderous warfare in the years after the US invasion in 2003. It fosters a belief among Syria’s non-Sunni Muslim minorities, and Sunnis associated with the government as soldiers or civil servants, that there will be no safe future for them in Syria if the rebels win. In one version of the video, several of which are circulating, the men who are beheaded are identified as officers belonging to the 2.5 million-strong Alawite community. This is the Shia sect to which President Bashar al-Assad and core members of his regime belong. The beheadings, so proudly filmed by the perpetrators, may well convince them that they have no alternative but to fight to the end.
The video underlines a startling contradiction in the policy of the US and its allies. In the past week, 130 countries have recognised the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. But, at the same time, the US has denounced the al-Nusra Front, the most effective fighting force of the rebels, as being terrorists and an al-Qa’ida affiliate. Paradoxically, the US makes almost exactly same allegations of terrorism against al-Nusra as does the Syrian government. Even more bizarrely, though so many states now recognise the National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, it is unclear if the rebels inside Syria do so. Angry crowds in rebel-held areas of northern Syria on Friday chanted “we are all al-Nusra” as they demonstrated against the US decision.
Videos posted on YouTube play such a central role in the propaganda war in Syria that questions always have to be asked about their authenticity and origin. In the case of the beheading video, the details look all too convincing. Nadim Houry, the deputy director for Human Rights Watch in the Middle East and North Africa, has watched the video many times to identify the circumstances, perpetrators and location where the killings took place. He has no doubts about its overall authenticity, but says that mention of one district suggests it might be in Deir el-Zhor (in eastern Syria). But people in the area immediately north of Homs are adamant the beheadings took place there. The victims have not been identified. The first time a version of the film was shown was on pro-government Sama TV on 26 November, but it has been widely viewed on YouTube in Syria only over the past week.
The film begins by showing two middle-aged men handcuffed together sitting on a settee in a house, surrounded by their captors who sometimes slap and beat them. They are taken outside into the street. A man in a black shirt is manhandled and kicked into lying down with his head on a concrete block. A boy, who looks to be about 11 or 12 years old, cuts at his neck with a machete, but does not quite sever it. Later a man finishes the job and cuts the head off. The second man in a blue shirt is also forced to lie with his head on a block and is beheaded. The heads are brandished in front of the camera and later laid on top of the bodies. The boy smiles as he poses with a rifle beside a headless corpse.
The execution video is very similar to those once made by al-Qa’ida in Iraq to demonstrate their mercilessness towards their enemies. This is scarcely surprising since many of the most experienced al-Nusra fighters boast that they have until recently been fighting the predominantly Shia government of Iraq as part of the local franchise of al-Qa’ida franchise. Their agenda is wholly sectarian, and they have shown greater enthusiasm for slaughtering Shias, often with bombs detonated in the middle of crowds in markets or outside mosques, than for fighting Americans.
The Syrian uprising, which began in March 2011, was not always so bloodthirsty or so dominated by the Sunnis who make up 70 per cent of the 23 million-strong Syrian population. At first, demonstrations were peaceful and the central demands of the protesters were for democratic rule and human rights as opposed to a violent, arbitrary and autocratic government. There are Syrians who claim that the people against the regime remains to this day the central feature of the uprising, but there is compelling evidence that the movement has slid towards sectarian Islamic fundamentalism intent on waging holy war.
The execution video is the most graphic illustration of deepening religious bigotry on the part of the rebels, but it is not the only one. Another recent video shows Free Syrian Army fighters burning and desecrating a Shia husseiniyah (a religious meeting house similar to a mosque) in Idlib in northern Syria. They chant prayers of victory as they set fire to the building, set fire to flags used in Shia religious processions and stamp on religious pictures. If the FSA were to repeat this assault on a revered Shia shrine such as the Sayyida Zeinab mosque in Damascus, to which Iranian and Iraqi pilgrims have flooded in the past and which is now almost encircled by rebels, then there could be an explosion of religious hatred and strife between Sunni and Shia across the Middle East. Iraqi observers warn that it was the destruction of the Shia shrine in Samarra, north of Baghdad, by an al-Qa’ida bomb in 2006 that detonated a sectarian war in which tens of thousands died.
The analogy with Iraq is troubling for the US and British governments. They and their allies are eager for Syria to avoid repeating the disastrous mistakes they made during the Iraqi occupation. Ideally, they would like to remove the regime, getting rid of Bashar al-Assad and the present leadership, but not dissolving the government machinery or introducing revolutionary change as they did in Baghdad by transferring power from the Sunnis to the Shia and the Kurds. This provoked a furious counter-reaction from Baathists and Sunnis who found themselves marginalised and economically impoverished.
Washington wants Assad out, but is having difficulty riding the Sunni revolutionary tiger. The Western powers have long hoped for a split in the Syrian elite, but so far there is little sign of this happening. “If you take defections as a measure of political cohesion, then there haven’t been any serious ones,” said a diplomat in Damascus.
Syria today resembles Iraq nine years ago in another disturbing respect. I have now been in Damascus for 10 days, and every day I am struck by the fact that the situation in areas of Syria I have visited is wholly different from the picture given to the world both by foreign leaders and by the foreign media. The last time I felt like this was in Baghdad in late 2003, when every Iraqi knew the US-led occupation was proving a disaster just as George W Bush, Tony Blair and much of the foreign media were painting a picture of progress towards stability and democracy under the wise tutelage of Washington and its carefully chosen Iraqi acolytes.
The picture of Syria most common believed abroad is of the rebels closing in on the capital as the Assad government faces defeat in weeks or, at most, a few months. The Secretary General of Nato, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said last week that the regime is “approaching collapse”. The foreign media consensus is that the rebels are making sweeping gains on all fronts and the end may be nigh. But when one reaches Damascus, it is to discover that the best informed Syrians and foreign diplomats say, on the contrary, that the most recent rebel attacks in the capital had been thrown back by a government counteroffensive. They say that the rebel territorial advances, which fuelled speculation abroad that the Syrian government might implode, are partly explained by a new Syrian army strategy to pull back from indefensible outposts and bases and concentrate troops in cities and towns.
At times, Damascus resounds with the boom of artillery fire and the occasional car bomb, but it is not besieged. I drove 160 kilometres north to Homs, Syria’s third largest city with a population of 2.3 million, without difficulty. Homs, once the heart of the uprising, is in the hands of the government, aside from the Old City, which is held by the FSA. Strongholds of the FSA in Damascus have been battered by shellfire and most of their inhabitants have fled to other parts of the capital. The director of the 1,000-bed Tishreen military hospital covering much of southern Syria told me that he received 15 to 20 soldiers wounded every day, of whom about 20 per cent died. This casualty rate indicates sniping, assassinations and small-scale ambushes, but not a fight to the finish.
This does not mean that the government is in a happy position. It has been unable to recapture southern Aleppo or the Old City in Homs. It does not have the troops to garrison permanently parts of Damascus it has retaken. Its overall diplomatic and military position is slowly eroding and the odds against it are lengthening, but it is a long way from total defeat, unless there is direct military intervention by foreign powers, as in Libya or Iraq, and this does not seem likely.
This misperception of the reality on the ground in Syria is fuelled in part by propaganda, but more especially by inaccurate and misleading reporting by the media where bias towards the rebels and against the government is unsurpassed since the height of the Cold War. Exaggerated notions are given of rebel strength and popularity. The Syrian government is partially responsible for this. By excluding all but a few foreign journalists, the regime has created a vacuum of information that is naturally filled by its enemies. In the event, a basically false and propagandistic account of events in Syria has been created by a foreign media credulous in using pro-opposition sources as if they were objective reporting.
The execution video is a case in point. I have not met a Syrian in Damascus who has not seen it. It is having great influence on how Syrians judge their future, but the mainstream media outside Syria has scarcely mentioned it. Some may be repulsed by its casual savagery, but more probably it is not shown because it contradicts so much of what foreign leaders and reporters claim is happening here.
Syrian Students Condemn American Led Sanctions currently inflating Food Prices…
“Who does that obnoxious woman think she is?” demanded a staffer who works in the Russian Embassy media office inside the vast windowless soviet style massive high walled compound which belongs to his country, here in Damascus.
“Viktor” had been invited to our table, for lunch at the “Lady of Damascus” (“sitt a cham”) restaurant in the middle class neighborhood of Shalan, having been spotted by our charming host, a Sheik and MP in Syria’s Parliament. The well-spoken gentleman was furious, after putting down his mobile phone having apparently heard some rather upsetting news. What ignited Viktor were the recent statements of the US State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland and her seemingly anti-Russian statements lecturing and insulting Syria’s ally, which Victor considered a bald effort to misinterpret the recent statement of Russia’s Middle East envoy, Mikhail Bodganov. Badganov, on 12/13/12 had stated, in response to a question, “One must look the facts in the face… unfortunately, the victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out.” Bogdanov also noted that the Syrian government was “losing control of more and more territory.”
Viktor explained that what has galled the Russian and his embassy colleagues here about Nuland, known for her pro-Zionist, anti-Syrian, Russian, Arab and Muslim views, was her arrogant language: “We want to commend the Russian government for finally waking up to the reality and acknowledging that the regime’s days are numbered.”
According to Viktor, “Bodganov said nothing really new. And we will issue a clarification of this very soon.” He continued, “Everyone knows that theoretically the foreign-backed rebels could win. This is not new and is always a possibility during an uprising. But Mrs. Nuland surely knows that the Syrian government has purposely pulled back from some rural areas where there is mainly open space in order to concentrate its forces to protect population centers. This is very basic military strategy and has been employed throughout history. In the English language I think it’s called something like a “strategic retreat or tactical redeployment. It is reprehensible for western and Gulf media to use our Middle East envoys statement as a form of psychological warfare while deceiving the media.” He added, “Of course we have contingency plans for an evacuation of our citizens if necessary. This is quite normal and we and other countries have such plans for Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf countries and Palestine, among others. Russia has not lessened its support for Syria and to think otherwise is yet another in the series on many miscalculations from Washington.”
Sure enough, within hours, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Lukashevich, a friend of Viktor’s issued a statement: “We would like to remark that he (Bogdanov) has made no statements or special interviews with journalists in the last days. We once again confirm the principled Russian position about the lack of any alternative to a political solution in Syria.”
After venting on Nuland, Victor and others at our table were totally dismissive of the statement of the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who told reporters in Brussels after a meeting with the Dutch prime minister at NATO headquarters. “I think the regime in Damascus is approaching collapse,” he told reporters after a meeting with the Dutch prime minister at NATO headquarters. “I think now it is only a question of time.”
The Syrian MP explained that Rasmussen has no credibility at all after all the lies he spoke concerning NATO in Libya and how NATO’s more than 9,000 bombing missions “protected the civilian population” whereas in truth, everyone there at the time (including this observer) knew very well that the main threat to Libya’s population, starting in March 2011 and continuing until mid-October was from NATO. From Sorman to Sabna NATO forces rained indiscriminate death on the civilian population of Libya and according to Russian President, due to meet with Obama in February, has condemned the US and NATO for deceiving Russia and the international community regarding its true aims. Viktor told us that his country fears the same deception is afoot in Syria.
Damascenes are tense, sullen, but not panicked following the recent events and what many consider terrorist acts by so-called “rebels.”
According to students I very much enjoy meeting with from Universities and Colleges here, their President, Bashar Assad, still has the support of a majority of the population. Many, as does the Assad government, accept, in principal, the April 2012 Geneva Proposals. That initiative, proposes a transitional government resulting from dialogue leading up the 2014 election which would be open to all candidates. They favor letting the Syrian people choose at the ballot box the next president whoever that may be.
It is evident here in Damascus that the main worry of the population is the manifold effects of the generally viewed illegal and immoral US led sanctions. On a another subject, “Tamara, a university student explained that the target of students and intimidation by rebel backers of students and faculty plus the kidnappings, taking of houses and cars by these same elements are affecting education here although almost all the schools and universities are still functioning.
This observer had the help of a small group of Damascus University students in conducting a survey of the effects of the US led sanctions regime on the civilian population. Virtually every person who expressed a view on this subject told this observer that the only purpose of the American sanctions is regime change by way of trying to force the population to suffer to such an extent that the long lines for bread etc. turn violent and break the bond between the Bashar Assad government and the civilian population. People here commonly refer to the US led sanctions against Iran as also being about regime change and not because Washington believes it can force Iran to abandon its perfectly legal nuclear development program.
The results of a student led survey of grocery stores in Damascus, completed on 12/12/12, shows the following increases in food prices that citizens here must pay against the backdrop of current unemployment figures currently estimated by economists as being between 40-60 percent of the population.
Damascus Student survey: Price rises for food items between May 2011 and December 2012
(Official exchange rate is currently 80 Syrian pounds for one US dollar)
Lamb—500 Syrian pounds to this week’s price of 750 sp, Chicken—200 sp to 450 sp, Milk—per liter….from 40 to 95 sp, Rice—from 40 sp to 100 sp, Eggs—160-300 sp for a carton of 30 medium sized eggs, Cooking oil—30 per liter to 60, Sugar—40 sp per kilo to 85 sp, Bread—20 sp for 10 loaves of flat bread to 55 currently in Damascus but 220 s.p. in Aleppo where, as in Homs, Hama and the east, a massive humanitarian crises in rapidly spreading.
Russia has promised wheat for this basic staple in Syria. But time is of the essence. In many areas of Syria most in need, basic food stuff supplying NGO’s are absent.
Bottled cooking gas– 500 sp now up to 1000 sp, is also becoming more difficult to find in several Damascus neighborhoods.
Heating oil which was 100 sp per liter is now on average 250 sp but becoming quite scarce. Even some of the five star hotels here in Damascus, due to a severe shortage of “mazot” fuel oil, are cutting off the heat and hot water to rooms except for periods between 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 8-10 p.m. Russia has reportedly promised a tanker of fuel oil but it will be dangerous to transport it by road to the population centers here because, according to students working as volunteers with the Syrian Arab Republic Red Crescent Society and other humanitarian organizations, rebel forces are increasing stealing or destroying aid convoys and rampaging the countryside.
Students here in Damascus intend to publish a more detailed list of consumer goods every two weeks. Yesterday some picketed the empty American embassy in protest against US led sanctions. “The Syrian people will never forget or forgive the American campaign to starve us into submission”, one sign read.
It appears to this observer that, rather as is the case with Iran, the illegal and immoral US led sanctions, which urgently need to be challenged at The Hague, imposed on the civilian population of Syria is having the opposite effect of what their cynical architects intended. The piling on of sanctions is giving credibility to the Assad government which, while employing measures to curtail prices increases here, so far with modest success, is arguing that the price rises are the result of Syria’s American and Zionist enemies. This view is widely shared among students at Damascus University and the general public.
Providing another example of why judicial review needs to be reviewed is U.S. District Court Judge James C. Fox, who just ruled that North Carolina may not offer its “Choose Life” license plates. And wait till you hear his reasoning (if you can call it that). Writes MyFox8.com:
A federal judge has ruled it is unconstitutional for North Carolina to issue pro-life license plates unless the state offers similar plates supporting abortion rights.
[…]Judge Fox concluded, “The State’s offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”
Allow me to translate: “I, Caesarean Judge, don’t like pro-life messages. So I’m going to rule against the choose-life plate — because I can.”
Question: where in the Constitution is it forbidden for states — or the feds, for that matter — to engage in “viewpoint discrimination”? The Founding Fathers included no such provision, and for good reason.
They were neither on mind-altering medication nor were insane.
The fact is that the very business of governing involves “viewpoint discrimination.” After all, the state must enact laws. And a law, by definition, is the imposition of a viewpoint.
As an example, the battle over Obamacare involved many viewpoints, two of which were “The federal government has no right to force citizens to purchase a product or service” and “The federal government does have a right to force citizens to purchase a product or service.” And the feds not only discriminated between those two viewpoints, they decided to impose one at the end of a gun.
So here is what’s implicit in Judge Fox’s reasoning: if the government’s viewpoint discrimination involves the forcible imposition of the viewpoint on others, it’s acceptable. But if the government is simply offering a vehicle through which citizens can voluntarily display a viewpoint, it’s not.
Another example of government viewpoint discrimination is public-service announcements. For instance, when the government uses tax money to promote the notion that our strength lies in our diversity, it has discriminated against the viewpoint that our strength certainly does not lie there.
Another issue here is hinted at by Chris Brook, legal director of the organization that filed the lawsuit against the pro-life plates, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation. He rendered the opinion, writes MyFox8.com, that “the government cannot create an avenue to express one side of a political issue while denying an equal opportunity to citizens with an opposing view.” He perhaps was very clever to use the word “an” as opposed to “the,” as issues can suggest far more than just two viewpoints.
Just consider the matter at hand. The ACLU would find it acceptable if NC offered an opposing message such as the euphemistic “Respect Reproductive Freedom,” but this would still leave great discrimination. What of the viewpoints, “Abortion Controls the Population,” “Abortionists Should be Aborted,” “Abortion is a Good,” and “Abortion is Racism” (an inordinate percentage of aborted babies are black)? Sure, these are fringe opinions, but so what? It is now our position that a viewpoint may suffer discrimination if it’s held only by a minority?
Of course, that is our position, as illustrated with the examples of laws and public-service announcements. Many (not all) reflect popular will that overrode opposing viewpoints whose embrace would have led to an opposing law or no legislation at all. This is called democracy.
The ACLU’s Brook also called Fox’s ruling a victory for “free speech rights.” This is nonsense as well, much like Sandra Fluke’s conflation of access to contraception with taxpayer financing of it. Citizens may display any kind of pro-abortion bumper sticker they wish on their vehicles. The government may not suppress a viewpoint, but this doesn’t mean that the government has to advocate for it equally.
Yet don’t be surprised at the conclusions drawn by Fox and Brooks. It is the reasoning of the unreasonable, the actions of those who take pride in mastering duplicitous law-craft and do what they do because they can. And I would respond in kind. If I controlled the NC government, I’d tell the judge that we will stop issuing abortion-related license plates altogether. Instead, we’ll offer one with an anti-suicide message.
It just so happens that it will also bear the words “Choose Life.”
And will have the exact same design as the pro-life plates.
You don’t expect us to spend money redesigning a plate given today’s budget crunches and all, do you?
And there’ll be no “viewpoint discrimination.” We’ll also offer a pro-suicide plate reading “Choose Death.” Fair is fair.
On the other hand, you could just resurrect the spirit of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson and tell Judge Fox that you’ve decided not to play, that judicial review has been reviewed and found wanting. I would say, you have made your ruling, judge. Now let’s see you enforce it.
Who said the filthy rich are good for nothing? Their antics are very entertaining! The Nouveau Riche have always been notorious headline-providers, and the newest crop of Russian oligarchs make the robber barons of previous generations look timid and colorless. As money ages, it becomes anaemic; divided and subdivided by careful lawyers into a maze of corporate entities. New money is still good fun; they pull their stunts right in public, and they don’t pull their punches. These hometown heroes fill the vacuum left by the maharajas and sheiks in a way that our drab bureaucrats never could; they parade their Humvee Jeeps through the Moscow crouds, as sure and proud as the Indian kings who once rode their battle elephants in the jungle.
They are more powerful and less restrained in their choice of action than ever were Scorsese’s Mafia dons. Brutal, unscrupulous, overriding, often overreaching, these are characters made for a Shakespearean drama. They are lawless; they freely trample upon other people until somebody finally tramples upon them. They are full-bloodied villains or generous benefactors, or both. Their habit of using London as their litigation headquarters has given their other habits an international audience.
Recently two mighty tycoons, Berezovsky and Abramovich, jousted in a London court for the prize of billions — and incidentally disclosed how they stripped the Russian public of its most valuable assets during Yeltsin’s privatization regime. These courtroom warriors do not flinch at revealing their base crimes to achieve victory; in this case another Neoliberal myth has been destroyed, and another dark chapter in Russian history has been illuminated.
The looting of a country is heavy fare; the public hungered for some light farce. The Polonsky vs. Lebedev case came to the fore, publicized internationally via the London court system. This is the hilarious story of a media mogul and a real estate baron who go full smackdown on live TV. Only the mighty pen of Nikolai Gogol, the mid-19th century Russian author of The Squabble (You can read the plot here) could have done it justice; he might have called it Why Alexander Lebedevich Punched Sergei Polonovich, but you’ll have to bear with my humble efforts.
BelleNews gives us a blow by blow description of the live smackdown action:
- In front of an astonished studio audience, Alexander Lebedev (the Russian mogul) rains a series of blows onto the head of SergeiPolonsky (the real-estate baron), knocking him off his chair. This is during a TV debate on the global economic crisis.
- Images of the dramatic scene, which have been posted on YouTube, show Lebedev losing control and standing over Polonsky in a threatening manner.
- Polonsky appears to attempt to calm him down and Lebedev takes his seat once more.
- After few seconds, without warning, as Polonsky gently pats him on the arm, Lebedev again decides it’s time to let his fists do the talking.
- Lebedev suddenly hits Polonsky several times on the side of the head, sending him sprawling to the floor.
- Polonsky stands back up, seemingly unharmed, and the two men stare hard at each other as studio flunkies defuse the situation.
Note: Alexander Lebedev is one of the richest men in the world, with a fortune that’s estimated to be in the region of $3.1 billion.
In fact, Polonsky and Lebedev are two mid-sized Russian tycoons; neither of them could buy Minnesota cash on the nail. They could have become great pals, toasting each other’s successes in turn; for both are given to real estate development, both love swimming, both wear casual more often than formal, both are rather vain, and both are facing a sharp decline in their fortunes. But instead they have come to blows, for they are doomed to be opposing characters. Which is the protagonist and which the antagonist? None.
Sergei Polonsky is forty, a young man as tycoons go, the first post-Soviet generation of Russian businessmen. He is still big and broad like the Blue Beret commando he once was, but years of soft living have robbed him of his waist; now he looks more like a jolly, well-fed dolphin. His lady friend is a prominent businesswoman by her own right, and a swimming champion.
Alexander Lebedev is 12 years older; his was the generation that privatised the USSR. He is a shape-shifter; he has modernized his appearance over the years from a hard-muscled, disciplined, business-suit-wearing ex-KGB-man into a metrosexual guitar player with an alluring haircut, light shirts and blue jeans. He traded in his old Soviet-era wife for a newer, more camera-friendly model.
Lebedev lives in downtown Moscow, in a former Scout Youth Club built in glorious Stalinesque imperial style with columns and portico, and transformed – after its privatisation – into a minor manor, with an Olympic-size swimming pool where he spends much of his time. He escapes the Moscow autumnal gloom at his Cote d’Azure villa and in his London mansion.
Polonsky lives in a futuristic penthouse, perched like a ship’s bridge atop a skyscraper with a 360° view, high above Moscow. He designed and built the skyscraper and his own apartment himself, being an architect by education and profession. He spends his weekends floating in a converted barge, moored just beyond the city limits, in the company of a tame racoon, doingchi kung – Chinese meditation practice - and voraciously reading arbitrarily-chosen books. In winter he drives a slim, high-tech sled pulled by snow-white blue-eyed huskies; in summer he glides through the deeps on a sea-bob, or hang-glides over blissful hills.
Lebedev built a resort in Crimea; he lavished his generosity on the city, restoring the historic Chekhov theatre, but he prefers to spend his time in London, hobnobbing with Harry Potter’s creator, Ms Rowling, Sir Elton John and other worthies. He plays guitar, and supports DDT, a Russian rock group. He also owns a quality British newspaper, The Independent, as well as a tabloid, the Evening Standard, and the Russian Novaya Gazeta.
Polonsky, in contrast, has built himself a fortress of solitude, a stone and glass castle rising from the waves of a lonely island off the shores of Sihanoukville, not far from Alain Delon’s home in remote Cambodia. He meets with Sufi teachers, receives instructions from Zen monks and chi gung adepts. He is into esoteric knowledge and mystic experiences.
The two men are from very different cities and backgrounds. Lebedev grew up a child of privilege; his father was a professor of the prestigious Foreign Service School. As a young man he joined the KGB and the Communist Party. He graduated from his father’s school, proceeded into the KGB college, and then entered the diplomatic service. He was stationed at the Soviet Embassy in Kensington, London; his assignment: stop the money fleeing Russia. In eight years he learned the ropes, and with the fall of the USSR the gamekeeper turned poacher.
Lt.-Col. (KGB) Lebedev left the service in 1992 and used his professional insider knowledge of Soviet debts to make a fortune and direct fleeing money to safe havens. Not many Russians knew the banking system like he did. There was a lot of money that could be made by a person with the right connections: he bought cut-rate loans cheap and cashed them in at full value with a friendly Treasury official. He made a deal with Gazprom that made the Russian state two hundred millions poorer and himself and his collaborators that much richer. He befriended Victor Chernomyrdin, then Prime Minister, and Chernomyrdin channelled state funds into Lebedev’s recently-opened bank. Lebedev used his connections to capture positions in state-sponsored companies like Ilyushin and Aeroflot: the profits went to Lebedev, while the expenses went to the state.
Polonsky hailed from St Petersburg, of humble origin. He grew up as the USSR collapsed around him; he studied architecture, went into construction and building, hired Ukrainian builders while they were still inexpensive, and built himself into a real estate developer. He is proud of being a self-made man; he obtained nothing from the state, and never sought anything, he says. He did not privatise government factories, but instead established good connections with City Hall and catered to newly-prosperous Muscovites. He looks honest enough to buy a used car from, though such trustworthy guys do not become billionaires. People in the know say that he had to cut backroom deals with Mme Baturina, wife of the Moscow Mayor and one of the richest women in the world: no building was erected in Moscow without a nod from her.
Polonsky has tried to avoid politics; he professes a lack of knowledge and interest in things political. He is a builder, he says, no more. He puts his soul into huge projects spreading from Moscow to Switzerland and from London to Croatia. He is democratic in the Russian style: he mixes easily with all kinds of ordinary folks, but they’d better follow his orders or else.He is a petty tyrant, his (dismissed) employees say: he forbids texting during board meetings! Violators have their precious iPhones smashed against the wall (a feat I myself have only dreamed of). His ambitions lie in the spiritual sphere, and business often takes a back seat to his search for God.
Lebedev has a penchant for politics. He has tried on for size several political factions, varying from the ultra-nationalist Rodina (“Motherland”) to the socialist SR and to the ruling ER, being torn between political ambitions and the desire to make a fast buck. Sometimes the two go together.
In 1996, in the run-up to the fateful elections, Lebedev supported Boris Yeltsin, the then-president of Russia, a dissipated alcoholic who embezzled Russian national wealth and enriched the oligarchs. Lebedev’s bank was used by Yeltsin’s Treasury in order to channel state funds into piles of greenbacks all wrapped up for bribes. It was some of Lebedev’s cash that was seized by security in the infamous Case of the Xerox Paper Box, when an activist tried to carry out millions of dollars for Yeltsin’s bribe fund in a cardboard box. Lebedev did not shy away from this deed; he was rather proud of it, and even paid the dirt-digging magazine Kompromat(“Compromising Matters”) to produce a special issue containing a sanitised version of this, and other exploits.
Lebedev’s daring misdeeds inevitably attracted the attention of law enforcement, and a case against him was eventually drawn up by the State Attorney General. Lebedev, by his own boast, set the Attorney General up with two easy-going girls in a sauna, and filmed the frolics. The film has been broadcasted on a fellow oligarch’s private NTV channel and the Attorney General abruptly resigned.
Some people say that Lebedev was not responsible for the setup. If true, this speaks volumes. Might Mr. Lebedev think that bad publicity is much better than no publicity at all? The facts support the theory. Lebedev produced a book ominously entitled 666 or The Beast Is Born, full of prosaic smackdowns targeting nearly every public personality in Russia. He humbly refers to himself as the “ideal capitalist” and claims credit for these and other dashing criminal exploits.
Lebedev is always quick with an explanation as to why each crime was a good deed: it was either to save Russia from the clutches of the commies (he conveniently misplaces his own Party credentials), or to save the world from the KGB (again he is silent about his own history in the very same service). He openly despises Putin’s working class roots and rise to power. It galls him that they once had the same rank in the KGB. But the real reason behind Lebedev’s opposition is that Putin fearlessly prosecutes the oligarchs. Or is it “persecutes”?
Oligarchs have a persecution complex: any and all interference is unjust. They think of themselves as omnipotent, though they are only powerful, and they bristle against even the most minor efforts to curtail their power. Their money buys them power over life and death, but this power saps their mental health. They start to believe the hype offered by sycophants. They begin to reject trusted advisors. They end up alone and unhinged, pursued by the law. Too much power corrupts, and the Russian oligarchs have more power than any of Stalin’s satraps ever had.
Mr Putin does not approve of oligarchs meddling in politics. He does not punish them arbitrarily, nor does he rewrite the laws to target them. Putin’s Russia allows these tycoons to get away with many things, but it does draw the line at crime – sometimes. This is Putin’s great sacrilege; he holds the oligarchs accountable to the letter of the law. This level of independence comes as a great shock to them. They are getting whiplash trying to readjust after the total freedom of lapdog Yeltsin’s day. The oligarchs wistfully recall the days when they employed their powers over life and death with impunity, like viceroys of India in Clive’s time.
Alas, Mr Lebedev’s political ambitions have remained unfulfilled. He reduced his lofty goals to something more achievable, and decided to become the Mayor of Moscow. He failed. Worried now, he set his sights upon becoming the Mayor of Sochi (the Miami of Russia). Again, he failed. The sharks, sensing blood, began to circle. His dashing exploits belatedly began to attract the attention of the law, especially his alleged appropriation of $300 million in state bailout funds meant to shore up his bank. He accepted the money, but it soon became apparent that his bank’s coffers were empty, or rather stuffed with fictitious promissory notes. His dealings in the aircraft industry also have come under scrutiny and it appears that the state, the main shareholder, might have been swindled in a major way.
In response, the canny Mr Lebedev activated his long term insurance policy. If he were a Russian Jew, he would have claimed he was being attacked by authoritarian Russian anti-Semites; but Mr Lebedev is not a Russian Jew. Instead, Mr Lebedev claims he is being attacked by authoritarian KGB thugslike Mr Putin. This insurance was effective but expensive: for many years he had been forced to heavily subsidise the anti-Putin newspaper Novaya Gazeta, widely read in the central borough of Moscow and unheard of elsewhere. To influence the international set, he purchased two British newspapers and strenuously promoted his new image as a sort of Khodorkovsky: just another wealthy man victimized by Putin’s KGB thugs. He claimed that he was poisoned like Litvinenko, but he miraculously survived. The British were only too happy to cooperate with Lebedev’s propaganda campaigns; the establishment was (and is) willing to support any and all anti-Putin elements, including the Chechen separatists.
It was during his campaign for Moscow Mayor, that Mr Lebedev became aware of Mr Polonsky, who happened to be on good terms with the incumbent Mayor. At that time, Polonsky was busy erecting the tallest twin skyscrapers in Europe, the Federation Towers – the gem of Moscow City. Polonsky immediately became the next target for Lebedev’s hate: another low-caste self-made man, definitely not a pukka sahib. It was also an opportune moment for a quick and easy kill, because Polonsky’s star was falling fast.
Polonsky had gotten himself into trouble, as do all the oligarchs at one point or another. He was not thorough and he was not prudent. He rejected his trusted advisors and surrounded himself with yes-men. He believed his hunch instead of counting odds. He jumped into multimillion deals with a bow and a handshake, and his partners walked away with chunks of his empire. His dreams of samurai honour were shattered by modern Russian business pragmatism.
He relied upon his assistants, and they robbed him blind. The more he empowered them, the faster they would vamoose with his money. His vast capital (assessed at over three billion dollars at the peak) began to shrink precipitously; cash flow became a problem for him, he was over-extended and had difficulty completing his most ambitious projects. Ordinary people who invested in his projects had become justifiably angry.
It was at this moment that the cunning Lebedev unveiled his ingenuous device to break Polonsky. The media mogul spread a malicious (and apparently false) rumour that the foundations of Federation Towers had cracked. Polonsky was already on the defensive, now his back was against the wall. He invited Moscow journalists to come and look for themselves: they were allowed to roam freely some forty yards below the surface, trying to locate the crack, refusing to admit its absence. He offered a million roubles to anyone who could find it. Nobody found anything, but the rumour persisted, supported by Mr Lebedev and his newspapers.
Alone and unhinged, Polonsky began to claim that he himself invented the crack story in order to promote public awareness of the project. There were no buyers for this weird story. His projects continued to suffer setbacks, raiders continued to seize his developments, his companions continued to rob him blind. The crack story cracked his empire.
This is the backstory to the Oligarch Smackdown on live TV. It was ostensibly going to be about global economics. They had exchanged only a few words when Mr Polonsky brought up the painful subject of the crack. The whole world awaited Lebedev’s reply. He looked into the eyes of his victim. What did Mr Lebedev feel at that moment? Pride? Hatred? In any case, alone and unhinged, he rose and landed a few well-aimed jabs upon Polonsky’s jaw. The sitting ex-commando was knocked down, decisively proving the superiority of KGB training over that of Airborne Troopers. The programme was a global success; after delighting the viewers, who had been prepared for a dry recitation of global doom, it went on to become an all-time favourite on YouTube.
But the story did not end there. In face of millions who had watched the assault live, Lebedev denied he hit Polonsky. Standing just outside of the studio, Lebedev insisted stubbornly to the journalists: “I did not touch him; Polonsky assaulted me, because I am in opposition to Putin.” Yes, Lebedev is amazing: he is one man who is prepared to deny anything. Years ago, he had fought to ban gambling in St Petersburg, an ostensibly noble purpose. When it came out that his bank had heavily invested in the lotteries (the main competitor to gaming machines), Lebedev denied all motives of self-interest. Even after his own bank manager proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the strategy was Lebedev’s own idea, he continued to deny all knowledge with a straight face. I wonder if even James Bond could equal this feat.
During the race for the Moscow City Hall, Lebedev bought a newspaper (theMoscow Correspondent) and turned it into a fighting machine. They soon printed a scurrilous rumour that Mr Putin was involved in an extra-marital affair. Lebedev could not imagine that Putin would react as he did. Usually quite complacent to rumours, accusations and attacks, the President became furious. Fearing Putin’s fury, Lebedev immediately shut down the newspaper, fired the editor and said on air that the baseless article was created by the current Mayor of Moscow and inserted by the editor in return for a bribe. This brazen lie cost the editor his career; Lebedev never recanted.
Since his televised assault, Lebedev has been asked many times why he did it. Some of his explanations are so off the wall that one has difficulty believing he actually offered them as true statements. The palm probably should go to “I thought that I would become a popular hero because I struck out against that hateful oligarch”. This is rich coming from him. Polonsky seems genuinely at a loss to explain Lebedev’s behaviour. Not only has Lebedev refused to apologise, he is continuing to deny he even did it. Is he claiming the insanity defence? More likely he is claiming his rights of oligarchic power: the impunity defence.
Polonsky has not benefited from his public humiliation; in fact, the story only further injured his already suffering business reputation, and a project he had planned to do in London collapsed soon afterwards. It was for this reason that he brought civil charges against Lebedev in a London court, and retired to his Cambodian island, posting his daily catch of barracudas on the Facebook.
Almost a year had passed before the exceedingly slow-grinding mills of Russian criminal justice charged Mr Lebedev, but eventually the media baron was charged with “hooliganism” and “assault”. His lawyers claim that Lebedev had felt threatened and was forced to defend himself; Lebedev (with a straight face) claims that he is being persecuted by the bloody Putin regime for his “love of freedom”. A bald-faced liar is always more entertaining than a talented ingénue, so we will not be too surprised if Mr Lebedev walks away with a slap on the wrist. Anyway, the bloody Putin regime is soft on the oligarchs. However, this Oligarch Smackdown is far from over. We await Mr Lebedev’s elevation to the voice of Russia’s conscience by his own British hacks!
The Salvation Army has long been a holy-day season fixture in front of my local supermarket, providing some Christmas sounds and cheer as it raises money to serve the poor. But when I went grocery shopping a couple of days ago, a difference was apparent: there was an SA volunteer and collection pot on the premises, but no trademark bell-ringing. So I asked the man why — even though I already knew the answer.
You might have read the recent news stories concerning complaints about the SA bells. And, sure enough, the volunteer at my supermarket confirmed that these grinches’ griping was the reason they’d been silenced. So now another element of the Christmas season is no more, at least in my area.
Of course, some may say that any continual noise can be irritating. But this raises questions: why didn’t people seem to find the SA bells as annoying 25 years ago? Is it any coincidence that increasing irritation with them seems to hew closely with the growth of our society’s secularist-grinch constituency?
It goes without saying that some people must have found the bells annoying decades ago as well. Most everything irks someone and everyone is irked by something (with me, it’s the grating, purposeless noise emanating from liberals’ mouths). Yet we tend to often tolerate things that annoy us, realizing that dealing with such comes with the territory of living among other beings. And tolerance is the relevant factor here because, clearly, it is only growing intolerance that could explain complaints intense enough to instigate the change in question.
Before proceeding, I’ll point out that “tolerance” is almost universally misunderstood today. While we often conflate it with affection or sympathy, the word actually implies the abiding of a perceived negative. We wouldn’t tolerate a fine car, delectable meal, or a beautiful work of art; we relish those things. But we would have to tolerate bad weather, a cold, or a Nancy Pelosi speech. Could you imagine someone asking not about pain, but “How much pleasure can you tolerate?”?
This explains why liberals fancy themselves the epitome of tolerance when they’re anything but. They will point to their attitudes toward homosexual behavior, illegal entry into our country, and the exaltation of other cultures within our borders as prime examples of tolerance, but they’re nothing of the sort. Liberals actually like or at least don’t mind those things, which means that, by definition, they cannot be tolerant of them. Their affinity or indifference makes that impossible.
So how tolerant are liberals really? Well, just consider how they react to things they actually do perceive as negatives. How tolerant are they of conservative commentary, politically incorrect dissent on college campuses, or expressions of Christianity? Heck, anything that finds disfavor with a liberal sets off bells in his head.
Now, it’s also true that what influences whether we perceive something as a negative or, at least, how tolerant of it we’ll be, is the person or group with which it’s associated. For example, we may discover that a habit we found intolerable in a person we disliked we find quite tolerable, or even endearing, in someone we like (I must confess to having once been guilty of this myself). Then we may realize it wasn’t that the earlier individual was so intolerable; it’s that we were unjustly intolerant and let our negative feelings for a person color our judgment of everything he did.
Liberals exhibit this all the time. They may detest former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet, pointing out that 3000 people disappeared under his rule, while seeming not to bat an eye at Joseph Stalin’s murder of tens of millions. They’ll condemn Sarah Palin for supposedly using crosshairs imagery, but then say nothing about Barack Obama’s statement, “If they [Republicans] bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” And they’ll defend the broadcast of the Muslim call to prayer in Hamtramck,Michigan, while getting all bent out of shape over SA bells.
So it’s clear that the main problem some people have with the SA bells is not the ringing, but who is doing the ringing. The Salvation Army is a Christian organization with a mission statement that reads, in part:
“[The SA] is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
Christian, church, Bible, love of God, and Jesus Christ…. It’s no wonder liberals perceive the SA as a negative.
Of course, this is just one little front in the War on Christmas. But now yet another element of the Yuletide season has been purged, thanks to the actions of liberals and inaction of yesterday’s liberals (conservatives).
Ah, liberals, the very embodiment of negativity, negative about all the wrong things for more than 100 years.
The United Nations General Assembly vote of 11/29/12, which some in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps are calling a “birth certificate for our country” is the latest of more than 400 UN resolutions on the Question of Palestine and a rare major victory for Palestinians after 65 years of resisting occupation.
The UN action, which was backed by an overwhelm majority of UN members with a lopsided vote of 138 to 9, may well force the Zionist regime to seriously consider a just peaceful resolution of the conflict.
With due respect to the nearly 50 percent of the UN members who voted against the historic Palestine Resolution on 11/29/12 at the General Assembly, which is to say the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru ( the world’s smallest republic covering just 8.1 square miles with a population of 9, 378)), and Palau, with its approximately 20,000 inhabitants, all former U.S. Trust Territories and currently “freely associated states” of the United States, with U.S. zip/postal and telephone codes much more closely resembling American states (51st, 52nd, 53rd and 54th) than sovereign countries, the World spoke clearly in favor of Palestinian self-determination. Indeed, the only reason these dissenting four “countries” are UN Members at all is due to cold war era efforts of Washington to stack the General Assembly in its favor by running up the numbers of its safe votes.
Over the past fortnight, as the US and Israel piled layers of threats onto their mantra of derision regarding yesterday’s historic UN vote on Palestine, both countries desperately tried to dissuade the Palestinians from scrapping their application for non-member observer state membership status with the United Nations.
Way too much did Israeli officials and their US lobby protest, thus drawing more international attention and curiosity as they kept dissing the “purely symbolic empty gesture and meaningless act.”
Naftali Bennett, leader of the extremist right-wing national religious Zionist party in Israel, Habayit Hayehudi (“The Jewish Home”) warned the day before the vote that “the PA bid for non-member status at the UN has very real implications on Israel, and that we must take harsh measures in response. I don’t accept the claim that this is a symbolic move,” Bennet told Israel Radio. “This is not symbolic at all. This has very practical implications. “He added: “We must tell the Arabs, if you pursue a unilateral strategy at the UN, We will pursue a unilateral strategy in annexing settlements in the West Bank.”
There is some important symbolism in the UN admitting Palestine as a non-member observer on the 65th anniversary of the November 29, 1947, adoption by the UN General Assembly of the resolution on the partition of Palestine (resolution 181 (II)). On December 2, 1977, it was recorded that the assembly called for the annual observance of November 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (A/RES/32/40 B).
Last minute appeals by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton plus a late night pre-vote visit by US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Middle East envoy David Hale to the hotel room of the Palestinian Authority hold-over President Mahmoud Abbas failed to convince him to withdraw the resolution and to include the demanded eviscerating codicils.
Secretary of State Clinton could not have been more mistaken as she insisted at her news conference on 11/28/12 that “the only path towards a Palestinian state was through direct negotiations. As I have said many times the only path to a two-state solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York.” Few in the state department, according to congressional staff members who liaise with Clinton’s staff, believe that direct negotiations would ever lead to Israel voluntarily rejecting its current apartheid system or that the interminable “peace process” has ever been taken seriously by the Zionist regime and in fact constitute a hoax. In contradistinction, the growing reality in the Middle East and all five continents is the belief that only Resistance, with its scores of forms, will liberate Palestine from Zionist occupation.
Low balling the UN vote…
Following the 138 to 9 vote, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, intimated, as did the usual Amen chorus of anti-Arab & anti-Islam zealots, from the US Israeli lobby, including the likes of ADL’s Abe Foxman, that” just as predicted, anti-Semitism was lurking behind the lopsided vote” and that it all amounted, in the words of Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev, “to nothing but cheap political theater that should not come as a surprise to anyone.”
The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), as it does on any issue involving Palestine and Israel issued Talking Points for members of Congress and other Zionist organizations to be used when communicating with constituents and giving media interviews. AIPAC keeps close track of how many interviews each member gives and how closely they tow the Zionist line so as to help determine how much cash the particular member will receive for re-election as well as other perks.
For this crucial UN vote, the US Zionist lobby used U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) drafted a letter from these AIPAC stalwarts to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas opposing any unilateral attempts by the Palestinian Government to pursue non-member state status at the United Nations General Assembly.
In their letter, the Senators asserted that “Palestinian statehood can only be realized as a result of a broader peace agreement negotiated with the Israelis, not through unilateral measures at the United Nations. Should you decide, however, to bypass direct negotiations and unilaterally seek upgraded status at the UN, we want to again remind you of the potential for significant consequences. As S. Res. 185 notes, any such efforts may cause consequences in regards to U.S. policy and foreign aid.”
AIPAC instructed Congress to make the following points which was included in an “urgent advisory” to every member and many staffers.
1. This UN action won’t lead to peace.
Peace will only occur through direct talks. By refusing to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seeking recognition of a state at the United Nations, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is damaging U.S. peace efforts. (nothing in this point is accurate)
2. Recognizing a Palestinian state gives legitimacy to Hamas.
The Iranian-backed terrorist group has fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and is sworn to the destruction of the Jewish state. By granting recognition of a state, the international community will reward Hamas for its terrorist actions, rather than condemn them
3. The United States has rejected the Palestinian approach.
President Obama has said that “no vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state” and called the Palestinian efforts at the U.N. a “mistake.”
Other talking points AIPAC told Congress to use include: while Israel Takes Steps for Peace, Palestinians run to UN , Israel Wants Talks; Palestinians Still Refuse, Palestinians Glorify Terrorists by praising the Hamas victory.
What the Zionist leaders of Israel, as they franticly try to intimidate the region by stockpiling American weapons, while grabbing more Palestinian land, fear is that the 11/19/12 UN resolution may be a game changer.
In this they are correct.
The UN action allows the Palestinians to participate in General Assembly debates and de facto grants recognition of Palestinian statehood on the pre-1967 ceasefire lines while re-enforcing the wide international consensus that the pre-1967 lines should form the basis of a permanent peace settlement.
It also opens up the 17 Specialized Agencies of the UN including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Universal Postal Union (UPU), the World Bank Group, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization (WTO), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) as well as related and comparable organizations.
As noted this week by Al-Haq, the Palestinian human rights organization “ Under such a strengthened position within the international legal system, the State of Palestine will be allowed to formally accede to international human rights instruments and other technical United Nations bodies, thus improving protection of Palestinian rights at the domestic and international level”.
It is also to be expected that Palestinian citizens under brutal Zionist occupation will demand to use their new status to join the International Criminal Court and might press for investigations of Zionist international crimes, crimes against humanity, attempted genocide, and a host of other practices in the occupied territories. Investigating such international crimes and bringing punishment to those convicted is why the ICC was established.
Professor Francis Boyle reminds us that Palestine can also now sue Israel at the International Court of Justice and end the illegal siege of Gaza, and join the Law of the Sea Convention and secure its fair share of the gas fields lying off the Gaza coast with enormous economic benefits. Palestine can also now join the International Civil Aviation Organization and gain sovereignty over its own airspace; join the International Telecommunications Union and gain sovereign legal control over its own airwaves, phone lines and band-widths.
These are just some of the many reason the Obama administration, slavishly joined the Zionist leadership of occupied Palestine to defeat the UN application.
The actions of the Obama Administration and its vehement opposition to the UN vote continues to diminish the relevance of the US in the Middle East as it slides further down the wrong side of history with its client state in tow. Attempting to justify its shameful opposition to the Palestinian diplomatic undertaking in the UN, the Obama administration could only offer a weak brief from the State Department legal department accusing the PLO of acting unilaterally, in breach of signed agreements are simply parroting AIPAC talking points noted above.
Deepening Palestine’s international legal personality within the United Nations system is a legitimate presence on the world stage from which to assert rights guaranteed by fundamental principles of International Law. With more access to the United Nations system, Palestinians have gained a major political and legal framework from which to work and to encourage the international community to comply with its obligation to end Israeli crimes against them and bring Israel’s serious breaches of international law to an end.
Shatila refugee camp…
The current festive celebrations in Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps reflect the intense euphoria being witnessed throughout Gaza and occupied Palestine, Arab and Muslim countries, as well as relief among people of goodwill globally.
This observer’s special friend from Shatila camp, Zeinab, (she refers to herself as ‘Miss International’ given all the Americans and foreigners we bring to meet her and her wonderful family) called last night and giggled, “This is wonderful! You must come! I and some of my friends were wearing black scarves in honor of Ashoura on our way to protest against the Israeli aggression in Gaza. Within half an hour after gathering at the Youth Center athletic field we heard the news of the ceasefire. Soon we were dancing and singing and celebrating.’!”
At about the same time, thirty miles south of Beirut in Ein el Helwe Refugee camp, Lebanon’s largest and most densely populated with nearly 90,000 people squeezed into less than two square kilometers, more sardine-canned than even Gaza city, the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW) also organized a celebration of Gaza’s victory.
Established nearly half a century ago in 1965 at the time of the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization, GUPW has consistently achieved much for Palestinian families regardless of location or fate. Like Zeinab’s manifestation, the GUPW’s demonstration against the Zionist aggression against Gaza became a joyful rally to celebrate Gaza’s victory, and soon refugees inside and on the outskirts of the camp were dancing and singing and raising Palestinian flags.
As Lebanese journalist Mohammad Zaatari has pointed out, the women’s rally was originally scheduled to deplore the aggression against Gaza, however after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was reached the occasion turned into a celebration with refugees hoisting banners and flags from various PLO and resistant groups while calling for the solidarity and unity of Palestinian factions to confront the Zionist occupation of their country, Palestine. “Every grain of sand!” one university student shouted, “We must liberate all of Palestine and recover every grain of sand! Jews are most welcomed to stay if they want to live in peace as equals under the law, but forget about colonization, democracy for Jews only and apartheid. They must disappear for sure!”
“We have won in Gaza and this is only the beginning,” beamed Amina Jibril, Director of the Palestinian Women Union in Lebanon. “We haven’t just won through rockets. The kids and women and civilians who were killed in the clashes were resisting every day because their mere presence in Gaza is an act of resistance itself.”
But when the cheering stops and the placards are discarded, the many joyful demonstrations throughout Lebanon subside; most of the participants will trundle back to their bleak abject existence in Lebanon’s camps worse off in many respects than Gazans.
It is true that in Lebanon, Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, and Druze regularly condemn Israel and consistently support the “liberation” of Palestine and breaking the siege of Gaza. But few there are who have historically supported expanding the rights or improving the dire living conditions of the more than quarter million refugees within Lebanese borders. As one Palestinian wryly noted, the Lebanese “favor the liberation of Palestine and Gaza, but they oppose even the most basic civil rights for Palestinians in Lebanon.”
Without any help from the Lebanese government or the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have no choice but to depend on the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as their sole source of support and protection. Unfortunately, UNRWA has not proved up to the task due to the United States and Israel politicizing and interfering with international donor contributions.
Most Palestinians in Lebanon who are cheering Gaza’s victory well into the night won’t have to be concerned about being late for work the next day because Lebanese law forbids Palestinians from working in dozens of jobs and professions. Today, according to UNRWA’s own statistics, only about 53,000 of the approximately 130,000-strong Palestinian labor force are employed at all. Most who are have “illegal” low paying work are often ruthlessly exploited by employers who know their workers cannot complain to authorities or collect any work benefits. This is because in 1964, the Lebanese Ministry of Labor instituted a policy under Ministerial Decree No. 17561 whereby professions in Lebanon could be limited to Lebanese citizens. The regulations prohibited Palestinians from working in some seventy job categories.
In the camps of south Lebanon, Ein el Helwe, Mieh-Meih, al Buss and Rasheideyeh, and up north in the still unrestored Nahr al Bared camp, approximately 85 percent of all refugees live in “abject poverty.” Among the states in which UNRWA operates, Lebanon has by far the highest number of “special-hardship cases,” i.e., the poorest of the poor, some 30-35 percent of Palestinian refugees.
Nor will most the temporary celebrants of the Hamas victory in Gaza have classes to attend when the celebrations finish. As of 2008, the pass rate of Palestinian students in UNRWA classes was less than 50 percent—10 percent less than their Lebanese counterparts in state schools. This education deficit alone limits the opportunities of Palestinians in Lebanon. UNRWA does operate seventy-four primary schools– of which approximately 25 percent try to educate with larger classes, shorter hours and in double shifts—and in the process, provides employment to 2,785 residents and as of 2006, was the largest employer of legal, skilled Palestinian labor in Lebanon.
According to the recently published 2012 Human Rights Watch report on the conditions of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon: “They continue to live in appalling social and economic conditions. 2011 saw no improvement in their access to the labor market, despite a labor law amendment in 2010 that was supposed to ease such access. The main reason was the government’s failure to implement the amendment. Lebanese laws and decrees still bar Palestinians from working in at least 25 professions requiring syndicate membership, including law, medicine, and engineering. Palestinian refugees are still subject to a discriminatory law introduced in 2001 preventing them from owning property.”
All activists and others around the world celebrating the victory in Gaza must encourage Lebanon thru its local embassy’s and consults, their own governments, Iran and the Hezbollah led Resistance in Lebanon, as well as Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt to immediately use their power and prestige, enhanced by this month’s victory in Gaza to urge Parliament to repeal the racist 2001 law that forbids only Palestinians from owning a home in Lebanon. They need to leverage the victory in Gaza to benefit Palestinians in Lebanon and assure that Parliament immediately grants Palestinians in Lebanon the same civil right to work as every other foreigner in Lebanon enjoys as does every refugee in every country in the world including Gaza. It can quickly be achieved by progressive forces that currently control Parliament using their political power to achieve these long overdue humanitarian requisites.
Indeed, if these forces will generate the political will, no more than 90 minutes of Lebanon’s Parliamentary time will be required to truly make the victory in Gaza historic while at the same time lifting the shame off Lebanon for its massive violations of international and Lebanese laws by granting Palestinian refugees the most elementary civil right to work and to own a home.
If achieved, history will forever record that it was the 2012 victory in Gaza that substantially liberated their fellow refugees in Lebanon by granting these elementary rights.
The headline stories claim that CIA Director General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA because of an adulterous relation with his young biographer and that General John Allen, Supreme Commander of US troops in Afghanistan, was under investigation and his promotion to top commander of US troops in Europe was on hold, because, we are told, of his ‘inappropriate’ comments in the exchange of e-mails with a civilian female friend. We are told that a ‘hard-charging’ local FBI agent, Frederick Humphries, Jr., had uncovered amorous e-mails sent by General Petraeus to his girlfriend-biographer in the course of investigating a complaint of ‘cyber-stalking’. Out of concern that the General’s ‘adulterous behavior’ posed a risk to US national security, Florida-based FBI Agent Humphries handed the evidence over to one of Washington, DC’s most powerful Republican, Congressman Eric Cantor, who in turn passed them on to the Director of the FBI… leading to Petraeus resignation.
In other words, we are asked to believe that a single, low-ranking, zealous FBI agent has toppled the careers of two top US Generals: one in charge of the principle global intelligence agency, the CIA, and the other in command of the US and allied combat forces in the principle theater of military engagement – on the basis of infidelity and flirtatious banter!
Nothing could be more far-fetched simply on prima facie evidence.
In the sphere of tight hierarchical organizations, like the military or the CIA, where the activity and behavior of subordinate functionaries is centrally directed and any investigation is subject to authorization by senior officials (most especially regarding prying into the private correspondences of the heads of the CIA and of strategic military operations), the idea that a lone agent might operate free-lance is preposterous. A ‘cowboy’ agent could not simply initiate investigation into such ‘sensitive’ targets as the head of the CIA and a General in an active combat zone without the highest level authorization or a network of political operatives with a much bigger agenda. This has much deeper political implications than uncovering a banal sexual affair between two consenting security-cleared adults despite the agent’s claim that fornication constitutes a threat to the United States .
Clearly we are in deep waters here: This involves political intrigue at the highest level and has profound national security implications, involving the directorship of the CIA and clandestine operations, intelligence reports, multi-billion dollar expenditures and US efforts to stabilize client regimes and destabilize target regimes. CIA intelligence reports identifying allies and enemies are critical to shaping global US foreign policy. Any shift at the top of the US empire’s operational command can and does have strategic importance.
The ‘outing’ of General Allen, the military commander in charge of Afghanistan, the US main zone of military operations occurs at a crucial time, with the scheduled forced withdrawal of US combat troops and when the Afghan ‘sepoys’, the soldiers and officers of the puppet Karzai regime, are showing major signs of disaffection, is clearly a political move of the highest order.
What are the political issues behind the beheading of these two generals? Who benefits and who loses?
At the global level, both Generals have been unflinching supporters of the US Empire, most especially the military-driven components of empire building. Both continue to carry out and support the serial wars launched by Presidents Bush and Obama against Afghanistan and Iraq , as well as, the numerous proxy wars against Libya , Syria , Yemen , Somalia , etc. But both Generals were known to have publicly taken positions unpopular with certain key factions of the US power elite.
CIA Director, General Petraeus has been a major supporter of the proxy wars in Libya and Syria . In those efforts he has promoted a policy of collaboration with rightwing Islamist regimes and Islamist opposition movements, including training and arming Islamist fundamentalists in order to topple targeted, mostly secular, regimes in the Middle East . In pursuit of this policy – Petraeus has had the backing of nearly the entire US political spectrum. However, Petraeus was well aware that this ‘grand alliance’ between the US and the rightwing Islamist regimes and movements to secure imperial hegemony, would require re-calibrating US relations with Israel . Petraeus viewed Netanyahu’s proposed war with Iran, his bloody land grabs in the Occupied Territories of Palestine and the bombing, dispossession and assassination of scores of Palestinians each month, were a liability as Washington sought support from the Islamist regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf States, Iraq and Yemen.
Petraeus implied this in public statements and behind closed doors he advocated the withdrawal of US support for Israel ’s violent settler expansion into Palestine , even urging the Obama regime to pressure Netanyahu to reach some settlement with the pliable US client Abbas leadership. Above all, Petraeus backed the violent jihadists in Libya and Syria while opposing an Israel-initiated war against Iran, which he implied, would polarize the entire Moslem world against the Washington-Tel Aviv alliance and ‘provoke the US-proxy supplied Islamist fundamentalists to turn their arms against their CIA patrons. The imperial policy, according to General Petraeus world view, was in conflict with Israel ’s strategy of fomenting hostility among Islamist regimes and movements against the US and, especially, the Jewish state’s promotion of regional conflicts in order to mask and intensify its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Central to Israeli strategy and what posed the most immediate threat to the implementation of a Petraeus’ doctrine was the influence of the Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in and out of the US government.
As soon as General Petraeus’ report naming Israel as a ‘strategic liability’ became known, the ZPC sprang into action and forced Petraeus to retract his statements – at least publicly. But once, he became head of the CIA, Petraeus continued the policy of working with rightwing Islamist regimes and arming and providing intelligence to jihadi fundamentalists in order to topple independent secular regimes, first in Libya, then on to Syria. This policy was placed under the spotlight in Benghazi with the killing of the US ambassador to Libya and several CIA/Special Forces operatives by CIA-backed terrorists leading to a domestic political crisis, as key Republican Congress people sought to exploit the Obama administration’s diplomatic failure. They especially targeted the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, whose maladroit efforts to obscure the real source of the attacks in Benghazi , have undermined her nomination to replace Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State.
General Petraeus, faced with mounting pressure from all sides: from the ZPC over his criticism of Israel and overtures to Islamist regimes, from the Republicans over the Benghazi debacle and from the FBI, over the personal investigation into his girlfriend and hyped up media smear, gave in. He ‘fessed up’ to a ‘sexual affair’, saluted and resigned. In so doing, he ‘sacrificed’ himself in order to ‘save the CIA’ and his strategy of long-term alliance-building with ‘moderate’ Islamist regimes while forming short-term tactical alliances with the jihadists to overthrow secular Arab regimes.
The key political operative behind the high-level FBI operation against Petraeus has been House Majority leader Eric Cantor, who cynically claims that the General’s romantic epistles represent a national security threat. We are told that Congressman Cantor gravely passed the e-mails and reports he had received from the ‘Lone Ranger’ FBI agent Humphries to FBI Director Mueller ordering Mueller to act on the investigation or else face his own Congressional inquiry.
Washington-based Representative Cantor is a zealous lifetime Israel-firster and has been hostile to the Petraeus report and the General’s assessment of the Middle East . Florida-based, Agent Humphries was not just any old conscientious gum-shoe: He was a notorious Islamaphobe engaged in finding terrorists under every bed. His claim to fame (or infamy) was that he had arrested two Muslims, one of whom, he claimed, was preparing to bomb the Los Angeles airport while the other allegedly planned a separate bombing. In a judicial twist, unusual in this era of FBI sting operations, both men were acquitted of the plots for lack of evidence, although one was convicted for publishing an account of how to detonate a bomb with a child’s toy! Agent Humphries was transferred from Washington State to Tampa , Florida – home of the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM).
Despite their clear differences in station and location, there are ideological affinities between House Majority Whip Cantor and Agent Humphries – and possibly a common dislike of General Petraeus. Concerns over his Islamophobic and ideological zealotry may explain why the FBI quickly yanked Agent Humphries out from his mission of ‘obsessive’ prying into CIA Director Petraeus and General Allan’s e-mails. Undeterred by orders from his superiors in the FBI, Agent Humphries went directly to fellow zealot Congressman Cantor.
Who would have benefited from Petraeus ouster? One of the top three candidates to replace him as head of the CIA is Jane Harmon, former California Congresswomen and Zionist uber-zealot. In another twist of justice, in 2005 the Congresswoman had been captured on tape by the National Security Agency telling Israeli Embassy personnel that she would use her influence to aid two AIPAC officials who had confessed to handing classified US documents to the Israeli Mossad, if the AIPAC could round up enough Congressional votes to make her Chairwoman of the US House Committee on Intelligence, an act bordering on treason, for which she was never held to account. If she were to take his position, the ousting of CIA Director Petraeus could represent to the greatest ‘constitutional coup’ in US history: the appointment of a foreign agent to control the world’s biggest, deadliest and richest spy agency. Who would benefit from the fall of Petraeus? – first and foremost – the State of Israel.
The innuendos, smears and leaked investigation into the private e-mails of General Allen revolve around his raising questions over the US policy of prolonged military presence in Afghanistan . From his own practical experience General Allen has recognized that the puppet Afghan army is unreliable: hundreds of US and other NATO troops have been killed or wounded by their Afghan counterparts, from lowest foot soldiers to the highest Afghan security officials, ‘native’ troops and officers that the US had supposedly trained for a much ballyhooed ‘transfer of command’ in 2014. General Allen’s change of heart over the Afghan occupation was in response to the growing influence of the Taliban and other Islamist resistance supporters who had infiltrated the Afghan armed forces and now had near total control of the countryside and urban districts right up to the US and NATO bases. Allen did not believe that a ‘residual force’ of US military trainers could survive, once the bulk of US troops pulled out. In a word, he favored, after over a decade of a losing war, a policy of cutting the US ’ losses, declaring ‘victory’ and leaving to regroup on more favorable terrain.
Civilian militarists and neo-conservatives in the Executive and Congress refuse to acknowledge their shameful defeat with a full US retreat and a likely surrender to a Taliban regime. On the other hand, they cannot openly reject the painfully realistic assessment of General Allen, and they certainly cannot dismiss the experience of the supreme commander of US ground forces in Afghanistan .
When, in this charged political context, the rabidly Islamaphobic FBI agent Humphries ‘stumbled upon’ the affectionate personal correspondences between General Allen and ‘socialite’ femme fatale Jill Kelly, the Neocons and civilian militarists whipped up a smear campaign through the yellow journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal implying another ‘sex’ scandal – this time involving General Allen. The neo-con– militarist-mass media clamor forced the spineless President Obama and the military high command to announce an investigation of General Allen and postpone Congressional hearings on his appointment to head the US forces in Europe . While the General quietly retains his supreme command of US forces in Afghanistan , he has become a defeated and disgraced officer and his expertise and professional views regarding the future of US operations in Afghanistan will no longer be taken seriously.
Key Unanswered Questions Surrounding Elite Intrigues and Military Purges
Given that the public version of a lone-wolf, low ranking, zealously Islamophobic and incompetent FBI agent who just happened to ‘discover’ a sex scandal leading to the discrediting or resignation of two of the US highest military and intelligence officials is absurd to any thinking American, several key political questions with profound implications for the US political system need to be addressed. These include:
1. What political officials, if any, authorized the FBI, a domestic security agency to investigate and force the resignation of the Director of the CIA?
2. Have the current police state structures, with their procedures for widespread and arbitrary spying led to our spy agencies spying on each other in order to purge each other’s top personnel? Is this like the sow devouring her own offspring?
3. What were the real priorities of the political power-brokers who protected the insubordinate FBI agent Humphries after he defied top FBI officials’ orders to stop meddling in the investigation of the CIA Director?
4. What were FBI Agent Humphries ties, if any, to the neo-con, Zionist or Islamophobic politicians and other intelligence operatives, including the Israeli Mossad?
5. Despite Obama’s effusive praise of his brilliant ‘warrior-scholar’ General Petraeus in the past, why did he immediately ‘accept’ (aka ‘force’) the CIA Director’s resignation after the revelation of something as banal in civilian life as adultery? What are the deeper political issues that led to the pre-emptive purge?
6. Why are critical political issues and policy disputes resolved under the guise of blackmail, smears and character assassination, rather than through open debates and discussions, especially on matters pertaining to the nation’s choice of strategic and tactical ‘allies’ and the conduct of overseas wars?
7. Has the purge and public humiliation of top US military officers become an acceptable form of “punishment by example”, a signal from civilian militarists that when it comes to dealing with politics toward the Middle East, the role of the military is not to question but to follow their (and Israel’s) directives?
8. How could a proven collaborator with the Israeli-Mossad and Zionist zealot like Jane Harmon emerge as a ‘leading candidate’ to replace General Petraeus, as Director of the CIA, within days of his resignation? What are the political links, past and present between Congressman Eric Cantor, (the fanatical leader of the pro-Israel power bloc in the US Congress, who handed Agent Humphries’ unauthorized files on Petraeus over to the FBI Director Muellar) and Zionist power broker Jane Harmon, a prominent candidate to replace Petraeus?
9. How will the ouster of Director Petraeus and Jane Harman’s possible appointment to head the CIA deepen Israeli influence and control of US Middle East policy and the US overtures to Islamist countries?
10. How will the humiliation of General Allen affect the US ‘withdrawal’ from the disaster in Afghanistan ?
The purge of top-level generals and officials from powerful US foreign policy and military posts reflects a further decay of our constitutional rights and residual democratic procedures: it is powerful proof of the inability of leadership at the highest level to resolve internecine conflicts without drawing out the ‘long knives’. The advance of the police state, where spy agencies have vastly expanded their political power over the citizens, has now evolved into the policing and purging of each other’s leadership: the FBI, CIA , Homeland Security, the NSA and the military all reach out and build alliances with the mass media, civilian executive and congressional officials as well as powerful foreign interest ‘lobbies’ to gain power and leverage in pursuit of their own visions of empire building.
The purge of General Petraeus and humiliation of General Allen is a victory for the civilian militarists who are unconditional supporters of Israel and therefore oppose any opening to ‘moderate’ Islamist regimes. They want a long-term and expanded US military presence in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The real precipitating factor for this ugly ‘fight at the top’ is the crumbling of the US empire and how to deal with its new challenges. Signs of decay are everywhere: Military immorality is rampant; the be-medaled generals sodomize their subordinates and amass wealth via pillage of the public treasury and military contracts; politicians are bought and sold by millionaire financial donors, including agents of foreign powers, and foreign interests determine critical US foreign policy.
The disrepute of the US Congress is almost universal – over 87% of US citizen condemn ‘the House and Senate’ as harmful to public welfare, servants of their own self-enrichment and slaves of corruption. The economic elites are repeatedly involved in massive swindles of retail investors, mortgage holders and each other. Multi-national corporations and the fabulously wealthy engage in capital flight, fattening their overseas accounts. The Executive himself (the ever-smiling President Obama) sends clandestine death squads and mercenary-terrorists to assassinate adversaries in an effort to compensate for his incapacity to defend the empire with diplomacy or traditional military ground forces or to prop-up new client-states. Cronyism is rife: there is a revolving door between Wall Street and US Treasury and Pentagon officials. Public apathy and cynicism is rife; nearly 50% of the electorate doesn’t even vote in Presidential elections and, among those who do vote, over 80% don’t expect their elected officials to honor their promises.
Aggressive civilian militarists have gained control of key posts and are increasingly free of any constitutional constraints. Meanwhile the costs of military failures and burgeoning spy, security and military budgets soar while the fiscal and trade deficit grows. Faction fights among rival imperial cliques intensify; purges, blackmail, sex scandals and immorality in high places have become the norm. Democratic discourses are hollowed out: democratic state ideology has lost credibility. No sensible American believes in it anymore.
Is there a broom large enough to clean this filthy Augean stable? Will a ‘collective Hercules’ emerge from all this intrigue and corruption with the strength of character and commitment to lead the revolutionary charge? Surely the sell-out and crude humiliation of American military officials on behalf of the ‘chicken-hawk’ civilian militarists and their foreign interests should make many an officer re-think his own career, loyalty and commitment to the Constitution.
Source: Prof. James Petras | GlobalResearch.ca
When the Corporate Elite tells us we need to be afraid of something, they almost always expect to make some money off our fear.
From the same people who brought us the “Ground Zero Victory Mosque,” FEMA concentration camps, and every single George Soros conspiracy theory, comes a brand new hyper-paranoid threat-to-America’s-sovereignty that, they say, should scare the hell out of all of us.
It goes by the name of Agenda 21, which just so happens to be the title of Glenn Beck’s new dystopic novel.
Billed as, “more frightening than anything Orwell could have envisioned,” Beck’s Agenda 21 paints a disturbing picture of America following the implementation of the United Nation’s Agenda 21, which is actually a real life UN initiative, though not nearly as nefarious as Beck would have us all believe.
The book’s tagline reads: “This used to be called America. Now it is just ‘the Republic.’ There is no president. No congress. No freedom.”
Over at GlennBeck.com you can watch a movie trailer made specifically for the book featuring grizzled Americans lined up on the streets in a post-Soviet winter landscape reeking of desperation, waiting for tiny morsels of food to be parceled out by “the authorities.” Reminiscent of both Nazi concentration camps and the Book of Revelation, everyone’s foreheads are tattooed with identification numbers – and in homage to Sarah Palin’s “death panels,” one scene in the trailer depicts an emaciated, scraggly-haired old man loaded on to a conveyor belt and sent into a burning furnace.
Of course, this is all fiction. Whether you like him or not, Beck has made a fortune off sensationalism – and more recently televangelism – and this book will tap into a wellspring of paranoia on the fringe Right that will undoubtedly make a lot more money for multimillionaire Mr. Beck himself.
But whether Beck really believes in his depicted Agenda 21 future for America isn’t all that important. What’s important is that a lot of other powerful people do believe in it. To them, there’s nothing fictional at all when it comes to Agenda 21.
On October 11th this year, the Georgia state Capitol building hosted a four-hour briefing for Republican state senators on the issue of…Agenda 21. It was emceed by a man named Field Searcy who, according to MotherJones, is a local Conservative activist, whose Tea Party leadership was revoked after endorsing birther and truther conspiracy theories. But on that day, Searcy had the attention of his state’s most powerful lawmakers – including the Republican Party’s Senate Majority Leader, Chip Rogers – to warn them of President Obama’s wicked plot to use Agenda 21 to hand the United States off to the United Nations.
Searcy told the Georgia Republicans, and later spoke of it on the Thom Hartmann Radio Program, that President Obama is using a mind control procedure known as the “Delphi Technique” to slowly condition Americans to submit to the control of the United Nations’ Agenda 21, which will, according to Searcy, force mass migrations of Americans out of the countryside and into the cities, while handing over control of our rural lands to an international, one-world government.
The goal of the presentation was to influence Georgia lawmakers to follow in the footsteps of Tennessee and Kentucky Republican lawmakers who’ve already passed legislation to block Agenda 21 from being implemented in their states. In fact, earlier this year Republican Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers introduced legislation in Georgia to do just that.
Also on the “Fear Agenda 21″ bandwagon is newly-elected Tea Party Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz. He devoted an entire section of his website, TedCruz.org, to Agenda 21 fearmongering. Under the title, “Stop Agenda 21: The Constitution should be our only ‘Agenda,” Cruz writes:
“The originator of this grand scheme is George Soros, who candidly supports socialism and believes that global development must progress through eliminating national sovereignty and private property… Agenda 21 attempts to abolish ‘unsustainable’ environments, including golf courses, grazing pastures, and paved roads. It hopes to leave mother earth’s surface unscratched by mankind. Everyone wants clean water and clean air, but Agenda 21 dehumanizes individuals by removing the very thing that has defined Americans since the beginning—our freedom.”
Oh no! Not the golf courses! Luckily for the golfing community, Ted Cruz is headed to the United States Senate to stop George Soros and the UN from confiscating Augusta National.
Though, hopefully, someone will notify Cruz, perhaps by removing his tinfoil hat, that the United Nations has no interest whatsoever in turning Augusta National into a sustainable bio-dome. Likewise, hopefully someone will tell Mr. Field Searcy that the UN has no interest in forcibly removing Americans from the country-side, either.
Concerns coming from the Right about American sovereignty in the face of the United Nations aren’t anything new.
It’s true that FDR pushed the idea after World War Two, and Democratic President Harry Truman signed us up for the UN in 1945, and it’s also true that in signing up for the United Nations, the United States surrendered a small amount of our sovereignty, inasmuch as we can no longer unilaterally declare war on another nation – unless they attack us first – without getting the approval of the UN. Of course, this is true of every other nation in the UN as well. The UN was created to promote world peace, an idea that doesn’t sit well with the neocons and chickenhawks.
But, here’s what Agenda 21 really is. Standing for “Agenda 21st Century,” it’s a completely non-binding UN agreement that aims to address climate change and inequality by calling on local and federal governments, NGOs, and businesses, to develop plans to create more sustainable environments in their respective nations. The UN believes that by working together, and giving financial assistance to developing nations to promote sustainable living, wealth disparities can be reduced, indigenous populations can be protected, and the deterioration of ecosystems around the globe can be reversed.
If you ask the environmentalists who are growing more and more concerned with a warming, crowded planet what they think of Agenda 21, they’ll say it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Especially after new reports by the UN about record levels of greenhouse gases and the atmosphere, and a report by the World Bank on the global economic impacts of a planet that’s 7-degrees warming by 2100 as a result of climate change.
But, as you’d expect from a plan to reduce poverty worldwide and use resources and land in more eco-friendly ways, wealthy oil barons and banksters are opposed to it. When people, governments, or organizations talk about things like sustainable energy, corporate responsibility, and educating the world’s children, billionaires like the Koch brothers get a little uneasy.
So, right-wingers have employed their best charlatans in America, people like Glenn Beck, to reinvent Agenda 21 as something completely different: a nefarious plot by communist globalists to force redistribution of wealth and confiscation of private property, and ultimate devour American sovereignty. Or, according to Glenn Beck, an Orwellian takeover to purge the nation of its sick and elderly.
And it just so happens that legislation passed in Tennessee and Kentucky to block Agenda 21 comes straight from model legislation produced by the notoriously loony, yet well-funded, John Birch Society. The Koch Brothers dad, Fred Koch, who had no problem with state-controlled economies when he made his fortune working with Joe Stalin in the Soviet Union, was one of the founding members of the Jon Birch Society back in 1958.
The UN has provided right-wing fear mongers a lot of grandstanding opportunities over the years, but the UN has never lived up to their warnings that it’s coming to destroy America. Most people think of it as a toothless international body that’s been hijacked by the United States to protect its own interests and the interests of its allies.
And while the Bircher billionaire class continues to fret over the UN, they stay silent over the actual threat to our nation’s sovereignty in the form of the World Trade Organization, which has enforced free trade agreements through international courts that have overturned laws passed by our elected Congress and signed by our elected President. For example, laws banning the importation into the United States of poisonous additives to gasoline, products made by child labor, and tuna caught at the expense of dolphins have all been overturned by the “one-world government” that is the WTO.
Yet, not a peep from the same wealthy elite who are warning us about Agenda 21. That’s because there’s a lot of money to be made in so-called Free Trade, and not so much to be made in promoting sustainable living.
The same is true of why Glenn Beck isn’t writing a book about the $67 trillion global shadow banking system, which is extremely dangerous to our sovereign economy – yet making billions of dollars for banksters.
The point is, this latest scheme by the Corporate Elite to scare the hell out of all of us with Agenda 21 is just like every other scare tactic by the Corporate Elite – it’s meant to distract us. It’s a sleight-of-hand technique to keep us focused on bogeymen, while their ranks of Texas oilmen, outsourcing CEOs, and Wall Street banksters carry out the true destruction of the United States of America: the pillaging of the Middle Class at home and the construction of a WTO-style one-world corporate government to promote unfettered capitalism and free trade everywhere on the planet.
And in the process, useful quacks like Glenn Beck and Field Searcy can make a lot of money feeding the paranoid, Fox News-watching masses their latest conspiracy theories.
Humanitarian catastrophes are surprisingly easy to predict. Take Syria for instance. Like Iraq, Syria has a complex mix of ethnicity and religion with a long history of conflict. Enter the United States, who comes with guns and cash that it doles out to certain ethnic/religious groups, and not to others. The ensuing bloodbath is not a surprise, but a strategic plan to dismember the Syrian government.
The Obama administration has moved from behind the shadows in helping orchestrate this calamity to coming out in the open. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now publicly “organizing” the so-called Syrian rebels, first having visited the U.S. ally Turkey — which acts as an important base for attacks on Syria — and then to U.S. Ally Qatar, which has — along with Saudi Arabia — financed the counter-revolution across the Middle East with its oil money.
Clinton is meeting with all the regional ruling elites who opportunistically funnel guns, cash, and training into the morass of bones and guts from afar, with the hope of cashing in by installing a compliant regime taking over the helm of government, industry, and especially oil.
Any self-respecting Syrian opposition member would never meet with a U.S. representative, since the United States is universally hated across the Middle East for the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and the drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen. How odd, then, that Hillary Clinton is deciding who “the legitimate opposition in Syria is.” Ironically, when Clinton declares a group “legitimate,” it automatically loses legitimacy in the Middle East.
Clinton was forced to be more pro-active in Syria because word was getting out that the Syrian “rebels” were no better than the Syrian government. The New York Times has reported that the Syrian rebels have committed large scale ethnic cleansing against Syrian Christians, while also reporting that the rebels have shot video of various war crimes. News has also spread about the increasing trend of rebels having ties with jihad groups, which are connected to the ethnic-religious character of the so-called Syrian revolution.
By minimizing the above atrocities of the rebels, the Obama administration ensures that they will continue. Indeed, there is no other way the rebels can win this war, because the Syrian government still has a strong base among ethnic minorities in the country, as well as those connected to employment in the large public sector, not to mention the millions of others who now realize that a rebel victory will come at the expense — like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya — of the destruction of the country.
There have been several giant demonstrations in Syria in support of the government during this crisis, as well as polls conducted that prove that many Syrians want the current government to stay in power.
Now, unsurprisingly, the Syrian crisis is spilling over its borders into Lebanon, which remains attached to Syria by a thousand threads. Lebanon has long been a country on the edge of ethnic-religious crisis. Also, pro-western groups — U.S. allies — in northern Lebanon have funneled money and arms to the Syrian “rebels,” while Hezbollah in the south is accused of doing the exact same for the Syrian government.
After a pro-western Lebanese general was recently assassinated, Syria was blamed and pro-western groups have boycotted the Lebanese parliament, while demanding the government resign.
Israel, too, is entering the maelstrom, having recently attacked Syrian forces in response to allegations of Syrian shells landing in the Golan Heights region of Syria, which Israel stole and has occupied since the 1967 war.
Turkey is not only giving open support and an organizational base for the rebels, but has also threatened to invade Syria several times. Turkey’s parliament has given the government permission to do so. Turkey has been loudly advocating an innocuous-sounding “no fly zone” to “protect refugees,” which, in practice would equal a military invasion, as happened in Libya.
Syria’s Kurdish population is also a potential source of regional explosion. The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without a country of their own, and their new-found autonomy in Syria is used as an additional excuse by Turkey to beat the war drum, since Turkey is already bombing the Kurds in Iraq while repressing them within Turkey. Several countries around Syria have large Kurdish populations.
A real revolution does not include nor need ethnic-religious warfare. Egypt’s powerful military was forced to succumb to the power of a real revolution, while Syria’s social movement has long been replaced by regional powers, who are dividing the country along sectarian lines in order to rule it.
A year of foreign funding and foreign fighters has not toppled the Syrian government because the regime still has a large degree of public support, which creates the conditions for an incredibly bloody civil war, a five alarm blaze that Obama continues to pour gasoline on.
Literally the day after the election a sudden “urgency” gripped the nation: the imminent danger of the so-called “fiscal cliff” — the national automatic tax increases and spending cuts due in January. The media screamed that the suddenly approaching fiscal cliff would trigger a recession, forcing Democrats and Republicans to consider a “grand bargain” budget deal to avoid disaster.
Of course the fiscal cliff was looming throughout the presidential campaign; politicians simply agreed not to talk about it, since they shared — more or less — the same very unpopular “grand bargain” solutions: austerity cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other popular social programs.
Yes, Obama talked incessantly about the rich “paying their fair share” during his campaign, but he greatly exaggerated his willingness to make this happen, as well as the real differences between the Republicans and Democrats when it came to fixing the deficit.
This fact is revealed by the pro-corporate grand bargain that Obama nearly brokered last summer to fix the fiscal cliff.
The New York Times explains:
“The White House agreed to cut at least $250 billion from Medicare in the next 10 years and another $800 billion in the decade after that, in part by raising the eligibility age. The administration had endorsed another $110 billion or so in cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs, with $250 billion more in the second decade. And in a move certain to provoke rebellion in the Democratic ranks, Obama was willing to apply a new, less generous formula for calculating Social Security benefits, which would start in 2015.”
There you have it. Obama was already guilty of everything he accused the Republicans of during his presidential campaign. His “tax the rich” demagoguery was mainly for show, the exact same promise he broke after the 2008 election.
Some Democrats are already preparing to help Obama break the 2012 promise. The New York Times reports:
“Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, extended an olive branch to Republicans, suggesting Thursday that he could accept a tax plan [to fix the deficit] that leaves the top tax rate at 35 percent [leaving the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in place].”
And although Obama has vowed to stay firm over taxing the rich (this time), his toughness is only skin deep, and comes with dangerous strings attached.
For example, Obama only wants to tax the rich enough to be able to sell the grand bargain to the American public; any grand bargain will include historic cuts to cherished national programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and Obama wants to avoid some of the outrage by claiming that the rich were forced to share in the “sacrifice” too.
This is the “balanced approach” to deficit cutting that Obama discusses, meaning that he wants to raise some revenue from the rich while also making gigantic cuts to social programs.
But in a society racked by massive inequalities, this kind of “balance” is ludicrous. The rich, the banks and other corporations have accumulated trillions of dollars that, if taxed at high enough rates, would easily make ANY cuts to social programs unnecessary.
The nation is not broke, but much of the money has floated to the top. And while Obama is striving to pass a largely symbolic “tax the rich” measure as part of his grand bargain, he’s doing so only to push forward the massive cuts.
This is the political context that makes the demands “No Cuts, Tax the Rich” incredibly necessary not only to Labor and community groups but to all working people, who would be able to unify and fight these austerity cuts by organizing nationally coordinated demonstrations and putting forth the pro-worker solution of No Cuts, Tax the Rich to address the Fiscal Cliff and all future austerity budgets, whether they occur on a city, state, or national level.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has already put out a call to working people to organize and “fight like hell” to prevent any cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Labor and community groups must immediately stop celebrating Obama’s election victory and quickly start mobilizing their members against his anti-worker agenda, lest they spend the next four years crying about the coming “historic betrayal.”
The formula is unsatisfactory in this case, however.
Obama was not just any incumbent. He is the embodiment of an anti-America–culturally, spiritually and morally—that is hell-bent on destroying the surviving vestiges of real America.
Romney was not just any challenger. He was a pastiche, an oddly vacuous character whose tenuous appeal to the minds of the regular people was offset by their hearts’ awareness that he was not one of them. It was an awful choice to make: voting for him, or voting for a harmless loser, or not voting at all.
Romney lost because the real America did not trust him to stand up to anti-America. The Republic lost for the same reason the Roman Republic lost the Civil War: it did not have a true champion in the ring.
The scene is deceptively déjà-vu. Some perennial optimists I know have tried to explain Obama’s victory in 2008 as the result of a combination of unique factors, including an unelectable GOP candidate and an equally understandable GWB fatigue.
This time the verdict needs to be harsher. Just over one-half of the voters chose the man who has shown his true colors over the past four years. It is a sure sign of a terminally diseased polity.
The results are depressingly predictable. Barack Hussein Obama’s forthcoming mass amnesty of some tens of millions of unassimilable, semi-literate Third-Worlders will guarantee further watering down of the real America he hates with a passion. And yes, GOP “strategists” duly will start pandering to them.
The Supreme Court will get some Wise Latina-lookalikes to replace Scalia and Kennedy, and support Obama’s agenda on abortion, affirmative action, employee and property rights, homosexual “marriage,” federal campaign-finance reform law, union contributions, voting identification laws, Obamacare…
GOP strategists will quickly learn to live with all that, too, thus ensuring that every new stage of our accelerating collapse is treated as the new center ground. Dissenters will be unwelcome: questioning GOP’s acceptance of “Gay Marriage” and the Dream Amnesty four years hence will be as heretical as questioning our self-defeating global hegemony is today. The focus in 2016 will be on the deficit—likely to exceed the science-fictional twenty thousand billion dollars by that time—and on Obama’s failure to reassert America’s global power with sufficient gusto.
The Stupid Party is evil, in consequences if not intent. The Evil Party is doing its thing, as always. And the world is going to the dogs, it seems.
Nil desperandum, however. The tempo of history is accelerating. The overall equation has too many variables for the would-be controllers of our destiny to be certain that the job is done. They will be swept away swiftly once the usurial hocus-pocus collapses, which it will.
My native country has survived half a millennium of Ottoman misrule, half a century of communism and two decades of Western sadism. My adopted country—which I love with a passion—will raise again from her current decrepitude, too. Because there are a hundred million real Americans who are determined not to go gentle into that good night. Because there is God.
Perhaps we’ve discovered the real cherished “99 percent.” Writing that “[s]ome Philadelphia neighborhoods outdid themselves in Tuesday’s presidential election,” Philly.com reports that 13 of the city’s wards recorded a victory margin for Barack Obama of 99 percent or more. In other words, in some precincts, Mitt Romney was perhaps worth only three fifths of a percent.
This places Obama in rare company, with a result hardly seen since Adolf Hitler “won” a 1936 referendum with 99 percent of the vote. Remarking on the anomalous outcome,St. Joseph’s University history professor Randall Miller noted, writes Philly.com, “[P]oliticians almost never get 99 percent of the votes anywhere except, perhaps, the towns where they were born.” Well, scratch that. Kenyans can’t vote in American elections (at least those actually in Kenya)…yet.
Of course, such electoral unanimity could raise suspicions of vote fraud, especially since the number of wards in which Obama achieved his purity is remarkably close to the number of polling places (14) that illegally expelled court-appointed Republican vote monitors on Election Day. In reality, though, Obama’s 99-percenter status isn’t surprising given that he enjoys more than 95 percent support from black Americans nationwide. And while I believe the vote fraud this election was massive, in the Philly mental wards it would be apparent not in percentage of votes won, but in percentage of turnout. Philly.com reports that this was 60 percent citywide but provides no data for the wards in question.
Whatever the case, most people put a happy face on such monolithic support. For example, Professor Miller said, “Ninety-nine percent is extraordinary, and it shows discipline as much as anything else.” Discipline? So that’s what they call it now. I have a different word.
If 95-plus percent of whites had voted for Romney, would anyone characterize it as a matter of “discipline”? Why, even though whites favored the Republican by only 60 percent, their failure to split an even 50/50 is still thought cause to place the spotlight on them. For instance, this National Journal piece on the racial divide contrasts the actual Nov. 6 electoral map with how it would look had only whites voted and shows that Romney would have captured eight more states and hence the election. What isn’t shown is that if only blacks voted, Obama would have won every state.
The reason for this is as simple as it is rarely spoken. As black Tea Party star Lloyd Marcus put it, blacks’ monolithic support for Obama is attributable to “racism and loyalty to The Black Code (never side with a white against a fellow black).”
Here many will point out that blacks typically vote Democrat approximately 95 percent of the time and that they support black Republicans little more than white ones. Yet this argument fails. First, it’s clear that most blacks have a prejudice against the Republican Party itself (as some whites do) and refuse to even give its platform a fair hearing. Second, they have this bias primarily because they see the Republicans as the “white party” and dismiss, out of hand, the blacks within it as Uncle Toms.
If this isn’t enough to convince skeptics that racial prejudice is the issue, I submit as Exhibit A the 2008 Democrat primaries. During their early stages, blacks joined most other Democrats in supporting Hillary Clinton. Yet when Obama’s star began to rise, they flocked to him, often offering support by a 9-to-1 margin. This, despite the fact that the two candidates’ positions were virtually identical.
This is why I just shake my head when people say that Republicans are losing minorities because they’re not “reaching out.” This is a nebulous term that purports to explain something while explaining nothing, much as if you tell someone who is depressed that he needs “self-actualization.” It’s hard for the GOP to reach out and reach people when, owing to prejudice, they assume that the “R” after a candidate’s name stands for “Racist.”
If black people such as Lloyd Marcus, Alan Keyes, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, and Jesse Lee Peterson can’t make any headway with blacks, what kind of chance do you think white Republicans will stand?
Instead of implying that we should “reach out” — a euphemism for “pander” — we’d be better off treating blacks the same as we do whites.
Call them out when they’re bigoted.
Even if it didn’t win any more converts, it at least might win respect. After all, people don’t respect someone who is too stupid, too afraid, or too dishonest to tell them the truth.
But they fail to understand the direction of America. Within the next four years, somewhere between 12 and 20 million illegal alien migrants will gain full citizenship by Obama’s executive orders or Congress’ lay-down. Millions of them will tap into Social Security, food stamps and assisted housing. Millions of them will be able to chain migrate their families into America. Millions will legally take jobs from Americans.
Millions of them will become voters and millions of them will elect another person just like Obama. In the land of milk and honey, the minority voter will become the new power in the White House—until, of course, the Fractured States of America collapse via socialism.
Great Britain’s Winston Churchill said, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
As it stands today, 47 million people in America feed themselves off the backs of American workers. Millions more accept unemployment checks. The United States sinks like the Titanic from $16 trillion in debt on its way to $20 trillion within four years.
The ones that won’t work or can’t work or suffer illiteracy and can’t hold a job, will ride this U.S. Titanic down into the depths.
Intractable poverty and cultural poverty create the perfect storm for America
I interviewed Canadian population expert Tim Murray. He said much the same occurs in Canada as to poverty, immigration and cultural fracturing.
“More distressing than the Presidential results were the lessons that both Republican and Democratic pundits drew from it,” said Murray. “The common thread that ran through most commentaries was that the demographic foundation of the Republican Party was no longer broad enough to capture a majority of votes. “The numbers just aren’t there anymore, and never will be” was a common refrain.
“The remedy offered by friend and foe alike was for Republicans to “modernize” their party. Translation–they must jettison some their traditional baggage and appeal to those voters who might be prepared to accept the party’s core economic message. Lower taxes, limited government, fiscal prudence and encouragement to small business.
“The problem is, however, some of the policy positions thought expendable to some conservative voters are regarded as vital to others.
“Imagine the Republican coalition as a zeppelin that is losing altitude in the mid-Atlantic. It has become apparent to the crew that the air ship will not make it to shore unless some baggage is tossed out. Not much. A mere 5% would probably do. Some luggage is labeled “right-to-life”, some “opposition to gay marriage”, some “no corporate tax hikes”, some “no amnesty”. Obviously something has to go. But what?
“I think it was most telling that the favored scapegoat for the party’s demise was its failure to relate to “Hispanic” voters, which is code language for the failure to surrender to illegal immigration and to open the doors even wider. After all, we’re told, Hispanics are a “growing demographic” soon to form 25% of the population, and the GOP cannot afford to concede 73% of Hispanic voters to the Democrats and expect to win elections. Most commentators made a particular point of saying that the Republican Party should be the natural home of Hispanics, for Hispanics tend to be quite conservative people. They are hard working, believe in traditional family values and are anxious to “get ahead”.
“If only the Republicans would ditch these old fashioned ideas about a nation having the right to control its borders, or that cheaters should never prosper, or that illegals should not be able to vote or drive a car or hold a job or make a claim on health care and educational services—Hispanics would run to them with open arms. If Republicans pushed for the kind of immigration reform the open borders lobby wants, and made Marco Rubio their next Presidential nominee, victory in 2016 should be in the bag. Or so goes the reasoning.
“Canadian conservatives have joined this chorus with some unsolicited advice of their own. What Republicans need to do is what Canada’s Conservative Party did. They need to “outreach” to ethnic communities. Encourage them to join, to nominate, and to run. They need to include them as an integral part of a new conservative multi-ethnic, multicultural coalition.
“The Republicans don’t have to open the floodgates. They don’t have to accelerate the displacement of more American-born workers and the suppression of their wages. They don’t have to cave in to bilingualism and threaten the cohesion of the nation. They don’t have to add to the net fiscal burden that unskilled, poorly educated migrants impose on American taxpayers. They don’t have to lead America further along the road to ecological and economic ruin by contributing to the addition of another 100 million people to the country’s population by mid-century.
“All they have to do is accept the fact that the culture war should not be fought in Congress. All they have to do is not use the law to prevent women from choosing abortion and homosexuals from choosing marriage. That’s it.
“Does that mean that conservatives should not attempt to persuade people that abortion and same sex marriage is wrong? No. It only means that they should wage their arguments outside the offices of government, if only for pragmatic reasons. As Prohibition should have taught us, moral conduct cannot be legislated if there is not a broad and strong societal support for it. Laws against theft work because theft is universally regarded as wrong across all religious, cultural and racial lines. Laws against marijuana use are unworkable because they do not enjoy such universal support. I think recreational use of cannabis is ill-advised and dangerous for a great many people. But I don’t think it is a matter for the law.
“There is no moral consensus in favor of restricting abortion rights. But there is, however, substantial support for an end to illegal immigration, and a reduction of legal immigration. Even among Hispanics. Or do we forget that 46% of Hispanics voted for Arizona’s Proposition 200, and that a majority of Hispanics polled in Colorado favored an immigration law modeled on Arizona’s? And it should be remembered, after all, that Caesar Chavez stood on the Mexican border to protest the traffic of illegal immigrants from Mexico.
“How ironic is it that the very people who tell us not to engage in ethnic stereotyping are so quick to tell us what “Hispanics” want, as if they are a monolithic entity that can be moved around a political chessboard by one or two concessions.
“Republicans don’t need to modernize. They just need to take their own belief in limited government more seriously. Guard borders, not morals.”