Paul Ryan

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Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/11/2017 - 1:00am in

Abby Martin on the Jimmy Dore Show Talks about US Crimes of Empire: Part 3

This is the third part and final part of my article on the interview with Abby Martin on the Jimmy Dore Show. She’s a tireless critic of American imperialism, and the presenter of the Empire Files on TeleSur English, and before that, on RT.

Dore and Martin discuss how the Empire and the Deep State loathes Trump because he ain’t good for the Empire’s image. After Bush had nearly pushed Americans towards revolution, Obama managed to placate people, and win them back to the Empire. But Trump is worse for the Empire because he’s such an a**hole and psychopath. There are people, who are just as psychotic. Paul Ryan, another Republican, hates the poor. But Trump is ramping up the Empire to colossal levels. There are now troop surges in Afghanistan, and the formation of Africom to deal with Somalia. Everybody’s heard of a horrific massacre committed by one of the warlords, and blamed on al-Shabaab. But what you aren’t being told is that week before his village was subject to a bombing raid which killed a load of kids. Martin talks about Trump’s hypocrisy and cynicism. He attacked Killary for the way she sold arms to the Saudis, but has been more than willing to sell them arms himself so they can kill civilians in Yemen. Under Trump, there has been a 400 per cent increase in drone strikes, and a 75 per cent increase in civilian deaths. Under Bush and Obama, the US military just killed every military-age male in a given locality. Now they’re carpet-bombing whole villages. Just like the Israelis kill Palestinians. Well, Trump said he would kill not only the terrorists, but also their families, in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. Unfortunately, he has not honoured the promises Martin hoped he would, like normalising relations with Russia.

And then they get on to MOAB – the Mother Of All Bombs. This ‘mini-nuke’ – actually a conventional bomb that approached some of the destructive power of a nuclear device – was dropped on a cave system in Afghanistan. They said it only killed terrorists, but there were people in that area, and we won’t know if it only killed terrorists, because nobody’s allowed in there. Martin describes ISIS as a barbaric death cult – which is true – but states that this doesn’t give us the right to kill the people, who live in these countries. She makes the point that the applause which greeted the MOAB attack was a dehumanisation of the Afghan people and the victims of this weapon.

They then discuss whether some of the people on the Right, who supported Trump, may now be disillusioned with the orange buffoon. Many people probably voted for him because they thought he was anti-interventionist. But he hasn’t been. This might be because the military-industrial complex and the warfare state are beyond his control. Martin hoped that this part of the Republican based would speak out, but she was disappointed. The base is just interested in having a more efficient War On Terror. They aren’t speaking out about Venezuela, nor about the push for war with North Korea, they just don’t want us to fund al-Qaeda. As for Trump himself, he was never anti-interventionist. He just appeared so as it was a useful stance against Killary. He doesn’t have to surround himself with generals, who just want war because with every new invasion they launch, they get another star on their jacket. They two then discuss how nobody knows why America was in Niger.

I realise that this is an American programme, discussing American issues. But it also directly and acutely affects us. A number of our politicos have attended Republican conventions, and one of Trump’s British buddies was Nigel Farage. The Tories have been copying and utilising Republican policies since Maggie Thatcher took over as premier in the 1970s. And New Labour did the same with the Clintonite wing of the Democrats, adopting their stance against the welfare state, and introducing neoliberalism, deregulation and privatisation, including the privatisation of the NHS, into the Labour Party.

The situation is rather different over here in Blighty, as we are now lucky enough to have a real Socialist as leader in the shape of Jeremy Corbyn. But New Labour is desperately trying to hang on in the shape of Progress, Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement. And they have been using the smearing of decent anti-racists, the majority of whom are Jewish, as anti-Semites and their expulsion from the party as a weapon to purge their left-wing opponents.

As for imperialism, we are still riding on the back of America’s coat-tails, trying to be a world power by exploiting the ‘Special Relationship’. And so we support their wars in the Middle East, and the looting of these countries’ state industries and the brutalisation and impoverishment of their peoples.

Our media isn’t quite as bad as the Americans’ just yet. The news over here does accept that climate change is real at least, and there are still news reports about the poverty caused by austerity and Tory cuts to the welfare state and health service.

But it is heavily biased towards the Tories. The Beeb is full of public school, very middle class White guys, and its news and editorial staff have contained a number of high profile Tories, several of whom have left their posts to work for the party under Cameron and May. ‘Goebbels’ Robinson and ‘Arnalda Mussolini’ Kuenssberg are members of the Tory party. Robinson led a whole series of Tory groups, while Kuenssberg spoke at a fringe meeting in the Tory party this year.

The Kushners noted in their book, Who Needs the Cuts, that the Beeb does not allow anyone to question austerity, and it is just assumed, entirely falsely, as true and necessary by the rest of the media. And academics from Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities have noted that the Beeb is far more likely to talk to Tory politicians and managing directors about the economy, than Labour politicos and trade unionists.

And the war on alternative media is happening in this country as well. The Tories would love to close down RT. We’ve already seen them join in the baying mob accusing it of being Putin’s propaganda arm interfering with British democracy over here. All the while being very silent about how the Israelis were caught trying to get the people they don’t like removed from May’s cabinet. We’ve seen them criticise Labour MPs for appearing on the network, while ignoring their own people, who also have. And May got on her high horse to write a letter to Alex Salmond telling him not to take up a job as presenter with the Network.

And the bots and algorithms cooked up by Google and Facebook to protect us all from ‘fake news’ are having an effect on ‘controversial’ read: left-wing bloggers and vloggers. They direct potential readers away from the sites the corporations have decided are a threat to democracy. Mike’s suffered an inexplicable fall in the readership of some of his articles, and some of his posts have had to be reposted after mysteriously vanishing from Facebook. Even before then, there was an attempt to censor Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge by claiming that his site was unsuitable for children. The pretext for that was some of the coarse humour he employs in his satire. This is nothing compared to some of the language you will hear on YouTube. It looked very much like his real crime was sending up Dave Cameron and the other walking obscenities taking up space on the Tory benches.

What Abby Martin says about the media and the crimes of Empire describe the situation in America. But it also describes what the neoliberal elites are doing over here.

We have to stop this. We have to take back parliament, and end the warmongering. Now.

Cartoon of the day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/11/2017 - 12:00am in

Republican Tax Cut Plan Will Drive Up Deficit and Debt

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/11/2017 - 3:16am in

This post originally appeared at Project Syndicate.

Name the country. Its leader rails against foreigners, erects various import barriers and pushes for low interest rates and lots of cheap credit for favored sectors. Government debt is already high, but the would-be strongman in power decides to pile on even more by increasing the budget deficit, arguing that this will boost prosperity to previously unattainable levels. While the government claims to represent the common people, state contracts are awarded to friends of friends.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a news conference to express their opposition to the GOP tax reform plan in Washington, DC, on Oct. 25, 2017. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

GOP Tax Cuts Won’t Pass This Year — Or Maybe Even Next

BY Michael Winship | October 31, 2017

The answer, of course, is Argentina under Juan Perón, who was in power from 1946 to 1955 (and again briefly in 1973 and 1974), and many of his successors. One of the richest countries in the world around 1900 was laid low by decades of unsustainable economic policies that made people feel good in the short run but eventually ended in disaster, such as runaway inflation, financial crisis and periodic debt defaults. (To be clear, Argentina’s economic policies today are quite different; for deep and up-to-date analysis, I recommend the work of my colleague Alberto Cavallo.)

But if your answer was the United States under President Donald Trump, you would not be far off. There is reason to fear that the US is now on the path to what was previously known as Latin American populism.

Consider the remarkable volte-face of the Republican Party on fiscal responsibility. There used to be a national debt clock in the hearing room of the House Financial Services Committee and Republicans would rant about government profligacy as it ticked upward. When I was in that room recently, the clock was “under repair.”

Self-proclaimed “fiscal conservatives,” such as Mick Mulvaney (a former member of the House of Representatives who now runs government finances as head of the Office of Management and Budget), are close to enacting a massive tax cut, despite knowing that it will drive up the deficit and the national debt. Mulvaney and his colleagues could not care less.

Republicans are deeply committed to gigantic tax cuts, in large part because their donors are demanding that they enact them.

Despite controlling both houses of Congress and the presidency, the Republicans are beset by internal divisions. As a result, they are finding it hard to “pay for” the tax cuts with any reduction in tax expenditures (incentives for various activities such as corporate borrowing, mortgage financing or retirement saving). But Republicans are deeply committed to gigantic tax cuts, in large part because their donors are demanding that they enact them. As a result, the US will merely end up with bigger budget deficits.

Facts used to matter in Washington, at least a little bit. But this is no longer the case in the age of Trump, at least not when it comes to taxes. Instead, the strategy has been to state, in a bald-faced manner whatever one wants to believe and heap ill-mannered abuse on anyone who cites evidence to the contrary.

In Chapter 3 of White House Burning, James Kwak and I reviewed what happened after the tax cuts enacted in 2001 under President George W. Bush. Great promises were made about the cuts, including that they would help most Americans. While they did help rich people become richer, there is no evidence that they delivered faster growth or higher incomes for the middle class. Instead, they boosted the budget deficit and contributed significantly to increasing the US national debt (by around $3 trillion through 2010), which weakened the government’s ability to respond to crises, either in terms of national security or financial instability.

I have testified repeatedly before Congress on matters of fiscal policy. During the financial crisis of 2008-09, Republicans were certainly interested in the facts. But this quickly tapered off, most notably in the House of Representatives. In fact, Kevin Brady (R-TX), the representative who told me most clearly that he was not interested in looking at even moderately inconvenient facts, is now chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which plays a key role in what happens with taxes.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, calls the proposed Republican tax cuts “a middle-class con job.” He is being polite.

The cut in corporate taxes that the Republicans are likely to support will not boost wages significantly. As the Congressional Research Service, describing the broader blueprint put forward by House Speaker Paul Ryan, put it, “the plan’s estimated output effects appear to be limited in size and possibly negative.”

Including all possible positive effects of the Republican proposals, the Tax Policy Center has concluded that federal government “revenue would fall by between $2.4 trillion and $2.5 trillion over the first 10 years and by about $3.4 trillion over the second decade.”

The Trump administration has responded to this type of sensible, fact-based analysis in the way one has come to expect: by being rude.

American populism in the Trump era, though promising great gains for working people, will in fact benefit only those who are already rich. To be fair, this is quite a twist on anything Perón could have imagined pulling off. The results of irresponsible populism, however, are always the same.

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What Attitudes About DACA Tell Us About Our Morality

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/09/2017 - 7:52am in

It’s hard not to feel for Lisette Diaz, a young woman who explained how her life will be dramatically impacted following the announcement earlier this month that DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) would be rescinded.

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Nine undocumented youths were arrested at Trump Tower in a civil disobedience demonstration in response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions announcing the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Sept. 5, 2017. Over 50 people engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience were arrested throughout New York City in response to Trump's decision to repeal DACA. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

As a Dreamer, I Will Not Be A Bargaining Chip for Trump’s Attack on Immigrants

BY Lisette Diaz | September 7, 2017

In a recent post, Diaz, who came to the United States at the age of 6, described her feelings about President Donald Trump’s plan to end protection against deportation for 800,000 young immigrants:

So many words come to mind right now to describe how I feel about the loss of DACA: devastation, anger, rage, betrayal, hopelessness, fear, sadness. DACA transformed my life. One of the most valuable things DACA brought me was peace of mind. I knew that I would no longer have to duck my head to scurry past police officers. I knew I would have my driver’s license as a form of government-issued ID so I would not stand out when boarding a plane or even getting a library card. I stopped constantly fearing deportation. I slept easier at night knowing that I would wake up the next day with the ability to plan at least the next two years of my life and that I would be able to help my parents. I didn’t have a seemingly unending pit of fear in my stomach that often turned into full-fledged panic attacks.

The emotions evoked by Diaz’s story affect our opinions about immigration policy because human beings are intensely social creatures whose moral judgments often follow our emotional connections with others. We feel for Diaz because human beings are intensely social creatures. We are the only species that can cooperate in groups of millions of non-kin. We are able to do this, in part, through the moral emotions that bind us together.

“Moral thinking is for social doing.” That’s a phrase my colleague, Jonathan Haidt, who is also a social psychologist focusing on morality, often uses to encapsulate the idea that human morality is generally not based on living up to an abstract ideal, but rather arose as a function of our evolution into cooperative societies.

The proliferation of social media, memes, reality TV, YouTube and celebrity gossip illustrate just how unique human beings are. We form arbitrary groups around sports teams and band together to fight and gossip about other arbitrary groups, at times showing ourselves to be “better” fans by calling out or denigrating fans of opposing teams.

Politicians on both sides have felt that their groups’ ends justified using DACA recipients as a means, despite the terrible emotional toll that legal uncertainty exacts upon this group of mostly young people.

In recent years, partisan identity has become the most prominent tribal affiliation, with people being more willing to discriminate against people of other ideologies than against people of other races. Look no further than the comments on Facebook and you can see the collaborative power of one group — for example, people who support loosening restrictions on immigration — versus another — those who want to tighten them.

People on both sides of this ideological divide have done terrible things to “Dreamers,” ostensibly to further their group’s goals, even as most people agree that these individuals should be allowed to remain in this country and continue to lead productive lives. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has suggested that “we want to give people peace of mind” and Trump himself has said that “We love the Dreamers.”

Yet Republicans who have explicitly stated that DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in the United States still use the dreamers as leverage toward getting other things they want. Democrats are hardly blameless, having had majorities in Congress and wanting to use this group as a sympathetic pathway to further comprehensive immigration reform.

Politicians on both sides have felt that their groups’ ends justified using DACA recipients as a means, despite the terrible emotional toll that legal uncertainty exacts upon this group of mostly young people.

While most Americans are sympathetic to DACA recipients, there certainly are those who are not. Taken at face value, they often talk about the economy as a zero sum game where immigrants take jobs from native-born Americans by the “hundreds of thousands.” One may argue with their logic, but the economic reality of everyday lives in places where DACA is least popular is a difficult one. It’s hardly the best place to put “moral thinking as social doing” into practice.

Research confirms that in times of scarcity, people are understandably less generous and get more concerned about rewarding unlawful behavior. It would be easy for those of us who support legal status for DACA recipients to focus on how “wrong” people on the other side of the debate are. But if we want to change people’s minds on immigrants, it is worth reflecting on what actually drives moral judgments and political opinions — not facts about who contributes what to the economy — but the social and emotional factors that bind people together into “us” and “them” and which are especially strong when our group feels threatened.

How can we escape group-based moral judgment? It can be hard to be generous to strangers — until you feel like you and your neighbors have enough to share. And it is easy to blame “them” — until you get to know them such that they are no longer strangers. That is why it’s important for those rooting for Dreamers to read and share their stories.

I am hopeful that the dreamers like Diaz will finally receive legal status — in part due to the way they have humanized the issue of living a life of uncertainty by telling their stories. If we can humanize the Dreamers and all the other “others,” from Trump voters to transgender people and everyone in between, perhaps we can prevent the next marginalized group from being used as a foil for partisan groups to stake out their positions.

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A New Trump?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/09/2017 - 11:16pm in

This post originally appeared at Project Syndicate.

It’s generally agreed in Washington, DC, that President Donald Trump’s presidency is entering a new phase. Defining that phase is proving to be problematic.

The widespread expectation was that the removal of Stephen Bannon — the former White House chief adviser and resident avatar of white American nationalism — would make the administration run more smoothly, mitigate (though not eliminate) infighting, and reduce the number of leaks. The internal warfare may be quieter since John Kelly took over as White House chief of staff and imposed more order in the West Wing. But so long as Trump is president, orderliness will not be the White House’s chief characteristic. In fact, Trump remains in frequent contact with Bannon, who is back in charge at Breitbart News.

So long as Trump is president, orderliness will not be the White House’s chief characteristic.

Inevitably, by early September, after Kelly had been on the job for all of five weeks, Trump was chafing under his new chief of staff’s restrictions. Kelly has imposed tight controls over who may enter the Oval Office, listens in on most of Trump’s phone calls during office hours, and controls what pieces of paper reach the president’s desk, thus eliminating the highly ideological screeds that some staff members used to slip him.

The problem is that Trump likes disorder; that’s how he had run his business, and he doesn’t take well to being managed. He liked having favored people wandering into his office as they chose, and it’s been his managerial creed to play people off each other. Nor does he bother to control his temper when dealing with aides. Even Kelly, an ex-Marine Corps general, has come under the lash of Trump’s tongue. Observers now take bets on when Kelly will decide he’s had enough.

I’ve never known a White House where so much depends on who has incurred the president’s ire. Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs president and chief operating officer who serves as Trump’s chief economic adviser, is the latest to be frozen out. Cohn’s sin was to let it be known publicly that he almost resigned following the violence last month in Charlottesville, Virginia, when Trump equated white supremacist and neo-Nazi demonstrators, many of them armed, with those who opposed them.

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The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: Robert Jay Lifton and Bill Moyers on ‘A Duty to Warn’

BY Bill Moyers | September 14, 2017

Actually, one can have some sympathy for a president with an aide who wants to have it both ways, as Cohn did — letting his apparent anguish be known without acting on it. But there can be problems when a president chooses to disregard his chief economic adviser. Cohn has been seen as one of the administration’s more moderate voices, and he has wanted to succeed Janet Yellen as chair of the US Federal Reserve.

Speculation about the possibility of a “new Trump” peaked in early September, when the president suddenly cut a deal with Democratic congressional leaders. Trump agreed with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and her Senate counterpart, Chuck Schumer, on how to increase the federal debt limit, which Congress must raise each year as spending increases, and extend appropriations to keep the government running (because Congress routinely fails to write appropriations bills on time). Both items were tied to a special appropriation in the wake of Hurricane Harvey to pay for recovery efforts. (The larger Hurricane Irma hadn’t yet hit.)

In the midst of the discussion at the Oval Office meeting with Pelosi and Schumer, Trump interrupted Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as he was defending the Republicans’ position that these issues should be put off for 18 months, until after the 2018 congressional elections. The Democrats had argued that the increase in the debt ceiling and extension of appropriations should last for only three months, thus forcing the Republicans to take electorally risky votes before the 2018 elections.

Before the meeting, House Speaker Paul Ryan had adamantly rejected the Democrats’ proposal. But suddenly, without notifying even his own aides, Trump went for it. The author of The Art of the Deal had accepted the Democrats’ opening position.

Commentators went into overdrive, imbuing the episode with broad significance: Trump was now not a Republican but an independent. He might start a third party. His move marked the beginning of a new way of governing.

In fact, Trump merely saw an opportunity and took it. With no real legislative achievements to claim, he did something. The Republican congressional leaders, Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, had been in bad odor with Trump for a while, because they had been unable to deliver on his legislative agenda. He was embarrassed and angered at their failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. (Trump didn’t recognize his own contributions to the debacle.) On many issues, Trump lacks a governing majority in the Senate.

Overlooked in all the excitement over Trump’s lining up with Democratic leaders was that the issue at hand concerned legislative timing, not substance. And the subsequent fevered discussions about Trump’s core beliefs — maybe he was a crypto-Democrat, who had, after all, donated to Democratic candidates at one time and sympathized with Democratic positions (such as on abortion) — missed the point. Trump harbors no particular political philosophy; he’s an opportunist who craves publicity and praise.

But his maverick behavior might turn out to be self-perpetuating. For all his contempt for the “dishonest media,” Trump was ecstatic about the positive press coverage his bipartisan move received. And that might lure him to try for more.

(Copyright Project Syndicate, 2017)

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Cartoon of the day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/08/2017 - 9:00pm in

Cartoon of the day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/08/2017 - 9:00pm in

House kills ARPA-E and renewable energy research, pumps up money for fossil fuels

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 31/07/2017 - 12:57am in

If anyone needed proof that the US Congress is now a whipped puppy that slavishly obeys the orders of its masters — Charles and David Koch — the House last week completely eliminated funding for ARPA-E while giving the administration more money for fossil fuel research than the #FakePresident asked for. By Steve Hanley  Killing the golden goose […]

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