TBR News October 26, 2016

Oct 26 2016

A Compendium of Various Official Lies, Business Scandals, Small Murders, Frauds, and Other Gross Defects of Our Current Political, Business and Religious Moral Lepers.

“When a government is dependent upon bankers for money, they and not the leaders of the government control the situation, since the hand that gives is above the hand that takes… Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.”- Napoleon Bonaparte, 1815


“Corrupted by wealth and power, your government is like a restaurant with only one dish. They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen”. – Huey Long


“I fired [General MacArthur] because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. That’s the answer to that. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail “- Harry S Truman


“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” -Thomas Jefferson.


“Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage”

– H.L. Mencken


 “For a quarter of a century the CIA has been repeatedly wrong about every major political and economic question entrusted to its analysis.” 

-Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

The New York Times, 1991.


Don’t tell a lie! Some men I’ve known
Commit the most appalling acts,
Because they happen to be prone
To an economy of facts;
And if to lie is bad, no doubt
’Tis even worse to get found out!


My children, never, never steal!
To know their offspring is a thief
Will often make a father feel
Annoyed and cause a mother grief;
So never steal, but, when you do,
Be sure there’s no one watching you.


The Wicked flourish like the bay,
At Cards or Love they always win,
Good Fortune dogs their steps all day,
They fatten while the Good grow thin.
The Righteous Man has much to bear;

                              The Bad becomes a Bullionaire!

The Voice of the White House  

Washington, D.C.  October 26, 2016:” “Aside from being devious, vicious and very dangerous, Hillary Clinton also suffers from psychomotor epilepsy. This is not invented blog nonsense. Hillary fell in her New York apartment, struck her head on a metal door stop and suffered a blood clot in the right hemisphere of her brain. It took six months of treatment by a New York medical group to get her back to reasonable daily functions. A group hostile to Clinton got into her medical files and made off with copies that showed, very clearly, that as a result of the fall and the subsequent blood clot, Hillary suffers from psychomotor epilepsy. Many have seen her bizarre performances when twice national TV cameras caught her running around the stage, laughing and babbling. In another episode, TV caught her suddenly collapsing while getting into a van. On all three occasions, there could be seen two beefy men on either side of her, holding her by the arms and trying to subdue her. These episodes are caused entirely by external stress and it should be noted, the Presidency of the United States is a highly stressful occupation.”

Documents show AT&T secretly sells customer data to law enforcement

According to company documents revealed by the Daily Beast, data from Hemisphere program is sold to police departments for $100,000 to $1m a year

October 25, 2016

by Nicky Wolfe

The Guardian

San Francisco-Telecommunications giant AT&T is selling access to customer data to local law enforcement in secret, new documents released on Monday reveal.

The program, called Hemisphere, was previously known only as a “partnership” between the company and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for the purposes of counter-narcotics operations.

It accesses the trove of telephone metadata available to AT&T, who control a large proportion of America’s landline and cellphone infrastructure. Unlike other providers, who delete their stored metadata after a certain time, AT&T keeps information like call time, duration, and even location data on file for years, with records dating back to 2008.

But according to internal company documents revealed Monday by the Daily Beast, Hemisphere is being sold to local police departments and used to investigate everything from murder to Medicaid fraud, costing US taxpayers millions of dollars every year even while riding roughshod over privacy concerns.

Access to Hemisphere costs local police between $100,000 and more than $1m a year, the documents reveal, and its use requires just an administrative subpoena – a much lower judicial bar than a search warrant because it does not need to be issued by a judge.

Until Monday, Hemisphere’s use was kept secret from the public – and even from judges, defense attorneys and lawmakers – by an agreement between law enforcement and AT&T which means police must not risk disclosing its use in public or even in court.

This means that police take leads from Hemisphere, but then construct cases around that lead so that the program can be protected from scrutiny, a practice known as “parallel construction”, according to the Beast.

The revelations come as AT&T prepares for its controversial $85bn acquisition of Time Warner, a deal which has been widely attacked as being bad for consumers, with both presidential candidates speaking out against the merger.

Contacted for comment, Fletcher Cook, a spokesperson for AT&T, sent the Guardian the same statement they provided the Beast:

Like other communications companies, if a government agency seeks customer call records through a subpoena, court order or other mandatory legal process, we are required by law to provide this non-content information, such as the phone numbers and the date and time of calls.

Asked for further details, Cook did not respond.

The secrecy of Hemisphere echoes that which surrounds the use of the sophisticated surveillance devices known as Stingrays, or cell-site simulators, which are suitcase-sized devices which work by pretending to be cellphone towers in order to strip metadata and content from phones which connect to them.

In 2015, a Guardian investigation revealed that police departments had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI in order to use Stingray devices which said that police must hide the program’s use from defense lawyers and the public, even mandating that they abandon a case if they fear the program’s use might be revealed in court.

Nate Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s speech, privacy and technology project, said that, as with the Stingray agreement, “what is so disturbing about these documents is the lengths to which the company and law enforcement have gone to keep this secret”.

“The longer these kind of surveillance programs are kept from the public, the harder it is to ensure there are appropriate checks and balances in place,” Wessler said.

For Wessler, an instructive part of what the documents reveal is that while the program was apparently instigated as part of the war on drugs, “this data is being used for run-of-the-mill criminal investigation at a local level”.

“Once law enforcement has access to this kind of data it becomes a tremendously attractive tool for everything they do.”


Police Viciously Attacked Peaceful Protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline

October 25 2016

by Jihan Hafiz

The Intercept

On October 22, just before dawn, hundreds of people, including many families, gathered and prepared to march toward the Dakota Access pipeline construction site near Standing Rock, North Dakota. Native American organizers lit sage and prayed for protection from police brutality before setting off on the 8-mile trek. Many in the crowd were emotional as they stood over what was once their ancestral burial grounds. Just last month, construction workers and contractors destroyed the site in preparation for installing the pipeline.

Aside from the desecration of sacred sites, critics argue, the environmental hazards caused by the pipelines and the possibility of a spill will be catastrophic. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and reservation, which is located just a mile from the construction sites, say the pipelines will contaminate their drinking water and pollute the Missouri River.

The march was undertaken in solidarity with several protesters who had chained themselves to bulldozers and pipeline machinery at the construction site. But the marchers never made it to their destination. Instead, they were attacked by police forces who used pepper spray and beat protesters with batons. Dozens of officers, backed by military trucks, police vans, machine guns, and nonlethal weapons, violently approached the group without warning.

“Don’t move, everyone is under arrest,” said a voice from the loudspeaker of the military vehicle.

As the protesters attempted to leave, the police began beating and detaining them. Several Native American women leading the march were targeted, dragged out of the crowd, and arrested. One man was body-slammed to the ground, while another woman broke her ankle running from the police. The military and police trucks followed the protesters as nearly a hundred officers corralled the protesters into a circle. Among the arrested were journalists, a 17-year-old pregnant girl, and a 78-year-old woman.

In total, more than 140 people were detained in half an hour. It was the largest roundup of protesters since the movement against the pipelines intensified two months ago. A majority of those arrested were charged with rioting and criminal trespass. Overall, close to 300 people have been arrested since protests against the pipeline kicked off over the summer.

When we arrived in Mandan, the jail was so overwhelmed with people that we had to sit on the floor in the jail’s common area. Two Native American men were thrown into solitary confinement. A number of women faced humiliating strip searches, which included spreading their body parts and jumping up and down while coughing. We were refused phone calls and received no food or water for eight hours after being arrested. Two women fainted from low blood sugar and another had her medication taken away, causing her to shake and sweat profusely.

When I was released from jail, my camera was missing. When I asked about its whereabouts, a police officer said, “Your camera is being held as evidence in a crime.”

The video footage presented here was shot from the beginning of the march, during the prayer, and ends the moment I was arrested. Many families, nearly all of them Native American, can be seen running for the hills. Many people told me they felt as though they were re-enacting the massacres of the Lakota nation during the westward expansion of the United States, when families were shot in the back as they fled.


The Urge to Splurge

Why Is It So Hard to Reduce the Pentagon Budget?

by William D. Hartung


Through good times and bad, regardless of what’s actually happening in the world, one thing is certain: in the long run, the Pentagon budget won’t go down.

It’s not that that budget has never been reduced. At pivotal moments, like the end of World War II as well as war’s end in Korea and Vietnam, there were indeed temporary downturns, as there was after the Cold War ended. More recently, the Budget Control Act of 2011 threw a monkey wrench into the Pentagon’s plans for funding that would go ever onward and upward by putting a cap on the money Congress could pony up for it. The remarkable thing, though, is not that such moments have occurred, but how modest and short-lived they’ve proved to be.

Take the current budget. It’s down slightly from its peak in 2011, when it reached the highest level since World War II, but this year’s budget for the Pentagon and related agencies is nothing to sneeze at. It comes in at roughly $600 billion — more than the peak year of the massive arms build-up initiated by President Ronald Reagan back in the 1980s. To put this figure in perspective: despite troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan dropping sharply over the past eight years, the Obama administration has still managed to spend more on the Pentagon than the Bush administration did during its two terms in office.

What accounts for the Department of Defense’s ability to keep a stranglehold on your tax dollars year after endless year?

Pillar one supporting that edifice: ideology.  As long as most Americans accept the notion that it is the God-given mission and right of the United States to go anywhere on the planet and do more or less anything it cares to do with its military, you won’t see Pentagon spending brought under real control.  Think of this as the military corollary to American exceptionalism — or just call it the doctrine of armed exceptionalism, if you will.

The second pillar supporting lavish military budgets (and this will hardly surprise you): the entrenched power of the arms lobby and its allies in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.  The strategic placement of arms production facilities and military bases in key states and Congressional districts has created an economic dependency that has saved many a flawed weapons system from being unceremoniously dumped in the trash bin of history.

Lockheed Martin, for instance, has put together a handy map of how its troubled F-35 fighter jet has created 125,000 jobs in 46 states. The actual figures are, in fact, considerably lower, but the principle holds: having subcontractors in dozens of states makes it harder for members of Congress to consider cutting or slowing down even a failed or failing program. Take as an example the M-1 tank, which the Army actually wanted to stop buying. Its plans were thwarted by the Ohio congressional delegation, which led a fight to add more M-1s to the budget in order to keep the General Dynamics production line in Lima, Ohio, up and running. In a similar fashion, prodded by the Missouri delegation, Congress added two different versions of Boeing’s F-18 aircraft to the budget to keep funds flowing to that company’s St. Louis area plant.

The one-two punch of an environment in which the military can do no wrong, while being outfitted for every global task imaginable, and what former Pentagon analyst Franklin “Chuck” Spinney has called “political engineering,” has been a tough combination to beat.

“Scare the Hell Out of the American People”

The overwhelming consensus in favor of a “cover the globe” military strategy has been broken from time to time by popular resistance to the idea of using war as a central tool of foreign policy.  In such periods, getting Americans behind a program of feeding the military machine massive sums of money has generally required a heavy dose of fear.

For example, the last thing most Americans wanted after the devastation and hardship unleashed by World War II was to immediately put the country back on a war footing. The demobilization of millions of soldiers and a sharp cutback in weapons spending in the immediate postwar years rocked what President Dwight Eisenhower would later dub the “military-industrial complex.”

As Wayne Biddle has noted in his seminal book Barons of the Sky, the U.S. aerospace industry produced an astonishing 300,000-plus military aircraft during World War II. Not surprisingly, major weapons producers struggled to survive in a peacetime environment in which government demand for their products threatened to be a tiny fraction of wartime levels.

Lockheed President Robert Gross was terrified by the potential impact of war’s end on his company’s business, as were many of his industry cohorts. “As long as I live,” he said, “I will never forget those short, appalling weeks” of the immediate postwar period.  To be clear, Gross was appalled not by the war itself, but by the drop off in orders occasioned by its end. He elaborated in a 1947 letter to a friend: “We had one underlying element of comfort and reassurance during the war. We knew we’d get paid for anything we built.  Now we are almost entirely on our own.”

The postwar doldrums in military spending that worried him so were reversed only after the American public had been fed a steady, fear-filled diet of anti-communism.  NSC-68, a secret memorandum the National Security Council prepared for President Harry Truman in April 1950, created the template for a policy based on the global “containment” of communism and grounded in a plan to encircle the Soviet Union with U.S. military forces, bases, and alliances.  This would, of course, prove to be a strikingly expensive proposition. The concluding paragraphs of that memorandum underscored exactly that point, calling for a “sustained buildup of U.S. political, economic, and military strength… [to] frustrate the Kremlin design of a world dominated by its will.”

Senator Arthur Vandenberg put the thrust of this new Cold War policy in far simpler terms when he bluntly advised President Truman to “scare the hell out of the American people” to win support for a $400 million aid plan for Greece and Turkey.  His suggestion would be put into effect not just for those two countries but to generate support for what President Eisenhower would later describe as “a permanent arms establishment of vast proportions.”

Industry leaders like Lockheed’s Gross were poised to take advantage of such planning.  In a draft of a 1950 speech, he noted, giddily enough, that “for the first time in recorded history, one country has assumed global responsibility.” Meeting that responsibility would naturally mean using air transport to deliver “huge quantities of men, food, ammunition, tanks, gasoline, oil and thousands of other articles of war to a number of widely separated places on the face of the earth.”  Lockheed, of course, stood ready to heed the call.

The next major challenge to armed exceptionalism and to the further militarization of foreign policy came after the disastrous Vietnam War, which drove many Americans to question the wisdom of a policy of permanent global interventionism.  That phenomenon would be dubbed the “Vietnam syndrome” by interventionists, as if opposition to such a military policy were a disease, not a position.  Still, that “syndrome” carried considerable, if ever-decreasing, weight for a decade and a half, despite the Pentagon’s Reagan-inspired arms build-up of the 1980s.

With the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Washington decisively renewed its practice of responding to perceived foreign threats with large-scale military interventions.  That quick victory over Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein’s forces in Kuwait was celebrated by many hawks as the end of the Vietnam-induced malaise.  Amid victory parades and celebrations, President George H.W. Bush would enthusiastically exclaim: “And, by God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.”

However, perhaps the biggest threat since World War II to an “arms establishment of vast proportions” came with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, also in 1991.  How to mainline fear into the American public and justify Cold War levels of spending when that other superpower, the Soviet Union, the primary threat of the previous nearly half-a-century, had just evaporated and there was next to nothing threatening on the horizon?  General Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, summed up the fears of that moment within the military and the arms complex when he said, “I’m running out of demons. I’m running out of villains. I’m down to Castro and Kim Il-sung.”

In reality, he underestimated the Pentagon’s ability to conjure up new threats. Military spending did indeed drop at the end of the Cold War, but the Pentagon helped staunch the bleeding relatively quickly before a “peace dividend” could be delivered to the American people. Instead, it put a firm floor under the fall by announcing what came to be known as the “rogue state” doctrine. Resources formerly aimed at the Soviet Union would now be focused on “regional hegemons” like Iraq and North Korea.

Fear, Greed, and Hubris Win the Day

After the 9/11 attacks, the rogue state doctrine morphed into the Global War on Terror (GWOT), which neoconservative pundits soon labeled “World War IV.” The heightened fear campaign that went with it, in turn, helped sow the seeds for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was promoted by visions of mushroom clouds rising over American cities and a drumbeat of Bush administration claims (all false) that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda.  Some administration officials including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld even suggested that Saddam was like Hitler, as if a modest-sized Middle Eastern state could somehow muster the resources to conquer the globe.

The administration’s propaganda campaign would be supplemented by the work of right-wing corporate-funded think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.  And no one should be surprised to learn that the military-industrial complex and its money, its lobbyists, and its interests were in the middle of it all.  Take Lockheed Martin Vice President Bruce Jackson, for example.  In 1997, he became a director of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and so part of a gaggle of hawks including future Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, future Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and future Vice President Dick Cheney. In those years, PNAC would advocate the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as part of its project to turn the planet into an American military protectorate. Many of its members would, of course, enter the Bush administration in crucial roles and become architects of the GWOT and the invasion of Iraq.

The Afghan and Iraq wars would prove an absolute bonanza for contractors as the Pentagon budget soared. Traditional weapons suppliers like Lockheed Martin and Boeing prospered, as did private contractors like Dick Cheney’s former employer, Halliburton, which made billions providing logistical support to U.S. troops in the field.  Other major beneficiaries included firms like Blackwater and DynCorp, whose employees guarded U.S. facilities and oil pipelines while training Afghan and Iraqi security forces. As much as $60 billion of the funds funneled to such contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan would be “wasted,” but not from the point of view of companies for which waste could generate as much profit as a job well done. So Halliburton and its cohorts weren’t complaining.

On entering the Oval Office, President Obama would ditch the term GWOT in favor of “countering violent extremism” — and then essentially settle for a no-name global war.  He would shift gears from a strategy focused on large numbers of “boots on the ground” to an emphasis on drone strikes, the use of Special Operations forces, and massive transfers of arms to U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia.  In the context of an increasingly militarized foreign policy, one might call Obama’s approach “politically sustainable warfare,” since it involved fewer (American) casualties and lower costs than Bush-style warfare, which peaked in Iraq at more than 160,000 troops and a comparable number of private contractors.

Recent terror attacks against Western targets from Brussels, Paris, and Nice to San Bernardino and Orlando have offered the national security state and the Obama administration the necessary fear factor that makes the case for higher Pentagon spending so palatable. This has been true despite the fact that more tanks, bombers, aircraft carriers, and nuclear weapons will be useless in preventing such attacks.

The majority of what the Pentagon spends, of course, has nothing to do with fighting terrorism. But whatever it has or hasn’t been called, the war against terror has proven to be a cash cow for the Pentagon and contractors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.

The “war budget” — money meant for the Pentagon but not included in its regular budget — has been used to add on tens of billions of dollars more. It has proven to be an effective “slush fund” for weapons and activities that have nothing to do with immediate war fighting and has been the Pentagon’s preferred method for evading the caps on its budget imposed by the Budget Control Act.  A Pentagon spokesman admitted as much recently by acknowledging that more than half of the $58.8 billion war budget is being used to pay for non-war costs.

The abuse of the war budget leaves ample room in the Pentagon’s main budget for items like the overpriced, underperforming F-35 combat aircraft, a plane which, at a price tag of $1.4 trillion over its lifetime, is on track to be the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken.  That slush fund is also enabling the Pentagon to spend billions of dollars in seed money as a down payment on the department’s proposed $1 trillion plan to buy a new generation of nuclear-armed bombers, missiles, and submarines.  Shutting it down could force the Pentagon to do what it likes least: live within an actual budget rather continuing to push its top line ever upward.

Although rarely discussed due to the focus on Donald Trump’s abominable behavior and racist rhetoric, both candidates for president are in favor of increasing Pentagon spending.  Trump’s “plan” (if one can call it that) hews closely to a blueprint developed by the Heritage Foundation that, if implemented, could increase Pentagon spending by a cumulative $900 billion over the next decade.  The size of a Clinton buildup is less clear, but she has also pledged to work toward lifting the caps on the Pentagon’s regular budget.  If that were done and the war fund continued to be stuffed with non-war-related items, one thing is certain: the Pentagon and its contractors will be sitting pretty.

As long as fear, greed, and hubris are the dominant factors driving Pentagon spending, no matter who is in the White House, substantial and enduring budget reductions are essentially inconceivable. A wasteful practice may be eliminated here or an unnecessary weapons system cut there, but more fundamental change would require taking on the fear factor, the doctrine of armed exceptionalism, and the way the military-industrial complex is embedded in Washington.

Only such a culture shift would allow for a clear-eyed assessment of what constitutes “defense” and how much money would be needed to provide it.  Unfortunately, the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned Americans about more than 50 years ago is alive and well, and gobbling up your tax dollars at an alarming rate.


Calais ‘Jungle’ migrant camp clear out complete, say French officials

French officials have said they completed work to get all people out of the migrant camp near the northern city of Calais. A handful of migrants forced to leave the shantytown had set parts of the camp alight overnight.

October 26, 2016


Two days into a week-long operation, French authorities have transported thousands of migrants at what residents and others call the ‘Jungle’ – a potent symbol of Europe’s migrant crisis – to reception centers around France.

“The camp is finally empty,” Fabienne Buccio, the official heading the Pas de Calais administration told French broadcaster BFMTV on Wednesday.

“Our mission has been accomplished,” she added.

Migrants were still seen around the area after the announcement, but French authorities said they would stop processing people by Wednesday evening.

Located only several hundred meters from the port of Calais, ‘the Jungle’ has long been a launchpad for migrants wanting to go to Britain on lorries or trains heading across the Channel.

“This jungle is no good,” said Muhammad Afridi, 20, from Pakistan told the Associated Press news agency. “We go to a new jungle.”

One man was reportedly injured when fires broke out in the camp overnight and on Wednesday

Fires blaze amidst demolition

Fresh fires broke out on Wednesday in the camp as demolition crews worked to clear the shantytown. A team of about 15 workers tore down tents and makeshift shelters at the camp after riot police had cordoned off the demolition area and aid workers and government officials checked that the dwellings were empty.

Firefighters reportedly dealt with flames in shelters and small shops in the camp that has been used as a temporary home by 6,300 migrants, according to authorities. Aid groups, however, counted more than 8,000 people.

Both migrants and officials said the fires which blazed through the camp overnight and on Wednesday were set deliberately.

A Syrian man sustained injuries to his eardrums after a gas canister exploded in the flames and was taken to the Calais hospital as around 100 migrants were evacuated on Tuesday night to a no-man’s land at the entrance of the camp, Steve Barbet, spokesman for the regional prefecture, said on Wednesday.

Relocations around France

Since Monday, 3,242 adults have been transferred to centers around France and 772 unaccompanied minors have been moved to shipping containers converted into temporary shelters in the Jungle, the interior ministry said. This is around half the camp’s estimated population before the operation began, according to official figures.

The authorities have said those who agree to be moved can seek asylum in France. Those who refuse risk deportation. The fate of more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors is of particular concern.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday that all those “with proven family links in Britain” would be transferred and that London had committed to reviewing all other cases where it was “in the child’s interest” to settle across the Channel. Britain took in around 200 teenagers in the week before the clearance began.

‘There’s no good answer’: Podesta leaks show Clinton campaign stumped by email server debacle

October 26, 2016


The latest tranche of emails from the account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, has been released by WikiLeaks.

With the whistleblowing site promising the release of around 50,000 emails from Podesta, Wednesday’s dump brings to 33,042, the number of messages published by WikiLeaks so far.

No good answer

“There is just no good answer,” Clinton aide Philippe Reines tells Podesta in a panicked mail from March 2015 in which they discuss Clinton’s reasoning for using a private email server.

The mail is sent to Podesta after New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman mailed Clinton aide Anne-Marie slaughter saying, “I have to say I am troubled by what I have read about what Hillary did.”

Slaughter then forwards the mail to Clinton’s team to tip them off as to what to expect from the press.


A mail Podesta sends to Neera Tanden on June 3, 2008, near the end of the Democratic primary race, appears to call Clinton’s decision not to concede to Barack Obama at the time “psychotic.”

In the mail titled ‘All things are never equal’, Tanden tells Podesta “She’s not conceding tonight… And not anytime soon, either,” to which he replies “Former smart; latter psychotic.”

The mail is sent in the days following Clinton’s primary win in Puerto Rico, a late and futile victory in her battle to beat Obama for the Democratic nomination for president.

Four days after the mail was sent Clinton conceded defeat to her rival.

Move right before the general election

In December 2015, Hill columnist Brent Budowsky advises Podesta about Clinton’s statements on Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS).

“She will never state what I believe we need to do…because she is consumed with keeping Obama’s goodwill and afraid of liberal backlash,” he writes.

“But at the least she should not be branding and infecting herself with Obama’s policy towards Syria and ISIS by offering such high and direct praise for it.”

“She can praise him [Obama] but every time she does she should immediately follow it with positive reminders of the success of the Bill Clinton presidency.”

“Every time she mentions Obama positively, follow it by mentioning Bill Clinton a bit more positively. And when possible mention JFK as well.”

He concludes: “She appears locked into a tactical approach which is a Democratic version of the Richard Nixon strategy in the 1960’s and 1970’s – move left before the primaries before the nomination and then move right before the general election after the nomination.”

A Liberian is coming

Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for Clinton, bizarrely declares her intention to show a bullet to a new member of staff in a June, 2015 email. When informed of new employee from Liberia, Cara Bernard, Palmieri responds, “Another Liberian! I will show her the bullet you gave me!”

The communication from Marlene Vasilic of the Center for American Progress is titled ‘A Liberian is coming!’

Handling the press

In July 2015, Tanden passes on advice from ‘Howard’ about dealing with the New York Times’ Arthur Schulzburger.

It details how former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg confronted Schulzburger for “treating him like a billionaire dilettante instead of third term mayor.”

Describing Schulzburger as “a pretty big wuss” Tanden says “Hillary would have to be the one to call.”

Tanden says Howard thinks “the brown and women pundits can shame the times and others on social media.”

“So cultivating Joan Walsh, Yglesias, Allen, perry bacon, Greg Sargent, to defend her is helpful,” Tanden says. “They can be emboldened.”

Best of the worst: Here are the most shocking WikiLeaks Podesta emails so far

October 21, 2016


As WikiLeaks continues to release emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, RT brings you a round-up of the most scandalous details released so far.

Those Wall St speeches

A January 2016 email detailed how Clinton boasted of her “great” relations with bankers in an October 2013 speech. She spoke of how “more thought has to be given to the process and transactions and regulations so that we don’t kill or maim what works, but we concentrate on the most effective way of moving forward with the brainpower and the financial power that exists here [on Wall Street].”

Meanwhile, a June 2013 speech to Goldman Sachs detailed Clinton’s hope to “intervene in Syria as covertly as possible” and that the US “used to be much better at this than we are now.”

A November 2015 email chain between campaign staffers discussed planting a Wall Street speech in the media to give the impression that Clinton’s speeches “to all those fat cats” were nothing to worry about.

Obama emails

Emails from an account possibly used by Barack Obama before winning the election in November 2008 were revealed on Thursday.

In an email sent on election night in 2008, just minutes before the major TV networks called the election in his favor, Podesta messages Obama discussing an upcoming G20 meeting.

“On the chance that President Bush would raise this with you tonight, I wanted you to be aware that it is the unanimous recommendation for your advisors that you NOT attend,” Podesta writes.

Pay to Play?

In a mail from February 2016, simply titled ‘speaking at the banks,’ Neera Tanden, the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, suggests to John Podesta that Clinton “should just return the money” if she “lose[s] badly.”

Another email from Clinton aide Huma Abedin to Mook and Podesta in January 2015 details how Moroccan authorities donated to the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to get access to Clinton.

Abedin says the “King has personally committed approx $12 million both for the endowment and to support the meeting” and that “the condition upon which the Moroccans agreed to host the meeting was her participation. If hrc was not part of it, meeting was a non-starter.”

She goes on to say that the meeting had been Clinton’s idea. “Our office approached the Moroccans and they 100 percent believe they are doing this at her request,” Abedin adds. “She created this mess and she knows it.”

Designed to give her some cover

Politico’s chief political correspondent Glenn Thrush sent his article to Podesta to be approved prior to publishing. “Please don’t share or tell anyone I did this,” Thrush said. Podesta responded that there were “no problems here.”

In an email exchange from June 30, 2015, Brent Budowsky, a columnist for the Hill, contacted Podesta regarding a piece he wrote which he describes as being “positive, carefully written, and designed to give her [Hillary Clinton] some cover with liberals.”

Doofus Bernie

Podesta messaged Tanden in December 2015, regarding the Paris Climate Change Conference and referred to Bernie Sanders as a “doofus” for attacking the deal.

Budowsky criticized the campaign in a September 2015 email for allegedly giving Clinton surrogates talking points to attack Bernie Sanders. He instead recommended that the campaign “make love to Bernie and his idealistic supporters, and co-opt as many of his progressive issues as possible.”

A mail to Podesta from Philip Munger, a philanthropist known for his hefty donations to the Democratic Party, took an alternative approach. Munder wrote Clinton is “going to have to kneecap him. She is going to have to take him down from his morally superior perch.”

What planet is she on?

Clinton’s description of herself as a moderate Democrat at a September 2015 event in Ohio angered Tanden. In a mail to Podesta, she asked why Clinton described herself as such, to which he replied that she “didn’t remember saying it. Not sure I believe her.”

Tanden insists that the comment has made her job more difficult after “telling every reporter I know she’s actually progressive.”

“It worries me more that she doesn’t seem to know what planet we are all living in at the moment,” she adds.

The Clintons won’t forget their friends

In November 2014, Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook emailed Podesta about moving the Illinois primary out of March, as it would be a “lifeline to a moderate Republican candidate.”

Although Illinois was offered “a bonus of 10% extra delegates if they move to April and 20% if they move to May,” the date didn’t change.

“They don’t really care about being helpful and feel forgotten and neglected by POTUS,” Mook writes. “The key point is that this is not an Obama ask, but a Hillary ask. And the Clintons won’t forget what their friends have done for them.”

Food groups

February 2016 messages between Podesta and Frank White Jr, who raised over $2.3 million for President Barack Obama during his 2012 reelection campaign, highlight the Clinton team’s awareness that it “doesn’t value black folks.”

A list of potential vice presidential nominees categorized in “rough food groups” is detailed in an email from Podesta to Clinton. These “food groups” were broken up into seven categories, including Latinos, women, black men, business magnates and one group with just one member – Bernie Sanders.

Hillary’s Achilles heel

After Clinton gave an interview, which referenced the email scandal, to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell on September 4, 2015, Tanden once again gives an interesting insight into Clinton’s shortcomings.

“Everyone wants her to apologize,” Tanden says in an email to Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s director of communications. “And she should. Apologies are like her Achilles heel. But she didn’t seem like a bitch in the interview. And she said the word sorry. She will get to a full apology in a few interviews.”

WikiLeaks reveals fears and frustrations inside Clinton world

October 25, 2016

by Rosalind S. Helderman

The Washington Post

On the day the news broke that Hillary Clinton had used a private email account as secretary of state, the man who would soon be named to chair her presidential campaign fired off a note of distress, venting frustration about some of Clinton’s closest aides.

“Speaking of transparency, our friends Kendall, Cheryl and Phillipe sure weren’t forthcoming on the facts here,” John Podesta complained in the March 2015 note, referring to Clinton’s personal lawyer, David Kendall, as well as former State Department staffers Cheryl Mills and Philippe Reines.

“Why didn’t they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy,” replied Neera Tanden, a longtime Podesta friend who also has worked for Clinton. Then, answering her own question, Tanden wrote again: “I guess I know the answer. They wanted to get away with it.”

The exchange, found in hacked emails from Podesta’s account and released Tuesday by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, provides a striking window into how the revelation of Clinton’s email setup roiled her nascent campaign team in the weeks before its official April 2015 kickoff.

The emails show that while aides struggled to get past the public controversy, they also expressed exasperation at each other and, at times, at Clinton — both for her decision to use the server and for the way she handled questions about it. Several exchanges illustrate fears among some top advisers that Clinton and other aides were demonstrating the very traits that polls suggested made her vulnerable: a penchant for secrecy and a hesitancy to admit fault or error.

“We’ve taken on a lot of water that won’t be easy to pump out of the boat,” Podesta wrote to Tanden in September 2015, at a time when Clinton’s campaign feared that Vice President Biden was about to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. “Most of that has to do with terrible decisions made pre-campaign, but a lot has to do with her instincts.”

Tanden responded, “Almost no one knows better [than] me that her instincts can be terrible.

Tanden and Kendall declined to comment. Neither Reines nor a lawyer for Mills responded to requests for comment.

Clinton’s campaign has largely declined to comment on the WikiLeaks emails, which U.S. officials say were stolen through hacks of Democratic groups and leaders orchestrated by the Russian government. Clinton aides have declined to authenticate the emails, noting that the Russians have been known to doctor documents, but they have not disputed any specific revelation from Podesta’s email trove.

Instead, Clinton spokesman Glen Caplin on Tuesday responded to questions about the internal campaign struggles revealed in the emails by attacking GOP nominee Donald Trump for his recent comments disputing U.S. government findings that the Kremlin was behind the hacks and for “cheering on WikiLeaks’ Russian-directed propaganda.”

Though the WikiLeaks disclosures have not contained the sort of campaign-shaking bombshell that some Trump backers had hoped for, the Podesta emails have provided an almost unprecedented historical archive of the inner workings of a major-party presidential campaign.

Some of the emails include private and contemporaneous assessments of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses by advisers widely seen as likely to hold top posts in Clinton’s White House should she win.

They show that in August 2015, months after the New York Times revealed Clinton’s use of a private account and after the Associated Press identified her private server, Clinton’s aides were still struggling to persuade the candidate that she should show remorse for her email practices.

By that time, the FBI had opened an investigation into whether classified material had been mishandled through Clinton’s use of the server.

Some of the most frank commentary can be seen in exchanges between two friends and frequent correspondents: Podesta, a longtime Clinton hand who founded the powerhouse liberal think tank Center for American Progress, and Tanden, a former top aide to Clinton’s 2008 presidential run who now heads the center. Both are strong supporters of Clinton and her presidential bid. In another email released by WikiLeaks, Tanden referred to herself as a “loyal soldier” who would “do whatever Hillary needs always.” Their email exchanges often appear to have been written out of concern for Clinton’s best interests.

“I know this email thing isn’t on the level. I’m fully aware of that,” Tanden wrote in an August 2015 note to Podesta. “But her inability to just do a national interview and communicate genuine feelings of remorse and regret is now, I fear, becoming a character problem (more so than honesty).”

On Sept. 4, Clinton gave an interview to NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell, saying that she was “sorry that this has been confusing to people” but otherwise dodging questions about whether she apologized for her actions.

Tanden wrote later that day: “Everyone wants her to apologize. And she should. Apologies are like her Achilles heel.”

Three days later, Clinton had still not apologized, even as the issue dominated campaign news coverage. “This apology thing has become like a pa­thol­ogy,” Tanden wrote. “I can only imagine what’s happening in the campaign. Is there some way I can be helpful here?”

Podesta replied: “You should email her. She can say she’s sorry without apologizing to the American people. Tell her to say it and move on, why get hung on this.”

Finally, the next day, Clinton told ABC News that her use of the server had been a “mistake.” “I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility,” she said.

The WikiLeaks disclosures reveal how, from the earliest days of the campaign, some advisers and staffers feared that Mills — who had served in the White House counsel’s office during the Republican investigations of the 1990s and then was Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department — enabled Clinton’s tendencies to hunker down.

In her March 2015 exchange with Podesta about the email controversy, Tanden lay the blame squarely at Mills’s feet.

“This is a cheryl special,” Tanden wrote. “Know you love her, but this stuff is like her Achilles heal. Or kryptonite. she just can’t say no to this s—.”

Mills has no formal relationship with the campaign but, the emails show, consults frequently about all major decisions. If Clinton wins, Mills could assume a significant role in the White House.

The emails show, at one point, similar skepticism of Mills from campaign manager Robbie Mook, the young operative Clinton appointed to build an operation that would avoid the personality clashes and internal dramas that plagued her 2008 presidential bid.

In February 2015, Mook complained to Podesta that Mills was going around him to vet campaign contractors. “It is secretly going around a transparent system we all agreed upon,” he wrote. “The secret s— has got to stop. It’s a giant time suck.”

The emails also show a fondness among Clinton’s staff for her strengths and genuine enthusiasm when she did well in interviews or other public appearances. After Clinton appeared on “Face the Nation” in September 2015, an ally wrote to Podesta to praise her appearance. “Thought she was really good. Really good,” he wrote, before adding: “She sometimes laughs a little too hard at jokes that aren’t that funny. Other than that.”

Podesta responded with humor: “Laughing too hard,” he wrote, “is her authentic weirdness.”

‘McCarthyism,’ Then and Now

Anti-Russian hysteria and the political elites

October 26, 2016

by Justin Raimondo


I’m often taken to task by some of my readers for characterizing the current anti-Russian hysteria as “McCarthyism.” After all, they say, Sen. Joseph McCarthy was right – there were, indeed, high-ranking individuals in the US government covertly sympathetic to the Soviet regime. And, yes, we now know that many of these were working directly for Soviet intelligence.

This was the predictable result of our wartime alliance with Russia: combined with the left-wing proclivities of the Roosevelt administration, and the “Popular Front” politics of the Communist Party USA during this period, it’s surprising that Soviet penetration of US government circles wasn’t more extensive than it turned out to be.

In any case, what we are seeing today with the revival of the cold war mindset is in many ways the complete opposite of the “old” McCarthyism: the target may be the same – Russia as the bogeyman de jour – but the methods and sources of the neo-McCarthyites are quite different.

To begin with, the “old” McCarthyism was a movement generated from below, and aimed at the elites: the “new” McCarthyism is a media construct, generated from above and created by the elites.

The average American, while hardly a Putin groupie, is not lying awake at night worrying about the “Russian threat.” The fate of Ukraine, not to mention Crimea, is so far from his concerns that the distance can only be measured in light-years. And when some new scandal breaks as a result of WikiLeaks releasing the emails of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle, Joe Sixpack doesn’t think “Oh, that just proves Julian Assange is a Kremlin toady!” WikiLeaks is merely confirming what Joe already knew: that Washington is a cornucopia of corruption.

The Acela corridor elite, on the other hand, does lie awake at night wondering how they can pull off a regime change operation that will eliminate the “threat” represented by Putin once and for all. Ever since the Russian leader started mocking Washington’s hegemonic pretensions, criticizing the US invasion of Iraq, and pointing out how US-funded Syrian “rebels” are merely jihadists in “moderate” clothing, Putin has been in their crosshairs – and the propaganda war has been relentless.

This barrage has gone into overdrive with the launching of the Clinton campaign’s effort to smear Donald Trump as a Kremlin “puppet.” You have to go all the way back to the earliest days of our Republic, when pro-British supporters of Alexander Hamilton were sliming the Jeffersonian Democrats with accusations that they were agents of the French revolutionaries, to come up with the historical equivalent of Hillary’s “you’re a puppet” charges directed at Trump. And the media, being an auxiliary of the Clinton campaign, has been filled with even more virulent screeds purporting to “prove” Trump is the Manchurian candidate.

One way in which the new McCarthyism is very much like the old is that it threatens to poison the intellectual atmosphere in this country, endangering the very foundations of our free society and academic standards of free inquiry and debate. Emblematic of this trend is a tweet authored by Dan Drezner, professor of international relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a foreign affairs columnist at the Washington Post, in which he commented on a talk he heard at the Valdai conference, a regular event held in Russia focusing on Russo-American relations:

“At Valdai, John Mearsheimer says the Chinese and Russians love his realism. ‘I’m much more comfortable in Moscow than Washington!’”

Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of political science at the University of Chicago, the author of six books, and the leading theoretician of the school of international relations known as “offensive realism.”  He is, in short a scholar of some renown – and yet Drezner, considerably lower on the academic totem pole, feels empowered to slime him as somehow disloyal. How did we come to this sad state of affairs?

The poisoning of a society with propaganda used to take some time: today, the process is much faster, due to technological innovation, and especially the rise of the Internet and the growth of social media. In the old days, the McCarthyites had to rely on print media and radio to smear those “pinko college professors” and drive them out of academia. Today, someone like Drezner can sign in to their Twitter account and snark about how John Mearsheimer is more at home in Moscow and Beijing than in the good ol’ US of A, and his thousands of Twitter followers get the idea – that Mearsheimer is somehow anti-American – in an instant (and in only twenty words!).

The “old” McCarthyism was dangerous because, in some cases, people were targeted unfairly: anybody with dissident views was suspect, and especially anyone with vaguely left-wing opinions. And McCarthyism, which in its original form saw the main danger to America to be internal, soon morphed into something else entirely: a movement that sought a military confrontation with the Soviet Union. Indeed, it was McCarthyism that was the bridge that allowed neoconservative interventionists to invade the conservative movement and displace the “isolationism” of the Old Right.

The new McCarthyism poses new dangers that are, perhaps, more virulent than the old version and will have more immediate consequences. The above-mentioned smear of Prof. Mearsheimer encapsulates what the dangers are to academia: in the 1950s, left-wing professors had at least some protection from populist McCarthyites in that academics tended to jealously guard their turf and protect their own from outside incursions. Today, with the elites pushing Russophobia, those protections fall by the wayside.

Furthermore, the political class, where the new McCarthyism is rampant, has power – that is, it can translate its prejudices into policy more readily than any mass movement such as the one led by “Tail-gunner Joe.” If Hillary Clinton and her advisors really believe that Putin is out to defeat her and elect her opponent, then what can we expect will happen to US-Russian relations if and when she’s elected?

And while the American people aren’t exactly up in arms over the prospect of a “Red Dawn” scenario unfolding in the streets of America’s cities, the “mainstream” media’s longstanding anti-Russian crusade is clearly having an effect. A Pew poll shows that anti-Russian sentiment in the United States rose “from 43% to 72% from 2013 to 2014.” The “trickle down” effects of war propaganda work just as effectively as the “trickle-up” model, if not more so.

The real world consequences of a conflict with Russia, a nuclear-armed state, are fearsome to even contemplate: the political class in this country is playing a dangerous game of chicken, and they’re playing it with our lives and the lives of every person on earth.

Aside from the prospect of World War III, the effects of the new McCarthyism will be to distort our politics, infect our culture, and threaten our constitutional rights as Americans. It is entirely possible that a new witch-hunt will be launched by the Russia-haters in our midst, with a revived “Un-American Activities Committee” replete with congressional hearings, as well as “investigations” by law enforcement of “pro-Russian” “subversive” activities. With the media acting as a cheerleading section for these official and unofficial arbiters of political correctness, our future as a free society will be increasingly in doubt.

Finally, the new McCarthyism underscores the cynicism, opportunism, and downright viciousness of our political class, and especially the media, which has done nothing to question and everything to bolster the Russophobic propaganda put out there by self-serving lobbyists and politicians. It truly is a sickening sight, made all the more so by the self-professed “liberalism” of those who are in the vanguard of this revolting trend.

What these folks should remember is that the “old” McCarthyism was in large part a reaction to the “Brown scare” of the Roosevelt era, when “isolationist” conservatives were smeared as “agents of Hitler,” driven out of their jobs, and in some instances charged with “sedition.” This bout of war hysteria was driven, first of all, by the Communist Party and its media contingent, which had become more-patriotic-than-thou when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union and the Communist line on the war changed overnight. However, when the world situation changed again, and the Soviets were in Washington’s sights, the tables were abruptly turned – and Sen. McCarthy’s crusade took off.

The same thing can happen again. If the consequences of the new McCarthyism come to fruition in an armed conflict with Russia, or even a nuclear exchange, as Americans emerge from the radioactive wreckage they’ll be looking for someone to blame – and scapegoats won’t be that hard to find.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter asks Pentagon to suspend Guard bonus collections

October 26, 2016


WASHINGTON D.C. — Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday he is asking the Pentagon to suspend efforts to reclaim re-enlistment bonuses of thousands of California National Guard soldiers.

In a statement, Carter said not all soldiers given the bonuses knew they were ineligible to receive the erroneous payments. While there is “an established process in place by which service members can seek relief,” the defense secretary said the process for many has moved too slowly, which has led to “an unreasonable burdens on service members.”

“We will provide for a process that puts as little burden as possible on any soldier who received an improper payment through no fault of his or her own,” Carter said. “At the same time, it will respect our important obligation to the taxpayer.”

Prior to Carter’s announcement, the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday it has launched an investigation into the attempt to reclaim the re-enlistment bonuses.

The committee asked the Guard to turn over all documents and audits related to the decade-old payments of $15,000 or more to soldiers who agreed to re-enlist for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The National Guard has said the bonuses were wrongly paid but its effort to reclaim them from thousands of soldiers and veterans in California and across the country has caused public outcry, including widespread criticism from Congress.

Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah and three other Republicans said in a letter that officials who mismanaged the bonus programs must be “held accountable.” The lawmakers said Guard officials must turn over relevant documents by Nov. 7.

Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers of the California National Guard said officials are working with Congress to approve legislation ordering the National Guard Bureau to clear the debts of soldiers who were wrongly told they were eligible for bonuses of $15,000 or more.

Col. Peter Cross, spokesman for the California National Guard, said Tuesday that about $22 million has been collected so far from fewer than 2,000 soldiers.

Other states may have been affected, but “California is where the majority of this occurred,” said National Guard Bureau spokeswoman Laura Ochoa.

Soldiers said they feel betrayed at having to repay the money.

“These bonuses were used to keep people in,” said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart. “People like me just got screwed.”

Van Meter said he refinanced his home mortgage to repay $25,000 in reenlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the military says was improperly given to him.

Susan Haley, a Los Angeles native and former Army master sergeant who deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, said she feels betrayed. She said she sends the Pentagon $650 a month — a quarter of her family’s income — to pay down her debt to the military.

“They’ll get their money, but I want those years back,” said Haley, who served for six years.

The Pentagon demanded the soldiers repay their enlistment bonuses after audits revealed overpayments by the California National Guard under pressure to fill ranks and hit enlistment goals at the height of the two wars. If soldiers refuse, they could face interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens.

Most Americans do not feel represented by Democrats or Republicans – survey

Poll finds Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump continue to face historically low favourability ratings, while pessimism about the country’s direction has grown

October 25, 2016

by David Smith

The Guardian

Washington-As they go to the polls in a historic presidential election, more than six in 10 Americans say neither major political party represents their views any longer, a survey has found.

Dissatisfaction with both Democrats and Republicans has risen sharply since 1990, when less than half held that neither reflected their opinions, according to research by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

The seventh annual 2016 American Values Survey was carried out throughout September among a random sample of 2,010 adults in all 50 states.

Both party establishments have been rattled by the outsider challenges of Donald Trump, who was successful in winning his party’s nomination, and Bernie Sanders, who was not. In a year that seems ripe for third-party candidates, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Green party are seeking to capitalise but have fallen back in the polls in recent weeks.

Sixty-one per cent of survey respondents say neither political party reflects their opinions today, while 38% disagree. Nearly eight in 10 (77%) independents and a majority (54%) of Republicans took this position, while less than half (46%) of Democrats agree. There was virtually no variation across class or race.

Both Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican standard bearer Trump continue to suffer historically low favourability ratings, with less than half of the public viewing each candidate positively (41% v 33%). Clinton is viewed less favourably than the Democratic party (49%), but Trump’s low rating is more consistent with the Republican party’s own favourability (36%).

The discontent with parties and candidates extends to the electoral process itself, which Trump claims is rigged against him. Less than half the public (43%) say they have a great deal of confidence that their vote will be counted accurately, while 38% have some confidence and 17% have hardly any confidence.

Party affiliation shapes perception. About two in three Republicans believe voter fraud is a bigger problem than voter disenfranchisement, whereas two in three Democrats say eligible voters being denied access is the greater concern. Studies have found cases of voter fraud to be minuscule.

The PRRI found that pessimism about the direction of the US is significantly higher today (74%) than it was at this time during the 2012 presidential race, when 57% of the public said the country was on the wrong track.

Indeed, there is hankering, at least on one side of the aisle, for a perceived golden age. The 1950s might have been the decade of Soviets launching Sputnik, of anti-communist witch-hunts and of persistent racial segregation, but 72% of Trump’s likely voters say American culture and way of life has changed for the worse since then. Some 70% of Clinton’s supporters say things have changed for the better.

Robert Jones, chief executive of PRRI, said: “This election has become a referendum on competing visions of America’s future. Donald Trump supporters are nostalgic for the 1950s, an era when white Christians in particular had more political and cultural power in the country, while Hillary Clinton supporters are leaning into – and even celebrating – the big cultural transformations the country has experienced over the last few decades.”

A majority (56%) of white Americans – including three in four (74%) of white evangelical Protestants – say American society has changed for the worse since the 1950s, while roughly six in 10 of black (62%) and Hispanic (57%) Americans say it has improved.

Critics have described Trump as an authoritarian figure who poses a fundamental threat to democracy. In a hint of what might have been possible if he had avoided numerous scandals and feuds during his campaign, the research found that 46% of people, including 55% of Republicans, believe the US needs a leader willing to break some rules in order to set things right.

There was a modest racial divide on the appeal of a strongman but a clear class divide. A majority (55%) of white working class Americans endorsed the idea whereas less than a third (29%) of those with college degrees agreed.

Jones told an audience at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington on Tuesday: “It fits very well with this portrait of Americans who see a very non-responsive political system to their situation. So when you feel parties aren’t attuned to you, government’s not attuned to you, nobody’s got your back, this kind of sentiment is, I think, what you get.

“If you get a strong leader who’s coming in to shake things up – someone who’s said, ‘I’m the guy. Only I can solve this problem’ – I think it’s appealing to this kind of sentiment. It’s people who feel like the system’s largely failed them. They don’t see any paths working within the current channels to change things.”

Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, added: “It gets to the importance of listening. When people feel excluded from the normal process of society, they will endorse extreme measures in order to ensure they get part of that society. There is a segment that we don’t often come into contact with except through data that very much feels that way and they find Trump’s authoritarian demeanour reassuring rather than frightening.”

Olsen argued it is incumbent on the election victors to listen to the views of people who think differently from them, comparing the situation with Brexit. “If the answer to our future is lean in without listening, we will eventually see a violent revolt that will shock everyone, in the way that [the leave vote] shocked Britain.”

People name terrorism as the most important issue and are closely divided on the benefits of free trade. Some 58% oppose building a wall along the Mexican border, while 41% are in favour.

Trump’s campaign was rocked earlier this month by the release of a 2005 video in which he boasted about sexually assaulting women. But the PRRI’s findings suggest its impact on the electorate might be less than supposed. Some 61% of people say an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life. This was a sharp increase from 44% in 2011.

Most strikingly, 72% of white evangelical Protestants agree, up from just 30% in 2011. Jones said: “White evangelicals have gone from the least likely group to agree with this statement to the most likely group to agree with this statement.”

Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow and research coordinator at the American Enterprise Institute, said allegiance trumps character for many voters. “We saw the same thing in the 1990s, when for decades, feminists had told us that the personal was the political, and all of a sudden during the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, everything flipped and the personal was no longer the political. I think party was more important than the issue.”

Seven in 10 white evangelical Protestants say they will vote for Trump, while Clinton has a healthy lead among Catholics. She is tied with Trump among white Catholics.

More than a third (35%) of Democrats cite Barack Obama as their favourite president, ahead of John F Kennedy (21%), Bill Clinton (20%) and Franklin D Roosevelt (15%). Nearly seven in 10 (69%) Republicans name Ronald Reagan as their favourite occupant of the White House, with George W Bush second on 12%.

Smallpox as a Weaspon

October 26, 2016

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

There is no effective defense against a global smallpox epidemic other than immediate vaccination. Vaccination is about 97% effective against the contraction of this disease. Unfortunately, much vaccine and the capacity to manufacture it, has greatly diminished and to restart a vaccine program would take so long that the disease would have a catastrophic global effect. It would be very easy for a hostile element to infect a single person without their knowledge and send them into the United States on legitimate business. From this single, unknowing carrier the disease would spread geometrically, not only throughout the United States, where the projected death rate is over 77,000,000 people, but also throughout the world.

There have been no realistic estimates of deaths in such crowded locations as Japan, China, India, and Egypt. The projected use of US military units to immediately execute  a national quarantine program would prove ineffectual because of the widespread travel habits of American citizens and the probability that many troops once considered as possessing immunity through vaccination do not possess this immunity due to the deterioration  of stocks of old vaccine.

When the public discovers that there is no immunity, no effective treatment and no visible support program, there will very likely be a catastrophic breakdown in domestic confidence followed by the onset of panic and descent into anarchy. The only coherent solution, and this is by no means guaranteed, is to implement an immediate and urgently accelerated vaccine program and to only hope that it will be in place when, and not if, this disease erupts anywhere in the world.

It is known, though never mentioned in the media, that smallpox virus was stolen from a Munich lab several years ago. Who stole it is not known, though Muslim extremists are strongly suspected. If, as major intelligence agencies believe, this theft was designed to attack Israel, the probability of global spread is horrifying. A highly classified German BND paper on this will be published as soon as it is translated.


















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