Monday 25th of January 2021

pelosi, the old bonkers woman, becomes mrs lash in an anti-rusky orgy...


Earlier, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez formally requested new sanctions be imposed on top Russian officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, over unconfirmed allegations that Russia offered reward money to Taliban-linked militants to assassinate US soldiers.

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that the United States must impose sanctions against Russia immediately over claims that Moscow offered "bounties" to Taliban-linked militants to encourage them to kill US troops.

"We must institute sanctions against Russia and we must do it right away," Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC.

Her comments echoed those of Senator Bob Menendez, in which he called for sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and other top officials in the country over allegations in media reports that Moscow offered reward money for the Taliban to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Responding to the possibility of new sanctions over the unconfirmed claims, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that events happening in the United States are "difficult to understand" and "hard to explain".

The attacks on Russia over the allegations continue, despite the fact that a recent Pentagon report did not find corroborating evidence of Moscow-sourced bounties, only noting that Russia “very likely continues to support US-Taliban reconciliation efforts in the hope that reconciliation will prevent a long-term US military presence”.

The US Department of Defence has repeatedly noted there is no information to confirm Friday's article in which the bounty allegations were sparked. US President Donald Trump dismissed claims that he was informed on unverified intelligence on the matter, insisting that "it didn't rise to that level" and suggesting that a "secret source" cited by the New York Times "probably does not even exist".

The allegations have been denied on all sides, with the Kremlin slamming the reports as "nonsense" and the Taliban refuting them while noting that its actions are not related to foreign intelligence agencies or governments.


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Meanwhile the "story" now goes back to the time of Obama's administration:


The explosive reports on "Russian bounties" offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill US soldiers are slowly turning into some kind of a saga, as now US media has offered new "details" on the claims.

As reported by NYT claims described as "intelligence" on Russia offering money to the Taliban for killing US soldiers circulate through the media headlines, the story continues to develop particulars - never mind that the very beginning of it has not been confirmed by a single official entity.

Ignoring the avalanche of scepticism and denial of the initial allegations from all sides, the US media sticks to the storytelling, moving on to reveal that the "Russian-Taliban bounties" appear to date back several years. 

The Daily Beast, citing alleged ex-spokesman for Taliban leader Mullah Omar, Manan Niazi, who spoke via encrypted phone call, claimed that the Taliban "have been paid by Russian intelligence for attacks on US forces in Afghanistan from 2014 up to the present".

“The Taliban have been paid by Russian intelligence for attacks on US forces—and on ISIS forces—in Afghanistan from 2014 up to the present", said Niazi, described as a person who used to be a "very senior figure in the Taliban", but now a dissident, claimed to The Beast.

The story could as well be turned into an exciting movie, as it offers a wide range of dramatic parts from Russia "paying US dollars to Taliban" for several years to spy-like intrigues of undercover Taliban people who pretended to be businessmen in order to "convert Russian funds to cash" in Afghanistan.

Sometimes, however, it also has narrative flaws, for example, the two people that Niazi claimed to be "undercover businessmen who went to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan", denied their involvement when asked by the DB.

“I don’t want to comment—I don’t even want to talk about Niazi,” said one, contacted by The Beast. “Niazi is our enemy and playing into the hands of the NDS.”

The report refers to the so-called Hawala system - an "informal way to transfer money" - based on "family relationships or regional affiliations".

This system is brought up in another thrilling story, this time again from The New York Times, which names another Russian bounty-related "businessman" - Rahmatullah Azizi - to be a middleman "between the GRU and militants linked to the Taliban who carried out the attacks".

Apparently striving for another Pulitzer for the story based on unconfirmed information, just like in the case of this prize-winning series of anti-Russia articles that were later debunked, the outlet conducted research impossible even for the National Intelligence and Defence Department of the US.

In a fresh "ground-breaking" article, Azizi is described as a "central piece of a puzzle rocking Washington", who "was among those who collected the cash in Russia". According to "Afghan officials" - who are, as usual, unnamed - "$100,000 per killed soldier were offered for American and coalition targets". The controversial enterprise apparently made Azizi extremely wealthy, as the report describes his luxurious possessions, from cars to four-story houses.


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the warmongering syndrome...


From Daniel Larison — senior editor at TAC, where he keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book ReviewDallas Morning NewsWorld Politics ReviewPolitico MagazineOrthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.



There Seems To Be No Cure For Warmongering Syndrome

H.R. McMaster’s case against retrenchment unwittingly demonstrates how sclerotic and bankrupt Washington has become.

Nothing alarms defenders of the U.S. foreign policy consensus more than the prospect of American retrenchment after the last thirty years of overexpansion and failed wars.

If there is one unquestioned assumption in conventional foreign policy thinking, it is that retrenchment is undesirable and dangerous and must never be allowed to happen. The hostility to the idea of retrenchment is so strong because it threatens to reduce U.S. ambitions and opportunities for entanglement in other parts of the world, and the defenders of the status quo thrive on both.

H.R. McMaster is the latest in a line of enforcers of Washington’s prevailing orthodoxy to denounce advocates of retrenchment and restraint. In a new essay in Foreign Affairs called “The Retrenchment Syndrome,” the former general and National Security Advisor to Donald Trump takes it upon himself to respond to Stephen Wertheim and others making the case for foreign policy restraint earlier this year. The essay is remarkably stale and replete with hawkish clichés, and his broadsides against those he calls “retrenchment hard-liners” never hit home. McMaster’s case against retrenchment unwittingly demonstrates how sclerotic and bankrupt the dominant view in Washington has become.

Perhaps the most tired argument in McMaster’s essay is the claim that the public’s frustration and dissatisfaction with interminable foreign wars is a “syndrome” that needs to be overcome. The “syndrome” rhetoric has always been a way for hawks to treat legitimate skepticism about unnecessary war as an aberration to be removed. The implication is that constant, desultory warfare in strategically irrelevant parts of the world is healthy and normal and only someone suffering from some sort of psychological or physical malady would disagree. This is as false as it is insulting.

The crux of McMaster’s argument is the false conceit that restraint and inaction are costlier than intervention and endless war: “Retrenchers ignore the fact that the risks and costs of inaction are sometimes higher than those of engagement.” This might be a more compelling objection if this were a fact rather than a hawkish talking point. When we consider the trillions of dollars wasted, thousands of Americans killed and tens of thousands of Americans wounded, plus the hundreds of thousands of other people killed in our recent wars, it is absurd to think that the “costs of inaction” could be higher than that. Consider how many people in Iraq alone might still be alive today had the U.S. not “acted” by invading their country and throwing it into chaos.

In fact, the risks and costs of inaction are always lower in that there aren’t any. Refusing to intervene in another country’s internal conflict poses no risks to the U.S., and it costs the U.S. nothing. By definition, inaction is without cost. Hawks need to make people think that inaction is so costly to make them swallow the high costs of military intervention, but it simply isn’t true. Coming from the same former National Security Advisor who entertained the idea of waging preventive war on North Korea, it is laughable.

He refers to “evidence that U.S. disengagement can make a bad situation worse,” but he doesn’t actually present any evidence. He mentions that Obama did not launch useless airstrikes against the Syrian government in 2013, and contrasts this with the useless airstrikes Trump ordered in 2017 and 2018, but otherwise he doesn’t acknowledge the U.S. was anything but “disengaged” from the conflict. On the contrary, the U.S. was one of many governments funneling weapons into Syria. The U.S. was meddling in Syria practically from the start of the war, and that meddling contributed to making the conflict longer and more intense. McMaster’s account isn’t just misleading. It is so wrong that it turns reality completely upside down.

McMaster faults advocates of retrenchment for their alleged national narcissism: “Their pleas for disengagement are profoundly narcissistic, as they perceive geopolitical actors only in relation to the United States. In their view, other actors—whether friends or foes—possess no aspirations and no agency, except in reaction to U.S. policies and actions.” This is so false that it is almost funny, because one of the main complaints that most advocates of retrenchment have against our current foreign policy is that it frequently ignores or dismisses the interests and agency of other states. We are the ones constantly imploring policymakers to imagine how other governments look at the world in order to understand why they act the way they do. McMaster has a history of faulting others for the very narcissism that he displays.

His attack on restraint serves as a follow-up to the article he wrote on China this spring. In both of these arguments, he abuses the concept of “strategic empathy” to justify the continued pursuit of hegemony. McMaster defines strategic empathy as “an understanding of the ideology, emotions, and aspirations that drive and constrain other actors,” but while he touts the importance of the concept he shows no sign of understanding it. As Jon Askonas says, “Never does McMaster try to get inside the heads of the actual leaders and decision-makers of the countries he is writing about.”

In his earlier article, he projects his own ambitious view of U.S. foreign policy onto the Chinese government. Ethan Paul noted this in his response to McMaster: “In other words, McMaster’s rendition of strategic empathy is, ironically, little more than a manifestation of his inability to escape his own strategic narcissism, to view the world from any other standpoint but his own.”

He does the same thing he accuses retrenchers of doing when he warns about the danger of retrenchment. He assumes that the continued U.S. pursuit of primacy is essential to the security of other regions, and he sees any reduction in U.S. involvement anywhere as an invitation to chaos and aggression by others. But it is because other states have their own agency and act in their own interests that we can be reasonably sure that U.S. retrenchment doesn’t have to lead to the destabilizing and destructive outcomes that McMaster describes. As in all things, the details and the execution would matter greatly, but McMaster doesn’t even want to entertain the possibility that the U.S. can lay down some of its excessive burdens.

McMaster makes a sweeping statement at one point that is hard to take seriously: “American behavior did not cause jihadi terrorism, Chinese economic aggression, Russian political subversion, or the hostility of Iran and North Korea. And U.S. disengagement would not attenuate those challenges or make them easier to overcome.” The role of U.S. policy in driving and exacerbating many of these “challenges” is debatable, and once again McMaster fails the test of strategic empathy when he refuses to understand how U.S. behavior is perceived by others. Even if McMaster were right about the first part, the conclusion does not follow at all.

In some regions, it may be wiser for the U.S. to have a much less prominent role so that our allies and partners can work out more constructive relations with their neighbors. At present the U.S. is an impediment to inter-Korean rapprochement, and that actually makes the peninsula less stable and secure. Given that more than eighteen years of the “war on terror” has greatly increased the number of jihadist terrorist organizations in the world, it is preposterous to think that continuing with more of the same will in any way “attenuate” this threat. A modus vivendi with both Iran and North Korea is possible if the U.S. would be willing to abandon some of its ambitious goals and scale back its military presence. To a great extent, the hostility of these governments is fueled and sustained by their perception of the threat that our military poses to them. In those cases, retrenchment could very well have a stabilizing effect. A smaller U.S. presence in Europe could reduce tensions with Russia and allow for improved relations between Russia and its immediate neighbors. The fact that McMaster rejects all of this out of hand with nothing more than trite slogans and fear-mongering is testament to the weakness of his position.

When Donald Trump was elected, the foreign policy establishment was on alert for any indication that Trump would preside over a period of retrenchment, but they need not have worried. Instead of ending wars and bringing troops home, as he still claims he will, Trump escalated every war he inherited, deployed more troops overseas, and took more aggressive military action than his predecessor in some cases. He picked McMaster to replace Michael Flynn, and then picked John Bolton to replace McMaster. The first three National Security Advisors differed in many ways, but they were all hawks and Trump was mostly simpatico with all of them.

Since he left the White House, McMaster has taken up at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), the notoriously hard-line, anti-Iranian think tank that has had considerable influence in shaping the administration’s failed Iran policy both during McMaster’s tenure and after. If McMaster had his way, U.S. foreign policy would be extremely aggressive in every region, and that is much more likely to produce disastrous conflicts that would sap our strength and bankrupt us.



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See also:

how trump is protecting the middle-east...

no intelligence...

Intelligence claiming Russia paid Taliban fighters to target US troops in Afghanistan lacked evidence, the top US general in the region has said. His account crushes yet another sensational media report based on anonymous sources.

General Kenneth McKenzie, who oversees military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia as the head of US Central Command, told reporters on Tuesday that unverified reports about Russia having placed “bounties” on American soldiers in Afghanistan have yet to be substantiated.

“The intel case wasn't proved to me – it wasn't proved enough that I'd take it to a court of law – and you know, that's often true in battlefield intelligence,” the senior commander said. According to McKenzie, “there wasn’t enough there” to consider the intelligence credible. 

He described the reports as “worrisome,” but stressed that there was no “causative link” to support the notion that an alleged bounty program had led to US deaths in Afghanistan.


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Pelosi, like Biden, is a warmonger, a Russia hater and a fake progressive... And Bolton is a dangerous idiot...

it was a set up to make sure the troops stayed...

The neocon dogma pushed onto liberals by never-Trump Republicans did its job. Partisan liberals are parroting the line of the CIA. The attempt to sabotage talks with the Taliban and prevent troop withdrawals from Afghanistan worked. "The Resistance" just helped push the continued occupation of Afghanistan to score cheap political points. The CIA thanks them for their “patriotism.”

On July 1st the House Armed Services Committee voted to hinder Donald Trump’s ability to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. House Democrats on the committee teamed up with Republicans, including Liz Cheney (daughter of war-architect Dick Cheney), to pass an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act “that prohibits Congress from spending money to pull US troops out of Afghanistan without first meeting a series of vague conditions that critics said appeared to prevent withdrawal.” Without any public debate, the US will now continue its occupation after the CIA claimed that Russia payed Taliban-linked groups to kill American soldiers. 

What’s the evidence? General John Nicholson speculated that Russia was arming the Taliban in 2017. In April 2019, three marines were killed in an attack that the Taliban claimed responsibility for. Unnamed intelligence officials believed that the Russians may have payed militants to attack US troops. In March 2020, the CIA concluded that the Russians were paying the bounties. They cited testimony from captured militants and pointed to a Seal Team Six raid of a Taliban outpost that resulted in the recovery of a half a million in cash. 

That’s it. That’s all the information that the American public is allowed to know. It’s hardly even mentioned that the NSA disagreed with the CIA’s assessment, stating “the information wasn’t verified and that intelligence officials didn’t agree on it.” Furthermore, the Department of Defense (DOD) claimed that “to date, DOD has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports.” Americans are taking the CIA’s word as gospel. 

How exactly did the CIA conclude that the half a million in cash came from Russia and not from Taliban opium-trafficking operations? The US military claimed that 60% of the Taliban’s funding comes from the opium trade. Is $500,000 in cash unheard of in opium sales? Who are these captured militants that claimed that Russia payed bounties for dead American soldiers? Were these militants tortured by the CIA? The CIA has the largest torture program in the world. Is the information reliable or was the information obtained under dubious circumstances? How do we even know these militants actually made these claims? 

The foundation of the assertions is also questionable. Americans are supposed to believe that the Taliban had to be prompted to attack American soldiers. The US has been occupying Afghanistan for nearly 20 years. The war in Afghanistan has resulted in over 2,400 dead American soldiers and over 38,500 dead civilians. US soldiers have been targeted by the Taliban and an assortment of other militant groups over the past 19 years. That’s the cost of occupation. If over 38,500 civilians have been killed, then there are a lot of angry Afghans that lost family members. Russia does not need to pay the Taliban or any militant group to attack US soldiers. This should not need explanation. The rush to accuse Trump of treason has made Americans lose their critical thinking skills.

More partisan liberals are upset about Trump’s inaction over unproven allegations of Russian bounties then they are by Trump’s record-setting bombing campaign in Afghanistan: “In 2019, according to figures released by Air Force Central Command, the United States ‘dropped more munitions on Afghanistan than in any other year over the past decade.’ More bombs were dropped in most months of 2019 than in any previous months since records were first made publicly available in 2009.” 

These bombings led to a massive surge in civilian casualties. In one case, at least 30 pine nut farmers were killed in a drone strike that resulted in zero militants being killed. Where is the outrage over this? How many more Afghans are going to die if Trump is pressed to be even more unhinged to prove he is not a traitor? The end game is more death and more occupation. 

This new scandal being pushed by the CIA also conveniently deflects from Trump's real scandals in Afghanistan. In June, Trump signed an executive order “imposing sanctions on several individuals associated with the International Criminal Court (ICC).” The ICC is investigating war crimes in Afghanistan. Their investigations include potential American war crimes. They may even involve Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “Pompeo may be personally at risk for wrongdoing that the Court could uncover of CIA activities when he was the director of the agency.” The Trump administration is claiming that because the US has not ratified the Rome Statute, that the ICC has no legal basis to prosecute American war crimes. This is incorrect. The Rome Statute allows the ICC to prosecute non-party countries if war crimes are committed by that party in a country that has ratified the Rome Statute. Afghanistan has ratified the Rome Statue. That puts the US on the hook for potential war crimes committed in that region.

Needless to say, never-Trump neocons have been silent about Trump’s targeting of the ICC. Likewise, partisan liberals have not gone after Trump on this front either. The reasons are obvious. The Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations are culpable in war crimes in Afghanistan as well. The nearly two-decades long war is a bipartisan project. Furthermore, self-professed left-wingers and liberals are taking their cues from Bush-era neocons like David Frum, Bill Kristol, and an assortment of pro-war goons from the Lincoln Project Political Action Committee. 

Russiagate broke partisan liberals’ brains. They are now calling for Trump to ramp up escalation in Afghanistan. They actually believe the absurd over-the-top ads put out by the Lincoln Project. Donald Trump ramped up the war in Afghanistan in 2017 when he did a 3,500-troop surge from 10,500 to 14,000 troops. Trump then increased bombing campaigns throughout his term and set records for bombings in 2019. Civilians casualties spiked. In June 2020, he targeted the ICC for having the audacity to look into US war crimes. 

None of this barbarism earned Trump the ire of prominent neoconservatives and liberals. Trump is being vilified for having talks with the Taliban and taking steps towards scaling down US troop presence. After four years of Russiagate hysteria, the only explanation for Trump’s actions is capitulation to Russia. Afghan civilians be damned, Trump needs to ramp up again in Afghanistan to stop Putin or he’s a traitor! The neocon dogma pushed onto liberals by never-Trump Republicans did its job. Partisan liberals are parroting the line of the CIA. The attempt to sabotage talks with the Taliban and prevent troop withdrawals from Afghanistan worked. 

"The Resistance" just helped push the continued occupation of Afghanistan to score cheap political points. The CIA thanks them for their “patriotism.”




By Ben Barbour
American geopolitical analyst


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Fake news wins...

war for all and nothing...



An op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times by Democrat Tammy Ducksworth demonstrates that when it comes to “patriotism,” liberals are as morally blind as conservatives.

Duckworth’s op-ed goes after conservative Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, who recently questioned Duckworth’s patriotism by suggesting that she didn’t love her country. Naturally, Duckworth, who lost her legs while serving as a soldier in the U.S. military in Iraq, took umbrage over Carlson’s attack and responded quite vociferously in her op-ed.

Much of the controversy involves meaningless exchanges that regularly take place between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. That’s mostly because both leftists and rights believe in the welfare-warfare state way of life.

But there is one aspect of Duckworth’s op-ed that deserves addressing because it so clearly shows that when it comes to war, the left-wing is as morally obtuse as the right wing.

Duckworth writes:

Even knowing how my tour in Iraq would turn out, even knowing that I’d lose both my legs in a battlefield just north of Baghdad in late 2004, I would do it all over again. Because if there’s anything that my ancestors’ service taught me, it’s the importance of protecting our founding values, including every American’s right to speak out.

So while I would put on my old uniform and go to war all over again to protect the right of Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump to say offensive things on TV and Twitter….


What Duckworth obviously still hasn’t come to the terms with is that her military service in Iraq had absolute nothing to do with protecting the right of freedom of speech of the American people. That’s because neither the Iraqi regime nor the Iraqi people were threatening the freedom of speech of the American people.

What Duckworth obviously still doesn’t recognize is that it was the U.S. government that was the aggressor in the Iraq War. She was part of a military force — the most powerful in history — that attacked and then occupied an impoverished Third World country that had never attacked and then occupied the United States or even threatened to do so. 

Yes, I know, U.S. officials called the operation “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” But that was just propaganda. The operation had nothing to do with bringing freedom to Iraq, any more than it did with protecting the right to Americans to exercise freedom of speech. The purpose of the operation was to replace Iraqi dictator (and former U.S. partner and ally) Saddam Hussein with another U.S. stooge.”

Moreover, let’s not forget that every U.S. soldier who served in Iraq, including Duckworth, was serving in an illegal war. It was illegal given that there was no congressional declaration of war against Iraq, as the Constitution requires. It was also illegal under international law because it violated the principle against wars of aggression established by the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.

Let’s also not forget about the countless Iraqis who were killed in the process. By being deprived of their lives, they were also deprived of their right of freedom of speech. 

Leftists and rightists can engage in their meaningless debates on “patriotism” all they want. Just leave out the part that holds that invading and occupying a country that has never attacked the United States protects the right of Americans to exercise freedom of speech because that just isn’t true


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an act of staggering justice...

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday has called for new legislation that would limit the powers of the United States president after Donald Trump commuted the jail sentence of his former adviser Roger Stone.

“President Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of top campaign advisor Roger Stone, who could directly implicate him in criminal misconduct, is an act of staggering corruption,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Pelosi called for new legislation that would prevent the US president from commuting the jail sentences of those who have been convicted for similar crimes.

“Congress will take action to prevent this type of brazen wrongdoing. The legislation is needed to ensure that no President can pardon or commute the sentence of an individual who is engaged in a cover-up campaign to shield that President from criminal prosecution,” Pelosi remarked.


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Stone, like Flynn, was entrapped by the Democrat machine and judged harshly. His demeanour was quite minuscule compared to say an Obama doing things under table to unseat Assad or destroy Libya... or even Biden publicly gloating about getting a major investigator sacked in Ukraine... These two should be in prison for war crimes, like Bush, Blair and Howard...

I was out of line...


From Rod Dreher:


It’s funny how news like Trump commuting Roger Stone’s sentence would normally be front-page, above-the-fold, banner headline stuff. But now, it’s just another day in the unraveling of the Trump administration.


You can think that the Russia investigation was a put-up job if you like — that’s fine. But there’s no denying that Roger Stone flagrantly lied to Congress about it, and threatened a witness — all to protect Donald Trump. And now Trump has demonstrated that if you lie to protect him, and get caught doing it, you won’t have to pay a price.


Roger Stone is a crook, and he won’t have to do a day in jail because Donald Trump believes those who serve him are above the law. Trump is fighting a steep uphill battle for re-election this fall, with GOP control of the Senate at risk. And he goes and does this. Bill Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, which was a disgusting act, but at least he had the sense to do that on the way out the door, after the 2000 election, when it couldn’t hurt the party.


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Thank you Rod Dreher for this redress. I was out of line (see my comment above). For a moment I though people who killed people were murderers (see Obama and Biden and the others) even for a just fake-cause, and because Stone lied to Congress in regard to a clown-inquiry about a non-existent Russian-Trump collusion, he should be in prison while those who set up this fake Russian-inquisition, the biggest crooks in this affair should be rewarded with winning the loot. And the lovely hypocrisy keeps flying at us, while, despite finding it disgusting, Rod applauds the good sense of Clinton to pardon Marc Rich after the elections... Is Rod for real?


Here, The Donald could not care less about being reelected or not, and he will carry on as usual with his chaotic self-destruction, which was the grand tactic that got him there in the first place. And yes, between now and November, there will be a lot more crap flying. Trump may be happy to come back at the 2024 elections?... 


The funny thing will be that the woke would go to sleep again, racism would carry on as usual, but calmly, under a soporific Biden that wont remember which day it is... Meanwhile the Deep State will go to war against an "enemy" just to spend a few rounds of ammos...


Yep, return to normality...

448 pages of fake investigation...

Former special counsel Robert Mueller has defended his investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.


Key points:
  • Mr Trump commuted Stone's sentence on Friday, just days before he was due to report to prison
  • Mr Trump claimed Stone "was targeted by an illegal witch hunt"
  • Mr Mueller said he felt compelled to respond to claims that Stone was "a victim"


In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Mr Mueller said his probe was of "paramount importance" and that Donald Trump ally Roger Stone "remains a convicted felon, and rightly so" despite the President's decision to commute his prison sentence.

The piece, published on Saturday, marked Mr Mueller's first public statement on his investigation since his congressional appearance last July.

It represented his firmest defence of the two-year probe, the results of which have come under attack and even been partially undone by the Trump administration, including in the President's extraordinary move on Friday evening to commute the sentence of Stone just days before he was due to report to prison.

Mr Mueller said that though he had intended for his 448-page report on the investigation to speak for itself, he felt compelled to "respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office".

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Mueller should hang his head in shame for his 448 pages of fake investigation...

better than nixon...

WASHINGTON — President Trump has said he learned lessons from President Richard M. Nixon’s fall from grace, but in using the power of his office to keep his friend and adviser Roger J. Stone Jr. out of prison he has now crossed a line that even Mr. Nixon in the depths of Watergate dared not cross.

For months, senior advisers warned Mr. Trump that it would be politically self-destructive if not ethically inappropriate to grant clemency to Mr. Stone, who was convicted of lying to protect the president. Even Attorney General William P. Barr, who had already overruled career prosecutors to reduce Mr. Stone’s sentence, argued against commutation in recent weeks, officials said.

But in casting aside their counsel on Friday, Mr. Trump indulged his own sense of grievance over precedent to reward an ally who kept silent. Once again, he challenged convention by intervening in the justice system undermining investigators looking into him and his associates, just days after the Supreme Court ruled that he went too far in claiming “absolute immunity” in two other inquiries.

Democrats condemned the commutation of Mr. Stone’s 40-month prison term and vowed to investigate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling the move an act of “staggering corruption,” said she would pursue legislation to prevent the president from using his power to protect those convicted of a cover-up on his own behalf, although that would face serious constitutional hurdles and never be signed into law by Mr. Trump.


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Trump can do what he likes. His would guess his days could be numbered whether Stone is in or out of prison. TRUMP COULD NOT CARE LESS ABOUT WHAT WE THINK IS FAIR OR NOT.  The Mueller inquiry was a farce that proved nothing apart from a bit of crookery which is common place in all political parties. Obama, la Madam Clinton and Biden should be in the same prison as Bush, Blair and Howard, for having done far far FAR FAR MORE dirty stuff that killed people — than a few piddly lies by Stone, who really enjoyed lying to a Congress that would hang Jesus Christ once more for being a commie...



torpedo against withdrawal from afghanistan...


Bipartisan torpedo against withdrawal from Afghanistan

by Manlio Dinucci

The war in Afghanistan was officially launched to avenge the attacks of September 11, 2001. However, it had been prepared beforehand. For two decades, we have been explaining in these columns that it is the first in a long series of wars aimed at destroying all state structures in the broader Middle East (Rumsfeld/Cebrowski strategy) in order to control the exploitation of natural resources. The war, which was supposed to last two weeks, has been going on for 19 years. It is planned to last as long as possible. Today, personalities linked to the Pentagon are sabotaging President Trump’s partial withdrawal.

Hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, more than 2,400 US soldiers killed (plus an unspecified number of wounded), about 1,000 billion dollars spent: this is the sum total of 19 years of US war in Afghanistan, plus the cost to NATO allies and others who have stood by the US in the war. Balance sheet of bankruptcy for the USA including under the political-military profile: most of the territory is today controlled by the Taliban or disputed between them and the government forces supported by NATO.

Against this background, after long negotiations, the Trump administration last February concluded an agreement with the Taliban which, in exchange for a series of guarantees, provided for a reduction in the number of US troops in Afghanistan from 8 600 to 4 500. This does not mean the end of the US military intervention in Afghanistan, which continues with special forces, drones and bombers. The agreement, however, would pave the way for a de-escalation of the armed conflict. But a few months after it was signed, it was broken: not by the Afghan Taliban but by the US Democrats. The Democrats passed an amendment to the Authorization Act in Congress that allocates $740.5 billion to the Pentagon’s budget in fiscal year 2021.

The amendment, approved on July 2nd by the Armed Services Committee by a large majority with Democrat votes, stipulates to "limit the use of funds to reduce the number of armed forces deployed in Afghanistan". It prohibits the Pentagon from spending the funds in its possession on any activity that reduces the number of US soldiers in Afghanistan below 8 000: the agreement, which involves reducing the number of US troops in Afghanistan, is thus effectively blocked. It is significant that the amendment was introduced not only by Democrat Jason Crow but also by Republican Liz Cheney, who is endorsing it in perfect bipartisan style [1] Liz is the daughter of Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 in the George W. Bush administration, the one that decided the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan (officially to hunt down Osama Bin Laden [2]).

The amendment explicitly condemns the agreement, arguing that it undermines ’US national security interests’, ’does not represent a realistic diplomatic solution’ and ’does not provide protection for vulnerable populations’. In order to be allowed to reduce its own troops in Afghanistan, the Pentagon will have to certify that this "will not compromise the U.S. counterterrorism mission". It is no coincidence that the New York Times published an article [3] which, on the basis of information provided (without any evidence) by US intelligence agents, accuses "a Russian military intelligence unit of offering Taliban militants a reward for killing Coalition soldiers in Afghanistan, targeting mainly Americans". The news was broadcast by the main US media without any fake news hunters questioning its veracity.

A week later, Congress passed the amendment that prevents the reduction of US troops in Afghanistan. This confirms what the real purpose of the US/NATO military intervention in Afghanistan is: the control of this strategically important area. Afghanistan is at the crossroads of the Middle East, Central, South and East Asia. In this area (in the Gulf and the Caspian Sea) there are large oil reserves. There are also Russia and China, whose strength is growing and influencing the global base. As the Pentagon warned in a report of September 30, 2001 [4], a week before the US invasion of Afghanistan, "the possibility exists that a rival with a formidable resource base may emerge in Asia".

A possibility that is now materializing. US "national security interests" dictate that we must remain in Afghanistan, whatever the cost.

Manlio Dinucci


Roger Lagassé


Il Manifesto (Italy)


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Story Transcript


This is a rush transcript and may contain errors. It will be updated.

Mark Steiner: Welcome to The Real News, I’m Mark Steiner. Good to have you all with us. Shahid Buttar is running for Congress as a Democrat in California’s 12th congressional district. Guess who has that seat now? Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. California has open primaries and the top two contenders face off in the general election. And this is the first time in that process that Pelosi has to face another Democrat in the general election. Shahid Buttar is no ordinary Democrat. He’s a Democratic Socialist and activist, an attorney who helped build the American Constitutional Society, which is a progressive network challenging the conservative takeover of our courts, and works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where he has fought for digital rights and against mass surveillance. So, Shahid, welcome to The Real News. It is a pleasure to have you with us.

Shahid Buttar: Thanks so much for having me, Mark. It’s great to be with you.

Mark Steiner: So, let’s just start with where we are for this moment, in a couple of ways. First with you’re fighting for a seat in Congress against one of the most powerful politicians in our country and in the midst of COVID, so talk a bit about how you do that. Both things, both Nancy Pelosi and COVID, all in this election.

Shahid Buttar: Well, frankly, running against the speaker is easier than it sounds, if only because she does such an effective job of advancing Republican interests. So, she does a great deal of campaigning on my behalf by doing as much as she does to support and enable the Trump administration while mouthing supposedly resistance to it. The pandemic creates challenges as well as opportunities, so just to explore all that.

On the one hand, it forces us off the doors. The backbone of our voter outreach program before the pandemic hit was reaching out to voters at their residences, and we can’t do that now without putting people at risk. We can’t do campaign events. We can’t do rallies, happy hours, any of the things that we’d been doing to pull our supporters together, for the moment at least are off the table. So, our response is to that have been, they’ve gone in a couple of different directions.

One, we’ve pivoted to the phones. We have a very active phone banking operation. It includes hundreds of people around the country. We’ve trained almost a thousand volunteers and we host online trainings every other day. Anybody can join us from anywhere in the country at We also recently, with the aid of some supporters, we have a sound truck now, which enables us to do outdoor rallies in spaces that don’t put people at risk, and we just started that last weekend. We’ll be doing that again this weekend and indefinitely through the election. Very excited about that. It’s a particular fusion of sort of my artist and organizing background in the service of the campaign, so I’m excited about that sort of methodological cultural fusion, if you will.

Another thing that the pandemic has done that’s, frankly, opportune is expose the failure of our predatory for profit healthcare system. It’s basically a pharmaceutical pricing racket with government support, and it was untenable before the pandemic. It is senseless in the wake of the pandemic. And at the same time the pandemic’s complicated the method of the campaign, it’s, frankly, made the case and the rationale for our campaign even sharper by exposing all the more the failures of the incumbent.

Mark Steiner: Let me explore one thing you said here, when you said that Nancy Pelosi supports and backs up a lot of moves that around Trump. Be specific. What are you talking about?

Shahid Buttar: The very same day that the House announced an overdue and limited impeachment process, Nancy Pelosi inked the deal, Trump’s corporate trade agreement, that undermined labor and environmental standards around the world. When Trump built concentration camps at our borders, that took Nancy Pelosi signing the $4.6 billion budget request. When Trump requested $740 billion for the Defense Department just last week, it took Nancy Pelosi’s House to rubber stamp that request. The very first thing she did as a speaker of the House, without Trump even prompting her, was to basically give away the accounting rules of the House for which Democrats had fought for 20 years, conceding to a Republican demand, this is the PAYGO rules, that basically structurally disadvantaged and discriminate against social spending and discriminate in favor of military industrial fraud, waste and abuse.

I could go on. Nancy Pelosi extended Trump’s unconstitutional surveillance powers. Nancy Pelosi, after showing up a year late for impeachment, affirmatively limited it to ensure that the president would never answer for his worst crimes. She is the reason he’s still in office because she showed up for impeachment, like a boxer throwing a fight, and I’m not the only one to say it. Jerry Nadler’s the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and he has said in public that the reason Trump didn’t face an emoluments charge was because Pelosi took it off the table [crosstalk 00:04:38].

Mark Steiner: And why do you think that is?

Shahid Buttar: Well, probably because violations of the emoluments clause, that’s a constitutional prohibition on self enrichment at public expense, and the sad reality, frankly, is that the public enrichment, pardon me, the self enrichment at public expense is hardly a partisan problem. That is something, unfortunately, in which both corporate parties are up to their necks. So, I think basically, Pelosi lives in a glass house and couldn’t cast that stone.

But the unfortunate implication of that is that we, the people, of the United States are paying a profound price, a constitutional cost, for the corporate corruption of the Democratic party. The corruption might not be illegal, but it’s a problem in any case and whether it’s Trump’s corruption, whether it’s Biden’s corruption, whether it’s Pelosi’s corruption, whether it’s the GOP’s corruption or the Democrats’ corruption, we, the people of the United States need an actual democracy. That’s the ultimate principle that’s animating and driving our campaign to liberate San Francisco’s voice after having been co-opted for the last 20 years by Wall Street.

Mark Steiner: Let me come into another point here about what we face right now in this country. We’re facing, at a number of levels, some of the most serious crises in the history of the country. The murder of George Floyd and all the others, massive demonstrations, and the depth of racism is kind of really being exposed for all Americans to see. It’s changing minds and hearts. We saw Nancy Pelosi taking a knee in kente cloth. But tell me what you think we’re missing about her leadership at this moment and what would be different about how you think Congress should respond where we are at this moment.

Shahid Buttar: Thank you so much for asking that question, because she gets by based on these acts of theater, attempting to co-op social movements that she refuses to stand in solidarity with. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which just passed the House, includes a number of provisions that would advance civil rights, which I have proposed for years and which the movement for Black lives has supported for even longer. I’m glad to see Nancy Pelosi finally show up for, for instance, and for ending qualified immunity or creating a national registry of violent police, tracking the data that we need to establish how bad is profiling as an empirical matter, in any given jurisdiction. All of that is included in the Justice in Policing Act, all of that has been proposed for years and fallen on the deaf ears of corporate Democrats who have stood in the way until finally getting with the program.

But it’s actually much worse than that, because the Justice in Policing Act falls vastly short of our community’s demands to defund police. When we say defund police, what we are saying is we have seen too many people gunned down arbitrarily by paid agents of the state who murdered with impunity, and we don’t need commissions, we don’t need body cameras. What we need are social workers. That’s what defund the police means. It means that we are over it, and we are done with the era of paramilitary, predatory policing, militarily occupying our cities.

I could chase a rabbit here and unpack the roots of paramilitary policing, NCIA corruption and Gary Webb’s revelations of the CIA’s international human rights abusing cartels. Instead of holding anyone at the agency accountable for its documented role in equipping and training narcotraffickers, who’ve gunned down us police officers in the 1990s, instead of holding the agency accountable, we sent two and a half million Black and Brown people into prison where they are legally enslaved today.

That’s another piece that I should put on the table. We are reckoning at the moment, you’re right, with our nation’s unfortunate, frankly, terrible history of institutional racism and ongoing history of institutional racism that, frankly, is worse than even many people think. A lot of people are observing the contemporary movement as one responding to arbitrary police violence that kills unarmed innocent people at the rate of roughly two every three days. It’s worse than that. We embrace in the United States, currently, a system of industrial scale slavery, worse, at least imprisoning and enslaving more people today, than at the height of the antebellum South. And when we envision ourselves as supposedly in some post-racial society, we have to grapple with the fact that the vestiges of manufacturing capacity in the United States are slave labor. That’s why we have mass incarceration. It’s very lucrative for corporate interests. It’s a bipartisan problem. Nancy Pelosi can put on all the kente cloth she wants, but as long as she is an architect of mass incarceration and an architect of paramilitary police, I don’t buy the theater for a second and her constituents don’t either.

Mark Steiner: We’ve had this history where you have people like progressive leaders, like Grijalba who have introduced the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act in 2015, but clearly that it has gone nowhere. This could be a time where that could be reinvigorated by Congress, given the moment that we’re facing. We can touch on that.

And also, I mean, COVID also raises issues around housing and we’re facing these huge evictions across the country. I’ve heard you and watch you speak before about the Faircloth Amendment and housing, and how to develop a model of social housing that really may be another discussion to have now because we’re in the midst of COVID. Let’s talk a bit about that and your ideas around this whole sort of social housing and getting rid of the Faircloth Amendment.

Shahid Buttar: Maybe I’ll start with Grijalba if I can, and then just-

Mark Steiner: Go right on. Go ahead.

Shahid Buttar: I appreciate the question in both dimensions. Raul Grijalba is one of the leading voices on immigrant rights in Congress. And, in addition to his proposal to demilitarize police, I’m particularly reminded of a moment, frankly, that sealed my resolve to run for Congress and replace Nancy Pelosi. This is February, 2018. Might’ve been the early March, and she did this stunt. She read for eight hours from the House floor, and it’s a feat of remarkable endurance for a woman for her age. She read letters from DREAM Act students while selling us out in a budget negotiation, and Raul Grijalba was one of the few voices in Congress that was willing to call her out for it. It’s a consistent pattern with Pelosi of mouthing support for social movements that she undermines in policy and practice. That’s true from racial justice to immigrant rights, peace and justice, human rights … I could go on in any number of directions.

Let’s talk about housing. This is as illustrative in an area as any other. Before the pandemic hit, the untenable cost of housing here in San Francisco was, frankly, the principal local issue, and it has become an increasingly pressing local issue in cities across the United States. I wonder how much different it might be if the leader of the Democratic party for the last generation were not a wealthy commercial landlord, inclined to protect her own class and business interests, in a way not unlike our president. They are both wealthy commercial landlords and that in itself, I think, is revealing of an oligarchy that most Americans are uncomfortable grappling with. The fact that our president and the leader of the supposed opposition party are cut very much from the same cloth, children of powerful east coast real estate families born with silver spoons in their mouths, who are building political dynasties. That’s the head of both the Democratic and the Republican party. Neither of those things are actually democratic. That’s, that’s a quintessential reflection of oligarchy.

And just to think about setting that aside to really embrace housing questions, there’s two dimensions of it. One is the short term crisis that the COVID pandemic has revealed. And then, the second I heard you alluding to, with respect to the Faircloth Amendment, is the longer term project to usher in a new era of social housing to deal with the preceding crisis. Let’s start with the short term first.

There is, at the first of every month, a mounting eviction crisis unfolding across the country. It gets worse every month, precisely because Congress has done nothing to keep people in their homes. We need rent and mortgage relief. There was a bill proposed by representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota that would do exactly that. It would cancel rents and mortgages, and it would provide support from the government for small landlords to ensure that banks and corporate landlords bear the cost of housing during the economic shutdown forced by the pandemic. It is a no brainer. If we force millions of Americans into the street in the middle of an economic collapse, that just ensures that the recession will turn into a depression and it will be the worst in our country’s history.

Instead of doing that, what Congress, with Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, prioritized were tax breaks of $1.6 million each for 43,000 millionaires who got that giveaway in the early coronavirus stimulus packages. It does seem to me entirely too revealing, and completely disqualifying, that, in the middle of an economic collapse and a pandemic, before getting to rent and mortgage relief, corporate Democrats were handing out tax breaks for millionaires. I don’t see why anybody should be okay with that, not anyone who calls themselves a Democrat. That’s a Republican policy, that’s a shock doctrine policy. That’s the kind of thing I expect from Wall Street, from the GOP, from the Chicago school of economics, and we have the Democrats led by a voice that is leveraging social crisis to actively redistribute wealth up to the 0.1%.

We have a grave problem in this country and it looks like the cooptation of the supposedly opposition party by capital. Ultimately, my run to replace Nancy Pelosi in the House is an effort to liberate the Democratic party from it’s seizure by Wall Street and capital. We need a real democracy in this country, and it has to start with the party that calls itself democratic.

Mark Steiner: So, in the time we have left, there’s a couple things I really try to cover here as briefly as possible. There’s two questions here I think are important to wrestle with. A is your work for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the question of police surveillance. This can be really complex, I’m going to try to figure out how we can do this in a short time, but the connections between why you have maintained that police cameras cannot solve the issue we’re facing, in terms of keeping police in check. But also, the larger question of, as you’ve talked about, capitalist digital surveillance and what’s happening in our country, both in terms of Facebook, the battles in that industry which clearly needs to have some antitrust investigations because it’s the new antitrust. It’s the 21st century, but started in the 19th century. So, connect those things for us and talk about your work there before we get to our final question.

Shahid Buttar: My work at the Electronic Frontier Foundation was about trying to ensure digital civil liberties, both in the face of corporate surveillance and co-optation and content moderation and suppressing speech and all the things that corporations do online, and particularly for me, government surveillance. I remember the COINTELPRO era. I was born in ’74, so at the tail end of the official narrative and the conventional wisdom is that it ended in ’76, though it never, frankly, ended.

I understand what surveillance means, and it’s not just an offense of privacy. This is a really important point. Surveillance kills democracy. That’s why I fought it for 10 years because I, whether at the Electronic Frontier Foundation or in replacing Pelosi, the central thread that animates my work, what I am here to do, is defend democracy in America.

I’m an immigrant here. I don’t take it lightly. I take it very, very seriously and the need to protect it and guard it. I understand how fragile it is. I think many Americans don’t understand how fragile it is. I have feared fascism in the United States for 20 years. The Bush versus Gore decision, in my mind, uncorked the bottle and it’s just been unfolding ever since, in ways that I think most people don’t understand.

Like the cooptation of the Supreme court, and I have a plan to fix that. Like the emergence of the mass surveillance regime, let’s get into that.

In addition to defending democracy, the strategy that I pioneered both at EFF and, frankly, before it, the reason the organization hired me, was that in 2010, I developed a strategy of fighting the surveillance state hydra by plucking off at scales one at a time at the local level, through city councils passing enforceable restrictions to limit their police departments’ activities, acquisition of surveillance equipment, deployment of surveillance equipment, and then the length of time for which, for instance, that they could hold the data, any number of other parameters. The high watermark of that effort is the Providence Community Police Relations Act that was passed in 2017. It’s an intersectional civil rights law. It is the leading local civil rights law in the country, and I’m proud to have authored many components of it.

When we look beyond government surveillance, particularly at corporate actors, the thing I’d want to focus on here is that the Silicon Valley tech giants, people think of them particularly through the lens of the corporate advertising machine and the corporate surveillance that that implies. There are whole other problems here. One of them is that all of the Silicon Valley big tech giants are also defense contractors, and there is, frankly, nothing I have a greater antipathy for than weapons dealers. Google might pretend not to be a weapons dealer, but the line between Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Google, and Facebook gets thinner and thinner every day, and I aim to be very sharply critical of every defense contract that I can get my hands on. I want to shut down the sordid enterprise of the military industrial complex starving our social needs.

I’m not the first person to fear it. The architect of that system told us it would happen, he said it on national television. Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander of the victorious forces of the second world war told us that his signature creation would threaten democracy in America and two generations of policymakers buried their heads in the sand and ducked directly into the punch that he warned us was coming. And I, as an immigrant, am coming to this apparatus, to Congress, recognizing that my predecessors had let slip through their fingers, $21 trillion that they can no longer account for while they tell us that we don’t have money and resources for doctors and medicine. I don’t buy that for a second either.

The tech giants in Silicon Valley need to be pulled off the government trough of the defense department to the same extent that the companies that are manufacturing bombs and missiles and aircraft carriers and fighter jets that we don’t need. We have real national security threats in our country. They include a pandemic, they include climate catastrophe. They include the need to ensure that an election happens by mail in November. You can’t fight any of those things with a fighter plane or an aircraft carrier or a nuclear missile. Every penny that we hurl at the defense department is money that we are taking out of the mouths of American people who need support.

Mark Steiner: So, let me conclude with this. There’s a quote that I found in The Daily Northwestern, and you were quoted in that magazine saying that Biden put millions of Americans in prison and Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court and sent tens of thousands of us soldiers into war zones that left hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people dead and went on to say, “No, I’m not going to vote for that. I’m sorry.” So, let’s talk about that for a minute.

There are a lot of people who are watching us at this moment that go, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, Shahid. I mean, we’re facing a white nationalist mob, an overtly racist mob of people, to take over this country and right-wing elite ruling class ideologues that are transforming the course and transforming the country. So, isn’t better, don’t we have to stop that before we can begin to stop the other? Because if they take over, we’re all screwed.”

Shahid Buttar: Absolutely. That’s exactly why I can’t get behind Biden. People might remember, I don’t see eye to eye with Kamala Harris about much, but people might remember her very accurate statement early in the presidential debates that Joe Biden was an active segregationist. He is part of every one of these problems. He’s the closest thing that the Democratic party has to Donald Trump. He is the most conservative, with the exception of Michael Bloomberg who was an unapologetic Republican, he was the most conservative of the entire field of Democratic nominees.

And I’ll just put it this way, there was a nominee who very clearly has the support to be the president of the United States. The Democratic party didn’t want him. The Democratic party would rather lose to Trump than win with Bernie, and carrying Biden’s water is not my problem and it’s not my job. I’m not here to defend the interests of a corporate corrupt Democratic party. I’m here to defend the interests of we, the people of the United States and Joe Biden has been an architect of every one of the racist, militarist, capitalist, abusive systems that we are trying to shrug off the yoke of.

I live in a safe blue state, so I intend to vote for a presidential nominee who I could actually support. With respect to people in battleground states, I don’t recommend that they follow my lead. I recognize the point that Trump is an existential threat to the Republic. Frankly, so is Biden. Whoever wins this presidential election, I’m going to spend my first term in Congress fighting them from the left. As, frankly, I have fought every one of the presidential administration since 2000 from the left. I spent most of the Obama administration in DC fighting his deportation machine, trying to stop drone strikes, and the crackdown on the press as spies. I fought for the Constitution under Democratic presidents, too. Democrats are barely better than Republicans here.

In fact, that’s why I’m running to replace Pelosi. Because if electing Democrats were enough, I could go back to my life. I liked my life before, working at EFF, deejaying on the weekends. That was great fun, I enjoyed it. I would love to go back to that life, but seeing Democrats pave the roads of fascism, I can’t just live my life at a time like this. None of us can. It’s why so many of us are being forced into the street [inaudible 00:22:13] the principles that I think many of us took for granted are withering, to the extent they remained vestigial at all. This is a time when it’s absolutely critical, crucial that we all lean in to reclaim our democracy, to defend not only our rights and not only our democracy for ourselves, but particularly to guard the future from the predation of a failed predatory past.

Mark Steiner: Is Nancy Pelosi going to debate you?

Shahid Buttar: I certainly hope so. She hasn’t debated anyone in 33 years. Just to be clear that I do think it’s disqualifying when a public official refuses to defend their record for an entire generation. I think it’s disturbing about what it implies about our democracy. I don’t think it’s her failure, I think it’s our failure, and it’s particularly a failure of the fourth branch. The news media have a constitutional role. The reason the freedom of the press is embedded in the first amendment is that journalism has a constitutional significance, and I hope that any number of news outlets might play that function.

If performing their constitutional function were not enough, I would hope that the business interest of private media sources, there’s a vast audience waiting for this debate around the country, very eager to have it, and I’m eager to see CNN or MSNBC or the San Francisco Chronicle invite this debate. Radio stations have invited the debate. She has refused to show up for it. I don’t think that she can get away with ducking debates for much longer. I am the first Democrat to ever reach a November election against her, and if that’s not enough to get her to show up for work, I’ll just take the seat and I’ll look forward to celebrating her legacy as her replacement [crosstalk 00:23:46].

Mark Steiner: Shahid Buttar, it’s been a pleasure talking with you, and if there is a debate, I’m going to be in the front row, if there is a row, to watch that happen. Thank you so much for your principled stances and thank so much for joining us today on The Real News. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you.

Shahid Buttar: Thanks for having me on, Mark.

Mark Steiner: Thank you. And I’m Mark Steiner here for The Real News Network. Thank you all for joining us. Please let us know what you think, and please stay safe. Take care.


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Caitlin Johnstone: Democrats ignore US military’s refutation of ‘Russian bounties’ story

15 Sep, 2020 20:01

By Caitlin Johnstone, an independent journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Her website is here and you can follow her on Twitter @caitoz

The US military has been unable to find any evidence that Russia paid bounties on US troops to Taliban militants, confirming what was obvious to anyone who hasn’t had their brain stem hijacked by mass media-induced Russophobia.

NBC News reports the following:

Two months after top Pentagon officials vowed to get to the bottom of whether the Russian government bribed the Taliban to kill American service members, the commander of troops in the region says a detailed review of all available intelligence has not been able to corroborate the existence of such a program.
“It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, told NBC News. McKenzie oversees U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. continues to hunt for new information on the matter, he said.
“We continue to look for that evidence,” the general said. “I just haven’t seen it yet. But … it’s not a closed issue.”

McKenzie’s comments, reflecting a consensus view among military leaders, underscores the lack of certainty around a narrative that has been accepted as fact by Democrats and other Trump critics, including presidential nominee Joe Biden, who has cited Russian bounties in attacks on President Donald Trump.

Like many other critical voices, I said from the beginning that there was no reason to believe the Russian bounties narrative and that the mass publication of baseless and nonsensical claims circulated anonymously by US intelligence operatives constitutes journalistic malpractice. There is no excuse for a reporter to ever present anonymous CIA press releases under the guise of news, especially when they make no sense; the US-centralized coalition in Afghanistan is a hostile occupying force and there is an essentially limitless number of people there who require no financial incentive to attack them.

But this is exactly what happened. Once the news media had reported the unsubstantiated rumor given to them by anonymous spies, spinmeisters like Rachel Maddow began presenting it as an objective fact that had been fully authenticated, and from there the entire Democratic political/media class began months of loudly babbling about how suspicious it is that the US president hadn’t confronted Vladimir Putin and sanctioned Russia in response to this verified fact.

And it was never anything of the sort. It was fake. But now aggressions have been ramped up against Russia, Trump has been painted as a Putin puppet who hates the troops, Senate Democrats have introduced a bill mandating sanctions on any Russians involved in this imaginary conspiracy, and legislation has been passed making it harder for Trump to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

The story did its job, and now that it’s proven false the same people who promoted it are uniformly ignoring the new evidence which clearly shows it to have been bogus.

This story has been so ubiquitously promoted within the establishment liberal echo chamber that it’s impossible to list all the dishonest portrayals it’s been given since June, but to pick just a few recent examples:

  • Here’s a recent viral interview by Atlantic's Anne Applebaum with former FBI agent Peter Strzok in which he falsely cites Trump’s refusal to strike back at Russia over the Taliban bounties as evidence that the president is “compromised” toward the Kremlin.
  • Here’s Biden falsely attacking Trump for not confronting Putin about the bounties story.
  • Here’s sitting US Senator Richard Blumenthal falsely claiming “Intelligence powerfully shows that the Kremlin offered the Taliban bounties for killing Americans in Afghanistan.”
  • Here’s sitting US Senator Tammy Duckworth falsely saying “Donald Trump has gone 80 days without condemning Putin for putting reported bounties on our troops.”
  • Here’s sitting US Congressman Ted Lieu falsely claiming “Putin paid money to the Taliban to kill US troops.”
  • Here’s MSNBC star Joy Reid falsely asking why the president won’t “condemn Russia for putting bounties on our troops.”
  • Here’s renowned Harvard professor Laurence Tribe falsely claiming that Putin “offered bounties on American troops killed in Afghanistan.”

Again, that’s just a very few very recent examples. Now that their claims have proven false, how many of these highly influential people do you think are using their massive platforms to spread awareness of this fact? Take a wild guess.

If you said zero, you are correct. In fact Democratic Party influencers are even continuing to promote the debunked Russian bounties story many hours after the report debunking it became available on mainstream platforms. Andrew Bates, Director of Rapid Response for the Biden campaign, just tweeted that “Trump is giving Russia a pass for putting bounties on the heads of American service members.”

Again, this is hours after it’s been public knowledge that this is a completely false thing to assert.

And we can absolutely expect this to continue. We can absolutely expect establishment Democrats to continue bleating about Russian bounties in Afghanistan for as long as it is politically convenient to do so. They never let the lack of evidence for their position get in the way before, and they won’t let it get in the way now. The arguments that they make for their power-serving position are not designed to reflect truth or reality, they are designed to serve power. That’s exactly what echo chambers are for.

An email published by WikiLeaks in 2016 was sent by Democratic Party insider John Podesta to billionaires George Soros, Peter Lewis, John Sperling, and Herb and Marion Sandler in 2007 with a detailed and structured overview of material the group had covered during a meeting they’d had in September (to read the email click ‘Attachments’ and then ‘2008 Combined Fundraising, Message and Mobilization Plan’). Among the things these powerful manipulators discussed was the creation of a “robust echo chamber” to be used in the party’s interests.

On page two of the attachment:

“Control the political discourse. So much effort over the past few years has been focused on better coordinating, strengthening, and developing progressive institutions and leaders. Now that this enhanced infrastructure is in place — grassroots organizing; multi-issue advocacy groups; think tanks; youth outreach; faith communities; micro-targeting outfits; the netroots and blogosphere — we need to better utilize these networks to drive the content of politics through a strong “echo chamber” and message delivery system.”

And on page four:

“Create a robust echo chamber with progressive messaging that spans from the opposition campaigns to outside groups, academic experts, and bloggers.”

Usually when you see the names Podesta and Soros presented together it just means you stumbled into a bad corner of the internet pervaded by sloppy thinking and an irrational trust in anonymous 8chan posts, but in this WikiLeaks email we actually get a useful glimpse into the reason people can keep babbling about something that’s completely divorced from the truth without being smashed by cognitive dissonance. The fact that echo chambers are actively created by establishment manipulators enables establishment-friendly narratives to remain afloat long after evidence should have sunk them.

Several weeks ago I tweeted “It’s clear that ‘Russia paid bounties to Taliban fighters’ is one of those narratives the propagandists decided to ram into mainstream consciousness until they force it to become consensus orthodoxy by repetition and sheer force of will, with zero interest in facts or evidence.”

This has indeed happened, and it will continue to happen. The oligarchs who rule over us have so thoroughly divorced the information ecosystem from truth that they can get people to believe just about anything. They do this because they understand that humans are storytelling animals and you control the humans by controlling the stories. We will be unable to fight lies with truth until we collectively understand this fact as well as our oppressors.

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