zaterdag 2 juli 2016

America's International Image

A Look at America's International Image 

July 01, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - As the Obama era comes to a close, the overall image of the United States among key publics in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region is generally favorable. In addition, U.S.-led military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria wins broad approval, and many say America is as important a world leader as it was a decade ago.
U.S. image, in part, is linked to impressions of the American people. In general, Americans are perceived as optimistic and hardworking, although those outside of the U.S. are divided as to whether Americans can be described as tolerant. When looking at negative characteristics, many people around the globe associate Americans with arrogance, greed and violence.

Favorable views of U.S. have continued throughout the Obama administration

Majorities in 13 out of 15 countries surveyed have positive views of the United States. In many of these countries, notably France, Poland, Spain, the UK and Japan, favorable views of the U.S. have endured since 2009, when President Barack Obama first took office. Today, America gets its highest ratings from Poles (74%), Italians (72%), Japanese (72%) and Swedes (69%).
In Europe, a median of 63% across the 10 nations surveyed rate the U.S. favorably. In some North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally countries in Europe, opinions of the U.S. have weakened since 2015. Positive views are down by 11 percentage points in Italy and by 6 points in Spain, although the U.S. still enjoys high levels of favorability in both countries (72% and 59%, respectively). German opinion, on the other hand, has moved in the opposite direction. A year ago, only half in Germany viewed the U.S. in a positive light, whereas a 57% majority are now of this opinion.
Greece is the only country surveyed in which a majority (58%) views the U.S. unfavorably – a position that has not changed much since 2012. Half of Chinese are positive toward the U.S., a 6-percentage-point increase since 2015, perhaps the result of bilateral meetings between the two countries’ leaders, Obama and President Xi Jinping, late last year and earlier this year.

In some countries, U.S. gets higher marks among young people, those on right

In some countries, U.S. gets higher marks among young people, those on right

Previous Pew Research Center surveys have found widespread age gaps in views of the U.S., with younger people typically more favorably inclined toward the United States. This year, we see this pattern repeated in several countries: China, Poland, Hungary and India. The gap is most dramatic in China, where there is a 25-percentage-point difference between the majority of people ages 18-34 who have a favorable opinion of the U.S. and the minority of those ages 50 and older who agree. Sweden stands out as the one country where the age pattern is reversed: 77% of older Swedes are favorably disposed toward the U.S. compared with only 59% of younger Swedes.

In certain countries, opinions of the U.S. also differ by ideological orientation. In seven of the 12 countries where ideology was measured, people on the right of the ideological spectrum are more likely to have a favorable view of America than are people on the left. This gap is widest in France and Sweden, where roughly three-quarters of those who place themselves on the right have a favorable opinion of the U.S., compared with only about half of those on the left. Double-digit ideological gaps are also present in Greece, Australia, Spain, the UK and Canada.

Views on U.S. respect for civil liberties

Many people in America and abroad believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its citizens. In 11 of the 16 countries polled, more than half hold this view, including strong majorities in Japan (76%), Italy (75%), Poland (73%), Hungary (63%) and China (61%).
In Europe, at least, not everyone agrees when it comes to the status of civil liberties in the U.S.: In France and Sweden, for example, roughly half in each country (both 51%) say the American government does not respect personal freedoms within its borders. Slightly fewer in Greece (46%) and Spain (43%) share this view. In India, 41% think the U.S. government respects its citizens’ freedoms, but nearly as many do not offer an opinion.

Compared with eight years ago, significantly fewer in France, Germany and Poland believe that the U.S. government respects the rights of its citizens. The decline has been especially steep in France, where the share of respondents saying the U.S. respects civil liberties has dropped 21 percentage points since 2008. Over the same period, the proportion of Germans confident that the U.S. protects personal freedoms has fallen 17 points. These declines are likely due in part to revelations in 2013 about the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Between 2013 and 2014, during which time the NSA’s tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone was disclosed, opinion in the country on U.S. respect for personal freedoms plunged 23 percentage points.
It is possible that the critical assessment of the U.S. record on civil liberties is softening in some countries. For instance, German views have actually rebounded somewhat, with 53% now saying the U.S. government respects its citizens’ personal freedoms, compared with 43% who held this opinion in 2015.

China has also seen an improvement in the U.S. government’s respect for the rights of its citizens. A majority in China (61%) thinks personal freedoms are respected in the U.S. (an increase of 16 percentage points from 2015). Younger Chinese (67%) are even more likely than older Chinese (52%) to hold this view.
In the U.S., 58% of Americans say their government respects the civil liberties of its citizens, up from 51% a year earlier but still well below pre-NSA scandal levels (69% in 2013). Women (63%) are more likely than men (53%) to think the federal government safeguards individual freedoms. There is also a large partisan gap on this issue: 72% of Democrats say their government respects civil liberties, compared with 50% of Republicans who say the same.

American leadership in the world seen as stable over past decade

Across the countries surveyed, many say the U.S. has remained as important and powerful a world leader as it was 10 years ago.
At one extreme, roughly six-in-ten Japanese (61%) say the U.S. has declined in importance over the past 10 years. By contrast, a 57% majority of Indians say the U.S. plays a more important and powerful role as a world leader than it did a decade ago.
Meanwhile, in key European nations – France, Germany, the UK, Spain and Sweden – the prevailing view is that the U.S. is about as important and powerful as it was a decade ago.

Continuing support for military action against ISIS

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that large majorities in Europe see ISIS as a major threat. And in most of these countries, there is overwhelming support for U.S.-led military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The French are the most supportive of such action, with 84% saying so. Roughly the same share (81%) held this view in 2015, prior to the November 2015 Paris attacks, for which ISIS claimed responsibility.
Backing is also strong among the other members of the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes in Iraq and Syria: Netherlands (77%), U.S. (76%), Australia (75%), the UK (71%) and Canada (68%). Roughly eight-in-ten (81%) in Sweden, not a coalition member, also stand behind the U.S.-led effort against ISIS.
Majorities support U.S.-led efforts against ISIS in Germany (71%), Italy (67%), Poland (65%) and Spain (62%). Greeks are split, with 48% in favor of and 45% against the military campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
In 10 of the 15 countries in which this question was asked, men are more likely than women to support anti-ISIS efforts led by the U.S. The gender gap is widest in Japan, Canada and Spain. The narrowest gender gap is in the United States.

Americans perceived as optimistic and hardworking

In addition to questions about the U.S., the survey asked respondents about their image of Americans. When asked whether Americans are optimistic and hardworking, majorities in nearly all countries answer “yes.” However, when asked if Americans are tolerant, views are mixed.
American optimism is alive and well in the eyes of those surveyed in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Majorities in every country except for China and India believe that people in the U.S. tend to look on the bright side.

Seven-in-ten or more in all 10 European nations surveyed associate optimism with Americans. Fully 80% of Spanish, Poles and Swedes say this. Overwhelming shares of Japanese, Australians and Canadians also describe Americans as hopeful in their outlook.
Americans are also widely viewed as having a strong work ethic. In 14 of 16 publics polled, majorities describe Americans as hardworking. The Spanish are particularly impressed, with 86% associating Americans with hard work. This represents a 12-percentage-point increase from 2005, when the question was last asked in Spain. At least 57% in each of the other European countries surveyed also ascribe industriousness to Americans, although that reputation has slipped slightly in France (-8 percentage points) and Germany (-7) over the past 11 years.
In North America, both Americans (80%) and Canadians (76%) associate people in the U.S. with hard work. Across the Pacific, majorities in Australia (68%) and India (56%) agree; however, only minorities in China (39%) and Japan (26%) describe Americans as hardworking.

The image of Americans as tolerant is less firmly implanted than either a reputation for optimism or hard work. Besides the U.S. (65%), only in Poland (70%), Japan (59%), Germany (51%) and Italy (51%) do roughly half or more describe Americans as tolerant. Some publics are divided on the issue, but in China (59%), Sweden (58%) and Australia (56%) majorities do not associate Americans with tolerance.
Within some countries, views on American tolerance divide sharply along ideological lines, with those on the right of the ideological spectrum more likely to say people in the U.S. display this trait than people on the left. This is the case in Australia (18 points more likely), France (+15), Canada (+14) and Spain (+12).

Many associate arrogance, greed and violence with Americans

The survey also asked whether respondents associate three negative traits – arrogance, greed and violence – with Americans. A median of 54% think arrogance is an attribute of Americans, and nearly as many say the same about greed (median of 52%). Slightly fewer across the countries surveyed think Americans are violent (median of 48%).
Majorities or pluralities in nine countries associate haughtiness with people in the U.S. Roughly seven-in-ten Greeks, Canadians and Australians associate a sense of superiority with people in the U.S. and six-in-ten or more in the UK (64%), Spain (62%) and China (60%) agree.
A 57% majority of Americans admit that the stereotype of the greedy American fits. Roughly the same portion of Spaniards (59%), Dutch (59%), Canadians (58%), Australians (58%), British (56%) and Swedes (55%) agree that Americans are greedy. In Greece, an even larger share (68%) associates Americans with avarice. Elsewhere, the survey finds roughly half or fewer agreeing that Americans are greedy. This view is least common in Italy, with just 21% ascribing avarice to people in the U.S. Meanwhile, the share of Poles (-13 percentage points), Brits (-9), and Chinese (-8) ascribing greed to people in the U.S. has dropped considerably since the last time this question was asked in 2005.
Across the countries polled, substantial percentages describe Americans as violent. In four nations this constitutes a majority view: Australia (68%), Greece (63%), the UK (57%) and Spain (55%). The last time this trait was tested was in 2005, against the backdrop of the U.S.-led mission in Iraq. The share of people in France describing Americans as violent was 15 percentage points higher (63% vs. 48%). Smaller but still significant gaps are evident in Canada (64% in 2005 vs. 53% today) and China (61% vs. 52%).

U.S. Republicans, Democrats disagree on many American traits

In the United States, Democrats sometimes have a less favorable view of Americans compared with Republicans. Democrats are less likely to describe Americans as tolerant and more likely to associate Americans with greed and arrogance. The largest perceptual divide, however, is over violence. By a margin of 21 percentage points, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to describe Americans as violent.

Although both Republicans and Democrats associate Americans with hard work, this accolade is more widespread among Democrats (85%) than Republicans (75%). The one positive characteristic Republicans and Democrats agree on is optimism. Roughly three-quarters of both Republicans and Democrats say people in their country are hopeful.

House Negroes Defend European Union

International House Negroes Defend European Union

The international House Negro is a bi-product of 500 years of European plunder and conquest of the planet. When the European Union was threatened by the exit of Britain, “house Negroes of all colors on both sides of the Atlantic acted like their own worlds were coming to end.”

By Glen Ford 
“They like the house that slavery and genocide built, and where global capitalism now rules.”
July 01, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "BAR"-  We can be sure that the British exit from the European Union represents a profound crisis for the global capitalist order. We know this because the Lords of Capital and their political minions and media all over the world are in panic over Brexit. The capitalist order is built on five centuries of European plunder, enslavement, and extermination of the rest of humanity. Blood oozes from every edifice of the European Union – and yet, the victims, and the descendants of the victims of this horrific and ongoing capitalist carnage, often behave as if they have some kind of stake in keeping the old order intact. Like Malcolm X’s house Negroes, their first instinct when they see the master’s house on fire, is to put the fire out. If the master gets sick, they start sneezing. And, when the referendum went against Britain staying in the European Union, house Negroes of all colors on both sides of the Atlantic acted like their own worlds were coming to end.
On Comedy Central’s Daily Show, this week, host Trevor Noah interviewed Cynthia Erivo, who plays Celie in the Broadway production of “The Color Purple.” Noah lampooned those Brits that voted to leave the EU as a bunch of Donald Trumps with Cockney accents. He said nothing about the EU’s pro-corporate, pro-banker austerity policies – maybe because there’s nothing funny about those policies, or maybe because he works for a rich corporation. Noah drew Ms. Erivo into the Brexit discussion. She was born in London to parents who emigrated from Nigeria. She explained her opposition to Brexit, saying, “If my mom didn’t get to the UK, I probably wouldn’t be here right now, on that stage on Broadway.”
“By colonizing Nigeria, the Brits saved her from being born an African.”
Cynthia Erivo is grateful that her West African parents were allowed into Britain, so that she could be born in London and pursue a successful career. Her parents were permitted to settle in Britain because Nigeria was a British colony, and later became part of the British Commonwealth. It actually had nothing to do with the European Union. By Cynthia Erivo’s logic, it was a good thing that Britain invaded, plundered, enslaved, and stole her parent’s homeland. By colonizing Nigeria, the Brits saved her from being born an African. The millions who died in the British conquest of Nigeria, and in the Middle Passage to the America’s, or on the plantations of Virginia or Jamaica, or in forced labor to the British in Nigeria, or who die today in the oil soaked wasteland of the Niger River Delta  – all of this past and present suffering and human degradation is balanced out by the fact that a daughter of Nigeria gets to star in a Broadway show. This super-exploitation of Africa made Britain and France and Spain and Belgium and the Netherlands and other members of today’s European Union rich – but Cynthia Erivo and Trevor Noah, the South African, come to the defense of the European Union.
They like the house that slavery and genocide built, and where global capitalism now rules. They fear anything that might create disorder in the House of Europe, just as their counterparts in Black America fear anything that might disturb the tranquility of the U.S. ruling class and its institutions. The House Negroes are truly international, always ready to put out fires in their masters many houses around the globe.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

The corporate/state media


30 June 2016
[A lightly edited version of this was published in the latest issue of Coldtype, available here as a pdf]
It’s very rare that you see the ruling elite totally at a loss for words: but they were. Gobsmacked and stunned would be accurate descriptions of the look on the political class’s collective face on the morning of June 24, 2016.
It’s the corporate/state media that effectively calls the shots when it comes to national decision-making in the UK these days, so most people assumed that the Remainers would win the previous day’s vote on whether or not the country should remain in Europe. The pre-voting propaganda was so solidly devoted to the “immigration problem,” that nobody considered the implications of actually exiting from the EU should the Brexiters win the vote. In fact, it just added to the confusion, the results of which are all too apparent now, with pro and anti at each other’s throats. And all of it, engineered.

However, almost a week after the vote, economist Richard Wolff spelled out the reasons for the result during an interview with the Real News Network:
“It’s perfectly clear that the mass of people wanted to send a message to the old, established, austerity-committed government of David Cameron, that they don’t want him, they don’t want what he does, they don’t believe in any of this. They believe that the leadership of the European Union, what is crushing Greece, etcetera, is not something they want to be part of. They feel victimised by all of that. And the Brexit vote gave them a chance to say no, we don’t want it. Sure, there were racist elements and anti-immigration elements. That’s part of the British political scene. Of course it’s going to play its role, seeking its objectives as part of this.”
The BBC’s propaganda campaign in favour of remaining had been as relentless as their attacks on Jeremy Corbyn since his election as leader of the Labour Party almost a year ago. So it seemed almost logical that, in a bizarre inversion of reality, that he, not Cameron, is the one they, and the rest of the media, would blame for Brexit.
Media watchdog Medialens highlighted one of the meanest media attacks on Corbyn in the days following:
“Perhaps the worst example of an anti-Corbyn attack, post-Brexit, was in the Mail on Sunday. A piece by Dan Hodges was illustrated by a Photoshopped image of a malevolent vampiric Corbyn in a coffin with the despicable headline, ‘Labour MUST kill vampire Jezza.’ That this should appear just ten days after Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered is almost beyond belief.” – ‘Killing Corbyn‘, Media Lens, 29 June 2016
Reading what passes for news this past seven days, you’d never know that the real cause of the upset was the Tory Party, which, aside from Cameron’s resignation, has barely been mentioned; for the reality is that it was an internal spat in the Tory Party that started the whole Brexit ball rolling.
Instead, the Remain camp feels they’ve been cheated out of victory by their Brexit opponents – wrongly labelled as a bunch of Nazis and xenophobes. This is exactly the way the BBC has been portraying events: images of angry Remainers demonstrating outside Parliament, contrasted with interviews of penitent Brexiters, who have seen the “error of their ways” and wished they’d voted with their ‘internationalist’ brothers and sisters. So no problem taking in the refugees then?
A convenient scapegoat
Initially this was going to be a kind of blow-by-blow diary of the vote and its dramatic outcome, but it’s two stories: one about the UK as a broken capitalist state and its relationship to the EU; the other, much more important story, of the attack on Jeremy Corbyn by his enemies inside and outside the Parliamentary Labour Party in an conspiracy to remove him as leader of the party.
Medialens reports:
“Attempts to unseat Corbyn have been supported by Left Foot Forward Ltd, a company set up by Will Straw, which runs the country’s ‘No. 1 left-wing blog’ of the same name. Straw is the son of Jack Straw, who served as Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary under Tony Blair. . . . Will Straw is ‘among a network of longtime Blairite stalwarts trying to re-found the Labour Party – a project demolished by Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory in the Labour leadership elections in September 2015.’
“The independent journalist Steve Topple highlights the links between coordinated attacks on Corbyn and a network of Labour figures with direct links to the PR company, Portland Communications…. The PR firm was set up in 2001 by a former adviser to Blair. Its clients include the World Economic Forum, the EU, the UK government, Barclays Bank and large companies, including Morrisons and Nestle.” (Ibid)
All this is reminiscent of the dirty tricks the Establishment used against a previous Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, in 1976, as Ann Talbot of WSWS reminded us in 2006:
“For a large part of his career and throughout his time as prime minister from 1964 to 1970 and again in 1974-76 Wilson was the object of a smear campaign that emanated from the British security services and the CIA. They fed material to the press that appeared to substantiate the view that he was a Soviet agent who had been put in place after the KGB had supposedly murdered Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell. In the course of the documentary, the Daily Express defence correspondent Chapman Pincher unapologetically admitted his part in spreading those rumours.”
The political class sees Corbyn as a danger, although we are constantly told that socialism is so passé, so 20th-century? So what’s the panic? Why the demonisation of this man, if he is so ineffectual and seemingly from another era, with his scruffy clothes and his vaguely subversive and quaint ideas about not wanting to drop atomic bombs on people? Just what is it that the elite are so afraid of that such venomous dirty tricks should be used against him?
The Great Unwashed
The truth is that Corbyn’s election woke up a sleeping giant – not just those few percent who tipped the balance in favour of Brexit, but the millions of working people who have had enough of austerity while the richest one percent get even richer.
They voted not so much about leaving the EU as in giving the government a black eye in the only way they could (what does this tell us about the current state of of the Labour Party, never mind the Tories?).
In any case, given the nonsense both government and media have been talking about for the past couple of months, how could anyone come to the right conclusion based on so much disinformation and outright lies?
So what should Corbyn do? Or is he just going to turn the other cheek to the vicious attacks being made on him?
Writing on the World Socialist Web Site, on June 29, Julie Hyland clarifies:
“The extraordinary scale of the right-wing coup, which had already seen Corbyn lose most of his shadow cabinet in a series of timed resignations, was intended to force the Labour leader to resign. But in a statement put out moments after the result, Corbyn said that he had been elected ‘by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters”’ only last September, and ‘I will not betray them by resigning.’” -‘In right-wing putsch, UK Labour MPs deliver overwhelming anti-Corbyn vote‘ By Julie Hyland, 29 June 2016
The second assault on Corbyn (after the carefully timed shadow cabinet resignations), a vote of no confidence passed by 170 Labour MPs (with 40 in his favour), has no legal basis, but is merely an opinion. The only way to attempt to remove him is to call for an election which, I believe, requires the signatures of 50 Labour MPs. Fine, let them run a new election, they have the numbers. But it’s an election, which according to a YouGov poll, Corbyn will win all over again, and by much the same margin.
As I write, Angela Eagles, one of his former shadow cabinet colleagues, in a traitorous move, has been persuaded to stand against him. But she was roundly trounced in the election that made Corbyn head of the Constituency Labour Party last year, collecting just 16.9 percent of the votes against Corbyn’s 60 percent. In fact, Corbyn was so popular with rank-and-file Labour supporters that he got more votes than all the other contenders combined. Now he has to live up to the faith those voters put in him, but it’s an uphill struggle with the combined weight of the Establishment, the media and his own colleagues in Parliament, out for his blood.
Corbyn has, in my opinion, only one chance of success and that’s if if he steps outside the straightjacket of Parliament and works directly with his supporters. Perhaps ultimately, this might mean splitting the Labour Party in two (and not for the first time) but I doubt Corbyn has got the bottle to do that. It is, after all, an Institution. But as far as I’m concerned, it would be no great loss, in fact I view the Labour Party as an obstacle to real progress.
This is, after all, one of those extremely rare moments in our lives, when things change radically. A dislocation if you like, or revolution even, which is why I wonder whether Corbyn has the bottle or not to take a step into the unknown? 52% did, even if they didn’t know it at the time due to our devious and lying media.
Of course, there’s still no guarantee that a way won’t be found to either neutralize, reverse or rerun the Referendum, now that the awful reality of a Brexitized UK has sunk in. Awful, because that’s the way the elite want it to be and demonizing Corbyn as its cause is an essential part of it.
The issues go to the very heart of a broken economic and political system, not just our place in Europe. The next few weeks are critical.
And if this was not enough to raise the country’s blood pressure, next week we see the publication of the long-awaited (by some at least) Chilcot report on the Blair government’s murderous and illegal assault on Iraq. A report that has been delayed over and over again and is now more than two years past its original publication date.
Will it change anything? It all depends on its content, but which by now will have been well sanitised of anything truly incriminating for our present or past political class. But it adds to the overall sense of unease that permeates the country at this critical juncture in the downward spiral of capitalism.

vrijdag 1 juli 2016

Bill Clinton As An Idiot

Man, Bill Clinton Is An Idiot

Bill Clinton’s formidable political skills tend to disappear when put in the service of his wife.

 07/01/2016 02:22 pm ET | Updated 11 minutes ago


Back in April, Slate’s Michelle Goldberg offered the Hillary Clinton campaign some sage advice: “Fire Bill Clinton.” 
The Clinton campaign declined to take her suggestion, but perhaps they should give it another look. 
Bill Clinton is one of the most talented politicians of the past century, but his supposedly infallible skills continue to fail him when put in the service of someone other than himself. 
On Monday, Clinton was on a tarmac in Phoenix when he learned that the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, would soon be on the same tarmac. He delayed his flight so he could try to meet with her. He asked for a meeting, boarded her plane and chatted for about 30 minutes. 
On Friday, MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart asked Lynch if there was one important thing she wished former Attorney General Eric Holder had told her. “Where the lock on the plane door was,” Lynch deadpanned.
She needed refuge from Clinton, of course, because the FBI is nearing the end of what has long seemed like an endless investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of an insecure private server for her official email as secretary of state. Now, it’s fine to believe that the investigation itself is over-the-top, but whatever your view on its merits, the investigation exists. For Bill Clinton to meet with the attorney general, who has final authority over whether to bring charges, toward the end of this investigation corrupts the process and casts doubt about the integrity of the outcome.
(Meanwhile, Republicans are calling for an independent prosecutor, which is rich: there isn’t enough time to confirm a Supreme Court justice, but plenty of time for Ken Starr to ride into town again.) 
On its face, it was wrong to do, and Democrats would be savaging Republicans if the situation were reversed. It raises one of two possibilities: Either Bill Clinton is an idiot or he wants his wife to lose.
“I wonder if there’s a part of Bill Clinton that doesn’t really want Hillary Clinton to become president, particularly if she has to distance herself from his legacy to do so,” wondered Goldberg back in April, listing a bill of idiotic particulars. “How else to explain why one of the world’s most talented and agile politicians is so consistently flat-footed and destructive when advocating on his wife’s behalf?”
The fallout from the meeting was predictable: Lynch has said she regrets sitting down with Clinton and wouldn’t do it again, given a do-over. And she has said that she will not overrule career prosecutors if they recommend an indictment. Whatever decision the Justice Department ends up making is now clouded in (even more) suspicion.
And perhaps the greatest damage was done to Lynch. It must be awfully difficult to turn down a meeting request from a former president, the spouse of the likely future president, especially for somebody who may have future political ambitions. Did Lynch have aspirations for the Supreme Court? If so, what Clinton just did casts a pall over whatever chance she had. 
And for what? 
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Collapse of Western Democracy

The Collapse of Western Democracy


Democracy no longer exists in the West. In the US powerful private interest groups, such as the military-security complex, Wall Street, the Israel Lobby, agribusiness and the extractive industries of energy, timber and mining, have long exercised more control over government than the people. But now even the semblance of democracy has been abandoned.
In the US Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential nomination. However, Republican convention delegates are plotting to deny Trump the nomination that the people have voted him. The Republican political establishment is showing an unwillingness to accept democratic outcomes.
The people chose, but their choice is unacceptable to the establishment which intends to substitute its choice for the people’s choice.
Do you remember Dominic Strauss-Kahn? Strauss-Kahn is the Frenchman who was head of the IMF and, according to polls, the likely next president of France. He said something that sounded too favorable toward the Greek people. This concerned powerful banking interests who worried that he might get in the way of their plunder of Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. A hotel maid appeared who accused him of rape. He was arrested and held without bail. After the police and prosecutors had made fools of themselves, he was released with all charges dropped. But the goal was achieved. Strauss-Kahn had to resign as IMF director and kiss goodbye his chance for the presidency of France.
Curious, isn’t it, that a woman has now appeared who claims Trump raped her when she was 13 years old.
Consider the political establishment’s response to the Brexit vote. Members of Parliament are saying that the vote is unacceptable and that Parliament has the right and responsibility to ignore the voice of the people.
The view now established in the West is that the people are not qualified to make political decisions. The position of the opponents of Brexit is clear: it simply is not a matter for the British people whether their sovereignty is given away to an unaccountable commission in Brussels.
Martin Schultz, President of the EU Parliament, puts it clearly: “It is not the EU philosophy that the crowd can decide its fate.”
The Western media have made it clear that they do not accept the people’s decision either. The vote is said to be “racist” and therefore can be disregarded as illegitimate.
Washington has no intention of permitting the British to exit the European Union. Washington did not work for 60 years to put all of Europe in the EU bag that Washington can control only to let democracy undo its achievement.
The Federal Reserve, its Wall Street allies, and its Bank of Japan and European Central Bank vassals will short the UK pound and equities, and the presstitutes will explain the decline in values as “the market’s” pronouncement that the British vote was a mistake. If Britain is actually permitted to leave, the two-year long negotiations will be used to tie the British into the EU so firmly that Britain leaves in name only.
No one with a brain believes that Europeans are happy that Washington and NATO are driving them into conflict with Russia. Yet their protests have no effect on their governments.
Consider the French protests of what the neoliberal French government, masquerading as socialist, calls “labor law reforms.” What the “reform” does is to take away the reforms that the French people achieved over decades of struggle. The French made employment more stable and less uncertain, thereby reducing stress and contributing to the happiness of life. But the corporations want more profit and regard regulations and laws that benefit people as barriers to higher profitability. Neoliberal economists backed the takeback of French labor rights with the false argument that a humane society causes unemployment. The neoliberal economists call it “liberating the employment market” from reforms achieved by the French people.
The French government, of course, represents corporations, not the French people.
The neoliberal economists and politicians have no qualms about sacrificing the quality of French life in order to clear the way for global corporations to make more profits. What is the value in “the global market” when the result is to worsen the fate of peoples?
Consider the Germans. They are being overrun with refugees from Washington’s wars, wars that the stupid German government enabled. The German people are experiencing increases in crime and sexual attacks. They protest, but their government does not hear them. The German government is more concerned about the refugees than it is about the German people.
Consider the Greeks and the Portuguese forced by their governments to accept personal financial ruin in order to boost the profits of foreign banks. These governments represent foreign bankers, not the Greek and Portuguese people.
One wonders how long before all Western peoples conclude that only a French Revolution complete with guillotine can set them free.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

Tom Engelhardt 171

June 30, 2016

Tomgram: Thomas Frank, Worshipping Money in D.C.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Read today's piece and then get your hands on Thomas Frank's new book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? It's the political must-read of this season if you want to know where liberalism went in the last two and a half decades. The next TomDispatchpost will be on Tuesday, July 5th. Tom]

I’m no stranger to shakedowns. I’ve experienced them, in one form or another, from Asia to Africa.

Sometimes the corruption is subtle. Sometimes it’s naked. Sometimes you press folded currency into someone’s palm. Sometimes there’s a more official procedure. Sometimes a payment is demanded outright. (A weapon might even be involved.) Other times, it’s up to you to suggest that we somehow work things out privately.

Luckily, I live in the United States, and if the 2016 presidential campaign has reminded me of anything, it’s that America is, by definition (and unlike so many of the other countries on the planet), a corruption-free zone. Mind you, no one would claim that the race for the Oval Office is free of unethical behavior. It’s just that the actions and efforts involved aren’t considered “corrupt” here.

Take an Associated Press (AP) exposé last week. It revealed that the campaign of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump had “plowed about $6 million” -- roughly 10% of his expenditures -- “back into Trump corporate products and services.” The campaign paid, for instance, about $520,000 in rent and utilities for its headquarters at Manhattan’s Trump Tower and an astounding $4.6 million to TAG Air, the holding company for the billionaire candidate’s airplanes.

The AP investigation found that the Trump campaign was “unafraid to co-mingle political and business endeavors in an unprecedented way,” while noting that there is, in fact, “nothing illegal about it.” In other words, while it may seem shady, feel fraudulent, and -- to steal a Trumpism -- sound crooked, it’s all on the up and up according to our unique American system.

Today, Thomas Frank, author most recently of Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?, takes us on a tour of another dimly lit corner of corruption-free America, a completely legal and remarkably unethical world that comes with its own guidebook: a newsletter chronicling daily dalliances involving money, alcohol, and political influence. Though it may seem like a foreign world to those of us outside the Beltway bubble, it influences our daily lives in myriad ways.  Think of it as a circuit of cocktail hours and cocktail parties linked by a well-greased set of revolving doors; an endless series of social events attended by the influential, the influencers, and those looking -- for the right price -- to be influenced. If it seems like I’m using that word -- influence -- a little too much, it isn’t by chance. Let the influential Thomas Frank explain how influence and Influencehave warped Washington and the rest of our world. Nick Turse
The Life of the Parties 
 The Influence of Influence in Washington 
By Thomas Frank
Although it’s difficult to remember those days eight years ago when Democrats seemed to represent something idealistic and hopeful and brave, let’s take a moment and try to recall the stand Barack Obama once took against lobbyists. Those were the days when the nation was learning that George W. Bush’s Washington was, essentially, just a big playground for those lobbyists and that every government operation had been opened to the power of money. Righteous disgust filled the air. “Special interests” were much denounced. And a certain inspiring senator from Illinois promised that, should he be elected president, his administration would contain no lobbyists at all. The revolving door between government and K Street, he assured us, would turn no more.
Instead, the nation got a lesson in all the other ways that “special interests” can get what they want -- like simple class solidarity between the Ivy Leaguers who advise the president and the Ivy Leaguers who sell derivative securities to unsuspecting foreigners. As that inspiring young president filled his administration with Wall Street personnel, we learned that the revolving door still works, even if the people passing through it aren’t registered lobbyists.
But whatever became of lobbying itself, which once seemed to exemplify everything wrong with Washington, D.C.? Perhaps it won’t surprise you to learn that lobbying remains one of the nation’s persistently prosperous industries, and that, since 2011, it has been the focus of Influence, one of the daily email newsletters published by Politico, that great chronicler of the Obama years. Influence was to be, as its very first edition declared, “the must-read crib sheet for Washington’s influence class,” with news of developments on K Street done up in tones of sycophantic smugness. For my money, it is one of the quintessential journalistic artifacts of our time: the constantly unfolding tale of power-for-hire, told always with a discreet sympathy for the man on top.
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