Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Barack Obama is Using His Presidency to Cash In, But Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter Refused to Do So

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Defenders of Barack Obama’s decision to do things like accept a 400,000 USD (22.8 million Roubles. 2.76 million Renminbi. 25.68 million INR. 548,000 CAD. 532,000 AUD. 368,000 Euros. 312,000 UK Pounds) check for a speech to a Wall Street brokerage house argue that the former president might as well cash in… everyone else does. That was Daily Show host Trevor Noah’s defence of Obama:

People are like, “Why doesn’t he not accept the money?” No, fuck that. So the first black president must also be the first one to not take money afterwards? No, no, no, my friend. He can’t be the first of everything! Fuck that, and fuck you. Make that money, Obama!

This argument, while common, comes from historical ignorance. It assumes that presidents have always found a way to leverage their political connections post-presidency to make money from interest groups and wealthy political actors. However, that isn’t the case. It used to be the norm for presidents to retire to ordinary life after their stint in the White House… just ask Harry Truman. When the Democratic president was getting ready to leave the White House in 1953, many employers approached him. The Los Angeles Times noted:

If he’s unemployed after he leaves the White House it won’t be for lack of job offers … but [he’s] accepted none of them.

One of those job offers was from a Florida real estate developer, asking him to become a “chairman, officer, or stockholder, at a figure of not less than 100,000 USD”… the sort of position that’s commonplace today for ex-politicians. Presumably, had Truman taken the position, it would’ve been a good deal for both parties… the president’s prestige and connections would also enrich the company. Truman declined. He wrote of his refusal to influence-peddle:

I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialise on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.

Although he had a small pension from his military service, Truman had little financial support after leaving office. He moved back into his family home in Independence MO. He insisted on being treated like anyone else. He’d tell people not to call him, “Mr President”, and settled into an ordinary routine once he was back in Independence. He’d take a morning walk through the town square. He kept an office nearby where he would answer mail from Americans. He chose to engage with just about anyone who walked into his office… not only people who wrote him big checks or invited him onto their private yachts and private islands. He once said:

Many people feel that a president or an ex-president is partly theirs… they’re right to some extent… and that they have a right to call upon him.

Indeed, his office number was in a nearby telephone directory. He eventually agreed to write a memoir for Life magazine, but it was a lengthy project, which paid a far-from-luxurious stipend. Truman’s modest life post-presidency moved Congress in 1958 to establish a pension that provides an annual cash payout as well as expenses for an office and staff.

Nevertheless, Gerald Ford shattered precedent when he joined the boards of corporations such as 20th Century Fox, hit the paid speech circuit, and became an honorary director of Citigroup. However, his successor, Jimmy Carter, who grew up in a modest home in Plains GA, didn’t follow Ford’s example. He refused to become a professional paid speaker or join corporate boards. He moved back to Plains and a crowd of neighbours and supporters welcomed him home. He quickly made himself busy as a nonprofit founder and a volunteer diplomat. He did make money post-presidency…but by serving ordinary people, not the élite. He wrote dozens of best-selling books bought by millions of people across the world… the post-presidency equivalent of small donors. Carter explained his thinking to the Guardian in 2011, telling them:

My favourite president and the one I admired most was Harry Truman. When Truman left office, he took the same position. He didn’t serve on corporate boards. He didn’t make speeches around the world for a lot of money.

The presidents who came after did not choose the same path. At a time when Japan was a major trade rival with the United States, Ronald Reagan flew to Japan for a series of paid speeches after he left office. He accepted 2 million USD (114 million Roubles. 13.8 million Renminbi. 128.4 million INR. 2.74 million CAD. 2.66 million AUD. 1.84 million Euros. 1.56 million UK Pounds) for a pair of 20-minute speeches to the Fujisankei Communications Group. An additional 5 million USD (285 million Roubles. 34.5 million Renminbi. 321 million INR. 6.85 million CAD. 6.65 million AUD. 4.6 million Euros. 3.9 million UK Pounds) went for expenses related to the visit. Both Bushes also joined the paid speech circuit, and the Clintons made over 100 million USD (5.7 billion Roubles. 690 million Renminbi. 6.42 billion INR. 137 million CAD. 133 million AUD. 92 million Euros. 78 million UK Pounds) from banks and other corporations, shortly after the Clinton presidency deregulated Wall Street. Bill Clinton lamented to a student group in 2009:

I never made any money until I left the White House. I had the lowest net worth, adjusted for inflation, of any president elected in the last 100 years, including President Obama. I was one poor rascal when I took office; but after I got out, I made a lot of money.

Obama was hardly facing poverty. He already has a 65 million USD book deal (3.705 billion Roubles. 448.5 million Renminbi. 4.173 billion INR. 89.05 million CAD. 86.45 million AUD. 59.8 million Euros. 50.7 million UK Pounds) and that 200,000 USD annual pension (11.4 million Roubles. 1.38 million Renminbi. 12.84 million INR. 274,000 CAD. 266,000 AUD. 184,000 Euros. 156,000 UK Pounds). By joining the paid speech circuit… his spokesman Eric Schultz told the press that paid speechmaking will be a fixture for the former president… Obama was making a conscious choice. Obama could have been like Truman or Carter, but instead chose to be like Bush and Clinton.

1 May 2017

Zaid Jilani

The Intercept

https://theintercept.com/2017/05/01/barack-obama-is-using-his-presidency-to-cash-in-but-harry-truman-and-jimmy-carter-refused/

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Ten Countries that Threaten World Peace More than the DPRK Does

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The DPRK doesn’t pose a critical threat to the world. However, these countries have done so and still very much do. Often, people portray the DPRK portrayed as a rogue state that endangers its region and according to some, the world. Nevertheless, the DPRK hasn’t engaged in a hot conflict since the ceasefire that ended the Korean War in 1953. There’s little evidence that the DPRK is actually as menacing as it often pretends to be, let alone as menacing as others claim it is.

READ MORE: The US should accept China’s proposal and talk to North Korea. Here’s why.

You can’t say the same for the following ten countries:

1. The USA

Since 1998 alone, the USA conducted unprovoked illegal aggressive attacks on the following countries:

  • Iraq
  • Yugoslavia
  • Afghanistan
  • Iraq (again)
  • Libya
  • Sudan
  • Somalia
  • Yemen
  • Syria

During this time, the USA also funded and provoked an illegal coup in the Ukraine. If invading and overthrowing governments in countries that haven’t even attempted to invade the USA isn’t a danger to world peace, I don’t know what is.

2. The Ukraine

Since 2014, the Ukrainian régime has fought a genocidal war against ethnic Russians in the Donbass. The war hasn’t ceased and the Kiev régime constantly violates the Minsk II ceasefire agreement. The war has seen the use of chemical weapons on civilian targets as well as the deprivation of food, medical supplies, and electricity to the Donbass. The DNR and LNR never sought to attack Kiev, merely to defend their democratic socialist republics against aggression that hasn’t ceased since 2014. This is an attempt at ethnic cleansing that the world should’ve condemned and put a stop to a long time ago.

READ MORE: When the Ukraine dropped chemical weapons on the Donbass, the West didn’t care (VIDEO)

3. Israel 

Israel has continually occupied lands recognised by the UN as Palestinian territory since 1948. Israel has illegally occupied Syrian territory since 1967. In 1982, Israel invaded and occupied Lebanon and only left in 2000. Combined Lebanese forces, primary those of Hizbullah, stopped an attempt to invade Lebanon in 2006. Israel continues to illegally invade and bomb Syrian territory, thus exacerbating the current crisis in that country. Israel’s Yinon Plan is a long-term strategy that many in Israel’s government and deep state plan to execute in order to annex further land among Israel’s neighbours.

4. Turkey 

Turkey illegally occupied Northern Cyprus since 1974. Under President Erdoğan, this will almost certainly not change. Erdoğan’s forces continue to occupy parts of Syria and Iraq. The Turkish jihadist proxy militia FSA is guilty of numerous atrocities against civilians in Syria. In the most populous regions of Syria, the FSA is an even bigger throat-cutting and car-bombing menace than ISIS or al-Qaeda.

READ MORE: Turkey poses a bigger threat to Syria than ISIS

5. The UK

British Prime Minister Tony Blair made NATO’s illegal invasion of Yugoslavia something of a personal crusade, where for Bill Clinton it was to a great extent, merely an opportunity to get Monica Lewinsky out of the headlines. Blair was the only major leader apart from George W Bush to make passionate pleas for Iraq’s invasion. Since then, Britain has followed the USA into every major illegal conflict in the Arab world and beyond.

READ MORE: Why Tony Blair isn’t wanted back in Britain

6. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) 

The KSA is the world’s leading sponsor of Wahhabist terrorism. A long time sponsor of al-Qaeda, now the KSA supports ISIS covertly too. The KSA’s aims for the Arab world are nefarious to, say the least. With oil prices plummeting, the KSA turned to imperialism, fought not with a regular army, but conducted by infusing money into extremist causes including and especially, violent terrorism.

READ MORE: Wahhabi terrorism: the Saudi route to conquest

7. Qatar 

Qatar is guilty of many of the same crimes as its larger neighbour, the KSA. In particular, part of Qatar’s motivation for funding jihadist killers in Syria is a desire to build a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey. In order to do this, the pipeline would need to go through Syria. Qatar’s war is there for gas war in the guise of blood-soaked jihad.

8. France 

The most profound trail of blood left by France in the Arab world was in Algeria, where the French murdered and tortured Algerian freedom fighters between 1954 and 1962. France’s footprint on its former mandate/colony Syria is also widely hated by all Syrians. Under Nicholas Sarkozy, France led the public charge for war on Libya and under President Hollande, France committed war crimes in Syria, its former colony. The audacity is incredibly insulting to Syria. France’s intervention in Mali in 2013-14 also received wide criticism as a duplicitous post-colonial exercise.

9. Germany 

As the de-facto leader of the EU, Germany was essential in helping to foment the illegal fascist coup in the Ukraine. In 2014, along with Poland and France, Germany authored an agreement that was supposed to ease tensions in Kiev. In reality, the agreement bought time for the extremists who finalised their coup against the legitimate Ukrainian President, V F Yanukovich, on the following day. Germany also illegally bombed Syria as part of the US coalition in the region. One could legitimately describe Germany’s actions towards Greece and Cyprus in particular as economic warfare.

READ MORE: EU action in Kiev and Donbass has been paid in blood

10. Albania 

Although one of NATO’s smallest and poorest members, Albania is a swamp, from which a constant threat of war in the Balkans looms. Since the late 1990s, Albania transformed itself into a hotbed of regional imperialism as well as radical political Sunni Islam. Albanian leaders seek to create a so-called Greater Albania by annexing parts of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and even Greece. Recently, the Albanian Prime Minister threatened to annex part of Serbia if the EU didn’t fulfil Albanian demands. Likewise, the infamous Tirana Platform is essentially a blueprint for an Albanian-led breakup of the Republic of Macedonia. In spite of its name, the original draft of the Tirana Platform was drafted in English, written in the West, and then passed to Albanian authorities in Tirana, who themselves then passed it onto extremist Albanian insurgents in the Republic of Macedonia (they can’t read a word of English). Nevertheless, they’re already slowly executing the plan.

READ MORE: Serbia responds to Albanian threats to annex its territory

Each of these states threatens the world far more than the DPRK ever has or likely ever could. However, these countries all share something that the DPRK doesn’t. They either are all NATO members or otherwise, very close US allies.

30 April 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran

http://theduran.com/10-countries-that-threaten-world-peace-more-than-north-korea/

Trump Administration Pressures Argentina to Rescind Award to Former President Jimmy Carter

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The Trump Administration pressured the government of Argentine President Mauricio Macri to rescind an award to former US President Jimmy Carter. Argentina was going to honour Carter with the Order of the Liberator General San Martín, the equivalent to America’s Medal of Freedom. However, the Trump administration moved to quash this as Carter is a frequent critic of the authoritarian tendencies of the Trump Administration. The Buenos Aires Herald wrote:

CNN reported this week that the Mauricio Macri Administration rescinded a decision to award former US President Jimmy Carter the Order of the Liberator General San Martín… the highest distinction that the country can give to a foreigner… under pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration. The official tribute, already approved by the Foreign Ministry and published in the Official Gazette, was cancelled after receiving a specific request by the US government, which suggested it’d be better to delay it. Carter was to receive the award for his work in promoting human rights during Argentina’s last military dictatorship.

30 April 2017

The Intellectualist

https://theintellectualist.co/trump-administration-pressures-argentina-to-rescind-award-to-former-president-jimmy-carter/

A TRULY Conservative Take On International Workers Day

May Day in the Ukraine before the American-fomented Maidan coup d’état… may such days return… and soon!

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The greatest achievement of socialism was in resisting morose, nihilistic, and sick western “culture”. Like all political systems formed on an ideological and not a pragmatic basis, Communism had flaws. For example, Liberalism shares many of the same flaws as Communism, in spite of the fact that it sets itself against Communism. Both share an unhealthy fanaticism that’s difficult to oppose successfully. However, on this International Workers Day, I’d like to celebrate the most important achievement of socialism and communism. This achievement happened as much by accident as by design.

Communist and socialist countries were and are generally opposed to the import of American hegemonic pop “culture”. American and broader Western culture in the 20th century became increasingly anti-Christian, anti-family, anti-male, ahistorical, and anti-traditional. Interestingly, in spite of the futurism and atheism implicit in Communism, Communist societies ended up opposing many of the same things that conservatives despise in Western “culture”. For most people living in former communist states, the legacy of former political systems doesn’t manifest itself in people fondly recalling chapters of Das Kapital nor is it about nostalgia over speeches made by Erich Honecker. People tend to look to this era and remember the music of The Aleksandrov Choir, films like Офицеры (Officers), and sweet cartoons like Ну, погоди! (Nu, Pogodi!: Just You Wait!).

Throughout the communist era, particularly in Warsaw Pact countries and in Yugoslavia, there was a general cultural consistency where film, music, and television content was wholesome, historically informed, patriotic, and comforting. Such societies were generous in funding classical orchestras. Performances of both traditional folk, modern, and classical music remained popular and recordings were widely and inexpensively available. Contrast this with the West that at the same time began to increasingly devalue classical music. Likewise, in the West, films became increasingly obscene. By the 1990s, the decade that communism ended in Europe and much of Eurasia, Western pop music, film, and television glorified violence, had a hatred of Christianity, and disseminated sectarianism, whoring, anarchism, and general sickness.

Whilst many think that Liberalism is less left-wing than Communism is, in terms of total cultural output, Communist states produced a culture that was monumentally more conservative than that of the Liberal West. President Putin’s popularity in Russia demonstrated that one could maintain a normal culture and a happy citizenry through maintaining a moderate conservative government. This is exactly what Russia became in the Putin era. Russia still has much work to do to purge itself from garish Western influences, but Russia is broadly heading in the right direction in this respect. In the 1920s and 1930s, many Christians fled the USSR due to religious persecution. However, what has become of the West where many fled to? It now exorcises Christian symbols from the public sphere and both the mainstream and counterculture excoriate Christian values.

Christianity has returned to Russia and the communitarian values of Communism rebounded after the anarchic 1990s.Other post-communist states haven’t been so lucky. A deluge of Western propaganda disguised as “culture” totally swamped many countries in Europe. Indeed, many adopted vulgar American “culture” as a way to enhance their anti-Russian credentials, as such states wrongly equated the Germanic philosophy of Communism with the long history of Russia, which for most of its existence was a conservative Orthodox country, as it’s once again today. For decades, Communism helped these countries resist the Western “cultural” onslaught. In most countries, nothing has replaced this rampart. Russia is an exception that proves the rule. Russia’s rich history and restored superpower status made this exceptional circumstance possible. On this International Workers Day, I long for a time when much of the world that has now gone “West” used to have protection from the social rot of Western Europe and America. In these countries, something much worse has replaced traditional Leninist-Marxism… Cultural Marxism. Many have regrets about this development, but many more remain oblivious. After all, the result of Cultural Marxism is neurosis and oblivion. After all, that’s the point… to conquer and numb simultaneously.

1 May 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran

http://theduran.com/a-conservative-take-on-international-workers-day/

Editor:

American “conservatism” is Liberalism in ten-league boots. It’s Liberal to the core, with no conservatism in it at all. One need only look at phonies like Sean Hannity and Rod Dreher to realise this. I’m a leftie, and I’m more socially conservative than many “conservatives”. The most successful societies merge a communitarian social stance with a love of the traditions of the people and a love of their creativity. The moneygrubbing American “conservatives” have none of that in their makeup; ergo, they’re not conservative at all… they’re nothing but apologists for the One Percent and their Affluent Effluent lackeys. Money is their god… what did Christ say about those who try to serve two masters? It does comment on their “religiosity”, doesn’t it?

BMD

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