Voices from Russia

Saturday, 12 August 2017

12 August 2017. “Russian Hacking” Didn’t Defeat the Clintons… Their Shitty Greedster Record Did Them In, With No Help from Outsiders

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NAFTA… “Welfare Reform”… the destabilisation of Federal Yugoslavia… the dismantling of reasonable New Deal restrictions on Wall Street profiteers… the aggression against Serbia in 1999… the deliberate bungling of healthcare reform… the sponsorship of the Kosovo gangster state… need I go on? The Clintons were feral “conservative” Repugs in everything but the name… ordinary people do have memories and did act on them. They knew that Trump was a buffoonish knave, but they also knew that the Clintons had proven themselves unscrupulous thieves and unrepentant muggers of ordinary folk. They voted AGAINST… they didn’t need “foreign meddling” to come to that conclusion. There IS a country that routinely meddles in the internal affairs of others… it ISN’T Russia…

BMD

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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/

Thursday, 16 June 2016

16 June 2016. Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote for Neoliberals… Both “Conservative” and “Liberal”

00 I did not cause the national debt. 160616

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Don’t vote for Trump the Chump or Chilly Hilly… both are neoliberal pro-Corporatist scummers. If he runs, vote for Bernie… if not, vote for Jill Stein. Don’t vote for either side of the duopoly. BOTH ARE EQUALLY EVIL. The presidencies of George W Bush and Bill Clinton proved that. There wasn’t a tuppence worth of difference between Bush and Clinton. Do reflect on this… Chilly Hilly is Bill’s wife… Bill is using her to subvert the Constitution. Do ponder that…

BMD

Saturday, 23 April 2016

23 April 2016. I’m Tired of the Moralising of the Rightwing Greedsters… and of the Condescending Liberals, Too!

arrogance-ignorance-and-greed-show-of-hands

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I saw the following on FB:

I could say we we’re all brought into this life between faeces and urine and that’s all this life amounts to! I could say we’re not worthy of the rights that we fail to respect each day. I could say our collective complacency is destroying our vision of a brighter future for humanity. I could say we’ve lost our way! Yes, my cynicism is real as well, Mr Repub, but not for the same reasons as yours. My cynicism lies in sorrow for our world gone mad with fear, greed, and hate. My cynicism comes from our failing to feed the needy at the expense of the unquenchable thirst of the ultra-greedy. Indeed Mr Repub, my cynicism isn’t aimed at hard-working Americans just trying to survive in this rigged system of greed-driven max-profit. My cynicism comes from people who make it off the backs of the most vulnerable people in our society. My cynicism comes from your selfish “so-called” value system which says that your profit is more important than the needs of the whole of our society. Yes Sir, the same system that says your life is worth more than mine is the exact system that breeds my cynicism for your self-servative nature.

~JH

I quite agree. I’ve had it with “conservatives” who bleat about abortion and homosexuality, yet steal money from the poor and elderly to enrich the already-bloated spiders at the top of the pyramid. I’ve had it with Liberals who objectify people, strip them of their individuality and humanity, to reassure themselves that they’re the crème de la crème of society. I’ve had it with “Traditionalists” who think that their made-up fancies are the Wisdom of the Ages. I’ve had it with “Activists” who distort and distend the Truth to suit their petty ends. I’ve had it with phoniness of all sorts.

I’ll tell you a secret… I’m not alone… that’s why Chilly Hilly is in the deep kimchi. She’s just Republican Lite… if the Dems nominate her, so be it, I and millions of others won’t vote for her. Watch the Liberals holler! You see… their “disinterested patriotism” is all about their jobs and perks… they want to protect their weekends in Dubai, more-than-average pay packets, and foreign holidays. We don’t matter one little bit to them. The Clintons benefited the Upper Middles… all of their gains came at the expense of working people, but the UMs didn’t and don’t give a damn. We’re all “trolls”… we’re all “ungrateful”.

It’s time to wake these bastards up… we need to channel Sockless Jerry and Pitchfork Ben (the latter wrote the first real campaign finance law)… we need to dust off EVD and FDR… we need the spirit of BOTH Norman Thomas and George Wallace (the latter was more of a populist than anything else… he was the first Alabama judge to call black lawyers “Mr”)… we need to stop the “conservative” hijacking of our history and the Liberal rewriting of our history. Andrew Jackson came up from nothing… he let common folks into the White House! That’s the REAL reason the Liberals hate him (he also hated and scourged bankers… oh, the humanity!). It has nothing to do with slavery… it has to do with him being from “the wrong side of the tracks” and favouring the unwashed hoi polloi (they truly do consider all the rest of us ignorant proles only fit to be their servitors). My American Pantheon includes many that Establishment “conservatives” and Liberals find anathema. So be it… let them consider me (and many others) “ignorant”. I’ll say this… I’m smart enough to see through their self-serving rhetoric… again, I’m far from the only one to see that…

We CAN do something… #Feelthebern 

BMD

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