Voices from Russia

Thursday, 3 May 2018

You Believe Russiagate and Chilly Hilly? WHY?

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After loudly denying rigging their primaries for two years, the leaders of the Democratic Party now openly admit to deliberately stacking primary elections to ensure the win of preselected establishment loyalists. In response to an audio recording of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer telling a progressive congressional candidate that he’d run in a contest rigged for his opponent by the DCCC if he doesn’t drop out, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came right out and told the press:

I don’t see anything inappropriate in what Mr Hoyer was engaged in… a conversation about the realities of life in the race as to who can make the general election.

I mean, wow. She just came right out and said it. All it took was a little audio recording to transform months and months of “But Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia!” into “Yeah, of course, we do that. Duh”.

27 April 2018

Caitlin Johnstone

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Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Splitting Up of the Democratic Party: Why It’s Probably Coming Sooner Than You Think

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Before the election, some pundits predicted that a Trump defeat would cause the Republican Party to split into at least two discrete new parties… one representing the old GOP’s business establishment, the other for the populist firebrands of the Tea Party. As the fight over gutting Obamacare reveals, those factions are in an uncomfortable marriage. However, a full-fledged rupture doesn’t appear imminent. A bigger story, one the corporate political writers don’t focus on, is on the left. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Democratic Party split in two.

In my imagined scenario, the liberal Democratic base currently represented by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would file for divorce from the party’s centre-right corporatist leadership caste. What’s next? Led by Sanders/Warren or not (probably not), prepare to see a major new “third” party close to or equal in size to a rump Democratic one. I even have a name for this new 99 Percenter-focused entity… the New Progressive Party, or simply the Progressive Party. Since this is ahistorical America, no one remembers the Bull Moosers. Today’s Democratic Party is evenly divided between the Bernie Sanders progressives who focus on class issues and the Hillary Clinton urban liberals who care more about identity politics (gender, race, sexual orientation, and so on). In the short run, a Democratic-Progressive schism would benefit the GOP. In a three-way national contest I guesstimate that Republicans could count on the roughly 45 percent of the electorate who still approve of Trump after two months of hard-right rule. That leaves the new Progressives and the old Democrats with roughly 27.5 percent each… hardly a positive outlook for the left in the first few post-schism elections. Yet, as the cereal box warning goes, some settling may… in this case will… occur… and sooner than you’d think.

First, some “Republicans” in the Trump coalition… those Obama and Sanders voters who switched to Trump… will migrate left, attracted to a Progressive left-nationalist economic message that puts working-class Americans first, minus the racism and nativism of the anti-NAFTA Trump right. Doesn’t feel like it this second, but bigotry is finding fewer adherents. Second, demographic trends favour any left-of-the-Democrats party. Slightly more than half of Americans aged 18-to-29 oppose capitalism in its current form. Some Millennials would move right over time, John Adams style… but most won’t, mainly because the capitalist economy isn’t likely to reward them with better-paying jobs as they age. A strong Progressive Party… and 27.5 percent of the vote is strong, guaranteeing access all the way down the ballot to minor races and a spot on the national presidential debate stage… would be the natural home for America’s long-disenfranchised political left. Third, the Progressives would attract sustained media attention. Excitement generates enthusiasm. Finally, it isn’t a stretch to imagine that some mainstream Republicans disgusted by a Trump/Tea Party-dominated Republican Party might scoot over to the old Democrats… whose current politics are Republican Party circa 1980, so it isn’t like it’d be an uncomfortable fit… adding to their numbers.

Granted, this is all very back of the envelope. However, my instincts tell me we’d probably wind up with three surprisingly evenly matched parties before too long. To be clear, a Democratic split isn’t inevitable. It may not even be more likely than not, not in the next few years anyway. Nevertheless, what about 10 or 20 years out? The further you extend the timeline, I’d bet a tidy sum that the left would finally hear what the Democratic Party leadership has told them for half a century… we don’t need you, we don’t owe you, we won’t do anything for you… and walk.

Why am I so convinced that today’s Dems will go the way of the Whigs? Still controlled by centre-right Clintonistas, the Democratic National Committee continues to snub progressives and leftists despite the fact that Bernie could’ve beaten Trump. Throughout the campaign, polls showed Bernie would outperform Hillary in the fall. Still, the DNC cheated on her behalf. Moreover, they sleazily lined up the superdelegates for her. She never considered him for Veep. She didn’t even promise to appoint him to the cabinet… big mistake. She didn’t adopt any of his signature platform planks. After the debacle, Democratic leaders blamed everyone but themselves… WikiLeaksRussia, the FBI, the media, even Bernie voters. They didn’t think they did anything wrong. In the race for DNC chair and thus for the soul of the party, they picked the establishment choice over the progressive. If you’re a Bernie Sanders Democrat, you have to be a complete idiot to believe that the Democratic Party learnt the lesson of 2016… lean left or go home. Even after it became clear that Trump was putting together the most right-wing administration in American history, Democrats still voted in favour of Republican appointees.

I can’t predict how the great split-up of the former Democratic Party will play out. However, given the escalating rage of the party’s progressive base in the Age of Trump and the absolute refusal of the DNC leadership to grant them concessions, it’s hard to imagine this restive crowd staying calm and keeping Democratic. The tsunami is coming. Lefties have a choice… get washed away or grab a surfboard.

15 March 2017

Ted Rall

Counterpunch

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/15/the-splitting-up-of-the-democratic-party-why-its-probably-coming-sooner-than-you-think/

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Why Do Progressives Like War?

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Liberals are supposed to be anti-war, right? I went to college in the 1960s, when students nationwide were rising up in opposition to the Vietnam War. I was a Young Republican back then and supported the war through sheer ignorance and dislike of the sanctimoniousness of the protesters, some of whom were surely making their way to Canada to live in exile on daddy’s money while I was on a bus going to Fort Leonard Wood for basic combat training. I can’t even claim that I had some grudging respect for the antiwar crowd because I didn’t, but I did believe that at least some of them who weren’t motivated by being personally afraid of getting hurt were actually sincere in their opposition to the awful things that were happening in Southeast Asia.

As I look around now, however, I see something quite different. The lefties I knew in college are now part of the Establishment. They’re retired limousine liberals. Now, they call themselves progressives, of course, because it sounds more educated and sends a better message, implying as it does that troglodytic conservatives are anti-progress. However, they also did a flip on the issue of war and peace. In its most recent incarnation, some of this might be attributed to a desperate desire to relate to the Hillary Clinton campaign with its bellicosity towards Russia, Syria, and Iran, but I suspect that the inclination to identify enemies goes much deeper than that, back as far as the Clinton Administration with its sanctions on Iraq and the Balkan adventure, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and the creation of a terror-narco state in the heart of Europe. More recently, we saw the Obama meddling in Libya, Yemen, and Syria in so-called humanitarian interventions, which turned out to be largely fraudulent. Yes, under the Obama Dems, it was “responsibility to protect time” (R2P) and the entire world trembled as they let loose the drones.

Last Friday, I started to read an op-ed in the Washington Post by David Ignatius that blew me away. It began “President Trump confronts complicated problems as the investigation widens into Russia’s attack on our political system”. It then proceeded to lay out the case for an “aggressive Russia” in terms that the MSM have repeated ad nauseam. Of course, it was lacking in any evidence, as if we should regard the opinions of co-opted journalists and highly-politicised senior officials in the intelligence community as sacrosanct. Not coincidentally, these are the same people who reportedly recently been working together to undercut the White House by leaking and then reporting highly sensitive transcripts of phone calls with Russian officials.

Ignatius is well-plugged into the national security community and inclined to be hawkish, but he’s also a typical a WaPo politically correct progressive on most issues. Therefore, here was your typical liberal asserting something in a dangerous fashion that hasn’t been demonstrated and might be false. Russia is attacking “our political system!” The WaPo isn’t alone in accepting that Russia is trying to subvert and ultimately overthrow our republic. Reporting from the New York Times and on TV news makes the same assumption whenever they discuss Russia, leading to what some critics have described as mounting American “hysteria” relating to anything coming out of Moscow.

Rachel Maddow is another favourite of mine when it comes to talking real humanitarian feel-good stuff out one side of her mouth while beating the drum for war from the other side. In a bravura performance on 26 January, she roundly chastised Russia and its President, V V Putin. Rachel, who freaked out completely at Donald Trump’s election, is now keen to demonstrate that Russia has corrupted Trump and the Kremlin now controls him. She described Trump’s lord and master Putin as an “intense little man” who murders his opponents before going into the whole “Trump stole the election with the aid of Moscow” saga, supporting sanctions on Russia and multiple investigations to find the underlying cause of “Putin’s attacks on our democracy”. Per Maddow, Russia is the heart of darkness and, by way of Trump, has succeeded in exercising control over key elements in the new administration.

Unfortunately, people in the media like Ignatius and Maddow aren’t alone. Their willingness to sell a specific political line that carries with it a risk of nuclear war as fact, even when they know it isn’t, has been part of the fear-mongering engaged in by Democratic Party loyalists and many others on the left. Their intention is to “get Trump” whatever it takes, which opens the door to some truly dangerous manoeuvring that could have awful consequences if the drumbeat and military buildup against Russia continues, leading Putin to decide that his country is being threatened and backed into a corner. Moscow has indicated that it wouldn’t hesitate to use nuclear weapons if someone confronts it militarily and it faced defeat. The current wave of Russophobia is much more dangerous than the random depiction of foreigners in negative terms that’s long bedevilled a certain type of American Know-Nothing politics. Apart from the progressive antipathy towards Putin personally, there’s a virulent strain of anti-Russian sentiment among some self-styled conservatives in Congress, best exemplified by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Graham recently said:

2017 is going to be a year of kicking Russia in the ass in Congress.

It’s my belief that many in the National Security State convinced themselves that Russia is indeed a major threat against the USA and not because it’s a nuclear power that can strike the USA. That appreciation, should, if anything constitute a good reason to work hard to maintain cordial relations rather than not, but it’s seemingly ignored by everyone but Donald Trump. No, the new brand of Russophobia derives from the belief that Moscow is “interfering” in places like Syria and the Ukraine. In addition, it’s a friend of Iran. That perception derives from the consensus view among liberals and conservatives alike that the US sphere of influence encompasses the entire globe as well as the particularly progressive conceit that Washington should serve to “protect” anyone threatened at any time by anyone else, which provides a convenient pretext for military interventions that they euphemistically describe as “peace missions”.

There might be a certain cynicism in many who hate Russia, as having a powerful enemy also keeps the cash flowing from the Treasury into the pockets of the beneficiaries of the military-industrial-congressional complex, but my real fear is that having been brainwashed for the past ten years, many government officials are actually sincere in their loathing of Moscow and all its works. Recent opinion polls suggest that that kind of thinking is popular among Americans, but it actually makes no sense. Though involvement by Moscow in the Middle East and Eastern Europe is undeniable, calling it a threat to US vital interests is more than a bit of a stretch as Russia’s actual ability to make trouble is limited. It has exactly one overseas military facility, in Syria, while the USA has more than 800, and its economy and military budget are tiny compared to that of the USA. In fact, Washington is most guilty of intervening globally and destabilising entire regions, not Moscow. When Donald Trump said in an interview that when it came to killing the USA wasn’t so innocent it was a gross understatement.

Ironically, pursuing a reset with Russia is one of the things that Trump actually gets right, but the new left won’t give him a break because they reflexively hate him for not embracing the usual progressive bromides that they believe are supposed to go with being antiwar. Other Moscow trashing comes from the McCain camp, which demonises Russia because warmongers always need an enemy and McCain never found a war he couldn’t support. It’d be a tragedy for the USA if both the left and enough of the right were to join forces to limit Trump’s options on dealing with Moscow, thereby enabling an escalating conflict that could have tragic consequences for all parties.

17 February 2017

Philip Giraldi

Unz Review

http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/why-do-progressives-like-war/

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Democratic Party Seems to Have No Earthly Idea Why it’s So Damn Unpopular

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A troubling new poll showed that the Democratic Party is significantly less popular than both Donald Trump and Mike Pence are. My gut tells me that Democrats will ignore this poll, or blame it on bad polling, and continue down the same course they’re currently on… funded by lobbyists and the One Percent, straddling the fence or outright ignoring many of most inspirational issues of the time, and blaming Bernie Sanders for why they aren’t in power right now. As a rule, the Democratic Party doesn’t listen well and struggles to hear the truth about itself. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Republicans now control the House, the Senate, the presidency, and the overwhelming majority of state legislatures and governorships. This new poll from Suffolk University illustrates just how that’s possible. Here are the base results of the poll with favourable/unfavourable ratings.

  • Pence: 47 percent/35 percent
  • Trump: 45 percent /47 percent
  • GOP: 37 percent /48 percent
  • Media: 37 percent /50 percent
  • Dem Party: 36 percent /52 percent
  • Hillary: 35 percent /55 percent
  • Congress: 26 percent /52 percent

In other words, the Democratic Party has a favourability rating 11 points lower than Pence, 9 points lower than Trump, and even 1 point lower than the GOP. Their unfavourable rating is 17 points worse than Pence, five points worse than Trump, and four points worse than the GOP. This is a disaster. At a time when Donald Trump is the least-liked President ever measured at this point in his first term, the Democratic Party found a way to be even less liked than him. This is how Donald Trump wins a second term. This is how congressional Republicans win the next midterm elections. This is how conservatives not only maintain their current power from coast to coast but also expand it.

The Democratic Party is deeply unpopular… period. It’s a fact. Don’t look away. Don’t call me a Bernie Bro. We must seriously address this problem. Not a day goes by when I don’t have people reach out to me and ask if it would be worth it to start a credible alternative to what the Democrats are offering. Most people, I believe, would also be open to a brand new way of business for the Democratic Party, but core leaders seem hell-bent on doing the same old crap. When good people frustrated with the Democratic Party express their genuine concerns, I see them being told to shut up and unify. They tell them, “Now isn’t the time for public complaints. We must all work together”. However, what this apparently means to the people who are calling for unity is getting behind the corporate, suit-and-tie, lobbyist-driven establishment agenda.

Nevertheless, let me break it to you… the establishment has almost no grassroots momentum. People outside of the Democratic Party establishment fuel virtually every progressive grassroots movement in America right now and this is a huge reason why the party is so outrageously unpopular. Huge grassroots movements, made up of millions and millions of people, fuel the fight for a 15 USD minimum wage, fight back against fossil fuels and the Dakota Access Pipeline, fight to end fracking, fight to remove lobbyist money from politics, fight to end senseless wars and international violence, fight for universal healthcare, fight for the legalisation of marijuana, fight for free college tuition, fight against systems of mass incarceration, and so much more. However, mainstream Democrats aren’t really a central part of any of those battles, and, to be clear, each of those issues has deep networks, energised volunteers, and serious donors, but corporate Democrats virtually ignore them.

In the past two months, I’ve spoken in a dozen states around the country and thousands of people show up. On Wednesday night, in the freezing rain, a line wrapped around multiple city blocks to attend an event I was hosting at a local Seattle high school. We literally formed the event a few days ago on Facebook and didn’t spend a single penny putting it together. When I see these crowds, I don’t see them and think, “Wow, I’m so popular”. I see them and think, “Wow, people are hungry for change, and insight, and direction”. When I see those crowds, those polls showing how outrageously unpopular the Democratic Party is frustrate me even more. It just doesn’t have to be this way. People show up in huge numbers for my events, or Bernie’s events, or for events put on by the organisers of the Women’s March, not just because we all want to stop Donald Trump. That’s a gross oversimplification of who we are and what we stand for. People are showing up, by the thousands, by tens and hundreds of thousands, because we have many of the very same beliefs, and passions, and preferences for how America can improve and be a better place for all of us.

The Democratic Party isn’t a fiery Barack Obama speech away from being popular. He may be beloved and mobs of screaming fans may follow him all over the country, but the party he represents simply doesn’t have that same type of support. Moreover, they won’t if they don’t do some serious soul searching about who and what they truly stand for. Recently, I’ve asked the crowds where I am speaking two key questions about the Democratic Party. The response that I get is always the same… mass laughter or audible frustration. The first question is:

If I asked you, in just a few sentences, to sum up what specific policies the Democratic Party stands for, what would you say?

People have no genuine idea. They know some things the party stands against, but it’s genuinely hard to be sure of what they stand for. The other question is:

What exactly is the strategy of the Democratic Party to take back the government from conservatives across the country?

That one always gets the most laughs. Nobody has any idea. Not once has somebody stood up and said, “Hey, I know the strategy”. Hell, I don’t know it. I don’t think one exists. Whatever the strategy was this past election, it didn’t work either. Again, I don’t just mean in the presidential election. Democrats lost all over the place in national, state, and local elections.

Losing is hard. It sucks. I hate losing. However, this much I know… if the Democratic Party doesn’t come to grips with why it’s so wildly unpopular, many more losses will be on the horizon.

9 March 2017

Shaun King

New York Daily News

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/king-democratic-party-doesn-unpopular-article-1.2993659

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