Thursday, October 19, 2017

George W. Bush thought we were deplorable long before Hillary did. In 2006 Pres. Bush called us racist for not wanting to turn over US port inspection to UAE despite that UAE banks have funded Islamic terror. He even said failure to approve Dubai ports deal would increase terrorism-NY Times, March 10, 2006...(Needless to say, Bush lost both the House and Senate in Nov. 2006)..."Is This the George W. Bush Version of Hillary’s Deplorables?" Rush Limbaugh, 10/19/17

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When George W. Bush's "Dubai Ports Deal" failed in 2006 he called us racists for not wanting to turn over inspection of our ports to an Islamic monarchy. Bush is back spewing hate speech again. 10/19/2017: "Is This the George W. Bush Version of Hillary’s Deplorables?" Rush Limbaugh

March 10, 2006, "Under Pressure, Dubai Company Drops Port Deal," NY Times, David E. Sanger 

"What appeared to set off Democrats and Republicans this time, against the backdrop of concern about possible terrorist attacks was that the buyer was a state-owned Arab company. Mr. Bush and his aides issued a strong defense, suggesting that racial bias lay at the core of the objections and warning that an undercurrent of isolationism would ultimately harm American efforts to enlist efforts other nations in antiterrorism campaigns."...
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Added: Full NY Times article: 3/10/2006, "Under Pressure, Dubai Company Drops Port Deal," NY Times, David E. Sanger

"A vast majority of containers that flow daily into the United States remain uninspected."...The current operator of US terminals is a British company, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation located in Singapore
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"The state-owned Dubai company seeking to manage some terminal operations at six American ports dropped out of the deal on Thursday, bowing to an unrelenting bipartisan attack in Congress that swept aside President Bush's efforts.

The company, DP World, said that at the direction of Dubai's ruler it would "transfer" to a still-unnamed American company the leases to manage some of the busiest terminals in the United States, including some in New York, Newark, Baltimore and Miami. 

Under questioning, the company declined to say whether it planned to sell the American operations or had some other transaction in mind. 

The action averted a showdown with Congress that Mr. Bush was all but certain to lose, as signaled on Wednesday by a 62-to-2 vote of the House Appropriations Committee to reject the transfer, because it allowed the sale of some terminal operations to an Arab state company.

Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, announced the change on the Senate floor two hours before the Senate had been scheduled to vote on a motion that could have paved the way for a Democratic proposal to scuttle the deal....

A delegation of Republican Congressional leaders told Mr. Bush on Thursday morning that his threat to veto Congressional action against transferring control of the terminals would not stop Congress from blocking the deal.

The outcome did nothing to solve the underlying issue exposed by an uproar that has consumed the capital for weeks. A vast majority of containers that flow daily into the United States remain uninspected and vulnerable to security gaps at many points. 

Some experts suggested that DP World's quick surrender might take pressure off the administration, Congress and nations around the world to solve that problem.
DP World announced its decision after the White House appeared to signal that Mr. Bush wanted a face-saving way out of the shift by declining to repeat his veto threat. 

The company said the decision had been made by the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, who is also the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.... 

In Dubai, a senior political official with intimate knowledge of the deliberations, said: "A political decision was taken to ask DP World to try and defuse the situation. We have to help our friends."

The official sought anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the record. He was referring to Mr. Bush, who backed the initial deal, and several Republican senators who did as well. 

The company's decision drew sighs of relief from officials in New York and other cities where the imminent transfer had stirred cries of alarm. But the announcement left those officials wondering which American companies might want to buy the American terminal operations. The company that DP World outbid to buy the current operator, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation, a British company, for $6.8 billion, is Singaporean. 

"If it's a U.S. company, it should alleviate some of the concerns about security which have been talked about over the last few weeks," Charles A. Gargano, vice chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said. "I don't know how successful they'll be."

The Port Authority owns terminals in the New York metropolitan region. 

Foreign companies have long dominated the business of loading and unloading cargo ships, and few American operators remain. "This is a case where we were arguing about the wrong part of the problem," said Stephen Flynn, a former Coast Guard officer and port security expert who has argued that the nationality of the port operations manager has little to do with the gaping holes in security.

"Americans were shocked to learn that the vast majority of port operations in this country are handled by foreign firms. But transportation is a global network, and we're not going to own all of it."

Private equity firms, including the Blackstone Group in New York and KKR, have been named as potential buyers of the American terminal operations, which are a small and not particularly lucrative slice of the $6.85 billion Dubaian purchase. 

The collapse of the deal is the second time in less than a year in which a foreign acquisition raised protests about the economic security of the United States. Cnooc, a Chinese government-owned oil company, dropped a bid to buy Unocal in July, after it was clear that opposition would run high. Chevron took over the company instead, for $18 billion. 

What appeared to set off Democrats and Republicans this time, against the backdrop of concern about possible terrorist attacks, was that the buyer was a state-owned Arab company. Mr. Bush and his aides issued a strong defense, suggesting that racial bias lay at the core of the objections and warning that an undercurrent of isolationism would ultimately harm American efforts to enlist other nations in antiterrorism campaigns. 

Those objections were washed away in a tidal wave of opposition in which Republicans and Democrats competed to position themselves as greater protectors of American security. 

Democrats like Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York warned that the port operations could be "infiltrated" by terrorists exploiting the ownership in Dubai, an emirate known for its open trade. Dubai had been the transfer point starting in the late 90's for nuclear components shipped by the largest illicit nuclear technology network in the world.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican of California, introduced a bill that would require American ports and other strategic assets to be returned to American hands. 

"Our longer-term goal is to identify long-range foreign investment in our critical infrastructure, reform the process for approving foreign investment in the United States and ensure 100 percent cargo inspection," Mr. Hunter said on Thursday. 

From the start of the controversy, the White House appeared to have been caught flat-footed. Mr. Bush and his top advisers said they learned about the transfer late last month, one month after the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, an interagency committee that passes judgment on foreign acquisitions, approved the shift, after resolving minimal objections raised by the Coast Guard, part of the Homeland Security Department. The uproar over the deal, fanned in part by talk radio, led the White House and DP World into concessions. Ten days ago, DP World agreed to a more thorough investigation by the interagency group and said it would hold the American operations separate from the rest of the company until the review was completed. 

By Thursday morning, Mr. Bush's press secretary, Scott McClellan, appeared to signal that the White House was backing away from its position, by refusing to repeat the veto threat.

At the time, Mr. Bush was meeting with the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, and Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, both of whom had vocally split with Mr. Bush on the deal. 

"It was a tactical discussion by that point," a participant said....

Another participant, the House majority leader, Representative John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, was unapologetic about the uprising.

"House Republicans," Mr. Boehner said, "were obligated to take action to respond to the concerns Americans have expressed about the proposed deal." 

It was unclear who a buyer might be for the assets now on the block. Experts said ports businesses threw off a predictable amount of cash, a quality often attractive to private equity buyers. 

Because DP World is desperate to sell, some experts said, the terminal leases could be dumped at a bargain price.... 

Three private equity firms named as potential suitors, Blackstone, KKR and the Texas Pacific Group, had no comment. 

DP World issued its decision hours after its side won a round in a legal dispute with the Port Authority. The authority had asked a New Jersey state court in Newark to allow it to break quickly its 30-year lease on the Port Newark Container Terminal, half operated by P and O Ports North America.

Judge Patricia K. Costello of Superior Court in Essex County ruled that she did not know enough about the transaction to make an immediate decision about whether the transfer was a transaction that required the consent of the Port Authority. Judge Costello ordered an expedited review of the complaint because of the "high level of public interest" in the "security and workings of the port.""

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Added: Bush made the world safe for globalism, SF Gate, 3/8/2006:

"Much like previous administrations, the president (George W. Bush) is simply making the world safe for transnational corporations.... 

The president [George W. Bush] is weak on his right flank, and whoever is smart enough to take advantage of that is likely to succeed. If the administration had not left itself open to criticism on issues such as homeland security and illegal immigration, the Democrats would not have a foothold....In addition to being politically tone deaf, the Bush administration has reacted to critics with arrogance and dismissiveness."... 

March 8, 2006, "Bush and the Ports: The Honeymoon Is Over," sfgate.com, Cinnamon Stillwell

"When the story broke that the Bush administration had approved a British-owned company's sale of U.S. port operations to one headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, all hell broke loose. 

The company at hand, Dubai Ports World, is owned by the United Arab Emirates, so not only would we be handing over operations of our ports to yet another foreign company, but also to a foreign government. The fact that the deal was approved without the legally authorized 45-day investigation normally required when acquisition by a foreign government and security concerns are involved, certainly doesn't help. Then there was President Bush's claim that he knew nothing about the deal until after it had been approved, which wasn't terribly reassuring.

On top of it all, the original report that only six ports were affected by the deal turned out to be misleading. It is in fact terminal operations at 21 ports that are at stake, which would give the United Arab Emirates control over almost every major shipping terminal on the Eastern Seaboard. For some reason, much of the media continues to report the lower figure. 

The firestorm over the ports deal has exposed a rift on the right and a political opportunity for the left. On the one hand, you have the Bush administration and loyalists in the Republican Party and conservative media defending the ports deal. On the other, you have Democrats, Republicans, conservatives and liberals all justifiably concerned about a Muslim country, ally or not, having control of 21 U.S. ports in a time of war. According to polls, the majority of Americans fall into the latter category, putting them at odds with the Bush administration. 

With this in mind, the accusations of "hypocrisy" and "demagoguery" against Democratic opponents are a bit pointless. Whether they're doing it for partisan reasons or not is immaterial. The president is weak on his right flank, and whoever is smart enough to take advantage of that is likely to succeed. If the administration had not left itself open to criticism on issues such as homeland security and illegal immigration, the Democrats would not have a foothold. 

In addition to being politically tone deaf, the Bush administration has reacted to critics with arrogance and dismissiveness. Bush's threat to veto any legislation put forward to stop or delay the ports deal is amazing, considering that he's never once vetoed a bill. Forget any and all spending bills, the president's sole concern seems to be benefiting the United Arab Emirates. Since Dubai World Ports has requested a 45-day investigation to address critics' concerns, Bush's bluff will not be called just yet.

In response to concerns raised by opponents, the Bush administration has pointed out that the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard will continue to control port security. However, the Coast Guard has complained of intelligence gaps in trying to determine whether Dubai Ports World might be vulnerable to terrorist operations. While the company itself may be reputable, what's to stop infiltrators from securing jobs and smuggling in weapons of mass destruction? 

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was so concerned about this possibility that it filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government to block the ports deal. New Jersey filed a similar suit the day before. 

Dubai and Sept. 11

While the pros and the cons of the ports deal have been much debated, certain facts remain that should give pause. Troubling links between the United Arab Emirates and Islamic radicalism are among them. 

It's been widely reported that along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates was one of only three countries to formally recognize the Taliban. But according to a recent article by journalist Paul Sperry, the relationship went much further than that. Dubai acted as banker and travel agent for the repressive regime. This cozy relationship extended to the Taliban's "guest," al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. He and the Dubai royal family maintained close ties, with a 1999 visit to one of his camps in Afghanistan courtesy of an official United Arab Emirates airplane. 

In fact, Bin Laden used Dubai as a launching pad for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Thirteen of the 19 hijackers entered the United States from Dubai. Two were United Arab Emirates citizens, and one, Marwan al-Shehhi, served in the army. Dubai also became al-Qaida's financial base, with more than $100,000 in funds channeled through its banks.

As for the worry that terrorists might get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, the United Arab Emirates has done its bit in that department as well. Two Dubai companies were involved in shipping illegal nuclear components sold by Pakistan's nuclear scientist Dr. Khan to North Korea, Iran and Libya

Paul Sperry, author of "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington," also points to a possible conflict of interest involving the Council on American Islamic Relations and the United Arab Emirates. CAIR, which has had five officials convicted of ties to terrorism, has defended the ports deal and accused critics of "Islamophobia." But it just so happens that General Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the emir of Dubai and point man for U.S.-based executives of Dubai Ports World, owns the deed to CAIR's headquarters in Washington. One has to wonder if that has just a little something to do with CAIR's endorsement. 

Skyscrapers and Repression

Despite the glittering skyscrapers and excessive wealth of the United Arab Emirates, it is a society that has very little in common with our own. According to the State Department, "There are no democratically elected institutions or political parties ... [and] there are no general elections." Freedom of the press does not exist in the United Arab Emirates, nor does unrestricted Internet access. Sunni Islam is the official religion and non-Muslims are prohibited from proselytizing or distributing religious literature to Muslims. Human trafficking involving foreign women used as prostitutes and young boys as camel jockeys is rampant.
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While the United Arab Emirates would hardly be the first human rights-compromised ally of the United States, is rewarding such countries with lucrative business deals really the best approach to pushing democratization?

Furthermore, the United Arab Emirates is a participant in the Arab boycott against Israel and refuses to recognize the country. A certificate of origin has to be checked on all imports, lest they come from the Jewish state. When asked about the boycott, Muhammad Rashid a-Din, a staffer at the Dubai Customs Department, stressed that "If a product contained even some components that were made in Israel, and you wanted to import it to Dubai, it would be a problem." The fact that American companies are prohibited by law from cooperating with Arab governments in their attempts to boycott Israel seems to matter little in this case....

Al-Qaida members have bragged about infiltrating the United Arab Emirates' security apparatus, among other agencies. This is the "valuable partner" President Bush insists has been so helpful in the war on terrorism? 

Security vs. Business

Just because a country is an ally does not mean that we have to jeopardize our security. Even supposedly moderate allies in the region, such as Jordan, are hardly pillars of progress beneath the surface. Others, such as Saudi Arabia, are given a free pass because of the United States' energy dependence. Isn't it time we started expecting more from our allies than lip service? 

Some have suggested that the Bush family has its own conflicts of interest with the ports deal. CNN's Lou Dobbs reported that United Arab Emirates investors provided funding to an educational software company owned by Neil Bush, the president's brother. But that's the least of it. A series of financial entanglements involving the Bush family, the Carlyle Group and Dubai investment entities owned by the United Arab Emirates are also raising eyebrows. 

Now we find that another dubious Dubai deal is on the table. Dubai International Capital wants to buy London-based Doncasters Group, which would put it in charge of plants in Georgia and Connecticut that make components for military aircraft and tank engines. Having learned a thing or two from the ports debacle, the Bush administration has launched a national security investigation of the Dubai-owned company. But much like the ports deal, the investigation is more a delaying tactic than an impediment. 

In response to such concerns, a bipartisan group of senators has put forward legislation that would require Congress be given the report from the 45-day review of the United Arab Emirates ports deal as well as final say on the arrangement. Additional changes involving oversight of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, the administration panel that approved the ports deal, and foreign ownership where national security is at risk are also being proposed. 

But the fact that such acquisitions are even being considered points to the larger problem of increasing foreign ownership. As it stands, China, Denmark, Japan, South Korea and Singapore have control over terminals in 36 American port cities. And now we're going to add the United Arab Emirates to that list? The strong reaction to the ports deal speaks to a growing dissatisfaction among Americans at the level of foreign ownership, outsourcing and illegal immigration in our country. If that's "protectionist," then so be it. 

There's also the small matter of being at war. Despite the politically correct pronouncements of our president, we are currently engaged in a war with elements of the Muslim world. Is simply acknowledging that fact and exercising the appropriate caution really tantamount to the "anti-Arab bigotry" alleged by Bush?

The president's record on homeland security doesn't exactly inspire confidence. In addition to the outsourcing of America's ports, Bush has left the country's southern border largely defenseless, while increasing illegal immigration with guest-worker proposal announcements. The Department of Homeland Security is one massive pork-barrel spending opportunity, with funds going mostly to the wrong people in the wrong places. At the same time, the Bush administration has allowed Saudi oil money to purchase far too much influence in American society, particularly in its educational institutions

Transnationalism as Usual

Much like previous administrations, the president is simply making the world safe for transnational corporations. It's no coincidence that former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are out pushing the Dubai deal. Administration after administration has brought America to the point it's at today, where everything is for sale to the highest bidder. When President George H.W. Bush introduced the concept of a "new world order," it was a harbinger of things to come. 

We have entered the era of transnationalism, otherwise known as globalism, and it is sweeping away national identity in favor of an international marketplace. America is becoming nothing more than a hub for the exchange of money, goods and cheap workers

Concern over this issue spans the political spectrum, including the anti-globalization forces on the left and the protectionists on the right. Each faction is opposed to the outcome, for different reasons.
 Many of Bush's constituents have awakened to this reality, and the rumblings of discontent have greatly increased. Adding to a series of disappointments since Bush's re-election in 2004, the ports deal may turn out to be the last straw.

The honeymoon is definitely over."

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Added: WaPo praises George W. Bush when he says you're racist if you don't think Muslim world will become democratic:

George W. Bush: If you doubt Muslim world is on the road to democracy, you're racist: "They think people whose skin is a different color than white" are incapable of self-government," Bush has said.

Feb. 28, 2006, "Bush, Speaking Up Against Bigotry," Richard Cohen, Washington Post op-ed 
 
""The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam," Bush said back then -- and he has since repeated this message over and over again. That very year -- in November 2001 -- Bush invited 52 Muslim diplomats to a traditional Iftar dinner, breaking the daily Ramadan fast, and he has occasionally cited purported racism as the reason some people doubt the Muslim world will, as Bush so fervently wishes, make progress toward democracy. They think people whose skin is "a different color than white" are incapable of self-government, he has said....

Maybe because Bush is a Bush--son of a president who got to know many Arabs--or maybe because he just naturally recoils from prejudice, his initial stance on this controversy has been refreshingly admirable."...

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Added: "President George W. Bush is implying that opposition [to the Dubai Ports deal] might be based on prejudice against Arabs." AP 

2/24/2006, "Bush denies port deal endangers security, implies opponents show anti-Arab prejudice," AP via aawsat.com

"Seeking to calm a political storm, the Bush administration is rejecting criticism from Republicans and Democrats that U.S. national security would be endangered if a company owned by the Dubai government should take control of major U.S. ports. 

President George W. Bush is implying that opposition might be based on prejudice against Arabs, noting that the contract to control the...major ports is now held by a British-owned private company....

Sen. Carl Levin, senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was incensed that the interagency government committee dealing with foreign takeovers approved the UAE proposal in 30 days. The law requires an extra 45 days’ consideration for any deal that could be a risk to U.S. security.... 

The emirates had a spotty record on terror, mainly involving its role as a banking and financial center. About half the $250,000 (¤210,000) the spent in the United States by the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists came from UAE banks. Money from Dubai banks also was linked to al-Qaeda attacks in 1998 against U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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Sen. Levin, whose state, Michigan, has the second-largest ethnic Arab population in the United States, referred to such facts Thursday as he grilled the deputy secretary of the treasury about the procedures by which Dubai Ports won control of the six ports. 

Levin spoke of the UAE’s “uneven history” as “one of only a handful of countries in the world to recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.” Millions of dollars in al-Qaeda funds went through UAE financial institutions, he said.

“Is there not one agency in this government that believes this takeover could affect the national security of the United States?” Levin demanded to know....

[Sen.] Warner sharply asked Kimmitt whether the reviewing agencies considered UAE’s role’s in the transfer of money to al-Qaeda and of nuclear components to rogue nations. Kimmitt said those factors were taken into account before the deal was approved."...

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Added: Republicans lose both House and Senate in Nov. 2006 midterms:

11/8/2006, "Republicans Lose House, Senate," outsidethebeltway.com, James Joyner

"Some quick thoughts through bleary eyes: 

Several House races lost through individual scandals involving Delay, Foley, Weldon, Ney, Sherwood, and others....

The Republican leadership in both houses should, of course, be replaced with fresh faces. They have failed and must be held accountable. Newt Gingrich, who accomplished much more, had the good grace to resign for much less.

While Republican scandals, the war, and other issues set the stage for this turnover, moderates are the key. Most of the Republican moderates–i.e., those in states that trend Democrat–lost. Most of the Democrats who won, by contrast, were Blue Dog moderates. 

The running of war veteran, family values candidates was the key to the Democratic victory, not the ideology of the Kos Kids....

There are no good losses. While there is a silver lining in that the GOP will have to find its soul again, it’s mighty hard to climb back into power against incumbents....

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt is still drinking the Kool-Aid, simultaneously spinning this loss as not a big deal and arguing that the reason for the wipeout was that the Republicans weren’t heavyhanded enough in governing and listened too much to the likes of McCain and Graham. Unbelievable."..





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Millions in free taxpayer cash available to “researchers” selling outrage over alleged Russian "propaganda and disinformation," including inventing new slights such as that Russia has turned the pristine internet into a "sewer"-Robert Parry, Consortium News

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10/18/17, "Blaming Russia for the Internet ‘Sewer’," Robert Parry, Consortium News

"Exclusive: As the Russia-gate hysteria spirals down from the implausible to the absurd, almost every bad thing is blamed on the Russians, even how they turned the previously pristine Internet into a "sewer," reports Robert Parry."

"With the U.S. government offering tens of millions of dollars to combat Russian "propaganda and disinformation" it’s perhaps not surprising that we see “researchers” such as Jonathan Albright of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University making the absurd accusation that the Russians have “basically turned [the Internet] into a sewer.” 

I’ve been operating on the Internet since 1995 and I can assure you that the Internet has always been “a sewer” — in that it has been home to crazy conspiracy theories, ugly personal insults, click-bait tabloid “news,” and pretty much every vile prejudice you can think of. Whatever some Russians may or may not have done in buying $100,000 in ads on Facebook (compared to its $27 billion in annual revenue) or opening 201 Twitter accounts (out of Twitter’s 328 million monthly users), the Russians are not responsible for the sewage coursing through the Internet.

Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans and pretty much every other segment of the world’s population didn’t need Russian help to turn the Internet into an informational “sewer."

But, of course, fairness and proportionality have no place in today’s Russia-gate frenzy. 

After all, your “non-governmental organization” or your scholarly “think tank” is not likely to get a piece of the $160 million that the U.S. government authorized last December to counter primarily Russian “propaganda and disinformation” if you explain that the Russians are at most responsible for a tiny trickle of “sewage” compared to the vast rivers of “sewage” coming from many other sources.

If you put the Russia-gate controversy in context, you also are not likely to have your “research” cited by The Washington Post as Albright did on Thursday because he supposedly found some links at the home-décor/fashion site Pinterest to a few articles that derived from a few of the 470 Facebook accounts and pages that Facebook suspects of having a link to Russia and shut them down. (To put that 470 number into perspective, Facebook has about two billion monthly users.)

Albright’s full quote about the Russians allegedly exploiting various social media platforms on the Internet was: “They’ve gone to every possible medium and basically turned it into a sewer.”

But let’s look at the facts. According to Facebook, the suspected “Russian-linked” accounts purchased $100,000 in ads from 2015 to 2017 [June 2015 to May 2017, a two year period including 7 months AFTER the election was over] (compared to Facebook’s annual revenue of about $27 billion),

  


appearing before the 2016 election

and many having little or nothing to do with politics, which is curious if the Kremlin’s goal was to help elect Donald Trump and defeat Hillary Clinton.

Even former Clinton political strategist Mark Penn has acknowledged the absurdity of thinking that such piddling amounts could have any impact on a $2.4 billion presidential campaign, plus all the billions of dollars worth of free-media attention to the conventions, debates, etc. Based on what’s known about the Facebook ads, Penn calculated that “the actual electioneering [in battleground states] amounts to about $6,500.”

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday, Penn added, “I have 40 years of experience in politics, and this Russian ad buy mostly after the election anyway, simply does not add up to a carefully targeted campaign to move voters. It takes tens of millions of dollars to deliver meaningful messages to the contested portion of the electorate.

Puppies and Pokemon

And, then there is the curious content. According to The New York Times, one of these “Russian-linked” Facebook groups was dedicated to photos of “adorable puppies.” Of course, the Times tried hard to detect some sinister motive behind the “puppies” page.

Similarly, CNN went wild over its own “discovery” that one of the “Russian-linked” pages offered Amazon gift cards to people who found “Pokémon Go” sites near scenes where police shot unarmed black men — if you would name the Pokémon after the victims.

“It’s unclear what the people behind the contest hoped to accomplish, though it may have been to remind people living near places where these incidents had taken place of what had happened and to upset or anger them,” CNN mused, adding:

CNN has not found any evidence that any Pokémon Go users attempted to enter the contest, or whether any of the Amazon Gift Cards that were promised were ever awarded— or, indeed, whether the people who designed the contest ever had any intention of awarding the prizes.”

So, these dastardly Russians are exploiting “adorable puppies” and want to “remind people” about unarmed victims of police violence, clearly a masterful strategy to undermine American democracy or – according to the original Russia-gate narrative – to elect Donald Trump.

A New York Times article on Wednesday acknowledged another inconvenient truth that unintentionally added more perspective to the Russia-gate hysteria.

It turns out that some of the mainstream media’s favorite “fact-checking” organizations are home to Google ads that look like news items and lead readers to phony sites dressed up to resemble People, Vogue or other legitimate content providers.

“None of the stories were true,” the Times reported. “Yet as recently as late last week, they were being promoted with prominent ads served by Google on PolitiFact and Snopes, fact-checking sites created precisely to dispel such falsehoods.”

There is obvious irony in PolitiFact and Snopes profiting off “fake news” by taking money for these Google ads. But this reality also underscores the larger reality that fabricated news articles – whether peddling lies about Melania Trump or a hot new celebrity or outlandish Russian plots – are driven principally by the profit motive.

The Truth About Fake News

Occasionally, the U.S. mainstream media even acknowledges that fact. For instance, last November, The New York Times, which was then flogging the Russia-linked “fake news” theme, ran a relatively responsible article about a leading “fake news” Web site that the Times tracked down. It turned out to be an entrepreneurial effort by an unemployed Georgian student using a Web site in Tbilisi to make some money by promoting pro-Trump stories, whether true or not. 

The owner of the Web site, 22-year-old Beqa Latsabidse, said he had initially tried to push stories favorable to Hillary Clinton but that proved unprofitable so he switched to publishing anti-Clinton and pro-Trump articles, including made-up stories. In other words, the Times found no Russian connection.

The Times article on Wednesday revealed the additional problem of Google ads placed on mainstream Internet sites leading readers to bogus news sites to get clicks and thus advertising dollars. And, it turns out that PolitiFact and Snopes were at least unwittingly profiting off these entrepreneurial ventures by running their ads.

Again, there was no claim here of Russian “links.” It was all about good ole American greed.

But the even larger Internet problem is that many “reputable” news sites, such as AOL, lure readers into clicking on some sensationalistic or misleading headline, which takes readers to a story that is often tabloid trash or an extreme exaggeration of what the headline promised.

This reality about the Internet should be the larger context in which the Russia-gate story plays out, the miniscule nature of this Russian “meddling” even if these “suspected … links to Russia” – as the Times initially described the 470 Facebook pages – turn out to be true.

But there are no lucrative grants going to “researchers” who would put the trickle of alleged Russian “sewage” into the context of the vast flow of Internet “sewage” that is even flowing through the esteemed “fact-checking” sites of PolitiFact and Snopes.
 
There are also higher newspaper sales and better TV ratings if the mainstream media keeps turning up new angles on Russia-gate, even as some of the old ones fall away as inconsequential or meaningless (such as the Senate Intelligence Committee dismissing earlier controversies over Sen. Jeff Sessions’s brief meeting with the Russian ambassador at the Mayflower Hotel and minor changes in the Republican platform).
 
Saying ‘False’ Is ‘True’

And, there is the issue of who decides what’s true. PolitiFact continues to defend its false claim that Hillary Clinton was speaking the truth when – in referencing leaked Democratic emails last October – she claimed that the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies “have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election.” 

That claim was always untrue because a reference to a consensus of the 17 intelligence agencies suggests a National Intelligence Estimate or similar product that seeks the judgments of the entire intelligence community. No NIE or community-wide study was ever done on this topic.

Only later – in January 2017 – did a small subset of the intelligence community, what Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described as “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies – the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation – issue an “assessment” blaming the Russians while while acknowledging a lack of actual evidence.

In other words, the Jan. 6 “assessment” was comparable to the “stovepiped” intelligence that influenced many of the mistaken judgments of President George W. Bush’s administration. In “stovepiped” intelligence, a selected group of analysts is closeted away and develops judgments without the benefit of other experts who might offer contradictory evidence or question the groupthink.

So, in many ways, Clinton’s statement was the opposite of true both when she said it in 2016 and later in 2017 when she repeated it in direct reference to the Jan. 6 assessment. If PolitiFact really cared about facts, it would have corrected its earlier claim that Clinton was telling the truth, but the fact-checking organization wouldn’t budge — even after The New York Times and The Associated Press ran corrections.

In this context, PolitiFact showed its contempt even for conclusive evidence – testimony from former DNI Clapper (corroborated by former CIA Director John Brennan) that the 17-agency claim was false. Instead, PolitiFact was determined to protect Clinton’s false statement from being described for what it was: false.

Of course, maybe PolitiFact is suffering from the arrogance of its elite status as an arbiter of truth with its position on Google’s First Draft coalition, a collection of mainstream news outlets and fact-checkers which gets to decide what information is true and what is not true for algorithms that then will exclude or downplay what’s deemed “false.” 

So, if PolitiFact says something is true – even if it’s false – it becomes “true.” Thus, it’s perhaps not entirely ironic that PolitiFact would collect money from Google ads placed on its site by advertisers of fake news."

"Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com)."

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Among comments: No matter what form of government, the people have no say in whether their country goes to war (click below to enlarge):

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Clinton Foundation was free to accept foreign government donations while Hillary was Sec. of State per agreement with Obama-NY Times 4/30/2015 correction to 4/23/2015 article, "Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundaiton Amid Russian Uranium Deal"...(To Rod Rosenstein: Resign immediately and at minimum, forfeit your US taxpayer funded pension)

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"An article on Friday [April 23, 2015] about contributions to the Clinton Foundation from people associated with a Canadian uranium-mining company described incorrectly the foundation’s agreement with the Obama administration regarding foreign-government donations while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state. Under the agreement, the foundation would not accept new donations from foreign governments, though it could seek State Department waivers in specific cases. The foundation was not barred from accepting all foreign-government donations.


Image: 2010, "Bill Clinton met with Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow in 2010. Credit Mikhail Metzel/Associated Press," via NY Times

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Added: "The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general."

10/17/17, "FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow," The Hill, John Solomon and Alison Spann

"Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews....

Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.

The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply....

The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show.

Both men now play a key role in the current investigation into possible, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election cycle. McCabe is under congressional and Justice Department inspector general investigation in connection with money his wife’s Virginia state Senate campaign accepted in 2015 from now-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a time when McAuliffe was reportedly under investigation by the FBI.

The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired earlier this year....

Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap.

But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged.

The only public statement occurred a year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.

By that time, the criminal cases against Mikerin had been narrowed to a single charge of money laundering for a scheme that officials admitted stretched from 2004 to 2014. And though agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing they collected since at least 2009, federal prosecutors only cited in the plea agreement a handful of transactions that occurred in 2011 and 2012, well after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s approval.

The final court case also made no mention of any connection to the influence peddling conversations the FBI undercover informant witnessed about the Russian nuclear officials trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons even though agents had gathered documents showing the transmission of millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation, sources confirmed to The Hill.

The lack of fanfare left many key players in Washington with no inkling that a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme with national security implications had been uncovered.
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On Dec. 15, 2015, the Justice Department put out a release stating that Mikerin, “a former Russian official residing in Maryland was sentenced today to 48 months in prison” and ordered to forfeit more than $2.1 million.

Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told The Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.

“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview."...




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Neocons are joined by Russia-hating liberals as together they fuel more bloodshed in Ukraine-Consortium News, James W. Carden...(Where are the peaceniks?)

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"Then, as the blood flowed and the suffering worsened, the neocons just sought out someone else to blame."...7/13/2015
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10/14/17, "Fueling More Bloodshed in Ukraine," Consortium News, James W. Carden

"Exclusive: In the U.S., Russia-hating liberals are joining the neocons in seeking more war in Ukraine, as the prospects for a rational and peaceful resolution to the crisis continue to fade, explains James W. Carden."

"Last January, Sen. John McCain led a delegation along with his longtime sidekick, Sen. Lindsey Graham, to a contingent of Ukrainian troops not far from the front line in eastern Ukraine. In the presence of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Graham told the soldiers: “Your fight is our fight … 2017 will be the year of offense. All of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against Russia.”

Jan. 2, 2017, McCain, Graham in Ukraine

McCain promised the assembled troops, “we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win.”

When contemplating the long careers of the two Republican senators, it is hard to escape the conclusion that McGeorge Bundy’s quip about the famed Cold War columnist Joe Alsop – that he had never known him to go to any area where blood could be spilled that he didn’t come back and say more blood – applies equally to McCain and Graham.

Indeed, last month’s National Defense Authorization Act shows that – if nothing else – McCain and Graham are as good as their word: the recently passed defense appropriations bill provides for $500 million, including “defensive lethal assistance” to Kiev, as part of a $640 billion overall spending package.

The aid comes at a good time for the embattled Ukrainian President Poroshenko, whose approval rating hovers around 16 percent. In a bid to stave off the possibility of a far-right coup d’etat, Poroshenko is back to banging the war drums, promising, well, more blood.

In a little covered speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Sept. 19, Poroshenko promised that “American weapons will help us liberate the Donbas and return Ukrainian territories.” He also noted that Ukraine spends roughly 6 percent of its GDP on defense, “a figure,” he observed, “much bigger than the obligation for the NATO members.”

Clearly Washington’s condemnation of governments that wage war “against their own people” remains selective, contingent upon who is doing the killing and who is doing the dying. In this case, it would seem that Russian-speaking Ukrainians simply don’t rate.

In addition to promising a wider war in the Donbas, Poroshenko has repeatedly promised that he will seek NATO membership. In August, during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Poroshenko declared: “Our Ukrainian caravan is on a roll and we have one road to travel upon — a wide Euro-Atlantic highway, leading to membership in the European Union and NATO.”

Ukraine’s Human Rights Abuses

There are a number of objections to yet another round of NATO expansion. As I reported in February 2015: “The current [Ukrainian] government has, according to organizations that could hardly be described as Kremlin friendly (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), committed war crimes in its attempt to defeat the Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas. … 
NATO’s principal consideration should not be whether NATO will make Ukraine more secure, but whether Ukraine will make NATO more secure. The answer is self-evident.”


Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine’s Azov battalion. (As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV) 

It is true that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, as recently as this month, insisted to Russian state media that NATO is not contemplating Ukrainian membership, telling Sputnik that “There is no MAP [membership action plan] on the agenda.” Yet Stoltenberg has also said, as he did in a speech to the Ukrainian parliament in July, that he believes Ukraine “has the right to choose its own security arrangements” further noting that “last month, NATO welcomed Montenegro as the 29th member of our Alliance. This shows that NATO’s door remains open.”

So the issue doesn’t seem to be going away.

Poroshenko’s push to join NATO, which is being made against the backdrop of ever-worsening relations between the U.S. and Russia, ignores, perhaps purposefully, one of the principal causes of the morass in which Kiev and Moscow find themselves. It was Moscow’s not unfounded fear that Ukraine might join NATO that helped spark the Ukrainian crisis in early 2014.

In the weeks prior to Russia’s annexation of Crimea (and just over a month before the outbreak of full hostilities in the Donbas), three former presidents of Ukraine (Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko) called on the post-Maidan regime to renounce the 2010 Kharkiv agreement which allowed for Russia to base its Black Sea naval fleet in Crimea (in return for discounted prices on Russian natural gas).

It is perhaps not unreasonable that this last move, in addition to the foreign policy and security protocols embedded within the European Union Association agreement (which Poroshenko signed in June 2014), would cause the Russian government to at the very least suspect that NATO was setting the stage for Ukraine’s eventual absorption into the alliance.


 











Indeed, Kiev’s launch of its violent and indiscriminate “Anti-Terrorist Operation” against the Donbas – with the effect of intimidating and alienating otherwise loyal Russian-speaking citizens in the eastern part of the country – surely played a role in the Kremlin’s decision to come to the aid of the rebels later in the summer of 2014 and again at Debaltseve early the following year. 

Less Dangerous Options

One reasonable alternative to NATO membership would be a treaty along the lines of the 1955 Austrian State Treaty, which was an agreement reached between the four post-World War II occupying powers (U.S., USSR, Great Britain and France) that granted Austria its independence “with the understanding,” according to the U.S. State Department, “that the newly independent state of Austria would declare its neutrality, creating a buffer zone between the East and the West,” meaning it would join neither NATO nor the Soviet-run Warsaw Pact....

The situation in postwar Austria – occupied by East and West is not perfectly analogous to the situation that obtains in Ukraine today, but there seem to be lessons...that might be drawn upon to inform Western diplomacy.

But instead of trying to implement the Minsk peace agreement (which calls for the Donbas to remain as part of Ukraine but with more autonomy from Kiev) or search for a reasonable alternative to what are indeed perplexing and pressing matters of national security, Poroshenko has continued to ring the alarm over the another, this time illusory, Russian invasion.

In a recent speech before the Ukrainian parliament, Poroshenko claimed “there is more and more evidence for [Russia’s] preparations for an offensive war of continental proportions.”

Yet perhaps the danger isn’t as clear and present as Poroshenko portrayed it. As Mary Dejevesky of the U.K.’s Independent has observed: “Nato itself had held exercises in the Black Sea and before that in and around the western borderlands of Ukraine. Who, it has to be asked here, is threatening whom?

Indeed, if Russia was on the precipice of launching a land war in Eastern Europe, would it have cut its defense budget by 25 percent to $48 billion a year, as was recently announced by the Kremlin? 

As difficult as it might be for our hearty band on new cold warriors to believe (some of whom have scant knowledge about the topic of U.S.-Russia relations on which they so frequently choose to declaim), the push for a peaceable settlement in Ukraine is coming not from Washington, but from Moscow and Berlin.

Nevertheless, the stalemate continues: a resolution to the Ukrainian conflict – through the implementation of the Minsk agreements, as well as a settlement of the outstanding security concerns of all parties to the conflict – seems to remain tragically out of reach."

"James W. Carden served as an adviser on Russia policy at the US State Department. Currently a contributing writer at The Nation magazine, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Quartz, The American Conservative and The National Interest."

Above McCain Ukraine image: "Jan. 2, 2017, In Ukraine, video published Jan.2, 2017, "President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko time s amerikanskimi senators pid Shirokіno," google translation

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Added: More on McCain in Ukraine inciting bloody overthrow of the Russian government funded by US taxpayers:

2/2/17, "Interfering in Ukraine - A Breach of U.S. law?"
viableopposition.blogspot.ca

"Recent news that John McCain and Lindsey Graham made a trip to Ukraine in early January 2017 was rather surprising. What is even more surprising is this commentary from Lindsey Graham and John McCain, made in the presence of Ukraine's President Poroshenko on the front lines of the Ukraine civil war, comments which seems to fly directly in the face of Donald Trump's approach to Russia: 

Urging a restart of the stalled Ukrainian civil war, here's what Lindsey Graham had to say: 

[At 1:20 in video, following remarks by a Ukraine official, possibly Pres. Poroshenko,  dressed in military garb]: 

Your fight is our fight, 2017 will be the year of offenseAll of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against RussiaEnough of a Russian aggression. It is time for them to pay a heavier price. 

Our fight is not with the Russian people but with Putin. Our promise to you is to take your cause to Washington, inform the American people of your bravery and make the case against Putin to the world." [In the video, Lindsey Graham rubs his hands together as he speaks] 

John McCain had this to say: 

"I believe you will win. I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win. We have succeeded not because of equipment but because of your courage. 

So I thank you and the world is watching and the world is watching because we cannot allow Vladimir Putin to succeed here because if he succeeds here, he will succeed in other countries." 

Given that some theorize that actions taken by former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Victoria Nuland, may have engineered the regime change in Ukraine, the comments by both Graham and McCain seem particularly malevolent since they obviously are not making any kind of personal sacrifice in restarting this conflict. 

What is even more interesting is a little-known federal law called the Logan Act, dating back to 1799, which reads as follows: 

"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both." 

In addition, a very influential Supreme Court decision from December 1936, United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation looked at the sale of unauthorized/illegal munitions of war and the delicate balance between the powers wielded by the Executive Branch when it acts without congressional authorization in foreign affairs.

Here are the key paragraphs in the decision: 

"Not only, as we have shown, is the federal power over external affairs in origin and essential character different from that over internal affairs, but participation in the exercise of the power is significantly limited. In this vast external realm, with its important, complicated, delicate and manifold problems, the President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude; and Congress itself is powerless to invade it. As Marshall said in his great argument of March 7, 1800, in the House of Representatives, 'The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations...

The President is the constitutional representative of the United States with regard to foreign nations. He manages our concerns with foreign nations and must necessarily be most competent to determine when, how, and upon what subjects negotiation may be urged with the greatest prospect of success. For his conduct he is responsible to the Constitution. The committee considers this responsibility the surest pledge for the faithful discharge of his duty. They think the interference of the Senate in the direction of foreign negotiations calculated to diminish that responsibility and thereby to impair the best security for the national safety. The nature of transactions with foreign nations, moreover, requires caution and unity of design, and their success frequently depends on secrecy and dispatch." (my bold) 

With Donald Trump still being President-elect while the warmongering John McCain and Lindsey Graham were pontificating in Ukraine, it certainly appears that they were not representing the future president and it is highly unlikely that they were representing the last days of the outgoing Obama Administration given that they are both Republicans.

At the very least, it looks like both men were meddling with Trump's moves to soften America's approach to Russia and their interference certainly has the appearance of breaching U.S. laws." Image above is screen shot from video 






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