Monday June 5, 2023
U.S. leaders rarely have been noted for being able to gauge changing sentiment in the international arena and adjusting their foreign policy accordingly. The Biden administration, however, may be setting new records for the tone-deaf quality of its policies. Three incidents in the past few weeks illustrate the problem.
There has been obvious movement in recent months on the part of leading Arab powers to temper their feud with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Only a few years ago, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries were in a partnership with Turkey and the United States to unseat Assad – largely because of his close alliance with Iran. Now, those same powers have changed course dramatically, seeking a rapprochement with both Damascus and Tehran. Important signals of the new political environment were Saudi Arabia’s restoration of diplomatic relations with Iran and Syria’s re-entry to the Arab League.
Instead of going along with the new diplomatic and geopolitical realities in the region, the Biden administration chose this moment to escalate its increasingly futile attempts to isolate Assad. On May 30, Washington imposed new economic sanctions on Syria. As Dave DeCamp noted, the businesses were targeted using the Caesar Act, a law the US has used to impose sanctions on Syria that are specifically designed to prevent the country’s reconstruction." One could scarcely imagine a more ill-timed move, given the powerful, contrary diplomatic trends in the region.
Monday June 5, 2023
During a press conference at the Museum of Tolerance in West Jerusalem in April, Ron DeSantis was questioned about a former detainee’s claim that as a naval attorney at Guantanamo DeSantis watched as the prisoner was force fed, something the UN regards as torture. “Do you honestly believe that’s credible? It’s 2006, I’m a junior officer, do you honestly think that they would’ve remembered me?” DeSantis responded angrily.
Mansoor Adayfi, a Yemeni citizen, was held at Guantanamo Bay for 14 years, and has told news outlets that DeSantis witnessed him being force fed during a hunger strike in 2006. Adayfi in an op-ed for Al Jazeera said “As I tried to break free, I noticed DeSantis’ handsome face among the crowd at the other side of the chain link. He was watching me struggle. He was smiling and laughing with other officers as I screamed in pain.” Two former detainees, as well as defense lawyers and base officials, have told The Washington Post DeSantis had a “close up views” of disturbing incidents at the camp during his time there.
What might DeSantis have seen? In addition to Adayfi’s account, we have Imad Abdullah Hassan’s more detailed rendition, from a man who spent twelve years in Guantanamo in a cage without ever being charged with anything. A judge cleared Hassan for release, finding there was not enough incriminating evidence to justify keeping him imprisoned (779 men were held at Guantanamo since it opened in 2002, with 12 ever charged with crimes. Only two have been convicted.) Hassan’s clearance came, yet he remained at America’s off-shore penal colony without explanation or hope of release. He went on a hunger strike in 2009 in protest (the U.S. military refers to it as a “long-term non-religious fast”), and was force-fed.
Monday June 5, 2023
The political and financial class breathed a sigh of relief when Congress passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. The bill suspends the debt ceiling for two years, thus avoiding the establishment’s nightmare of a government default on its debt. Rather, it allows the government to continue adding trillions of dollars of debt that will be monetized by the Federal Reserve.
Thursday June 1, 2023
The World Health Organization (WHO) is proposing a set of recommendations for “social listening surveillance systems” designed to address what it describes as a “health threat” posed by online “misinformation.” The WHO’s Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats (PRET) initiative claims “misinformation” has resulted in an “infodemic” that poses a threat — even in instances where the information is “accurate.”
Wednesday May 31, 2023
The University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder) is under fire this week for a statement on the “Pride Office” website stating that misgendering people can be considered an “act of violence.”
The guide on pronouns is reportedly the work of students associated with the office and states that “choosing to ignore or disrespect someone’s pronouns is not only an act of oppression but can also be considered an act of violence.”
It is a familiar position for many in higher education. Opposing viewpoints are now routinely declared to be violence. That allows professors and students to rationalize their own act of violence or censorship.
The most vivid example was recently seen at Hunter College, which is part of the CUNY system. Professor Shellyne Rodríguez recently was fired after holding a machete to the neck of a New York Post reporter and threatened to “chop you up.” However, Hunter College decided not to fire her over a prior incident in which she trashed a pro-life table run by students.
Rodríguez spotted students with pro-life material at the college. She was captured on a videotape telling the students that “you’re not educating s–t […] This is f–king propaganda. What are you going to do, like, anti-trans next? This is bulls–t. This is violent. You’re triggering my students.” Even after a remarkably polite student said that he was “sorry,” Rodríguez would have nothing of it. After all, espousing pro-life views is now “violence.” Rodríguez rejected the apology and declared “No you’re not — because you can’t even have a f–king baby. So you don’t even know what that is. Get this s–t the f–k out of here.”
Wednesday May 31, 2023
Let’s be clear about one thing: seditious conspiracy isn’t a real crime to anyone but the US government.
To be convicted of seditious conspiracy, the charge levied against Stewart Rhodes who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for being the driving force behind the January 6 Capitol riots, one doesn’t have to engage in violence against the government, vandalize government property, or even trespass on property that the government has declared off-limits to the general public.
To be convicted of seditious conspiracy, one need only foment a revolution.
This is not about whether Rhodes deserves such a hefty sentence.
This is about the long-term ramifications of empowering the government to wage war on individuals whose political ideas and expression challenge the government’s power, reveal the government’s corruption, expose the government’s lies, and encourage the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices.
This is about criminalizing political expression in thoughts, words and deeds.
This is about how the government has used the events of Jan. 6 in order to justify further power grabs and acquire more authoritarian emergency powers.
Tuesday May 30, 2023
It should not come as a surprise that US officials and members of the foreign policy establishment have falsely portrayed Ukraine as a noble democracy. Such deceptions in pursuit of assorted US foreign policy objectives around the globe are nothing new. Throughout the Cold War, Washington routinely contended that "friendly" dictatorships were members of the "free world." More recently, officials in George W. Bush’s administration conducted a concerted propaganda effort that Iraqi exile leader Ahmed Chalabi was the George Washington of Iraq. Obama administration officials and their allies in the news media even sought to make the case that the Islamic jihadists trying to unseat Syria’s Bashar al-Assad were really democratic freedom fighters.
A similar effort is taking place to portray Ukraine as a vibrant democracy and the country’s leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, as a courageous champion of freedom. Biden administration officials and most members of the news media have dutifully promoted those images. The fawning reception given to Zelensky as he addressed a joint session of Congress in December 2022 was an especially graphic example.
There is extensive evidence, however, that Ukraine is in fact run by a corrupt, repressive oligarchy. That situation was true even before Russia’s February 2022 invasion gave Zelensky and his associates a rationale for intensifying their authoritarian practices. Matters have grown steadily worse since then.
The alarming trend is evident in Freedom House’s 2023 report on global liberty. Ukraine received an anemic score of 50 out of 100 points in the overall freedom assessment, putting the country squarely in the middle of the "partly free" category. Kyiv’s score in the "democracy" subcategory was even worse—a 39, which meant that Ukraine was considered a "hybrid" system, embodying both democratic and outright dictatorial features.
Monday May 29, 2023
We have previously discussed how comedians have been objecting that woke activists are killing comedy. The complaint is that a group of perpetually pissed off, humorless people are remaking the world in their own image. It began with college campuses which comedians are now saying are dead as venues since you cannot safely make any joke that insults any group other than white straight males or Christians or conservatives.
Others have objected to hate speech laws limiting comedians, particularly after some comedians have been prosecuted for “malicious communications” or insulting groups or religious figures. Six out of ten students view offensive jokes as hate speech. This week, however, activists appear to have met their match in a legend of comedy who has opposed the cutting of a scene from the movie The Life of Brian. No, activists are not upset with the endless jokes about Italians, Christians, and Jews. It is the scene involving a man who wants to become a women and have a child. John Cleese is refusing to yield.
In The Life of Brian, the scene involves “Stan” who announces that he wants to be a woman named Loretta and have babies. Activists objected that it made fun of transgender people and demanded that it be cut from the film.
The scene shows Stan declaring “I want to be a woman… It’s my right as a man. I want to have babies… It’s every man’s right to have babies if he wants them.” After Cleese’s protest, the character snaps, “Don’t you oppress me!”
Some reported that Cleese had agreed to cut the scene. However, Cleese tweeted out a correction of the “misreporting.”
Monday May 29, 2023
The most recent release from the federally funded Nation’s Report Card shows that 40 percent of eighth graders lack even a basic understanding of US history, while only 14 percent are proficient or advanced in history. This score from 2022 showing so many students lack basic understanding is bad. It also indicates a continuation of a decline that started in 2018, the last time the score was previously reported.
Monday May 29, 2023
It’s Memorial Day and Americans are out barbequing, having a few beers, and spending time with their loved ones; they are celebrating to honor the fallen warriors who have died to protect our nation, our freedoms, and our way of life.
But I have a serious question that may make you uncomfortable: Did they really die protecting those things?
If you believe that every war we have ever started, engaged in, or supported was just, then your answer will be a resounding “Yes!” But I think more and more American are beginning to realize they have been lied to about many of these wars, especially all the wars the came out of the so-called “War on Terror.” Many of those Americans being war veterans just like myself.
America is 246 years old, yet has been at war for over 96% of its existence. Certainly, some of these wars must have been just, but most of them, especially after 1913, have been nothing but special-interest wars that benefited the Military Industrial Complex at the expense of Americans. We were warned about this entity by people who worked for it: once by General Smedley Butler, who wrote a short book (a mere 12 pages) called War is a Racket; and another time by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell address. I highly recommend every American read both to get the truth directly from those who were on the inside.
By the way, did you know despite all the fighting our nation has been/is involved in, it has only formally declared war five times? The last time the United States formally declared was in 1942 against the Axis Powers, yet it has been engaged in “military led operations,” “police actions,” and “humanitarian interventions” for over eight decades since then. Just like our government changed the “Department of War” to the “Department of Defense” in 1949, it uses these sanitized terms to avoid calling what these things really are: wars. And as I stated in the last paragraph, most of these wars do not benefit the American people at all; in fact, they cost them everything.