Give CNN just a little credit. On Wednesday night, the cable network hosted a Town Hall featuring Green Party candidates Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. In those 90 Prime Time minutes, Stein and Baraka presented a clearer picture of the realities and consequences of US foreign policy and militarism than we heard from Bernie Sanders in a year’s worth of speeches.
Americans who tuned in heard some things that are rarely mentioned in the mainstream media: a sober critique of the US’s malign relationship to the government of Israel, forthright calls for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the end of killer drone strikes, the closure of all 800-plus overseas military bases and an end to interventionist wars. The entire Town Hall session was the political equivalent of George Carlin’s the seven things you can’t say on TV.
The Green Team deftly navigated the treacherous shoals of Cuomo’s questions. For most of the night, Cuomo played the role of a Clinton troll, trying to trip up Stein and Baraka with quotes ripped out of context and stale slanders planted by Democratic Party operatives. Despite all evidence to the contrary, it seems that Ralph Nader will forever be blamed for costing Al Gore the 2000 election. So he zeroed in on Stein, asking her how she could sleep at night if, like Nader, she ended up tipping the election to Trump. Stein didn’t blink, saying: “I would have trouble sleeping at night if Trump was elected. I would also have trouble sleeping if Hillary Clinton was elected.”
Stein also easily swatted down the smear now being furiously spread by the Clintonoids that she is opposed to childhood vaccinations and that she is “anti-science.” It’s a ludicrous charge against a physician and one that has no basis in fact, as Stein forcefully demonstrated. Still, I hope this assault doesn’t discourage Stein and Baraka from at some point offering a critical analysis of the economic and political uses of science in the service of war and profit.
One of the chief purveyors of this bilge of misinformation is a previously obscure fellow named Robert Naiman, who runs a nearly invisible group called Just Foreign Policy. Naiman was caught red-handed (so to speak) when his junk mail made its way to the inbox of John Stauber, author of Toxic Sludge is Good for You and a leading expert on the politics of propaganda and disinformation. Stauber knows a smear when he sees one.
Here’s the text of the email Naiman circulated among his coterie of conflicted progressives at GameChangersSalon:
From: Robert Naiman
If you have a lot of Facebook friends, you may have recently noticed a high level of activity on your Facebook feed by Jill Stein acolytes.
If so, you may find the following links useful to throw them off their game. No warranty, express or implied. You don’t have to prove that Jill Stein is an anti-science conspiracy theorist. You just have to say, “There are unanswered questions about whether Jill Stein is an anti-science conspiracy theorist.”
There’s Nothing Green About Jill Stein’s Vaccine Stance
Jill Stein on vaccines: People have ‘real questions’
Jill Stein Promotes Homeopathy, Panders On Vaccines http://www.patheos.com/blogs/progressivesecularhumanist/2016/07/jill-stein-promotes-homeopathy-panders-on-vaccines/
Jill Stein Worries Wi-Fi Is Dangerous For Kids
Just Foreign Policy
You’d think Jill Stein was a card-carrying member of the Flat Earth Society. In fact, Stein graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, graduated from Harvard Medical School, practiced internal medicine at Beth Israel Hospital for 25 years and taught medicine at Harvard Medical School. In other words, Stein is an unlikely suspect for ratting out a modern-day Galileo. The same cannot be said for the current Democratic administration whose vicious crackdown on whistleblowers, many of them scientists, has been part of a concerted and unrelenting campaign to snuff out internal dissent.
It so happens that Naiman, an alleged peace activist, is also the board president for the liberal website Truthout. Veteran readers of CounterPunch will recall Truthout from John Pilger’s acrid account of his head-on collision with their editors, who peevishly tried to cleanse his essay, “A World War Has Begun: Break the Silence,” of passages which might prove uncomfortable for the Democratic Party establishment.
In a nasty email exchange with longtime Green organizer Kevin Zeese, who is now co-director of Popular Resistance, a group which grew out of the Occupy movement, Naiman sunk even further into the slime and threatened to expose Jill Stein as “a Trotskyite cancer.”
On Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 2:56 PM, Robert Naiman wrote:Oh, is today my day to be harassed by Green Party thugs?
I’ll make you a deal: call off your dogs and I won’t further expose Jill Stein as a Trokskyite cancer.
Slandering Stein and the Greens for being “Trotskyites” (or “Trokskyites,” in Naiman’s quaint verbiage) is as intellectually vapid as it is vile. Everyone knows that most of Leon’s former disciples in the US have long since morphed into neocons and thus can be spotted in Georgetown cafes polishing their resumés for slots on Hillary’s foreign policy team.
“Robert Naiman epitomizes the attitude of the paid, professional Democrat progressives attacking the Green Party and Jill Stein,” John Stauber told me. “These shills see no hypocrisy in embracing a candidate supported by Wall Street, the Koch brothers and the neoconservatives who with Hillary lied America into attacking Iraq. So there it is, Hillary is his champion while a woman running on the most progressive platform in America is just a damned Communist. Rather than back down when he himself was exposed, he doubled down with a smear befitting the worst of American politics. Naiman is not an aberration however; indeed, he embodies the funded progressive elite who since 2000 have become a front group for the Democrats liberal oligarchs such as George Soros and his Democracy Alliance.”
The hypocrisy of the Clintonoids is almost as audacious as their dissemination of lies about Jill Stein. Of course, their champion, the “pro-science” Hillary Clinton, ignores scientific facts and assessments whenever such considerations prove to be an even minor inconvenience to the headlong pursuit of her corporate agenda (cf, fracking).
“People may wonder why suddenly everyone was saying Jill Stein is anti-vax — now we know it was a coordinated campaign,” Zeese told me. “Obviously, it also happens in the media because all of a sudden multiple news outlets were reporting the same thing. Had Stein said something that all these media outlets saw and ‘reported’ on — no, she had not said anything anti-vax, but they were coordinated. It was a planned slander attack.”
Despite Clinton’s apparent lead in the polls, there’s a palpable sense of desperation in the air, as if her support is so soft that Hillary could sink another 10 points in the wake of one more email dump from Wikileaks or Guccifer 2.0. This explains why her surrogates are reaching so deeply into their bag of dirty tricks. The red-baiting of Stein and Baraka is a perfect expression of the Clinton machine’s political and moral bankruptcy.
Birth of a Hit Job
You just knew some kind of campaign to sabotage Nate Parker’s sizzling film about Nat Turner’s slave revolt, “Birth of a Nation,” was going to erupt sooner or later.
One might have anticipated that the attack on Parker’s hotly anticipated film might have originated from Breitbart, the Drudge Report or the Weekly Standard. Oh, no. The hit piece was launched from the homepage of the New York Times, which dredged up a 17-year-old allegation of rape against Parker, who was then a student at Penn State University. Parker was charged with rape, went to trial and was acquitted by a jury. The accuser in the case committed suicide more than a decade later. The insinuations at work in the Times story are that Parker somehow escaped conviction on a technicality (a rarity for a black man accused of raping a white woman), that the accuser killed herself because she couldn’t deal with the trauma of the rape and that you should boycott “Birth of a Nation” because it’s a film made by a remorseless rapist.
I don’t know the facts of the Nate Parker rape case and you won’t learn them from this long NYT story, which treads in whispers, rumors and manufactured outrage. We don’t learn why Parker was acquitted or much at all about course of the trial. We don’t learn why his roommate’s conviction was overturned on appeal. We don’t know why the accuser committed suicide 10 years later. We don’t know why the accuser’s family believes that a rival studio leaked the original story to Variety. We don’t learn anything at all except that there is now a furious effort to discredit the film and disparage its director.
Perhaps Parker deserves the scorn. I don’t know and neither will you from reading this mendacious piece. Even if one accepts the worst interpretation of the facts of the case (the jury didn’t), how does that invalidate the film? Does the New York Times really want us to believe that black women weren’t regularly raped in the southern slave states? That the torments and torture endured by slaves such as Nat Turner didn’t take place? That Turner’s fierce rebellion against the criminals who abused him and his comrades didn’t ignite after suffering a long history of unspeakable wrongs? This story an object lesson in character assassination NYT’s style.
I’ve been thinking about what it would take to finally abolish the anti-democratic Electoral College. Probably an election where Trump wins the popular vote by 400,000 votes and loses in the Electoral College by more than 30 votes. The Right wouldn’t tolerate that result, the way Gore and the Democrats did in 2000, when the Ozone Man won the popular vote nationally, probably won Florida and yet meekly swallowed the unconstitutional ruling of the Supreme Court handing the election to Bush. There’s a potentially positive result from a HRC victory to load into your Lesser Evil Voting calculator.
If the Feet Fit
The current net worth of George W. Bush, the man Ann Richards lampooned as being “born with a silver foot in his mouth,” is: $23 million. Net worth of the perpetually poor-mouthing Clintons: $111 million. Those must be platinum feet Hillary and Bill are munching on…
False Flag Email Alert!
Speaking of Democratic millionaires, Nancy Pelosi (Net Worth: $58 million) is launching a pre-emptive strike against the next leak of DNC emails. Pelosi is telling anyone who will listen that the next batch of emails exposing political trickery and corruption by party elites will likely be fakes, a false flag October Surprise generated by Russian intelligence to cripple the Democratic Party and help secure the election for Trump. The patsy in Pelosi’s conspiracy theory will no doubt be Julian Assange, for uploading these malicious cyber missives from his hidden vantage on GrassyKnoll.com. Assange, of course, is Number Two on the Democrats’ Wanted: Dead or Alive List, lagging behind Vladimir Putin and but still slightly ahead of Bashir Assad.
The Courage of Chou
This week Howard Lisnoff wrote an excellent and widely read piece on Hillary and her intellectual Svengali, Henry Kissinger. But at this moment I’m more interested in the photo that either Nathaniel St. Clair or Joshua Frank selected to illustrate Howard’s story. The photo depicts Nixon toasting Chou En-Lai, probably the greatest diplomat of our time, during the president’s visit to Peking. Even Nixon and Kissinger’s enemies tend to effusively praise the shameless duo’s “courage” for opening the long-shuttered door to China. But that 1972 trip didn’t take courage. It was the fruition a business deal. All the real fortitude during those negotiations was displayed by Chou. After all, he was dealing with a nation whose intelligence elites had tried to assassinate him only a few years earlier, when agents of the CIA placed a bomb on the plane he was meant to take to the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955. (See ND Jayaprakash’s definitive account: Why Did the CIA Try to Kill Chou En-Lai?) And who was vice-president and chief Cold Warrior at the time of the bombing? Yep, the man Chou is toasting–Richard M. Nixon.
According to this scandalous report in Mother Jones by Tom Philpott, more than 200,000 people are drinking toxic water in California’s central valley. Yet we hear almost nothing about it. Could this be because, unlike in Michigan, California has a Democratic governor, who is soft on Big Ag, and most of the poisoned are migrant workers?
Late for the Sky
Speaking of the environmental politics of Jerry Brown, the towering smoke plumes from the rampaging Blue Cut fire near San Bernardino have merged with the normal stew of particulate matter and ozone to render the air in the Los Angeles Basin about as dangerous as Delhi’s on an average day. Brown, the man the Democratic Party selected to deliver a tepid message on climate change at their convention, is wholly owned by big oil and the fracking industry. It’s no surprise, therefore, to find that California contains 8 of the 10 worst zones for air quality in the United States. The toxic air in California accounts for more than 21,000 premature deaths a year, 40 percent of the total for the entire nation. The health care costs associated with treating victims of California’s dirty air top $200 million every year. Don’t worry, though, help is on the way. I’ve heard from someone who is in a position to know that one of Trump’s first acts as president, if elected, will be to issue an Executive Order declaring smog to be a vegetable.
Obama heads the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is ostensibly in opposition to the TPP. Yet, Obama is now traveling across what was once considered the “battleground” region, hustling votes for Hillary while simultaneously pimping for the TPP. Work out that political syllogism. When Bernie announced his support for HRC based on the victories he’s secured in the Democratic Party platform, and from Hillary herself, I said that those commitments had been “written in disappearing ink.” But even I didn’t think those mighty pledges would begin to fade from public view until after the election. Obama’s blatant huckstering for the TPP is a sure sign that the neo-Democrats feel confident of total victory and can stick their real agenda in the face of the Left during the campaign with impunity. Look for ‘Pass the TPP’ signs at Hillary rallies in October.
The Politics of Weed
While Obama’s DEA wants desperately to continue the war on pot, to justify its own existence and maximize its budget (See Jesse Ventura’s piece in today’s CounterPunch), the nation as a whole seems to be waking up. A new poll from Gallup shows that 58 percent of Americans believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal.” In California, upwards of 60 percent of registered voters say that they will vote to approve a November ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use under California law and allow government to tax its retail sales.
Arise from your slumbers Barry-O, or risk being swept away by the rising bongwaters of history.
Looking Through You
The latest NBC Poll shows that only 11% view HRC as ‘honest and trustworthy.’ The news isn’t any better from Democrats, where only 12% view her as ‘honest and trustworthy’–and they still plan to vote for her, knowing full well that she’ll screw them over. Only possible conclusion: Democrats like being screwed over.
Shit on the Sacred Slopes
In order to manufacture something for skiers to ski on in climate change ravaged northern Arizona, the City of Flagstaff has been “making snow” by using water from human sewage and then spraying it on the San Francisco Peaks, one of the holiest sites of the Hopi (and 13 other tribes). The Hopi have fiercely fought this odious desecration for years. The courts remain deaf to their pleas. The legal battle has ended. Rest assured, the Hopi will find other ways to fight.
The Hunted and the Hunter
A couple of years after Hemingway blew his brains out with a two-barreled shotgun he used to shoot pigeons, a young Hunter S. Thompson showed up at the late writer’s cabin in the shadow of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains on assignment for the National Observer. His mission: explain why Hemingway killed himself. Thompson’s story proved to be a rather perfunctory exercise in speculative psychology. (You can read it in his collection The Great Shark Hunt.)
While in Ketchum, the good Doctor became fixated by a large pair of elk antlers that Hemingway had nailed above the front door of his cabin and in true Gonzo-style Thompson swiped the animal relicts and trundled them back to his garage in Woody Creek, Colorado, where they hung for decades among his dartboards and explosive devices. Then last week, Thompson’s wife, Anita, returned them to the Hemingway cabin, which is now owned by the Nature Conservancy. Anita Thompson said that she brought the antlers back to Idaho because Hunter had felt guilty about keeping them.
I don’t believe Hunter regretted this escapade for a minute. He boasted about the heist to friends for many years. If Anita wanted to restore the karmic balance, she should have returned them to the mountain meadow from which Hemingway stole them at rifle point. As my friend Michael Donnelly quipped: “I wouldn’t give the Nature Conspiracy a pile of elk dung!”
Bernie’s Last Tape
My pal Carl G. Estabrook, looking very trim, devotes the first few minutes of his must watch show on politics, culture and the media out of Champaign-Urbana, News From Neptune (the antecedent is Chomsky not Hendrix or William Morris) to a reading of my little drama, “Bernie’s Last Tape.” Carl has actually performed Beckett, to great acclaim, I’ve just slandered Lonesome Sam’s reputation through parody. (Someone should stop me before I write the sequel: Bernie’s Last Krapp.)
What I’m listening to this week:
1/ Devastatin’ Rhythm by David Vest
2/ Protest by Bunny Wailer
4/ The Deepest Lake by Dengue Fever
5/ Silver City by Sarah Borges
The World Through a One-Way Mirror
“We are beckoned to see the world through a one-way mirror, as if we are threatened and innocent and the rest of humanity is threatening, or wretched, or expendable. Our memory is struggling to rescue the truth that human rights were not handed down as privileges from a parliament, or a boardroom, or an institution, but that peace is only possible with justice and with information that gives us the power to act justly.”
— John Pilger