Posted tagged ‘Democracy’

From Mueller to Mandelblit

November 2, 2017

From Mueller to Mandelblit, FrontPage MagazineCaroline Glick, November 2, 2017

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

By making it clear through their actions to date that they will not stop their investigation until they get Trump, Mueller and his associates apparently view their investigation as a means to either overturn the election results or render them irrelevant. If Trump is either pushed out of office or denied the ability to govern in accordance with the agenda he ran on, then Mueller will have achieved that goal.

Netanyahu and his political camp’s victory came as a shock to Israel’s elites. Led by the media, which was itself an adjunct of the anti-Netanyahu campaign, and assisted by the Obama administration, which siphoned US government funds into anti-Netanyahu political groups, Israel’s elites were flummoxed by the election results.

Shortly after the election, the anti-Netanyahu media, with the support of police investigators, went on a hunt to find something – anything – to force Netanyahu from office. In the end, all they could come up with were two otherwise absurd allegations.

In the Mueller probe and the incessant probes against Netanyahu we see the new face of the Left. Unable to win elections, they exploit their control over the bureaucracy and media to overturn election results.

There can be no greater threat to the health of a liberal democracy than that.

Two things must happen for this situation to be corrected.

First, we must recognize what is happening and what it means for our systems of governance. Second, lawmakers in Congress and the Knesset alike need to stand up to the media and the legal fraternities and bravely restore the power to govern to those in whom the public has vested it.

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There are stunning parallels between US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged collusion between US President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia and the ongoing criminal probes against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara.

Monday, after a weekend filled with speculation due to an illegal media leak regarding sealed grand jury indictments, Mueller and his team indicted two former Trump campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, for offenses related to their business and lobbying actions allegedly carried out between 2006 and 2014.

Mueller also announced that George Papadopoulos, a junior campaign aide, pled guilty to lying to investigators about a meeting he tried to arrange between then candidate Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As commentators across the political spectrum have noted, none of the charges against Manafort and Gates have anything to do with Trump’s presidential campaign.

As for Papadopoulos, his story exculpates rather than implicates Trump’s campaign in collusion with Russia.

Not only did Papadopoulos’s boss on the campaign reject his offer to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin, the actions described in his indictment demonstrate that the Trump campaign had no significant ties to the Russian regime.

And yet, despite the apparent absence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, no one expects Mueller to close down shop. To the contrary.

The Manafort and Gates indictments and the Papadopoulos plea tell us that Mueller has abandoned the stated purpose of his investigation. Having found no evidence of collusion – criminal or otherwise – between the Trump campaign and Russia, he has decided to investigate the business dealings of Trump and his associates going back decades.

Mueller’s move demonstrates that he does not view it as his job to incriminate or exonerate Trump regarding alleged collusion with Russia. Indeed, he doesn’t view it as his responsibility to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 elections at all.

If he thought that was his job, then Mueller would not be expanding his writ to include alleged crimes carried out by Trump’s associates that any US attorney could be investigating. He would be expanding his probe to include the growing mountain of evidence of collusion on the part of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and their attorneys, as well as Mueller’s friend and successor as FBI director, James Comey, with foreign agents, including Russian government officials, during and in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Mueller’s apparent refusal to follow the evidence where it leads him regarding Russian involvement in the 2016 elections and his decision instead to investigate any and all suspicions against Trump and his associates whenever the events in question may have taken place tells us that he views himself as a hunter, not an investigator. His prey is Trump.

Mueller will continue to hunt Trump until one of three things happen.

Mueller may eventually find something – anything – to charge Trump with. Such a finding will precipitate an impeachment hearing in Congress that could lead to Trump’s removal from office.

His hunt may find nothing against Trump, but just as it netted Manafort, Gates and Papadopoulos this week, it may bring down other people related to Trump. At a minimum, his continued probe will keep those close to Trump under continuous investigation. In this case, Mueller’s probe will dominate Trump’s presidency and make it impossible for Trump to govern in accordance with the agenda he was elected to advance.

The third possible outcome is that Trump fires Mueller and ends his probe or that Congress defunds his probe or limits its duration. Such moves would require the unanimous support of congressional and Senate Republicans, which currently is not on offer.

The threat that Mueller’s investigation represents to US democracy couldn’t be clearer.

By making it clear through their actions to date that they will not stop their investigation until they get Trump, Mueller and his associates apparently view their investigation as a means to either overturn the election results or render them irrelevant. If Trump is either pushed out of office or denied the ability to govern in accordance with the agenda he ran on, then Mueller will have achieved that goal.

This then brings us to Netanyahu.

Netanyahu and the political Right won a massive electoral victory in 2015. For the first time in many years, the Right won indisputably. There are no coalition partners who place appeasing the PLO at the top of their governing agenda or even in the middle of their agenda.

Netanyahu and his political camp’s victory came as a shock to Israel’s elites. Led by the media, which was itself an adjunct of the anti-Netanyahu campaign, and assisted by the Obama administration, which siphoned US government funds into anti-Netanyahu political groups, Israel’s elites were flummoxed by the election results.

Shortly after the election, the anti-Netanyahu media, with the support of police investigators, went on a hunt to find something – anything – to force Netanyahu from office. In the end, all they could come up with were two otherwise absurd allegations.

First, that Netanyahu received too many gifts from his wealthy friends. Specifically, he allegedly received too many cigars from his friend Arnon Milchen. Second, Netanyahu taped himself discussing with his nemesis, Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon Mozes, the possibility of winning less adversarial coverage from Yediot Ahronot in exchange for lobbying Israel Hayom, which is owned by Netanyahu’s friend Sheldon Adelson, to cut back its circulation and so diminish its competitive edge over Yediot. This discussion, which came to nothing, was discovered by police investigators during their investigation of Netanyahu’s former chief of staff for alleged crimes unrelated to Netanyahu.

If the allegations were directed against any other politician, there is no doubt that they would not have led to police investigations. The late president Shimon Peres’s legendary use of the public trough to pay for his lavish parties and lifestyle were never the subject of investigation. Former prime minister Ehud Barak never faced investigation over his allegedly sketchy business dealings or his deeply suspect campaign financing operations. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert was never investigated for the massive collection of expensive pens that he was showered with by “friends” during his tenure in government.

And none the 43 lawmakers who voted in favor of a bill backed by Mozes to shut down Israel Hayom were ever investigated for their votes.

But with Netanyahu, with the prodding and active support of the media the police are pursuing multi-million shekel investigations around the world to find and interrogate Netanyahu’s friends and ask them about their gifts to him. Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich has hired Lior Horev, one of Israel’s top anti-Netanyahu political consultants, to serve as the police’s public relations representative.

As for the probes against Sara Netanyahu, every day the public is treated to yet more salacious, unsubstantiated tales of her alleged abuse of workers at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

While Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit did not initiate the probes against Netanyahu, he has done nothing to stop them. This despite their demonstrably prejudicial nature. Mandelblit is a product of the system that has turned the police, media and state prosecution into a political party united in their common goal of hunting the political Right. As a result, he can be expected to go along with whatever they do. If the police recommend indicting Netanyahu, Mandelblit can be counted on to dutifully indict him, even though the acts he is suspected of committing are not crimes.

Given the current dynamic, the only way for Netanyahu not be forced from office for actions that aren’t even criminal is for his political associates to rein in the out of control police and state prosecution by limiting their authority. So far, the media have cowed them into inaction.

In the Mueller probe and the incessant probes against Netanyahu we see the new face of the Left. Unable to win elections, they exploit their control over the bureaucracy and media to overturn election results.

There can be no greater threat to the health of a liberal democracy than that.

Two things must happen for this situation to be corrected.

First, we must recognize what is happening and what it means for our systems of governance. Second, lawmakers in Congress and the Knesset alike need to stand up to the media and the legal fraternities and bravely restore the power to govern to those in whom the public has vested it.

The New Civil War

August 19, 2017

The New Civil War, American ThinkerTom Trinko, August 19, 2017

(Please see also, Anti-Israel Academics Launch Campus Antifa Group for Faculty. — DM)

The first “shots” in our new civil war were fired after Charlottesville when many Democratic leaders claimed that they had the right to use physical force against anyone they didn’t like.

While cowardly leftist leaders are trying to portray themselves as fighting Hitler they are really fighting anyone they don’t agree with. Remember that some Democrats said that Rep. Steve Scalise had it coming since he opposed gun control and that Democrats have been silent when left-wing violence was used to prevent Republicans marching in a parade in Portland.

Facing a continued loss of power because their radical agenda is toxic to most Americans, the Democrat leadership — which includes the MSM — have decided that they have the right to physically attack anyone who stands in their way.

Like their Nazi and Communist forefathers, today’s Democrat leaders are comfortable sending swarms of Brownshirts out to beat into submission anyone who stands between them and power.

Under Obama, Democrats renounced the rule of law by declaring that they could choose to not enforce laws they didn’t like and make up laws that Congress never passed. Now they’re saying that they have the right to attack anyone who dares speak out in disagreement.  Rep. Scalise wasn’t a Nazi or white nationalist, nor were the Republicans in Portland, or the speakers that Democrats forcibly prevented from speaking in Berkeley. Yet the Democratic leadership’s condemnation of all of those events has been muted at best.

While the first American Civil War was fought to protect that particularly Democrat institution slavery, the new civil war Democrat elites are starting to wage is about transferring power from the people to the rich white oligarchs, judges, and government bureaucrats.

As then, Republicans stand for freedom and Democrats stand for slavery.

The Democratic elite has issued a call to war by supporting and endorsing violence against people who don’t agree with them.

The left has gone from endorsing Nazis marching in a neighborhood full of Holocaust survivors to endorsing attacks on Nazis wherever they might appear. We all hate Nazis, but as Americans, Republicans believe in freedom of even odious speech, which is why we’re not tearing down the statues of that mass murderer Lenin that exist in America or the statues of Democrat Robert Byrd, who was a senior official in the KKK.

Republicans have uniformly, including President Trump, condemned Nazis and white nationalists. Yet Democrats are attacking us for not being sufficiently “woke.”

The time for pretending that Democrat leadership is patriotic is over.  It’s time to shout from the rooftops that the Democratic leadership is a fascist cabal intent on overthrowing democracy.

It’s unclear how many of those who voted for Hillary support the clear fascist policies of the Democratic party.  We know that those people tend to be low-information voters who get their “news” from the MSM. Hence, they live in a bubble of lies which make Democrat policies look semi-reasonable.

Even intelligent people fall victim to the Democrat Big Lies. A liberal physicist, for example, was shocked to learn that Osama greenlighted 9/11 because Clinton’s fleeing from Somalia taught Osama that Americans were cowards. He’d never heard that.

Similarly, today many Americans believe that Trump was defending Nazis because the MSM is lying about what he really said.

That’s why we need to be careful and not condemn all Democrats; many of them are honestly unaware of the facts just as the citizens of Nazi Germany didn’t have a clue about how WWII was actually progressing or how the citizens of North Korea thought for decades that though they were starving, they had it better than those poor capitalist South Koreans.

It’s clear that not all of those who voted for Hillary were actually voting for her agenda of taking power from the people and giving it to the elites.

Unlike the average Hillary voter who never heard most of the negative news about her, the Democratic leadership has sinister motives. For decades, they’ve been waging war against America. It started with FDR, a big fan of fascist dictator Mussolini, who began moving this country down the path to socialism with his failed big government policies. Few people remember that those policies didn’t work; it took WWII for the U.S. to recover economically from the Depression.

The next big step was disempowering Americans by giving near absolute power to the unelected Supreme Court. That court overthrew the laws of all 50 states by legalizing abortion for any reason at any time in pregnancy based on a “right to privacy” which is nowhere in the Constitution.

The Supreme Court also created numerous rights for criminals and redefined marriage over the votes of 55,000,000 Americans.

In parallel, the Democrats increased the power of unelected government bureaucrats to the point that they felt empowered to demand that Catholic nuns pay for abortions. To Democrats the 1st Amendment only applies to causes they, the Democrats, support.

Trump’s election was a visceral scream from America saying that we want our power back. That we don’t want to be ruled by pretentious, stupid, elitist fascists like Pelosi and the Clintons, or by RINOs whose first loyalty is to the state, not the people.

The Democratic leadership is now following Mao, who said that political power grows from the barrel of a gun, while Americans are being forced to defend the core American belief that power flows from the people.

Just as the original Democrats repudiated Lincoln for opposing slavery, modern Democratic leaders are repudiating his belief that the government is of the people, for the people, by the people.

The elite bicoastal ruling class is nearly all white and racist to the core, but they use lies about Republicans, spread by the fawning liberal media, to justify violence.

Today Democrats have crossed the Rubicon.  By saying that it’s okay for Antifa to shut down speakers they don’t like and physically assault anyone they don’t happen to agree with Democrats have renounced the rule of law and summoned the whirlwind of civil war.

Why have Democrats once again started a civil war to achieve their ends?

They thought they had everything sewed up. When Hillary won she’d pack the Supreme Court with fascists who believed that they could make up whatever laws they liked. Hillary would, like Obama, ignore the Constitution and further strengthen the administrative state while waging a war against non-Democratic whites and Asians and ensuring that Blacks stayed uneducated so they couldn’t see how Democrats were exploiting them.

But contrary to their expectations, the American people said no. We don’t want to be ruled, we want to be represented — which is why the Republican failure to get rid of ObamaCare is so offensive.

Even with the lying media spreading Democratic talking points 24/7 the majority of Americans want to be free, not enslaved — not told how much soda they can drink or what type of entertainment they can like — Democrats support violent misogynistic rap music while condemning Americans for liking NASCAR. The Democratic message calling on Americans to accept slavery because, according to Democrats, Americans can’t manage their own lives — the same line Democrats used to justify slavery– can’t win elections because American’s aren’t that stupid. As a result, the Democrat leadership has decided that their only way to power is violence.

If they can’t win in the battlefield of ideas, they’ve decided that they need to silence, by the use of force, any voices they don’t like.

The Democrat leaders have turned to the communists they so admire — remember Obama wishing he could rule like the dictator of China does? — and decided that what they can’t win by the ballot they can win with the baseball bat.

Unless we all take a stand now, this spiral of violence initiated by Democrats will lead to a truly horrible future, just as the Democrat’s violent defense of slavery was the cause of the greatest tragedy in American history. If Democrats had voluntarily abandoned slavery, we could have avoided America’s most costly war. Instead we had to fight to end the scourge of slavery.

Contact the Republican leadership and make it clear that instead of condemning Trump for his stand against all violence, they need to attack the Democrat’s support of violence.

There is still time to avoid a massive escalation of violence but if we fail to take a stand against the Democrat’s use of force we will see our streets running with blood.  We know Democrats don’t care about that, because they don’t care about the thousands of Blacks shot in Chicago each year, but we do because we care about all Americans.

Take action and pray that we are not forced to relive the Civil War in order to prevent Democrats from destroying our democracy.

Don’t Allow Lobbyist And Deceiving Voices Conceal The Truth About Venezuela

May 25, 2017

Don’t Allow Lobbyist And Deceiving Voices Conceal The Truth About Venezuela, Center for Security Policy, Luis Fleischman, May 25, 2017

More than fifty days after mass civil disobedience began in Venezuela, more than 50 people have died at the hands of the government.

People have lost fear and the government is resorting to more measures that are repressive to subdue the population. The idea is to make every effort to stay in power regardless of human casualties. Thus, the Venezuelan government is launching the so-called “Plan Zamora,” an unclear plan and has not been published in a written form. This makes the plan even more unpredictable and dangerous. So far, “Plan Zamora” has been applied on three Venezuelan states, Táchira, Carabobo, and now Barinas (Chavez birthplace).

“Plan Zamora” consists of a military-civic coalition that includes national guards, the military, militias, and para-military groups. The purpose is “to prevent a coup d’état” and “to restore order” in the face of protests. This means increasing repression, assassination of protestors, and SA-style elimination of opponents.

Indeed, in the last several days, five protestors were treacherously murdered under the plan. It is a system aimed at intimidating protestors to the point of dissuading them from further joining demonstrations.

Maduro has also proposed a constitutional reform aimed at eliminating the National Assembly, currently dominated by the opposition. A new constitution would be drafted by a new constituent assembly elected by the local city halls and by community groups, carefully picked as stooges of the Maduro regime. The move would secure power consolidation in the hands of Nicolas Maduro.

The United States has once again increased its sanctions on Venezuela’s chief Supreme Justice and seven other members of the Supreme Court. Such step was taken in reaction to their decision last month, to strip the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Those sanctions will freeze their assets within U.S jurisdiction and no U.S citizen will be allowed to do business with them.

This is an important step as it discourages government officers from obeying illegal and unconstitutional orders. However, it remains insufficient given the magnitude of the regime crimes. From now onwards every military officer, every security official, and every government official that follows the government must be sanctioned. Likewise, every single individual involved in the drug business, which is today a huge government business. The purpose of these measures should be to encourage desertion from the government.

Furthermore, the Trump Administration should not compromise with lobbyists or with members of Congress that have been lobbied by the Venezuelan government. Most such lobbying is conducted through CITGO, the U.S based company associated with the Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA. So far, CITGO has scored incredible successes, which are scary in terms of how foreign agents can corrupt Washington. Former Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) effectively prevented the Senate from passing sanctions legislation against Venezuelan government officials in 2014. Former Congressman Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) was in charge of Citizens Energy, a non-profit organization that distributed heating oil provided by CITGO to U.S poor neighborhoods, to buy the good will of the U.S establishment.

The same applies to U.S business interests that, so far, have prevented full sanctions against CITGO and PDVSA. This step is also long overdue that could have devastating consequences for the Maduro regime.

Trump’s campaign promises included the curbing of such lobbyists and we hope and expect that the president makes good on his promises.

Additionally, Venezuela has its own conscious and unconscious accomplices in its disinformation campaign in the United States. This week the Rev Jesse Jackson warned the Trump Administration not “to help get rid of a regime it does not like,” as if Venezuela were not a huge violator of human rights or the number one sponsor of international transnational crime. He praised the regime founded by Hugo Chavez as one that brought about reduction of poverty and improvement in health care services, as if Venezuelans were not facing hunger now or as if they were any safer in the face of government-sponsored violence. Worse, Jackson criticizes the old elite that ruled Venezuela before Chavez and forgets the new class of billionaires that the Chavez regime created by allowing them to benefit from dubious businesses, government connections, and plain corruption. This includes his own vice president, who in his early forties has accumulated a fortune of 3 billion dollars in a supposedly socialist and egalitarian regime.

Jackson accuses the United States of mobilizing the Organization of American States (OAS) against Maduro, when in fact the person taking the lead is the OAS Secretary and former Foreign Minister of a Uruguayan president with strong left-wing credentials. Jackson forgets that OAS members are appalled by the violations of the organization’s democracy charter and human rights commitment. Furthermore, countries of the region such as Brazil and Colombia are concerned that drug cartels are receiving Russian weapons from Caracas, including MANPADS, a shoulder-launched surface to air missile. The Swedish government also confirmed that such missiles were found in a camp ran by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Last but not least, Jackson called to follow the initiative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean country that has accused the OAS of being a “weapon of destruction” against Venezuela. But Jackson does not mention that St. Vincent as well as other Caribbean countries benefitted from Venezuelan oil largesse in exchange for political support. Furthermore, as I wrote a few years ago, several Caribbean countries that are part of Venezuela’s political Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) have issued passports to Iranians, presumably at the request of Venezuela.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines itself produced unreliable travel documents, where anybody may obtain a new passport and easily change their names. It is reasonable to assume that Iranians could have taken advantage of this vulnerability. Likewise, St. Vincent forged an alliance with Iran, who sent the island US $7 million for social projects.

The Trump Administration, as well as the media and the public, must be aware of these facts and politically fight obstacles that prevent us from carrying out the obligation to protect our national security, the security of the region, and the values for which America stands.

Diplomatic and economic efforts must continue until Venezuela recovers its democracy.

Destroying Donald Trump is all that matters in the newsrooms of the mainstream media

May 19, 2017

Destroying Donald Trump is all that matters in the newsrooms of the mainstream media, Washington Times,

(America can survive, and probably prosper, under President Trump. The “mainstream media?” Maybe not. — DM)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Now anything goes. All restraints are loosened, all self-discipline trashed. There’s no cure or even treatment for Trump Derangement Syndrome, a disease as wild and as swiftly lethal as anything imported from the Ebola River valley of the dark continent. The rules and taboos that once guided even the sleaziest excuse for a newspaper no longer apply.

Destroying Donald Trump is all that matters in the newsrooms of the mainstream media, so called, and by any means necessary. Rarely have so many hysterics contributed so much of the national conversation.

A columnist in The New York Times, ground zero in the epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome, suggests that a mutiny at the White House is the “more appropriate” way to rid the nation of the legitimate 46th duly elected president of the United States. Why waste time on impeachment? Mike Pence, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell could organize the ambush. The columnist likens them to “stewards for a syphilitic emperor.”

Ross Douthat is regarded as a “conservative” at The New York Times, and he thinks impeachment would take too long, be too messy, and recommends invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which permits the president’s Cabinet to remove the president if a majority of the secretaries tells Congress that the president can no longer perform his duties.

Ultimately, he writes in the newspaper once known as “the old gray lady” and which has become “the old crazy lady,” he does not believe “our president sufficiently understands the nature of the office he holds, the nature of the legal constraints that are supposed to bind him, perhaps even the nature of normal human interactions, to be guilty of obstruction of justice in the Nixonian or even Clintonian sense of the phrase.”

A half-century ago a certain magazine thought a long-distance psychiatric examination of a presidential candidate was in order, and asked 12,000 psychiatrists (who knew there were so many headshrinkers on the fruited plain?) whether they thought Barry Goldwater was crazy, and 1,189 responded with a diagnosis: Mr. Goldwater, the Republican nominee for president in 1964, was nothing less than nuts. The American Psychiatric Association, sensitive to the public outrage that followed, told their members never to do it again.

But since the psychiatrists wouldn’t do it, Ross Douthat was fitted out with degrees in medicine and psychiatry (honorary degrees, we must hope), and told to get to work. (He is expected to retire his shingle once President Trump has been dispatched to the nut house, but who knows? On the Upper East Side there’s never enough psychiatrists.) Dr. Douthat writes that the president has no aides, friends and confidantes who have any remaining regard for him. “They have no respect for him, indeed they seem to palpate with contempt for him, and to regard their mission as equivalent to being stewards for a syphilitic emperor.”

Since impeachment would take so long, Dr. Douthat would “respectfully ask Mike Pence and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to reconsider their support for a man who never should have had his party’s nomination, never should have been elevated to this office, never should have been endorsed and propped up and defended by people who understood his unfitness all along.”

It’s hard to imagine anything more calculated to invoke a Second Amendment answer to such a Twenty-fifth Amendment coup, and it would be nothing less than a coup by the Republican elites and the press that so many Americans believe have “rigged” the elections meant to express the nation’s will. You don’t have to be a Trump friend, supporter or voter to see where this would inevitably lead. The United States has never been a banana republic or a third world dump where elections are ultimately determined in the streets, but this would be the ultimate national indignity, wrought by just those who would go to civil war to depose an indignity.

The two stories that have dominated the news this week were the work of the very two newspapers, The Washington Post and The New York Times, that have become the not-so-loyal opposition, drivers of the coup with tales told in every edition. The Post accuses the president of dispensing national secrets to the Russians, based on the word of an anonymous source who concedes he wasn’t in the meeting, and denied by those who were. The New York Times says it heard a passage read from a memo written by James Comey, telling how the president asked him go easy on Mike Flynn, and denied by the White House.

All this to support tales of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, which Democrats and Republicans agree that no one has yet found any evidence of. There’s no fire and only a few wisps of something that might be smoke, or more likely, the passing of partisan gas.

The dictator’s hour

April 19, 2017

The dictator’s hour, Venezuela News and Views, Daniel Duquenal, April 18, 2017

(My wife and I were in Venezuela off and on for several years in the late 1990s and early in the current century, before and after el Thugo Chavez came to power. Food and essentials were plentiful and inexpensive and the medical care we received was quite good. The people in urban and rural areas seemed reasonably happy and well-fed. The situation changed slowly but inexorably for the worse, then much became worse and then became unbearable.

Now Venezuela is at least as hellish as any country in the Middle East. The people of Venezuela are revolting but the “mainstream” media are paying scant attention. 

It would be very difficult for the Mad Mullas of The Islamic Republic of Iran to deal more harshly with protesters than have the Venezuelan dictators. Perhaps, with the Iranian elections coming next month, the Iranian people will achieve more than have the Venezuelans thus far; the slate of candidates, unfortunately, suggests that the situation in Iran will not change for the better unless the Iranian people have a successful revolution. At least the Middle-East media will be more attentive. — DM)

So we are in a dictatorship. And this one has made new progress these past days to prove to the world it is so.  We had Sunday a totally infamous presentation by the president Nicolas Maduro where live on TV he decided who is guilty of what and how.  This based on torture.  Yesterday he went further on that path convoking the militia to Caracas to stop the massive opposition protest planned for tomorrow and forcing the army to repeat once again their indefectible oath to the revolution and its heir, the dictator.  As a bonus he promised to arm the militia, which one needs to be recalled , is not constitutional. But details are not the regime’s forte.

The army today is controlling all the streets it can and all the entries to Caracas to make sure protesters do not come to fill in Caracas protests. Useless as the opposition is convoking protests in all major cities of Venezuela. You need not go to Caracas to state that Maduro is a piece of shit: you can do it in the comfort of your own city where repression awaits for you all the same than in Caracas. Decentralization at its best.

Funny dicator. He does not rule, he is just the front man but it seems that he has started to believe that all the narco generals, the corrupt generals and civilians, the Cubans cashing in whatever cash they can still grab, trust power into his hands.  Meanwhile we read things like this:

This memo of April 17 “exhorts” PDVSA employees from the Orinoco area (almost a day drive to Caracas) to attend the regime called counter march to block access to the opposition to downtown Caracas. It starts with the following words “Within the merciless War and the terrorist attacks of the venezuelan ultra right, the oil industry has the imperious need to regroup its forces in the defense of our sovereignty and independence, and support to our Worker president Nicolas Maduro to invite all….” you get it.  I respected the words with capital letters as I think they betray the subconscious of whomever wrote this memo.

Of course outside the country no body is buying it and even Cuba takes its distances from an eventual bloodbath for which they probably gave the order to the army. the local representation of the European Union had a communique (rather vague but better than nothing, and at least implying that the EU will have observers in the streets). OAS secretary on the other hand went all out with a communique of a strength unheard of in the OAS, which reflects the major hemispheric concern about what Maduro is trying to do. In English.

Of course, solemne declarations also exist in Venezuela, like the one from the National Assembly with a solid representation of its members, putting a face to the resistance to Maduro, and putting a face to its possible victims tomorrow.

The hour is dire indeed.

The opposition has convened a freedom march tomorrow starting from more than a dozen points in Caracas. As such it is impossible to block unless the regime acts early to block through whatever means the starting points in downtown Caracas, their hallowed excuse for repression.

The regime who dodged such a massive show of strength by the opposition last year through a fake dialogue has not found any excuse this time to slow down the mounting protest. The aslt two weeks fo marches and repression only seem to have united the opposition and render it more decided to end this conflict once and for all.

All sorts of threat have been uttered such as this Monday promises to arm the militia to maintain order against the opposition. That an election would be the best way to end the conflict is not an option for a regime who knows that 1) it will lose them and 2) it will have its leadership go to jail shortly afterwards for the crimes committed.  So we have pictures like this one commented by Le Monde from France. Of course, when you are an European and you see brown shirts like that with a peppering of military you jump. This is possibly the worst message to be read in any capital of Europe, probably even Budapest (Ankara is not in Europe and will never be apparently, but I digress).

Le Monde underlines this:

« Fini le temps des traîtres, des trahisons, fini le temps des hésitations, que chacun se définisse : on est avec la patrie ou on est contre elle ! », a lancé le président vénézuélien, lundi.
“The time of traitors is over, the times of hesitation is over, may each one self define: we are with the fatherland or we are against it.” thrown by the venezuelan president on Monday.

Sieg Heil would do nice at the end of that.

We also read the declarations of 11 LatAm countries warning the regime about abuse tomorrow. It is nice to see that Tal Cual reports on this lifting the logo of this blog, a logo since 2003 which has been lifted by several people from chavistas to Tal Cual. Lifted by Tal Cual is an honor and proves that at least someone there reads my blog. I do take the best pictures, check out my instagram 🙂

But again I digress.

The point here is that Maduro seems to go all out against tomorrow and he is clearly wanting a confrontation to solidify his dictatorship. Will the army oblige?

Meanwhile tomorrow in Caracas you may choose your meeting point for 10:00 AM. I will start from Plaza Las Americas #20 if anyone cares to meet me. And I will try to post stuff through Instagram if signal allows, which is rare when so many people are in the street using bandwidth. It will be nice if I could get a pic from EVERY starting point to post it here tomorrow evening.

Que este sea el punto de partida de la mayor presión que se haya hecho contra la dictadura. Desbordemos Vzla.

 

Middle East: A Shift from Revolution to Evolution

April 8, 2017

Middle East: A Shift from Revolution to Evolution, Gatestone InstituteNajat AlSaied, April 8, 2017

The lesson the Trump administration might learn from the disastrous mistakes of its predecessor is that the main sources of terrorism in the region are political Islam and all its related religious groups. All these radical groups, including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra and Hamas have been spawned by a political Islam driven by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The fight, therefore, should not be against Islam, but against political Islam. Islam needs to be practiced the way other religions are, as a private personal faith that should be kept separate from public life and politics, and whose expression should be confined to worship only.

Mosques, whether in the Arab and Muslim world or in the West, should be places of worship only and must not transformed to centers for polarizing society or for recruitment by political religious groups.

After each Islamist terrorist attack in the West, the public is divided into two camps: one angry and one indifferent. The problem with defeating Islamist terrorism seems to be that either it is attacked by conservatives who call Islam an evil cult or it is forgiven entirely by liberal apologists. What, then, is the answer?

One of the main failures in Western analyses of the origins of terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa is that the West attributes them to a lack of democracy and a lack of respect for human rights. This is, indeed, part of the cause, but the root of the problem is a lack of development and modernity. U.S. President Donald Trump did not exaggerate when he said that the Obama administration’s foreign policy was disastrous. It was catastrophic mainly for two reasons. One was the knee-jerk support for the “Arab Spring” and for extremist Islamic political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The second was the alliances the Obama administration built with unreliable countries such as Qatar, which supports radical political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, Obama made the mistake of continuing to try to appease Iran’s theocratic regime.

The Arab Spring’s uncalculated, hasty attempt to establish so-called democracy only generated more turmoil and chaos in the region. Certain radical political groups simply exploited the elections to serve their own political and sectarian agendas; that swoop for power only resulted in more authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, as have played out, for instance, in Egypt, where we have witnessed the murder of civilians and police officers by the Muslim Brotherhood. In other countries, the situation is even worse; attempts to install democracy have totally destroyed the state and facilitated the spread of terrorist militias, as in Libya.

It is ironic that Western countries and their advocates stress the need to apply democratic practices in Arab countries, but evidently do not recall that development and secularism preceded democracy in Western Europe. The United Kingdom, which has the oldest democratic system, did not become fully democratic until 1930. France became fully democratic only in 1945, 150 years after the French Revolution.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, at the Arab Summit in Jordan on March 28, 2017 delivered a speech in which he indicated his continuous support for the Muslim Brotherhood:

“If we are serious about focusing our efforts on armed terrorist organizations, is it fair to consider any political party we disagree with as terrorist? Is our goal to increase the number of terrorists?”

Many Arab leaders were infuriated by his speech; at the forefront was President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who left the Arab Summit Hall during the speech to meet King Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Most Arab leaders and analysts, in fact, are enraged by Qatar’s continuous support for Islamist political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, because these groups are a threat to their national security.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt speaks at the Arab Summit, on March 29. The previous day, Sisi walked out of a speech by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Sisi was infuriated by Al-Thani’s declaration of support for the Muslim Brotherhood. (Image source: Ruptly video screenshot)

Another consequence of Obama’s foreign policy — in particular attempts to get close to Iran’s hostile regime — has been a fraying of relationships with old Arab allies of the United States. Some of Obama’s advisors thought that replacing Saudi Arabia with Iran was somehow “better” for the United States, if Iran “is beginning to evolve into a very civilized and historically important country” — an analysis that can be described as completely short-sighted.

The Saudi regime, with all its flaws, is a monarchy run by princes; the Iranian regime is a theocracy run by clerics. The Saudi regime is not a theocratic regime but a hybrid structure, which is neither wholly secular nor wholly religious. As such, the religious class functions under the authority of the ruling class. Princes are driven by self-interest; clerics are driven by ideology. In terms of extremism, the Iranian regime is pushing for hegemony, whilst Saudi Arabia has been taking only a defensive, rather than an expansionist, position.

The motivation of Saudi Arabia in exporting mosques world-wide and installing radical Saudi imams is defensive, not expansionist as in Iran. Saudi Arabia’s impetus is to confront Iran’s hegemony and the spread of its hostile ideology. It is this strategy, which Saudi Arabia has practiced since 1979 to balance Iran’s power and to combat its rebellious ideology, that must change.

That Iran’s Khomeini regime sought to embarrass Saudi Arabia — a country that is home to Islam’s two holiest mosques, in Mecca and Medina — by portraying it as not sufficiently Islamic, meant that the foundational Islamic Wahhabism of the Saudi Kingdom was aggressively reinforced. This emphasis resulted in even more constraints being put in place in Iran: especially on entertainment. Since the Khomeini revolution in 1979, all plays, fashion shows, international events, and cinemas have been banned. As for women, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has increasingly harassed them. As for minorities, especially Shia challenging the Iranian Shia regime and its support for Shia militias — particularly the dominant Revolutionary Guards — books were published attacking the Shia:

More books appeared, attacking the Shias and especially Khomeini’s views. These books – like the arguments of Khomeini’s followers – rejected modern thinking as an “intellectual invasion.” Saudi Arabia, considered the guardian of Sunni Islam, spent billions of dollars on challenging the Khomeini-backed Shiites.

This religious one-upmanship — a competition over which body can be the “most religious” — must stop. Saudi Arabia would do well to understand that in order to confront the hegemony of the Iranian theocratic regime, the answer is not to radicalize Saudi society but to return to the way it was before 1979.

The best way to defeat the rebel hostile regime in Iran might be through creating an inclusive and tolerant society in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia needs to change its approach towards Iran because the current strategy has not worked. The current strategy has done nothing except to strengthen the Iranian regime’s dominance; distort, globally, the image of Saudi Arabia and accelerate terrorism.

The lesson the Trump administration might learn from the disastrous mistakes of its predecessor is that the main source of terrorism in the region are political Islam and all its related religious groups. All these radical groups including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Jabhat Al-Nusra and Hamas have been spawned by a political Islam driven by the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. Extremist jihadists such as Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam and Ayman al-Zawahiri were all taught by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Political Islam practiced by the Iranian theocratic regime has been comfortably generating Shia radical militias, including the terrorist group, Hezbollah. The fight, therefore, should not be against Islam, but against political Islam. Islam needs to be practiced the way other religions are, as a private personal faith that should be kept separate from public life and politics, and whose expression should be confined to worship only. Mosques, whether in the Arab and Muslim world or in the West, should be places of worship only and must not transformed to centers for polarizing society or for recruitment by political religious groups. Unfortunately, Western countries have turned a blind eye to the political activities inside these mosques.

The danger of these religious political groups is that they do not believe in democracy or human rights; they just use elections to grasp power in order to impose a system of “Islamic Caliphate” as their only form of government. Most of these groups use religion as an ideology to oppose governments other than their own, and when they are criticized or attacked, they play the role of the oppressed.

The Trump administration needs to take advantage of the fact that the majority of people in the Middle East and North Africa have lost faith in religious political groups, especially since the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia.

Before the Arab Spring, support for these groups was huge; now it stands at less than 10% of the population. This study was conducted in the Arab world, not including Turkey. The Muslims who support Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are the Muslim Brotherhood.

Most recent polls indicate that the majority of people in Arab and Muslim countries prefer religion to be kept separate from politics.

The country that is working the most systematically to fight these religious political groups in the region is the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are several institutes and think tanks researching how to combat these groups. Dr. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi, Director General of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), has given a robust analysis of these groups and how to combat them in his book, The Mirage. In it, he cites a study on public opinion on political religious groups: A survey of the UAE population, on how these groups are able to influence the public by taking advantage of certain flaws in the system: 53.9% because of corruption; 47.9% because of poverty and 29.1% because of an absence of civil society groups that confront these opportunists.

The Middle East-North Africa region will undoubtedly have to go through several stages before it can successfully establish democracy. An evolutionary developmental approach will definitely be better than the failed revolutionary democratic one pursued by the Obama administration.

Secularization is also crucial in the fight against terrorism. Trying to build a democracy before going through the stages of secularism and political reformation — which includes rectifying existing flaws, such as corruption; modernization which means the liberation of the region from extremist totalitarian religious dogma and all other forms of backwardness in order to kick-start a renaissance; and scientific development — will not only be inadequate but will actually generate more terrorism by helping radicals to keep gaining power. It would be like a farmer who wants to plant roses in arid desert soil full of thorns.

Tapped Out: Surveillance Nation

March 9, 2017

Tapped Out: Surveillance Nation, Bill Whittle Channel via YouTube, March 9, 2017