Half Of Americans Think Presidential Nominating System ‘Rigged’ – Poll

More than half of American voters believe that the system U.S. political parties use to pick their candidates for the White House is “rigged” and more than two-thirds want to see the process changed, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The results echo complaints from Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders that the system is stacked against them in favor of candidates with close ties to their parties – a critique that has triggered a nationwide debate over whether the process is fair.

The United States is one of just a handful of countries that gives regular voters any say in who should make it onto the presidential ballot. But the state-by-state system of primaries, caucuses and conventions is complex. The contests historically were always party events, and while the popular vote has grown in influence since the mid-20th century, the parties still have considerable sway.

One quirk of the U.S. system – and the area where the parties get to flex their muscle – is the use of delegates, party members who are assigned to support contenders at their respective conventions, usually based on voting results. The parties decide how delegates are awarded in each state, with the Republicans and Democrats having different rules.

The delegates’ personal opinions can come into play at the party conventions if the race is too close to call – an issue that has become a lightning rod in the current political season.

Another complication is that state governments have different rules about whether voters must be registered as party members to participate. In some states, parties further restrict delegate selection to small committees of party elites, as the Republican Party in Colorado did this year.

‘SO FLAWED’

“I’d prefer to see a one-man-one-vote system,” said Royce Young, 76, a resident of Society Hill, South Carolina, who supports Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. “The process is so flawed.”

Trump has repeatedly railed against the rules, at times calling them undemocratic. After the Colorado Republican Party awarded all its delegates to Ted Cruz, for example, Trump lashed out in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, charging “the system is being rigged by party operatives with ‘double-agent’ delegates who reject the decision of voters.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has dismissed Trump’s complaints as “rhetoric” and said the rules would not be changed before the Republican convention in July.

Trump swept the five Northeastern nominating contests on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The New York billionaire has 950 delegates to 560 for Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, and 153 for Kasich, the Ohio governor, according to the Associated Press. A total of 1,237 delegates are needed to secure the Republican nomination.

On the Democratic side, Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, has taken issue with the party’s use of superdelegates, the hundreds of elite party members who can support whomever they like at the convention and who this year overwhelmingly back front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Clinton has repeatedly emphasized that she is beating Sanders in both total votes cast and in pledged delegates, those who are bound by the voting results – rendering his complaints about superdelegates moot.

On Tuesday, the former secretary of state won Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut, while Sanders won in Rhode Island. Clinton leads Sanders by 2,141 delegates to 1,321, according to the AP, with 2,383 needed to win the nomination.

Sanders has also criticized party bosses for not holding enough prime-time television debates and said before a string of primaries open only to registered Democrats this month that “independents have lost their right to vote,” referring to a voter block that has tended to favor him.

A Democratic National Committee official was not immediately available to comment.

‘ARCANE RULES’

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said the U.S. presidential nominating system could probably be improved in a number of areas, but noted that the control wielded by party leadership usually became an issue only during tight races.

“The popular vote overwhelms the rules usually, but in these close elections, everyone pays attention to these arcane rules,” he said.

Some 51 percent of likely voters who responded to the April 21-26 online survey said they believed the primary system was “rigged” against some candidates. Some 71 percent of respondents said they would prefer to pick their party’s nominee with a direct vote, cutting out the use of delegates as intermediaries.

The results also showed 27 percent of likely voters did not understand how the primary process works and 44 percent did not understand why delegates were involved in the first place. The responses were about the same for Republicans and Democrats.

Overall, nearly half said they would also prefer a single primary day in which all states held their nominating contests together – as opposed to the current system of spreading them out for months.

The poll included 1,582 Americans and had a credibility interval of 2.9 percentage points.

(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Leslie Adler)
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Defending Democracy to the Last Drop of Oil

witten by eric margolfs

Poor President Barack Obama flew to Saudi Arabia this past week but its ruler, King Salman, was too busy to greet him at Riyadh’s airport.

This snub was seen across the Arab world as a huge insult and violation of traditional desert hospitality. Obama should have refused to deplane and flown home.

Alas, he did not. Obama went to kow-tow to the new Saudi monarch and his hot-headed son, Crown Prince Muhammed bin Nayef. They are furious that Obama has refused to attack Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Syria’s Assad regime.

They are also angry as hornets that the US may allow relatives of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi royal family, which is widely suspected of being involved in the attack.

Interestingly, survivors of the 34 American sailors killed aboard the USS Liberty when it was attacked by Israeli warplanes in 1967, have been denied any legal recourse.

The Saudis, who are also petrified of Iran, threw a fit, threatening to pull $750 billion of investments from the US. Other leaders of the Gulf sheikdoms sided with the Saudis but rather more discreetly.

Ignoring the stinging snub he had just suffered, Obama assured the Saudis and Gulf monarchs that the US would defend them against all military threats – in effect, reasserting their role as western protectorates. So much for promoting democracy.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have been de facto US-British-French protectorates since the end of World War II. They sell the western powers oil at rock bottom prices and buy fabulous amounts of arms from these powers in exchange for the west protecting the ruling families.

As Libya’s late Muammar Kadaffi once told me, “the Saudis and Gulf emirates are very rich families paying the west for protection and living behind high walls.”

Kadaffi’s overthrow and murder was aided by the western powers, notably France, and the oil sheiks. Kadaffi constantly denounced the Saudis and their Gulf neighbors as robbers, traitors to the Arab cause, and puppets of the west.

Many Arabs and Iranians agreed with Kadaffi. While Islam commands all Muslims to share their wealth with the needy and aid fellow Muslims in distress, the Saudis spent untold billions in casinos, palaces and European hookers while millions of Muslims starved. The Saudis spent even more billions for western high-tech arms they cannot use.

During the dreadful war in Bosnia, 1992-1995, the Saudis, who arrogate to themselves the title of “Defenders of Islam” and its holy places, averted their eyes as hundreds of thousands of Bosnians were massacred, raped, driven from their homes by Serbs, and mosques blown up.

The Saudi dynasty has clung to power through lavish social spending and cutting off the heads of dissidents, who are routinely framed with charges of drug dealing. The Saudis have one of the world’s worst human rights records.

Saudi’s royals are afraid of their own military, so keep it feeble and inept aside from the air force. They rely on the National Guard, a Bedouin tribal forces also known as the White Army. In the past, Pakistan was paid to keep 40,000 troops in Saudi to protect the royal family. These soldiers are long gone, but the Saudis are pressing impoverished Pakistan to return its military contingent.

The US-backed and supplied Saudi war against dirt-poor Yemen has shown its military to be incompetent and heedless of civilian casualties. The Saudis run the risk of becoming stuck in a protracted guerilla war in Yemen’s wild mountains.

The US, Britain and France maintain discreet military bases in the kingdom and Gulf coast. The US Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain, where a pro-democracy uprising was recently crushed by rented Pakistani police and troops. Reports say 30,000 Pakistani troops may be stationed in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Earlier this month, the Saudis and Egypt’s military junta announced they would build a bridge across the narrow Strait of Tiran (leading to the Red Sea) to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. The clear purpose of a large bridge in this remote, desolate region is to facilitate the passage of Egyptian troops and armor into Saudi Arabia to protect the Saudis. Egypt now relies on Saudi cash to stay afloat.

But Saudi Arabia’s seemingly endless supply of money is now threatened by the precipitous drop in world oil prices. Riyadh just announced it will seek $10 billion in loans from abroad to offset a budget shortfall. This is unprecedented and leads many to wonder if the days of free-spending Saudis are over. Add rumors of a bitter power-struggle in the 6,000-member royal family and growing internal dissent and uber-reactionary Saudi Arabia may become the Mideast’s newest hotspot.

 

Globally, Indigenous and local communities – an estimated 1.5 billion people – have formal legal ownership of 10 percent of land. 

As 165 countries signed the highly controversial Paris climate change deal at U.N. headquarters on Friday, Diana Rios, a 23-year-old Indigenous Asheninka activist from the Peruvian Amazon, paddled down the East River to protest against the exclusion of Indigenous people from the international push to tackle global warming.

Rios expressed frustration at what she sees as inadequate recognition of the threats climate change poses to Indigenous communities.

“The communities have a key role in protecting tropical forests and slowing global climate change. We have the potential to help the world fight it, and adapt to its impacts,” she said.

Edwin Vasquez Campos of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) said he and his colleagues were in New York to fight “for our territorial rights”. “We are the guardians of our rainforests,” he said.

“We expect that political leaders go back home after having signed the agreement bearing in mind that we help our countries to prevent cleaning, burning, illegal mining and logging and, therefore, preventing increases of carbon emissions,” said Campos.

New findings by the Woods Hole Research Center, or WHRC, a conservation research institute based in the United States, warn that failure to curb deforestation would require eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use by 2035 to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius — a limit the Paris deal promises to better.

A previous study from the same center estimated that at least 20 percent of the above-ground carbon stored in the world’s tropical forests is found in territories claimed by the Indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica, Amazonia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia.

“We find a very high proportion of carbon contained within Indigenously controlled territories,” said WHRC president Philip Duffy. “If you look historically, the Indigenous peoples have done a better job preserving the forest and its carbon.”

But a review presented by the Rights and Resources Initiative of the 161 national contributions for the Paris climate agreement, submitted on behalf of 188 countries, found that only 21 made a clear commitment to strengthen or expand land tenure and natural resource management rights.

“Countries should be encouraged to include specific, measurable and robust tenure and natural resources rights for Indigenous peoples and local communities in their national climate change mitigation by 2020,” they said.

Globally, Indigenous and local communities – an estimated 1.5 billion people – have formal legal ownership of 10 percent of land, and have some rights of control over an additional 8 percent, according to the RRI.

This content was originally published by teleSUR.

 

American´s Imperial Overstretch

By Pat Buchanan

This week, SU fighter-bombers buzzed a U.S. destroyer in the Baltic Sea. The Russian planes carried no missiles or bombs.

Message: What are you Americans doing here?

In the South China Sea, U.S. planes overfly, and U.S. warships sail inside, the territorial limits of islets claimed by Beijing.

In South Korea, U.S. forces conduct annual military exercises as warning to a North Korean that is testing nuclear warheads and long-range missiles that can reach the United States.

U.S. warship based in Bahrain confront Iranian subs and missile boats in the Gulf. In January, a U.S. Navy skiff ran aground on an Iranian island. Iran let the 10 U.S. sailors go within 24 hours.

But bellicose demands for U.S. retaliation had already begun.

Yet, in each of these regions, it is not U.S.  vital interests that are threatened, but the interests of allies who will not man up to their own defense duties, preferring to lay them off on Uncle Sam.

And America is beginning to buckle under the weight of its global obligations.

And as we have no claim to rocks or reefs in the South Sea – Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Philippines do – why is this our quarrel?

If these rocks and reefs are so vital they are worth risking a military clash with China, why not, instead, impose tariffs on Chinese goods? Let U.S. companies and consumers pay the price of battling Beijing, rather than U.S. soldiers, sailors and airman.

Let South Korea and Japan build up their forces to deal with the North, and put Beijing on notice: If China will not halt Kim Jong Un´s nuclear weapon program, South Korea and Japan will build their own nuclear deterrents. Half a century ago, Britain and France did.

Why must we forever deter and, if need be, fight North Korea?

And way is the defense of the Baltic republics and East Europe our responsibility, 5,000 miles away, not Germany´s whose economy is far larger than that of Russia?

Even during the darkest days of the Cold War, U.S. presidents refused to take military action in Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Poland.

When Moscow intervened there, the U.S. did nothing. When did the independence of Eastern Europe become so vital an interest that we would risk war with a nuclear-armed Russia to ensure it?

Under Article 5 of NATO, an attack upon any of 28 allied nations is to be regarded as an attack upon all.

But is this the kind of blank check we should give Turkey´s Recep Erdogan, who, a few months back, ordered a Russian fighter plan that crossed into Turkish territory for 15 seconds be shot down?

Do we really want to leave to this erratic autocrat the ability to drag us into a war with Russia?

When Neville Chamberlain in 1939 handed a war guarantee to a junta of Polish colonels, who also had an exaggerated opinion of their own military power and prowess, how did that work out for the Brits?

America should not write off the Baltic Republics or Eastern Europe. But we should rule out any U.S. – Russian war in Eastern Europe and restrict a U.S. response to Russian actions there to economic and diplomatic. For the certain loser of U.S. – Russian conflict in Eastern Europe – would be Eastern Europe.

As for Iran, the U.S. intelligence community, in 2007 and 2011, declared with high confidence that it had no nuclear weapons program.

Since the Iran nuclear treaty was sighed, 98percent of Iran´s enriched uranium has been shipped out of the country; no more 20 percent enriched uranium is being produced; the Arak reactor that could have produced plutonium has been scuttled and reconfigured; and nuclear inspectors are crawling all over every facility.

Talk of Iran having a secret nuclear-bomb program and testing intercontinental missiles comes, unsurprisingly, from the same folks who assured us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, this country has been steadily bled and slowly bankrupted. We are now as overextended as was the British Empire in the 1940s.

And like that empire we, too, are being challenged by nations that seek to enlarge their place I the sun – a resurrected Russia, China, Iran. And we are being bedeviled by fanatics who want us out of their part of the world, which they wish to remake according to the visions of own faiths and ideologies.

Time for a reappraisal of all the war guarantees this nation has issued the beginning of the Cold War, to determine which, if any, still serve U.S. national interest in 2016. Alliances, after all, are the transmission belts of war.

This is not isolationism. It is putting our country first, and staying out of people´s wars. It used to be called patriotism.

It is one of the few articles which are real engaged in preventing war and work for cooperation, for diplomatic discussion, and nor for confrontation, which we had have enough during a very long time

 

 

 

 

How the American Neoconservatives Destroyed Mankind’s Hopes for Peace

Paul Graig “Opinion”

When Ronald Reagan turned his back on the neoconservatives, fired them, and had some of them prosecuted, his administration was free of their evil influence, and President Reagan negotiated the end of the Cold War with Soviet President Gorbachev. The military-industrial complex, the CIA, and the neocons were very much against ending the Cold War as their budgets, power, and ideology were threatened by the prospect of peace between the two nuclear superpowers.

I know about this, because I was part of it. I helped Reagan create the economic base for bringing the threat of a new arms race to a failing Soviet economy in order to pressure the Soviets into agreement to end the Cold War, and I was appointed to a secret presidential committee with subpoena power over the CIA. The secret committee was authorized by President Reagan to evaluate the CIA’s claim that the Soviets would prevail in an arms race. The secret committee concluded that this was the CIA’s way of perpetuating the Cold War and the CIA’s importance.

The George H W Bush administration and its Secretary of State James Baker kept Reagan’s promises to Gorbachev and achieved the reunification of Germany with promises that NATO would not move one inch to the East.

The corrupt Clintons, for whom the accumulation of riches seems to be their main purpose in life, violated the assurances given by the United States that had ended the Cold War. The two puppet presidents – George W Bush and Obama – who followed the Clintons, lost control of the US government to the neocons, who promptly restarted the Cold War, believing in their hubris and arrogance that History has chosen the US to exercise hegemony over the world.

Thus was mankind’s chance for peace lost along with America’s leadership of the world. Under neocon influence, the United States government threw away its soft power and its ability to lead the world into a harmonious existence over which American influence would have prevailed.

Instead, the neocons threatened the world with coercion and violence, attacking eight countries and fomenting «color revolutions» in former Soviet republics.

The consequence of this crazed insanity was the creation of an economic and military strategic alliance between Russia and China. Without the neocons’ arrogant policy, this alliance would not have existed. It was a decade ago that I began writing about the strategic alliance between Russia and China that is a response to the neocon claim of US world hegemony.

The strategic alliance between Russia and China is militarily and economically too strong for Washington. China controls the production of the products of many of America’s leading corporations, such as Apple. China has the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world. China can, if the government wishes, cause a massive increase in the American money supply by dumping its trillions of dollars of US financial assets.

To prevent a collapse of US Treasury prices, the Federal Reserve would have to create trillions of new dollars in order to purchase the dumped financial instruments. The rest of the world would see another expansion of dollars without an expansion of real US output and become skeptical of the US dollar. If the world abandoned the US dollar, the US government could no longer pay its bills.

Europe is dependent on Russian energy. Russia can cut off this energy. There are no alternatives in the short run, and perhaps not in the long run. If Russia shuts off the energy, Germany industry shuts down. Europeans freeze to death in the winter. Despite these facts, the neocons have forced Europe to impose economic sanctions on Russia. What if Russia responded in kind?

NATO, as US military authorities admit, has no chance of invading Russia or withstanding a Russian attack on NATO. NATO is a cover for Washington’s war crimes. It can provide no other service.

Thanks to the greed of US corporations that boosted their profits by outsourcing their production to China, China is modernized many decades before the neocons thought possible. China’s military forces are modernized with Russian weapons technology. New Chinese missiles make the vaunted US Navy and its aircraft carriers obsolete.

The neocons boast how they have surrounded Russia, but it is America that is surrounded by Russia and China, thanks to the incompetent leadership that the US has had beginning with the Clintons. Judging from Killary’s support in the current presidential primaries, many voters seem determined to perpetuate incompetent leadership.

Despite being surrounded, the neocons are pressing for war with Russia which means also with China. If Killary Clinton makes it to the White House, we could get the neocon’s war.

The neocons have flocked to the support of Killary. She is their person. Watch the feminized women of America put Killary in office. Keep in mind that Congress gave its power to start wars to the president.

The United States does not have a highly intelligent or well informed population. The US owes its 20th century dominance to World War I and World War II which destroyed more capable countries and peoples. America became a superpower because of the self-destruction of other countries.

Despite neocon denials that their hubris has created a powerful alliance against the US, a professor at the US Navy War College stresses the reality of the Russian-Chinese strategic alliance.

Last August a joint Russian-Chinese sea and air exercise took place in the Sea of Japan, making it clear to America’s Japanese vassal that it was defenseless if Russia and China decided so.

The Russian defense minister Sergey Shoigu said that the joint exercise illustrates the partnership between the two powers and its stabilizing effect on that part of the world.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Russian-Chinese relations are able to resist any international crises.

The only achievements of the American neoconservatives are to destroy in war crimes millions of people in eight countries and to send the remnant populations fleeing into Europe as refugees, thus undermining the American puppet governments there, and to set back the chances of world peace and American leadership by creating a powerful strategic alliance between Russia and China.

This boils down to extraordinary failure. It is time to hold the neoconservatives accountable, not elect another puppet for them to manipulate.

The American Dictatorship

Even for the post of U.S. President, the preferences of the American people have only a marginal, if any, impact upon the selection of the person to occupy that post.

In Colorado’s Republican race to win delegates to the Republican National Convention for selecting the Republican Presidential nominee, there was no primary, and there was no caucus. As the Republican magazine National Review headlined on April 11th, attempting to justify what a Republican wag had just headlined as “Cruz Celebrates Voterless Win”: “Donald Trump Laid a Colorado Goose Egg because He Was Disorganized and Amateurish.” Their argument (since they campaign for any Republican but Trump) was: he lost “because he was disorganized and amateurish” — not because he had been cheated by the Party-hierarchy.

National Review explained that, in the process which had been set up by the Colorado Republican Party (it’s set up by each individual state’s Republican Party, not by the National Republican Party), “delegates to the national convention would be selected at congressional-district conventions and the Republican’s state convention” [NR’s illiterate writer there meant “the Republicans’ state convention” and couldn’t distinguish between “Republican’s” and “Republicans’,” so used the wrong one], and this was done in order to “give Colorado’s delegates more flexibility,” not done in order to require delegates to reflect the Republican (or any other) electorate in Colorado (since NR doesn’t like even its own Party’s electorate).

This was the explanation that was provided by that magazine, which backs Cruz, and which has been campaigning ferociously against Trump. Their article was built upon, and extensively quoted, the justifications put forth by one particular Cruz delegate, who said, “The grassroots made the decision that Ted Cruz was the best candidate for us, and the grassroots made the decision to come out for Cruz and absolutely swept the table.” He called it “our caucus system.” Whatever it was, it shut out all rank-and-file Republican voters, and left everything to people like himself, who could afford to do this: “You have to put in the work, you have to put in the effort, and you have to do it months ahead of time.” In other words: only Republican Party activists in Colorado could participate in selecting the delegates who would participate in selecting the Republican nominee. No one else was allowed to. Their conception of the Colorado Republican Party is that it’s only the Party’s activists; and, if you’re not a Republican activist, you have no say. It’s as if to say: Only people who work in the government can have a say in how the government is to be run. It’s for insiders only — and, of course, indirectly it’s for whomever pays those insiders and so enables them to “put in the work” to participate.

National Public Radio had a different take on this matter. Steve Inskeep headlined there, “GOP Delegate: Trump Primary Wins ‘Absolutely Irrelevant’ At Convention.” He interviewed Curly Haughland, a member of the Republican National Committee who lives in North Dakota, and who said: “No matter what the popular belief might be, … there is no connection between primaries and the actual convention.” Well, that’s putting it rather bluntly. Haughland:

“cited the GOP’s convention Rules 37 and 38. He interprets these convoluted rules to mean that delegates may ‘vote their conscience.’ The rules do not explicitly say this. Rule 37 is a detailed explanation of the procedure for roll-call votes. However, Rule 38 does say that no delegate may be ‘bound’ by the ‘unit rule,’ meaning that delegates from a state can’t all be forced to vote the same way. … Another of Haughland’s points is indisputable: ‘When the convention convenes,’ he said, ‘the delegates adopt their own rules, which haven’t been adopted yet.’ There is a standard template for conventions, but delegates could tweak the template, changing the game in any way that they want.”

In other words: the National Republican Committee says that all of the delegates to the Republican National Convention are allowed to “tweak the template, changing the game in any way that they want.”

So: the delegates at that Convention won’t actually be representing anyone but themselves there — they are entirely free to push for anyone whom they personally want to win the Republican U.S. Presidential nomination. They’re not bound, not even on the first ballot. They might pretend to be, if they feel a need to put on a show that looks ‘democratic’, but any who don’t feel the need to make such a pretense, can do whatever they want on the first ballot, just like on any successive ballot. They are free; all of them are free. It’s only the electorate who aren’t — they’re not represented, at all.

What about on the Democratic side? Wyoming had held its Democratic Party caucuses August 9th, and there really were caucuses. Two days later, CNN headlined “Wyoming Democratic Caucuses: Bernie Sanders Picks Up Another Win”, and reported: “Bernie Sanders won the Wyoming Democratic caucuses Saturday, providing his campaign with one more jolt of momentum before the race against Hillary Clinton heads east. Even so, he made no gains in Clinton’s delegate lead, as each earned seven delegates as a result. On April 12th a youtube was posted, “MSNBC Morning Host Admits The ‘Whole Voting System Is Rigged’ After Bernie Get’s Cheated!” Here the co-hosts had a conversation about the results: “Sanders beat Hillary Clinton by twelve points, 56 to 44, … He wins by twelve points.” The accompanying image showed the delegate-count, in this contest that Sanders had won by 56% to 44%: “18 total. Hillary Clinton 11, Bernie Sanders 7.” It wasn’t 7 to 7, after all. Though Sanders had outscored Clinton by 12%, it was worse than even-steven for him; he had actually lost by 11 delegates to 7 delegates. “This system is so rigged!” said one host. “There’s absolutely no reason any of those people voted,” said the other. A Hillary Clinton supporter was the ‘expert’ on the panel, and he said, “It’s not rigged. These are the rules.” He wasn’t given time to explain that fine point — or how “the rules” were necessarily “not rigged.” Also on April 12th, Public Radio International’s Todd Zwillich headlined (falsely), “Six Reasons Bernie Sanders Won Wyoming, But Still Tied in the Delegate Race”, and Zwillig failed to explain that word “Tied.” He opened: “How, many of you ask, could Bernie have won Wyoming 56 percent to Hillary’s 44 percent, but still split the delegates with her 50-50?” Then, he repeated that there had supposedly been “The 7-7 split,” but he also said “Wyoming has a total of 18 delegates” (which obviously isn’t the sum of 7+7) and he was also likewise incoherent, all the way through.

Maybe, “the rules” in the Wyoming Democratic Party are like that; but, whatever they are, is so convoluted, America’s news-media couldn’t explain what they were, much less were they able to argue persuasively that this was somehow a democracy.

The only thing that’s clear is that the electoral system in the United States is so convoluted, so complex and so different from state to state and party to party, that whatever the intent of the writers of America’s Constitution might have been, the system as it is today, can be successfully gamed and won only by interests who can afford to spend whatever billions of dollars are necessary in order to win. It’s certainly anything but democratic.

Right now, there are only two Presidential candidates who are shown repeatedly, and almost consistently, to be preferred by the majority of the U.S. electorate, across all parties and no party: the Democrat Bernie Sanders is strongly preferred over the Republicans Trump and Cruz, and he is barely preferred over the Republican Kasich; and the Republican Kasich is strongly preferred over the Democrat Clinton. (Clinton loses strongly to Kasich and barely beats Cruz, while Trump is the weakest general-election candidate of all.)

The strongest general-election candidates are, clearly, Sanders in the Democratic Party, and Kasich in the Republican Party. In a democracy, those would be the candidates. Throughout the contest thus far, neither of these two has been favored likely to win his respective Party’s nomination, much less the Presidency.

Whatever America is, it isn’t a democracy — a one-person-one-vote majority-rule republic. In fact, the only scientific study that has ever been done of the U.S. political system, finds that it’s no “democracy” at all, but instead an “oligarchy,” a nation ruled by its aristocracy, its billionaires. It represents them, not the citizenry. That might not be the theory, but empirically it is the fact. An oligarchy is the commonest type of dictatorship, and it certainly is never a ‘benevolent dictatorship,’ even if that phrase is not an oxymoron in itself.

To sum up: the U.S. is ruled by and for the corrupters. Or, at least, this study showed that it has been like that since at least 1980.

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Eric Zuesse.

 

German, European Govs: America’s “Dangerous Propaganda”, Military Aid Harming Ukraine Peace Process

Having reached a tenuous peace agreement with Ukraine and Russia (without the US), Germany is realizing and announcing that, indeed, the US does not seem intent on peace.

McClatchy reports that German government officials have “recently referred to U.S. statements of Russian involvement in the Ukraine fighting as ‘dangerous propaganda’”.  In light of US propaganda and military support for Kiev, Germany even asked outright whether “the Americans want to sabotage the European mediation attempts in Ukraine led by Chancellor Merkel?”

While there is agreement in the West that Russia does support the Ukrainian democrats whose elected leader was violently overthrown with US and European support (the US supports numerous groups, including anti-Semitic neo-Nazis and Islamic extremists, around the world, in addition to illegal US invasions), Germany and other European governments say US officials such as US Gen. Breedlove and Obama’s asst. sec. state for Europe, the notorious Victoria Nuland, “have been exaggerating the extent of Russian involvement in the conflict.”

Breedlove, for instance, is issuing untrue statements – lies – for the purpose of “playing to” – propagandizing – “an American audience”, which European officials say “doesn’t advance peace efforts”, another polite way of saying it conspicuously impedes them.

Since being caught red-handed and forced to address the issue of their “exaggerated claims” about Russia’s involvement in doing something the US does continually, a US official responded anonymously and changed the US tune, trying now to shift focus away from the exact numbers, about which the US was previously so adamant.

Ukrainian officials have made similar claims, on scores of occasions announcing an all out Russian military “invasion” of Ukraine.

The exposures by the German government of US [and thereby Kiev’s] lies, notes Antiwar.com’s Jason Ditz, “may finally be the explanation … for how US[/Kiev] claims of huge Russian military presences never come with any pictures…” except ones that have been plastered on the front of the New York Times and then debunked as fraudulent and later retracted, deep inside the paper – see Robert Parry‘s “NYT Retracts Russian Photo Scoop”.

As part of what European officials say is sabotaging the peace process, the US is now providing another $75 million worth of aid to Kiev, including 230 Humvees.  This is in addition to the $120 million already given to Kiev’s forces by the US.

by Chris Martenson

Defense contractor employees give the most money to Hillary Clinton

Clinton beats all of the Republicans, plus Bernie Sanders, in getting the defense industry’s financial help for her presidential campaign.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has collected more than any other candidate in the 2016 race from employees tied to the 50 largest contractors with the U.S. Department of Defense — at least $454,994 in campaign funds over a 14-month period ending in February.

That amount was roughly a third higher than the sum collected by Clinton’s opponent for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who, unlike Clinton, has called for steep cuts in defense spending.

After Sanders — who got $310,055 from defense-related workers — the presidential race’s third-leading recipient of defense contractor employee contributions was Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. He received a total of at least $307,995 from the beginning of 2015 through February 2016, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s review of Federal Election Commission data. Cruz has called for large increases in defense spending.

But over this period, employees of the top 50 contractors contributed only about half as much to the Republican presidential candidates still in the race — Cruz, Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — as they did to Clinton and Sanders — a total of at least $357,775 versus at least $765,049 for the two Democrats combined.

The disparity may seem unusual, since Republicans often depict themselves as more supportive of defense spending than their opponents, and historically, more defense-related contributions have gone to Republicans. But Trump, the Republican front-runner, is largely self-funding his campaign, a factor that probably influenced this outcome.

It’s also possible that donors at defense-related companies are betting that a Democrat — either Clinton or Sanders — is more likely to win the White House in the fall than any of the Republicans, which makes them a more useful investment target. The Democrat-targeted donations may also reflect the fact that the party’s highest elected official, President Barack Obama, has called for a $2.4 billion increase in defense spending for fiscal year 2017, and many Democratic lawmakers have said they support that request — even though polls show the public does not agree.

The Cover-Up of the Damning 9/11

written by james bovard

Do Americans have the right to learn whether a foreign government helped finance the 9/11 attacks? A growing number of congressmen and senators are demanding that a 28-page portion of a 2002 congressional report finally be declassified. The Obama administration appears to be resisting, and the stakes are huge. What is contained in those pages could radically change Americans’ perspective on the war on terror.

The congressional Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, completed its investigation in December 2002. But the Bush administration stonewalled the release of the 838-page report until mid 2003 — after its invasion of Iraq was a fait accompli — and totally suppressed a key portion. Former US Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) chairman of the investigation, declared that “there is compelling evidence in the 28 pages that one or more foreign governments was involved in assisting some of the hijackers in their preparation for 9/11.” Graham later indicated that the Saudis were the guilty party. But disclosing Saudi links to 9/11 could have undermined efforts by some Bush administration officials to tie Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to the 9/11 attacks.

Almost everyone has forgotten how hard the Bush administration fought to torpedo that report. In April 2003, controversy raged on Capitol Hill over the Bush administration’s continuing efforts to suppress almost all of the report by the Joint Intelligence Committee investigation. Some intelligence officials even insisted on “reclassifying” as secret some of the information that had already been discussed in public hearings, such as the FBI Phoenix Memo. On May 13, Senator Graham accused the Bush administration of engaging in a “cover-up” and said that the report from the congressional investigation “has not been released because it is, frankly, embarrassing … embarrassing as to what happened before September 11th, but maybe even more so the fact that the lessons of September 11th are not being applied today to reduce the vulnerability of the American people.” Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) complained that intelligence agencies sought to totally censor the report: “The initial thing that came back was absolutely an insult, and it would be laughable if it wasn’t so insulting, because they redacted half of what we had. A lot of it was to redact a word that revealed nothing.”

When the report was finally released, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) added an additional opinion in which he castigated “the FBI’s dismal recent history of disorganization and institutional incompetence in its national-security work.” The congressional report was far blunter than the subsequent 9/11 Commission. The congressional investigation concluded that the FBI’s “mixed record of attention contributed to the United States becoming, in effect, a sanctuary for radical terrorists.” But the Bush administration may have succeeded in stonewalling the most damaging revelations.

Suppressing the 28 pages was intensely controversial at the time. Senator Shelby, the vice chairman of the joint inquiry, urged declassification of almost all of the 28 pages because “the American people are crying out to know more about who funds, aids, and abets terrorist activities in the world.” Forty-six senators, spearheaded by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and including almost all the Democratic members, signed a letter to President George W. Bush urging the release of the 28 pages.

Bush, at a July 30, 2003 press conference, justified suppressing the 28 pages:

We have an ongoing investigation about what may or may not have taken place prior to September the 11th. And therefore, it is important for us to hold this information close so that those who are being investigated aren’t alerted…. If we were to reveal the content of the document, 29 [sic] pages of a near-900-page report, it would reveal sources and methods. By that, I mean it would show people how we collect information and on whom we’re collecting information, which, in my judgment, and in the judgment of senior law-enforcement officials in my administration, would be harmful on the war against terror.

And then he dangled a carrot: “Now, at some point in time, as we make progress on the investigation, and as a threat to our national security diminishes, perhaps we can put out the document. But in my judgment, now is not the time to do so.”

Protecting incompetence

The claim of secrecy is routinely a cloak for incompetence. As former Senator Graham said earlier this year, “Much of what passes for classification for national-security reasons is really classified because it would disclose incompetence. And since the people who are classifying are also often the subject of the materials, they have an institutional interest in avoiding exposure of their incompetence.”

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) revived the push to declassify the pages in 2013. Jones is a conservative stalwart best known for coining the phrase “freedom fries” in 2003 when France opposed invading Iraq. He has since become one of the most outspoken opponents of reckless US intervention abroad. He explained that he introduced a resolution because “the American people deserve the truth. Releasing these pages will enhance our national security, not harm it.”

Jones further explained that “the information contained in the redacted pages is critical to our foreign policy moving forward and should thus be available to the American public. If the 9/11 hijackers had outside help — particularly from one or more foreign governments — the press and the public have a right to know what our government has or has not done to bring justice to all of the perpetrators.”

Last May, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) fresh from a bracing filibuster against the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act, joined the 28-page fight. He introduced the Transparency for the Families of 9/11 Victims and Survivors Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). ….

Members of Congress can read the still-classified pages in a special secure room on Capitol Hill if they get prior permission from the House or Senate Intelligence Committee. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), one of the few members to read the report, was shocked: “I had to stop every couple of pages and just sort of absorb and try to rearrange my understanding of history for the past 13 years and the years leading up to that. It challenges you to rethink everything.” Massie is one of 18 co-sponsors of Jones’s resolution in the House.

Too much trouble

It is encouraging that the effort spearheaded by Congressman Jones has garnered support on Capitol Hill. But it is surprising that the 28-page disclosure campaign has not yet spurred far more members of Congress to read the document. Unfortunately, members of Congress were also grossly negligent when it came to the evidence to justify invading Iraq. In October 2002, prior to the vote on the congressional resolution to permit Bush to do as he pleased on Iraq, the CIA delivered a 92-page classified assessment of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to Capitol Hill. The classified CIA report raised far more doubts about the existence of Iraqi WMDs than did the five-page executive summary that all members of Congress received. The report was stored in two secure rooms — one each for the House and the Senate. Only six senators bothered to visit the room to look at the report, and only a “handful” of House members did the same, according to the Washington Post. Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) explained that congressmen were too busy to read the report: “Everyone in the world wants to come to see you” in your office, and going to the secure room is “not easy to do.” Hundreds of thousands of Americans were sent 6,000 miles away to swelter for months in burning deserts because congressmen could not be bothered to walk across the street. Most congressmen had ample time to give saber-rattling speeches for war, but no time to sift the purported evidence for the invasion.

Why is the Obama administration continuing to suppress a report completed more than a dozen years ago? It is not as if the White House’s credibility would be damaged by revelations of Saudi bankrolling the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor (15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis).

And it is not as if the Saudis became squeaky-clean Boy Scouts after 9/11. Saudi sources are widely reported to be bankrolling Islamic State terrorists throughout the Middle East; Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee last September, “I know major Arab allies who fund [ISIS].”

Barack Obama just ordered more US troops to Iraq to seek to rebuff the ISIS onslaught. If the Saudis are helping sow fresh chaos in the Middle East, that is another reason to disclose their role in an attack that helped launch conflicts that have already cost thousands of American lives and more than $1.6 trillion, according to the Congressional Research Service.

“Don’t confuse me with the facts” should be the motto of the war on terror. Self-government is an illusion if politicians can shroud the most important details driving federal policy. If Americans have learned anything since 9/11, it should be the folly of deferring to Washington secrecy.

Reprinted with permission from the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Bravo for Assad – he is a vile tyrant but he has saved Palmyra from Isil

I suppose it is bizarre to feel such joy at the military success of one of the vilest regimes on earth. But I cannot conceal my elation as the news comes in from Palmyra and it is reported that the Syrian army is genuinely back in control of the entire Unesco site.

There may be booby traps in the ruins, but the terrorists are at last on the run. Hooray, I say. Bravo – and keep going. Yes, I know. Assad is a monster, a dictator. He barrel-bombs his own people. His jails are full of tortured opponents. He and his father ruled for generations by the application of terror and violence – and yet there are at least two reasons why any sane person should feel a sense of satisfaction at what Assad’s troops have accomplished.

The first is that no matter how repulsive the Assad regime may be – and it is – their opponents in Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) are far, far worse. These are the people who have carved out this foul statelet in the desert, this dark star whose tractor beam of evil has sucked in so many pathetic would-be jihadists from Britain and other countries in western Europe. These are the nutjobs whose hideous ideology expressed itself again last week at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station.

They somehow claim a religious justification for the murder and maiming of hundreds of innocent civilians. Assad’s regime may be thuggish and brutal and callous and evil in its own way. But these people are warped and sick almost beyond belief. They burn people alive – simply for holding to a slightly different version of Islam. They throw gays off cliffs or out of windows. They put their opponents in cages and then lower those cages into swimming pools, all filmed to the accompaniment of their droning music and their pompous commentary.

They are engaged in what can only be called genocide of the poor Yazidis (though for some baffling reason the Foreign Office still hesitates to use the term genocide). They are a threat to our security in Europe; they are a nightmare for the people of Syria. If ever a group of terrorists deserved to be wiped off the face of the Earth, to be expunged from the roll of the human race – that group is Isil.

And then there is a second reason why I rejoice at the news from Palmyra – and although I am aware that for many people this is a very secondary consideration, it is, for me, of deep emotional importance. The victory of Assad is a victory for archaeology, a victory for all those who care about the ancient monuments of one of the most amazing cultural sites on Earth. The monsters of Isil were not just content to murder anyone who refused to accept their barbaric version of Islam. They were so small, so narrow, so stunted in their understanding of the will of God that they regarded any pre-Islamic building or structure – no matter how beautiful – as being somehow a blasphemy. They have mined, bombed and demolished some of the most sublime buildings in the world. They took the devoted curator of the site, Khaled al-Assad, and punished him for his scholarship by killing him in the amphitheatre.

Syrian regime forces gather at a palace complex on the western edge of Palmyra
Syrian regime forces gather at a palace complex on the western edge of PalmyraCREDIT: SANA

The period in which Isil has held Palmyra – now almost a year – has been a moral and cultural catastrophe. And yes, that is why I am glad that they have been driven from the site.

On April 19, we in London will show our solidarity with Palmyra by erecting in Trafalgar Square a digitally reproduced copy of the 15-metre gateway of the Temple of Bel. The project is being led by the Institute of Digital Archaeology, and it is a joint venture with Harvard, Oxford and Dubai’s Museum of the Future.

It will not be perfect. It will not be made of the same pinkish-golden stone of that original temple gateway, which Isil has blown to atoms. It will be made of resin. But it will still look amazing, and it will symbolise our collective determination – across the world – to put this ghastly epoch behind us, and to remember that for almost 2,000 years there was a willingness on the part of every conqueror who came to Palmyra to enjoy the architecture for what it was.

That temple was sacred once to Bel; then it was a church in the Byzantine period; and then it was a mosque. No one, until these sickos, thought to destroy it. I am glad the gateway will be going up in London, because I hope it will also be a sign of our British determination to be useful in the reconstruction of the country.

It is alas very hard to claim that the success of the Assad forces is a result of any particular British or indeed Western policy. How could it be? We rightly loathe his regime and what it stands for, and for the last few years we have been engaged in an entirely honourable mission to build an opposition to Assad that was not composed simply of Isil. That effort has not worked, not so far.

It has been Putin who with a ruthless clarity has come to the defence of his client, and helped to turn the tide. If reports are to be believed, the Russians have not only been engaged in air strikes against Assad’s opponents, but have been seen on the ground as well. If Putin’s troops have helped winkle the maniacs from Palmyra, then (it pains me to admit) that is very much to the credit of the Russians. They have made the West look ineffective; and so now is the time for us to make amends, and to play to our strengths.

We have some of the greatest archaeological experts in the world. I hope that the Government will fund them to go to Syria and help the work of restoration. It is far cheaper than bombing, and more likely to lead to long-term tourism and economic prosperity. One day Syria’s future will be glorious, but that will partly depend on the world’s ability to enjoy its glorious past. British experts should be at the forefront of the project.

By Boris Jonson Mayor of London MP, for “The Telegraph”