Weekly Steve Lendman-10/11/2012
Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman
Published on the Steve Lendman Blog
Discuss these articles at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboar inside the Diner
In Shakespearean terms, indeed that’s the question. Longstanding regime change plans are known. Means to achieve them have been ongoing for years.
A previous article put it this way:
Red lines, timelines, deadlines, sanctions, sabotage, subversion, cyber attacks, assassinations, saber rattling, falsified IAEA hype, ad nauseam warmongering, Netanyahu/Barak bluster, spurious accusations, manipulated to fail P5+1 talks, and inflammatory headlines up the stakes for war.
Washington also uses color revolutions. Some work. Others don’t. Iran’s so-called “green” one was made in America.
After Iran’s June 12, 2009 election, days of street protests and clashes with security forces followed. Washington stirred the pot and caused them. They replicated previous efforts elsewhere. Regime change is the common thread.
Spurious Western media reports claimed electoral fraud. A new vote was demanded. Events replicated Georgia’s “rose revolution” and Ukraine’s “orange” one. Both worked.
The Iranian scheme failed. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won fair and square. He became the Islamic Republic of Iran’s sixth and current president. What Iranian voters chose, Washington wasn’t able to put asunder. It hasn’t stopped trying.
One scheme follows others. Iran’s so-called nuclear/existential threat makes headlines. They repeat ad nauseam. The power of repetition gets most people to believe them.
Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time….” Too many people are always fooled on issues mattering most.
What’s more important than war and peace. Public ignorance lets America get away with murder. It happens repeatedly against one targeted country after another.
Will Washington attack Iran? Will it be done jointly with Israel? More on that below. The Islamic Republic poses no threat. It hasn’t attacked another country in two or three centuries. It threatens none now. It’s nuclear program is peaceful.
Netanyahu is menacing. He’s toxic, belligerent and dangerous. He’s a world class thug. He’s Israel’s worst ever leader. He threatens Jews as well as Muslims.
Most Israelis are fooled. They may, in fact, reelect him. On October 9, he announced early elections. He said coalition partners can’t agree on budget priorities. Scheduled fall 2013 elections now shift to early next year.
Iran will be issue one. On October 10, Haaretz headlined “Nuclear Iran will star in Netanyahu’s bid for re-election, not Israel’s economy,” saying:
Fear trumps human need. “Netanyahu will highlight the approaching nuclear danger and portray himself as the only Israeli leader realistic enough – and tough enough – to deal with it.”
He repeats the Big Lie ad nauseam. He promises action against a bogus “Iranian threat.”
“Netanyahu prefers to focus on Iran rather than the economy, since Israeli elections are usually decided on the people’s anxiety about their security. And the economic horizon beyond the election looks grim indeed.”
From now through election, expect scurrilous anti-Iranian propaganda. It’ll probably get him reelected. Fear works that way. What’s coming post-election bears close watching.
David Rothkopf serves as Foreign Policy (FP) magazine’s CEO and Editor-at-Large. Formerly, he and former Clinton National Security Advisor Anthony Lake co-founded Intellibridge Corporation.
Sourcewatch said in launching Intellibridge, Rothkopf had help from “several former government officials and spooks, including Anthony Lake and former CIA director John Deutch….” Former Clinton administration officials hold top posts.
Intellibridge provides “open-source intelligence, customized content,and analysis to the military and corporations.”
Earlier, Rothkopf was Kissinger Associates managing director and US Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Policy.
He and FP support Washington’s imperial agenda. On October 8, he headlined “A Truly Credible Military Threat to Iran,” saying:
America and Israeli may surgically strike Iran. Washington will do most heavy lifting. Israel will ride shotgun. Netanyahu won’t go it alone. He needs US approval and support.
Romney’s been baiting Obama on Iran. In an October 8 Virginia Military Institute speech, he claimed:
“Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability. It has never posed a greater danger to our friends, our allies, and to us.”
“The President has failed to lead in Syria….Our ally Turkey has been attacked. And the conflict threatens stability in the region.”
“It is time to change course in the Middle East….I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.”
“(W)e must make clear to Iran through actions – not just words – that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.” He barely stopped short of urging war.
He’s in campaign mode. Whether he’ll follow through if elected isn’t known. The possibility very much is real.
He claimed Obama hasn’t slowed Iran’s “pursuit” of nuclear weapons. Rothkopf called the issue a “centerpiece of the Romney campaign’s argument that Obama has not been tough enough on Iran….”
He hasn’t “offered a credible military threat” to deter what, in fact, doesn’t exist.
Rothkopf said unnamed Obama advisors told him privately that “they wonder about his commitment and that of the US military to taking action against Iran.”
Up to now, he’s been “dragging his feet,” but no longer. White House and Israeli officials are “closer together in their views in recent days.”
While no precise red line exists, Netanyahu’s preferred military option “is considerably more limited and lower risk” than full-scale war.
Saying so greatly understates the threat and potential catastrophic consequences. Attacking Iran is madness. Tehran’s response will be swift and strong. It’ll be far more robust than anything Israel previously experienced.
Bombing nuclear facilities in both countries assures widespread irradiation. Immediate casualties will be huge in both countries. Longer-term ones will be catastrophically high.
War on Iran assures all sides lose. Regional countries will be affected. US facilities and ships will be attacked.
Economic consequences will be severe. Sharply higher oil prices will follow. Global recession will deepen. Israel and America will be more hated than ever. War may happen anyway.
Understating what’s at stake is irresponsible. Is Rothkopf urging war? Claiming low risk consequences suggests it. According to his unnamed source, “(t)he strike might take only ‘a couple of hours’ in the best case and only would involve a ‘day or two’ overall.”
It “would be conducted by air, using primarily bombers and drone support.” It’s “politically palatable.” It’ll set back Iran’s nuclear program “many years….without civilian casualties – it would have regional benefits.”
Yellow journalism is bad enough. Practically endorsing catastrophic war is unconscionable and madness.
He quoted an unnamed warmonger claiming a “transformative outcome: saving Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, reanimating the peace process, securing the Gulf, sending an unequivocal message to Russia and China, and assuring American ascendancy in the region for a decade to come.”
Transformative indeed in all the wrong ways.
It’s well known, or should be, that Israel can’t go it alone. Its capability isn’t up to destroying Iran’s Fordo facility. It’s built deep underground within a mountain for protection.
Powerful bunker busters (possibly mini-nukes) are needed. Using them won’t assure success. At the same time, Israeli aircraft on their own may be unable to deliver a potential knockout punch.
The Wilson Center’s Iran Project assessed benefits and costs. Its conclusions didn’t please warmongers. Iran can retaliate with “conventionally armed ballistic missiles capable of striking most of the region, including Israel,” it said.
War could last years. Military and economic costs will be high. A New American Foundation study said attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities assures disaster.
Another by Harvard’s Olin Institute for Strategic Studies said Iranian mines and missiles can block the Strait of Hormuz, halt or greatly curtail oil shipments, and “it could take many weeks, even months, to restore the full flow of commerce, and more time still for the oil markets to be convinced that stability has returned.”
A 2008 Washington Institute for the Near East Policy (WINEP) study said two decades after the Iran/Iraq war, the Islamic Republic’s naval capabilities now excel. They’re able to wage effective asymmetric warfare against larger naval forces.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) is highly motivated, well-equipped, and well-financed. It’s a formidable force. It controls the Strait of Hormuz choke point.
WINEP added that if Washington and/or Israel attacks Iran, its response will be proportional to damage it sustains.
It bears repeating. Attacking Iran is madness for good reason. Claiming otherwise is unconscionable. It also avoids explaining serious international law violations.
Preemptive aggressive wars are illegal. Hot or cold warriors don’t seem to care.
Cooked or Accurate US Employment Numbers
by Stephen Lendman
For over a decade, US job prospects have been dismal. Since crisis conditions erupted in 2008, they’ve been dire for millions wanting work.
Since Obama took office in January 2009, job creation has been pathetic. Numbers reported during the weakest US recovery on record largely failed to compensate for others lost.
Monthly Labor Department (BLS) data report inaccurately. America’s broken jobs engine isn’t explained. The latest 7.8% unemployment rate is blarney. Based on the 1980s calculation model, real unemployment approaches 23%.
You’d never know it from irrational exuberance following the October 5 BLS report. “Better News on Jobs” headlined a New York Times editorial, saying:
The report “was stronger than expected.” It’s also true that more needs to be done “to maintain and create jobs,” The Times admitted. It also called the unemployment rate drop from 8.1% to 7.8% “partly due to a statistical fluke and partly to more part-time employment.”
It has nothing to do with the latter. It has everything to do with huge numbers of workers dropping out of the labor force monthly for lack of jobs. Healthy economies have them for virtually anyone wanting work. No longer.
Moreover, most jobs created are poor temporary or part-time low wage/low or no benefit ones. People take them to eat and avoid having to sleep on city streets.
The Times left unexplained what’s most important to know. A Washington Post editorial was worse. It headlined “Jobs report shows an economy on the move,” saying:
Before taking office in January 2009, Obama told Post editors that job creation was his “number-one priority.” Grade him F for not delivering or trying.
Not according to the Post, saying: “Friday’s employment report gave Mr. Obama a reason to crow.”
“Unemployment probably would have been worse but for some of (his) policies….”
False! Obama helped Wall Street, not Main Street. His so-called fiscal stimulus went mostly for corporate tax cuts and others to rich elites. Ordinary people got austerity, not help. Current dire conditions show it.
An October 9 NYT editorial claimed otherwise. Headlined “Conspiracy World,” it covered more than unemployment. It said many Republicans see Obama “as the center of a broad and malevolent liberal conspiracy to upend the truth.”
Both parties and supportive media scoundrels wage relentless war on it.
The latest unemployment numbers “make the administration look good.” They’re, in fact, dismal, but Republicans take issue with anything appearing to help Obama, even if untrue.
Some called the latest BLS numbers “cooked.” The Times berated anyone “mistrust(ing) the most basic functions of government.”
They should be exposed and denounced for what they are.
BLS and other federal bureaucrats resist “political pressure and manipulation,” claimed The Times. Conspiracists claim otherwise. Sometimes they’re right. Insiders don’t go public and admit it.
Instead of giving Obama undeserved credit, the Post, Times and other supportive media should explain how badly he failed.
Economist Paul Craig Roberts excels in doing it. On October 5, he headlined “Another Phony US Employment Report: Spiraling Number of Involuntary Part-Time Workers,” saying:
BLS reported jobs created fell way short of population growth. Healthy US economies would be producing nearly three times the reported number monthly.
BLS said 2.5 million “persons were marginally attached to the labor force.” Orwell couldn’t have said it better. They want work but can’t find it. BLS made them non-persons. Millions of others bump dangerously close to the same status.
America’s economy is sick. Roberts explains it often. He omits ambiguity. He says what people need to know. Dire US employment prospects show up monthly in huge involuntary part-time worker increases. Similar full-time dropouts also reflect it.
High-paying/good benefit full-time manufacturing, high-tech, and other professional jobs are disappearing. They’re now offshore in low-wage countries.
Growing numbers of Americans must settle for part-time Walmart, bartending, waitressing, ditch-digging, and other rotten service jobs they don’t want but have no choice.
America’s “New Economy” is as phony as Iraq’s WMDs. Reality falls way short of rhetoric.
Economist Jack Rasmus appears regularly on the Progressive Radio News Hour. He reports accurately on economic and financial conditions. Like Roberts, he explains what’s most important to know. He’s world’s different from tout-TV analysts and business press headlines.
He questioned the accuracy of BLS jobs reports. They’re not falsified, but something very much is wrong and has been previously.
For the last three years, an unexplained phenomenon repeated. Rasmus is one of few economists explaining it. It’s significant and needs highlighting. It suggests something out of whack, besides much else about suspect and inaccurate BLS reporting.
Each fall and winter, well above trend job gains are reported. In contrast, every spring/early summer gains “collapse. There is indeed something going on with the jobs numbers, though it’s not falsification,” says Rasmus.
Last month’s Household Survey mysteriously showed outsized gains. Given current conditions, they made no sense. They reflect one or two phenomena, believes Rasmus.
Employers are either replacing full-time workers with part-time/temp ones, or they’re hiring for the latter two categories because economic prospects aren’t encouraging.
In calculating its headline U-3 unemployment rate, part-time workers count the same as full-time ones. Hiring them in place of permanent employees reflects “very weak labor market” conditions.
Fictitious new business formations also help explain inordinately high part-time hiring. Estimates are suspect. Media scoundrels report them like gospel.
Something is very wrong with BLS reports. Problems are more extensive than one month’s numbers. When divergence is so great between the Establishment (Payroll) and Household (Population) Surveys, something indeed is amiss.
As or more important is the extraordinary seasonal divergence. One year’s aberration wouldn’t matter. Three consecutive years shows something else entirely. “Something is wrong.”
America’s economy is sick. Labor market reality reflects it. It’s not “rapidly mending.” Over 23 million remain jobless. Trillions of dollar of tax cuts, banker bailouts, corporate subsidies, and other handouts did nothing to mend things.
Nor did QE ad infinitum. The most radical ever monetary/fiscal experiment failed.
In the first so-called presidential debate, neither candidate discussed “anything remotely representing a jobs program.”
Obama and Romney don’t care. They want more for bankers, war profiteers, and other corporate favorites. People needs don’t matter. Bipartisanship reflects let-em-eat-cake indifference, government of, by, and for them alone, force-fed austerity, unfair “free” trade deals, permanent wars, and harsh crackdowns on non-believers.
Nothing ahead next year looks promising. Both parties are in lockstep. People needs aren’t addressed. America’s military alone actively recruits. Join the army. See the world. Lose a limb or two or three.
Lose your emotional stability and future prospects. Nothing abroad justifies fighting for. Nothing good domestically awaits returning vets. Hot wars target America’s enemies. Financial ones affect ordinary people back home. Both have deadly consequences.
A new IMF report signaled trouble. “The recovery has suffered new setbacks, and uncertainty weighs on the outlook,” it said. “Downside risks have increased and are considerable.”
Worldwide growth will match 2009 recession levels. Global recession may follow. Out-of-control government debt is pandemic. Expect higher interest rates, lower profits, and weak financial markets.
US 2013 fiscal cliff austerity assures harder times ahead. Similar cuts across Europe smother the continent. Employment gains are fake, a mirage. Business and consumer confidence are “exceptionally” fragile. Market rallies are head-fake traps.
Dismal prospects loom. Companies cut staff in hard times. Expect them in 2013. Rasmus predicts nasty recession conditions. Past forecasts he made proved accurate. Stay tuned. He, Roberts, and others reporting accurately will update their outlooks ahead.
posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:50 PM
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Venezuelan Electoral Postmortems
by Stephen Lendman
Chavistas celebrated Sunday’s victory. Bolivarianism triumphed over exploitive neoliberal harshness. In open, free, and fair elections, Venezuelans got to choose. It’s constitutionally mandated. Every vote counts equally.
Americans don’t have that right. On November 6, choice won’t be the ballot. Column A matches Column B. Money power chooses candidates and winners. Some election! No wonder half the electorate ops out.
On October 7, Venezuelans turned out in record numbers. Over 80% of registered voters showed up. Turnout was so great, many waited hours to exercise their franchise.
It’s important because what they say matters. They wanted Chavez for another six years and got him. They want Bolivarianism sustained and deepened.
Chavez pledged he’ll do it. He keeps promises. Vows US leaders make aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Obama broke every major one he made.
It shouldn’t surprise. It’s the American way. Bolivarianism chooses another. Its good example shames Western faux democracies. Today they’re more hypocrisy than ever.
Prioritizing wealth, power and imperial interests means depriving most people of vital social services. No wonder unemployment, poverty, homelessness, hunger, and overall human misery keep growing.
Venezuela is mirror opposite. Beneficial social change is prioritized. It shows. Poor people are helped generously. Child mortality fell from 20 per 1,000 to 13. Unemployment dropped from 14.5% to 7.6%. Income inequality is Latin America’s lowest. Poverty was cut in half. Extreme poverty fell from 23.4% to 8.5%.
According to Census figures, half of US households are impoverished or bordering on it. Real unemployment approaches 23%. Most jobs are temporary or part-time low pay/poor or no benefit ones. They’re rotten. With no other choice, people take them. It’s either that or starve and sleep on city streets.
America’s industrial base is a shadow of its former self. It’s located offshore in low wage countries. US workers are left high and dry. Conditions keep worsening, not improving.
Venezuela’s far from perfect. Violent crime, corruption, high inflation, infrastructure needs, and a menacing northern neighbor are worrisome. Chavez’s health is uncertain. His cancer’s in remission. If it returns and he can’t serve, who’ll succeed him isn’t clear.
Venezuela’s poor love him for good reason. They turned Sunday evening into New Year’s eve. Victory was sweet, and they celebrated.
Sour grapes showed up prominently elsewhere. It’s standard practice after every Bolivarian triumph. More on that below.
Venezuela is comprised of 23 states, a Capital District (Caracas), and offshore Federal Dependencies. Chavez carried 21 states and Caracas. Lead opponent Capriles took Zulia and Carabobo states.
Venezuela’s state-of-the-art electoral process shames America’s. It’s far less susceptible to fraud and identity theft than elsewhere.
Postal and proxy votes are excluded. Fingerprints identify voters electronically. Paper receipts verify ballots cast. They’re recorded and available for recounts if needed.
Every candidate was identified by name and full color photo. It helps assure votes are cast as intended. Observers monitored fairness. Opposition supporters turned out in force. They agreed. Voting was open, free and fair.
The Union of South American Nations praised what went on. Mission head Carlos Alvarez said:
“Venezuela has given an exemplary demonstration of what the functioning of democracy is and has taught a lesson to the world.”
“Venezuela strengthened democracy in the nation and the region.”
Alvarez also praised Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE). He called its work “extraordinary.” It’s a model to help “achieve the construction of a South American electoral system.”
Throughout Sunday, everything proceeded smoothly. No major disturbances occurred. Opposition strategists hoped otherwise. They planned to highlight fraud and other irregularities but couldn’t find any.
Capriles had no recourse but to concede defeat. He left unsaid why most Venezuelans spurned them. They need no explanations. Triumphant Chavismo is all that matters.
On January 10, Chavez begins his fourth term. He told supporters he’s not waiting. “(F)or me,” he said, “the new cycle begins today. We’re obligated to be better every day, more efficient, obligated to respond with greater efficiency to the needs of people.”
He promised “to be the best president that I have been in these years.” Take him at his word. He’ll try because he cares. Imagine if US and other Western leaders felt this way and showed it. Perhaps another time in a new era, but not now. Other priorities take precedence.
Beating up on Bolivarianism
If you can’t beat ‘em, beat up on ‘em. Sour grapes postmortems made headlines. Scoundrel media editorials and op-eds featured them.
The Wall Street Journal’s Mary O’Grady is ideologically to the right of many neocons. Her style reflects character assassination. Her rhetoric drips with vitriol. She wins awards for genuflecting to power and suppressing vital truths for power brokers who pay her.
Her electoral postmortem was typical. She headlined “Chavismo Wins, Venezuela Loses,” saying:
“Control of the media and the voting polls, plus some old-fashioned fear, have won Hugo Chávez six more years.”
False, false and false! Corporations control virtually all Venezuelan major broadcast and print media. They unanimously endorsed Capriles. Venezuela’s electoral process is called the world’s best for good reason. Voters turned out en masse because it matters. Neoliberal extremists alone stoke fear.
O’Grady lied saying internal Capriles polling showed he’d “win by three to four percentage points.” Days before October 7, opposition insiders privately conceded. They knew they had no chance to win and said so.
Chavez “seized control of television and radio stations and used them during the campaign…” Those same stations opposed him. They promoted Capriles. They featured him on air.
“Mr. Capriles tried to tap into (Venezuelan) misery by presenting himself as a social democrat….” He’s a wealthy neoliberal hard-liner. He deplores beneficial social change. If elected he’d return Venezuela to its bad old days. Voters wanted none of him and his extremism.
O’Grady’s litany of canards infested her piece. Ones included sound like America, not Venezuela. She never misses a chance to beat up on Chavez. She was true to form calling him a “dictator,” a “world-class demagogue.”
He “mortgaged Venezuela to help him buy another six years in power….(N)o one believes that the final vote spread reflects the public’s opinion of the winner.”
“With China underwriting his populism and Cuba manning his intelligence and security apparatus, his near-term comfort in Miraflores palace is practically guaranteed.”
O’Grady reflects the worst of US opinion journalism. Yellow can’t begin to describe it.
WSJ writers Jose de Cordoba and Sara Schaefer Munoz had their say. They were dishonest in less strident form than O’Grady. They headlined “Victory Tightens Chavez Grip on Power,” saying:
“Another decisive electoral victory for Hugo Chávez has convinced many Venezuelans in the opposition that his only vulnerabilities are a turn for the worse in the ailing president’s health or a sharp drop in oil prices.”
“The win allows Mr. Chávez to press ahead with his Socialist revolution, deepening government intervention in the economy, including price controls and nationalizations.”
“Observers see him as likely to continue his role as the leading voice against U.S. interests in the region, enhancing alliances with everyone from Tehran to Beijing.”
What else would a Murdoch publication say. They have marching orders, salute and obey. So does Carnegie Endowment for International Peace analyst Moises Naim. The Journal writers quoted him saying:
“You have the head of a petrostate with authoritarian propensities who controls the legislative branch, the supreme court, the electoral tribunal and the oil industry which generates 98% of the country’s wealth, without any checks and balances.”
The entire article wreaked with misinformation. Corporate media scoundrels offer nothing else.
Bloomberg headlined “Chavez Election Victory Signals Accelerated Socialist Revolution,” saying:
Since taking office in 1999, “he nationalized more than 1,000 companies or their assets…” Nationalizations were far fewer. He paid fair compensation every time. No one was cheated.
“With voters giving the former paratrooper another six-year term, he’ll probably push policies, such as currency controls and takeovers, that have driven away investors….”
Chavez combines populism with business friendly practices. Level playing field politics perhaps best describes it. Before crisis conditions erupted in 2008, banker profits were so high they said they were “having a party.”
During today’s hard times, Venezuela’s growth is impressive. Q II 2012 advanced 5.4%. In contrast, Europe’s in recession. America is close. Economist Jack Rasmus predicts it in 2013. He calls overall conditions dire.
In a section devoted to Chavez, The New York Times said the “fiery socialist defeated a youthful, more moderate challenger….”
“He is an ailing and politically weakened winner facing an emboldened opposition that grew stronger and more confident as the voting neared, and at times seemed to have an upset victory within reach.”
The Times spent the last dozen years or longer beating up on him mercilessly. It can’t bear admitting social democracy works. It supports wealth and power. It spurns ordinary people. It calls fascist America democratic. It calls the real thing in Venezuela autocratic. Truth was never The Times’ long suit.
The Dallas Morning News was no better. Its editorial headlined “Venezuela’s sad electoral statement,” saying:
“Score another lamentable election victory for Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. The fiery, anti-U.S. revolutionary now has another six-year term to continue with the plans he launched after his first election in 1998 to dismantle Venezuela’s free-market economy and pursue his anachronistic socialist agenda.”
Washington has “national security” concerns to worry about for another six years. Chavez “rankled US leaders” by friendly relations with governments America opposes.
His “so-called Bolivarian revolution has proved hollow. Revolutionary socialism is almost impossible to sustain….Chavez should increasingly be dismissed for what he is – a toothless tiger.”
Media scoundrels call success failure. Their arguments don’t wash. Rhetoric substitutes for hard truths. Too bad so many people believe them. Venezuelans aren’t fooled. They support what works and showed it.
Pre-election, the London Guardian headlined “Hugo Chavez: a strongman’s last stand,” saying:
“No one ever accused Hugo Chávez of thinking small. He casts politics as an existential contest between good and evil, the oppressed and the oppressor.”
The election will decide “the comandante(‘s)” fate “and his revolution. (It) hangs by a thread….Chávez surrounded himself mostly with mediocrities, valuing loyalty over competence.”
“His legacy will be debated for decades….Many outsiders made up their minds long ago. There was Chávez the dictator who jailed opponents, sponsored terrorists and left his people hungry.”
“Chavez….is a hybrid: a democrat and autocrat, a progressive and a bully.” The Guardian also called him “a caudillo (strongman)” running a “dysfunction(al)” economy.
It’s hard imagining any broadsheet letting this trash end up in print. Inconvenient truths are ignored. Admitting them would discredit everything else said.
Shameless editorials and op-eds hounded Chavez for years. In its November/December 2005 Extra edition, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) headlined “The Op-Ed Assassination of Hugo Chavez,” saying:
Pat Robertson literally wanted him killed. Even so-called “moderate” columnists beat up on him mercilessly. The usual characterizations call him a strongman, autocrat, dictator, another Hitler.
“In studying the opinion pages of the top 25 circulation newspapers in the United States during the first six months of 2005, Extra! found that 95 percent of the nearly 100 press commentaries that examined Venezuelan politics expressed clear hostility to the country’s democratically elected president.”
It was no different earlier and perhaps worse today. The longer Chavez survives and gets majority Venezuelan support, the more media scoundrels beat up on him.
It’s nearly impossible finding major media commentaries portraying him accurately. Doing so would be out of character. Contributors would be out of work. Party line opinion only is tolerated. Truth and full disclosure are prohibited. It’s the American way.
posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:53 PM
NATO Edges Closer to War on Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Waging war is easy. Instigate provocative incidents. Blame them on targeted countries. False flags work as planned. So do Big Lies repeated enough times to get most people to believe them.
Stoking fear is a common thread. So is claiming good v. evil. Mix well with misinformation and duplicity. Sun Tzu was right saying wars depend on deception. It’s been that way since antiquity. Modern technology makes it easier.
Churchill said lies get halfway around the world before truths get their pants on. Global communication today is instant. Sending hawkish information everywhere is as simple as ready, aim, fire.
Washington and NATO partners are involved in multiple direct and proxy wars. More are planned. Word hasn’t gotten out but it’s coming.
Obama and Romney want war. So does NATO Secretary-General Fogh Rasmussen. He’s a consummate liar. Numerous times he said NATO won’t intervene in Syria. It’s been planned all along.
It’s ongoing. America, Britain, France and Turkey are lead belligerents. They’ve been involved since winter last year. Much goes on covertly.
If NATO didn’t want war, its key countries would be supporting peace. Death squad armies wouldn’t have been recruited. Training, funding, arming, and directing them wouldn’t have been ongoing since conflict erupted in March 2011.
Nor would terrorists be given safe haven in Turkey on Syria’s border. Provocations throw fuel on the fire. Last June, two Turkish warplanes lawlessly entered Syrian airspace low and fast. Doing so showed hostile intent.
One escaped unharmed. Syrian anti-aircraft fire downed the other in its own waters. Assad was blamed for Turkey’s provocation. War could have erupted but didn’t at the time.
The latest cross-border incident makes it more likely. Inflammatory rhetoric increases the possibility. Turkey’s been shelling Syrian territory for six days.
Assad had nothing to do with mortar fire on Turkish territory. Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants are responsible. It doesn’t matter. Only who’s blamed counts. Fingers always point the wrong way. Media scoundrels spread Big Lies. They’re repeated ad nauseam.
Warmongering officials advance the ball for war. Turkish ones play with fire. As one of 28 NATO countries, it’s obligated in ways it wouldn’t be if independent. It also borders Syrian territory.
Prime Minister Erdogan has been hawkish for months. President Abdullah Gul marches with him in lockstep.
“The worst-case scenario is happening in Syria at the moment. Syrian people are suffering and the developments there affect Turkey. We have citizens who have lost their lives,” he said.
“In such a moment, we are always in consultations with our government and chief of General Staff. Whatever necessary is being done, as you know. And it will continue to be done.”
“Sooner or later, a transition will occur. But our wish is (for it to happen) before more blood is shed and before Syria is ruined. I am of the opinion that the international community should actively be involved.”
Did he ask NATO to declare war? What else can international intervention mean? It’s been involved all along short of launching Libya 2.0. Turkey’s role is lead belligerent. Whatever its preference, it’s acquiescent.
Except perhaps for EU admission, it’s hard imagining what it hopes to gain. War on its southern neighbor assures spillover in its own territory. Heavy casualties and destruction will follow.
Most Turks and key opposition parties oppose war. Erdogan and Gul risk their futures for going against the tide. They’re in lockstep with Washington’s agenda. The will of their own people is spurned.
Politically it’s a bad strategy. Maybe they have other aims in mind. Maybe they’re biting off more than they can chew. Maybe they’ll get burned or worse in the process.
They’ve already got enough blood on their hands. So does NATO’s Rasmussen. He’s a war criminal multiple times over. How many more corpses will he tolerate on his conscience?
Ahead of an earlier October Brussels meeting, he said:
“I would add to that that obviously Turkey can rely on NATO solidarity, we have all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary.”
He did little to cool tensions, adding:
“We hope that all parties involved will show restraint, and avoid an escalation of the crisis. I do believe that the right way forward in Syria is political solution.”
If he believed it, he’d work with other NATO members and to call off their dogs. Since conflict erupted last year, belligerence was prioritized. Alleged humanitarian concerns and fake peace plans were subterfuge for what’s planned.
On October 9, Rasmussen’s rhetoric grew sharper. “We have all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary,” he said.
Damascus needs defending, not Ankara. Rasmussen commended Turkey for its restraint. Shelling Syrian territory for six days hardly shows it. Clearly it makes war more likely.
“Obviously Turkey has a right to defend herself within international law,” claimed Rasmussen. “I would add….that Turkey can rely on NATO solidarity.”
Rasmussen and Erdogen both sound Orwellian. The NATO chief commends Turkish shelling as restraint. Erdogan practically says the best way to achieve peace is wage war.
Perhaps he also believes freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength. Maybe Turks will get fed up enough to remove him and likeminded warmongers before their country get embroiled over its head.
On condition of anonymity, NATO officials said plans in place are longstanding. In response to Washington’s regime change agenda, perhaps they were readied in the 1990s.
Turkey is a willing client state. It risks its own well-being. Partnering with America’s imperium has consequences. The price of imperial arrogance may be too much to pay.
Syrians paid dearly for months. Thousands died. Dozens more die daily. On October 9, twin blasts rocked a military base near Damascus. Suicide bombers perhaps were involved.
Dozens were reported killed. Many others were wounded. It’s the latest in a series of major attacks. The Al Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front took credit. It claimed it was avenging Muslims “oppressed or killed” by Assad.
On October 9, Voice of Russia headlined “NATO invasion of Syria: coming soon, rated X,” saying:
Growing signs suggest it. It’s likely baked in the cake. Perhaps one spark too many will ignite it. They’re easy to create. They’re ongoing now cross-border. Erdogen already got parliamentary approval. Shelling may get more intense.
If Syria responds in kind, all bets are off. Turkey suggests it’s spoiling for war. It moved tanks and other heavy weapons to its southern border. It has 25 F-16s and other aircraft positioned in Diyarbakir. It’s in the country’s Kurdish region.
They attacked four alleged PKK sites in Iraq. It followed a near parliamentary declaration of war on Syria. It barely stopped short. After an earlier in October NATO meeting, the following statement was issued:
“In view of the Syrian regime’s recent aggressive acts at NATO’s southeastern border, which are a flagrant breach of international law and a clear and present danger to the security of one of its Allies, the North Atlantic Council met today, within the framework of Article 4 of the Washington Treaty….”
“In the spirit of indivisibility of security and solidarity deriving from the Washington Treaty, the Alliance continues to stand by Turkey and demands the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an Ally.”
At the behest of any member, Articles 4 or 5 can be invoked.
Article 4 calls for members to “consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any” is threatened.
Article 5 considers an armed attack (real or otherwise) against one or more members, an attack against all, and calls for collective self-defense.
Will NATO invoke it next? Will full-scale war follow? Heightened tensions increase the likelihood. If it’s planned, it’s virtually certain. Perhaps another pretext will launch it. As explained above, it’s as simple as ready, aim, fire. Heaven help regional countries if it’s ordered.
A Final Comment
Mossad-connected DEBKAfile’s (DF) October 9 headline added another possible wrinkle of its own. “US, Israel plan October Surprise. Others: Israel can do it alone,” it said.
DF said an Israeli/Iranian war already is ongoing. It cited the UAV Israel downed over its territory days earlier. DF blamed Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.
This writer called it a likely false flag. No regional country has anything to gain. For Israel, it’s a convenient casus belli. If one scheme doesn’t work, new ones are easy to invent. Israel does it often. So does Washington.
DF points fingers at Iran for practically everything it claims harms Israel. Tehran, of course, is victim, not perpetrator. So are Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Palestinian resistance groups.
The idea that Israel can go it alone is nonsense. Its capability isn’t up to the challenge. It won’t dare attack Iran without Washington’s approval and support. DF knows it but claims otherwise.
Perhaps it’s playing stalking horse for something else big planned. Full-scale war on Syria seems most likely. If it comes, it won’t be pre-announced. Nor will war on Iran or on any other countries. Targets aren’t given advance notice to prepare.
posted by Steve Lendman @ 11:52 PM
Monday, October 08, 2012
Chavez Win Strengthens Bolivarianism
by Stephen Lendman
Several previous articles said Venezuelans won’t tolerate going back to their ugly past. On Sunday, they proved it. They voted in record numbers.
Long lines queued hours before dawn. Polls stayed open well into the night so everyone coming out could vote.
Turnout was nearly 81% of Venezuela’s 19,119,809 registered voters. US elections usually get around 50%. Off-year congressional races average under 40%.
From 1960 – 2010, the highest percentage participation was 63.1%. It was in 1960 when Kennedy defeated Nixon. The lowest turnout was 49.1% in 1996 when Clinton bested Bob Dole.
In the off-year 2010 congressional election, a meager 37.8% participated. America’s electoral process lacks credibility. Duopoly power permits no choice. Big Money always wins.
Venezuelans get the real thing. Their electoral process is the best in the world. It’s independently judged open, free and fair. Every vote counts. They’re tabulated fully and honestly.
US elections are rigged. Politics in America reflect more hypocrisy than democracy.
Overnight Sunday into Monday pre-dawn, Venezuelans celebrated. Fireworks went off in Caracas. People honked horns, waved flags, and cheered. Thousands massed outside the Miraflores presidential palace. Chavez rallied them.
From a balcony overlooking the crowd, he raised a sword once belonging to 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar. “The revolution has triumphed,” he said! Venezuelans “voted for socialism.”
“Viva Venezuela! Viva the fatherland! The battle was perfect and the victory was perfect!”
“Today we’ve shown that Venezuela’s democracy is one of the best democracies in the world, and we will continue to show it.”
“Venezuela will never return to neoliberalism and continue in the transition to socialism of the 21st century.”
“I want to make a recognition to the whole Venezuelan people, the whole Venezuelan nation. Today the country of Bolivar was reborn.”
In response, supporters chanted, “Viva Le Patria. “Ooh Aah, Chavez won’t go!”
Speaking for others perhaps a Vargas fisherman said, “I’m crying with joy. In the next six years, we will deepen the revolution.”
A construction worker said, “I can’t describe the relief and happiness I feel right now.”
A teacher said, “Chavez is my joy. He will continue protecting the poor and defenseless.”
After his victory was announced, Chavez tweeted:
“Thank you, my God. Thanks to everyone. Thanks my beloved people!!! Viva Venezuela!!! Viva Bolivar!!!”
An email sent this writer showed an image of him displaying a Chicago Daily Tribune headline saying, “CAPRILES DEFEATS CHAVEZ.”
It replicated Harry Truman holding up the notorious Chicago Daily Tribune (now the Chicago Tribune) early November 3, 1948 front page headlining “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.”
The broadsheet to this day hasn’t erased the memory it would like everyone to forget.
Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez tweeted congratulations, saying:
“Your victory is our victory! And the victory of South America and the Caribbean!”
Bolivian President Evo Morales replicated her tweet, saying:
“Your victory is also ours. It is of South America and the Caribbean. Congratulations President Chavez!”
Cuban President Raul Castro was one of the first leaders to send congratulations. Chavizmo was triumphant. Sunday was celebratory time. Monday it’s back to business.
Chavez said that he’ll deepen socialism in the next six years. Many problems need addressing. He promised to continue working to alleviate them.
It’s not easy turning around a money power run country run for generations. Since taking office in February 1999, Chavez did plenty. Venezuelans rewarded him with six more years. He deserved it. On January 10, he’ll be inaugurated to deepen Bolivarianism as he promised.
Around 10PM Sunday night, with 90% of votes counted, National Electoral Council (CNE) president Tibisay Lucena announced electoral results.
Chavez led Capriles by 54.42% to 44.97%. He was ahead by around 1.3 million votes. It was more than enough to assure victory. With 98% of votes counted, Chavez upped his victory margin to 1.5 million votes. He won 55 – 44%. Other candidates got 1% combined.
Lucena said, “Once again we’ve had a calm electoral process without problems, with the joy of this people who decided to vote massively today.”
Corporate media scoundrels stopped just short of sour grapes. For over a decade, they pilloried him mercilessly. They can’t bear having a hemispheric good example shame how America is run. The difference between both countries is stark. Previous articles explained it.
The New York Times has been one of his lead antagonists. On October 7, it headlined “Chavez Wins New Term in Venezuela, Holding Off Surge by Opposition.”
“Surge?” On Sunday it failed to show up except in a fake Spanish ABC newspaper mid-afternoon exit poll. It didn’t surprise. It was published in Miami, Colombia, Chile and Venezuela.
It claimed opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski won. The corporate run Varianzas agency released it. It said he defeated Chavez by 51.3% to 48.06%.
Perhaps it tried to deter Chavez supporters from voting later in the day. Not a chance. They wanted another six years and got them.
Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign (VSC) secretary Francisco Dominguez said:
“Fake exit polls are one way in which opponents of the current government have previously tried to discredit the results of elections where Hugo Chavez has won clear majorities.”
“This is part of a political game – a dirty war played by the Venezuela right-wing.”
“Journalists who have reported these polls believing them to be credible have later been embarrassed to have found themselves exploited for political motives.”
“Given that polling is not permitted on election day in Venezuela, any such polls should be treated skeptically.”
“There is the very real risk that this is part of a propaganda war by sections of the right-wing opposition with the aim of creating destabilization and unrest.”
“It would be irresponsible of journalists to give this poll any credence. To use it risks inadvertently supporting a campaign from the more extreme sections of the Venezuelan opposition to try to claim that any defeat at today’s election is simply the result of fraud.”
“As both campaigns said earlier today, people should await the official results from that will be released in the next few hours.”
The Times called Chavez a longtime “fiery foe of Washington.” He’s opposes neoliberal injustice and imperial ravaging. Times editorial policy supports them.
The article claimed Chavez is “an ailing and politically weakened winner facing an emboldened opposition that grew stronger and more confident as the voting neared, and held out hope that an upset victory was within reach.”
In fact, opposition insiders knew they had no chance and said so. Capriles was too far behind to win. Days before October 7, cohesion among them began disintegrating. A previous article discussed it. Corporate media scoundrels said nothing.
They pretended that Capriles had a good chance to win. It was laughable on its face. The Times said “Chavez spent much of the year insulting and trying to provoke Mr. Capriles and his followers.”
He gave them hell for good reason. He explained what they are and the danger they pose. Venezuelans remember the bad old days and want none of it repeating.
Instead of explaining beneficial social change under Chavez, The Times said “Venezuela is mired in problems, including out-of-control violent crime, crumbling roads and bridges, and power blackouts…”
True enough. These problems and others need addressing. Chavez promised to do more. America has these and many more unaddressed festering problems harming most people nationwide.
The Times failed to notice. It also downplayed the sharp drop in poverty and unemployment under Chavez. He’s waged war on inequality and human need. These and other vital issues go begging in America. Instead of fixing them, they’re getting worse.
On October 6, a scurrilous Washington Post editorial headlined “Venezuela eyes change,” saying:
“IF HUGO CHAVEZ is an autocrat, how could he be in danger of losing the Venezuelan presidency in an election on Sunday?”
“Polls show a race to the wire between the caudillo and challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski. An opposition victory would mean an epochal change of political direction in one of the world’s largest oil producers….”
Independent democrats Washington dislikes are called autocrats and much worse. A close race? It never was close throughout the campaign except in fake polls claiming it.
Indeed an opposition win would be “epochal” for all the wrong reasons. Venezuelans wanted none of it. They had final say.
Many Post editorials are scandalous and disreputable. This one was no different. It claimed Chavez “feels obliged to stage elections (but) in an environment that heavily favors the regime.”
“Mr. Chavez controls Venezuela’s courts, election commission and most television channels, which bombard the population with propaganda.”
All of the above explains America, not Venezuela. Claiming otherwise is vicious and patently untrue.
Venezuelan voters are “intimidated,” claimed the Post. Chavez “is in danger of losing (because of) the havoc he has wreaked in what was once Latin America’s richest country.”
In fact, he turned a cesspool into a model social democracy. That notion is verboten in America. Money power won’t tolerate it. Neither do media scoundrels.
The editorial went on to pillory Chavez with one canard after another. Like all members of America’s corporate media establishment, the Post adheres to its strict code of suppressing truth and full disclosure.
Its notion of freedom and social democracy is none at all. It claimed Chavez’s “days as Venezuela’s leader are numbered.” It suggested a possible electoral loss.
It urged “Venezuela’s neighbors, and the Obama administration, should be ready to react if he attempts to remain in power by force.” It barely stopped short of recommending coup d’etat authority to oust him. Perhaps a future editorial will go further.
The Financial Times was more measured. It headlined “Chavez wins new term in Venezuela.” It covered his electoral win in 10 concise paragraphs. Pejoratives were omitted.
It said he “frustrat(ed) the opposition’s best chance of beating him after 14 years in power and reconfirming him as one of Latin America’s most commanding political figures.”
Indeed so for good reason. As long as he’s healthy, wants to keep serving, and keeps doing the right things, he’ll likely to remain so. Venezuelans won’t tolerate the alternative.
On October 8, Russia Today (rt.com) headlined “Here to stay: Chavez wins Venezuelan presidency,” saying:
He won a fourth term convincingly. There never was any doubt. Only the turnout and margin of victory remained to be determined. With nearly all ballots counted, now we know.
Crowds were jubilant for good reason. Six more years. Viva Chavez. Viva the kind of social democracy Americans can’t even imagine.