In Media critique, Russia

By Margaret Kimberley, editor and columnist, Black Agenda Report, Nov 15, 2017

‘The 21st century McCarthyite campaign has succeeded in convincing otherwise intelligent people that Russia is an enemy.’

‘The latte left are willing to go along with the surveillance state, the neoliberal consensus and the war party duopoly.’

The U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act dating back to 1938

The Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) was established in 1938 as a means of fighting Nazi influence in the United States. The Russia-funded cable network RT was recently forced to register under FARA in order to continue operating in the United States. The wave of ginned up anti-Russian hysteria has created a new and terrible precedent.

RT America’s audience is small, so small that it doesn’t appear on the Nielsen rating service. It is estimated to be viewed by no more than 50,000 people per day. But facts don’t count when the Democrats need to excuse their failures and neocons in both parties want to wage war by any and all means.

Read further below:
U.S. politics even more conservative under Trump, but not for the reasons expected, by Danny Haiphong, contributor, Black Agenda Report, Nov 15, 2017

The political attack on a news outlet is striking for another reason and that is the near complete absence of support for RT among American journalists. The acquiescence of the usual cohort of civil libertarians and others who think themselves progressive and enlightened is striking. The 21st century McCarthyite campaign has succeeded in convincing otherwise intelligent people that Russia is an enemy. Those who are unconvinced are generally too afraid to speak up. Their fear is legitimate.

RT is the focus of attack precisely because it provides a means of information gathering outside the bounds of corporate media. RT viewers can access a wide variety of viewpoints, including those in opposition to United States and NATO foreign policy. Russian had already been branded as evil, but the claims of interference in the 2016 election and connections to Donald Trump have been effective and provided the perfect cover for promoting United States foreign policy and covering up the Democratic Party corruption and ineptitude which led to Donald Trump’s victory.

The RT attack is not just confined to the United States. A Prague based group called European Values Think Tank has created a list of British and American politicians who have appeared on RT and labeled them “useful idiots” of Russia. European Values Think Tank is funded in part by the United States government and foundations supported by George Soros. In the United Kingdom two Labour members of parliament have asked that a journalist lose his press privileges because he is a frequent guest on RT. That journalist, Marcus Papadopoulos, explained the issue succinctly. “Those in Washington and London who are attacking RT and Sputnik, do so because they and the criminal foreign policies that they support are being exposed by RT and Sputnik for all to see.”

The journalists who work at RT and their guests are paying a high price for asserting their rights to work and to freely express their opinions. Now labeled as dupes, traitors, Putin appeasers and worse, they struggle without support from people who are either true believers in the new McCarthyism or who fear the taint of any Russian connection.

Americans who think themselves progressive are equally guilty in promoting this attack. John Kiriakou was a CIA whistle blower who paid for his honesty with a prison sentence. Now free, he hosts a program on Sputnik. Kiriakou was scheduled to speak on the subject of human rights before the European Parliament. Winnie Wong, co-founder of People for Bernie Sanders, refused to appear on the same panel with Kiriakou, claiming that she didn’t wish to be aligned with Sputnik.

It isn’t clear how sitting next to Kiriakou makes one aligned with his employer, but Wong is certainly not alone among the normally high minded latte left. They are just as willing to go along with the surveillance state, the neoliberal consensus and the war party duopoly.

Kiriakou isn’t alone. The Huffington Post pulled a piece written by one of their own writers, Joe Lauria. His On the Origins of Russia Gate  explained what is easily provable, that the Democratic National Committee paid for the so-called evidence of Russian election interference. The people and organizations claiming to be part of a resistance are nothing but hacks for the Democrats and supporters of the elite consensus for American domination of the world.

There ought to be an outcry of support for RT but instead the FARA decision has been met with either silence or applause. The anti-Russian trope has been executed with perfection. It has been spread by the corporate media and the two-party duopoly. The same newspapers and cable news stations providing endless anti-Russian coverage never allow a counter narrative to see the light of day. Experts on Russia whose opinions were once sought out are now completely excluded from media access. Millions of Americans devote their time to news gathering and still know nothing useful about Russia, its role in the world or the truth about their own government’s activities.

RT should be defended by anyone who claims to believe in press freedom, left politics or ordinary fairness. The lack of public defenders is proof of neo-con triumph and the duplicity of people who call themselves liberals. They must be called to account whenever possible. If they are not, the imperialists and their war-party partners will have won.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in Black Agenda Report. It is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com.

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U.S. politics even more conservative under Trump, but not for the reasons expected

By Danny Haiphong, contributor, Black Agenda Report, Nov 15, 2017

‘At no other time has there been more of a need to organize a political program independent of the two party system.’

The old formula for Democratic Party behavior under a Republican Administration is dead. For a generation, Republican-led wars, economic bailouts, and overtly racist policies generated mass discontent from a wide net of Democratic Party supporters. Democratic opposition to Republicans was mere bravado that created the conditions for future Democratic Party Administrations in Washington. Once the Republicans were disarmed, politics as usual commenced. This was especially evident during the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama Administrations, where progressive politics went to die in favor of austerity and endless war.

Politics in the U.S. became so stagnant under Obama that many forgot what real opposition to power looked like. Donald Trump emerged from the political rot to take the highest seat of the oval office from the Republican and Democratic Party establishment. The Republican Party had zero answers for the orange billionaire as candidates such as Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush had long worn out their welcome with Republican voters. And the Hillary Clinton campaign couldn’t muster any opposition to Trump beyond blaming Russia for his rise, giving voters no reason to vote Democrat at all.

What few left-wing forces that remained in the U.S. hoped that a popular movement would emerge against the orange billionaire’s racist and sexist character. The first few months of his Administration appeared on the surface to indicate a new day in left politics. Protests during and directly after Trump’s inauguration garnered hundreds of thousands of attendees. Many of these protests, such as the Women’s March, were organized on a top down basis. Non-profits and foundations played a key role in the turnout. Non-profit ties to the Democratic Party prevented left-wing activists to move the masses away from Democratic Party politics.

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, we should remember that V.I. Lenin had much to say in relation to spontaneous protest. He explained that spontaneity cannot produce mass movements capable of making revolutionary change. Spontaneous rebellion among the masses indicates a variety of things. As the Ferguson rebellion exemplified, rebellion can signal that Black Americans are becoming increasingly fed up with the police brutality and mass incarceration that dominates their lives. However, rebellion can also reveal the full terrain of struggle. The anti-Trump protests directly following the inauguration of Trump made clear that mass anger exists at the very presence of the Orange billionaire in the White House. However, as Lenin taught us, it is what kind of leadership at the front of mass discontent that determines its political direction.

And because the Democratic Party has been in the lead, politics in the U.S. have moved even further rightward. The anti-Trump campaign has turned into a full blown anti-Russian campaign where Trump is the object of the still unproven claim that Russia interfered in the Presidential election. Independent media has been blacklisted by Google. RT has been banned from advertising on Twitter. And the accusations have only become more absurd. Russia has been accused of everything from using $100,000 to buy Black Lives Matter ads on Facebook to infiltrating Pokemon Go to “divide the nation.”

A political environment reminiscent of the Cold War has placed the U.S. at the forefront of a new Cold War. A section of the ruling class desperately wants Russia to return to its Yeltsin-era subservience to U.S. capital. It is believed by the major military contractors and Wall Street firms that war with Russia presents an opportunity to recharge the U.S. capitalist economy, which is in need of a boost. Lust for profit has clouded the potential nuclear implications of such a war. The Democratic Party and its Republican allies are willing to turn humanity into nuclear dust in exchange for short term riches for their paymasters.

An example of the level of conservatism brought on by the Democratic Party-led anti-Russia campaign was recently covered by Don DeBar on his weekday program on CPR News program on November 7. Journalist Joe Lauria discussed his piece entitled ‘The Democratic Money behind Russia-gate’ [article in Consortium News, Oct 29, 2017; interview with Joe Lauria is in first item of the CPR News broadcast on Nov 7, 2017]. The article was originally posted on Huffington Post. It detailed how the Democratic National Committee hired a private contractor, CrowdStrike, to conduct the investigation of its servers. The FBI was barred from access, raising questions about the validity of an investigation funded by the DNC itself. Lauria’s piece was taken down from Huffington Post within 24 hours.

The Huffington Post is owned by AOL. AOL’s founder endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections. This act of blatant censorship is part and parcel of the conservatism that has arisen in the age of Trump. Some might call the behavior of the Democratic Party fascistic. The question of war and peace has become the principle contradiction of this era thanks in large part to the Democratic Party. The drive for war has two fronts. On the one hand, radical elements have been targeted by the Democratic Party as agents of the Kremlin. On the other, sanctions have been leveled on Russia in the context of a vast expansion in NATO’s presence along the Russian border.

Trump’s presidency has thus been characterized by an even more war hungry Democratic Party than in years prior. Politics in Washington have been consumed by a crisis of legitimacy that plagues both corporate parties. The Democratic Party has no answers for the problems that afflict the growing numbers of poor people in the U.S., especially the Black proletariat. Anti-Russian sentiment not only fulfills the goal of endless war but also absolves the Democrats of accountability for its role in the crisis of capitalism. Rather than policy discussions about healthcare, austerity, mass incarceration, military spending and the like, the Democratic Party has obsessively attacked Trump on the basis of his unproven ties to Russia.

It is for this reason that politics in the U.S. have only become more moribund since the end of the Obama period. Black politicians have fully endorsed the anti-Russian, new Cold War narrative. At no other time has there been more of a need to organize a political program independent of the two party system. The corporate interests that dictate policy in the intelligence agencies are in full control of Washington’s empire. Trump didn’t make the U.S. a more conservative imperialist empire. He is nothing but a product of the prevailing conditions of an empire in decline.

Danny Haiphong is a Vietnamese-American activist and political analyst in the Boston area.


Related readings:
America’s righteous Russia-gate censorship, by Robert Parry, Consortium News, Nov 14, 2017  (with extensive, related readings in the posting of the article to New Cold War.org)

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