Category Archives: Opinion

Liberal Racism Rears Its Ugly Head (Again)

Using phrases like “American Taliban” or invoking the term “sharia law” to attack the ruling of Christians on the court is all the rage after the recent Roe v. Wade decision. Once again, we have people—primarily liberal white people—engaging in racist, Islamophobic tropes. Muslim activists, scholars, and researchers have repeatedly pointed out this racism and Islamophobia for years, apparently to no avail. This needs to stop.

Islam isn’t the problem. It’s Christianity. The six judges who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade aren’t Muslim. They’re Christian. All are Catholic, although Neil Gorsuch is a Catholic turned Episcopalian. The oppression in America is home-grown Christianity. It’s as American as apple pie.

Christian conservatives and fundamentalists champion the anti-abortion movement in the United States. Stop demonizing Muslims and making them the boogeyman. They are not props to be used as scapegoats for American problems. The United States has shown itself quite often throughout history it can be an extraordinarily regressive country all on its own.

Associate professor Nazia Kazi at Stockton University points out it “reflects this assumption that Muslim women are uniquely oppressed and that American or western women are remarkably liberated.” She continued, “From both the American common sense public imagination, right on up to the seats of power, there’s this impulse to externalize that which actually is endemic to the US itself.”

Drop the ignorant, racist dog whistle and confront the real culprit: American Christianity. Stop denigrating Muslims by outsourcing American problems.

The post Liberal Racism Rears Its Ugly Head (Again) first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Liberal Racism Rears Its Ugly Head (Again)

Using phrases like “American Taliban” or invoking the term “sharia law” to attack the ruling of Christians on the court is all the rage after the recent Roe v. Wade decision. Once again, we have people—primarily liberal white people—engaging in racist, Islamophobic tropes. Muslim activists, scholars, and researchers have repeatedly pointed out this racism and Islamophobia for years, apparently to no avail. This needs to stop.

Islam isn’t the problem. It’s Christianity. The six judges who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade aren’t Muslim. They’re Christian. All are Catholic, although Neil Gorsuch is a Catholic turned Episcopalian. The oppression in America is home-grown Christianity. It’s as American as apple pie.

Christian conservatives and fundamentalists champion the anti-abortion movement in the United States. Stop demonizing Muslims and making them the boogeyman. They are not props to be used as scapegoats for American problems. The United States has shown itself quite often throughout history it can be an extraordinarily regressive country all on its own.

Associate professor Nazia Kazi at Stockton University points out it “reflects this assumption that Muslim women are uniquely oppressed and that American or western women are remarkably liberated.” She continued, “From both the American common sense public imagination, right on up to the seats of power, there’s this impulse to externalize that which actually is endemic to the US itself.”

Drop the ignorant, racist dog whistle and confront the real culprit: American Christianity. Stop denigrating Muslims by outsourcing American problems.

The post Liberal Racism Rears Its Ugly Head (Again) first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Market God + Private Profits = Public Loss

All people need food, shelter and health care. In an alleged democracy, none of them need the religion of market forces governing their ability to get them. Nor do those of us temporarily comfortable while enjoying the benefits that come to a minority which does well with capitalism (as it did with slavery) but now face a choking atmosphere that no individual status or identity as glorified house negroes of slavery days will protect us since the house itself, our planet, is under deadly attack.

Brutal abuse of logic, savage assaults on morality, perverted molestations of reason; do those describe Russian military behavior in the Ukraine or western political-media market practice? Incredibly booming profits in the death industry accompany the world tour of a Ukrainian political hustler for NATO as he is treated as an international hero for escaping his country on a world go-fund-me trip to raise more weapons to assure more murder of his people with a potential bonus of hosting a late night TV show in America while the bodies are being counted.

The incredible reporting (?) of the Russian defense of its borders has it being depicted as an ugly rape of neighbors led by a comic book madman supposedly bent on building an empire by defending his nation from an imperial monster failing desperately by the day and threatening to destroy the world in a frenzy of trying to maintain its criminal domination of the market god religion. This while its own nation shows signs of crumbling with citizens lashing out at one another and losing faith in all aspects of what passes for leadership but reduced to blaming special villains and identity groups while pursuing decency and freedom for other and often the same villains and identity groups. The one most dangerous and unjust group, the incredibly rich who own and operate what passes for a democracy under thought control, are only just beginning to get the attention they have always deserved.

Low election day turnouts are an American tradition but worse than ever as divisions forced on a public taught to identify as anything but a democratic majority – while paying lip service to something called “our” democracy, which amounts to slaves claiming “our” plantation – while foreign slaughter is accompanied by homeland mass murders that reduce citizens to more fear, sorrow and anger directed at everything but the systemic breakdown and focused by media on scapegoats.

Class society is composed of all of us but we are hardly all members of the same class in a market-dominated capitalism in which rulers separate us by everything but class. Do we have testicles or vaginas? We are all human beings. Lighter skin or darker skin? We are all human beings.  But when a tiny minority among us are rich and everyone else ranges from fairly comfortable to relatively comfortable to uncomfortable to suffering severe discomfort to being ground to pulp by marketism, that defines class society, which is absolutely necessary under the market forces controlled by the rich and their servants in government, industry and media.

American dollar democracy finds 8% of us being millionaires, multi-millionaires, billionaires, and multi billionaires. The 92% majority, of course, control everything democratically. That is the definable truth if you believe deep nose-picking is a way of performing self lobotomy or that the tooth fairy is really a gay dentist. Sadly, a minority of us, including all too many voters, might as well be stuck in such a mental trap. But a growing majority sense that something is terribly wrong and that real change is necessary for humanity and not just one or another identity group’s survival is causing greater desire than ever for substantial change in the way we organize our society. Unfortunately, that desire is still under the control of the profit-making industries of division, violence, ignorance and more division.

It is possible to believe that a billionaire and a pauper are equal when shopping at the market, if one is among the nose picking tooth fairy faith. The rest of us must see the numbers which do not lie and get worse every day when it comes to what is called economic inequality. While that is the foundation of marketism which affords massive estates and riches so vast it takes several banks to hold them, hundreds of thousands of humans, whether possessing testicles, vaginas, or both, light skin, dark skin, or both, heterosexual, homosexual or both, do not have shelter, publicly beg for food and forage through garbage for clothing. This while millions of residents in a so-called democracy have no health care and more than a million die of a virus which is believed by some to have been created by one or another villainous force but hardly due to the capitalist market system which demands money for most of what is needed for survival while essentially telling those without enough money they can drop dead.

While formally educated and mentally deranged manipulators of policy are using Ukraine to affect murdering Russians and using Taiwan to encourage murder of Chinese, common sense and near universal desires for global peace are impossible to find in the mass murder market dominated and controlled by minorities at growing danger to the overwhelming majority of earth’s inhabitants. The socially diseased imperial beast calling itself a force for global peace and democracy has become a raving monster desperately in need of a truly democratic force of the American people to take control before the rest of the world, led by China, Russia and the many nations fed up with a disintegrating economic, social and political environment, have to exercise control, democratic or otherwise.

Peace is impossible while life is controlled by minority profiteers whose control of information is as menacing as its weapons making. The world outside the USA is growing restive, fed up, and beginning to tell us to bug off, as at the recent farce of an alleged meeting of Latin American countries formerly under our total domination showed. Nato countries reduced to suffering for obeying American orders to sanction Russia are being to think about banding together to sanction The USA. There has never been a greater time for real democracy in America but it won’t come about by making war on one another, which will only make the imperial situation worse. Our identity is as human beings, not sub-categories of humans with no need for food, clothing and shelter but only separate-but-allegedly-equal status slaves to a market god, and our fate is in coming together and acting as such. We need to do that in greater numbers and more quickly than ever.

The post Market God + Private Profits = Public Loss first appeared on Dissident Voice.

It’s Showtime in Ukraine!

Let our bleeding proxy negotiate a settlement, NOW.

Since early January, the corporate media have been proving their loyalty and their usefulness to the US foreign policy establishment. With faultless show-business efficiency, they manufactured an international political superstar, at least in Europe and the English speaking world. Vladimir Zelensky appeared on media screens, seemingly everywhere, including a turn on the 2022 Grammy Awards extravaganza.

Sad but resolute Ukrainian refugees became fodder for a blend of news and entertainment that firmly established, in our hearts and minds, who were the Good Guys and who were the Evil Monsters.

And we were encouraged to see that, sooner or later, the Ukrainian Good Guys were going to prevail over the brutal Russian fiends.

But lately there have been some tiny cracks in the wall of totalitarian perception management. And now ….

It’s time. It’s time to recognize the reality. It’s time for our bleeding proxy-warrior Ukraine to negotiate with Russia, in good faith, before it loses everything.

Right off the bat, many readers will exclaim, “You can’t negotiate with Russia! The Russians are guilty of unprovoked and unjustified aggression.”

Unprovoked and unjustified. Like an ancient Greek theatrical chorus, the corporate media have repeated that line until, now, it’s stuck permanently in our synapses. An ear worm, like a catchy melody.

I’d ask those media-addled opponents of diplomacy to imagine, just for a moment, a hypothetical situation: First, make sure you have a complete grasp of the drama’s exposition, the entire, contrived, set of circumstances which the President of Russia was facing on February 24, 2022.

Remember that the clever script writers of the US foreign policy elite had employed their best calculated, cold-blooded cunning to devise the perfect diplomatic double-bind for the drama’s Russian villain. (And, of course, they had choreographed their NATO dance line, to give their “diplomacy” the illusion of legitimacy.)

Now, ask yourself whether any American President, facing a comparable dramatic conflict, would have acted differently?

Or pretend, for a moment, that Winston Churchill, hero of numerous epic films, is, through the magic of your imagination, the President of the Russian Federation. Do you have any doubt that Churchill would have stoutly refused to bow down and appease the US/NATO leadership arrayed against him?

Azov Battalion fighters with Nazi flag (WikiCommons)

A second consideration, on the subject of Russia’s trustworthiness as a negotiating partner: The Western powers and their media mouthpieces have contemptuously dismissed Russia’s stated goal of de-Nazifying Ukraine. Western propaganda would have us believe that there is no serious neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalist threat whatsoever in Ukraine.

To the contrary, a little research reveals that the threat is very real. I’m talking about ferocious, far-right fanatics, who are heavily armed, highly trained, strongly motivated and fiercely disciplined. Their electoral base is small, but that doesn’t matter. In the media-fiction of Ukrainian democracy, with oligarchs pulling many of the strings, the ability to mobilize real-life violence is a powerful tool.

And we should remember that the US and NATO have been deeply involved in arming and training these forces, since 2014, making them an even more formidable part of Ukraine’s governing power structure. This arming and training took place off-stage, to be played out for an audience only when the time was right — when Russian tanks crossed the Belarus-Ukraine border, and the well-rehearsed Ukrainian military was unleashed, causing awesome, real-world damage and death.

Not every Ukrainian soldier is a neo-Nazi or a hard-right ethnic cleanser. But I believe it’s fair to say that those elements are the spine of the Ukrainian military. Without them, I doubt that the media-touted under-dog’s esprit de corps would be nearly as robust.

Let’s do an exercise in make-believe. Take the insurgents who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. As a theatrical event, the staging was a mess. It barely deserved to be called a riot. But that mob of actors was not lacking in motivation. Or raw talent. They clearly believed that their dramatic enactment was real. We in the audience were mesmerized and then relieved, when the play came to a sputtering end.

Now, picture the actors in that mob again. The Justice Department estimates their number to have been between 2,000 and 2,500. In your mind’s eye, multiply them by twenty-five (40,000 to 50,000).

Now, arm them. Train them hard. Organize them into squads, platoons, companies, battalions and brigades. Enforce strict discipline. Motivate them with a continued sense of ethnic superiority.

This little exercise of the dramatist’s imagination, “based upon” our home-grown January 6, should give you some idea of the ultra-right’s strength and influence within the Ukraine power structure.1

The Russians are very serious about confronting Nazis and ethnic supremacists in that country which sits right on their border. In Vladimir Putin’s February 21st speech to the Russian people, he was not using Ukrainian neo-Nazis as a flimsy pretext in a cheap melodrama.

The people of Ukraine don’t need any more media spot-lighting. Their plight doesn’t need more daily dramatizing presented as “news.” Ukrainian civilians need a permanent cease-fire. So let the talks begin. And please, remember: We are in no position to judge the sincerity of Russian negotiators, in potential talks, aimed at a peaceful settlement of this bloody conflict. In the fog of war, you never know what might happen until the diplomatic actors take the stage and begin their dialogue. The old cliche applies: You never know until you try.

The real blockage to peace talks is a triumphalist and misguided NATO and its Godfather in Washington. The US and NATO are going for broke. They are demanding that Ukraine fight on, bleeding and dying, until the US, NATO and their proxy achieve a decisive victory over Russian forces.

Furthermore, if Zelensky and his foreign policy team decide to negotiate, before they lose even more territory, they risk the wrath of the neo-Nazi, ultra-nationalists who permeate their military and police forces. They will not survive without the Godfather’s protection.

(See this article in the Kyiv Post, about veteran Ukrainian Donbas fighters confronting Zelensky, warning him, in 2019, NOT to seek peace in the Donbas. This dramatic verbal clash occurred just after his landslide election victory, playing the rôle of “peace candidate.”)

It’s time. It’s time for President Biden to assume the rôle of statesman. His NATO minions cannot object if Biden tells the government and the people of Ukraine that more billions of dollars worth of weapons will not secure a final battlefield victory over the Russians. Ukraine’s railroads, which are the means of delivering those weapons to frontline fighters, have been severely damaged by Russian air and missile strikes. And the less effective means of transport, heavy trucks, face the obstacle of damaged roads and many destroyed bridges. And finally, as the war grinds on in the Donbas theatre, Ukraine will have fewer and fewer seasoned soldiers to operate the new, more complicated weapons.

Unless Biden steps in, Ukrainians face, at best, a long, bloody stalemate, which Russia is better prepared to endure. (So far, Russia’s leaders have not called for a nation-wide, general mobilization.) Total victory for Ukraine is a cruel pipe-dream.

Biden must come clean with Americans and Ukrainians. The two real geopolitical combatants in this war are Russia and the United States. Ukraine is the USA’s tragic, foolish proxy — our poorly prepared understudy. That’s not stage blood we’re seeing on MSNB-CNN. Ukrainians are bleeding and dying while Biden & Co. prolong the agony in a vicious quest to punish and weaken Russia.

That is no way to ensure future peace. Talk. Now.

  1. From a report on hard right activity in Ukraine since 2014, from FreedomHouse.org:

    … [C]urrent polling data indicates that the far right has no real chance of being elected in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019. Similarly, despite the fact that several of these groups have real life combat experience, paramilitary structures, and even access to arms, they are not ready or able to challenge the state.
    Extremist groups are, however, aggressively trying to impose their agenda on Ukrainian society, including by using force against those with opposite political and cultural views. They are a real physical threat to left-wing, feminist, liberal, and LGBT activists, human rights defenders, as well as ethnic and religious minorities.
    In the last few months, extremist groups have become increasingly active. The most disturbing element of their recent show of force is that so far it has gone fully unpunished by the authorities. Their activities challenge the legitimacy of the state, undermine its democratic institutions, and discredit the country’s law enforcement agencies.

    Freedom House is a non-profit, majority U.S. government funded organization in Washington, D.C., that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights.

The post It’s Showtime in Ukraine! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Squelching dissent on both sides of the Atlantic

The current repression of dissent in Germany is startlingly similar to that in North America. In 2019 as the virus started to spread, the government ordered drastic measures against it. Several distinguished doctors and professors, including an MD who was a former member of parliament, asked the government for evidence and explanations justifying these measures. When they were ignored, they called a rally and gave speeches again asking the government for answers. The government ignored this too, but their press launched a smear campaign labeling these people as unscientific and incompetent. When several current members of parliament spoke out against the mandates, they were defamed and isolated.

The government forced the mandates through, and as the effects of these turned out to be more damaging than the virus, large-scale protests broke out. Politicians warned of the danger to our democracy from right-wing fanatics whom they claimed had taken over the protests. To defend democracy by disrupting the rallies, groups of Antifa tried to drown out speakers by shouting, “Halt die Fresse!” – “Shut your mouth!” Of course, the real danger to democracy comes from trying to silence or exclude anyone, right or left.

Establishment media refused to publish reports of severe side effects from the vaccines. A government statistician who gave evidence that the mandates and vaccines were ineffective and harmful was removed from duty, as were police officers who took part in peaceful rallies. Professors who spoke at demonstrations were shunned by their colleagues and passed over for promotion. Doctors who certified that their patients didn’t need to wear masks were suspended from practice. Some careers were destroyed, many damaged.

People were stunned by the savagery of the response to their demand for more public input into virus policies. They discussed possible reasons for the government’s attack. Conspiracy theories began to circulate, some of them quite wild.

The government broadened its attack. The press was full of interviews with psychiatrists discussing the dangerous psycho-pathology of conspiracy theorists. Wherever vaguely possible, parallels were drawn to Nazi Germany. Aged Holocaust victims were interviewed about their trauma caused by such people. One victim, though, Vera Sharav, made a video saying the government was behaving like the Nazis, but her statement was ignored by the mainstream and appeared only in the alternative media.

Rationality disappeared from public discourse. A seething polarization began to spread. The government recognized a growing threat of losing its hold on the people.

It cut back on testing. The “pandemic” faded. Russia invaded the Ukraine. A new enemy replaced the “killer virus” as a focus for fear.

The government’s campaign of forced lockdowns, masks, vaccines, and repression has unnecessarily and massively damaged millions of people, far more than what the virus has done. But on the positive side it has also turned millions of people against the government, a prerequisite for real change. The next step is ours.

The post Squelching dissent on both sides of the Atlantic first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Guns Fly Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Guns don’t kill people; crazy people kill people. Guns don’t kill people; transsexual leftist illegal aliens kill people. Guns don’t kill people; not enough guns kill people. Guns don’t kill people; too many doors kill people.

Or maybe try this one for a while: The only thing that stops a crazy guy with a gun is a less crazy guy with a gun.

“We need to drastically change our approach to mental health. There are always so many warning signs. Almost all of these disfigured minds share the same profile,” said Trump to the NRA throng shortly after the Uvaldo murders. “And clearly we need to make it far easier to confine the violent and mentally deranged into mental institutions,” he added.

Yeah, that’s the ticket; crazy people without guns on the inside, sane people with 400 million guns on the outside.

So, what is that commonly shared profile of the disfigured mind? What are some of the many warning signs? How about starting with this: It’s a male (98%). It’s a young male (66% of school shooters are less than 18 years old). With that knowledge, if you’re trying to spot likely school shooters, you can pretty much eliminate females and men with grey hair. That leaves just about all males below the age of about 22 as potential mass-murderers. But it still presents a large search base; what if you added this to the profile: It’s a male who has acquired, or is attempting to acquire an assault weapon. Wouldn’t that shrink the threat pool appreciably? And if you wished to widen the scope to include mass-murder threats to the community at large, you could simply expand the age range to include the grey hairs (Stephan Paddock was 64).

To borrow from an old political slogan, “It’s the guns, stupid!” What bigger or more meaningful warning sign could there be? Assault weapons are designed to assault (kill) a large number of human beings in a short amount of time. What’s the likely mind-set of a person (regardless of age) who is fascinated with that potential? Are they healthy and well adjusted? If you purchase a car (like a BMW M8) that can travel 150 mph, you are surely fascinated with the prospect of traveling at unlawful speeds. If you purchase a gun that can kill 58 people in 10 minutes, you are surely fascinated with the prospect of having the power to kill a lot of people in a very short time. Doesn’t the mere desire to possess such a weapon already indicate that you probably shouldn’t have one? Could there be a clearer warning sign that a “disfigured mind” is on the prowl?

“Harden the schools,” seems to be this episode’s NRA backed deflectional talking point. On cue, Texas Senator Ted Cruz suggested eliminating all school doors except one, replacing all window panes with bullet proof glass, and installing metal detectors with armed surveillance at each school’s one remaining door. So, picture it, every academic school, high school, junior high school, middle school, elementary school, and pre-school in the U.S. overhauled and hardened accordingly. Now picture a thousand high school kids lined up every morning (rain or shine) with belts, coins, phones, etc. removed (like at the airport) waiting patiently to enter the one and only door to pass through a metal detector. Can you also picture that “disfigured mind” inside his car in the school parking lot, armed with an assault rifle and a handgun, viewing that line? Or, can you imagine all the students now inside, and a gunman (or more than one) breeching security at the only door and then barricading (and perhaps guarding) it from the inside? How many lives could be taken while the local police force desperately seeks entrance through bullet proof glass and that one barricaded door? Just a few? More than a few? Does it even matter how many?

How about football, baseball, soccer games, etc.? Will they now take place inside the safely hardened schools? And will our schools just be first in line for the great hardening? Will other institutions be incrementally added as we play whack-a-mole with the “disfigured minds” that are just sane enough to seek out the weak spots?

It’s such a crazy, stupid, and idiotic proposal for even Ted Cruz to make. How can he, the NRA, or rational congress members make it with a straight face – millions or billions of dollars spent to futilely “harden” schools rather than addressing the real issue? “It’s the guns, stupid!” It’s the endless proliferation of assault weapons and handguns. Addressing anything other than that is pretense of action, and it doesn’t matter how many prayers or moments of silence are offered up with it.

“Confine the violent and mentally deranged into mental institutions,” the former president suggested. Perhaps we already have. Perhaps we are in it! Doesn’t our country now resemble a mental institution – one whose inmates have taken over the asylum? Loosen the laws; harden the schools; put more guns on the street; lock up the crazy people. Do the Trump’s, the Abbot’s, or the Cruz’s sound like our healthy therapists, or do they sound like us, the deranged inmates? We are there, on the inside with them. Aren’t we now living-out that famous definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? After every shooting we’re shocked and demoralized, offering up and accepting the same platitudes while fervently demanding change. Then we elect another Cruz, or another Abbot, or another Greene, or another whoever with the same affiliations, the same ties to the arms community. Nothing will change until we stop doing the same thing over and over again.

He’s taken a lot of flak. Pete Arredondo, the chief of police for the Uvaldo School District has received a lot of scrutiny and a lot of blame for decisions made as the Uvaldo School shooting unfolded. In retrospect, it seems clear that his judgment was questionable. It seems clear that he didn’t follow current advised protocol. Here’s the thing, though: Arredondo was acting in real time as events unfolded. He may have responded poorly, but he didn’t know ahead of time the repercussions of his response. Governor Abbot, on the other hand, knew what the repercussions would be when he championed and signed into law the many bills that either eased or eliminated gun restrictions in Texas. He knew in advance that his actions would result in more gun related deaths for children and adults. He knew that blood and brain tissue would be splattered on school floors and neighborhood sidewalks. It was a conscious and deliberate decision; more deaths in schools and on the streets were deemed a tolerable trade-off to maintain political power. Unlike Pete Arredondo, Governor Abbot knew exactly what the repercussions would be, and he did it anyway. And here’s the other thing: we voted for Governor Abbot and others like him. We knew exactly what the repercussions would be, and we did anyway. We’ve done it over and over again, all across the nation.

Is the one who pulls the trigger crazier, guiltier, or more murderous than one who knowingly puts the gun in his hands? When our former president says that the shooter “will be eternally damned to burn in the fires of Hell,” will he and all of us who knowingly put the gun in a shooter’s hands be damned to burn in Hell with him? Does Hell have that much room?

It’s not just the mentally deranged shooters, and it’s not just the mentally deranged politicians, and it’s not just the mentally deranged arms merchants. It’s also us, the mentally deranged public. We’re all guilty because we make it happen. It couldn’t happen without the consent of us, the wishfully sane people. We like our guns and the feeling they give us. We’ve bought into the hype that the purveyors put out and we won’t let it go. We like the feeling of power, the feeling of safety, the feeling of purpose that our guns provide. We like that feeling so much that we’re willing to allow the death and mutilation of our neighbor’s children just to feel it again. It’s us; we are the murderers, over and over again. We have met the murderers and they are us.

Nothing meaningful will change, until we change meaningfully.

The post Guns Fly Over the Cuckoo’s Nest first appeared on Dissident Voice.

How the US Government Steals from Other Countries

The American Government explains its thefts from other countries as being justifiable because the U.S. Government has slapped sanctions upon those countries, and because these sanctions authorize the U.S. Government to steal whatever it wants to steal, from them, that it can grab. Here are just a few such examples:

On May 26, Reuters headlined “U.S. seizes Iranian oil cargo near Greek island,” and reported:

The United States has confiscated an Iranian oil cargo held on a Russian-operated ship near Greece and will send the cargo to the United States. …
“The cargo has been transferred to another ship that was hired by the U.S.,” the source added, without providing further details.
The development comes after the United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on what it described as a Russian-backed oil smuggling and money laundering network for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force. …
U.S. advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), which monitors Iran-related tanker traffic, said the Pegas had loaded around 700,000 barrels of crude oil from Iran’s Sirri Island on Aug. 19, 2021.
Prior to this load, the Pegas transported over 3 million barrels of Iranian oil in 2021, with over 2.6 million of those barrels ending up in China, according to UANI analysis.
In 2020, Washington confiscated four cargoes of Iranian fuel that were bound for Venezuela and transferred them with the help of undisclosed foreign partners onto two other ships which then sailed to the United States. …

On 24 October 2019, USA Today bannered “Pentagon planning to send tanks, armored vehicles to Syrian oil fields” and pretended that if (Syria’s actual invader) America wouldn’t be stealing Syria’s oil, then (Syria’s actual defender, invited into the country in order to help defeat the U.S.-led invasion of it) Russia would be stealing it. Their article closed by saying that: “Nicholas Heras, an expert on Syria with the Center for a New American Security [CNAS], … said, ‘the Pentagon is making contingencies for a big fight with Russia for Syria’s oil.’” Perhaps the intention of that article was to help build Americans’ support for stealing Syria’s oil. (The CNAS is a Democratic Party think tank, and was there endorsing the Republican President Trump’s operation to steal Syria’s oil — it’s a bipartisan goal of the U.S. Government.) By contrast, two days later, Russia’s Sputnik News headlined about America’s thefts of oil from Syria, “The Russian military described the US scheme as nothing less than ‘international state banditism.’” (Russia had no need to deceive anyone about that.)

On 14 December 2019, Syria Times headlined “A huge convoy for US occupation forces enters Syria’s Qameshli city,” and reported that:

In a new breach of international laws, the US occupation forces sent today to Qameshli city in Hasaka province a new convoy composed of tanks, ambulances and dozens of vehicles and cars loading military and logistic materials. According to local sources, the convoy illegally entered this morning from Iraq in order to fortify the US occupation forces’ positions in the Syrian Jazeera.
This convoy is the biggest one that entered the Syrian territories since several months.
Over the few past months, the US occupation forces sent through illegal crossing points thousands of vehicles loaded with weapons, military equipment and logistic materials to reinforce their existence in the Syrian Jazeera region and to steal Syrian oil and wealth.

On 2 August 2020, Reuters bannered “Syria says U.S. oil firm signed deal with Kurdish-led rebels” and reported that,

Damascus “condemns in the strongest terms the agreement signed between al-Qasd militia (SDF) and an American oil company to steal Syria’s oil under the sponsorship and support of the American administration”, the Syrian statement said. “This agreement is null and void and has no legal basis.”

Furthermore: “There was no immediate response from SDF officials to a Reuters’ request for comment. There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials.”

The U.S. Government has done this also to Venezuela and other countries that it likewise wants to take over.

On 13 March 2022, Reuters headlined “Sanctions have frozen around $300 bln of Russian reserves, FinMin says,” and reported that “Foreign sanctions have frozen around $300 billion out of $640 billion that Russia had in its gold and forex reserves, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in an interview with state TV.”

The lawyer and geostrategic analyst Alexander Mercouris explains how and why America’s blocking Russia’s international payments of Russia’s sovereign debt, and Germany’s seizure of some of Gazprom’s German assets, “violate the [international-law] principle of sovereign immunity; both the central bank and Gazprom are, after all, owned by the Russian Government. … These were the sort of acts that, once upon a time, governments could legally make only in time of war. But of course Germany and the United States are not formally at war with Russia. So we see how another extraordinary step has been taken, towards … ever-greater illegality.” He wonders “what damage” will be done “to the international legal system and to the international financial system.”

Many of these actions, by America and its allies, are alleged to be done not in order to reinforce existing international laws (which, of course, they instead violate), but the opposite: to advance “the international rules-based order,” which “rules,” that will be made by the U.S. Government, will be introduced as constituting new legal precedents in order to replace the current source of international laws, which is the U.N. and its authorized agencies. The U.S. Government would gradually replace the U.N., except as the U.N.’s being a sump for unprofitable expeditions that the ‘humanitarian’ and ‘democratic’ U.S. Government can endorse. There would be a further weakening of the U.N., which is already so weak so that, even now, anything which is done by the U.S. and its allies is, practically speaking, not possible to be prosecuted in international courts such as the International Criminal Court, which body is allowed to prosecute alleged crimes only by leaders of “third world” nations. America’s “rules-based international order” would replace that toothless U.N.-based system, and would be backed up by America’s over-800 military bases around the world. Unlike the existing U.N., which has no military, this “rules-based international order” would be enforced at gunpoint, everywhere.

However, even America’s allied nations are getting fleeced, though in different ways, by the U.S. Government. This is being done via international corruption. For example: America’s F-35 warplanes from Lockheed Martin Corporation and its sub-contractors (Northrop-Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, and BAE Systems), are so bad and so very expensive that the U.S. Government wants to cut its losses on the plane without cutting the profits by Lockheed Martin and other ‘defense’-contractors’ on it, and therefore needs to increase its allies’ purchases of these warplanes. NATO is the main marketing organization for U.S. ‘defense’ contractors; and, so, on 15 April 2022, Russia’s RT news headlined “US nuclear bombs ‘shared’ with European allies will be deployed on Lockheed Martin jets, NATO explains,”and reported that,

Jessica Cox, director of the NATO nuclear policy directorate in Brussels, said … that “By the end of the decade, most if not all of our allies will have transitioned” to the F-35. …
Germany would replace its aging Tornado jets with F-35s, committing to buy up to three dozen and specifically citing the nuclear sharing mission as factoring in the decision. …
Finland and Sweden have recently voiced a desire to join NATO, and Helsinki already announced it would buy some 60 F-35s in early February [notably, BEFORE Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th]. …
The F-35 was originally proposed as a cost-effective modular design that could replace multiple older models in service with the US Air Force, Navy, and the Marines. In reality, it turned into three distinct designs with a lifetime project cost of over $1.7 trillion, the most expensive weapons program in US [and in all of global] history.
In addition to the price tag, the fifth-generation stealth fighter has also been plagued with performance issues, to the point where the new USAF chief of staff requested a study into a different aircraft in February 2021.
General Charles Q. Brown Jr. compared the F-35 to a “high end” sports car, a Ferrari one drives on Sundays only, and sought proposals for a “clean sheet design” of a “5th-gen minus” workhorse jet instead. Multiple US outlets characterized his proposal as a “tacit admission” that the F-35 program had failed.

That word “characterized” was there linked through to a number of informative articles, such as these, about the F-35:

Forbes: “The U.S. Air Force Just Admitted The F-35 Stealth Fighter Has Failed
Defense News:The Hidden Troubles of the F-35: The Pentagon will have to live with limits on F-35’s supersonic flights

That Defense News report said that the basic design-requirements for the F-35 prohibit any speed higher than the speed of sound (Mach 1), because the air-friction above that speed would instantly melt the stealth coating, and,

The potential damage from sustained high speeds would influence not only the F-35’s airframe and the low-observable coating that keeps it stealthy, but also the myriad antennas located on the back of the plane that are currently vulnerable to damage, according to documents exclusively obtained by Defense News.

Though that publication — which could not exist apart from the funding that is provided directly or indirectly from America’s ‘defense’ contractors — used euphemisms to describe this problem, such as “potential damage” and that there would need to be imposed “a time limit on high-speed flight” and that “the F-35 jet can only fly at supersonic speeds for short bursts of time before there is a risk of structural damage and loss of stealth capability,” the actual facts are: those “short bursts” would, in the practical world, be virtually instantaneous, approximating zero seconds, and the phrase “a risk” would be referring to 100% — a certainty. That’s virtually the opposite of the ‘news’-report’s allegation that the F-35 would need to avoid “sustained high speeds,” because the plane would instead need to avoid ANY supersonic speed. In other words: the plane’s stealth capability would need to be virtually 100% effective and at speeds only below the speed of sound, in order for the plane to be, at all, effective, and deserving to be called a “stealth” warplane. The only exception to that would be the F-35A, for the Air Force (not usable by the Navy — from aircraft carriers — nor by the Army).

As regards the F-35A (Air Force F-35 version), Wikipedia says about the F-35 that its maximum speed is Mach 1.6 (1.6 times the speed of sound). By contrast, Russia’s Su-57 (which is less expensive), has a maximum speed of Mach 2.0. The reason why Russia’s is both a better plane and far less costly is that Russia’s military-industrial complex is controlled ONLY by the Government, whereas America’s Government is instead controlled mainly by its ‘defense’-contractors, and is, therefore, overwhelmingly corrupt, which is also the reason why America is the permanent and unceasing warfare-state, ever since 25 July 1945, when its “Cold War” started, and has never ceased.

One of the few honest statements that the world-champion liar and the world’s most respected living person, U.S. President Barack Obama, made about his goals as President, was his 28 May 2014 statement to the graduating class at the West Point Military Academy, that,

The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come. … Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. … It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world.

He was saying there that all other nations — including U.S. ‘allies’ — are “dispensable.” Consequently, of course, in that view: stealing by the U.S. Government, from any other Government, is acceptable. It’s the U.S. Government’s viewpoint, and is politically bipartisan in America. At least until now, it is an acceptable viewpoint, to most people. Perhaps truths have been hidden from them. Who has been doing this, and why, would then be the natural question on any intelligent individuals’ minds. But certainly there can be no reasonable doubt that the U.S. Government does — and rather routinely — steal from other countries. That’s a fact, if anything is.

The post How the US Government Steals from Other Countries first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The More Some Things Change, the More Others Stay the Same

The treatment to which Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee subjected Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing was atrocious. The first ever African-American woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court, Brown Jackson faced GOP senators who were unabashedly insolent. Collectively, they ran her through a proverbial right-wing mill that included condemnations of Critical Race Theory, distortions of certain anti-racist children’s books, and allegations that she is “soft on crime.” She was also questioned about the role that race plays in her position as a federal judge, something no white male would ever be asked.

Republican Senators spent the largest portion of their allotted time attacking Jackson’s sentencing record on child pornography convictions alleging that her leniency was outside the boundaries of conventional jurisprudence. By imputation at the very least, right-wingers hold that she fails to take “sex offenders who prey on children” seriously. This is the sordid stuff of QAnon, and Republicans are up to their necks in it. As for Brown Jackson, she made it clear in her testimony that she is not convinced about the efficacy of child pornography sentencing guidelines. In fact, most of the prosecutors arguing such cases in her court room share her uncertainty as do a majority of district judges throughout the country. In other words, Judge Brown Jackson is in line with her judicial colleagues.

As everyone, including Republican senators, knows, Judge Jackson’s extensive and diverse legal background makes her eminently qualified for the position to which she has been nominated. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer whose seat on the bench she will fill. She served as a federal district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and currently serves as a federal appellate judge. Each of these positions required Senate approval. Her three previous confirmations were passed by way of “voice” votes which essentially meant that she faced no opposition and a bi-partisan “roll call” vote. Once seated on the Supreme Court Judge Jackson will become only the ninth justice to have worked as an attorney in private practice. Moreover, she will also be the first former public defender to sit on the highest court in the land.

Judge Jackson has written almost 600 opinions during her years on the federal bench and has had only a dozen of them overturned by appellate court review. Among the cases over which she presided were several involving Donald Trump while he was in the White House. In one instance, she rejected his claim to absolute executive immunity in ordering a top-level aide to defy a congressional subpoena. In another, Judge Jackson drew the ire of conservatives for deciding against the Trump Administration’s attempt to reduce collective bargaining protections for federal workers. She further antagonized the political right in an immigration opinion blocking a Trump policy intended to increase the number of asylum seekers who could face accelerated return to their place of origin. While her decisions in these cases lean to the left, her resume conveys an independent legal mind that may on occasion displease political progressives. For example, Brown Jackson presided over 22 cases in which Black plaintiffs sued their employers on grounds of racial discrimination. Of those, 22 were brought to the court by Black workers. In these cases, she found in favor of the companies 19 times.

As would be expected, liberals supported Brown Jackson’s selection and conservatives opposed it. In fact, the GOP began priming itself from the moment that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced that, if elected, he would fill a vacancy on the High Court with an African-American woman. Republicans responded that doing so would be tantamount to making an “affirmative action” appointment. Conservatives were conspicuously silent when both Reagan and Trump stated that they would nominate a woman to the bench. They were also quiet when Trump said that he would only consider choosing individuals committed to overturning Roe v Wade. Republican hypocrisy could not be clearer. The GOP seized upon Biden’s appointment of Brown Jackson because she is a Black woman.

Judge Jackson’s hearing played out like reality television. While it is common for senators on both sides of the aisle to perform for the cameras and their constituents back home, the behavior and comments of Republicans were especially ugly. They had indicated that they would be civil and respectful yet they proved to be neither. The so-called “culture warriors” simply could not help themselves. Following more than twenty hours of testimony, the committee members voted 11-11 along party lines. This necessitated that Democrats employ a “discharge motion” allowing them to send Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Senate floor without a committee report. The full body’s 53-47 vote to confirm included three Republicans. At long last, and more than fifty years after the first Black man rose to a seat on the Court, she will become its first African-American woman justice.

*****

By the time Thurgood Marshall appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1967 as a nominee to the United States Supreme Court, he had won 29 of the 32 cases that he argued before that imposing body. While Brown v Board of Education (1954) striking down segregation in public education is the most famous example, other historically significant instances include Smith v Allright (1944) which prohibited states from conducting “white only” primary elections, Shelley v Kraemer (1948) which overturned race-based housing compacts, and Sweatt v Painter (1950) which declared that racially segregated post-graduate college and university programs were unconstitutional.

After more than two decades as a pioneering civil rights attorney, Marshall was appointed to the federal bench in 1961 by President John Kennedy. This made him only the second African-American federal appellate jurist in American history. Despite the racism that he faced, Marshall was confirmed by the full Senate although not before his nomination was held up by Southern segregationists for many months. Four years later, President Lyndon Johnson picked Marshall to serve as the first Black Solicitor General of the United States. Responsible for litigating cases on behalf of the federal government, Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases that he brought before the High Court.

When an opening on the Supreme Court appeared in 1967, President Johnson nominated Marshall to fill the vacancy. He would face the same Southern segregationists who had tried to scuttle his previous judicial appointment six years earlier. Often returned to office without electoral opposition, incumbent Dixiecrats relied upon seniority status in the chamber to secure and hold onto powerful committee chair positions. Furthermore, their animosity for Marshall was deep-seeded because of the role he had played in Brown. If the segregationists were on the wrong side of history, they had no intention of simply walking away from the table.

James Eastland (D-MS) was the judiciary committee chair for Marshall’s appellate court appointment as well as for his Supreme Court nomination. Eastland, who served in that capacity for a longer period than any chairperson in history, ranked among the most racist of legislators. During the 1961 proceedings, however, he allegedly told Attorney General Robert Kennedy that he was willing to horse trade. If JFK would concede to Eastland a favored appointee, then he would give the president “his nigger.” Moreover, during Marshall’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings six years later, Eastland shamelessly had the nerve to ask if he was biased against white southerners.

Other notable instances of hostility towards Marshall during the hearings came from John McClellan (D-AK), Sam Ervin (D-NC), and Strom Thurmond (R-SC), the latter of whom had switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1964. For his part, McClellan focused on increasing crime rates and social unrest. Attempting to incite the nominee, he called Marshall “soft on crime” which remains a commonly used and racially coded phrase to this day. The Arkansas senator then turned and hammered away at Miranda v Arizona (1966), asserting that the ruling was anti-law enforcement. Marshall refused, however, to engage this line of questioning, continually stating that he could not and would not speak about court cases and legal issues that were recently decided, currently in the docket pipeline, or might be conceivably argued before the court at a later date.

Then it was Ervin’s turn. From the North Carolinian’s perspective, the idea of “civil rights” was simply a way for the federal government to take from whites and give to Blacks. In other words, the federal government was overstepping its legitimate jurisdictional boundaries. Ervin championed the Senate filibuster as a means to derail 1960s civil rights legislation. In fact, he employed this procedural tactic more than any other senator in history. He finished his questioning with an example of what is now called “originalism.” Senator Ervin asked Marshall if he believed that the Supreme Court’s role was to establish the framers’ intentions. The nominee agreed so long as the Constitution was understood to be a “living document.”

Last but not least came Strom Thurmond. The South Carolina senator subjected Marshall to a series of arcane questions, more than sixty in all. Among other things, Thurmond asked the nominee if he knew who drafted the 13th Amendment. He also asked Marshall to name the members of the committee that formulated the 14th Amendment and he questioned whether the nominee could cite a legal basis for the Civil Rights Act of 1866. While Marshall answered some of Thurmond’s questions, he responded to a number of them with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Thurmond’s obscure queries about the post-Civil War constitutional amendments were aimed at making Marshall appear uneducated. This display of bigotry carried over to debate on the Senate floor where Thurmond called Marshall “stupid.”

Notwithstanding Marshall’s experience, Supreme Court confirmation hearings were not always the nasty fisticuffs that they are today. The process was business like and procedures were routine. Few nominees appeared before the judiciary committee prior to the post-Brown era. In fact, regular hearings were themselves a product of this same period as Southern segregationists adopted a strategy of pressing nominees “up close and personal” on civil rights matters. Given that Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court nominee in the nation’s history, it is not surprising that his confirmation process deviated from the norm. Prior to his nomination, for example, judiciary committee hearings generally lasted for a couple of days, several hours each day. In Marshall’s case, the committee met for five days, five hours each day, over a period of two weeks, the longest sessions up to that point in U.S. history.

While it was common practice for committee staff to prepare questions for a nominee, this typically generated only a relative few of them. However, thanks to Dixiecrats, Marshall faced hundreds of questions. Moreover, adding further insult to injury, Chairman Eastland held up the committee’s 11-5 recommendation to confirm for several weeks after the hearings were over. Comprising a “gang of four” Eastland, McClellan, Ervin, and Thurmond were joined in the nay column by George Smathers (D-FL). In the final analysis, Southern segregationists failed to mount a filibuster by two votes with twenty of them casting no vote at all. Eventually, Marshall was duly confirmed by a vote of 69-11 in the full Senate. Upon assuming his seat on the bench, he served for twenty-four years as an Associate Justice. Thurgood Marshall retired from the United States Supreme Court in 1991 and passed away two years later.

*****

Despite taking place more than five decades apart, the roads that Marshall and Brown Jackson took to the Supreme Court were similar. For one thing, both of their careers included representing criminal defendants, a rare attribute among Supreme Court justices. Secondly, racial animus was paramount in both confirmation hearings. On one hand, Marshall faced off against Southern segregationists who opposed civil rights and were Democrats in name only. On the other hand, Brown Jackson was confronted by right wing Republicans whose intent is to “roll back” gains made towards racial and gender equality. In a moment reminiscent of Marshall being quizzed about civil rights, Judge Brown Jackson was brazenly asked to define the word “woman” and was mocked when she said that she was a judge not a biologist.

Both nominees were eventually confirmed, but each had to contend with a race-baiting and demeaning state of affairs. Though clearly frustrated at times by the tenor of the proceedings, Judge Jackson kept her cool by relying upon an approach to answering questions that limits the scope of what nominees will and will not address. While a nominee’s refusal to engage certain lines of inquiry is commonplace today, Marshall employed this tactic at his 1967 hearing. In fact, he ranks among the least forthcoming of Supreme Court nominees as a result of his refusal to play the racist Q&A hand that he was dealt.

More than 90% of Supreme Court justices in American history have been white men. In contrast, there have been two Black male justices, four white women justices, and one Latina justice. Today, gender, ethnic, and racial diversity have come to be seen as integral to the mechanisms of the Court and with the addition of Brown Jackson, there will be four women sitting on the bench. However, the Court that Jackson Brown will serve on is far-removed from the one upon which Marshall sat. His ascension to the High Court kept alive a five-justice liberal majority that voted as a bloc almost all of the time. He was in a position to shape not only the Court’s agenda but its outcomes as well. However, the progressive wing with which Marshall was so strongly identified declined over time. The resulting shift in the balance of power means Justice Brown Jackson will begin her service on a Supreme Court comprised of a super-majority of six right-wing justices. Combined with her status as the most junior member of the Court, her ability to have an impact early on will be limited. Nevertheless, she is only fifty-one years of age and could conceivably serve on the Court for decades.

The post The More Some Things Change, the More Others Stay the Same first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The More Some Things Change, the More Others Stay the Same

The treatment to which Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee subjected Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing was atrocious. The first ever African-American woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court, Brown Jackson faced GOP senators who were unabashedly insolent. Collectively, they ran her through a proverbial right-wing mill that included condemnations of Critical Race Theory, distortions of certain anti-racist children’s books, and allegations that she is “soft on crime.” She was also questioned about the role that race plays in her position as a federal judge, something no white male would ever be asked.

Republican Senators spent the largest portion of their allotted time attacking Jackson’s sentencing record on child pornography convictions alleging that her leniency was outside the boundaries of conventional jurisprudence. By imputation at the very least, right-wingers hold that she fails to take “sex offenders who prey on children” seriously. This is the sordid stuff of QAnon, and Republicans are up to their necks in it. As for Brown Jackson, she made it clear in her testimony that she is not convinced about the efficacy of child pornography sentencing guidelines. In fact, most of the prosecutors arguing such cases in her court room share her uncertainty as do a majority of district judges throughout the country. In other words, Judge Brown Jackson is in line with her judicial colleagues.

As everyone, including Republican senators, knows, Judge Jackson’s extensive and diverse legal background makes her eminently qualified for the position to which she has been nominated. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer whose seat on the bench she will fill. She served as a federal district court judge, a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and currently serves as a federal appellate judge. Each of these positions required Senate approval. Her three previous confirmations were passed by way of “voice” votes which essentially meant that she faced no opposition and a bi-partisan “roll call” vote. Once seated on the Supreme Court Judge Jackson will become only the ninth justice to have worked as an attorney in private practice. Moreover, she will also be the first former public defender to sit on the highest court in the land.

Judge Jackson has written almost 600 opinions during her years on the federal bench and has had only a dozen of them overturned by appellate court review. Among the cases over which she presided were several involving Donald Trump while he was in the White House. In one instance, she rejected his claim to absolute executive immunity in ordering a top-level aide to defy a congressional subpoena. In another, Judge Jackson drew the ire of conservatives for deciding against the Trump Administration’s attempt to reduce collective bargaining protections for federal workers. She further antagonized the political right in an immigration opinion blocking a Trump policy intended to increase the number of asylum seekers who could face accelerated return to their place of origin. While her decisions in these cases lean to the left, her resume conveys an independent legal mind that may on occasion displease political progressives. For example, Brown Jackson presided over 22 cases in which Black plaintiffs sued their employers on grounds of racial discrimination. Of those, 22 were brought to the court by Black workers. In these cases, she found in favor of the companies 19 times.

As would be expected, liberals supported Brown Jackson’s selection and conservatives opposed it. In fact, the GOP began priming itself from the moment that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced that, if elected, he would fill a vacancy on the High Court with an African-American woman. Republicans responded that doing so would be tantamount to making an “affirmative action” appointment. Conservatives were conspicuously silent when both Reagan and Trump stated that they would nominate a woman to the bench. They were also quiet when Trump said that he would only consider choosing individuals committed to overturning Roe v Wade. Republican hypocrisy could not be clearer. The GOP seized upon Biden’s appointment of Brown Jackson because she is a Black woman.

Judge Jackson’s hearing played out like reality television. While it is common for senators on both sides of the aisle to perform for the cameras and their constituents back home, the behavior and comments of Republicans were especially ugly. They had indicated that they would be civil and respectful yet they proved to be neither. The so-called “culture warriors” simply could not help themselves. Following more than twenty hours of testimony, the committee members voted 11-11 along party lines. This necessitated that Democrats employ a “discharge motion” allowing them to send Judge Jackson’s nomination to the Senate floor without a committee report. The full body’s 53-47 vote to confirm included three Republicans. At long last, and more than fifty years after the first Black man rose to a seat on the Court, she will become its first African-American woman justice.

*****

By the time Thurgood Marshall appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1967 as a nominee to the United States Supreme Court, he had won 29 of the 32 cases that he argued before that imposing body. While Brown v Board of Education (1954) striking down segregation in public education is the most famous example, other historically significant instances include Smith v Allright (1944) which prohibited states from conducting “white only” primary elections, Shelley v Kraemer (1948) which overturned race-based housing compacts, and Sweatt v Painter (1950) which declared that racially segregated post-graduate college and university programs were unconstitutional.

After more than two decades as a pioneering civil rights attorney, Marshall was appointed to the federal bench in 1961 by President John Kennedy. This made him only the second African-American federal appellate jurist in American history. Despite the racism that he faced, Marshall was confirmed by the full Senate although not before his nomination was held up by Southern segregationists for many months. Four years later, President Lyndon Johnson picked Marshall to serve as the first Black Solicitor General of the United States. Responsible for litigating cases on behalf of the federal government, Marshall won 14 of the 19 cases that he brought before the High Court.

When an opening on the Supreme Court appeared in 1967, President Johnson nominated Marshall to fill the vacancy. He would face the same Southern segregationists who had tried to scuttle his previous judicial appointment six years earlier. Often returned to office without electoral opposition, incumbent Dixiecrats relied upon seniority status in the chamber to secure and hold onto powerful committee chair positions. Furthermore, their animosity for Marshall was deep-seeded because of the role he had played in Brown. If the segregationists were on the wrong side of history, they had no intention of simply walking away from the table.

James Eastland (D-MS) was the judiciary committee chair for Marshall’s appellate court appointment as well as for his Supreme Court nomination. Eastland, who served in that capacity for a longer period than any chairperson in history, ranked among the most racist of legislators. During the 1961 proceedings, however, he allegedly told Attorney General Robert Kennedy that he was willing to horse trade. If JFK would concede to Eastland a favored appointee, then he would give the president “his nigger.” Moreover, during Marshall’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings six years later, Eastland shamelessly had the nerve to ask if he was biased against white southerners.

Other notable instances of hostility towards Marshall during the hearings came from John McClellan (D-AK), Sam Ervin (D-NC), and Strom Thurmond (R-SC), the latter of whom had switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1964. For his part, McClellan focused on increasing crime rates and social unrest. Attempting to incite the nominee, he called Marshall “soft on crime” which remains a commonly used and racially coded phrase to this day. The Arkansas senator then turned and hammered away at Miranda v Arizona (1966), asserting that the ruling was anti-law enforcement. Marshall refused, however, to engage this line of questioning, continually stating that he could not and would not speak about court cases and legal issues that were recently decided, currently in the docket pipeline, or might be conceivably argued before the court at a later date.

Then it was Ervin’s turn. From the North Carolinian’s perspective, the idea of “civil rights” was simply a way for the federal government to take from whites and give to Blacks. In other words, the federal government was overstepping its legitimate jurisdictional boundaries. Ervin championed the Senate filibuster as a means to derail 1960s civil rights legislation. In fact, he employed this procedural tactic more than any other senator in history. He finished his questioning with an example of what is now called “originalism.” Senator Ervin asked Marshall if he believed that the Supreme Court’s role was to establish the framers’ intentions. The nominee agreed so long as the Constitution was understood to be a “living document.”

Last but not least came Strom Thurmond. The South Carolina senator subjected Marshall to a series of arcane questions, more than sixty in all. Among other things, Thurmond asked the nominee if he knew who drafted the 13th Amendment. He also asked Marshall to name the members of the committee that formulated the 14th Amendment and he questioned whether the nominee could cite a legal basis for the Civil Rights Act of 1866. While Marshall answered some of Thurmond’s questions, he responded to a number of them with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” Thurmond’s obscure queries about the post-Civil War constitutional amendments were aimed at making Marshall appear uneducated. This display of bigotry carried over to debate on the Senate floor where Thurmond called Marshall “stupid.”

Notwithstanding Marshall’s experience, Supreme Court confirmation hearings were not always the nasty fisticuffs that they are today. The process was business like and procedures were routine. Few nominees appeared before the judiciary committee prior to the post-Brown era. In fact, regular hearings were themselves a product of this same period as Southern segregationists adopted a strategy of pressing nominees “up close and personal” on civil rights matters. Given that Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court nominee in the nation’s history, it is not surprising that his confirmation process deviated from the norm. Prior to his nomination, for example, judiciary committee hearings generally lasted for a couple of days, several hours each day. In Marshall’s case, the committee met for five days, five hours each day, over a period of two weeks, the longest sessions up to that point in U.S. history.

While it was common practice for committee staff to prepare questions for a nominee, this typically generated only a relative few of them. However, thanks to Dixiecrats, Marshall faced hundreds of questions. Moreover, adding further insult to injury, Chairman Eastland held up the committee’s 11-5 recommendation to confirm for several weeks after the hearings were over. Comprising a “gang of four” Eastland, McClellan, Ervin, and Thurmond were joined in the nay column by George Smathers (D-FL). In the final analysis, Southern segregationists failed to mount a filibuster by two votes with twenty of them casting no vote at all. Eventually, Marshall was duly confirmed by a vote of 69-11 in the full Senate. Upon assuming his seat on the bench, he served for twenty-four years as an Associate Justice. Thurgood Marshall retired from the United States Supreme Court in 1991 and passed away two years later.

*****

Despite taking place more than five decades apart, the roads that Marshall and Brown Jackson took to the Supreme Court were similar. For one thing, both of their careers included representing criminal defendants, a rare attribute among Supreme Court justices. Secondly, racial animus was paramount in both confirmation hearings. On one hand, Marshall faced off against Southern segregationists who opposed civil rights and were Democrats in name only. On the other hand, Brown Jackson was confronted by right wing Republicans whose intent is to “roll back” gains made towards racial and gender equality. In a moment reminiscent of Marshall being quizzed about civil rights, Judge Brown Jackson was brazenly asked to define the word “woman” and was mocked when she said that she was a judge not a biologist.

Both nominees were eventually confirmed, but each had to contend with a race-baiting and demeaning state of affairs. Though clearly frustrated at times by the tenor of the proceedings, Judge Jackson kept her cool by relying upon an approach to answering questions that limits the scope of what nominees will and will not address. While a nominee’s refusal to engage certain lines of inquiry is commonplace today, Marshall employed this tactic at his 1967 hearing. In fact, he ranks among the least forthcoming of Supreme Court nominees as a result of his refusal to play the racist Q&A hand that he was dealt.

More than 90% of Supreme Court justices in American history have been white men. In contrast, there have been two Black male justices, four white women justices, and one Latina justice. Today, gender, ethnic, and racial diversity have come to be seen as integral to the mechanisms of the Court and with the addition of Brown Jackson, there will be four women sitting on the bench. However, the Court that Jackson Brown will serve on is far-removed from the one upon which Marshall sat. His ascension to the High Court kept alive a five-justice liberal majority that voted as a bloc almost all of the time. He was in a position to shape not only the Court’s agenda but its outcomes as well. However, the progressive wing with which Marshall was so strongly identified declined over time. The resulting shift in the balance of power means Justice Brown Jackson will begin her service on a Supreme Court comprised of a super-majority of six right-wing justices. Combined with her status as the most junior member of the Court, her ability to have an impact early on will be limited. Nevertheless, she is only fifty-one years of age and could conceivably serve on the Court for decades.

The post The More Some Things Change, the More Others Stay the Same first appeared on Dissident Voice.

NYT Pundit Thinks U.S. Should Be “Calling the Shots” in Ukraine’s War

This is a commentary upon N.Y. Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s statement on May 6 that Ukraine’s Government is and ought to be the U.S. Government’s agent in its war against Russia, not representing the interests of the Ukrainian people in it. He introduced the statement by noting that Ukraine is a bad country,

a country marbled with corruption. That doesn’t mean we should not be helping it. I am glad we are. I insist we do. But my sense is that the Biden team is walking much more of a tightrope with Zelensky than it would appear to the eye — wanting to do everything possible to make sure he wins this war but doing so in a way that still keeps some distance between us and Ukraine’s leadership. That’s so Kyiv is not calling the shots [I boldfaced that — he didn’t] and so we’ll not be embarrassed by messy Ukrainian politics in the war’s aftermath.

He starts there by putting down Ukraine as a “country,” and then asserts that, fortunately, “Kyiv is not calling the shots and so we’ll not be embarrassed by messy Ukrainian politics in the war’s aftermath.” Perhaps an underlying assumption of his in saying this is that America is NOT “a country riddled with corruption,” and, so, that it is right and good that Ukraine is America’s slave in this matter.

He continues there:

The view of Biden and his team, according to my reporting, is that America needs to help Ukraine restore its sovereignty and beat the Russians back — but not let Ukraine turn itself into an American protectorate on the border of Russia. We need to stay laser-focused on what is our national interest and not stray in ways that lead to exposures and risks we don’t want.

I believe that Friedman truly does represent the U.S. Establishment that he is a part of, and that “Biden and his team” likewise do. I accept Friedman’s statement as reflecting accurately the way that “Biden and his team” (which, given the U.S. Congress’s virtually 100% voting for it in this matter of Ukraine, also includes virtually every U.S. Senator and Representative) feel about the matter: they feel that Ukraine must be their slave in it and must do whatever the U.S. Government demands that it do in its war with Ukraine’s next-door-neighbor, Russia.

That view — the view that it’s not only true but good that “Kyiv is not calling the shots” in this matter — reflects the view that an imperialist government has toward one of its colonies or vassal-nations (which the imperialist nation nowadays calls instead its ‘allies’). And this is the reason why they treat not only their armies but all of the residents in their ‘allies’ as being appropriate cannon-fodder or ‘proxy soldiers’ in their foreign wars, wars to conquer other countries — such as, in this case, Russia.

Here was how the former U.S. President, Barack Obama, phrased the matter to America’s graduating cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, on 28 May 2014:

The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come. … Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. … It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world.

It could as well have been said by England’s royals and other aristocrats during their imperialistic heyday.

All other nations are “dispensable.” America’s military is an extension of international economic competition so that America’s billionaires will continue to rule the world in the future, as they do now. “Rising middle classes compete with us” and are consequently America’s enemies in the “dispensable” countries (everywhere in which vassalage to America’s billionaires — being “America’s allies” — is rejected), so that “it will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world.” So he told America’s future generals, regarding those who live (as the 2017 U.S. Army report put it) “in the shadow of significant U.S. military capability and the implied promise of unacceptable consequences in the event that capability is unleashed.” America’s military are the global gendarmes not of Hitler’s nazi regime in WW II, but of America’s nazi regime in the lead-up to WW III.

Thomas Friedman, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and all of the other U.S. major ‘news’-media, feel this way about it, and report and comment upon the ’news’ that way, but I think that it was a slip-up that Friedman and the Times expressed it, for once, so honestly, especially given that they are master-liars on most international-news reporting and commentary. The pièce de résistance in his commentary was its ludicrously hypocritical line that “America needs to help Ukraine restore its sovereignty.” (They must be America’s slaves but restore their sovereignty. How stupid do they think that the American public is?) That too is typical of aristocrats’ hypocrisies and general corruptness — including that of the U.S. Government itself, which represents ONLY America’s billionaires and other super-rich — it’s a regime and no democracy at all.

Moreover, whereas America has no business at all to be involved in this war, Russia very much does, and the U.S. regime’s involvement there is ONLY in order to conquer Russia — which is a psychopathic and super-imperialistic objective to have, and not MERELY a real and soaring threat against the safety of all parts of the world — the real and now rapidly growing danger of there being a World War III.

Incidentally, the title of Friedman’s commentary was “The War Is Getting More Dangerous for America, and Biden Knows It.” It’s an interesting title, because it concerns ONLY what Friedman and America’s other aristocrats care about, which is themselves, and not at all about what any of the ‘dispensable’ countries (including Ukraine) care about. Since the publics everywhere care about preventing a WW III (nuclear war between Russia and America — including all NATO countries), that is a stunningly narrow sphere of concern regarding a potentially world-ending catastrophe. Clearly, America’s aristocrats are rank psychopaths. They control the U.S. Government, and this is the result of that. It’s a Government in which the worst come first, the public last. Russia is up against that: it is up against America, and Ukraine is only the first battleground of WW III, now only at the proxy stage for the U.S. regime but not for the Russian Government, which, in this matter, truly does represent the most-vital national-security interests of its citizens. Everyone except U.S.-and-allied aristocracies (many of whom are buyers of billionaires’ bunkers) have an overriding interest in America’s defeat in this war, before it ever reaches the nuclear stage, of direct Russia vs. U.S. warfare.

The shame of today’s U.N. is that it’s not enraged against the U.S. Government. This is shaping up to be the biggest scandal and failure in the U.N.’s entire history, virtually its own collapse.

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