US Republicans’ Saudi royal money

This video is called Torture of Kenyans In Saudi Arabia.

From The Nation in the USA:

Saudi-Led Oil Lobby Group Financed 2012 Dark Money Attack Ads

Lee Fang on November 29, 2012 – 5:10 PM ET

The “American” in American Petroleum Institute, the country’s largest oil lobby group, is a misnomer. As I reported for The Nation in August, the group has changed over the years, and is now led by men like Tofiq Al-Gabsani, a Saudi Arabian national who heads a Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) subsidiary, the state-run oil company that also helps finance the American Petroleum Institute. Al-Gabsani is also a registered foreign agent for the Saudi government.

New disclosures retrieved today, showing some of API’s spending over the course of last year, reveal that API used its membership dues (from the world’s largest oil companies like Chevron and Aramco) to finance several dark money groups airing attack ads in the most recent election cycle.

Last year, API gave nearly half a million to the following dark money groups running political ads against Democrats and in support of Republicans:

• $50,000 to Americans for Prosperity’s 501(c)(4) group, which ran ads against President Obama and congressional Democrats.

• $412,969 to Coalition for American Jobs’ 501(c)(6) group, a front set up by API lobbyists to air ads for industry-friendly politicians, including former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA).

• $25,000 to the Sixty Plus Association’s 501(c)(4), which ran ads against congressional Democrats.

Jack Gerard, the president of API, was a close ally to the Mitt Romney campaign. Like the US Chamber of Commerce, API is one of several large trade associations that has spent heavily in support of Republican candidates.

The disclosures also show that in 2011, API spent over $68 million for public relations/advertising with the firm Edelman, $5.4 million on “coalition building” with the firm Advocates Inc, and $4 million with DDC Advocacy for “advocacy.” DDC is the firm led by Sara Fagen, the former Bush White House aide ensnared in the DOJ purges scandal. DDC now works with corporations to help them communicate with workers on how to vote.

API’s Saudi leadership is perhaps one of the most salient examples of how the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has opened the door to foreign influence.

For many years, trade associations like API courted foreign businesses to forge industry-wide lobbying coalitions. But because of a court decision in 1990 (Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce), trade associations could  participate in elections only by spinning off regulated political action committees, subject to strict disclosure and contribution limits. The foreign leadership of trade associations had a clear firewall against interfering in American elections.

Justice John Roberts and the conservative court changed that. The court’s decisions in 2007 (in a case called Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC) and 2010 (Citizens United v. FEC) to deregulate soft money allowed trade associations to behave akin to campaign committees, funneling corporate cash to attack ad and electioneering efforts—except without the disclosure requirements. That cleared the way for a substantial loophole. A foreign national cannot administer a Super PAC or candidate committee, but they can run a trade association like API that can now run candidate ads or finance third party campaign efforts. The foreign corporate money given to a trade association, from a Saudi oil firm or a French chemical company, for example, can now find its way into an attack ad. The lobbyists and companies, and perhaps many of the politicians, know where the money for the ads is coming from—but the American people have no clue.

Editorial intern Nicholas Myers assisted with the research for this post.

For more on API’s cash game, check out Lee Fang’s August report.

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Obama re-elected United States president

This video is called Barack Obama’s victory speech.

From Common Dreams in the USA:

Published on Wednesday, November 7, 2012

President Obama Re-Elected – Common Dreams staff

It’s over. Shortly after 11 PM eastern, the major television networks, including NBC News, CNN, CBS News, and even a reluctant Fox News, put the state of Ohio in the column for Barack Obama and moments later—given the national projections—those same networks announced they felt comfortable calling the evening as a re-election victory for Obama.

Allen West, the Tea Party Congressman from Florida, has lost to Democrat Patrick Murphy, according to NBC. More Tea Party defeats: here.

With nearly all votes counted and races determined, the 2012 US elections left the two houses of Congress virtually unchanged, with the Democrats increasing their narrow margin of control in the Senate but cutting only slightly into the Republican majority in the House of Representatives: here.

Maine and Maryland became the first US states to approve same-sex marriage in a public ballot taken alongside the presidential election.

So, Mitt Romney tried very much for ten years to become president of the USA. This final failure, according to pundits, means the end of his political career.

Mitt Romney lost in circumstances which, in theory, should have meant victory for the Republican party. Four years ago, there was a wave of enthusiasm in the USA to vote in Obama. People thought Obama would end the economic crisis and inequality of the George W Bush days. That he would end George W Bush’s wars. That the would close George W Bush’s Guantanamo Bay torture camp.

Four more years after 2008, and even more economic crisis and inequality now than then. Bloody wars are continuing. Guantanamo Bay is still open.

Circumstances in which one might expect millions of 2008 Obama voters to stay away from the ballot box in disgust, benefiting Romney. And millions of such voters did stay away. But even in this favourable situation, Romney was unable to win.

That the Republican party even in such a situation lost the elections ought to make them think about their sliding further and further to the right. But don’t count on it.

The Obama campaign’s heavy focus on women’s issues for the past year paid off in a big way on Tuesday night, resulting in an 18-point gender gap that largely contributed to the president’s reelection: here.

An initial analysis of the results of the Tuesday’s presidential election reveals one overriding element that is little noted in the American media: the staggering decline in voter turnout, and in particular the vote for President Barack Obama. More than anything else, the vote is the expression of an electorate that is disillusioned and increasingly alienated from the entire two-party political system: here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Lessons from Obama’s win

Wednesday 07 November 2012

What a difference a period of four years makes. Barack Obama’s initial presidential victory in 2008 sparked hope and expectation across the globe.

This time round expectations were muted and the overwhelming feeling is one of relief that his opponent did not carry the day.

Anthony D. Romero Asks Obama to Fulfill His Promise to Close Guantanamo, Ensure Safe and Legal Abortions and Reform Immigration Policies: here.

Lupe Fiasco, Rapper, Thrown Off Stage At Obama Inaugural Concert, when singing anti-war song: here.

Fundamentalists abuse Hurricane Sandy for gay-bashing

This video from the USA is called Hurricane Sandy Superstorm Update 11pm Advisory.

Hurricane Sandy, the largest tropical system recorded in the Atlantic, strengthened as it began making the transition to a superstorm that may push a wall of water ashore in the Northeast and lash the East with wind, rain and snow: here.

You think Sandy’s bad? Saturn had a storm that was bigger than Earth: here.

Hurricane Sandy Eyes DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia And New York (PHOTOS, LIVE UPDATES): here.

From ThinkProgress in the USA:

Anti-Gay Preacher Blames Hurricane Sandy On Homosexuality And Marriage Equality

By Zack Ford on Oct 29, 2012 at 10:50 am

John McTernan

A Christian religious leader has already claimed that Hurricane Sandy is further proof that “God is systematically destroying America” as political judgment for the “homosexual agenda.” John McTernan previously made similar allusions about Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Isaac (2012), which he reiterated in his urgent call to prayer posted Sunday evening (via Gay Star News):

Just last August, Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans seven years later, on the exact day of Hurricane Katrina. Both hit during the week of the homosexual event called Southern Decadence in New Orleans!

McTernan believes that it is noteworthy that Hurricane Sandy is hitting 21 years after the “Perfect Storm,” because 3 is a “significant number with God”:

Twenty-one years breaks down to 7 x 3, which is a significant number with God. Three is perfection as the Godhead is three in one while seven is perfection.

It appears that God gave America 21 years to repent of interfering with His prophetic plan for Israel; however, it has gotten worse under all the presidents and especially Obama. Obama is 100 percent behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem. Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!

Religious spokespeople have frequently tried to draw bizarre connections between natural disasters and the LGBT community. Last year, the American Family Association’s Buster Wilson similarly claimed that Hurricane Isaac was punishment for the Southern Decadence LGBT festival. Rick Joyner had the same to say about Hurricane Katrina, claiming that “[God]‘s not gonna put up with perversion anymore.” Pat Robertson has long believed that acceptance of homosexuality could result in hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist bombs, and “possibly a meteor.”

It’s likely that McTernan will not be the only religious figure to draw such allusions from this devastating storm.

Rabbi blames Hurricane Sandy on New York’s equal marriage law: here.

Hurricane Sandy is God’s October Surprise, Says Conservative Christian Author of Apocalyptic Novels: here.

Mitt Romney In GOP Debate: Shut Down Federal Disaster Agency, Send Responsibility To The States: here.

Axe FEMA, Romney Says – as Hurricane Sandy Looms: here.

US elections, Clear Channel, and Romney

Clear Channel censorship, cartoon

Clear Channel corporation in the USA has a history of censoring the Dixie Chicks country music group, of censoring Bruce Springsteen, of organizing pro-Iraq war rallies, etc. etc.

And now …

By Yana Kunichoff, Truthout in the USA:

“Citizens” United: Bain Capital, Clear Channel and Those Voter Fraud Billboards

Thursday, 25 October 2012 14:27

The anonymous donor behind a voter fraud billboard campaign would rather pull the ads than be identified, raising questions about ties to Romney-founded Bain Capital and its ownership of the company that owns and operates the billboard firm.

What is the connection between Bain Capital and a bevy of voter fraud billboards funded by an anonymous donor that have popped up in low-income neighborhoods in swing states only weeks before the election?

The management firm started by Mitt Romney is one of the owners of Clear Channel Communications, the advertising and billboard company at the center of a scandal surrounding more than 140 billboards warning against voter fraud.

Clear Channel, which syndicates Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck on its radio channels, has said it will remove the billboards following a public pressure campaign. But the company has still not revealed the anonymous donor behind the billboards, contrary to its rules on political ads.

The billboards appear to be part of the Republican-led push to pass bills against voter fraud that advocates argue is meant to discourage minority communities from exercising their right to vote. But it also shows the difficulty of finding who is behind the money, or the billboard, in the age of Citizens United.

“The only reason they decided to take down the ads was because they didn’t want to reveal [the donor’s] identity,” said Timothy Karr, the senior director of strategy at Free Press. “It is part of a larger trend of groups that want to influence the election, but operate behind this veil of secrecy.”

That low-income neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Cleveland were chosen as the target audience for the billboards isn’t surprising, said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change.

“They were targeting communities where black and Latino people live and creating an air of fear and uncertainty around people casting a vote,” said Robinson.

The ads featured a large judge’s gavel under the words: “voter fraud is a felony” and warned that it carried a $10,000 fine and three and a half years in prison.

Color of Change was one of several organizations leading the outcry against the billboards. A petition garnered over 66,000 signatures, Robinson said.

As attention was brought to the ads, Clear Channel was pressured to justify their presence. A spokesman initially told NPR that it was against company policy, and a mistake, to make the contract with the anonymous donor. But the company said it did not plan to remove the billboards.

Nearly a week later, Clear Channel has said that it would remove the billboards instead of making the donor’s name public.

“We reviewed the situation, and in light of the fact that these billboards violate our policy of not accepting anonymous political ads, we asked the client how they would prefer to work with us to bring the boards into conformance with our policy,” said Jim Cullinan, Clear Channel Outdoor spokesman. “The client thought the best solution was to take the boards down, so we are in the process of removing them.”

The company also has promised to sponsor 10 free billboards saying: “Voting is a right. Not a Crime!”

Karr says that like many of our elections ills, this one has its roots in the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

“We are not only seeing this in billboards, but online and in political ads on TV – there is a lack of disclosure,” said Karr. “It’s even worse in the wake of Citizens United, because it has unleashed a whole new category of political groups that can raise record amounts of money without having to disclose their donors.”

Clear Channel Communications also plays a more direct role in elections through its Political Action Committee (PAC) and Leadership PAC.

The Clear Channel Communication Inc. PAC is required to disclose any expenditure by its employees over $750 made for or against a candidate or ballot measure. Its most recent Federal Election Commission filing shows that the PAC distributed $584,000 since January 2011, and $62,500 to committees in October 2012.

10 Awful Things a President Mitt Romney Would Likely Do: here.

NATO kills Afghan children again

This video is called Afghanistan villagers say NATO strike killed 18 civilians.

Another similar video, no longer on YouTube, used to say about itself:

June 9, 2012 by afghandaily

18 Civilians Killed In Logar, Were Attending a Wedding.

A morning NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan has left at least 18 people dead, including women and children – according to local officials. People living nearby say all those killed were celebrating a wedding.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Four Afghan children killed in US raid

24 October 2012

The killing of four children in a US raid and the disappearance and murder of civilians at the hands of occupation troops have provoked growing anger and protests among the people of Afghanistan.

With the US-led war now in its twelfth year, violence against the country’s population continues to mount. The latest incidents were confirmed by the office of Afghanistan’s puppet president, Hamid Karzai, on Tuesday. The worst of them took place on Sunday in the eastern province of Logar, just south of Kabul.

Citing a report from the provincial governor, Mohammad Iqbal Azizi, a statement from Karzai’s office recounted: “NATO forces carried out an operation on Sunday afternoon to detain two armed militants, but resulted in killing four innocent children who were just grazing animals.”

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) acknowledged Tuesday that civilians may have been killed in the raid. Gen. John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, offered “condolences to the families” and said officers would be sent out to “offer a condolence payment and express our deep regret.”

The slaughter of the children in Logar comes just one week after ISAF issued a formal apology for the killing of three other children in an air strike conducted in southern Helmand province’s Nawa district. A teenage girl and two young boys were killed in the October 14 strike, which the occupation command claimed had been directed against “insurgents” planting improvised explosive devises (IED). Witnesses, however, said that only the bodies of the children, who had been collecting firewood, were found at the scene.

According to estimates by the United Nations, the war in Afghanistan killed or wounded more than 578 children in the first six months of 2012. A UN report issued in August found that during the first half of this year, two-thirds of the victims of US and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan were women and children.

In his debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney Monday night, President Barack Obama spoke of the US intervention as a “nation-building experiment.” In fact, the war has left the country devastated, exacting its greatest toll upon Afghanistan’s children.

While Washington has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the country since the 2001 invasion, Afghanistan still has the world’s highest infant mortality rate, with one out of four children dying before reaching the age of five.

In his statement Tuesday, Karzai declared, “Despite repeated pledges by NATO to avoid civilian casualties, innocent lives, including children, are still being lost.”

The second incident condemned by Karzai was a joint military operation carried out by US troops and Afghan puppet forces in southern Zabul province, near the Pakistan border, on October 13. In the midnight raid, four civilians were taken away, according to the Afghan president’s statement, and three of them have since disappeared.

Nearly 1,000 people demonstrated Monday in Qalat, the capital of Zabul province, blocking the Kandahar-Kabul highway to protest against the operation and continuing US-led night raids. These raids, which, after air strikes, are the leading cause of civilian casualties inflicted by occupation forces, are deeply unpopular in Afghanistan.

According to Pajhwok Afghan News, the demonstration in Qalat was sparked by a more recent raid in which two tailors were arrested. It quoted one of the organizers of the protest, Abdul Qadir Qalatwal, a member of the local parliament, as saying that the “beheaded bodies of the tailors were dumped in a desert before being blown up.”

The news agency reported that the Zabul governor’s office had confirmed the deaths of the two men and “had sought clarity from the NATO-led force.”

ISAF confirmed that civilians had been detained in both raids, but claimed that in the October 13 incident they had been released, while in the October 20 operation, they had been “turned over to Afghan police.”

The obvious question raised by the two incidents is whether US forces are detaining individuals suspected of supporting the resistance to foreign occupation and then turning them over to an Afghan death squad for elimination.

In their debate Monday night, both Obama and Romney insisted that the “surge” that tripled the number of US troops deployed in Afghanistan under Obama was a success, and that a “transition” to Afghan responsibility for security in the country would be completed in December 2014, with US troops coming home.

Both men know that this is a lie. Obama administration officials are currently negotiating the terms of a Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Karzai regime that would see an estimated 25,000 US troops, largely Green Berets and other Special Operations units, stay behind for another decade or more.

Both parties are committed to pursing the aims that drove the invasion to begin with, along with the subsequent war in Iraq: the use of military force to assert US hegemony over the strategic energy reserves of the Caspian Basin and the Persian Gulf.

Meanwhile, the rosy projections about the readiness of the Afghan troops and police to assume responsibility for security continue to be denied by those most involved in training them.

Quoting US military officers and officials, the Washington Post reported Saturday that claims Afghanistan’s 352,000-strong security forces are prepared to take over from the US-led occupation are patently false. According to the Post: “No Afghan army battalion is capable of operating without US advisers. Many policemen spend more time shaking down people for bribes than patrolling. Front-line units often do not receive the fuel, food and spare parts they need to function. Intelligence, aviation and medical services remain embryonic. And perhaps most alarming, an increasing number of Afghan soldiers and policemen are turning their weapons on their US and NATO partners.”

The article, based on interviews with a dozen active-duty officers involved in the training of Afghan forces, makes it clear that in the rush to build the number of Afghan troops and police up to 352,000, Washington has failed to provide adequate training or sufficiently vet the security forces for sympathizers of the Taliban and other armed opposition groups.

“The army is so hollow that some of those units are just going to collapse,” a Special Forces major involved in the training program told the Post.

Britain: Four-month-old baby whose soldier father was killed in Afghanistan is denied compensation because paternity cannot be proved: here.

Afghans fear being left out in the cold. Spectre of hunger and death looms as Central Asian nation prepares for harsh winter in the months ahead: here.

Survival and Dignity in an Afghan Winter: here.

Obama-Romney debate avoids problems again

Pollster's prediction of US presidential election

By Barry Grey in the USA:

Obama-Romney debate number two: Another stage-managed charade

17 October 2012

The second nationally televised debate between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney served only to underscore the hypocrisy and deceit that pervade the entire election.

Two representatives of the corporate-financial elite that rules America spent nearly two hours trying to sell themselves as partisans of the common man in a thoroughly stage-managed production. It was painful to watch and a struggle to stay awake.

As has become the norm in American politics, it was a “debate” without any discussion or substance, a tired and empty ritual designed to conceal the truth and chloroform the public.

Every aspect of the event was orchestrated and vetted. The so-called “town hall” setting had nothing to do with a real give-and-take with ordinary people. The 82 people sitting on the stage with Obama and Romney had been chosen by Gallup, the polling firm, from so-called “undecided voters” residing in the Hempstead, Long Island area, where the debate was held.

Following a rehearsal the morning of the event, these 82 hand-picked voters submitted their questions to the moderator, Candy Crowley of CNN, who then decided the questions to be asked by choosing which of the 82 would get to speak. The microphones of the questioners were automatically shut off as soon as their questions had been asked.

Both candidates ritualistically invoked the American “middle class,” which has largely disappeared, as millions have been thrown into the ranks of a working class whose existence neither candidate acknowledged. They repeatedly declared their commitment to improving the lot of the “middle class,” while concealing the plans being worked out between the Democrats and Republicans for after the election to drastically cut basic social programs upon which tens of millions of people depend.

Hovering in the background was the catastrophic state of American society, which neither candidate seriously addressed. Romney mentioned the growth of poverty and continuation of mass unemployment only as talking points to use against the incumbent. Obama never acknowledged them.

A basic purpose of the spectacle was to create the illusion of fundamental policy differences between the two candidates and their parties, when there are none. The political differences between the Democrats and Republicans reflect secondary tactical differences within the ruling oligarchy.

The first question and the candidates’ responses set the tone for the evening. A 20-year-old college student said he was being told he had little chance of getting a job after he graduated, and asked what the candidates could say to reassure him that he would be able to support himself.

Romney declared that he knew “what it takes to create good jobs again” without offering any specifics. Obama began by saying, “Your future is bright.” He then boasted of his bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, claiming he had saved 1 million jobs, without mentioning the brutal cuts in wages and benefits he imposed on the workers.

Neither of the two could offer any policies to address the disastrous situation confronting young people and students.

When Crowley asked them to address the plight of the 40 percent of unemployed people without a job for more than six months, both were silent on the bipartisan bill passed last February to slash the duration of jobless benefits and their plans to terminate extended unemployment benefits altogether on January 1.

Leaked Documents Reveal “Monopoly-Like” Control of Presidential Debates: here.

Green Party candidates for US president and vice president Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were arrested at the second so-called presidential debate on Tuesday: here.

Employees of Romney Family’s Secret Bank Tied to Fraud, Money Laundering and Drug Cartels: here.

Romney, Obama avoid Iraq

This folk music video from the USA says about itself:

David Rovics: Operation Iraqi Liberation (Oil)

David performs one of his songs about the War in Iraq, “Operation Iraqi Liberation (Oil)” in Port Townsend, WA at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

By Dan Froomkin in the USA:

Remember Iraq? Romney, Obama Fail To Make War Major Part Of Campaign

Posted: 10/09/2012 5:56 pm EDT Updated: 10/10/2012 3:12 am EDT

WASHINGTON — In his major foreign policy speech on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the “costly gains made by our troops” in Iraq are now eroding due to President Barack Obama’s “abrupt withdrawal.”

That was largely the extent of his comments on a war many historians consider the most disastrous in modern times and the most significant foreign policy legacy of the last Republican president, George W. Bush.

Romney didn’t elaborate on the “gains,” nor did he address whether he thought the cost was appropriate — $3 trillion in borrowed money, nearly 5,000 dead U.S. servicemembers; and as many as half a million wounded or otherwise damaged veterans. Romney also left unclear what he would have done differently if faced with a pro-Iran Iraqi government demanding a U.S. ouster and brandishing an agreement signed by Bush himself. He didn’t indicate whether he intended to send more troops back to Iraq.

And yet it was more than either candidate had said about Iraq in a long time. Less than a year after Obama ordered the last American troops out, Iraq has barely been an issue in the presidential race.

But the U.S still maintains a significant diplomatic presence there, in the form of the largest and most expensive embassy ever built. Iraq is at long last becoming a geopolitical force in the region — but an increasingly authoritarian one, closely allied with Iran.

And perhaps most significantly, Romney’s own foreign policy speech was vetted by a team of foreign policy advisers heavy with the same neoconservative ideologues responsible for the U.S. presence in Iraq in the first place. Those include former U.N. ambassador and famed unilateralist John Bolton; Robert Joseph, a former National Security Council official who included the false claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger into Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address; Eric Edelman, who was former Vice President Dick Cheney‘s national security adviser; Dan Senor, head of public relations for the Coalition Provisional Authority [in Iraq]; and many others.

“Iraq is relevant in all sorts of ways,” said Peter Van Buren, a former State Department officer who wrote a satirical book blowing the whistle on Iraqi reconstruction efforts. “The first way of course is that those who don’t follow history are doomed to repeat it.”

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Moyers & Company: The 2000th member of the American military recently died in Afghanistan. There are two more presidential debates, and the question that needs to be posed to Romney and Obama is: “Why are we killing the kids that don’t need to die?” See here.

Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell: Six Critical Foreign Policy Questions That Won’t Be Raised in the Presidential Debates: here.

Dina Rasor, Truthout: Mitt Romney hopes to raise the defense budget by $2 trillion in order to purchase more Cold War-style weapons that have no relevance to our modern security threats: here.

Richard D. Wolff, Truthout: Obama and most Democrats are so dependent on contributions and support from business and the rich that they dare not discuss, let alone implement, the kinds of policies Roosevelt employed the last time US capitalism crashed: here.

Romney wants more wars

United States war on Iran plans of Bush and Cheney, cartoon

By Joseph Kishore in the USA:

In bellicose speech, Romney outlines bipartisan drive to war

9 October 2012

In a bellicose foreign policy speech Monday, Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney threatened war with Iran, expanded military intervention in Syria, an unending occupation of Afghanistan, and the reintroduction of US troops into Iraq.

While framed as a criticism of the policy of the Obama administration, the main contours of Romney’s speech were in line with the agenda proposed by the current president. Romney’s remarks highlighted the bipartisan conspiracy against the American people, as both candidates plan an aggressive expansion of US militarism abroad, behind the backs of the public.

Romney delivered his speech at the Virginia Military Institute, continuing a tradition, shared by the current president, in which foreign policy speeches are delivered before a military audience. The military is treated as—and indeed is in fact—an independent and overriding power in the American political establishment.

After his speech, Romney held a closed-door meeting with retired generals, in which the war plans of a potential Romney administration were no doubt discussed with even greater candor.

Romney declared that the US needed to “change course in the Middle East” and said that “our words” must be “backed up by deeds.”

Tom Engelhardt on the mystery of the failure of American military power in a world without major enemies: here.

Mitt Romney’s Bain Made Millions On Big Tobacco In U.S., Russia: here.

TWO-TERM TRUMP Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who once called Trump a “con man,” predicts that Trump will not only win the GOP nomination for 2020, but he’ll go on to “solidly” win a second term. [HuffPost]

Noam Chomsky on Obama, Romney

This video shows part of rhe classic Canadian documentary Manufacturing Consent based on the Noam Chomsky/Edward Herman book by the same name. Explores the propaganda model of the media.

By Noam Chomsky, Truthout in the USA:

Noam Chomsky: Issues That Obama and Romney Avoid

Friday, 05 October 2012 09:11

With the quadrennial presidential election extravaganza reaching its peak, it’s useful to ask how the political campaigns are dealing with the most crucial issues we face. The simple answer is: badly, or not at all. If so, some important questions arise: why, and what can we do about it?

There are two issues of overwhelming significance, because the fate of the species is at stake: environmental disaster, and nuclear war.

The former is regularly on the front pages. On Sept. 19, for example, Justin Gillis reported in The New York Times that the melting of Arctic sea ice had ended for the year, “but not before demolishing the previous record – and setting off new warnings about the rapid pace of change in the region.”

The melting is much faster than predicted by sophisticated computer models and the most recent U.N. report on global warming. New data indicate that summer ice might be gone by 2020, with severe consequences. Previous estimates had summer ice disappearing by 2050.

“But governments have not responded to the change with any greater urgency about limiting greenhouse emissions,” Gillis writes. “To the contrary, their main response has been to plan for exploitation of newly accessible minerals in the Arctic, including drilling for more oil” – that is, to accelerate the catastrophe.

This reaction demonstrates an extraordinary willingness to sacrifice the lives of our children and grandchildren for short-term gain. Or, perhaps, an equally remarkable willingness to shut our eyes so as not to see the impending peril.

That’s hardly all. A new study from the Climate Vulnerability Monitor has found that “climate change caused by global warming is slowing down world economic output by 1.6 percent a year and will lead to a doubling of costs in the next two decades.” The study was widely reported elsewhere but Americans have been spared the disturbing news.

The official Democratic and Republican platforms on climate matters are reviewed in Science magazine’s Sept. 14 issue. In a rare instance of bipartisanship, both parties demand that we make the problem worse.

In 2008, both party platforms had devoted some attention to how the government should address climate change. Today, the issue has almost disappeared from the Republican platform – which does, however, demand that Congress “take quick action” to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency, established by former Republican President Richard Nixon in saner days, from regulating greenhouse gases. And we must open Alaska’s Arctic refuge to drilling to take “advantage of all our American God-given resources.” We cannot disobey the Lord, after all.

The platform also states that “We must restore scientific integrity to our public research institutions and remove political incentives from publicly funded research” – code words for climate science.

The Republican candidate Mitt Romney, seeking to escape from the stigma of what he understood a few years ago about climate change, has declared that there is no scientific consensus, so we should support more debate and investigation – but not action, except to make the problems more serious.

The Democrats mention in their platform that there is a problem, and recommend that we should work “toward an agreement to set emissions limits in unison with other emerging powers.” But that’s about it.

President Barack Obama has emphasized that we must gain 100 years of energy independence by exploiting fracking and other new technologies – without asking what the world would look like after a century of such practices.

So there are differences between the parties: about how enthusiastically the lemmings should march toward the cliff.

The second major issue, nuclear war, is also on the front pages every day, but in a way that would astound a Martian observing the strange doings on Earth.

The current threat is again in the Middle East, specifically Iran – at least according to the West, that is. In the Middle East, the U.S. and Israel are considered much greater threats.

Obama-Romney debate, what it omitted

Obama and Romney

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Obama and Romney: A “debate” without real differences

4 October 2012

The first debate of the US presidential election campaign laid bare the unbridgeable gulf between the corporate-controlled political system and the concerns of the overwhelming majority of the American people.

The United States is in the grip of the worst social crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, with record levels of long-term unemployment, record levels of hunger and homelessness, mass layoffs of workers in the public schools and other essential services, deteriorating public infrastructure and deepening poverty and social misery.

Aside from two sentences from Romney—in the course of proposing measures that would make the crisis even worse for working people—there was no reference to this social reality in 90 minutes of debate. The words “poverty” and “unemployment” never crossed Obama’s lips. Neither candidate offered any proposals to alleviate mass suffering, put the unemployed to work or rebuild public services devastated by budget cuts.

On the contrary, more than four years into an economic crisis brought on by the greatest financial collapse of the profit system since the 1930s, both candidates pledged their loyalty to Wall Street and hailed capitalism as the greatest boon to mankind.

Obama declared in his two-minute summation, clearly prepared in advance, “The genius of America is the free enterprise system.” Romney, himself the possessor of a huge personal fortune based on stripping the assets of companies and speculating in the financial markets, repeatedly argued that the “private sector” had to be given free rein in every sphere of life, from job-creation to education to health care.

Obama made only one timid reference to the role of Wall Street in wrecking the US and world economy. Even there, he equated the swindlers and the swindled, saying that the workers hoodwinked into taking out sub-prime mortgages and the bankers who pocketed huge bonuses by fleecing them were both guilty of “reckless behavior.”

Obama also refrained from identifying Romney personally with Wall Street. In the course of the nationally televised event, he made no mention of Romney’s role as a corporate raider at Bain Capital, Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns, or his use of offshore investment accounts.

Most significantly, he made no reference to Romney’s disparaging comments about the “47 percent” of Americans dependent on government programs and too poor to pay federal income taxes, and his assertion that no one in America should consider himself “entitled” to food, health care or a roof over his head.

Based on conventional electoral considerations, this silence would appear inexplicable. Obama campaign television commercials have hammered Romney on his “47 percent” remarks for two weeks, and Romney’s poll numbers declined as a consequence.

It is clear, however, that in preparing for the first debate, with an estimated television audience of 60 million, the largest of the campaign, Obama and his political handlers viewed any hint of economic populism as too dangerous. It might offend the Wall Street power brokers and encourage a militant response from below.

See also here. And here. And here.