Showing posts with label putin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label putin. Show all posts

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Trump Drugs?

THE ABSURD TIMES




Here is Trump and Putin.  Trump has offered or agreed to send twelve people to Moscow to be interrogated by Putin's "investigators".

Now here is where I need some help with a problem that has come up recently and that I simply can not understand.

I've noticed a great deal of speculation about Trump being on some sort of drugs, with a form of ecstasy being the most popular choice.  I have absolutely no first hand knowledge of this, or even word from someone who would know. 

I mentioned that he neither drank nor smoked cigarettes.  That was countered by someone who mentioned that neither did Hitler, and Adolph did take drugs (some sort of amphetamine).  That is true.  However, Hitler does not count in this sort of situation -- whenever someone mentions Hitler I immediately am reminded of the maxim that whoever mentions Hitler first has lost the argument.

I said that perhaps his doctor would be required to mention it, but then all he did was talk about his genes.  The doctor had to resign as I understand it.

If you look at the photo above, you can see the difference between attitude of the two people and Donald does not look very good.  Do you think that perhaps he takes some sort of mild sedative to balance that drug which, after all, is both a hallucinogen and a form of speed?  I don't know.

I'm simply aware that there has been a great deal of speculation about this and wonder what has happened.  I also notice that the Vice President, Mike Pence, recently said that we do not need healthcare.  We need Jesus.  All of this is too much for me.  I really don't understand what is going on. 

Anybody out there know?



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Putin, Trump v. whatever




THE ABSURD TIMES











Trump, Putin v. Sanity
by
Czar Donic

Let us start out with a quote:




Following @GonzoVice
 

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How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?
2:13 PM - 16 Jul 2018
We now have an answer for him, even though his ashes were shot over the mountains out of a some kind of cannon by Johnny Depp.  Does that sound strange to you?  Well, it shouldn't.  Not if you have been seeing what is going on today.

This was posted, apparently, by a Hunter Thompson fan on social media.  Now here's the rest of the story, my story, as I remember it, and as it happened.

Before we get to that, though, there is one thing you have to keep in mind about Donald J. Trump and that is he actually believes he is the greatest and all criticism or accusation against him is motivated though envy.  If you can not trust this, and still pay attention to what is going on here, they may well be forced to build a new wing in the mental institution for for people who went totally insane trying to makes sense about of what is going on and those when take these things seriously.

He first asked that question during the Presidency of Richard Nixon as the Watergate process was going on and he was, I think, the political correspondent for the ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE (this was before it moved to New York for the culture and money).  It is pretty well documented what happened during that, and leading up to that, but it is worth revisiting. 

The first real encounter with politics many of us had was during the 60s when Lyndon Johnson ran as the peace candidate against the Koch family's candidate Barry Goldwater to promised to "bomb North Vietnam into the stone ages."  Less than a year later, we were sending troops over there to "help save Vietnam from Vietnamese," as Tom Paxton said.  RFK and Martin Luther King had been assassinated, probably with help from J. Edgar Hoover who hated Bobby with a passion because he insisted he report to him, not directly to the President.  With him out of the way, he maneuvered his way back into fashion.  LBJ was in no way intimidated by Hoover, but kept him on as Hoover had found his weak spot.  He entertained LBJ with reports of the sexual exploits of people in Congress and this made great bedtime reading for the old bugger. 

So, Gene McCarthy had run LBJ out of office and it looked like Bobby would come back.  Gene folded, Bobby was killed, and that led to Nixon, one of the most paranoid presidents we have ever seen.  In his second term, he was still frightened that he would loose re-election and thus several things happened, including the Pentagon papers and the Watergate scandal.  Before his first term, he was able to take advantage of the Police Riot in Chicago at the convention that nominated Hubert Humphrey to run for President. 

The police riot (as it was called in an official report) took place mainly in the Grant Park Area outside the convention, and was directed by Mayor Daley, not the Democratic party.  Most of us were simply protesting the process, Abbie Hoffmann was running around insanely, usually wild on acid, but hard to photograph as we had helped him write FUCK on his forehead.  I briefly acted as the press secretary, explaining why our candidate was named "Pigasus."  I explained that if we were going to nominate a pig, we might as well have a real one and the rest of it came from a Greek Legend about a winged horse that one could still see on some mobile gas stations as their symbol.  I served only so long as it took me to get that out and simply angered and confused all sides at once.  Dylan could not make it as he was busy crusading for the right to use electronic guitars and well as the purists' acoustic ones.  Norman Mailer was there, but ducked out to do his reporting by the evening after his speech.

By his own account, Hunter was there, but I had no idea who he was at the time.  He reports that he did have the sense to wear a motorcycle helmet to cover it, but still got the crap beat out of him.  This hardly distinguishes him from many others.  I was lucky as I had attended High School with several of the "Hoodlums" who then became police officers and who not only adopted me as a sort of mascot, but also found the entire scene fun.  It was the older cops, the five and ten year veterans that were so stirred up and I figured it was because all the guys demonstrating, or most of them, were scrawny and wearing beards and had long hair and the nubile females clung to them, not the cops who were REAL MEN.

Well, the first election was close, but Hubert's apology and change of stance on the war came way too late.  Nixon campaigned for the "silent majority," which was actually a bad translation of the term used by Homer in the Illiad to describe the underworld (this never crossed anyone's mind so far as I know).  On Viet Nam, "I have a plan," and that was that.  Well, they figured, a plan really sounded good about now and so he got elected.  After awhile, the second time around, he ran against George McGovern who managed to loose almost every state, but he was still paranoid and afraid of loosing.  That was the start of Watergate.

By the end, he was walking the halls at night, forcing Henry Kissinger to pray with him by the fireplace, probably drinking heavily.  Nixon.  Everybody thought he was the worst, and that is when Hunter asked that question.  How low?  Well, from the Watergate era, John Dean still exists as well as Carl Bernstein, and both rate Trump lower than Nixon, but what about Reagan-Bush?

Most people forget about the Iran Contra deal, and many still think of Ollie North as a hero from those days.  He is now spokesman from the NRA and a Russian spy has been charged with infiltrating the NRA.  But there is still more we have to remember from those days.  Ronnie and George assurred Gorbochev that, if we could unite East and West Germany, we would NOT move NATO any closer to Russia.  It helps to understand that Russia never started any conflict beyond its borders   Even in the time of 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia, not the converse. Hitler attacked Russia and that is what started the Warsaw Pact, or the "Iron Curtain," Churchill's term.  Well, with that assurance, Gorby said "Go Ahead," and we know what has happened since.

Still, we need to remember what Putin was going through at the time.  When the wall came tumbling down, Putin was the only person left in the Kremlin building.  Everyone else had fled and communications were cut off.  Germans were trying to storm the building, not unlike what happened in Iran.  Putin, however, managed to hold them off and at the same time managed to burn all sorts of documents.  He would come back and tell the Germans that he was trying to keep the army from attacking them and that they should just wait.  He went to burn more.  It was a desperate night, and he did not know if he would get out alive, so hated were the Russians by the Germans at that time.  He made it out, KGB, intact, and that was the end of his stay in Germany. 

But this is like the narrator in Thomas Mann's biography of Adrian Leverkūhn – we are leaving things out and rushing forward.  When Ronnie started the Iran-Contra debacle, there was concern as to whether he really started.  Mclaughan had his group on TV and Bob Germond was one of the regulars and the question, no so strangely if you think about it now, "Did they tell Reagan about the plot?  Yes or no"  There were various answers, but Germond came up with the best one "Yes, they told him, but he forgot."  At the time, nobody realized how perceptive all this was and Reagan was in the early stages of Alzheimer's.

Ollie North would end up testifying after holding out for immunity and spent most of the time talking about what a patriot he was, how he loved his family and flag, and so on.  He is now with the NRA after his brave actions in shipping weapons to Iran, having met "briefly with" Butina, currently charged with being a Russian spy, perhaps filtering money though the organization.

At any rate, it's time to wrap this up as I am getting very tired of Trump and his whole deal.  He is definitely the lowest we have ever seen.  When he finished his press conference, I had been watching it on CNN as that is his most hated news channel, Anderson Cooper launched into an attack at how "disgraceful" or "disgusting" his performance was.  I knew MSNBC would be jumping all over it, so I went over to Fox.  I was again, a stranger in a strange land, but wait!  They were pissed off at him as well.  Since that is where Trump gets his advice, the next day he said "wouldn't" instead of "would," (never mind the context as it is sick enough) and that was that.  How low can we get?  I don't know, but I think we got there at last.  Frankly, I was surprised at the reaction on social media as I simply asked "Well, what did you expect?"  It was as if everyone was surprised and shocked.  I suppose the world is denser than I thought.

If you are not certain, consider this (someone sent this out):

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 @realDonaldTrump



Follow @realDonaldTrump
 
FollowSome people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It's called Trump Derangement Syndrome!
6:27 AM - 18 Jul 2018

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

United nations Syria



THE ABSURD TIMES






Assad with the only head of state invited into Syria.









There has been too much going on and I've just stored all the information for later.  One thing that is important and should be mentioned is that Iona Craig, perhaps the only reliable journalist on the subject of Yemen, did an interview.  However, you can follow her at @ionacraig (I think).  I'll get to it eventually.  Gaza has also been covered.  But today, I need to reveal the deep workings on the UN Security Council now that we have a genuine madman in as National Security Advisor.  The only thing safe about it is that Trump doesn't listen to advice.

So, one recent afternoon, I ran into a UN discussion on Sryia.  Just for context, the only elements invited in by a sovereign government, Syria, are Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah (if you count them).  All the rest are invaders.

We should make it clear that Assad, President of Syria, has been very ungrateful to us of late.  Here we send his the making of the best regime the CIA can devise and he doesn't want it.  He does not even say thank you.

So I tuned in and the Russian was speaking.  It seems that there actually was no attack and all the people need is to be sprayed with water.

The next speaker, and here it became difficult to follow, as I got very groggy by that time, lamented at the absence of Lady Justice.  There was also something about a handmaiden in there. 

Then someone mentioned that impunity was denied.  I think he had the name Inchauste in his name somewhere.

Now in the middle of all this, Salisbury became the discussion.  Why the hell are we debating Salisbury?  Discussing what to have for lunch?  Then it became clear that it had to do with poisoning a father and daughter who decided to be on England's side rather than Russia's.  They never did explain why Russia was never given a sample of the offending substance to analyze, but what happened to Syria?

Well, someone chimed in quickly and mentioned that there was an elephant in the chamber.  I looked around as that was something worth noting, but none appeared.

It turns out that the "White Helmets" are mercenaries.

One thing that has to stop is the U.S. referring to governments as "Regimes".  That's a dirty word.  If it happens again, Russia will call a point of order and stop the meeting.  So watch it, Nikki.  This isn't Carolina.

Syria mentioned that there were bunches of unaffiliated orphans with long breads and carrying black banners, of White Helmets, and so on and Syria is offering them up for adoption.  This is a humane gesture for all the orphans in Syria.  Take them. 

All in all, it was good to see how the International Community works.


Wednesday, January 03, 2018

LOOK BACK IN ANGER -- 2017


THE ABSURD TIMES



Illustration: They finally won.


Yes, it is the New Year and so it is time to look back in anger.

First, some high points of the year:

Best and most prophetic protest sign: "DEREGULATE MY UTERUS!" held up during the first protest, the day after inaugeration.

Most incisive and, it turns out, most prophetic line during a debate: Rand Paul during the primaries said "This is like Junior High with this kind of talk."

My own favorite:  "I am so irritated at the sound of Trump's voice, that I'd rather hear a musical contest between a pen of flatulent trained pigs farting in time against a punk Polka Band playing simultaneously."  [They give more characters on Twitter now.]

Most ridiculous tweet, obviously from Trump to North Korea: "My button in bigger than your button and mine works."  Of course, D.T. is seldom at his desk, so what difference does it make?

Worst action of the year: The so-called "Tax Reform" that cost the U.S. over a Trillion dollars which now gives the excuse that we have to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.  Better we go into bankruptcy? 

Now, our administration is speaking out against the right to express oneself in Iran and calling for the UN to meet over it.  Imagine if during Kent State, or the LA riots, that France called for the UN to meet over civil rights in the US.

Anyway, here is a discussion of the year in retrospect:
At least 22 people are dead and hundreds have been arrested, as Iranian authorities move to quell the largest anti-government protests since 2009. President Donald Trump responded to the protests on Monday in one of his first tweets of the new year, writing "TIME FOR CHANGE!" "This is the same president who, not more than three months ago, announced a ban on Iranians from coming to the United States," says Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Glenn Greenwald. "He's somebody who has aligned with the world's worst, most savage dictators."


Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Today we spend the hour with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, as we look back at some of the major stories of 2017 and we look ahead to 2018. We begin with President Trump's foreign policy in Iran, where at least 22 people are dead and hundreds have been arrested, as authorities used tear gas and water cannons to quell the largest anti-government protest since 2009. The protests, which began last week and quickly spread to cities across Iran, are targeting the country's high unemployment, income inequality and housing costs. Protesters have also railed against Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, On Sunday, Rouhani said Iranians have the right to protest, but said violence would be met with a firm response.
PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI: [translated] I ask all the security forces, the police forces, who have not behaved in a violent way toward the people, I ask them to exercise their restraint so that nobody is hurt. However, at the same time, in order to preserve our country, our nation, our tranquility and peace, for all of this, we must be firm and act decisively.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President Donald Trump responded to the protests Monday in one of his first tweets of the new year, writing, quote, "Iran is failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration. The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!" Trump tweeted. Meanwhile, the Iranian president, Rouhani, rebuffed President Trump's comments.
PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI: [translated] This man, Donald Trump, in America, who today wants to sympathize with our people, has forgotten that just a few months ago he labeled the Iranian nation a terrorist nation. This person, who is against the Iranian nation to his core, he wants to feel sorry for Iranians? There is a question here. It is open to suspicion.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And President Trump just tweeted, "The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their 'pockets.' The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!" Trump tweeted just a few minutes ago.
Well, for more, we're joined from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and one of the founding editors of The Intercept.
Glenn, first of all, Happy New Year! I hope the news for you this year is good, at least better. Can you respond first to what is happening now in Iran, this outbreak of protest that surprised, clearly, not only the Iranian leadership, when it began at the end of last week, but people all over the world?
GLENN GREENWALD: So, Iran is an extremely sophisticated and complex country of 80 million people. And I think that when it comes to analyzing exactly what's driving the protest in Iran, we ought to defer to Iranians, people who are steeped in Iran's civil society, and ought to avoid the sort of overnight experts who tend to pop up in the West and opine on these matters from afar without much knowledge. Even within the commentariat of Iranians, you see conflicting accounts about whether the primary impetus is economic deprivation or agitation for greater political rights, whether it's demands that the government reform or whether it's an actual desire to change the government. So, I think, really, all we can say from afar is that protesting one's own government without being shot in the street or arrested is a universal human right, and we ought to have solidarity with people who are agitating to make their government better.
But what I do think we can and have to comment on is the posture of the United States government and Western governments in terms of foreign policy and how they're responding to the events in Tehran. That, I think, we can comment on meaningfully and should. I think it's worth remembering that for a long time it has been the top item on the foreign policy agenda of lots of factions to have regime change in Iran. Going back to 2005, 2006, the neocon slogan, after they toppled Saddam Hussein, was "real men go to Tehran." They were really most eager to facilitate regime change in Iran. And so, there's a lot of interest in terms of agitating for instability in Iran from people who are pretending to care about the Iranian people, but who actually couldn't care less about the Iranian people.
And you could start with Donald Trump, who, as you just noted, tweeted his grave concern for the welfare of Iranians. This is the same president who, not more than three months ago, announced a ban on Iranians from coming to the United States. He's somebody who has aligned with the world's worst, most savage dictators, including in Saudi Arabia and other places around the world. Lots of Western commentators who are posturing about being concerned about human rights in Iran are people in think tanks funded by other dictatorships and repressive tyrants in the same region. So I think we ought to be extremely skeptical when it comes to people like Donald Trump or people in Washington think tanks pretending that they're wanting to intervene in Iran out of concern for human rights or for the welfare of the Iranian people. I think when it comes to foreign policy, the best thing we can hope for is that the United States stays out of what is a matter of political dispute inside Iran.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Glenn, and you mentioned Saudi Arabia. It's not just Saudi Arabia, but we look at Egypt or the Philippines, all countries for which Trump has had praise for the dictators and the authoritarian leaders of these countries. And now to suddenly, at lightning speed, come up with comments about the rights of the Iranian people to rise up against their leaders is—it is—well, it shouldn't be surprising for Trump, but it certainly gives food for thought for anyone who thinks that this administration has any concerns about human rights.
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah. I mean, first of all, the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy, really in the wake of World War II through the Cold War, and then even with the fall of the Soviet Union, has been to align with and to embrace and to support dictators, tyrants and repressive regimes, as long as they serve the interests of the United States. So, anybody in their right mind who ever takes seriously pronouncements from official Washington that they're motivated by anger over repression or a defense of the political rights of people in other countries is incredibly naive at best, to put that generously.
Just this week, Juan, there was an amazing leak that Politico published, which was a State Department memo written to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that explicitly said what has been long obvious, but usually isn't put into words so clear, that human rights is not actually something the U.S. government believes in; it is a cudgel that it uses to undermine and bash countries that don't serve its interests. They use denunciations of human rights abuses to undermine and weaken governments that are contrary to their agenda, like in Iran, while at the same time, this memo said—this isn't me saying this, this is the State Department memo saying—they overlook and even sanction repressive behavior on the part of their allies.
And it goes beyond the Trump administration. I mean, if you look at how official Washington works in terms of, say, the leading think tanks in Washington, the Brookings Institution, for example, which has become incredibly popular among liberals in the Trump era, is funded with tens of millions of dollars by the government of Qatar, one of the most repressive regimes on the planet. The Center for American Progress, which is probably the leading Democratic Party think tank in the United States, is funded in—one of their biggest funders is the government of the United Arab Emirates.
So, when you hear people like that or people in the Trump administration, who have aligned themselves with the world's most savage dictators for decades, who are funded by tyrants, pretend that what they're motivated by is a desire to liberate people from oppression, you should instantly know that there are other agendas going on. And the reason that matters so much is because it's not just, "Oh, we're exposing hypocrisy or deceit"; it's because what someone's motives are when they intervene in the affairs of other countries determines the outcome. Look what happened in Libya, where people like Anne-Marie Slaughter and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry pretended to be motivated by the interest of the Libyan people. Once Gaddafi was killed and was removed from office, which was what the real goal was, everybody forgot about Libya, allowed Libya to fall into utter chaos, militia rule. The slave trade has returned there. ISIS is reigning. Because when you don't actually care about the interests of the people of the country you're intervening in, you're only pretending to as the pretext for it, it really alters the outcome in ways that are never desirable.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, the significance of what's happening in Iran for protests around the world, the message that it's sending—something that President Trump might not be as interested in—and what it means for the nuclear deal, the Iran nuclear deal that Trump is trying to pull out of?
GLENN GREENWALD: Right. So, I think that one of the interesting aspects of this kind of cynical and manipulative behavior when it comes to pretending to side with protesters, when in reality the agenda is much different, is that it can actually, in a very unintended way, spark protests and the right of rebellion elsewhere. And that's why I said at the start, although we shouldn't opine on the internal affairs of Iran from a distance, because it's too complicated and kind of opaque for us to really meaningfully do that, what we can and should do is affirm the right of people everywhere to protest against their government without being imprisoned, without being detained, without being shot at with tear gas canisters and without being killed, all of which is happening in Iran.
And so, when Donald Trump, even as manipulative as it is, upholds this value, I do think it can spark protests and this kind of ethos of reform and rebellion and people going out onto the streets and demanding government treatment far beyond what he might intend. Here in the United States, of course, there has been probably the most robust protest, against the Trump administration, that we've seen in the United States in probably a few decades. He doesn't seem to like protest very much in the United States. His Justice Department is prosecuting protesters. But I do think that when you see things like what's going on in Iran—really poor people, without any political rights, in the streets standing up against a repressive government—it can inspire people around the world to do the same.
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, we're going to break, and when we come back, well, we are going to have a wide-ranging discussion, but we want to begin with your latest piece, "Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments." We're speaking with the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald. He's joining us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Stay with us.
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Facebook is being accused of censoring Palestinian activists who protest the Israeli occupation. This comes as Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked reportedly said in December that Tel Aviv had submitted 158 requests to Facebook over the previous four months asking it to remove content it deemed "incitement," and said Facebook had granted 95 percent of the requests. We speak with Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Greenwald about his new report for The Intercept headlined "Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments."


Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, we're spending the hour with Glenn Greenwald. His new reportfor The Intercept is about Facebook censorship. It's titled "Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments." In it, he writes that Facebook representatives met with the Israeli government to determine which Facebook accounts of Palestinians should be deleted on the grounds that they constituted, quote, "incitement." Alternatively, Israelis have virtually free rein to post whatever they want about Palestinians, and calls by Israelis for the killing of Palestinians are commonplace on Facebook and largely remain undisturbed. That includes a recent Facebook campaign calling for vengeance against Arabs in retribution for the killing of three Israeli teenagers.
AMY GOODMAN: All of this follows President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and as the Israeli right-wing's push now to doom any attempt at a two-state solution. Today's New York Times reports, quote, "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party for the first time has urged the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the nation's top legal officers pressed to extend Israeli law into occupied territory. In addition, the Israeli Parliament, after a late-night debate, voted early Tuesday to enact stiff new obstacles to any potential land-for-peace deal involving Jerusalem." Again, that's in The New York Times today.
Well, for more, we continue our conversation with Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founding editor of The Intercept. So, your piece is headlined "Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments." Can you explain exactly which accounts are being deleted and how you found this out?
GLENN GREENWALD: Sure. So, within the last week, Facebook deleted the Facebook account and the Instagram account—Facebook is the owner of Instagram—of the president of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is a pretty monstrous tyrant. I don't think there's much doubt about that. There are very credible reports that he's at least acquiescing to, if not presiding over, the mass detention and torture and, in some cases, killing of LGBTs within his republic. He has killed and kidnapped and tortured political dissidents. He basically has free rein over the republic, although he ultimately reports to Moscow, but he has, essentially, autonomy over how to run the Chechen Republic. He's an awful tyrant. There's no doubt about that.
So, when Facebook decided suddenly to delete the accounts of the head of the state, who had a total of 4 million followers, they didn't say, "The reason we're doing it is because he's an awful tyrant," who has done all the things I just said. What they said was, "The reason we did it is because he was placed on a list that the United States government State Department manages and the Treasury Department manages, in which he is now the target of sanctions, which means that, under the law, we, Facebook, are obligated to obey the dictates of the United States government and no longer allow him to use our services."
Now, this rationale is sort of dubious. There are other people who are on the same list, like the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and many of his top officials, who continue to use Facebook quite actively. But what the rationale actually means, if you think about it, is that the U.S. government, according to Facebook, now has the power to dictate to Facebook who it is who's allowed to use that platform to communicate with the world, and who will be blocked and who will be banned. And, you know, you can take the position, on the one hand, that Facebook is a private company, and it has the right to determine who uses its platform, which is true. The First Amendment technically doesn't apply to Facebook. But Silicon Valley giants have become so powerful and massive—I would say, in particular, Google, Facebook and Apple—that they're really much more akin now to public utilities, to almost their own private nation-states, than they are to just average corporations that have competition and the like, so that the power to eliminate somebody from Facebook is almost the power to eliminate them from the internet.
And to hear Facebook say it's the U.S. government, the Trump administration, that has the power to tell us who will use Facebook and who can't is extremely chilling, especially since already last year they proved that they were willing to do the same thing when it came to the Israeli government. As you just mentioned, Amy, there's an article in The New York Times today detailing that the Israeli right, which basically is the dominant faction in Israel, is finally being open about the fact that their real goal is not a two-state solution or a peace process, but is the annexation of the West Bank. And these politicians who are now openly advocating this are the same ones who summoned Facebook executives in October of last year to a meeting and directed them to delete the accounts of a huge number of Palestinian activists, journalists, commentators. And Facebook obeyed in almost every one of the cases, even though, as you indicated, Israelis remain free to say the most heinous and awful things about Palestinians, including an incitement.
So you see Facebook now collaborating with the most powerful governments on the planet—the Israelis and the Americans, in particular—to determine who is allowed to speak and who isn't and what messages are allowed to be conveyed and which ones aren't. And it's hard to think of anything more threatening or menacing to internet freedom and the promise of what the internet was supposed to be than behavior like this.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Glenn, is there any indication of the people, the Palestinians who were targeted by the Israeli government, that any of them were under U.S. sanctions, there was any reason for the United States to support this? Or was this basically an Israeli government-Facebook conflict, where the Israeli government insisted, if Facebook wanted to continue operating within Israel and the Occupied Territories, that it would have to do this?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, it was basically just pure bullying and coercion on the part of the Israeli government. What they did was they said to Facebook, "We are going to enact a law that requires you to delete the accounts of the—whatever accounts our government identifies as guilty of incitement. And the only way that you can avoid us enacting this law"—and this law was going to say Facebook's failure to obey will result in massive fines and ultimately could result in the blocking of Facebook in Israel, the way that China blocks Facebook and other companies that don't comply with its censorship orders. "The only way," the Israeli government said to Facebook, "that you can avoid this law is if you voluntarily obey the orders that we give you about who should be deleted." And Facebook, whether because they were driven by business interests of not wanting to lose the Israeli market, or ideology, that they support the Israeli viewpoint of the world, which ever one of those motives might be driving them, or whatever mixture of motives, complied with the Israeli demands.
And I think this is really the critical point that I hope everybody listening thinks about, is there is this growing movement now on the left, in Europe and in the United States, to support censorship as a solution to this kind of growing far-right movement: "Well, let's just ask and plead with Silicon Valley executives to keep fascists offline, or let's hope our government will not allow fascists to speak." And aside from the fact that I think it's incredibly counterproductive, because, generally, when you try and censor movements, you only make them stronger, the premise of this idea, as we can see in this case, is really warped. I mean, the idea that Silicon Valley executives or U.S. government officials are going to use censorship power to help and protect marginalized groups, I think, is absurd. In almost every case when we see these entities using censorship powers, they're using them to target marginalized groups and serve the most powerful. That's why Facebook blocks Palestinians but not Israelis, because Palestinians have no power, and Israelis do. And the more we empower these entities to censor, the more we're going to be endangering marginalized groups, because, ultimately, that's who's going to end up being suppressed.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Glenn Greenwald, you had this amazing moment in the House and the Senate recently, the hearings with the heads of Google and Twitter and Facebook, where you had this demand on the part of the Republicans and the Democrats for censorship, the Democrats using the pretext of Russia, saying, "Why didn't you delete these accounts?"
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah. I mean, this idea that somehow our political salvation rests in placing into the hands of these already obscenely powerful Silicon Valley executives the further power, which they don't even want to have, to determine what political messages are allowed to be heard on the internet and which ones aren't, to determine who is allowed to communicate on the internet and who isn't, is incredibly menacing.
Just last week, Twitter promulgated a new policy, in response to exactly the kind of demands, Amy, that you were just describing. And this is their policy. They said you are no longer allowed to use Twitter to advocate or incite violence, except if you want the violence to be done by governments or military. So, you're allowed to go on Twitter now and say, "I demand that the U.S. government nuke North Korea out of existence." You're allowed to go on Twitter and say, "I want the Israeli government to incinerate every person in Gaza." But what you're not allowed to do is to go on Twitter and say, "As a Muslim, I believe that it's the responsibility of Muslims to fight back against aggression," or, "As a North Korean, I want to be able to defend against imperialism."
So, under the guise of begging Silicon Valley to save us from bad political speech, what has actually happened is that the most powerful factions are empowered to say whatever they want, and the least powerful factions are the ones who end up censored. And that's always, no matter how well intentioned it is, the result of these kind of calls for censorship.
AMY GOODMAN: And in the end of your piece, you talk about: "[W]ould Facebook ever dare censor American politicians or journalists who use social media to call for violence against America's enemies?" Answer that question, Glenn Greenwald..
GLENN GREENWALD: Right. So, if you look at, for example, Facebook's rationale for why they censored the president of the Chechen Republic, they said, "We had to do it because he was put on a list of people who were sanctioned by the U.S. government." Well, just last month, the Iranian government issued a list of sanctions that included a whole bunch of Canadian officials. The Russian government has issued lists of people who were sanctioned that includes U.S. businesspeople and U.S. officials, as well. Obviously, in a million years, Facebook would never honor the sanctions lists of the Russian government or the Iranian government and remove U.S. officials or Canadian businesspeople. It's purely one-sided. It's only serving the dictates of powerful governments.
And, you know, you can go onto Twitter or you can go onto Facebook pretty much every single day and see calls for extreme amounts of violence to be directed against Iranians, to be directed against people in Gaza or the West Bank, to be directed against people in the Muslim world. And obviously Facebook and Twitter are never going to remove that kind of incitement to violence, because that's consistent with the policy of Western governments. The only people who are going to be removed are people who are otherwise voiceless, who are opposed to Western foreign policy. And that's why it's so ill-advised, so dangerous, no matter how well intentioned, to call for Silicon Valley executives or the U.S. government to start censoring and regulating the kind of political speech we can hear and can express.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Glenn, I wanted to turn to a topic that you've written quite a bit about, the ongoing Mueller investigation over possible collusion between the Trump administration and Russia in attempting to influence the 2016 election. And you've been especially critical of how the corporate and commercial media have dealt with this issue, especially the now-debunked supposed exposé that CNN issued several months ago about an email that seemed to prove that collusion. Could you talk about that and how you're seeing this, as we're heading into 2018 and the continued development of the Mueller investigation?
GLENN GREENWALD: Sure. So, I think a couple of things are important to point out, which is that, from the beginning, I think everybody—I certainly include myself in this and everybody that I've read and heard—has always said that it's obviously possible that the Russian government was the primary culprit when it came to the hacking of the emails of John Podesta and the DNC. It's certainly something that the United States and the Russians do to one another and have done to one another for decades, and so nobody should put it past Putin or the Russians to have done it in this case. And it's certainly also possible that there were people in the Trump campaign who became aware after the fact that this was done and who somehow helped to decide how this information was going to be disseminated.
But I think, given the implications that this issue has, in terms, number one, of the relationship between two extremely dangerous nuclear-armed powers, which is Moscow and Washington, who, on many occasions in the past, have almost obliterated the planet through an exchange of nuclear weapons, and who are, in many places in the world, at loggerheads with one another, as well as the climate in Washington, in which any kind of interaction with Russians now becomes something that is a ground for suspicion—what I've always said is that we have to be very careful, as journalists and as citizens, to make sure that we don't get ahead of ourselves in terms of the claims that we're making, that we have to adhere to the evidence that is available, before we decide that official claims from the CIA and the NSA and the FBI, agencies with a long history of lying and deceit and error—before we accept them as true.
And one of the things that we've seen over the past year or year and a half is large media outlets, in case after case after case after case, acting very recklessly, publishing stories that turned out to be completely false, that needed to be retracted, that got discredited, which is the thing that then enables Donald Trump to try and encourage people not to trust the media. So, no matter your views on Russia—and I think it's really dangerous that the U.S. and Russian relations are probably at their worst point as they've been since the fall of the Soviet Union, something that nobody should think is a good thing—despite all the claims that Trump was going to serve the interests of the Russians, the reality is, the two countries are at great tensions. No matter your views on that, I think that we all have an interest in making sure that our political discourse and that our media reports are grounded in reality and fact. And while Mueller, thus far, has produced four separate indictments, they all have been for either lying to the FBI or for money laundering. None of them have alleged any actual criminal collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. And so, what I have said all along, and what I still say, is that we ought to let an investigation proceed 'til the end, look at all of the evidence, and only then reach conclusions about what happened, because it's very dangerous to use supposition and speculation and all kind of guesswork to make accusations that can have really serious consequences. And I think we've seen the dangers of that over the last year.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to this issue of collusion with Russia, that was also a key focus in President Trump's recent, rare interview with reporter Michael Schmidt of The New York Times, which took place in the Grill Room of Trump's golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida. Near the beginning of the interview, Trump launched into a discussion about Russian collusion. The Times quotes Trump as saying, quote, "Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. And even these committees that have been set up, if you look at what's going on—and in fact, what it's done is, it's really angered the base and made the base stronger. My base is stronger than it's ever been. Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it's been proven that there is no collusion. And by the way, I didn't deal with Russia. I won because I was a better candidate by a lot." Trump goes on to repeatedly say, throughout the interview, "There was no collusion." If you can talk about what he says, and talk about his attacks on Mueller? I mean, some say, if he would leave Mueller alone, Mueller will ultimately vindicate him.
GLENN GREENWALD: So, theres' a lot going on there. So, first of all, Trump's statement that all Democrats acknowledge there's no collusion is just a typical Trump lie. There are all kinds of Democrats—in fact, most Democrats—who say that they believe there was collusion. What he is right about, though, is that none of them thus far have presented evidence of collusion. And there's a point in the interview where he says he saw Dianne Feinstein last month on television admitting that there's no evidence of collusion. That's not actually what she said. But it is really instructive to go and watch Dianne Feinstein, who is the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, who gets regular briefings from the CIA about the evidence. She did go on CNN last month and was asked a series of questions about whether she's seen evidence about a whole variety of theories of collusion, and she essentially said, "No, I've never seen any of that evidence." She went on CNN in May and explicitly said, after a CIA briefing, that she's not aware of any evidence of actual collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Now, you have, in this interview, Trump doing what he does, which is constantly lying about what Democrats have said, about the nature of the investigation. I think his attacks on Mueller are incredibly stupid, for the reason that you said, although, hopefully, Mueller, if he's the professional that everyone says he is, won't be affected by those attacks, he'll simply follow the evidence.
But I think what's really going on here, Amy, is this, and this is such an important point: If you look at how our political media works, the part of the political media that is partisan, the way that the right-wing media really grew was during the Clinton years, when people like Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report and, ultimately, Fox News fed on scandal after scandal after scandal, of Whitewater and Vince Foster, and then, ultimately, the Ken Starr investigation. And then you had the Fox News growing even more during the Obama years with all kinds of fake scandals. And what you see now is large parts of the media—MSNBC and lots of liberal websites—growing exponentially by constantly not talking about Trump's dangerous foreign policy or his rollback of regulations or his ignoring of climate—the things that actually matter—but this obsession on the Russia scandal. And they're getting great benefits from it. And so, that's what happens, is we have this Balkanized media that feeds the audiences whatever it is that they want to hear, without any journalistic standards. And so the incentive is to constantly inflate and exaggerate and make it as sensationalistic as possible. And people are eating it up, to the profit of these media outlets. And I think that's a lot of what's going on here. And in some sense, when Trump says it's energizing his base, he's right. It's essentially dividing America between "I hate Donald Trump, and therefore will believe everything about Russia that I hear" versus "I love Donald Trump, and I'll believe nothing." And it's just sort of intensifying these divisions.
AMY GOODMAN: We're going to break and then come back to our discussion with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept. This is Democracy Now! We'll be back with him in a minute.
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Three major U.S. news outlets in early December promoted a story alleging WikiLeaks had secretly offered the Trump campaign special access to the Democratic National Committee emails before they were published. The reports suggested the correspondence proved collusion between the Trump family and Russia, since the U.S. intelligence community regards WikiLeaks as an "arm of Russian intelligence." It turns out this information was false. The issue of collusion with Russia was also a key focus in President Trump's recent interview with reporter Michael Schmidt of The New York Times, where Trump said repeatedly, "There was no collusion. … There was no collusion." We talk about the probe into Russia collusion and coverage by mainstream media with Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Glenn Greenwald, one of the founding editors of The Intercept.


Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Early [last] month, three major U.S. news outlets all promoted a story alleging that WikiLeaks had secretly offered the Trump campaign special access to Democratic National Committee emails before they were published. The reports suggested the correspondence proved collusion between the Trump family and Russia, since the U.S. intelligence community regards WikiLeaks as an "arm of Russian intelligence." It turns out the information was false.
AMY GOODMAN: So, we continue our conversation with Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who writes about this and many other issues. Can you set the record straight, Glenn? You commented on Twitter shortly after this report, saying, quote, "Slate notes because CNN & MSNBC completely refuse to provide even the most minimal transparency about how they got their big story so wrong, we still don't know the answer to the key question—and probably never will, since they're burying it." So, Glenn, talk about what this story was, how it was reported, the sense people are left with who are just fleetingly covering these things—following these things.
GLENN GREENWALD: So, I think it's—yeah, so I think it's worth remembering how dramatized CNN presented the story as being. They really did present it as kind of the smoking gun that would bring down the Trump presidency and, once and for all, prove collusion. And then, shortly after, both MSNBC and CBS said that they confirmed the story independently, and were on air for hours doing the same thing. It was by far the biggest story of the day, being pointed to as evidence that Trump actually did collude with the Russians through WikiLeaks, because what CNN said was that there was an email sent from an unknown person to Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr., offering them access to the WikiLeaks archive, to the archive of emails that WikiLeaks didn't publish but had pointed to, before WikiLeaks actually made them public, suggesting that the Trump campaign was given special early access to this archive of emails that had been hacked, and thus proving collusion.
And as it turned out, the entire report was false. It was false because it was based on the inaccurate date of this email. The email that was sent to Donald Trump offering this access was not sent before these emails were public. It was sent by some member of the public after the emails were public. It was just some guy saying, "Hey, you should look at these emails," that everybody in the world is already aware of. So the whole story completely collapsed.
Now, all journalists make mistakes. You guys have made mistakes. I've made mistakes as a journalist. And what you do when you make a mistake—and the bigger the mistake, the more this is true—is you have to explain to the public how it is that you got wrong what you got wrong, what went wrong in your process. Did somebody mislead you? Did you make a mistake in your analysis?
And so, what CNN said was that they had multiple sources, multiple sources who told them about this email and who characterized it in this way, that this email took place and was sent before these emails were public. And as it turned out, that was wrong. So the question that arose is an obvious question. It's a really important question, which is—it's plausible that one person could look at this email and just misread the date. The date that they said it was was September 4th. It was really September 14. You can see one person misreading a date. But CNN said multiple sources gave them the date of September 4th. Then, MSNBC and CBS said the same thing. How did multiple sources all get this wrong? How did they all get the date wrong in exactly the same way, for exactly the same purpose?
So, CNN and CBS and MSNBC were forced to admit their story was false, because The Washington Post got a hold of the email and showed that it was false. But what they refused to do is what journalists demand every day that other people do, that other companies and corporations do, that government officials do, which is provide transparency about their mistakes. To this day, CNN refuses to say who these sources were who gave them the wrong date, how it is that they all got the date wrong, innocently, in good faith. Was it a deliberate attempt to deceive the public?
And that's what erodes trust in media outlets, which is: When they clam up and hide behind corporate and lawyer statements and refuse to provide basic transparency about their own behavior, how do they then have credibility to turn around and demand transparency from government institutions and officials or from corporations, when they refuse to provide it themselves? And to me, to date, that is the most disturbing part of this story, is that it's not just a huge mistake, it's not just a huge mistake that's been one in a long series of similar mistakes all geared toward the same political agenda, which is to inflate the Trump-Russia story; it's their refusal to explain what happened, how they made such a monumental mistake, and whether they were deliberately misled or whether it was some kind of bizarre coincidental accident that multiple people all made at the same time.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Glenn, I wanted to ask you about something else, an article that you wrote about in September. It was shortly after Sean Spicer's being—having been ousted from the White House, gets an appearance at the Emmy Awards. And you talked about the quickness by which disgraced people in previous administrations in Washington suddenly get rehabilitated. And especially you listed all of the Bush administration people, because somehow now the Bush administration, the former people in that administration, are now being welcomed, and even on many of the liberal talk shows on commercial television.
GLENN GREENWALD: I mean, I think that if you were to go back and look at not just the Bush years, but also the Obama years, the person, the journalist or pundit or commentator who was probably the single most disgraced and discredited was the neoconservative editor-in-chief of The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol. It wasn't just that he was this incredibly vocal advocate of the Iraq War. His sins and crimes extend way beyond that. He advocated for torture. He was one of the people who wanted to go and go to war with Iran and have regime change in Tehran. During the Obama years, he accused Justice Department lawyers who had represented Guantánamo detainees of being jihadists and called them "the al-Qaeda Seven." I mean, he's one of the scummiest and least ethical smear artists in American politics over the course of 30 years, somebody who has constantly lied, defended the most atrocious policies. And suddenly, last year, because he became a critic of Donald Trump, he's now welcomed on MSNBC, almost on a daily basis, talked about as though he's some kind of person whose insights are to be valued, who is a person of high ethics.
And this is what I think you see in American politics all the time, is people who have no accountability for what it is that they do. We've been—we've spent some time talking about why the American media is held in such low esteem on the part of the public. I think that's one of the reasons. In ordinary life, if you go to your job and you make a series of horrendous mistakes, you're going to be fired, and it's going to be hard for you to find a job. But people who work in journalism or people who work in politics, like David Frum, who spent years just outright lying to the American public about the most—the weightiest matters, continue to get promoted. One of the most prestigious journals in American political life is The Atlantic, and the editor-in-chief of The Atlantic is Jeffrey Goldberg, who in 2002 and 2003 was writing articles in The New Yorker saying that Saddam Hussein had a relationship with al-Qaeda and sort of laundering every horrible lie that the Bush administration was telling that sparked the Iraq War. And all these people do is continue to rise and get embraced and get rehabilitated, because there's zero accountability. The more power you have, the more you are able to commit all kinds of grave sins and lies and crimes, and continue to succeed. And it really ought to be the opposite. And I think, in media, you see that probably more than anywhere else.
AMY GOODMAN: And what's happening with Sean Spicer, as Juan started off that question?
GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean, the example of Sean Spicer is particularly amazing, because I think most people are in agreement that the Trump administration has systematically lied to the public. All governments lie, as I.F. Stone famously observed. But the Trump administration has taken that to an entirely new level. And the face of that for the first six months of the administration was Sean Spicer, who stood in front of the public and lied on a daily basis. He ought to be disqualified from public life in every decent institution. And yet there he was—I forget whether it was the Academy Awards or the Emmy Awards—being feted by Hollywood.
The most amazing thing of all was that he was given a fellowship at Harvard in the Kennedy School, which is the same program that originally gave a fellowship to Chelsea Manning, who risked her liberty in order to provide the most valuable journalistic archive that we have in American journalism, which is the archive that she gave to WikiLeaks about the Iraq and the Afghanistan War. She was part of that same fellowship program that Sean Spicer received, and yet the CIA objected to Chelsea Manning being given this honor, and Harvard turned around and instantly rescinded the offer to Chelsea Manning, saying, "We have to preserve the integrity of this program," while allowing not just Sean Spicer, but Corey Lewandowski, a former top Trump campaign official, who lied repeatedly, to become part of that same program. And I think that's the point that I'm getting at, is Chelsea Manning has no power in Washington, and therefore there's accountability for her. She spent seven years in a brutal prison and now has her offer rescinded, at the demand of the CIA, by Harvard. But people like Sean Spicer and Corey Lewandowski, who continue to wield influence in Washington, or David Frum and Jeffrey Goldberg and Bill Kristol, continue to climb the ladder of success—
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn—
GLENN GREENWALD: —no matter what it is that they do. And that's a really skewed incentive scheme.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there. I thank you so much for being with us. Glenn Greenwald, we'll link to your pieces, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.
And we end today's show with the news that here in New York City, anti-police brutality activist Erica Garner died Saturday, after she fell into a coma following an asthma-induced heart attack. She was just 27 years old, the daughter of Eric Garner. She struggled for justice in her father's case, who died in a police chokehold as he gasped "I can't breathe" 11 times.
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