Alex Mitchell’s Weekly Notebook

Wall Street takeover: Donald Trump becomes the US Republican Party – Tony Abbott believes in life after death – How Clintons and Blairs evade tax – Why Russia is murdering ISIS in Syria

The Donald swoops on GOP

Donald Trump, a New York real estate developer and former casino owner, this week succeeded in taking over the US Republican Party. He is the GOP’s candidate in the November presidential election after remaining rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich surrendered; and then party chiefs ran up the white flag. It is now Trump’s party and Republicans can cry if they want to.
Unlike the Tea Party which established itself in 2009 as a right-wing faction of the Republican Party, Trump is heading a populist movement.
Many of his supporters are not registered Republicans or even registered voters. They are bonded by anger, disillusion, xenophobia and paranoia. “Let’s make American great again!” is something they heedlessly support. It raises the promise of jobs, security and a way out of poverty. They are beckoned by what remains of the mythical American Dream …
It’s a formula that worked in the past for two crazed egomaniacal reactionaries, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Why not the Donald?
Il Duce and the Fuhrer were rank outsiders, misfits and loudmouths who bullied their respective ruling classes and monarchies into line. When they went on to win the support of the industrialists, bankers and Christian religious leaders their dictatorships were assured.
Nine months ago I wrote a Weekly Column item headlined, “The end of America?” For the record, here is what I said:
“Seventeen billionaires or multi-millionaires are vying for the US Republican Party nomination to be the next US president. If any of them win the White House, the decline and fall of the USA as an imperial power will be a decade away.
“If the Democrats regain the White House, America’s economic and social implosion will be delayed by 20 years.
“In short, the fate of the US as the 21st century’s imperial leader is already decided, but whether it will implode in 10 years or 20 years will be determined by whether Republicans or Democrats win the White House in next year’s presidential election.” (Weekly Column, 14 August 2015)
I concluded: “I will be parking myself by the television to watch America’s polity fall into an armed and inflammatory abyss – courtesy of Rupert Murdoch’s global pay TV network. Future historians will record his pre-eminent role in whipping up the social and economic divisions that drove the US empire’s collapse.”
On reflection, I am not proposing to change last August’s characteristically apocalyptic forecast and I’ll be spending November as promised: watching the havoc unfold on pay TV.

Tony Abbott channels Seinfeld

The 86th episode of Seinfeld called “The Opposite” bears an uncanny resemblance to the demented antics of Tony Abbott following his overthrow by Liberal MPs back in September last year.
Like George Costanza, Abbott has decided “to do the exact opposite” of what he says.
As an example, remember Abbott’s declaration at his final press conference as prime minister: “My pledge today is to make this change as easy as I can. There will no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping.
“I’ve never leaked or backgrounded against anyone. And I certainly won’t start now.”
There were gales of laughter from the Press Gallery by political correspondents who had all received Abbott’s venomous leaks against Malcolm Turnbull and other “enemies”.
And, of course, the destabilisation of Turnbull started immediately. He did the opposite of what he said he was going to do.
Then there was the story widely canvassed last November and December about whether Abbott would recontest his Warringah seat on Sydney’s northern beaches. It ran for weeks until Abbott seized another front page by declaring he would reveal his decision in April.
Unexceptionally, he was about to do the opposite.
In a scene-stealing move on the eve of Australia Day in January, Abbott announced he would recontest the seat and remain in parliament. He deliberately rained on Turnbull’s national day jamboree in Canberra. More undermining.
In subsequent weeks he became a part-time columnist in Rupert Murdoch’s Australian and in his Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane tabloids. Every piece has contained a swipe at the Turnbull government. More sniping.
While promising to keep a low profile, he arranged photo shoots for newspapers and television and travelled abroad to capture pre-arranged coverage on the world stage.
So when Abbott showed up on Andrew Bolt’s TV programme last week to announce that “the Abbott era is over”, I concluded the opposite. Bolt didn’t seem to believe him so why should anyone else?
Abbott’s pledge of loyalty to a Turnbull election victory means only one thing: watch your back, Malcolm!

Tax-dodging foundations

The Clinton Foundation is a cushy tax avoidance scheme to keep the Clinton dynasty in the imperial comfort to which it is well accustomed.
Embrace it, suckers, because Australian taxpayers have contributed millions of dollars to its undisclosed wealth.
Apparently, the money started flowing to the Clintons under Kevin Rudd’s right-wing Labor Government. Perhaps it is time that the senior bureaucrats from Droneland – the Australian Tax Office, Treasury and ASIC – started to take an interest.
Who authorised the payments? How much was given? What was it used for? Who and what benefited from the money? Can the public see audited accounts of what happened to its cash? Is any tax owing on these secretive transactions?
Other top governmental donors to the Clinton Foundation came from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Norway.
Founded in 1998 while Clinton was still US president, the foundation’s money-grubbing continued when Hillary Clinton was US Secretary of State in President Obama’s first administration. She saw no conflict of interest in receiving money from overseas countries and global corporations while in charge of America’s foreign affairs policy.
Republican Senator John McCain has a self-styled foundation as well. His is called the McCain Institute for International Leadership. Tony Blair designed his egregious Faith Foundation along the same lines and it has helped turn the Blairs into mega-millionaires.
The wholesale corruption of the political class confirms the widely popular contention that bourgeois politicians are consumed by rapacious self-interest while scorning the public interest.

Why Russia is blasting Syria

When the Russian-backed Syrian army recaptured the provincial capital of Palmyra there was no evidence of celebration in Washington, London, Riyadh, Tel Aviv or Canberra. Why not?
ISIS, the terror group regarded in the West as “the most evil force on earth” had been crushed and forced to flee. The “death cult”, as it is known, had suffered its biggest territorial defeat in two years.
But the rout of ISIS in Palmyra also represented an inadvertent victory for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad because it shored up his blood-drenched presidency.
This explains why Western imperialists remained silent while Syrians celebrated the destruction of ISIS’s grip on the ancient capital.
But what should we make of the savage brutality of the Russian-led offensive? To find an answer we have to return to December 1979 when Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev ordered the Red Army to invade Afghanistan to defend the USSR’s puppet regime in Kabul.
The American CIA responded by recruiting, training, arming and paying for an Islamic insurgency known as the Mujahedeen. The BBC and Channel Nine’s Sixty Minutes repeatedly sent their finest to cover the conflict.
The war dragged on for 10 years in which an estimated 1.5 million civilians were killed.
When President Mikhail Gorbachev took over in Moscow he organised a withdrawal of Soviet forces. As a result, Afghanistan quickly fell under the influence of the fundamentalist Taliban which owed its existence to Washington’s financial and military support.
Under the Taliban’s umbrella, Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda was allowed to train and recruit in Afghanistan … and the rest is history.
So when Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2016 ordered Soviet troops, tanks and warplanes into Syria he was not about to repeat the failed Brezhnev mission in Afghanistan.
He vowed to decimate ISIS and all the structural elements of its so-called caliphate; hence the savage destruction of Palmyra. Putin also wanted to send a message to other rebellious insurgents within Russia’s sphere of influence: this is what will happen if you start proxy warfare on behalf of imperialism’s secret services.
US President Obama’s response to the Russian-Syrian operation in Palmyra was instantaneous: he abandoned previous declarations that there would be no “boots on the ground” and ordered 50 special forces into the Syrian war zone. (Make that 500 when you add logistical support).
And what was their task? To execute the ISIS gangsters or rescue them from the Russian spetsnaz?
Call me a cynic, but don’t be surprised if the dregs of ISIS, the free Syrian army and al-Nusra are living near you in a year’s time as refugees who have come to Australia, Britain or France through “official channels”.

Free advice for Coalition

Here’s some helpful advice for Malcolm Turnbull’s election strategists:
Use Senator Michaelia Cash from WA to capture MALE voters;
Use Senator Eric Abetz from Tasmania to attract FEMALE voters;
Use Bronwyn Bishop to galvanise support among YOUNG voters.