Tea Party embedded in Trump’s White House
With the promotion of Mike Pompeo to the position of US Secretary of State, the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, the Tea Party, is now embedded in the White House.
If you thought US President Donald Trump was “off the wall”, then let me introduce you to Pompeo.
The former director of the CIA spy agency is a West Point Military College graduate (he topped his year) and then reached the rank of captain as a tank commander.
After the 1991 Gulf War, aka Desert Storm, he went to Harvard Law School and, upon graduation, joined leading Republican law firm, Williams & Connolly.
With financial help from the shadowy right-wingers Charles and David Koch, known universally as the Koch brothers, Pompeo founded Thayer Aerospace and Private Security, in 1998 becoming a significant player in Washington’s arms race.
When he sold his Thayer interests in 2006, Pompeo made millions of dollars and chose to launch a political career with the Tea Party, also financed by the Koch brothers.
In 2010 he won a seat in the US House of Representatives representing Kansas and served until 2016. The following year incoming President Trump picked him to become CIA director and just over a year later he has promoted him to Secretary of State.
Pompeo has called former President Barack Obama an “evil Muslim communist”, supported the torture of suspects rounded up by the CIA after 9/11, backed “water-boarding”, defended the policy of flying suspects to third party countries for “deep” interrogation, aka rendition, and more recently hailed the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and called for the US to tear up the multi-nation nuclear arms agreement with Iran. He is an outspoken supporter of the collection of meta-data from American citizens and mass surveillance of their emails, phone calls and social media conversations.
His first overseas visit as CIA director was to Turkey and Saudi Arabia where he presented then Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayaf with the CIA’s top bauble, the “George Tenet Medal”.
Last November, the crown prince was stripped of his political ranking and placed under house arrest while large-scale financial intrigues were investigated by the kingdom’s byzantine law enforcers.
Just think about: Donald Trump is in the White House leading the “Free World”; Tea Party politician Mike Pompeo is in the White House leading diplomacy and trade on behalf of the “Free World”; as a result, Charles and David Koch are in the White House acting as ex officio advisers on war, surveillance, monetary policy and diplomacy; the new CIA director Gina Haspel, the first woman to hold America’s top assassination job, has been hailed by some right-wing feminists and condemned by everyone else for running a secret “black site” detention site in Thailand during the “war on terror” and then destroying videotapes of its torture sessions; and their chief global ally is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the apartheid state of Israel.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May are telling their respective nations they can broker a “marvellous” trade deal with this depraved clique. Good luck with that.
US liberals demand war
I grew up in the 1950s in the shadow of the Korean War and only discovered some years later as a teenager how close the world came to nuclear war on the Korean Peninsular.
The catastrophe was only averted when US President Harry S Truman sacked and recalled General Douglas McArthur, commander of UN forces, who was crazily advocating an atomic bomb attack on Korean and Chinese forces which had reached Seoul.
After Korea was divided and the Western invaders pulled out and went home, we yearned for the country’s reunification within the framework of a peace treaty guaranteed by regional powers, China, Japan and Russia.
After the recent Winter Olympics diplomacy brokered by Chinese President Xi Jinping (and NOT Donald Trump), leaders of North and South Korea have agreed to meet and North Korean President Kim Jong-un is heading to Washington DC in May to visit President Trump. In other words, things are looking up.
Not so for American Democrats, commentators for the New York Times, the Washington Post or CNN. They are calling it “appeasement” and comparing today’s diplomacy with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s non-aggression agreement with Adolf Hitler in 1938. Yesterday’s pacifists have become today’s warmongers.
As Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi warned this week the argument seems to be that the White House loses its integrity and strength when it talks to blood-drenched dictators.
“The idea that we don’t legitimize human rights abusers is a laugh-out-loud joke everywhere outside America,” Taibbi wrote. “You could fill a whole book chapter with the history of the friendly relations between American presidents and just [his italics] the foreign dictators who are credibly reported to have eaten other human beings.”
He listed some of the human flesh devourers as Central African Republic dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa, Uganda’s General Idi Amin and the Equatorial Guinea rulers Macias Nguemas and Teodoro Obiang.
In addition, Taibbi writes that there were “countless Batistas and Suhartos and Diems and Marcoses and Pinochets who were just murdering thieving monsters we legitimized not by sitting down with them at the negotiating table. But by making them allies we showered with things like arms and money.”
Australian diplomacy has plodded in lockstep behind America (and the UK) choosing dictators as allies and spurning rulers who wanted their nations to be independent and protective of their environment and resources and free of blood-sucking colonialism.
Julie Bishop, Australia’s barbie doll foreign minister, has involved Australia with obnoxious rulers like Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and bandit regimes around the world where persecution, repression and slavery are openly practised.
She and Prime Minister Goldman Sachs should be told that this form of diplomacy has a boomerang impact on Australians, young and old, who become inured to the crimes of the countries with whom we deal.
Don’t they get it? Australia’s cynical and opportunistic tolerance of murder, torture, child trafficking, slavery and police/army violence hardens the moral arteries of average Australians. We become complicit in the crimes of the dictatorships with which we deal and that complicity is absorbed into our souls.
Feel the neighbours becoming more hateful of refugees, Moslems and black people? Playing footsie with US imperialism and supporting dictators is where it all starts.
Once more on rock melons
The media coverage of the four fatalities from listeriosis contracted from the toxic contamination of agri-farmed rock melons continues to be a glaring scandal.
Four people are dead and 17 are seriously ill in hospital, yet the mainstream media remains almost exclusively obsessed by the sex lives of politicians and celebrities and sport.
I wrote about the listeria outbreak in last week’s Notebook posing a number of questions which any sensible media needed to be asking.
I’m so grateful to readers who supplied me with updates as well as Walt Secord, shadow health minister in the NSW Upper House who has been firing questions at National Party Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair, a trained duck shover and paper shuffler.
I have traced the outbreak to a rock melon farm at Nericon, a centre of agriculture in the Riverina for many Italians from first and second generation families.
The cause of the outbreak appears to be one farmer spreading tonnes of uncomposted chicken manure on his “rocky” crop.
Another alarming aspect of this whole affair is the leisurely pace of the response by the NSW government and its various health and agriculture agencies.
Victoria led the way, identifying the rock melon link and banning sales in supermarkets. That was in January. It was not until February 22, almost a month later, that NSW testing confirmed the infection of rock melons with listeria.
NSW Health issued a press statement the following day, February 23. The vast bureaucracy at NSW Health took 24 hours to write a one-page press release. Incredible.
Slow lane response
Contrary to reports from irate rock melon growers around the State, Minister Blair was delighted with the bureaucracy’s response even though it got off to a very slow start.
He told parliament: “Once a number of cases of listeria had been reported, officials from NSW Health interviewed those who had been affected in order to find a common foodstuff they may have consumed. That led to foods possibly being implicated: hard cheese, ice cream, delicatessen meats, iceberg lettuce, strawberries and tomatoes. Rock melon was not suspected as a common foodstuff in the early stages. It was only when Victoria reported its findings as to a common link that we started to look at rock melons.”
How did Victoria’s experts find the common food denominator, but NSW didn’t? Later in his answer, Blair said: “If the Member opposite (Walt Secord) has a conspiracy theory that this matter is connected to me or to my party [the NSW Nationals] then he is implicating the Victorian Labor Government in the same cover-up.
“I have had no intervention in this matter. Those with PhDs – the qualified experts in the NSW Food Authority and NSW Health – have been involved.”
Blair’s bluster is worthy of his British New Labour namesake, Tony Blair. He omitted the fact that the NSW Food Authority only confirmed as late as March 2 that the first case of listeria in NSW was officially identified on February 28.
He also failed to answer Secord’s principal question which was: “Is the Minister aware that Mrs Cara Dale, a registered NSW lobbyist, and her company, c2Hills Consultancy, are employed by Rombola Family Farms, the operation linked to the rock melon listeria contamination?”
Mrs Dale, the managing director of c2Hills, has previously met Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Mrs Leslie Williams, parliamentary secretary for regional and rural health and NSW Nationals MP for Port Macquarie.
Secord, ably supported by Labor colleague Mick Veitch, nailed the Government’s dereliction of duty when he told MPs: “Rather than waiting weeks to alert the community, the Opposition believes NSW Health and the NSW Food Authority should issue interim warnings to alert the community. Unfortunately, this is another example of the cloak of secrecy and the culture of cover-up within the NSW Liberal-Nationals Government.”
Consumers may have expected the NSW Consumers’ Association to be on the case in a prominent way.
However, the association’s CEO Alan Kirkland, an inner-city Laborite whose mission is to raise the voice of consumers “loud and clear”, was sadly ineffectual – just like the mainstream media.
Murdoch’s lie machine
On the eve of the Third Ashes Test in Perth on December 14 last year, the Murdoch press blanketed the Australian media with a story of a massive betting scandal.
The story originated in Murdoch’s favourite newspaper, The Sun, a scurrilous rag notorious for promoting anti-labour movement views and anti-culture and anti-science. In other words, it is a paper of immense backwardness which spreads social division while staunchly protecting the pin-striped capitalist establishment in the City of London.
Across its front page in London, The Sun screamed:
“FIXERS HIT FOR SIX – We smash bookies multi-million pound plot to fix today’s England cricket test match in Perth”.
The Sun shared its “world exclusive” with all Murdoch’s Australian titles. From Perth to Cairns and Townsville to Hobart, readers wakened to the blaring sound of “match-fixing” in Perth.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, Melbourne’s Herald-Sun and Brisbane’s Courier-Mail splashed the story on Page 1 and over two pages inside. His Master’s Voice, aka Rupert, was obeyed down to the last jaw-dropping claim.
The London story began: “Cricket chiefs launched a probe today after The Sun handed over a bombshell dossier on attempts to fix the Third Ashes Test.
“Two bookies offered to sell us details of rigged periods of play which could be bet on to win millions of pounds.
“They asked undercover reporters for up to £140,000 [$A247,000) for spot-fix information on a specified minimum number of runs scored in a period of overs.”
Then came the most sensational allegation of all: “They (the bookies) also claimed to be working with a fixer in Australian cricket known as The Silent Man. He is said to be working with former and current [my emphasis] internationals including a World Cup-winning all-rounder.”
The article added: “No current England stars were named as involved.” That sentence was added by Murdoch’s lawyers to avoid any embarrassing litigation launched by the England camp.
Even the Fairfax-owned Sydney Morning Herald got caught up in the “biggest sports scandal in decades” while the moronic “social media” went into over-drive.
Now weeks have passed and the ICC has completed its investigation into the paper’s “bombshell dossier”.
“We have carried out an extensive global investigation with anti-corruption colleagues from member countries on the allegations in The Sun and the material they shared with us. I am satisfied that there is no evidence to suggest any match has been corrupted by the individuals in the investigation, nor is there any indication that any international players, administrators or coaches have been in contact with the alleged fixers.”
Unsurprisingly, The Sun (and its spin-off imitators in Australia) had no space to print the ICC findings, a retraction or an apology.
“Detroit” movie a must-see
Take a bow American film director Kathryn Bigelow. Her latest feature film, Detroit, is a timely and riveting account of the 1967 Chicago Riots at the time of the Democratic Party convention.
The Oscar-winning director has gathered evidence of the murder of innocent blacks by racist members of the Chicago Police Department and exploded the mythology created by senior Democratic Party politicians and the mainstream media.
Ms Bigelow won the Best Picture Oscar for her 2008 film The Hurt Locker and won tremendous critical acclaim for other films including K-19: The Widowmaker, Point Break and Zero Dark Thirty. Her best film so far is Detroit which deserves the sub-title Origins of the Black Lives Matter Movement. But because it explodes current political, cultural and police mythology in a truly devastating way, it has been largely ignored by distributors and reviewers. My advice is to ignore them and rent it on DVD. Now!
Her new movie release confronts white middle class liberals with a straight question: Is the struggle for women’s rights paramount or is it the struggle against racism? I can’t see why they can’t do both but that implies becoming a socialist and rejecting the ideology of capitalism.
A down-to-earth radical, Ms Bigelow has condemned Hollywood’s sexist culture saying: “If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies. It’s irrelevant who or what directed a movie; the important thing is that you either respond to it or you don’t.
“There should be more women directing. I think there’s just not the awareness that it’s really possible. It is.”
Story of the Week
“Police are investigating an incident at a private school in Bath, Somerset, where white pupils tied up and whipped a black classmate in a mock slave auction on school grounds at lunchtime.”
- The Times, London, 14 March 2018