Saturday, September 28, 2019

How to Be a Dictator—A Review


A review of How to Be a Dictator: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century by Frank Dikötter, Bloomsbury Press (December 2019) 304 pages

One of the first things to emerge from Professor Frank Dikötter’s eagerly awaited new book How to Be a Dictator is that it is a stressful vocation: there are rivals to assassinate, dissidents to silence, kickbacks to collect, and revolutions to suppress. Quite hard work. Even the most preeminent ones usually meet ignominious ends. Mussolini: summarily shot and strung upside down over a cheering crowd. Hitler: suicide and incineration. Ceausescu: executed outside a toilet block. Or consider the fate of Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie: rumoured to have been murdered on orders of his successor Mengistu Haile Mariam, he was buried underneath the latter’s office desk. Not the most alluring career trajectory, one might say.

Dikötter’s monograph is a study of twentieth century personality cults. He examines eight such cults: those created by Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Kim Il-sung, Duvalier, Ceausescu, and Mengistu. For them, cultism was not mere narcissism, it was what sustained their regimes; foregoing cultism, Dikötter argues, caused swift collapse. Consider Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Cambodians were unsure of Pol Pot’s exact identity for years, even after he had assumed leadership of the country. The Khmer Rouge, meanwhile, was in its initial stages merely called “Angkar”—”The Organisation.” There was no inspiring iconography. There was no ritualised leader worship. There was only dark terror. Dikötter quotes historian Henri Locard: “Failing to induce adulation and submissiveness, the Angkar could only generate hatred.” The Khmer Rouge soon lost its grip on the country. Dikötter makes an obligatory reference: “Even Big Brother, in George Orwell’s 1984, had a face that stared out at people from every street corner.”

Readers of Orwell will remember that INGSOC has no state ideology. There is only what the Party says, which can change from hour to hour. Likewise, Dikötter argues, there was no ideological core to twentieth century dictatorships; there was only the whim of the dictator. Nazism, for example, was not a coherent creed. It contained antisemitism, nationalism, neo-paganism, etc., but its essence was captured in one of its slogans: The Führer is Always Right. That is what the creed amounted to. Indeed, the NSDAP referred to itself simply as “the Hitler movement.” Nazism was synonymous with Hitlerism. Italian Fascism was perhaps even more vacuous. The regime’s slogan was simple: Mussolini is Always Right. Explaining his method of politics, Mussolini said: “We do not believe in dogmatic programmes, in rigid schemes that should contain and defy the changing, uncertain, and complex reality.”

While it is uncontroversial to argue that Nazism and Fascism were without ideology, as Dikötter writes, the “issue is more complicated with communist regimes.” Naturally, Marxism was connected with Stalin, Mao, Ceausescu, Kim, and Mengistu. But Dikötter rightly says that it was Lenin’s revolutionary vanguard, not Marx’s philosophical works, that inspired them. Doctrines can be interpreted in contradictory ways, creating schismatic movements—as shown throughout the history of socialism. In this regard personality cults are far safer because they are substantively empty. Marxist dictators thus subverted Marxism. Engels had said that socialism in one country was impossible, but that is what Stalin’s Soviet Union favoured. Or consider Kim’s North Korea, which in 1972 replaced Marxism with Great Leader Thought. And as Dikötter writes, “Mao read Marx, but turned him on his head by making peasants rather than workers the spearhead of the revolution.” Reading Marx under Marxism, Dikötter says, was highly imprudent: “One was a Stalinist under Stalin, a Maoist under Mao, a Kimist under Kim.” In short, Marxism was whatever the dictator said, and not what Marx had actually written.

Reading one account of tyranny after another creates echoes. “If only the Duce knew” was a common expression in Italy. “If only Hitler knew” was repeatedly said in Germany. And in Romania complaints of shortages took this form, “if only Ceausescu knew about the situation, he would attack the shopkeeper with an iron broom.” Sycophantic supporters were always ready to assume responsibility for failure. Dictators were portrayed as omnipotent and omnibenevolent, as such they stood above criticism. Here one notices the resemblance with theodicy, which seeks to free God from responsibility for suffering. This resemblance is not coincidental. Dictators and their propagandists actively made use of religious imagery and rhetoric. Some of them even anointed themselves God.

Deity-envy came in various forms: some merely made use of pseudo-religious imagery while others claimed actual divine status. The Nazis made opportunistic use of Christian symbolism. Hitler certainly thought he was acting in accordance with providence. Goebbels staged mass-prayers for his Führer. Meanwhile, in Italy, much like ancient Roman emperors were revered as divine, Mussolini portrayed himself as a demi-god. Stalin, though he stopped short of announcing himself divine, clearly envied the deification of Lenin. Ceausescu, however, thought it fitting to pay for a biography of himself entitled The Demi-God of Romania. Defending his personality cult, Mao asked: “What’s wrong with worship?” Notoriously, Kim Il-sung is still president of North Korea, which makes it a “mausolocracy” or “necrocracy,” as the late Christopher Hitchens liked to observe. Upon his death, Kim was pronounced “eternally alive”; in a great hurry, cities all over the country constructed “towers of eternal life” through which his spirit is said to communicate.

No one, not even Kim, could rival Duvalier. Worshipping a fellow human being is always ridiculous, especially when that person is Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Viewed from a distance there is something inescapably comical about Duvalier’s deity-envy. Dikötter informs us that “Duvalier wore thick, dark spectacles, and occasionally appeared in public with a top hat and tailcoat. He would mumble mysteriously in a deep nasal tone, as if chanting incantations against his enemies.” He was affecting the appearance of a Voodoo houngan. Only his exalted rhetoric could match his strange style. Here he assumes the immanent spirit of New Haiti:

I am the New Haiti. Those who seek to destroy me seek to destroy Haiti itself. It is through me that Haiti breathes; it is through her that I exist … God and Destiny have chosen me.

On 1 April 1964, with uncharacteristic modesty, he said: “I am an exceptional man, the kind the country could produce only once every 50 to 75 years.” (He was right about being special, but perhaps not in the way he intended.) The year before he had pronounced himself “immaterial”: “Bullets and machine guns capable of frightening Duvalier do not exist,” Duvalier announced, for “I am already an immaterial being.” Quite often, he simply said that he was God. Other times he elaborated: “I want to tell you today that your Chief is considered the Living Sun by blacks throughout the world.” Naturally, these words were prefaced with “without indulging in any narcissism and without any sense of superiority.”

Were these Gods popular? Yes, to an extent. Cults are, after all, captivating for the credulous. Sebastian Haffner famously estimated that 90 percent of Germans supported Hitler. Dikötter disagrees. Quoting Viktor Klemperer: “Who can judge the mood of eighty million people, with the press bound and everyone afraid of opening their mouths?” The Nazis expected more than half a million spectators for a speech Hitler gave in Munich, but only 200,000 came. Most of these, Dikötter writes, “had been frogmarched to the event from neighbouring enterprises and factories.” Mussolini’s popularity also waned towards the end of the 1930s. Believing that some swift military victories could swell his support, Mussolini entered the Second World War. This made him even more unpopular. Dikötter writes: “The letter M, seen everywhere in honour of Mussolini, stood for misery, people joked.”

Cultism is Theatre: it contains both Tragedy and Comedy. Mussolini saw himself as Italy’s greatest actor. “In the evenings he would sit in a comfortable chair in a projection room to study every detail of his public performance,” Dikötter writes. Mere months before Mussolini died, he said: “I await the end of the tragedy and—strangely detached from everything—I do not feel any more an actor. I feel I am the last of the spectators.” Hitler, too, thought himself an actor—Europe’s greatest even. Coerced into acting, people soon learned their roles: when to cheer, smile, wave, and salute. Everything was scripted. Nothing was spontaneous. When Ceausescu spoke, the silence was so embarrassing that the regime played recorded sounds through loudspeakers to compensate for it. Only the security forces—in civilian clothing—waved enthusiastically. Dikötter tells us of a man who, following Mao’s death, grieved greatly in public, but in private shared a bottle of wine with his friends in celebration.

Dikötter opens How to Be a Dictator with William Makepeace Thackeray’s satirical image of the Sun King, Louis XIV. It portrays the King with and without his royal robes. With them, he is magnificent; without, his human frailty is revealed. Thackeray’s satire trades on the discrepancy between the image and reality of absolutism. Supreme confidence is projected, but although dictators often deluded themselves into believing this projection, they were dithering and insecure. Hitler suffered from a trembling left-hand, something Dikötter says “no doubt contributed to his reluctance to appear in public.” The tremors grew increasingly severe as the war progressed. In a Thackerayan moment, Hitler’s secretary noted, as Dikötter paraphrases, that Hitler “believed that an iron will could prevail over everything, yet was unable to master his own hand.” Here we see the distance between the image of God and the reality of Man. Drunk on his own delusion, Hitler miscalculated. In this respect, he resembled other dictators. Having made themselves into absolute rulers, surrounded themselves with sycophantic followers, everything relied on them; but only Gods can be infallible. Dikötter closes his book with the following reflection:

As hubris and paranoia take over, they seek more power to project the power they already have. But since so much hinges on the judgements they make, even a minor miscalculation can cause the regime to falter, with devastating consequences. In the end, the biggest threat to dictators come not just from the people, but from themselves.


Gustav Jönsson is an undergraduate philosophy student at the University of Glasgow.

The post How to Be a Dictator—A Review appeared first on Quillette.


Friday, September 27, 2019

More Confirmation of an Epstein-Maxwell Blackmail Operation


One may wonder what happened to the Epstein story. Jeffrey Epstein “committed suicide” six weeks ago and since that time the story has all but disappeared from the corporate media news cycle, as I said it would. AG Barr said he was told it was an intelligence operation, so naturally it must disappear, buried under stories of far lesser importance. 

On September 26, Zev Shalev, a three-time Emmy nominee and Murrow Award recipient investigative journalist who once worked for corporate media propaganda megalith CBS, posted “Blackmail America” at Narativ. 

An ex-Israeli intelligence agent reveals Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were not only Israeli intelligence assets, they were allegedly entrapping U.S. politicians with minors. The sexual victims have come forward, but why have none of the blackmail targets?

The US government, known for its serial dishonesty, lies, and propaganda, has promised to root out and prosecute all the folks involved in Epstein’s child rape factory. “Let me assure you this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy,” declared AG William Barr. 

It’s not likely, however, that we will get the bottom of this case any time soon, if ever. 

CNN reports:

In the hours after Jeffrey Epstein’s death, federal prosecutors in Manhattan pledged to continue investigating his alleged sex-trafficking ring, suggesting they would pursue his co-conspirators.

But in the weeks since, according to people familiar with the matter, prosecutors have struggled with the question of whether some of those alleged co-conspirators were themselves victims of Epstein—and, if so, how that should affect the decision of whether to charge them with a crime.

That certainly does not include Ghislaine Maxwell. “Maxwell, whose whereabouts have been shrouded in mystery, hasn’t been charged,” notes CNN. 

No mystery here. It’s obvious she is a protected asset and will likely never see the inside of a courtroom, let alone a prison cell. 

“I’ve reported before that Epstein was an intelligence asset for Israel,” Shalev writes. 

This was confirmed by two independent sources. Now, one of those sources, a former senior member of the Israeli intelligence community, has gone on the record to confirm this about Epstein and is making significant claims about Epstein’s human trafficking operation.

Ari Ben-Menashe is an Iranian-born Israeli consultant and former arms dealer who also served as a senior executive for Israel’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (1977 to 1987). This puts Ben-Menashe in a unique position to know about Epstein and also Ghislaine Maxwell. He met them both 40 years ago, when Ben-Menashe when he worked for Israel alongside Maxwell’s father, Robert Maxwell.

Ben-Menashe and Robert Maxwell, the late father of Ghislaine, ran Israel’s transfer of arms to Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. This relationship was exposed during the Iran-Contra affair. “That’s how Ben-Menashe says he first met Jeffrey Epstein. According to Ben-Menashe, Maxwell wanted to include Epstein in his arms-dealing operation,” according to Shalev. 

During an interview, Ben-Menashe claimed both Epstein and Maxwell worked for Israeli military intelligence. The objective was to entrap US and other politicians and blackmail them to keep them loyal to the apartheid state of Israel. Sexual blackmail is part of Israel’s modus operandi, according to Ben-Menashe. “Sleeping around is not a crime, it may be embarrassing, but it’s not a crime, but sleeping with underage girls is a crime,” he added.

If indeed Epstein was “suicided,” the executioners were Israeli. “I have theories about who wanted him dead. Probably there’s quite a number of people in the States wanted him dead, but I would think mainly the Israelis,” said Ben-Menashe.

Virginia Guiffre née Roberts, the main Epstein-Maxwell accuser, said the operation was about blackmail. 

She told NBC that Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell directed her to sleep with Britain’s Prince Andrew and other public figures on several occasions.

What NBC didn’t reveal, but is made clear by Guiffre from an affidavit she filed in 2015, is that she believes Epstein and Maxwell put her in those situations to compromise public figures with blackmail.

In the 2015 affidavit, Guiffre claimed Epstein told her he set up his friends with minors so that they would “owe him,” they would “be in his pocket,” and he would “have something on them.”

She said Epstein required her to “describe sex” with politicians, bankers and celebrities “presumably so that he could potentially blackmail them.”

Guiffre writes explicitly about Epstein seeking details of Prince Andrew’s fetishes, claiming Epstein was collecting “private information about [Prince Andrew].”

It’s said Epstein’s homes in New York and Palm Beach were wired for video surveillance. 

On October 20, 2005, after Epstein was first arrested for trafficking minors, Joseph Recarey, a decorated Palm Beach detective, “found that most of Epstein’s computer hard drives, surveillance cameras and videos had been removed from the house, leaving loose, dangling wires, according to the police report.”

Recary’s partner in the investigation, Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter, told the Seattle Times 

his own trash was disappearing from his house, as his life was put under Epstein’s microscope. Private investigators hired by Epstein’s lawyers even tracked down Reiter’s grade school teachers, the former chief said. Questions were raised about donations that Epstein had made to the police department, even though Reiter had returned one of the donations shortly after the investigation began.

Recarey, meanwhile, said he began to take different routes to and from work, and even switched vehicles because he knew he was being tailed.

Despite the precautions, last year Recarey died after a “brief illness” at the age of 50. No further information was given.

Alfredo Rodriguez, Epstein’s butler, also died, allegedly in 2015 from mesothelioma. Rodriguez had tried to sell Epstein’s notorious black book of names and addresses. He was busted by an undercover cop and jailed for 15 months. 

The ruling elite and its corporate media are working studiously to push this story out of the limelight and make it go away before really important people are exposed. The cases brought by Epstein’s victims will likely take years to resolve, that is if the lawsuits are not dismissed by a friendly (and blackmailed) judge. 

creatdive commons by-sa_RGB-350x122


Trump Slams "Fraud" Adam Schiff For Reading Fabricated "Mafia" Version Of Ukraine Transcript

Trump Slams "Fraud" Adam Schiff For Reading Fabricated "Mafia" Version Of Ukraine Transcript 

A Dumpster Fire on a Garbage Barge - Kunstler

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Six Key Points From Trump’s Call to Ukraine’s President


A transcript of the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shows the two leaders did talk during their brief conversation about an investigation involving Joe Biden and his son.

Neither man, however, mentioned military aid to Ukraine that might hang in the balance. 

The White House released the complete official transcript less than a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced an official impeachment inquiry, based largely on the suspicion that Trump had threatened to withhold military assistance from Ukraine unless it looked into the dropping of an investigation of the then-vice president’s son, Hunter Biden.

Trump acknowledged Sunday that the two leaders spoke about the Biden case.

The younger Biden sat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company for several years, reportedly making $50,000 a month. The elder Biden, vice president under President Barack Obama from January 2009 until January 2017, boasted on camera that he was responsible for the firing of the state prosecutor investigating the company. 

Both leaders referred to “Biden” in the call, but didn’t use the first names Joe or Hunter. 

Beyond fodder, or lack thereof, for House Democrats’ impeachment effort against Trump, the transcript also reveals the two leaders’ unflattering comments on Germany, the European Union, and Russia. 

Here are six highlights from the call two months ago, according to the transcript released by the White House. (Punctuation is as it is in the five-page transcript.)

1. Zelenskyy First Broached Biden Probe

The two leaders spoke by phone four days after Zelenskyy’s new party in Ukraine’s parliament, Servant of the People, won what The Economist called the first single-party majority in modern Ukrainian history.  

Ukraine’s new president didn’t mention Biden’s name, but was first to bring up that an aide spoke with one of Trump’s personal lawyers, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. 

Giuliani first said in May that he would meet with Ukraine officials about the Biden case. The former vice president later criticized the former New York mayor for this, and Giuliani canceled the trip. 

But Giuliani did speak with a Ukrainian official before the July phone conversation between Trump and Zelenskyy. And he met with a Ukrainian official in early August, shortly after the call, to discuss the Biden case. 

“I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said to Trump. 

“I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us,” the Ukrainian president said. “I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people.”

Later on in the conversation, after Trump explicitly mentioned Biden, Zelenskyy said: “I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor.”

2. What Trump Said About Biden Case

Trump seemed to be glad to hear this, and said he wanted to get Attorney General William Barr involved. 

“Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very·good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair,” Trump said of events that occurred well before Zelenskyy’s April 21 election. “A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved.”

“Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man,” Trump continued. “He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the attorney general. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.”

Trump went on to say:

There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. 

Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it.  … It sounds horrible to me.

When speaking to a group of foreign policy experts in early 2018, Biden talked about how he had threatened as vice president in March 2016 to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid if Ukraine’s government did not fire a prosecutor who was investigating the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma, where his son Hunter was a board member.

Biden told the gathering on Jan. 23, 2018: “I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b—-, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

In the phone call, Trump told Zelenskyy: “I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I’m sure you will figure it out. I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything.”

3. Ukraine Likely to Investigate Biden, Burisma

Zelenskyy at one point responded to Trump: “I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all, I understand and I’m knowledgeable about the situation.”

“Since we have won the absolute majority in our parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September,” Zelenskyy said. 

“He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.”

4. Germany, EU, and Russia

When Trump did talk about aid to Ukraine, it was in the context of other nations not doing their part to help the former Soviet republic.  

Zelenskyy complained that other countries are not putting sanctions on Russia, which annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine and has been engaged in a slow-burning war with Ukraine for five years. 

The contents of the transcript may upset some U.S. allies, namely German Chancellor Angela Merkel. 

“I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are,” Trump said, adding:

Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk and I think it’s something that you should really ask them about. When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she doesn’t do anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way. 

So I think it’s something you want to look at but the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy agreed that Trump was “absolutely right” and said he agreed “100%.”

“I did talk to Angela Merkel and I did meet with her. I also met and talked with [French President] Emmanuel Macron and I told them that they are not doing quite as much as they need to be doing on the issues with the sanctions,” Zelenskyy said, adding:

They are not enforcing the sanctions. They are not working as much as they should work for Ukraine. It turns out that even though logically, the European Union should be our biggest partner, but technically the United States is a much bigger partner than the European Union and I’m very grateful to you for that because the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine. Much more than the European Union, especially when we are talking about sanctions against the Russian Federation.

 5. Inquiring About CrowdStrike

Trump obliquely brought up the Democratic National Committee’s computer server and the investigation of CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm involved in tracking Russian election meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike,” Trump said. “I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it.”

In 2016, the Democratic National Committee hired CrowdStrike, a U.S.-based internet security company. CrowdStrike reviewed the hacking of DNC computers and determined it was conducted by two groups affiliated with the Russian government. 

The tech firm thus played a role in the sequence of events leading to the probe of whether Trump or his campaign conspired with Russians to gain advantage in the 2016 election. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report said investigators found no such conspiracy.

In the call with Zelenskyy, Trump referred disparagingly to Mueller, who had testified to Congress the day before on his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“There are a lot of things that went on the whole situation,” Trump said to the Ukrainian president, adding:

I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the attorney general call you or your people and I would like you to·get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine.

6. The Comedian, the Reality Show Host, and ‘Draining the Swamp’

Before his election as Ukraine’s president, Zelenskyy was a comedian, entertainer, and businessman with no electoral experience. He campaigned against corruption of the political establishment to unseat incumbent Petro Poroshenko with about 73 percent of the vote. 

Those similarities with Trump, a real estate mogul, businessman, and reality TV star who was elected U.S. president, weren’t lost on the two leaders. 

“We all watched from the United States and you did a terrific job,” Trump said. “The way you came from behind, somebody who wasn’t given much of a chance, and you ended up winning easily. It’s a fantastic achievement. Congratulations.”

Zelenskyy responded: 

Well yes, to tell you the truth, we are trying to work hard because we wanted to drain the swamp here in our country. We brought in many many new people. Not the old politicians, not the typical politicians, because we want to have a new format and a new type of government … You are a great teacher for us and in that. 

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.


This article was republished with permission from The Daily Signal.

[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons-The Presidential Office of Ukraine, CC BY 4.0]


Flu Shot Fails to Protect Seniors and Increases Miscarriages

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

“Ukraine Scandal” Another Hoax Like “Russiagate”


“Ukraine Scandal” Another Hoax Like “Russiagate”

That corruption flourishes in Ukkraine and that Biden’s son was there to benefit from it is common knowledge.  In the article below investigative journalist John Solomon explains:

 “According to interviews with more than a dozen Ukrainian and U.S. officials, Ukraine’s government under recently departed President Petro Poroshenko and, now, Zelensky has been trying since summer 2018 to hand over evidence about the conduct of Americans they believe might be involved in violations of U.S. law during the Obama years.

“The Ukrainians say their efforts to get their allegations to U.S. authorities were thwarted first by the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, which failed to issue timely visas allowing them to visit America.

“Then the Ukrainians hired a former U.S. attorney – not Giuliani – to hand-deliver the evidence of wrongdoing to the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, but the federal prosecutors never responded.”

Although the Democrats and their presstitutes don’t want you to know it, there is nothing unlawful or unusual about governments asking other governments to investigate.  Indeed, Washington’s practice is to pressure them to the hilt.  The examples are legion.  Just remember how Washington forced the Swiss government to violate its own banking laws in order to reveal its secret bank accounts to Washington.

There is no doubt but that the Democrats are making utter fools of themselves and that the corrupt presstitutes are compounding their “Russiagate” fiasco by trying to fashion an impeachment offense out of whole cloth.  I suppose the Democrats’ hope is that the insouciant American people are too stupid to catch on.

The Hill

September 20, 2019

Missing piece to the Ukraine puzzle: State Department’s overture to Rudy Giuliani


John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill. Follow him on Twitter @jsolomonReports.

[Text with links]


When I was a young journalist decades ago, training to cover Washington, one of my mentors offered sage advice: When it comes to U.S. intelligence and diplomacy, things often aren’t what they first seem.

Those words echo in my brain today, as much as they did that first day. And following the news recently, I realize they are just as relevant today with hysteria regarding presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s contacts with Ukraine’s government.

The coverage suggests Giuliani reached out to new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s team this summer solely because he wanted to get dirt on possible Trump 2020 challenger Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s business dealings in that country. 

Politics or law could have been part of Giuliani’s motive, and neither would be illegal. 

But there is a missing part of the story that the American public needs in order to assess what really happened: Giuliani’s contact with Zelensky adviser and attorney Andrei Yermak this summer was encouraged and facilitated by the U.S. State Department.

Giuliani didn’t initiate it. A senior U.S. diplomat contacted him in July and asked for permission to connect Yermak with him. 

Then, Giuliani met in early August with Yermak on neutral ground – in Spain – before reporting back to State everything that occurred at the meeting.

That debriefing occurred Aug. 11 by phone with two senior U.S. diplomats, one with responsibility for Ukraine and the other with responsibility for the European Union, according to electronic communications records I reviewed and interviews I conducted.

When asked on Friday, Giuliani confirmed to me that the State Department asked him to take the Yermak meeting and that he did, in fact, apprise U.S. officials every step of the way.

“I didn’t even know who he [Yermak] really was, but they vouched for him. They actually urged me to talk to him because they said he seemed like an honest broker,” Giuliani told me. “I reported back to them [the two State officials] what my conversations with Yermak were about. All of this was done at the request of the State Department.”

So, rather than just a political opposition research operation, Giuliani’s contacts were part of a diplomatic effort by the State Department to grow trust with the new Ukrainian president, Zelensky, a former television comic making his first foray into politics and diplomacy.

Why would Ukraine want to talk to Giuliani, and why would the State Department be involved in facilitating it? 

According to interviews with more than a dozen Ukrainian and U.S. officials, Ukraine’s government under recently departed President Petro Poroshenko and, now, Zelensky has been trying since summer 2018 to hand over evidence about the conduct of Americans they believe might be involved in violations of U.S. law during the Obama years.

The Ukrainians say their efforts to get their allegations to U.S. authorities were thwarted first by the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, which failed to issue timely visas allowing them to visit America.

Then the Ukrainians hired a former U.S. attorney – not Giuliani – to hand-deliver the evidence of wrongdoing to the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, but the federal prosecutors never responded. 

The U.S. attorney, a respected American, confirmed the Ukrainians’ story to me. The allegations that Ukrainian officials wanted to pass on involved both efforts by the Democratic National Committee to pressure Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election as well as Joe Biden’s son’s effort to make money in Ukraine while the former vice president managed U.S.-Ukraine relations, the retired U.S. attorney told me. 

Eventually, Giuliani in November 2018 got wind of the Ukrainian allegations and started to investigate. 

As President Trump’s highest-profile defense attorney, the former New York City mayor, often known simply as Rudy, believed the Ukrainian’s evidence could assist in his defense against the Russia collusion investigation and former special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report.

So Giuliani began to check things out in late 2018 and early 2019, but he never set foot in Ukraine. And when Ukrainian officials leaked word that he was considering visiting Ukraine to meet with senior officials to discuss the allegations – and it got politicized in America – Giuliani abruptly called off his trip. He stopped talking to the Ukrainian officials. 

Since that time, my American and foreign sources tell me, Ukrainian officials worried that the slight of Giuliani might hurt their relations with his most famous client, Trump.

And Trump himself added to the dynamic by encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to work with Giuliani to surface the evidence of alleged wrongdoing that has been floating around for more than two years, my sources said.

It is likely that the State Department’s overture to Giuliani in July was designed to allay fears of a diplomatic slight and to assure the nascent Ukrainian administration that everything would be OK between the two allies.

The belief was that if Zelensky’s top lawyer could talk to Trump’s top lawyer, everything could be patched up, officials explained to me.

Ukrainian officials also are discussing privately the possibility of creating a parliamentary committee to assemble the evidence and formally send it to the U.S. Congress, after failed attempts to get the Department of Justice’s attention, my sources say.

Such machinations are common when two countries are navigating diplomatic challenges, and, often, extracurricular activities with private citizens are part of the strategy, even if they are not apparent to the American public.

So the media stories of Giuliani’s alleged political opposition research in Ukraine, it turns out, are a bit different than first reported. It’s exactly the sort of nuanced, complex news development that my mentor nearly 30 years ago warned about.

And it’s too bad a shallow media effort has failed to capture the whole story and tell it to the American public in its entirety.

It’s almost as though the lessons of the now debunked Russia-Trump collusion narrative didn’t really sink in for some reporters. And that is a loss for the American public. The continuing folly was evidenced when much attention was given Friday to Hillary Clinton’s tweet suggesting Trump’s contact with Zelensky amounted to an effort to solicit a foreign power to interfere in the next election. 

That tweet may be provocative, but it’s unfair. The contacts were about resolving what happened in the last election – and the last administration. 

And if anyone is to have high moral ground on foreign interference in elections, Clinton can’t be first in line. Her campaign lawyers caused Christopher Steele, a British foreign national desperate to defeat to Trump, to be hired to solicit unverified allegations from Russians about Trump as part of an opposition research project and then went to the FBI to trump up an investigation on Trump. And her party leaders, the Democratic National Committee, asked the Ukrainian Embassy to also try to dig up dirt on Trump. That’s not a record worthy of throwing the first punch on this story.

The truth is, getting to the bottom of the Ukraine allegations will benefit everyone. If the Bidens and Ukraine did nothing wrong, they should be absolved. If wrongdoing happened, then it should be dealt with. 

The folly of the current coverage is preventing us from getting the answer we deserve.


The post “Ukraine Scandal” Another Hoax Like “Russiagate” appeared first on


What the Jeffrey Epstein Case Reveals About Female Sex Offenders


The recent indictment of Jeffrey Epstein for sex trafficking highlights the importance of understanding sex offenses perpetrated by women.

Epstein allegedly did not act alone. In a variety of court filings, some of his female associates, most notably Ghislaine Maxwell, have been depicted as instrumental in his sexual encounters. None of them has been criminally charged.

We have studied women who have been convicted of sexual assault, abuse and human trafficking, as well as public attitudes toward sex offenders. Our research, and that of others, shows the similarities and differences between male and female sexual offenders.

Are many sex offenders women?

The majority of sex offenders are male. Research suggests that between one percent and nine percent of those who offend sexually worldwide are women, depending on the source of data. Most estimates settle on five percent.

In surveys of people who have been victims of sexual abuse or assault, three percent of female victims and 21 percent of male victims report that the perpetrator was female.

However, official data of arrest and conviction rates may underrepresent the number of female sex offenders, as those who have been assaulted by a woman are less likely to report the abuse. Female offenders are also less likely to be arrested and convicted. If they are convicted, they receive shorter sentences than male offenders.

Women who commit sexual offenses differ from men in many ways. Female offenders are more likely to offend in child care contexts, including being a babysitter or teacher. Women are more likely than men to be the parent or guardian of the victim.

The victims of female offenders are often younger than those of male offenders, and female offenders are equally likely to offend against female and male victims. In contrast, male offenders overwhelmingly offend against female victims, and more often in marriage or dating relationships.

However, the most striking difference is that female offenders are six times more likely than male offenders to have a co-offender.

What is co-offending?

When two or more people participate in the abuse of the same victim, they are co-offenders.

Women may be involved by recruiting and coaxing the victims into dangerous situations and helping to provide a sense of safety for the victims. They may coerce or manipulate the victim, or perpetrate sexually abusive behaviors in front of, or at the same time as, the male abuser.

Accusers in the Epstein cases allege that his female co-offenders engaged in all of these forms of abuse.

Women co-offend for many reasons. Some may abuse victims for reasons similar to male offenders – for example, to gain power, to retaliate against someone, or due to sexual deviance.

However, many are coerced or forced by the male co-offender. Many are threatened or physically abused to force participation. Others participate in exchange for money or drugs.

Women who co-offend are different from those who offend alone in many ways. More have traumatic childhoods and strained relationships with parents due to parents being divorced, in prison or abusing drugs or alcohol. They are also more likely to be in a violent relationship with a husband or boyfriend, who is often the co-offender.

Women who are coerced to participate in sexual abuse are also more likely than women who are not coerced to have experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse in childhood, as well as adult relationships that involved intimidation, stalking or sexual abuse.

What should be done?

In testimony and interviews, alleged victims of Epstein report that the presence of the women prior to and during the assaults made them feel that they were safe. They questioned their feelings that what was happening was actually rape or sexual assault. They report ignoring red flags because, if another woman was there who acted as if the situation was normal, they must be wrong in feeling violated. They also reported threats against them if they did not comply.

One accuser described a situation in which she was allegedly assaulted with Maxwell nearby, stating, “I felt like she was aware of it. So again, there was this safety in that the door was open. And so I felt like she could have easily been aware of what he was doing and [was] fine with it.”

None of Epstein’s female associates has been indicted.

Media accounts of female offenders, particularly teachers who abuse male students, minimize the effect on the victims and eroticize the offenders. Cases of adult women having sexual relationships with underage boys are commonly described as “illicit romances,” with no discussion of the potential of coercion, misuse of power or long-term harm.

In our experience, many sexual violence prevention programs, materials and public service announcements depict perpetrators as being universally male. This may make it difficult for potential victims to identify a woman’s behavior as coercive, manipulative or abusive.

We believe that introducing prevention programs that specifically address women as potential perpetrators may be effective in helping to prevent some abuses, such as those alleged in the Epstein cases.

The Conversation


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Ten Facts About Homelessness in America


The homeless represent the most vulnerable portion of Americans living in poverty. The latest U.S. government report on homelessness shows that a culture of secularism and statism is depriving Americans of church philanthropy, curbing the free market’s ability to provide, and leaving the most vulnerable reliant on the government – or the mercy of the streets.

The Council of Economic Advisers detailed their conditions in its report on “The State of Homelessness in America,” released last week. It found that “rent controls” may have priced homeless Americans out of an affordable home, permissive policies may increase homelessness, and those with no connection to a church or faith community are 60 percent more likely to end up homeless.

Here are the facts you need to know:

1. Half a million Americans are homeless. Someone is counted homeless if he or she “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence,” according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“In January 2018, 552,830 people were counted as homeless in the United States. Of those, 194,467 (35 percent) were unsheltered” – or living on the streets – “and 358,363 (65 percent) were sheltered” in temporary housing. “The overall homeless population on a single night represents 0.2 percent of the U.S. population, or 17 people per 10,000 in the population,” the report says.

2. Nearly half of all Americans sleeping on the streets live in California. “Almost half (47 percent) of all unsheltered homeless people in the United States are found in California, about four times as high as their share of the overall United States population. Among the five cities with the highest rates of unsheltered homelessness, four are in California (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Rosa, and San Jose), and the other is Seattle.”

3. But East Coast cities have the highest rate of homelessness – and Washington, D.C. ranks worst. “Compared to a national rate of 17 homeless people per 10,000, the cities … with the highest rates of overall homelessness are Washington, DC (103 per 10,000), Boston, MA (102 per 10,000), and New York, NY (101 per 10,000).” More than 20 percent of all homeless people live in New York City. “These cities each have homelessness rates that are over 6 times as high as the overall U.S rate,” and the level of sheltered homelessness is eight-times the national average (11 per 10,000).

4. The homeless have high rates of mental illness, substance abuse, and previous incarceration. According to HUD’s 2018 annual homelessness count, “111,122 homeless people (20 percent) had a severe mental illness and 86,647 homeless people (16 percent) suffered from chronic substance abuse. Among all adults who used shelter at some point in 2017, 44 percent had a disability.”

The department also found that nine percent of U.S. homeless had spent time in a jail or correctional facility. However, HUD may have undercounted this population, as other surveys found up to 4-in-10 homeless are alcoholics and an equal number have mental health issues.

5. Lack of connection to a church or religious communities increases homelessness. The report states that individuals with “weak social ties are more likely to become homeless.” It cites a study that found “the lifetime incidence of homelessness is reduced by 60 percent for individuals with strong ties to family, religious communities, and friends.”

6. Accounting tricks make it hard to know if U.S. homelessness has increased or decreased since 2007. The federal government has shifted from promoting transitional housing (offering homeless a room in a temporary housing facility) to rapid re-housing (offering assistance to defray the cost of moving into and renting a private home.) The government does not count those in rapid re-housing as homeless.

“The approximately 110,000 bed reduction in transitional housing between 2007 and 2018 has been almost fully offset by an approximately 109,000 bed increase in rapid rehousing,” the report states. “[I]t is not clear that people living in one type of program are more ‘homeless’ than people living in the other type.”

7. California’s homeless crisis is due to more than the weather. While California’s mild temperatures may facilitate unsheltered homelessness, they cannot account for its disproportionate share of the homeless problem.

Florida and Arizona have unsheltered homeless populations lower than what would be expected given the temperatures, home prices and poverty rates in their communities. Meanwhile, the unsheltered homeless population is over twice as large as expected — given the temperatures, home prices and poverty rates in their communities — in [s]tates including Hawaii, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington [s]tate. 

The report said government policies, including “the extent of policing of street activities may play a role in these differences.

8. Government policies to reduce homelessness may have made the situation worse.

Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. are each subject to right-to-shelter laws that guarantee shelter availability of a given quality. These places each have rates of sheltered homelessness at least 2.7 times as high as the rate in every other city, and this difference cannot be explained by their weather, home prices, and poverty rates. Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. also have substantially higher rates of overall homelessness than almost every other city, suggesting that most people being sheltered would not otherwise sleep on the street.

9. Government housing regulations made the problem worse. The report states that the cost of median rent and homelessness rise in lockstep, finding a virtually one-to-one ratio. “A central driver of higher home prices in some communities is the heavy regulation of housing markets by localities,” the report says. This includes:

...overly restrictive zoning and growth management controls; rent controls; cumbersome building and rehabilitation codes; excessive energy and water efficiency mandates; unreasonable maximum-density allowances; historic preservation requirements; overly burdensome wetland or environmental regulations; outdated manufactured-housing regulations and restrictions; undue parking requirements; cumbersome and time-consuming permitting and review procedures; tax policies that discourage investment or reinvestment; overly complex labor requirements; and inordinate impact or developer fees.

10. Housing deregulation could wipe out the majority of homelessness in San Francisco.

We find that for the 11 metropolitan areas with housing regulations that drive home prices significantly above home production costs (which contain 42 percent of the United States homeless population), deregulation would reduce homelessness by an average of 31 percent. Homelessness would fall by 54 percent in San Francisco, 40 percent in Los Angeles, and 23 percent in New York City. Overall homelessness in the United States would fall by just under 72,000 people, or 13 percent.

The Acton Institute exists to connect good intentions with sound economics. “Affordable housing policies” like rent control may have decreased housing supply, pricing the poorest Americans out of the market – and leaving them on the streets. This, combined with a permissive policy of turning a blind eye to non-violent street crime, may have increased the number of homeless and/or prolonged their stay on the streets. Finally, this report shows another danger of America’s secularized, atomized culture: Church membership significantly decreases the likelihood of homelessness. Christians seeking to reduce homelessness should support a greater role for churches and private philanthropies, and less government interference in the housing market.


This article has been republished with the permission of the Action Institute.

[Image Credit: pixabay]


Monday, September 23, 2019

Let’s Talk About Saudi Arabia


All wars require casus belli, ostensible justifications. After all, despite humanity’s long history of vicious warfare, interstate combat often requires a government distant from its working class to motivate its people to kill and die for distant institutions and esoteric ideologies. That said, Washington doesn’t exactly have a strong track record of honesty regarding its rationales for war. Few Americans know or care much for their own history...

- Maj. Danny Sjursen, USA (ret.)

One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting…It is the same in all wars; the soldiers do the fighting, the journalists do the shouting.

- George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

It's fall 2019, and nearly twenty years into a series of disastrous and murderous forever wars sold to the public as a necessary response to 9/11, we're being instructed to prepare for another one. Replace the Q with an N at the end of IRA and you know what I'm talking about. Of course, this shouldn't surprise anyone considering much of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has been actively scheming for some invented justification to take out Iran (and many others) for decades.

continue reading


The Odor of Desperation


Clusterfuck Nation
For your reading pleasure Mondays and Fridays

Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page

NEWA New Video Message From Your Blogger JHK

The swamp abides. The latest news media dumpster fire over President Trump’s phone conversation with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is a three-way ruse. Ruse 1: deflect attention from the main issue, which is Joe Biden’s trolling for payoffs on his missions to foreign lands as vice-president, first Ukraine, where son Hunter was gifted a board of director’s chair and $50K-a-month salary with Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and then a $1.5 billion “private equity investment” to Hunter Biden’s wealth management fund from the state-owned Bank of China. Ruse 2: to deflect attention from the damage soon to be inflicted on the Deep State by the forthcoming DOJ Inspector General’s report on FISA court abuses. Ruse 3. To set in motion yet another obstruction of justice trap for Mr. Trump on the basis of false charges.

This comes at the instigation of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who was formerly senior legal counsel to John Carlin head of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, deeply implicated in the FISA court matters of 2016 under investigation by federal prosecutor John Durham.  Mr. Atkinson cited a complaint by an unnamed whistleblower who claims to have heard from a source that the President offered a quid pro quo to Ukrainian President Zelensky for reopening the Burisma case. The “whistleblower” may be Mr. Atkinson himself.

Of course, gaffe-prone Joe Biden spilled the beans on video earlier this year, when he bragged about shaking down Ukraine’s then-president Petro Poroshenko over a billion-dollar loan guarantee unless he fired the prosecutor investigating Burisma, which he did. Is there any ambiguity here?

The coordination between the news media and the Deep State is impressively blatant in this new gambit, with former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe (dismissed for cause in 2018), in his new position as a CNN “contributor” (while awaiting prosecution) teeing up a new “Trump collusion” narrative with The New York Times, WashPost, and NBC marching in step. In this new age of disinformation, narratives are the political weapon of choice in the campaign to harass and disable the winner of the 2016 election. The big play of RussiaGate failed, the play of “racism” is failing, so UkraineGate is next up.

It’s also obviously an effort to reenergize the impeachment operation in congress, badly botched so far by Jerold Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee. But it’s hard to imagine a better entertainment than an impeachment of Donald Trump in congress. Unless the Deep State wants to throw former President Obama under the bus, along with dozens of his associates (including Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Biden), they might be advised to call off that circus. A trial in the Senate, where the GOP runs the proceedings, would be an even better table-turner than the rousing climax of Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

I have a new theory about where the 2020 election is heading: if the Democratic Party candidate happens to lose, the party’s lawyers will unleash a blizzard of litigation in every voting district where the outcome was a couple of thousand ballots against them. It will be the 2000 “hanging chad” fracas on steroids and they will go so far as render the election inconclusive, therefore provoking the most parlous constitutional crisis since the start of the Civil War. In other words, they will dare to disable the republic.

Something or somebody will have to put a stop to these seditious turpitudes. The machinery of the law must be turned on the “resistance” and its operatives in the Deep State. Mr. Barr has the opportunity to do that. A globe of silence has enclosed his doings for many months. Impatient observers jump to the conclusion that the silence means he is doing nothing. I am not so sure of that. Given the purposeful hysteria ginned up so dishonestly in the press — and so injuriously to the actual public interest — don’t you suppose he would want to avoid tossing dynamite into that dumpster fire? By the same token, those actively stoking the dumpster fire are revealing their utter desperation. The unexpected consequence will be the suicide of the Democratic Party. But then people don’t necessarily get what they expect, they get what they deserve.

This blog is sponsored this week by McAlvany ICA. To learn more visit: //

Previously Unpublished!
From the Jeff Greenaway Series

At Ponsonby Hall, a new Hampshire prep school for screw-ups, things are far from all right.
“Audaciously hilarious”
$7.00 — Cheap! Buy!
(Read Excerpt)


Something Strange is going on at Camp Timahoe in Lost Indian, Vermont, summer of 1962.
Rollicking fun
$7.50 — Cheap! Buy!
(Read Excerpt)

New Paintings by JHK 2016 — 2017

Great Summer Reading… JHK’s Hippie Novel!

“Simply the best novel about the 1960s.”

Read the first chapter here (click) on Patreon
Buy the book at Amazon or click on the cover below
or get autographed copies from Battenkill Books

Now in Paperback !
Only Seven Bucks!

JHK’s Three-Act Play
A log mansion in the Adirondack Mountains…
A big family on the run…
A nation in peril…

Other Books by JHK
The World Made By Hand Series:

Book 1:
World Made by Hand
Book 2:
The Witch of Hebron
Buy World Made By Hand Signed and local from Battenkill BooksBuy World Made By Hand on AmazonBuy World Made By Hand at Northshire Books Buy The Witch of Hebron signed and local from Battenkill BooksBuy The Witch of Hebron on AmazonBuy The Witch of Hebron at Northshire Books
Book 3:
A History of the Future
Book 4:
Harrows of Spring
Signed and local from Battenkill BooksAvailable on AmazonAvailable at Northshire Books Signed and local from Battenkill BooksAvailable on AmazonAvailable at Northshire Books
Geography of Nowhere The Long Emergency
Available on Kindle Buy The Long Emergency signed and local from Battenkill BooksBuy The Long Emergency on AmazonBuy The Long Emergency at Northshire Books

Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page

The post The Odor of Desperation appeared first on Kunstler.


How American Liberalism is Co-Opting Islam


A persistent refrain of conservatives and liberal hawks has been that liberals and leftists are soft on Islam. This theme dominated Nick Cohen’s What’s Left, Andrew Anthony’s The Fall-Out, Paul Berman’s Flight of the Intellectuals, and much of the late life of Christopher Hitchens.

There is, of course, a great deal of truth to that contention. It is unimaginable that if the pope threatened a novelist with death for blaspheming against Christ, leftists would oppose the author, even though some did, and still do, in the case of Salman Rushdie. It is unimaginable that if Christian radicals broke into the offices of a magazine and massacred its staff for the crime of depicting their God in an irreverent manner, liberals would condemn the journalists, even though some did in the case of Charlie Hebdo. It is unimaginable that if Serbian Orthodox terrorists bombed U.S. and European cities, progressives would blame Western foreign policy, even though some have in the case of al-Qaeda and ISIS. A clear tendency towards excusing or rationalizing negative phenomena inspired by Islamically derived beliefs has marked liberals and leftists who have tended to see Muslims as innocent victims of Western imperialism and nativism.

Still, I have noticed an interesting irony, at least in the United States. While those conservatives and liberal hawks denounce mainstream society for outwardly celebrating conservative Islam, they ignore its subtle subversion of Islamic tenets, the manner in which it pays cloying respect to the symbolism of Islam while undermining its significance.

Here is a golden example. The magazine Sports Illustrated publishes, for some reason, a “swimsuit issue” filled with bikini models. This year’s issue featured a young Muslim model in a “burkini,” which ensured that both her body and her hair were covered. Reaction was hostile from some quarters. The conservative Christian Matt Walsh decried progressive hypocrisy, writing:

…this is the maneuver leftists have pulled, heaping unabated scorn on conservative Christians, sneering at their modesty and condemning their adherence to traditional gender roles, even while saluting the hijab as a symbol of self-expression and personal liberation….

Yet this “salute” was superficial at best. While the model might have covered up, she was still lazing in the surf, her hands behind her head, as her swimsuit hugged her contours. To be clear, I am not proposing that there was any intent on the part of Sports Illustrated – and still less on the part of the model – to subvert the traditional significance of Islamic dress. But it still seems obvious that drawing attention to womanly curves undercuts the intended modesty of the hijab.

The accidental subversive genius of American liberalism has been in presenting the hijab not as a symbol of faith but as a symbol of choice. Right-wing critics resent this because, of course, the hijab is often imposed on people rather than being chosen. By encouraging Muslims to defend traditional dress on the grounds of choice, though, liberals and leftists have encouraged them to internalize individualistic standards. The hijab becomes less of a religious symbol, virtuously accepted according to God’s will, than an aspect of one’s personal identity, which one is free to shape and exhibit according to one’s wishes.

This is why the New York Times was able publish a column called “How to be a Hoejabi.” This peculiar article, from 2018, by a young Muslim woman, argued:

…the term “hoejabi” (not my coinage) refers to women who see themselves at the crossroads of being “hoes” and “hijabis.” But deeper than that, it mocks all of the negative implications that come with “hoe,” all of the negative implications that come with “hijabi,” and all of the ways that people who are not us try to define our sexualities for us.

Of course, the idea that the individual has the sovereign right to define their sexuality is more religiously progressive than the act of wearing a headscarf is religiously conservative.

The news presenter Noor Tagoudi’s 2016 Playboy interview was another interesting case. Playboy, of course, is a lot more famous for featuring women with naked breasts than veiled hair, but Tagoudi’s message was far less out of place than one might have imagined. She praised the variety of individual fulfillment rather than any kind of religious norm: live your life as your truest self and encourage others to do the same!

One need not homogenize diverse forms of Islamic belief to suggest that this kind of relativism is very new and very American. A Muslim hijabi and an atheist drag queen – what is the difference so long as they are living life as their truest selves?

This concern for individual choice and the individual identity is extended to others. More American Muslims support gay marriage than American Christians. Ilhan Omar, who some conservatives comically believe is some kind of radical Salafi, took a stand this year on behalf of transgendered competitors in sports. Granted, American Muslims are bound to be more liberal than European Muslims because they tend to have originated from the educated middle classes, but America’s power as an engine of secularization remains incredible to behold.

It might sound outrageously presumptuous to say these things of a faith that is not my own but Muslims have said them before. In her essay on “Hijab Culture in the American Muslim Context,” Butheina Hamdah wrote:

It seems that for the hijab to comfortably sit within the public square and in order to “qualify” for inclusion in the sphere of what constitutes grounds for public reason, it has to be secularized and represent something other than its essential meaning.

She continued:

Perhaps this is what distinguishes American secular-liberalism from European secularism, particularly French secularism/laïcité: rather than a ban on certain forms of hijab in the public sphere, what occurs is a recalibration of its meaning to align with public consensus in the US – through individual autonomy or 'right to self-expression.'

This cultural “recalibration” could turn out to be a far more powerful liberalizing force than state intervention. Repression, real or imagined, tends to unify people around that which is or appears to be being repressed. Absorbing it into the mainstream, though, leaves little to unite around.

As someone who has criticized dogmatic, totalistic forms of Islam, it might seem unfair for me to spin around and say that these liberal manifestations of the faith are somehow areligious (by which I do not mean the individuals themselves, whose hearts I have no window into, but their public practice.) Am I promoting an Islamified “no true Scotsman” fallacy?

Yet Muslims are not alone in being subjected to this tendency. American liberal capitalism has a unique ability to individualize and materialize all structures of belief that claim to have objective transcendent meaning. Nowhere else could the “prosperity gospel” of Joel Osteen or the hyper-progressive pro-sex Christianity of Nadia Bolz-Weber have emerged. That it has done so much to liberalize perhaps the world’s most credal, anti-modern faith speaks to the astonishing scale of its power. A thousand Christopher Hitchenses hammering out columns on the cruelty and irrationality of faith could not in their wildest dreams have hoped to achieve so much.


This article has been republished with permission from The American Conservative.

[Image Credit: Flickr-MPAC National, CC BY 2.0]


Shocker: Comparing deaths from medical treatment, vitamins, all US wars « Jon Rappoport's Blog

Sunday, September 22, 2019

State begins banning unvaccinated students from school


(BUZZFEED NEWS) — Furious anti-vax parents in New York this week are posting memes and images of sad children — and have shown up in person to protest the governor — because a new law prohibiting unvaccinated children from attending school went into effect.

The mandate, enacted in June, “prohibits a school from permitting any child to be admitted to such school, or to attend such school, in excess of 14 days without sufficient evidence that the child has received all age appropriate required vaccinations,” according an official publication from the New York Department of Health, Office of Children and Family Services, and the State Education Department.

Those 14-day grace periods started expiring this week, which meant school officials barred students from going to class or began removing them from schools, to be picked up by their parents. (To be clear, the students could return to school if their parents had them vaccinated.)

The post State begins banning unvaccinated students from school appeared first on WND.


Thomas Cook collapses - flights bringing stranded customers home | UK News | Sky News