How the US Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World: A Review

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The U.S. military state overthrows democratically-elected governments that it deems to be a threat to corporate interests.

“There is plenty of evidence that the United States is the most depraved and dangerous “meddler” in the affairs of other nations that history has ever known.”

Dan Kovalik is a labor and human rights lawyer, but most of all he is an anti-imperialist and an author of three books. Kovalik’s first two books tackled the specific US war drives against Russia and Iran. His third installment, The Plot to Control the World: How the US Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World, addresses the broad scope of US election meddling abroad. The book provides much needed political and ideological life support to an anti-war movement in the U.S that has been rendered nearly invisible to the naked eye.

The Plot to Control the World is as detailed in its critique of U.S. imperialism as it is concise. In just over 160 pages, Kovalik manages to analyze the various ways that the U.S. political and military apparatus interferes in the affairs of nations abroad to achieve global hegemony. He wastes no time in exposing the devastating lie that is American exceptionalism, beginning appropriately with the U.S. imperialist occupations of Haiti and the Philippines at the end of the 19thcentury and beginning of the 20th. The U.S. would murder millions of Filipinos and send both nations into a spiral of violence, instability, and poverty that continues to this day. As Kovalik explains regarding Haiti, “While the specific, claimed justifications for [U.S.] intervention changed over time- e.g., opposing the end of slavery, enforcing the Monroe Doctrine, fighting Communism, fighting drugs, restoring law and order — the fact is that the interventions never stopped and the results for the Haitian people have been invariably disastrous.”

“Kovalik wastes no time in exposing the devastating lie that is American exceptionalism.”

US expansionism has relied upon the ideology of American exceptionalism to silence criticism and weaken anti-war forces in the United States. American exceptionalism claims that the U.S. is a force for good in the world and completely justified in its wars of conquest draped in the cover of spreading “democracy and freedom” around the world. Kovalik challenges American exceptionalism by showing readers just how much damage that US expansionism and militarism has caused for nations and peoples in every region of the planet.Russia, Honduras, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Vietnam and many other nations have seen their societies devastated by U.S. “election meddling.” In Honduras, for example, a U.S.-backed coup of left-wing President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 made the nation one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist, indigenous person, or trade-union/environmental activist. Thousands of Hondurans have been displaced, disappeared, or assassinated since the coup.

Another important aspect of The Plot to Control the World is its exposure of U.S hypocrisy surrounding the subject of “election meddling.” Since the end of the 2016 Presidential elections, the U.S. military, political, and media branches of the imperialist state have accused Russia of virtually implanting Donald Trump into the Oval office. The U.S. public has been fed a steady dose of anti-Russia talking points in an apparent effort on the part of the elites to beat the drums of war with the nuclear-armed state. No evidence has been presented to prove the conspiracy, as a recent National Public Radio (NPR) analysis states plainly. However, there is plenty of evidence that the United States is the most depraved and dangerous “meddler” in the affairs of other nations that history has ever known.

“The author shows readers just how much damage that US expansionism and militarism has caused for nations and peoples in every region of the planet.”

Just ask the much-vaunted Russians. Kovalik devotes an entire chapter to the 1996 Presidential election in Russia that re-elected the wildly unpopular Boris Yeltsin. The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 began an era of “shock therapy” in the newly erected Russian Federation, a euphemism for the wholesale theft and transfer of socialized wealth into the hands of oligarchs and multinational corporations. Millions would perish in Russia from an early death due to the sudden loss of healthcare, housing, jobs, and other basic services. In 1996, President Bill Clinton ensured that Yeltsin maintained his near total grip on state power in Russia by providing the Russian President with a team of U.S. political consultants and over a billion dollars’ worth of IMF monies directly to the campaign. U.S. political and monetary support allowed Yeltsin to rig the election in his favor despite his dwindling popularity. Kovalik shows that if anyone should worry about election meddling, it should be the people of Russia and not the US elites that control Washington.

The Plot to Control the World takes readers into the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the CIA’s coup of revolutionary Patrice Lumumba continues to haunt the resource rich nation in the form of endless US-backed genocide. It travels to Guatemala, where the CIA overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz led to a U.S.-backed slaughter of a quarter million Guatemalans under the auspices of several military dictatorships. Kovalik shows us that the election of the fascistic Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil was no aberration, as the U.S. was primarily responsible for the rise in fascism in Brazilthrough its direct role in placing the nation under the control of a military dictatorship in 1964. The military dictatorship predated the CIA’s ouster of Chile’s Salvador Allende in 1973, which handed the once socialist state to Augusto Pinochet’s murderous and repressive leadership.

“The mission is always the same: to destabilize independent nations that refuses to bow down to the dictates of U.S. imperialism.”

The entire skeleton of the U.S. military state is on full display in The Plot to Control the World. The U.S. military state utilizes an array of tools to overthrow democratically-elected governments that it deems to be a threat to corporate interests. These tools include the U.S. intelligence agencies, so-called Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) such as the National Endowment for Democracy, and the various branches of the military itself, to name a few. Regardless of the tools employed, the mission is always the same: to destabilize independent nations that refuses to bow down to the dictates of U.S. imperialism.Thus, while Nicaragua, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Vietnam may possess unique histories, their economic and political development has been shaped by the destructive interference of the United States.

Dan Kovalik is not likely to be reviewed in the New York Timesor other corporate outlets. That’s because Kovalik unapologetically speaks out against U.S. empire and all that upholds it. In doing so, Kovalik’s The Plot to Control the World walks in the footsteps of anti-imperialists such as Michael Parenti and William Blum. Blum, a former State Department employee, spent his post-State Department life providing humanity with knowledge about how US imperialism operates on the global stage. The New York Timeswasted no time in slandering Blum in their obituary . This showed the great lengths that the ruling elites will go to discredit, defame, and condemn critics of the military industrial complex and how important it is for those who oppose war let go of any expectation that the corporate media will cover Kovalik’s work or anyone else who speaks out against war.

“White supremacy is the biggest lie of all and is completely embedded in the ideology of American exceptionalism.”

With that said, one of the reasons that the left in the U.S. is so weak is because it has been numerically and politically isolated by the lies of the Empire. White supremacy is the biggest lie of all and is completely embedded in the ideology of American exceptionalism. Despite the ruthlessness of the austerity and incarceration regimes, many Americans continue to be convinced that the U.S. is the most exceptional nation in the world and do not balk when its military wages wars abroad at the expense of U.S. tax dollars and civilian lives. U.S. imperialism has made sure that Americans feel that they are special colonizers who see the victims of the U.S. military state as savages worthy of slaughter. The Plot to Control the World is based on a different premise: internationalism. The book links the struggle against US imperialism to the needs of the oppressed and working class living in the heart of empire, making it an essential read for those who are sick and tired of the prevailing narrative of American exceptionalism and want to be armed with knowledge that is essential toward changing it.

By Danny Haiphong/BAR

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Man at center of North Carolina election fraud probe turned in hundreds of absentee ballot requests

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The man at the center of an election fraud investigation in a North Carolina congressional race turned in nearly half of the requests for absentee ballots in a single county, records released Tuesday by the state’s elections board show.

Leslie McCrae Dowless, a veteran political operative in Bladen County who was convicted of insurance fraud in 1992 and was connected to questionable absentee ballot activity in another election, is at the center of a probe into unusual activity in the county.
Dowless worked for Republican candidate Mark Harris, a Baptist minister who tallied 905 more votes than Democratic businessman and retired Marine Dan McCready.
Dowless personally turned in 592 of the 1,341 total absentee ballots requested in Bladen County. Only 684 absentee ballots were ultimately cast in the county. Dowless did not return CNN’s request for comment. Dowless has denied any wrongdoing to The Charlotte Observer.
The state’s Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement last week refused to certify Harris as the winner as it investigates potential misconduct. If the nine-member board determines the election was tainted enough to cast doubt on its outcome, it can order another election.
The probe appears to focus on Bladen and Robeson counties, which each had unusually high rates of absentee ballot requests and unreturned absentee ballots.
In Bladen County, officials kept records of who turned in absentee ballot requests in person. Those records were made public by the state elections board late Tuesday afternoon.
The board also released envelopes of 184 absentee ballots in Bladen County they received back as return to sender mail because it was undeliverable. These ballots were requested in some form but the addresses designated were undeliverable.
Both Bladen County and Dowless have been at the center of controversy over absentee ballots before. In 2014, Dowless worked for Jim McVicker, who was narrowly elected sheriff amid allegations of absentee ballot misconduct. McVicker did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday and his office said he was unavailable.
In 2016, Dowless — this time as a winning candidate in a race for the Bladen Soil and Water Conservation District — claimed absentee ballot irregularities. The state board of elections dismissed his complaint.
In recent 9th Congressional District elections, absentee ballots have tipped in favor of the candidates employing Dowless.
In 2016, Todd Johnson, a Republican who had hired Dowless as he opposed Rep. Robert Pittenger in a primary, won 221 of the 226 absentee ballots cast in the district — even as Johnson finished third in the primary. Johnson did not respond to requests for comment Monday and Tuesday.
This year, Harris won 437 absentee ballots in Bladen County to Pittenger’s 17, though there was no allegation of ballot tampering in that race. Harris won 420 absentee votes in the general election in Bladen County to McCready’s 258.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said her office and the State Bureau of Investigation have launched criminal investigations into what appear to be voting irregularities in Bladen County in 2016.
Freeman told CNN she opened the investigation this February based on information forwarded by the state elections board. The same information was sent to Bladen County District Attorney Jon David, she said, but he requested that Freeman take the lead in the probe.
“That investigation is ongoing and encompasses now those 2016 and 2018 election cycles and focuses on what appear to be absentee ballot irregularities,” Freeman said.
She said the probe, which includes reviewing documents and interviewing witnesses, currently focuses on Bladen County but may expand beyond it. She also said she is in communication with federal authorities, but did not offer more details.
Dowless is also at the center of allegations that absentee ballots were tampered with. A set of 161 ballots obtained by CNN showed that nine people individually signed as “witnesses” on at least 10 absentee ballots. Many of those nine are loosely connected to Dowless, a review of social media accounts and public records showed.
North Carolina requires witnesses to sign absentee ballots. Usually, those witnesses are family members or friends. But a CNN review found three witnesses signed more than 40 ballots each, another signed 30 and three other people signed more than 10 apiece.
One of those people, Ginger Eason, told CNN affiliate WSOC that Dowless paid her between $75 and $100 per week to pick up finished absentee ballots. She said she handed them to Dowless and isn’t sure what happened after that.
Lacy Allison, a voter in Bladenboro, told CNN on Tuesday that Lisa Britt, a Dowless associate, had filled out an application for an absentee ballot for him. Allison said Britt had told him she’d bring it back for him to sign — but he never saw her again.
He shared Britt’s phone number with CNN, but when reached, Britt said she had no comment.
Emma Shipman, a Bladen County resident who filed an affidavit with the state elections board, said Tuesday that she’d had no interest in voting and wasn’t sure why an absentee ballot had arrived — but that she gave it to a woman who came to her door offering to help fill it out and turn it in.
Shipman said she doesn’t know who she voted for.
“I don’t know what happened,” she said.
In a sworn affidavit submitted to the elections board by North Carolina Democrats, one man says he spoke to Dowless in April and that Dowless told him he was working on absentee ballots for Harris and McVicker this year and had more than 80 people working for him.
Harris’ campaign acknowledged it had received a subpoena for documents from the state elections board.
“I want to emphasize — again — that the campaign was not aware of any illegal conduct in connection with the 9th District race; however, the campaign intends to cooperate with all lawful investigations of the conduct of the election and, like everyone else, is awaiting the outcome of the investigation by the State Board,” said John Branch, an attorney for the Harris campaign, in a statement.
By Eric Bradner, Adam Levy, Drew Griffin and Curt Devine/CNN
Posted by The NON-Conformist

Vote NO on ALL Six North Carolina Constitutional Amendments

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Image: NC Policy Watch

The NC General Assembly’s chicanery should not be rewarded.

You can’t separate the six proposed constitutional amendments from how they were devised. The Republicans rushed these amendments through at the last minute, without debate, discussion, or even an implementing statute, which means they’ll get to decide later—in a lame-duck session—what these amendments really do, after you’ve already voted on them. The proper response to this chicanery: Vote no on all six.

More from INDY WEEK

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Elections and the Illusion of Political Control

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As if on special at Metaphors-R-Us, and just in time for the primary elections, CNN published an article on fake buttons that are provided to give people the illusion of control. It seems psychologists determined that fake buttons at crosswalks, in elevators and in other public and quasi-public places convey a sense of control without the power of control. In the space between upcoming elections and the creeping realization that connected capitalists still control the country, the question is of what reform candidates can really accomplish?

Staying with the metaphor for a minute, of relevance is that these buttons are engineered illusions— they are intended to deceive. The modes of existing they are designed to facilitate— office dwelling, high-rise living and urban traffic, preceded the psychologists’ additions. The fake controls are a response to adverse reactions to these modes of living. The question left unasked is: why are people having adverse reactions to the absence of control? The follow-on question is: what are the human consequences of the distance between the illusion and real control?

The progressives running in upcoming elections seem to be decent enough people. And reflexive cynicism— say about the plausibility of reform politics, only passes for knowledge in some particularly deplorable circle of hell. With apologies, welcome to hell. National Democrat Nancy Pelosi is promising to preclude all of the irresponsible social spending on progressive programs with ‘pay-go,’ the national Democrats’ austerity-in-a-can. And the New York Times is endorsing Andrew Cuomo over Cynthia Nixon because (corrupt machine politician) Cuomo can better ‘stop Trump.’

Graph: Given the relationship of economic distribution to political power, it is a good proxy for the distribution of political power. Since the 1980s a rising proportion of national product has been shifted from working class workers to the very rich. This is the result of specific policies designed to accomplish this outcome, not nature. When national Democrats proclaim themselves to be capitalists, this is the economic distribution they support. Source: LA Times / World Inequality Database.

‘New’ Democrat Cuomo, who has governed as a Republican, would seem an odd choice to stop Trump if that were the goal. With Wall Street downstate from the governor’s mansion and Manhattan real estate serving as a money-laundering mechanism for the global looting class, Mr. Cuomo is Donald Trump’s ex-bootlick / errand person running New York’s patronage system. It is this intersection of real estate and global money laundering that made Donald Trump the titan of inheritance capitalism he is. Alas, promoting otherwise unelectable Democrats has long seemed the subtext of the ‘stop Trump’ campaign.

Economic austerity, the mantra and clarified butter of the national Democrats, is the claim that the only legitimate expenditures by the Federal government are for unnecessary wars, Wall Street bailouts and prisons. Other expenditures— for housing, education, health care, food and retirement, are burdens on our children and grandchildren. If this reads like the program of the radical right, you might be on to something. And if you don’t understand the implications for bottom-up political reform, please read on.

The institutional backdrop is that the Federal government (‘public’) and banks (‘private’) create money. State and local governments can borrow, but they are otherwise constrained by the revenues they collect. Why then would Ms. Pelosi suggest that Federal spending is constrained by revenues (via the Federal budget) when it isn’t? More broadly, why has this been Democratic Party dogma since Bill Clinton assumed office? Don’t they want for their constituents to be fed, housed, educated, healthy and retired in security? Phrased more plainly, why do they hate their constituents?

Graph: When Bill Clinton entered office as president in 1993 he immediately reneged on his campaign promise to increase social spending citing the budget deficit as the reason. Shortly thereafter (non-financial) private debt (as a percent of GDP) began to rise rapidly as government spending was replaced with bank loans. This increased profits for Wall Street until excessive private debt killed the economy in 2007.  National Democrats favor economic austerity because it increases profits for Wall Street. Source: Worldbank.

Money creation is politically important because it is a control device for social spending. How far is democratic socialism likely to get if the Federal purse strings are controlled by committed capitalists in the Federal government? Is it incidental that Ms. Pelosi is restating the national Democrats’ commitment to fiscal probity while single-payer healthcare, federally funded college education and a Federal job guarantee are being put forward as components of the progressives’ program? Lest this remain unclear, the national Democrats are telling progressives to take a hike.

Missing from progressive consciousness appears to be a plausible explanation for the national Democrats’ fiscal obsession. In olden times banks earned profits by making loans. Government spending funds public investment that could otherwise be financed through bank loans. Additionally, inflation— the alleged result of ‘excess’ public investment and / or household income, reduces the purchasing power of bank loans when they are repaid. Wall Street hates public investment almost as much as it hates inflation. National Democrats are the Party of Wall Street. Ergo, national Democrats hate public investment almost as much as they hate inflation.

Is it incidental then that the first modern President of Wall Street, Bill Clinton, introduced economic austerity to the national Democrats’ canon? It was ex-Goldman Sachs Co-Chair Robert Rubin who, as Mr. Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, explained the ‘tyranny of the bond market’ to Mr. Clinton. At the time economist John Kenneth Galbraith explained that the New Democrats’ patrons-to-be thrived on human misery. To close the circle. Wall Street thrives on human misery, national Democrats are the Party of Wall Street, ergo national Democrats thrive on human misery.

A weltanschauung was demonstrated when Barack Obama bailed out Wall Street and quickly followed up with calls for economic austerity. His quest to ‘get the banks lending again’ in the face of excessive private debt was to favor bank loans over public expenditures. The ‘lesson’ of the Great Depression was that the public expenditures of the New Deal revivified American capitalism. But why piss-off Wall Street patrons and counter IMF prognostications for ‘lesser’ countries when Wall Street can make debt-slaves of the entire populace? There is an economic logic to manufacturing human misery.

The predictable result, that a few already rich people were made richer to the outer bounds of human avarice while everyone else was stuck in a public-private partnership of engineered downward mobility, is the program that Ms. Pelosi and the national Democrats intend to move forward. The apparent calculation is that Donald Trump is so widely loathed that they can run on an austerity program and counter the reformers and democratic socialists through control of the public purse. Republicans certainly aren’t going to come to their aid by advocating public spending on social programs.

As has been commented on quite effectively elsewhere, the irony of the Democratic establishment’s support for largely white, largely male establishment candidates— see Andrew Cuomo above, against their identity-politics dream-team challengers— Ms. Nixon is female and lesbian, exposes the tactic as a fraud. The prevalent explanation— that the political stakes are too high, begs the question of why they are so high? This isn’t to claim they aren’t, but rather to ask why austerity economics is still central to the Democrats’ program given the electoral losses that have followed its implementation?

With not much implied beyond what is written, a difference between Occupy Wall Street and the #Resistance is the choice of targets. As the center of American finance capitalism, Wall Street controls American political economy. Bringing Wall Street to heel would solve a lot of social iniquities. The #Resistance poses one person, Donald Trump, as ‘the problem’ implying that getting him out of office would solve everything that needs to be solved. In fact, Wall Street and the American ruling class would still control most of what matters.

The question regarding elections is: do they change the distribution of power? Again, the Federal government and banks can create financing giving them fundamentally different levers of social control than state and local governments possess. This is a problem for bottom-up electoral strategies— the purse strings are controlled by people and groups with contrary interests and the economic power to get their way. Running on platforms that suggest otherwise is a recipe for one-term ‘insurgencies.’

It is ironic, and perhaps wholly coincidental, that insurgent groups as diverse as Occupy Wall Street and the Black Panthers were shut down when they began demonstrating that they could build (small scale, ultimately utopian) alternative institutions. Elections are intended to change the cast of characters without challenging existing institutions. This is what Nancy Pelosi is making clear through her re-statement of the Democrat’s commitment to economic austerity. And it would seem to imply that the greatest impediment to progressive programs comes from establishment Democrats.

Without changing the distribution of power, elections are the fake buttons of politics— they provide the illusion of political control without its fact. This is a central reason why I have resisted the #Resistance assertion that Donald Trump is ‘the problem’— underlying political economy is little changed between administrations. Current problems were set in motion with the ascendance of finance capitalism beginning in the 1970s. I plan to vote for the ‘insurgents’ and hope they are successful with their stated programs. Otherwise, building alternative institutions seems the more promising path.

By Rob Urie/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

With Few Watching, Republicans Have Put in Place New Poll Tax to Disenfranchise Voters

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Preventing people from voting because they owe legal fees or court fines muzzle low-income Americans at a time in our nation’s history when the rich have more political power than ever.

More from Robert Reich at Common Dreams

Posted by Libergirl

Russia’s Favored Outlet Is an Online News Giant. YouTube Helped.

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When the state-backed Russian news channel RT became the first news organization to surpass one billion views on YouTube in 2013, it marked the achievement with a retrospective of its most popular videos and a special guest — one of the Google-owned site’s senior executives.

Robert Kyncl, a YouTube vice president who has since become its chief business officer, joined an RT anchor in a studio, where he praised RT for bonding with viewers by providing “authentic” content instead of “agendas or propaganda.”

But now, as investigators in Washington examine the scope and reach of Russian interference in United States politics, the once-cozy relationship between RT and YouTube is drawing closer scrutiny.

YouTube — the world’s most-visited video site, owned by one of the most powerful and influential corporations in America — played a crucial role in helping build and expand RT, an organization that the American intelligence community has described as the Kremlin’s “principal international propaganda outlet” and a key player in Russia’s information warfare operations around the world.

More from The New York Times

Posted by the NON-Conformist

Ted Cruz warns of “Watergate-style blowout” in 2018

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Wealthy conservative donors and influential Republican lawmakers say they increasingly fear a historic backlash at the ballot box next year if the GOP effort to pass a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s tax laws falls short in the coming months.

Image: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Lincoln Center

At a two-day midtown Manhattan summit of the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers’ powerful donor network, GOP patrons, senators and strategists spoke in cataclysmic terms about the price they expect to pay in the midterm elections if their tax reform effort does not win passage.

They voiced concerns a demoralized Republican base would stay home, financiers would stop writing campaign donation checks to incumbents and the congressional majorities the party has built in the House and Senate could evaporate overnight.

To head that off, the same Republicans said they are waging an intense, multi-front effort in and outside of Congress and the White House to shepherd the endeavor to the finish line.

Koch network officials said they have invested more than $10 million this year in advocating for the GOP tax plan.

Art Pope, a major conservative donor from North Carolina, put it this way: “When you have lack of success, that may depress voter turnout for Republicans, that may depress donations for Republicans and conservatives.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) warned that Republicans could face a “Watergate-level blowout” in the midterm elections if they don’t make major legislative strides on taxes and health care, invoking the political scandal that brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency and set back the GOP considerably in subsequent elections.

“If tax reform crashes and burns, if [on] Obamacare, nothing happens, we could face a bloodbath,” said Cruz, who spoke in a moderated discussion.

More from Apple news via WaPo

Posted by Libergirl

 

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