Monday, February 18, 2019

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Clinton and Trump: Remarkably Alike

When lovers of freedom lament the dismal choice for president that confronts the American people, let’s be sure we appreciate how remarkably alike Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are. In 2008 Christopher Hitchens, who died in 2011, wrote an enlightening article in Slate about Hillary (and Bill) Clinton that is worth (re)reading today.

Hillary’s War

Joby Warrick, Washington Post, October 30, 2011:

At 5:45 p.m. on March 19, three hours before the official start of the air campaign over Libya, four French Rafale jet fighters streaked across the Mediterranean coastline to attack a column of tanks heading toward the rebel city of Benghazi. The jets quickly obliterated their targets — and in doing so nearly upended the international alliance coming to Benghazi’s rescue.

72627370“France’s head start on the air war infuriated Italy’s prime minister, who accused Paris of upstaging NATO. Silvio Berlusconi warned darkly of cutting access to Italian air bases vital to the alliance’s warplanes.

“’It nearly broke up the coalition,’ said a European diplomat who had a front-row seat to the events and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters between allies. Yet the rift was quickly patched, thanks to a frenzied but largely unseen lobbying effort that kept the coalition from unraveling in its opening hours.

“’That,’ the diplomat said, ‘was Hillary.’

“Seven months later, with longtime U.S. nemesis Moammar Gaddafi dead and Libya’s onetime rebels now in charge, the coalition air campaign has emerged as a foreign policy success for the Obama administration and its most famous Cabinet member, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

And the latest from Paradise is here.

US Sails Destroyer in South China Sea in Act China Calls ‘Illegal’ and ‘Provocative’

This article was originally published at Underground Reporter.

 

South China Sea — A day after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte officially announced his country’s separation from the United States, and on the last day of Duterte’s historic — and highly profitable — visit to China, it was reported Friday that for the first time since May, the U.S. Navy has sailed a warship into the South China Sea.

“A U.S. navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Friday, drawing a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area,” writes Reuters. “The U.S. action was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s effort to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, U.S. officials said.”

The objective of the guided-missile destroyer, the U.S.S. Decatur, was, according to the unnamed officials, to challenge the “excessive maritime claims” of China regarding islands, reefs, and shoals near the Paracel Islands.

This assertion was confirmed at a press briefing by White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who said:

“This operation demonstrated that coastal states may not unlawfully restrict the navigation rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea that the United States and all states are entitled to exercise under international law.”

The Decatur, according to the Pentagon, “conducted this transit in a routine, lawful manner without escorts” and completed its task “without incident.” Nevertheless, the destroyer was shadowed by three Chinese warships — two of which, claims China’s Defense Ministry, warned the Decatur to leave the area.

The Ministry of Defense also called the U.S. move “illegal” and “provocative.”

The news comes the day after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte officially stated the future of his country would take shape within the Chinese sphere of influence, as opposed to that of longtime ally, the U.S.

“In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte said Thursday, before an audience which included China’s Vice Premier.

The comments were made as President Duterte, along with over 200 prominent Filipino businesspeople, is visiting China — at the invitation of the Chinese president — with the goal of establishing renewed trade with the regional powerhouse.

That trip, which concludes Friday, will reportedly net Filipino businesses $13.5 billion in trade deals.

But Duterte went much further than that on Thursday, with the often-outrageous leader suggesting that by aligning his nation with China, the Philippines has instantly risen to the rank of global superpower.

“I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow,” he said of China, “and maybe I will also go to talk with (Russian President) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”

These comments were reported on on by Anti-Media, who’s given extensive coverage to the ongoing story:

“While such grand talk from the Philippine President is hardly surprising — indeed, it’s nearly expected at this point — and is undoubtedly wishful thinking on his part, it nonetheless demonstrates that Duterte sees the writing on the wall.

“Two forces are taking shape in the buildup to what could very well be World War III — those aligned with the United States and West, and those supporting the steadily growing Eurasian bloc, led by Russia and China.

“President Duterte, very clearly, has put his money on the Russian-Chinese superstate.”

All of which makes the timing of the U.S.S. Decatur’s excursion somewhat suspect. As Reuters pointed out, after all, while this is the fourth such naval exercise over the past year, it’s the first conducted since May.

Additionally, beyond the $13.5 billion in trade deals the Filipino business world will soon enjoy, it was reported Wednesday China is now very likely to extend fishing rights to the South China Sea to Filipino fisherman — negating, at least for the Philippines, the U.S. claim that China is attempting to “unlawfully restrict” access to those waters.

In any case, the days of the U.S. using the plight of the Philippines as an excuse to prowl around the boundary lines of China are soon drawing to a close, as Duterte himself intimated to China’s Xinhua news agency:

“There is no sense in going to war. There is no sense fighting over a body of water. It is better to talk than war. We want to talk about friendship, we want to talk about cooperation, and most of all, we want to talk about business. War would lead us nowhere.”

Philippine President Declares: It’s ‘China, Philippines and Russia’ Against the World

This article was originally published at Anti-Media.

 

Beijing — As Anti-Media has covered in recent days, controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, along with hundreds of Filipino business leaders, is visiting China this week in a move aimed at strengthening regional ties between the two countries.

On Tuesday, we reported that, for all intents and purposes, the United States had lost the Philippines to China as an ally, with President Duterte saying during his visit that “It’s only China that can help us” and “I just want to talk with China” on the issue of the South China Sea.

Now, Reuters is reporting that Duterte announced his official separation from the U.S while speaking in Beijing at a forum in the Great Hall of the People.

“In this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte said on Thursday, to wild applause from both Chinese and Filipino business people. Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, incidentally, was also in attendance.

Duterte went further than this, however, stating “America has lost” both militarily and economically in its pursuit of imperialistic hegemony. Interestingly, his comments come a day after Filipino police drove a van into a crowd of demonstrators protesting against U.S. imperialism in the region.

Equally interesting is the status Duterte instantly granted the Philippines by shifting his allegiance to China. Duterte, it seems, believes his country has now elevated to the rank of global superpower.

“I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow,” he said of China, “and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world — China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”

While such grand talk from the Philippine president is hardly surprising — indeed, it’s nearly expected at this point — and is undoubtedly wishful thinking on his part, it nonetheless demonstrates that Duterte sees the writing on the wall.

Two forces are taking shape in the buildup to what could very well be World War III — those nations aligned with the United States and the West, and those supporting the steadily growing Eurasian bloc, led by Russia and China.

President Duterte, very clearly, has put his money on the Russian-Chinese superstate.

China, for its part, has been relatively quiet in recent weeks, seemingly content to firm up deals with regional partners such as the Philippines.

Russia, however, is another story. As the time of this article’s publication, a Russian naval fleet — the largest since the Cold War and consisting of an aircraft carrier and anti-warship submarines — is sailing toward Syria, where diplomatic efforts between Washington and the Kremlin have cratered and the violence in Aleppo has reached month-long highs.

The seriousness of the situation has been acknowledged at all levels, with President Obama himself admitting the lethality of the Russian military.

“We think that Russia is a large, important country with a military that is second only to ours and has to be a part of the solution on the world stage rather than part of the problem,” he said at a news conference on Tuesday. “But their behavior has undermined international norms and international rules in ways we have to call them out on,” he said.

The U.S. will no doubt continue to “call them out,” even as Russian war machines push toward the Mediterranean Sea and — if nothing changes in the interim — inevitable, all-out warfare with the United States in Syria. As such, watch for other countries to start following the Philippines’ play in the coming days and pick a side while they still have the option to do so.

Weekend Humor Courtesy of the Candidates

This election cycle is depressing, so it’s important to look for humor where we can. This clip from the Al Smith charity dinner is an excellent source.

In the video, both candidates can be heard mocking themselves and each other. They can laugh at their own corruption and incompetence; we should too.

Military Favors Johnson Over Clinton, University Prof Baffled

A new poll found that Gary Johnson is a more popular pick among active duty service members than Hillary Clinton. In a Thursday story at the Christian Science Monitor, Amanda Hoover set out to learn why.

If you want to know how service members arrived at that preference, it would probably be best to ask some service members. Unfortunately, Hoover decided to consult a George Washington University professor. The result was simultaneously pathetic and revealing.

“No Rational Basis”

In quite a display of ivory terror arrogance and ignorance, political science prof Matthew Dallek passed swift and dismissive judgement on the military community’s preference: “There’s no kind of rational basis…Hillary Clinton is someone who has a long history of being both deeply knowledgeable and deeply hawkish.”

https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/shrinknp_400_400/AAEAAQAAAAAAAAcxAAAAJDk3YmY0MmNlLTA5Y2EtNDE5Yy04ZDdmLWYxZTU1YjM3ZWZkYQ.jpgFrom the cozy confines of his perch at a university inside the DC beltway, it clearly didn’t occur to Dallek that perhaps the last thing military service members want—after 15 years of repeated deployments that have taken a terrible toll on their lives, limbs, minds and marriages while making the world less safe in the process—is a “deeply hawkish” president.

Perhaps, professor, many service members ever so rationally agree with Johnson when he says it has been a grave mistake to “use our military resources to pursue undemocratic regime changes, embark on impossible nation-building exercises, and to establish the United States as the policeman of the world,” and that an “imperialistic foreign policy makes it easier for ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other violent extremists to recruit new members.”

Blind to the most logical rationale for a preference he deemed inexplicable, Dallek offered one that is more speculative and dare I say slanderous: “Maybe there’s also some reluctance to vote for a woman.”

If gender does play any part in the calculus of service members, perhaps its wariness that an already hawkish Clinton may feel extra pressure to imperil their lives just so she can demonstrate “strength” as the first woman commander in chief.

Johnson wasn’t the top pick in the Military Times/Institute for Veterans and Military Families poll. Trump led with 41%, while 27% preferred Johnson and 21% picked Clinton.

Meddling Abroad Invites Meddling at Home

I’d have more sympathy for the “no foreign influence” demand if government policy stopped at the water’s edge.

Murder in Service of the Drug War: The Passion of Levonia Riggins

Levonia Riggins

To police:

It is not okay to shoot and kill someone to enforce marijuana prohibition. It does not matter that you are a cop. Your badge does not shield you from fundamental principles of morality. Law enforcement officers must understand this and stop killing people unjustly.

Levonia Riggins was ingloriously shot in his own home, suffering an undeserved gruesome early death. His family are now traumatized and grief stricken in a manner that you would never wish on anyone. They will never have true happiness for the rest of their lives. The deputies involved, especially Deputy Caleb Johnson who made the conscious decision to pull the trigger and end Levonia’s life, will never sleep soundly again.

The Tampa Bay Times dutifully printed an all too common boilerplate news report of the incident:

“A Hillsborough sheriff’s deputy fatally shot an unarmed man Tuesday morning as a SWAT team raided a Clair -Mel area home looking for illegal narcotics, the Sheriff’s Office reported. The raid yielded a small amount of marijuana, the agency said. “Levonia Riggins, 22, had been the subject of a monthlong drug investigation, sheriff’s Maj. Chad Chronister said at a news conference.

“When investigators arrived at the house at 1432 Longwood Loop with a search warrant about 8 a.m., everyone inside came out except for Riggins, the major said. Others who left the house told deputies Riggins was inside, most likely in the rear, sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter said in a news release. That’s when Deputy Caleb Johnson, 32, a seven-year veteran of the agency, entered the house with fellow SWAT members.

“‘After making numerous commands for Riggins to exit the residence, Deputy Johnson visually located Riggins in a bedroom, at which time Johnson perceived Riggins as an immediate threat and fired one shot, striking Riggins,’ Carter reported. “Riggins was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he died.”

According to Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office undercover deputies allegedly bought marijuana (undoubtedly very small amounts) from Levonia twice in the prior month. That along with a year old report about a gun at the home was enough to trigger the deployment of Hillsborough’s SWAT team to “execute” a search warrant of the home shared by Levonia and his family on the early morning of August 30th — a search warrant for a plant which they falsely label a “narcotic” for additional fear effect. This bears repeating:  it was a search warrant, not even an arrest warrant. The SWAT team used a loudspeaker to order the residents out of the home. Three adults and a child came out of the house. Levonia did not. Not based on any particular safety concern but a fear Levonia may be flushing his weed down the toilet, SWAT members escalated the situation by bashing in Levonia’s bedroom window. There they find him still in his bed, under his sheets. Not defiantly waiting to ambush them with an assault rifle, but merely waking up.  Any mildly experienced policeman should expect this, even after their loudspeaker announcement.  Reacting like you expect anyone who is woken up by his window being smashed and staring down the barrel of a weapon pointed at you by an angry gunman yelling something like:

HILLSBOROURGHSHEFFISOFFICESEARCHWARRANTLEMMESEEYOURHANDSGETOUTOFTHEBEDORIWILLFINGSHOOTYOUDONTMOVE”

Levonia gets out of bed and is promptly fatally shot by Deputy Johnson. Ostensibly because Levonia moved his hands towards his own waist.

Deputies search the home for several hours and find no gun and 2 grams of marijuana.

I’ll go ahead and agree to the stipulation that everything the Hillsborough SWAT team did that morning up to the shooting of Levonia was legal. Marijuana is illegal even if for totally unjustifiable reasons. They were acting on facts known to them. They got a search warrant from a judge. That search warrant is an actual order commanding them to execute the search. They surrounded Levonia’s house armed to the teeth like Delta Force and smashed their way in (speed, surprise, violence of action.) That is standard procedure. Not withstanding it is well known using militarized special forces tactics for little more than anything other than a hostage/active shooter is unnecessary and actually increases the chance for violent confrontation and harm for all involved. Levonia didn’t comply fast enough so they had to eliminate the threat.  All done following Sheriff’s Office policy and procedure, Florida state law, U.S. federal law, and the Constitution of the United States of America as dutifully interpreted by The Supreme Court.  Just because no gun and only enough weed for one joint were found in the home doesn’t mean Levonia had the right not to be killed. The continuing investigation, conducted by the very organization that murdered him, will likely conclude Levonia was up to some kind of no good. Even if it doesn’t, the deputies were still acting in good faith.

Interestingly, the Sheriffs Office isn’t even bothering to claim the deputy “thought he saw a gun,” or that the deputy’s own gun “went off” accidentally. Voulusa county deputies murdered Derek Cruice under exact same circumstances last year and got away with it, so why not?

Case closed.

So how can the deputy’s actions be legal yet still be murder? To focus on the few moments around the shooting or the “legality” of the raid blinds you to a larger fundamental issue.
The deputies failed to question the most important aspect of their actions before they even began.

When is it morally acceptable to use force against another man? It is never morally acceptable to initiate violence. Force can only be used as a response to violence (self-defense of yourself or others.) We all inherently know this from a very early age but unfortunately spend our lives unlearning it especially when it comes to “government” exceptions.

Conducting violent marijuana raids on an individual’s home is immoral. Hillsborough county deputies were the ones that initiated violence when they decided to bash Levonia’s window, enter his home while he was sleeping, take any of his possessions that interested them and shoot him dead because he gave the merest perception that he may resist. Levonia Riggins had not initiated violence against anyone. Possessing or participating in the voluntary exchange of goods (even if you think it is a generally harmful mood altering substance) is not a violent act.

If Hillsborough deputies were serving an arrest warrant on Levonia for say murder or armed robbery they would be justified in their presence at his home and use of force to arrest him. Even then, the actual shooting is unjustified.

To defend the deputies by saying they did not shoot until after Levonia resisted and threatened them is incorrect.  Imagine an armed robber shoots and kills a jewelry shop owner and then claims self-defense because the store owner looked like he was going for his own gun. Police are on the same moral ground when conducting marijuana raids.

But marijuana is bad you say. If someone brings marijuana into your home or business against your will, you are welcome to drive them out with a whip. Getting cops to whip people on their own property for adult, consensual marijuana use or trade make you the criminal. Police involvement concerning harms associated with marijuana should be minimal at best and are already covered by other, just laws. I’m not asking you to support marijuana use, I’m asking you to end your support for violent prohibition enforcement.

You may believe government agents, unlike a common robber, had a lawful right to be in Levonia’s home and seize his belongings. Lawful right does not give you moral right. Morality trumps statutory law every time. Slavery, Japanese interment, forced segregation were just as immoral when they were legal. Do you really think out of the millennia of man’s existence that you just happen to live in an era where EVERY government law is moral? Keep in mind we have 99,999 laws on the books in America and the world’s highest rate of incarceration by total number and population percentage.

Even the deputies recognize another “drug dealer” or any other citizen, would not have the moral right to steal Levonia’s weed and shoot him if he resisted. If the deputy on his own time, neighbors, strangers from across town, myself, a minister, even a hundred pious ministers don’t have the moral right to violently invade someone’s home with the intent to rob or steal marijuana how did the police get it? Police claim that special right was given to them by “we the people.” But here’s the problem, people didn’t have that right in the first place so how are they able to confer it on the police. Answer: they can’t. Sir Robert Peele listed this as one of the 9 fundamental principles of policing.

“PRINCIPLE 7: Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

Your badge does not give you extra rights. In fact, if professionalism and honor means anything to you, men and women who swear to serve and protect should hold themselves to a much higher standard of conduct when using physical force against others (especially lethal force) than a very basic standard of morality and decency.

Martin Luther King Jr. articulates the difference between just and unjust laws:

“I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’ Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”

King is only addressing the following of unjust laws. Actually enforcing an unjust law is much worse.

It is the individual police officer’s actions against his fellow man that actually brings the harm of unjust laws into physical manifestation. A government statute is only ink and paper. Individuals damage their own spirituality and moral fiber when they harm others unjustly. This is an inescapable fact inherent to our humanity. A tin badge, uniform, politician’s decrees, good intentions will not shield you from the consequences of violating morality. “Just following orders” or “It’s the law” is no excuse.

Just as he pulled that trigger and sent a bullet fatally piercing though Levonia’s flesh, Deputy Johnson dealt a mortal wound to his very own spirituality that only true repentance, undeserved forgiveness and God can heal.

Should he be charged and convicted? Of murder or manslaughter? Either would be appropriate. I truly hesitate to subject anyone to our legal system hoping to get justice. If he is charged, it will be for the wrong reasons. 1. Only because he didn’t see a gun on Levonia, not because he shouldn’t have been conducting the raid in the first place. 2. To cover for the Sheriff’s Office leadership. They will sacrifice him to the public to protect themselves. Every deputy in the raid and every member of the SO in the chain of command up to Sheriff David Gee are culpable. They will use the excuse: Yes we sent you on an impossible mission to enforce an unjust law, gave you terrible training and issued ignorant procedures that guarantee this type of outcome. But you pulled the trigger. 3. A perverse self-justification of a corrupt legal system led by a prosecutor blowing with the wind of public outcry. See… the system worked. Not withstanding that Levonia is still dead. And our militarized, fear-based, drug crazed Law Enforcement system will march on only with almost imperceptibly less vicious rules of engagement.

What would it accomplish to throw Deputy Johnson in prison even if he deserved it? He genuinely thought what he was doing was “good” and righteous consistent with the horribly wrong but popular conventions in America today. Restoration and rehabilitation is what is demanded here. Prison will produce neither. I would love for deputy Johnson and others to understand the unjust harm they caused and ask for genuine forgiveness, perform penance and restitution to the family. Go, and sin no more. Let me be the first to beg for mercy on his behalf. I have less sympathy for the Hillsborough Sheriff leadership, government prosecutors, judges and politicians that gave those orders to kill. Let them taste their own “justice.”

I am certain the deputies would receive infinitely more undeserved forgiveness and compassion from Levonia’s family than any Florida prosecutor would show a poor, black, nameless young man if the roles were reversed.

All of this is difficult for me to put into print. No cop, including myself, is any different than Deputy Johnson. It could have easily been me killing someone in a similar manner. I am a former police officer. I participated in several raids like this one and arrested scores of people on drug charges. Like most cops including the men in this incident, I always wanted to act with integrity, help others and “do the right thing,” I understand now by blindly following orders enforcing morally unjust “laws,” I unwittingly committed legal yet immoral acts of aggression against others in the performance of my duties.  Even when no one is killed or injured, the mere act of seizing a person’s marijuana, cash, locking them in cages or forcing them to pay a fine is the same as theft, kidnapping and extortion.  All of which are immoral acts.

Even if you don’t care about some drug dealing “thug” At least care about the men that are unwittingly destroying themselves morally and spiritually on your behalf.

Furthermore, this “Drug War” for practical purposes doesn’t even work, does not prevent crime or keep kids away from it, makes communities and police less safe, was racist in its inception, destroys liberty and ensures a police state.

Fellow cops, stand down, stand up, and speak out.  How can you fear speaking out when a man is killed unjustly and a “good cop” just like you trying to “do the right thing” has his life destroyed as well.

End your participation in the enforcement of unjust marijuana laws, drug warrant SWAT raids, civil asset forfeiture and aggressive enforcement of other non-crimes.

Before YOU become a killer.

The War Party Prepares for the Next Administration

For the war party, there’s never enough bloodshed and Barack Obama is a dove, as the Washington Post reports in “Washington’s foreign policy elite breaks with Obama over Syrian bloodshed.”

The Case Against Clinton in One Word

It’s nice to have a one-word case against Hillary Clinton: Libya. The Republicans’ moral bankruptcy is revealed in the fact that they believe the word is Benghazi.

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Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan