Professional Scam Artists – part 57

“Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara makes a fool of himself” by Joseph Kishore (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The New York Times posted on Wednesday an interview and discussion involving Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara and Times columnists Michelle Goldberg, Ross Douthat and David Leonhardt, published under the headline “The United States of Socialism?” Sunkara is a leading figure in the Democratic Socialists of America, with which Jacobin is affiliated. Goldberg and Leonhardt are both Democrats, while Douthat is a conservative Republican.

Anyone under the impression that Sunkara as an individual, Jacobin as a publication or the DSA as an organization have anything to do with socialism, Marxism, or, God forbid, revolution should listen carefully to the exchange, which featured a discussion between Sunkara and Goldberg followed by a review involving the three columnists…

There is not a trace in Sunkara’s remarks of a theoretically and historically informed critique of capitalism and contemporary society. His views are an eclectic mixture of impressions and opinions. Promoted for the past few years by the New York Times as a major intellectual force on the left, Sunkara’s remarks expose his superficiality. To the extent that he attempts to posture as a socialist strategist, he makes a fool of himself…

Why is it that the social reforms of the post-war period have everywhere been eliminated or are in the process of being eliminated, generally through the actions of the social democratic parties themselves? How were these gains related to the great revolutionary class battles of the 20th century? What was the role of social democracy as well as Stalinism in blocking or forcibly suppressing the efforts of the working class to abolish capitalism? How did the globalization of capitalist production undermine the national reformist perspective of the social democratic parties?

On such questions, Sunkara has absolutely nothing to say, aside from the declaration that if provided with the opportunity he and the DSA—and, presumably, Bernie Sanders—will “go all the way.”

Second, Sunkara’s utopian vision of a return to the supposed glory days of social democracy is bound up with his own thoroughly nationalist outlook. Sunkara has nothing to say about the realities of global capitalism, in which every political phenomenon has an international character. The rise of the far-right internationally, the global economic crisis, the reemergence of trade war, the increasingly sharp geopolitical conflicts between the major capitalist powers—all of this goes unmentioned.

Sunkara’s “socialism” is devoid of internationalism and anti-militarism. Neither in his interview with the Times nor in his book does he mention the unending wars of American imperialism, the “war on terror,” the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Nor does he mention the plight of Julian Assange, which has likewise been ignored in Jacobin. This is organically connected to his support for the Democratic Party.

“Correcting the record: Nafeez Ahmed is clueless in his smears on independent journalists” by Eva Bartlett (BSNEWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

With thanks to Patrick Henningsen for his eloquent articulation of the many things Nafeez Ahmed got wrong about Vanessa Beeley and myself and how we report from Syria.

Excerpts include:

“‘Nafeez Ahmed about Vanessa Beeley & Eva Karene Bartlett… compelling evidence shows that when they report from Syria they do so in a context that is entirely embedded in Syrian government and military forces.; – Let’s break this down… .

1) Firstly, what is Nafeez’s credibility on what makes for legitimate journalism or reporting in Syria? Has Nafeez ever been to Syria, if so was it during the war? If the answer is no, then he is not a credible judge of what does, or does not constitute ‘real journalism’ on the ground during this 8 year war.

2) He’s insinuating that Vanessa, Eva are “entirely embedded in Syrian government and military forces”… . as opposed to what? Entirely embedded with Al Qaeda, or ISIS? Which one is preferable, because it’s not both. Which one is legal – because providing PR support, generating sympathy for, or aiding in recruitment in the West (yes, AQ, ISIS greatest recruitment tool in West was/is our own MSM marketing ‘the good fight’ against ‘the evil Assad regime’) listed international terrorists groups is shaky ground, no? Fair question, yes? Those who insist these should be called “Rebels” cannot be taken seriously in this debate…

So, while there have been instances in which the Syrian army has provided a one-car escort, many times I’ve been on my own with just a translator, or on my own period.

I know Vanessa has had the same sort of experiences, repeatedly exposing herself to danger with no protection, in order to share the voices corporate media deliberately excludes because they are in “regime” areas… Its revolting, actually, how people like Ahmed can dismiss the testimonies of millions of Syrians whose stories should be heard simply because they live in areas secured by the Syrian government.

“Despite Assange’s ill-health, Swedish court rejects delay to hearing” by Oscar Grenfell (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

A Swedish district court this week rejected an application by Julian Assange’s lawyers for a June 3 hearing into bogus sexual misconduct allegations to be delayed. The ruling was made despite the fact that the WikiLeaks founder is reportedly too ill to consult with his lawyers and has not received English-language translations of the arrest warrant or underlying evidence against him.

The hearing is to decide whether Sweden will formally detain Assange in absentia…

Stefania Maurizi, an Italian journalist who has collaborated closely with Assange and WikiLeaks for the past decade, tweeted this morning: “Following the press reports on Julian Assange’s health, I just heard he is very unwell and am seriously concerned. It’s a real scandal how his health has been undermined by arbitrary detention by Sweden and the UK. I will NOT be silent.”

Renata Avila, a prominent human rights and technology lawyer who has also worked with WikiLeaks, wrote: “He needed urgent assistance after his expulsion from the Embassy. Instead, he was not allowed to receive adequate medical treatment.”

Avila noted that the Azerbaijani journalist Emin Huseynov had spent roughly one year in Switzerland’s Baku embassy to escape political persecution. After this it had taken him “at least a month of treatment to go back to normal.” Pointing to the protracted detention of Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy, Avila commented “Imagine after 7 years! Brutal.”

The conditions he faces are a damning indictment of those, including a host of journalists at the Guardian, who declared for years that Assange could walk out of the embassy and enjoy humane treatment at the hands of the British authorities.

Voters use electronic polling machines as they cast their votes early at the Franklin County Board of Elections, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

“Microsoft’s ElectionGuard a Trojan Horse for a Military-Industrial Takeover of US Elections” by Whitney Webb (Mint Press News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Earlier this month, tech giant Microsoft announced its solution to “protect” American elections from interference, which it has named “ElectionGuard.” The election technology is already set to be adopted by half of voting machine manufacturers and some state governments for the 2020 general election. Though it has been heavily promoted by the mainstream media in recent weeks, none of those reports have disclosed that ElectionGuard has several glaring conflicts of interest that greatly undermine its claim aimed at protecting U.S. democracy…

In January, MintPress published an exposé that later went viral on a news-rating company known as Newsguard. Officially aimed at fighting “fake news,” the company’s many connections to U.S. intelligence, a top neoconservative think tank, and self-admitted government propagandists revealed its real intention was to promote corporate media over independent alternatives.

Newsguard was among the first initiatives that comprise Microsoft’s “Defending Democracy” program, a program that the tech giant created under the auspices of protecting American “democratic processes from cyber-enabled interference [which] have become a critical concern.” Through its partnership with Microsoft, Newsguard has been installed in public libraries and universities throughout the country, even while private-sector companies have continued to avoid adopting the problematic browser plug-in.

Now, Microsoft is promoting a new “Defending Democracy” initiative — one equally ridden with glaring conflicts of interest — that threatens American democracy in ways Newsguard never could…

However, according to Jonathan Simon, election forensic analyst and author of CODE RED: Computerized Elections and the War on American Democracy, this public relations campaign is likely just cover for more insider control over U.S. elections. “It’s encouraging that after close to two decades of ignoring the security issues with computerized voting, there’s suddenly a scramble to protect our next election that suggests those issues are finally being taken seriously,” Simon told MintPress. “Unfortunately the proposed solution is just more computerization and complexity — which translates to more control by experts and insiders, though of course that is not part of the PR campaign.”

As to the likely identity of those insiders, the fact that Microsoft’s ElectionGuard was developed in tandem with a private military and intelligence contractor whose only investor is the U.S. Department of Defense offers a troubling clue. As a consequence, ElectionGuard’s promise to “secure” elections is dubious, especially given that Microsoft itself is a U.S. military contractor. Furthermore, amid the unfolding scandal of Israeli meddling in foreign elections, Microsoft’s growing ties to Israeli military intelligence and private Israeli cybersecurity firms raise even more concerns about whether ElectionGuard’s real purpose is to “secure” American elections for candidates friendly to the establishment, especially the military-industrial complex.

From Mint Press News:
Julian Assange gestures as he arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, after the WikiLeaks founder was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken into custody, April 11, 2019. Victoria Jones | PA via AP

“Amnesty International Hangs Julian Assange Out to Dry — or Possibly Just Hang” by Alexander Rubinstein (Mint Press News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

With so much at stake for reporters and with Assange’s life on the line, one would expect leading human-rights NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to be going to bat for Assange. Yet his predicament and its broad implications are evidently of little concern to Amnesty International, which wrote a letter to the Julian Assange Defence Committee (JADC) telling them that Amnesty is not actively working towards Assange’s defense.

“Financial Times hails four years of Syriza rule in Greece” by John Vassilopoulos (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

On Monday, in the run-up to Sunday’s European elections, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was hailed in the Financial Times, the business daily newspaper headquartered in London.

The interview with the Syriza leader, the former darling of pseudo-left groups the world over, formed the centrepiece of a glossy supplement entitled, “Investing in Greece.” Its front page showed Tsipras in a statesmanlike pose, alongside a tag-line reading, “From firebrand to economic reformer.”

The supplement was a showcase aimed at global investors for the potential super-profits to be made in Greece following the decade-long assault on the living standards of the working class. Topics covered included investment opportunities in high-end luxury tourism, tech start-ups, as well as the energy sector.

To be favourably featured in a leading mouthpiece of the global financial aristocracy is testament to the high regard in which Tsipras is held in ruling circles…

As well as enforcing further crushing austerity against an already impoverished population, Tsipras and Syriza have rendered the ruling elites the critical service of reinforcing Greece’s role as a reliable client state of the Western imperialist powers. “US-Greek ties have become warmer than at any time since the collapse of Greece’s 1967-74 military dictatorship,” the article declares. “In the eyes of the US and EU … Tsipras’s crowning achievement is the settlement of the name dispute between Greece and North Macedonia.”

Notwithstanding the opposition to the settlement by nationalist forces on both sides of the border, the aim of the agreement was to open the way for Macedonia to join the European Union and NATO, bolstering the US-led military build-up against Russia…

“Knock Down the House and the Democratic Party politics of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” by Genevieve Leigh (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The new Netflix documentary Knock Down the House follows four women candidates running in Democratic Congressional primary races against establishment Democrats in 2018: Cori Bush of St. Louis; Amy Vilela of Las Vegas; Paula Jean Swearengin of Coal City, West Virginia.; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx, New York, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

Of the four women highlighted in the documentary, only Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won in her primary and later in the general election, defeating the fourth most powerful House Democrat, Joe Crowley. Ocasio-Cortez receives the overwhelming majority of the screen time…

The film concludes with Ocasio-Cortez’s victory as a representative of the US House of Representatives, which she will presumably proceed to “knock down.”

A few points can be made about the film and the political phenomena it addresses.

First, the notion of a grassroots uprising within the Democratic Party is fraudulent. The “insurgency” is being directed by a faction of the Democratic Party hierarchy itself.

The Executive Director of Justice Democrats, Alexandra Rojas, worked for the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign on the National Staff before starting Brand New Congress. She later established Justice Democrats along with Corbin Trent who was the National Campaign Coordinator for the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, followed a similar path. Chakrabarti began his career after Harvard with a brief stint at a hedge fund, before leaving to make millions in Silicon Valley when he co-founded Mockingbird, a web design tool. He went on to work for the payment processor Stripe before joining the Sanders campaign in 2015.

Chakrabarti and his colleagues explain on their website that they started Justice Democrats “to create a left-wing populist movement to support alternative Democratic candidates” who are generally “ideologically aligned” with their core values. In other words, their aim is to promote candidates who can give a new face to the Democratic Party while leaving unchanged the content of the party’s politics: enter Ocasio-Cortez, and also the DSA…

Ocasio-Cortez has been silent about the Democrats’ anti-Russia campaign and the illegal persecution of Julian Assange, about the unending militarist violence carried out by the Obama administration and nearly every other crime of US imperialism. She has dropped her demand to abolish ICE and cultivated a close relationship with House leader, Nancy Pelosi.

“The Rank Hypocrisy Of Rahm Emanuel” by Kevin Gosztola (ShadowProof)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

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Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel took advantage of his elite privilege and joined The Atlantic, a major media publication, as a contributing editor. He also was hired by ABC News to be a contributor.

For months, The Atlantic has periodically published punditry from Emanuel, including when he was still mayor. He is now the latest high-profile person to benefit from the revolving door between public office and the news media…

Emanuel and others in the political class are clearly desperate to maintain their relevance as more and more citizens turn against them. They seek to co-opt language that appeals to citizens aware of gross inequalities and social injustices, including words one may hear at a Bernie Sanders rally, without supporting the very proposals that are required to address social and economic injustice…

For The Nation, Miles Kampf-Lassin detailed how Emanuel will be remembered as the “mayor who advanced corporate interests and an agenda of austerity at the expense of Chicago’s working class residents.”

Emanuel spent his two terms undermining the power of the Chicago Teachers Union, shutting down public schools in low-income black and brown neighborhoods, closing mental health clinics, slowing construction of affordable housing, increasing property taxes, privatizing public transit cards, overseeing policies of gentrification, and offering mega corporations massive tax breaks.

His administration attempted to cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. When a court ordered the release of video of the incident, it sparked a series of developments that forced a small level of police accountability on the city and ultimately led to the first conviction of a cop for murder in more than 50 years.

Emanuel believed the entire city of Chicago had “special license” to dodge responsibility for McDonald’s death. That is how the city approached countless other cases of police brutality against black people, including gruesome acts of torture. He was unable to emerge unscathed from the scandal and chose not to run for a third term because he feared he would lose…

To further expose Emanuel’s rank hypocrisy, Curtis Black, writer for The Chicago Reporter, put together a “comprehensive guide” to egregious acts committed by Emanuel for The Intercept…

Clearly, Emanuel has nothing to offer citizens except neoliberal snake oil repackaged in a container that pays lip service to the discontent of the 99 percent.

His agenda as a pundit will be to act as a gatekeeper for the Democratic Party establishment by setting the confines for acceptable liberal politics and chastising anyone who steps outside the proverbial veal pen during and after the 2020 presidential primary.
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