Sunday, October 22, 2017

Former Secretaries of State advise U.S. Ambassador to U.N.

The New York Times recently reported on a conference in New York City attended by Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, former Secretaries of State, and Nikki Haley, the current U.S. ambassador to the U.N.  It was a discussion of American leadership sponsored by President Bush’s presidential center.  The Times reported that during a panel discussion the cabinet veterans “sought to school” Haley “on the importance of the State Department budget, the threat posed by Russia, the best way to reform the United Nations and the virtues of nation building, international trade and a free press.”  Ambassador Haley may need some schooling but it should not come from the people who created the current problems facing the U.S.  The Times went on to say “they offered an establishment tutorial on statecraft” claiming that the current administration had “disdained the very notion.”  One of the more perceptive comments made by the Times writer was, “it felt like a deposed order seeking to influence the revolutionaries who toppled it.”

Madeleine Albright advised Haley that, “Nation building is not a four-letter word.” She did not elaborated on the many nations that were successfully built during her tenure in the Clinton administration.  Albright is also famous for telling reporter Lesley Stahl in response to a question about sanctions causing the death of half a million children, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”  Albright also stated, “I think also that we have to be very protective of our press.”  This was a veiled criticism of the Trump administrations battle with the press.  Perhaps the best way to protect the press is to point out where it is distorting the truth in the hope that it will be more accurate.  Albright also offered advice on how to deal with the United Nations.  Funding for the international body is in jeopardy because of frequently its bizarre decisions.  The U.N.’s World Health Organization recently had to back down on its decision to appoint President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe as a "goodwill ambassador.”  Condoleezza Rice stressed international cooperation and mentioned the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural organization.  Rice was President Bush’s national security adviser in 2002 when the United States rejoined UNESCO.

The Times claims the discussion was overshadowed by a speech by President Bush “that sounded like a rebuke of President Trump and the forces that brought him to power.” CNN described this as “a major smackdown on Trumpism.”  This was a break from tradition and contrary to Bush’s own stated policy which he described in 2009 when President Obama took office: “There's plenty of critics in the arena. I think it's time for the ex-president to tap dance off the stage and let the current president have a go at solving the world's problems."

This conference brought together Republicans and Democrats in what the Times called “almost like a meeting of the exiled bipartisan order, sharing their anxiety about Mr. Trump’s leadership in the world.”  Rice and Albright encouraged Haley to resist President Trump’s proposal to slash the State Department budget.  Rice noted that “fighting AIDS, supporting women’s groups and financing election monitoring go a long way toward advancing American interests.”  She did not mention the State Department’s LGBT ambassador program which has not been popular on the African continent.  She did not mention the $5 million order for custom crystal wine glasses from a democratic campaign donor.  Some hand blown crystal retail for up to $85-per-wine glass.  The State Department also spent 4.5 Million for Embassy art, when it had no money for Benghazi security.

An attack on the Trump administration would not be complete without a mention of the claim that Russia put Trump in the White House.  Rice, described as “a longtime Russia scholar” said the intervention was “highly sophisticated.”  Being a longtime Russian scholar, she must know.  In an election that cost approximately $6.6 billion the Russians spent approximately $100,000 on Facebook ads.  If that swung an election it was truly highly sophisticated.  She could not be referring to the soon to be completely discredited “dossier.”  The truth about this “dossier” will prove to be a major embarrassment to many people and will further diminish to credibility of the press.

John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing).  He has a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations from St. Mary’s University.  He is retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Book Review - Sheryl Attkisson’s The Smear

Sheryl Attkisson’s, The Smear, gives insight to how news is made today.  It goes a long way in convincing readers that they should believe only a small portion of what is released by the government and reported by the press.  This leads to a very cynical view of the news and confirms Otto von Bismarck’s claim that "Nothing is proven until it is officially denied."  Attkinsson gives an account of how massive the smear industry is.  My only criticism of the book is her contention that, “the organized political smear entered the contemporary marketplace circe 1987.”  Some of these smear techniques can probably be found in a study of politics in the ancient Sumerian city of Ur.  The “scientific" smear might be traced back to George Creel’s World War I Committee on Public Information or Edward Bernays 1920s book Propaganda.  She also appears to attribute the advice “Admit nothing” to the CIA.  This is a classic Communist technique.  Dozens of Communist spies had denied their connection to the Communist party and have been believed by the gullible for decades.  She mentions the “infamous senator Joseph McCarthy.” who was the victim of an extremely effective smear campaign.  She might benefit from reading M. Stanton Evans’ Blacklisted by History.  Few people could survive the scrutiny and smear campaign Senator McCarthy was subjected to.

Her account of Larry Flynt’s reward for information on Congressional extramarital affairs was revealing.  Just how many Congressmen have nothing to hide and cannot be blackmailed?  The government undoubtedly has an incredible amount of information on every American.  Representative Maxine Waters revealed that President Obama had a database “that no one has ever seen before.”  Presumably he took this with him when he left the White House.  We know the FRI spied on Martin Luther King.  With the power of modern computers virtually everything can be recorded and stored in a database that is on a 1.5 million square foot facility in Utah.  Data collection is only one area that government officials have lied to Congress and the public about.  James Clapper, James Comey and John Brennan have all perjured themselves in Congressional testimony.

Smears are promoted by both the left and right.  However, considering the left has almost total control of the “commanding heights” of our society, they have an distinct advantage.  It is truly amazing that Donald Trump was elected president in the face of opposition from the media, academia, government bureaucracy, the Democratic Party and a large portion of the Republican Party.  Attkinsson reveals the role of “non-profit” organizations in the smear industry.  She specifically mentions David Brock’s compensation which numbers in the millions.

Donald Trump’s victory has increased the need of the left to limit the amount of information available to the public.  The effort to eliminate “fake news” is a project led by people like Barack Obama, David Brock, Mark Zuckerberg, Angela Merkel and countless other members if the establishment.  Attkisson points out the problem with restricting news: “it relies on some of the very organizations that have gotten caught in compromising situations.”  Some of the people responsible for determining what is “fake news” might have a problem.  Anita Kahane, a former Stasi agent and social activist, may have a problem with being objective. As Attkisson says, “those who most loudly denounce Fake News are typically those most aggressively disseminating it.

The internet has made it extremely difficult to spread fake news.  Dan Rather learned this when he attempted to pass off a memo that he claimed was created in the 1970s.  It was immediately recognized as a fake because it was created with a computer font that did not exist at the time.  The “dossier” claiming to show Trump connection with the Russians is similarly an obvious fake.  It is amazing that people in the intelligence community can get away with claiming that it might be accurate.  The first page of the dossier is classified “Sensitive Source - Confidential.”  You do not have to be an intelligence expert to know that sensitive sources are never classified confidential.  A school teacher might try an experiment with a class of 6th graders.  After a brief lesson on classification have them produce a document containing a “sensitive source.”  It is unlikely that any of these children would label the document “Confidential.”

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Nostalgia Merchants Vindicated – Part 1: African Americans

The nostalgia merchants sell an appealing Norman Rockwell-like picture of American life half a century ago, one in which every household was made up of stable parents, two kids, a dog, and a cat who all lived in a house with a manicured lawn and a station wagon in the driveway.  I understand that nostalgia.  I feel it myself when the world seems too much to take. - Hillary Clinton

The controversy about the 1950s has been rekindled by an article two law professors, Amy Wax and Larry Alexander, wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer.   They decry the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture and suggest that this has resulted in increase opioid abuse, homicidal violence, out of wedlock births and a general decline in human capital.  They describe these bourgeois values as:

Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

They explain that, “These basic cultural precepts . . . could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities.”  However, they are being accused of being “white supremacists” and their jobs have been threatened.  Of course they have not come out and blatantly suggested whites are superior.  They are using a “dog whistle.”  The University of San Diego dean called their article, “an unapologetic paean to segregationist era America.”

Hillary continued, “There were many good things about our way of life back then.  But in reality, our past was not so picture-perfect.”   The elite concentrate on these not so picture-perfect aspects.  James Bowman wrote about the trend among historians to scrutinize the social institutions of the 1950s: “The idea is to show us how, when you rip away the Ozzie-and-Harriet facade of that decade, you reveal beneath it an ugly scene of domestic mayhem that goes far toward explaining why the phrase ‘family values’ inspires only derisive laughter among the elite.”    Newsweek magazine commented, “the `50s fantasy of mom and dad and 2.2 kids went the way of phonograph records and circle pins.”   Historian David Halberstam explained, “One reason that Americans as a people became nostalgic about the fifties more than twenty-fine later was not so much that life was better in the fifties (though in some ways it was), but because at the time it had been portrayed so idyllically on television.”

Hillary tells us to “ask African-American children who grew up in a segregated society” how perfect the 50s were, implying that they were far from perfect.  As it happens, prominent Black American have written about their experiences growing up in the segregated South.  While conditions were far from ideal, they were not as dire as progressives would portray them. 

Margaret Bush Wilson, former chairman of the NAACP, reported "I grew up in a ghetto in Saint Louis, but it was a safe and clean ghetto, if you can imagine that.  We had hardworking families living there.  We had a doctor, a lawyer, a bricklayer and a drunk on the same street.  But now those neighborhoods are gone.  Hardworking parents are losing control of their children.  The church and the family have deteriorated.  There is blood in the street.” 

Ralph Abernathy, former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, described the life of his childhood in almost nostalgic terms.  His father, he said, was a farmer, “but unlike some of our neighbors, black and white, we were not struggling to survive on a patch of hard-scrabble land.  My father owned approximately five hundred acres of good, black soil.  To get ahead, he did three things: worked as hard as he possibly could; led a severely disciplined and sober life; and married well. . .
(He believed) in righteousness and self-reliance . . .  In a rural area where land was available to people who were willing to work for it, it was possible for a few blacks to enjoy both freedom and a kind of equality - one based on mutual respect and a certain standoffishness.  (In the 1980s,) as I encounter these tragic young faces (of poor blacks) all over the country, I remember the faces of my brothers and sisters and cousins of half century ago.  The faces I recall are not as bitter and hopeless as the ones I see today, if only because my father and the other adults in my family understood that economic independence, our ultimate freedom and salvation, was achievable.”

Black columnist William Raspberry recalls that a young man killed in a motorcycle accident was “the only contemporary of ours to die of any cause” during his late teens and early twenties (in the 1950s and ‘60s) Raspberry’s own middle-class children, in contrast, could name half a dozen deaths among their acquaintances, including several murders.  Conditions in poor black neighborhoods, of course, are far worse.

Today more Black Americans are murdered by other Black on a yearly bases than all of the Blacks lynched during an 87 year period.  Yet there is little protest.