US Elections: Neither Free Nor Fair

Source: Strategic Culture

By Alex Gorka

Media across the world are literally transfixed by the spectacle of US elections. The Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton, Republicans vs. Democrats battle is captivating enough to distract public attention from other issues.

Democracy promotion has been a centerpiece of US foreign policy for over half a centurysince the days when President Woodrow Wilson crafted a new foreign policy that involved active democracy promotion. The implementation of the «beacon on the hill» concept presupposes that the United States would act as a model of excellence for others to follow is analogous to contemporary soft-power democracy promotion efforts. Lecturing on democracy is a distinctive feature of American foreign policy. Does the US really provide an influential role model for how elections should run in other countries? Is America really a shining example of real democracy? «Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all».

Domestic and international experts rate the US elections as the worst among all Western democracies. According to Electoral Integrity Project, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are at the top of the ranking, while the US scores 62.

The report gathers assessments from over 2,000 experts to evaluate the perceived integrity of all 180 national parliamentary and presidential contests held between July 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2015, in 139 countries. The 2014 US congressional elections rank even worse, 65th out of 180 worldwide.

In May, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights issued the OSCE / ODIHR Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) Report to assess the pre-election environment and the preparations for the US election on November 8.

It notes that in America election observation is regulated by state law, which does not explicitly provide for international observers at odds with the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document.

The paper says some 4.1 million citizens that are residents of US territories are not eligible and some 600,000 citizens that are residents of the District of Columbia can vote in presidential elections but do not have full representation in Congress. Some 5.8 million prisoners and ex-prisoners continue to be disenfranchised due to prohibitive and disproportionate legal regulations or burdensome procedures for reinstating voting rights in a number of states, particularly affecting minorities.

Women are generally underrepresented in public office, holding some 20 per cent of seats in the outgoing Congress and some 25 per cent of seats in the state legislatures. Some OSCE/ODIHR NAM interlocutors noted concerns about negative stereotyping of women. They are also concerned over an increase in inflammatory speech targeting minorities.

The OSCE report also notes that there are no limits on campaign spending: no aggregate limit on how much an individual may contribute. Spending by independent groups can be exempt from disclosure requirements. Boundaries of the districts to elect representatives are redrawn in line with partisan interests which may result in uncompetitive races.

The paper adds to numerous publications devoted to irregularities of the US voting system. Indeed, there has a been a range of vulnerabilities in the conduct of American elections made public in recent years, recently, especially since the notoriously flawed ballot design in Florida in 2000.

There is a widespread suspicion of the role of money in politics. Regardless of their political affiliation, Americans agree that money has too much influence on the outcome of the vote, the wealthy have more influence on elections, and candidates who win office promote policies that help their donors.

The people think the country’s campaign finance system needs significant changes. Americans do not think donating money to political candidates is a form of free speech.

Electoral laws are unfair to smaller parties like the Green Party, favor the governing party, or restrict voter’s rights.

Gerrymandering of district boundaries to favor incumbents, waiting in line in excess of many hours, inaccurate state and local voter registers, insufficiently trained local poll workers, and the breakdown of voting machines are just a few example in the list of noticeable shortfalls. In 2014 serious problems with electronic voting were reported. The polling machines recorded a vote for the Democratic candidate when the screen was touched to cast a vote for the Republican.

In Texas the statewide voter registration system crashed, forcing many to complete provisional ballots when poll workers were unable to confirm voter eligibility.

The 2016 race is disappointing enough. There was reported confusion about new photo ID requirements and long lines.

The system of superdelegates is evidently undemocratic. For instance, this year Democratic superdelegates, who aren’t beholden to vote for a candidate according to the popular choice, could potentially sway the nomination. It caused discontent among rank and file party members who would prefer another candidate instead of Hillary Clinton. G.O.P. candidate Donald Trump called the delegate system «rigged».

Noam Chomsky, a famous American scholar and the author of Failed States, believes there is an enormous gap between public opinion and policy in the United States.

In the book What We Say Goes: Conversations on US Power in a Changing World he sets an example. In 2005, the Program on International Policy Attitudes did an extensive poll on what people thought the budget ought to be.

It turned out to be the inverse of the actual budget: where federal funding was going up, an overwhelming majority wanted it to go down. The public opposed increases in military spending overall and supplemental spending for Iraq and Afghanistan, which is going up even more now. Where the budget was going down—social expenditures, health, renewable energy, veterans’ benefits, the United Nations-right across the board, the public wanted spending to increase. US media kept this fact out of public eye.

«…when Americans with different income levels differ in their policy preferences, actual policy outcomes strongly reflect the preferences of the most affluent but bear virtually no relationship to the preferences of poor or middle-income Americans. The vast discrepancy I find in government responsiveness to citizens with different incomes stands in stark contrast to the ideal of political equality that Americans hold dear. Although perfect political equality is an unrealistic goal, representational biases of this magnitude call into question the very democratic character of our society», says Martin Gilens, the professor of politics at Princeton University and the author the author of Affluence & Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America.

«Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors, and US senators and congress members», concludes former US president Jimmy Carter.

The US officials often recklessly accuse other countries of election tempering. There is a reason to believe they do it to obfuscate the real story of fraud and irregularities in their own electoral process. No doubt, America would do a better job of promoting democracy in other countries by setting an example to follow but it’s voting system is broken and needs to be fixed. Today the United States is definitely not in the position to lecture and teach others. It has a long way to go if it wants to become a real democracy.

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How Inflation Is Manipulated By The Federal Reserve (Video)

Those who own the Federal Reserve are the banking families. The most well know families on the list are Warburgs, Rockefellers and Rothschilds. These individuals have been manipulating the markets for quite some time. They’ve consolidated their power in order to being forth their New World Order.

Read: One Bank Owners

These various families in this Banking cartel all had their own ideas on what to do with the population. The Rockefeller and Bush faction wanted to kill off 90% of the people. I do believe the Rothschilds wanted to keep us alive, but place a carbon tax on every individual so that they could profit from it.

Things have changed recently though and there is a changing of the guard in progress. Those who used to have all the power and wealth are losing much of it. The Federal Reserve system, along with the international banking system consisting of the IMF, World Bank and Bank of International Settlements(BIS) is going belly up. They’re broke and have no money anymore. Eventually there will be a financial reset and a new system that has been in the works will assume control. This new financial system will be fair to all people. no more crony capitalism.

Read: Financial Reset On the Immediate Horizon

With this new financial system we will do away with poverty and the stigma of lack. There are plenty of resources to go around, we’ve only been manipulated to believe there isn’t enough. The Cabal spends a lot of effort and money to just keep the illusion of scarcity maintained. Abundance is natural state of the universe. Creation isn’t birthed through the ideals of scarcity or lack, but instead abundance. We wouldn’t be alive if there wasn’t enough to go around. It is our free will that allows us to have the choice to believe there isn’t enough resources. That’s why we experience lack, it’s a result of our own beliefs and thoughts about our reality, not because there isn’t enough.

Read: How To Retake Our Power

Timothy Frappier

Source: EconMatters
Via: Zero Hedge

We show the underlying costs of QE by the Federal Reserve in terms of much higher inflation that counters the benefits of lower interest rates on the Home Ownership Rate by lowering disposable income for consumers. The Fed giveth on one hand and taketh away with the other hand.

When the all in costs of QE and ZIRP are fully analyzed these policies are detrimental to long term growth fulfillment, healthy functioning financial markets, and capitalism in general. They should only be used as short term emergency measures by Central Banks. The evidence is quite clear at this point staying at the Zero Bound is detrimental to healthy functioning societies.

 

Vladimir Putin Has Everything He Needs to Blackmail Hillary Clinton

Regardless of what many have been told about Putin, I for one support him. I’ve heard from various sources that he’s been involved with the secret space program, in fact, it was speculated that he may have attended one of these galactic meetings at a space station in our solar system. This is the same meeting that Corey attended where the Sphere Beings revealed themselves to all the members in attendance.

Whether or not this is true, I cannot prove it, but my intuition tells me it it so. I do know this though, he’s trying to take down the cabal, with that basic premise I support Putin. That’s why the media tries to demonize him all the time. In the end, this isn’t about us vs them, Russia vs USA. It’s about we as a species uniting together as one, to look past our differences and see what makes us similar, because we have more similarities then we do differences. We as a species are one being, one humanity, all is One.

Timothy Frappier

 

Source: Observer

American intelligence officers are asking not ‘if’ but ‘when’ the Kremlin will dip into its arsenal of Clinton collateral

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the award ceremony of the 2016 IIHF World Championship gold medal game at the Ice Palace on May 22, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. Canada defeated Finland 2-0.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo: Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)

RUMINT (Rumor Intelligence) is rife with reports that Russian intelligence agencies are preparing to release emails “hacked” from Hillary Clinton’s rogue Internet email server.

Agreed, this sounds a bit like a blackmail plot in a 1940s radio detective thriller or a soap opera. Except it isn’t. We live in a world where blood gets spilled. 

I’ve read through several reports about the possible Russian information release, ranging from the staid, professional analysis to the wild Hollywood excitement—breathless. One of the more interesting analyses appeared a few days ago on oilprice.com, a site devoted to analyzing the global oil industry and forecasting trends:

“Reliable intelligence sources in the West have indicated that warnings had been received that the Russian Government could in the near future release the text of email messages intercepted from U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server from the time she was U.S. Secretary of State. The release would, the messaging indicated, prove that Secretary Clinton had, in fact, laid open U.S. secrets to foreign interception by putting highly-classified Government reports onto a private server in violation of U.S. law, and that, as suspected, the server had been targeted and hacked by foreign intelligence services.”

Close readers will note that staid paragraph is freighted with two things: (1) speculation, based on hearsay from unnamed sources; and (2) legitimate worry, based on real experience and awareness of consequences. The speculation is a scenario, a “could be.” 

No one doubts that Clinton’s server could be hacked. Known facts indicate it was probed by hackers and likely hacked. On June 8 the Associated Press published an article summarizing information gleaned from released emails and discussing the likelihood that foreign intelligence services had hacked Clinton’s definitely not-approved off-the-record and therefore illegal system.

“…because both Clinton’s server and the State Department systems were vulnerable to hacking, the perpetrators could have those original emails, and now the publicly released, redacted versions showing exactly which sections refer to CIA personnel.

“Start with the entirely plausible view that foreign intelligence services discovered and rifled Hillary Clinton’s server,” said Stewart Baker, a Washington lawyer who spent more than three years as an assistant secretary of the Homeland Security Department and is former legal counsel for the National Security Agency. If so, those infiltrators would have copies of all her emails with the names not flagged as being linked to the agency.”

The names Baker refers to are those of U.S. intelligence officers. Read the report. He suggests they may have been compromised.

Writing “Ouch” doesn’t convey my personal dismay. As I noted in an earlier Observer essay:

“I carried a Top Secret clearance for over three decades. I understand the system we have in place to protect national security information. The system has excesses and inadequacies, but there are common sense procedures for dealing with mistakes, excesses and inadequacies. I respect the system’s purpose because I know the stakes. The system exists for a reason: the world is a dangerous place. Freedom is precious and fragile. Defending America—which still means defending freedom, and I’ll take on anyone who disagrees—requires keeping secrets.”

I also discussed the possibility that Clinton’s rogue communication system could have compromised the identities of U.S. intelligence officers and human intelligence assets (HUMINT, human intelligence sources, i.e., flesh and blood, people who risk their lives to provide the U.S. with intelligence information).

That essay mentions the Valerie Plame case, in which a CIA officer’s name was identified by a Bush Administration official. Plame was no longer working under cover. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald convicted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, an aide to then-Vice President Cheney on perjury charges, not for revealing Plame’s name.  However, Fitzgerald thought his prosecution served a national security purpose. “The notion,” Fitzgerald said, “that someone’s identity could be compromised lightly, to me, compromises the ability to recruit [i.e., for the US to recruit intelligence officers].”

I agreed with Fitzgerald. Covert intelligence work is difficult. Intelligence officers—who by the very nature of their work are fully engaged in protecting U.S. national security—are vulnerable.

In Hillary Clinton’s judgment, protecting her political viability was more important than protecting U.S. national security. Keeping her work-related communications from the clutches of federal record maintenance laws and the  Freedom of Information Act was more important than following the laws protecting the handling of national security-related information.

Remember, in the 2008, Clinton claimed she’s prepared to answer the emergency phone call in the wee hours of the morning. Huh?

But let’s get back to Vlad Putin. It’s now evident to all but the willfully stupid that in their 2012 presidential campaign debate Mitt Romney was right about Russia and Barack Obama wrong: Russia led by Vladimir Putin is a geo-political adversary, if not quite a dyed-in-the-wool enemy.

Obama mocked him. In February 2014, Putin-led Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. In March 2014 the Kremlin annexed the region. That smashed the 1994 Budapest Accord, one of the documents that provided the diplomatic framework for political stability in post-Cold War eastern Europe. The Clinton Administration backed the Budapest Accord.

I think Vladimir Putin has demonstrated a willingness to do anything that gains him an advantage, especially with little risk.

The FBI is allegedly interested in the Clinton Foundation and is looking for emails on Clinton’s rogue system that may relate to Clinton Foundation business. Agreed, that’s more speculation. American Thinker, commenting on a Washington Examiner report, pointed out that known facts regarding the Clinton Global Initiative (a Foundation initiative) are rather damning and if the Clintons were Republicans we would be treated to a constant torrent of reports about possible corruption. Is it fair to speculate that the Kremlin is also interested in the Clinton Foundation? The Examiner reported on June 13 that “Less than half of the projects undertaken by the Clinton Global Initiative (since 2005) have been completed…” The American Thinker wonders if New York’s attorney general will investigate.

More troublesome are characters like Canadian investor Victor Dahdaleh

Yahoo.com notes that Dahdaleh claims to be a trustee of the Clinton Foundation—at least his website says so. A Toronto Star investigation of the Panama Papers connects Dahdaleh to a global bribery case.

Dahdaleh’s involvement with the Clinton Foundation does not appear to be illegal. However, shady characters do shady things, and when the intelligence services of foreign adversaries can connect the leaders of democracies—to say nothing of a sitting U.S. president—to crooked activities, blackmail becomes a strategic tool, even if it is used as a threat.

This is a speculation, a scenario. However, the U.S. military and NATO regularly use speculative scenarios to analyze verifiable as well as potential threats. They use scenarios to create field exercises to train troops for potential operations in non-speculative, for damn real on-going wars.

The truth is, Hillary Clinton doesn’t know what the Russians may or may not know—nor does Barack Obama. The FBI and CIA might have some good guesses, but they don’t know for certain. In the mirror world of intelligence, it is possible the Kremlin doesn’t know what it knows.

Russian blackmail classifies as a potential threat, and another reason I believe a full and complete investigation of Hillary Clinton’s national security crime requires a special prosecutor. By the way, on June 14 U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan referred to the FBI investigation as a “criminal investigation,” confirming what White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said June 9. The executive and judicial branches are now in agreement.

So. Will Vlad blackmail Hillary? Or, “When Will Vlad blackmail Hillary?” Sure, it’s speculation. It’s a scenario. It’s like a radio-era detective serial.

Stay tuned for the next episode.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story implied that Scooter Libby had been the first to reveal Valerie Plame’s identity; in fact, it was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who first leaked that information.

Austin Bay is a contributing editor at StrategyPage.com and adjunct professor at the University of Texas in Austin. His most recent book is a biography of Kemal Ataturk (Macmillan 2011). Mr. Bay is a retired US Army Reserve colonel and Iraq veteran. He has a PhD in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.