from Screeching Kettle
Although many Americans have understandably given up hope in the political system
, the charlatans in Washington nonetheless continue to do their song and dance. Once again, another election is dawning upon us, and once again, two shills are being prepped and readied to assume the imperial mantle. On the right, we have Rand Paul, who is attempting to merge the Ron Paul libertarian movement with the GOP once and for all, and on the left, Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party favorite who gets her rocks off laughing about bombing Iran
. These two might seem drastically opposed to one another on the surface, but as was the case with the previous election
, and the one before that
, and the one before that
, the two candidates actually have much more in common than one may originally be led to believe.
1. Both are willing to continue the utterly failed policy of marijuana prohibition
“I don’t think that will work. I mean, I hear the same debate. I hear it in my country. It is not likely to work. There is just too much money in it, and I don’t think that—you can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped.”
“I’m not advocating everyone go out and run around with no clothes on and smoke pot. I’m not a libertarian. I’m a libertarian Republican. I’m a constitutional conservative.”
And, as reported
by The Washington Post
“At a lunch Friday with about a dozen evangelical pastors in a Cedar Rapids hotel, the younger Paul assured the group that he disagrees with libertarians who support legalizing drugs. When one pastor inquired about ideological ties between Paul and his father, the senator asked that he be judged as his own man.”
Both Hillary and Rand claim they want to reduce the length of time one spends in jail for possessing the wrong kind of plant, which is all fine and dandy if you think ten years in a rape-filled gulag
is somehow better than fifteen. Why have any penalty at all? Because they have to “play politics”? It’s nothing short of pathetic that people have to suffer for nonviolent offenses because politicians lack the spine to do what’s right.
2. Both are in favor of intervention in Iran because of a non-existent nuclear weapons program
“I share the opinion of you and many of your colleagues that these sanctions and the carefully constructed global consensus behind them are responsible for driving Tehran to the negotiating table. It was because sanctions worked that we are starting implementation of the Joint Plan of Action, an important step – though still only a first step – toward a comprehensive solution. Now that serious negotiations are finally under way, we should do everything we can to test whether they can advance a permanent solution. As President Obama said, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed, while keeping all options on the table.“
Hillary wants to “keep all options on the table”? Where have we heard this before…
“I believe all options should be on the table to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, including the military option. False choices between being everywhere all of the time and nowhere any of the time are fodder for debate on Sunday morning shows or newspaper columns. Real foreign policy is made in the middle; with nuance; in the gray area of diplomacy, engagement and reluctantly, if necessary, military action.”
Paul voted for the Kirk-Menendez amendment
on December 1, 2011, which seeks “to require the imposition of sanctions with respect to the financial sector of Iran, including the Central Bank of Iran.” The amendment’s main focus is on Iran’s oil industry: “Sanctions imposed … shall apply with respect to a foreign financial institution owned or controlled by the government of a foreign country including a central bank of a foreign country, only insofar as it engages in transactions for the sale or purchase of petroleum or petroleum products to or from Iran.”
Since then, Rand has made a valiant effort to deceive his libertarian base into thinking he’s actually against sanctions, all the while assuring his Republican base that he’s for them (have a listen to his speech at the Heritage Foundation here
Hillary on the other hand has taken the route of trying to justify her support of sanctions by calling them “effective
” at bringing Iran to the negotiating table (again, over a nuclear weapons program that most outside the realm of Washington have repeatedly said does not exist
). She has even made special trips
to places such as India to try and convince their government to join in on the party of torturing the Iranian population
with a form of economic warfare that has utterly crippled the economy
and would be considered nothing short of a declaration of war were it done to us by another country.
Maybe Rand and Hillary should have a long chat with Ron Paul, who said
on the subject:
“Some may argue that we are pursuing sanctions so as to avoid war with Iran, but recent history teaches us otherwise. For how many years were sanctions placed on Iraq while we were told they were necessary to avoid war? Thousands of innocent Iraqis suffered and died under U.S. sanctions and still the U.S. invaded, further destroying the country. Are we safer after spending a trillion dollars or more to destroy Iraq and then rebuild it? Sanctions do not work. They are precursors to war and usually lead to war. They undermine our economy and our national security. They result in terrible, unnecessary suffering among the civilian population in the target countries and rarely even inconvenience their leaders. We must change our foreign policy from one of interventionism and confrontation to cooperation and diplomacy. This race to war against Iran is foolhardy and dangerous. As with the war on Iraq, the arguments for further aggression and war on Iran are based on manipulations and untruths. We need to learn our lesson and reject this legislation and the push for war.”
3. Both are in favor of intervention in Ukraine
Blatantly ignoring the U.S. role
in destabilizing Ukraine while focusing only on the Russian response, Rand and Hillary have both come out in support of Cold War 2.0
measures that would seek to further escalate the so-called “crisis”.
4. Both are unapologetic whores for the Israel lobby
During a Hanukkah dinner speech delivered in December 2005, Clinton said:
“I held a series of meetings with Israeli officials [last summer], including the prime minister and the foreign minister and the head of the [Israel Defense Forces], to discuss such challenges we confront. In each of these meetings, we talked at length about the dire threat posed by the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran, not only to Israel, but also to Europe and Russia. Just this week, the new president of Iran made further outrageous comments that attacked Israel’s right to exist that are simply beyond the pale of international discourse and acceptability. During my meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, I was reminded vividly of the threats that Israel faces every hour of every day. … It became even more clear how important it is for the United States to stand with Israel.“
“Sen. Rand Paul today introduced the Stand with Israel Act of 2014. This legislation halts all U.S. aid to the Palestinian government until they agree to a ceasefire and recognize the right of Israel to exist.”
“Well absolutely we stand with Israel, but what I think we should do is announce to the world – and I think it is pretty well known — that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States.”
5. Both are against government whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden
“I think that in an age where so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships, deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.”
“What Manning did was just willy-nilly, just released millions of pages of things and I think some people have said there is potentially some harm from that. You know individual agents that could have been killed or put at risk from this. So there is a problem with that. So I just can’t support that.”
“When he emerged and when he absconded with all that material, I was puzzled because we have all these protections for whistleblowers. If he were concerned and wanted to be part of the American debate, he could have been. But it struck me as—I just have to be honest with you—as sort of odd that he would flee to China, because Hong Kong is controlled by China, and that he would then go to Russia—two countries with which we have very difficult cyber relationships, to put it mildly.”
And here’s Rand
, who is also for punishing Snowden, as long as it’s done “reasonably”:
“I think the only way he’s coming home is if someone would offer him a fair trial with a reasonable sentence.”
6. Both are in favor of keeping the hellhole at Guantanamo open
Hillary has spoken quite a few times of reforming the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where dozens of men have remained imprisoned for nearly two decades without explanation or due process. According to one report
, after she ascended to the position of Secretary of State, Clinton criticized the Obama administration for “throwing its commitment to close Guantanamo into the trash bin”. And yet for all the empty rhetoric, just a few days before her tenure ended in early 2013, the State Department shuttered its office responsible for “resettling” the detainees
. The “resettling” aspect is important, because like Obama
, Clinton never wanted to release the inmates so much as merely transfer them to other prisons.
Rand isn’t much different. In his own words, he referred to Gitmo inmates as “thugs
” and “foreign terrorists
” – an offer of judgment before any kind of actual conviction – only to clarify
a few days later that he still thinks they should be allowed to have a trial via military tribunal.
7. Both are backed by out-of-touch, extremely wealthy “one percent” donors
Additionally, Paul is heavily backed by an organization known as FreedomWorks, which is also affiliated with the Koch Brothers and the Republican Party establishment. FreedomWorks has specifically called for the manipulation (“cultivation” was their wording) of former Ron Paul supporters in an effort to get their vote in the next election, with a leaked memo
from the organization asking whether the face of American conservatism can be “younger” and “more diverse”, adding, “can liberty, personal responsibility, and doing things for yourself be the new ‘cool’?”
It’s also worth pointing out that FreedomWorks, like many groups linked with the Koch Brothers, has a long history of an utterly deceptive practice called “astroturfing
” – where fake internet accounts are used to create the illusion of popular support when in fact there is none or very little.
8. Both have been endorsed by, or have endorsed, partisan hacks
As of this article’s publication, Hillary has been endorsed by 18 senators and 39 members of the House. “The level of support is astounding, especially two-and-a-half years before the Democratic Party hosts its nominating convention. The total represents more than 20 percent of the 253 Democrats in the House and Senate. It is also more than half of the lawmaker endorsements Clinton received in 2008,” points out Jasmine Sachar and Bob Cusack, who made
Unsurprisingly, she also has the endorsement
of her husband, Bill, the saxophone-playing “cool” President who also just so happened to oversee the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians
as a direct result of crippling U.S. sanctions put in place by his administration.
9. Both are backed by the military-industrial complex
Hillary and Rand have each received campaign contributions from defense companies, with Hillary taking cash
from Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, and Rand taking cash
from Lockheed Martin as well as Raytheon.
Interestingly, Rand wrote an op-ed
criticizing the Obama administration for making cuts to the Tomahawk missile program. He said:
“In the current budget, the Obama Administration called for the elimination of the Tomahawk missile. This missile protects our troops and allows us to avoid much direct person-to-person combat. Our navy has depended heavily on them. Now President Obama wants to get rid of them rather than do the harder work of finding the waste and fraud in our bloated Pentagon bureaucracy. This is a mistake and will weaken our defenses.”
Who builds the Tomahawk missile? Raytheon
, one of Rand’s contributors.
10. Both are masters of spin and doublespeak
Leave it to career politicians to perfect the skill of saying two things at the same time with a totally contradictory meaning, or to just be flat-out, flip-flopping hypocrites.
Back in 2011, Hillary gave a speech on why freedom of information is important, saying:
“The right to express one’s views, practice one’s faith, peacefully assemble with others to pursue political or social change – these are all rights to which all human beings are entitled, whether they choose to exercise them in a city square or an internet chat room. This is an urgent task. It is most urgent, of course, for those around the world whose words are now censored, who are imprisoned because of what they or others have written online, who are blocked from accessing entire categories of internet content, or who are being tracked by governments seeking to keep them from connecting with one another.”
“When ideas are blocked, information deleted, conversations stifled, and people constrained in their choices, the internet is diminished for all of us.”
“Those who push these plans often do so in the name of security.”
So what’s the problem with these remarks? As pointed out
by Glenn Greenwald:
“As part of WikiLeaks’ disclosures, she was caught ordering her diplomats at the U.N. to engage in extensive espionage on other diplomats and U.N. officials; in a classified memo, she demanded “forensic technical details about the communications systems used by top UN officials, including passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks for official communications” as well as “credit card numbers, email addresses, phone, fax and pager numbers and even frequent-flyer account numbers” for a whole slew of diplomats, actions previously condemned by the U.S. as illegal. WikiLeaks also revealed that the State Department — very early on in the Obama administration — oversaw a joint effort between its diplomats and GOP officials to pressure and coerce Spain to block independent judicial investigations into the torture policies of Bush officials: a direct violation of then-candidate Obama’s pledge to allow investigations to proceed as well being at odds with the White House’s dismissal of questions about the Spanish investigation as merely “hypothetical.” WikiLeaks disclosures also revealed that public denials from Clinton’s State Department about the U.S. role in Yemen were at best deeply misleading. And, of course, those disclosures revealed a litany of other truly bad acts by the U.S. Government generally.
What has the U.S. government done in response to these newsworthy internet revelations? It launched what The Sydney Morning Herald this week – citing classified Australian diplomatic cables – described as “an ‘unprecedented’ U.S. government criminal investigation”: “unprecedented both in its scale and nature.” It has convened a Grand Jury to criminally investigate WikiLeaks — for nothing more than doing what newspapers routinely do: publishing newsworthy classified information received from sources. It stood passively by — if it did not actively participate in — highly sophisticated cyberattacks that prevented WikiLeaks from being hosted any longer on a U.S. site. It secretly sought from Twitter a slew of records showing the online activities of WikiLeaks supporters, including a sitting member of Iceland’s Parliament. It has serially harassed American supporters of WikiLeaks by repeatedly detaining them at the airport and seizing their electronic goods such as their laptops, all without any warrants. And Senate Democrats demanded Julian Assange’s prosecution for espionage while bullying private corporations to cut off all of WikiLeaks’ funding sources.
Meanwhile, Clinton’s State Department warned international relations students that they had better not discuss, link to or even read the cables — which were making news all over the world — or else they would be jeopardizing their ability to work in government. The White House warned government employees not to even look at those documents online — even though the world’s largest newspapers were publishing them — and threatened that they would be breaking the law if they did. The State Department instructed its employees that all of those documents, published all over the world, must still be treated as secret. The Obama administration then blocked Internet access to those documents for hundreds of thousands of federal employees, even having the Library of Congress — one of the world’s largest libraries — install blocks to ensure that nobody could use library computers to read those documents. Those are the acts of a government and a State Department seeking to block access to and discussion of evidence of their own wrongdoing and to punish as criminals those who reported it.”
Pure, unfiltered hypocrisy.
In another speech during the same year on the topic of civil liberties and personal freedom, former C.I.A. analyst Ray McGovern decided to silently protest, standing up in the crowd (off camera) and putting his back to Clinton as she spoke. He was quickly and rather brutally hauled out of the room
, once again proving that Hillary’s words were meaningless rhetoric and nothing more.
On the other side, consider this example from Rand, who said
, “I am not for containment in Iran. Let me repeat that, since no one seems to be listening closely: I am unequivocally not for containing Iran.” And yet immediately after saying this, he added: “I am also not for announcing that the United States should never contain Iran.” So in the very same day, Rand said he is against containing Iran, but also not against it.
Here’s another instance from Paul. In this clip
, he’s talking about his position on marijuana legalization. He says, “I don’t want to put people in jail” for marijuana use, but with a catch: he doesn’t want to put people in jail “for extended periods of time” – but he still wants to put them in jail. So as he’s rightfully complaining about overcrowded jails filled with nonviolent offenders, in the same breath, he’s also saying he doesn’t want to legalize marijuana and just wants reduced sentences instead for possessors.
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Barring some totally unforeseen event or a mystery candidate springing out of the woodwork, Hillary and Rand are likely to be the Democrat and Republican choices for Americans to pick from in the next election. Imperialist vs. imperialist, drug warrior vs. drug warrior, corporate stooge vs. corporate stooge. Take your pick and vote for one, vote for both, vote for none, vote third party, write in Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, or don’t vote at all, because the truth of the matter is it really doesn’t matter anyway. Until the system itself changes, we will forever be left to deal with the mutant spawns it inevitably produces.