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Donald Trump and the political class: the man vs the machine

The US Presidential election is pitting a total political amateur and outsider – Donald Trump – against the world’s mightiest political machine. It reflects the extent of the crisis of political legitimacy in modern America that he has come so far.

Alexander Mercouris

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As the US Presidential election finally hits culminating day, it is striking that the person people are talking about is not Hillary Clinton – still as of the time of writing the likely winner – but Donald Trump. 

As  has been correctly pointed out, there are very few American voters who will vote for Hillary Clinton because they positively like and support her.  By contrast Donald Trump not only has an enthusiastic following, but he is being attacked like no candidate I have ever known in a US election.

Those who make the most ferocious attacks on Donald Trump typically say they do so because of the appalling things they say he says.  A good example is this Jeremiad against Donald Trump by Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian: a British liberal newspaper which has a surprisingly influential following in liberal elite America

“Donald Trump has fought a presidential campaign like no other. He has mocked opponents for their looks, belittled women, disparaged war heroes, damned ethnic and other minorities in crude, bigoted language, jeered at disabled people, beaten his chest with bellicose promises of state-sponsored violence that would trample on the US constitution and trigger a third world war, and told dozens and dozens of lies every day. While his opponent has offered detailed and substantive policy prescriptions, those have barely got a mention: Trump’s knack for hogging media attention, usually by saying or tweeting something jaw-droppingly outrageous, has left no room. In the four-and-a-half hours of formal presidential debates between Trump and Hillary Clinton, climate change was discussed for not one minute.”

If one’s reading was confined to pieces like this, one would be forced to wonder why anyone was voting for Trump at all.  As it is, this piece accurately reflects the sheer horror the Western political establishment – not just in the US but also in Europe – feels at the mere thought of “President Trump”.

In my opinion one key reason why this is so – and one which also explains many of the oddities of Trump’s campaign, which give pieces like Freedland’s their ammunition – is the largely ignored fact that in the matter of politics Donald Trump is a complete amateur.

This explains many of the weaknesses of his campaign, such its notorious lack of organisation, its failure to present a economic coherent programme, and Trump’s habit of firing off comments a professional and experienced politician would never make.

Unfortunately it also explains why Trump has failed to land punches on Hillary Clinton as effectively as he might have done.

A professional and experienced politician in Trump’s place would have focused on the fact that Hillary Clinton’s celebrated “experience” is one of a First Lady in her husband’s administration whose flagship health care reform was a total failure, and of a Secretary of State whose flagship war in Libya ended in total disaster.

A professional and experienced politician in Trump’s place would also have focused on the extent to which Hillary Clinton has taken influence peddling to the level of high art. 

Such a politician would have pointed out what is actually true: that the fees paid to Hillary Clinton for her speeches to Goldman Sachs and the donations to her Foundation are payments in advance – bribes if you will – for future services to be rendered. 

Such a politician would also have pointed out the highly dubious nature of some of the people who have paid these bribes, and how many of them are foreigners implicated in activities that have caused harm and injury to the United States.

A professional and experienced politician would also have focused on the dangerously confrontational nature of Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy – and not just towards Russia – and how this risks getting the US bogged down in still more wars, something which might have gained particular traction given the war weariness and disillusion with the foreign policy establishment that has become common with the American people.

A professional and experienced politician might also have pointed to Hillary Clinton’s historic ignorance and wilful indifference towards the military, who would be expected to carry out her aggressive foreign policy for her. 

Lastly, a professional and experienced politician might also have pointed out how Hillary Clinton’s famous ‘leftism’ essentially boils down to a set of single issue causes, and how she has no overall plan or even the concept of a plan to help the middle class and lower income Americans a genuine leftist would be trying to help.

It is not exactly that Donald Trump does not know these things and has not tried to say them.  Rather it is that because of his lack of experience he doesn’t know how to say them simply and clearly, and how to stay focused on them. 

The result is that Trump is all too easily diverted into arguments a professional and experienced politician would avoid – such as a hopeless quarrel with the family of a war veteran who died in Iraq – and has been driven to say all sorts of unwise things a professional and experienced politician would never have said, in the process giving his enemies ammunition and allowing his own message to become blurred.

None of this is at all surprising.  Donald Trump is anything but a professional and experienced politician.  He has never stood for election before, and has never held political or public office, something which amongst US Presidential candidates makes him literally unique.  To the extent that Trump has any experience of politics it is through appearing on talk shows and meeting with politicians in social situations.

As anyone who has any knowledge of professionals in any field knows, there is no-one they detest more than an amateur who has managed to insert himself or herself successfully amongst them.  If that amateur is moreover more successful at what they do than they are, that is all but guaranteed to drive them mad.

Much of the venom directed at Donald Trump is in my opinion the product of this.  The hardbitten veterans of the US political system – quite possibly the most ruthlessly professional political establishment in the world – are being bested by a rank amateur and complete outsider.  Not surprisingly it is driving them mad.

The big question – to which they have no answer – is why it is happening at all. 

In my opinion US voters – including those who are voting for Donald Trump – understand his amateurism perfectly well – better than the professional politicians do – which is why they have been cutting Donald Trump slack to an extent that they would never do for a professional politician. 

This is why – to the bafflement of the professional politicians and the establishment media which is allied to them – Trump has survived errors and setbacks no professional politician would ever be able to.

The fact that the American people – or at least a potential plurality of them – is prepared contrary to all their traditions to consider entrusting the future of the US to a complete amateur in place of the professional politicians of their political class, is in fact quite extraordinary, and shows how angry with their professional political class they have become.

It truly is a case of the man against the machine, and regardless of whether Trump wins or loses today, it is truly astonishing – and says a huge amount about the state of America – that against such an awesomely powerful machine the man has come so far.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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