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8 points about the crisis in Catalonia

The crisis in Catalonia was provoked by Catalonia’s nationalists, not by the Spanish government, and if handled firmly is neither big nor dangerous

Alexander Mercouris

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As the Catalonia crisis slides towards its climax, a number of misconceptions about it need urgently to be set aside.

(1) The illegality of the independence referendum does matter

Firstly, the crisis was triggered by the decision of Carles Puidgemont and of the Catalan regional government to call an independence referendum which was unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

I am troubled by the willingness of many people to disregard the illegality of the Catalan referendum and to support – apparently without giving much thought to the consequences – what was an exercise in straightforward law breaking.

This has gone along with all sorts of claims that Spain’s constitution can somehow be disregarded in this instance because constitutions supposedly derive their legitimacy from popular consent, which in Catalonia’s case the Spanish constitution is supposedly lacking.

These are wild and dangerous arguments.  Of all political systems democracy is the one which depends most on rigorous observation of the constitution and the law.  When these are disregarded and unconstitutional and illegal actions are taken and become the norm it is democracy itself which breaks down.

That is precisely what happened for example in Ukraine, where the whole root of the present crisis is the Maidan movement’s persistent refusal to respect the outcome of democratic and constitutional elections which it loses, and its willingness – as in its overthrow in February 2014 of President Yanukovych – to use unconstitutional and illegal methods to further its objectives.

The result in Ukraine was to bring the whole constitutional and legal order of Ukraine by 2014 crashing down with an unconstitutional government illegally installed by violent methods triggering secessionist moves by those who felt rightly that their constitutional and democratic rights and protections had been illegally taken from them.

That is absolutely not the situation in Catalonia today, and the parallels some people I suspect are making – if only in their own minds – between the post 2014 independence movements in Crimea and Donbass and the one in Catalonia today are false ones and should be rejected.

The fact that some people in Catalonia are unhappy with the present situation cannot be taken to mean that the constitution of the whole of Spain – of which Catalonia is only a part – no longer has consent or legitimacy and can simply be disregarded and set aside.  That is to privilege the obsessions of a small minority of Spain’s people over those of the great majority, something which would not only make constitutional government in Spain or indeed anywhere else where that principle was applied impossible, but which is in fact the reverse of what democracy is supposed to be.

I would add that the fact that in other more established democracies – such as the United States – the constitution and the law are being repeatedly violated by those in authority is certainly not something which ought to be cited as a precedent for Catalonia to follow.  On the contrary it is a cause for concern about the future of democracy in the United States.

(2) Violence in Catalonia was caused by the staging of an illegal referendum

The single fact which possibly more than any other has caused an outpouring of support for the Catalan independence movement is the appearance of riot police in Catalonia attempting to stop the illegal referendum from taking place.  This has triggered a predictable – and intended – storm of criticism of the Spanish authorities for supposedly responding violently to the Catalan people’s peaceful exercise of their supposed right to vote in the referendum.

This ignores the fact that the reason there was violence in Catalonia was because an act of illegality took place there.  To be clear wherever illegal gatherings happen (Navalny’s protests in Russia and the Maidan movement’s illegal occupation of Kiev’s Maidan Square are cases in point) there is always an inherent potential for violence, and the staging in Catalonia of an illegal referendum is no exception.

One should be very slow in situations like the one in Catalonia before criticising the Spanish authorities and the Spanish police for taking action to uphold the law.

Whilst what riot police do can always be made to look ugly, given that what took place in Catalonia was illegal I do not think that the actions of the Spanish authorities or of the Spanish police were disproportionate or unduly violent.  Reports of serious injuries are very few, and of reports of deaths thankfully there are none.

As was the case during the Slovene crisis of 1991, in Ukraine during the Maidan riots of 2013/2014, during the Libyan and Syrian protests of 2011, and during Navalny’s various protests in Moscow and elsewhere since then, I have no doubt that part of the intention behind the illegal staging of the referendum in Catalonia was precisely to provoke a reaction by the authorities and the police which could be presented to the outside world as a case of the authorities ‘violently cracking down on peaceful protests’.

I am always surprised by how easily manipulated people are by this tactic.

(3) The Spanish authorities almost certainly had no alternative but to react as they did

Here I must make some qualifications, since I accept that it is possible that the Spanish authorities may have had other more peaceful options than the ones they used in dealing with this crisis.  I do not know enough about the internal situation in Spain to know for sure one way or the other.  However I doubt that the overwhelming majority of those who pronounce confidently on this issue from the other side know much about the internal political situation in Spain either.

Again I feel that far too many people have been in a rush to make assumptions about possible alternative peaceful options for the Spanish government to have used to deal with this crisis, which because of the actual situation today in Spain may not in fact exist.

For example I question whether the fact that the Spanish authorities responded passively to an earlier referendum is as important as some people think.  It is surely possible – even likely – that the political situation in Spain and Catalonia is now such that what it was possible to ignore before is impossible to ignore now.  Giving a proper answer to this question requires a deep knowledge of Spanish domestic politics which I do not have, but which I doubt that most of the people who pronounce on this matter have either.

Ultimately a state which is not prepared to take action to defend the constitutional and legal order upon which it is based has no future.

It was the persistent refusal or inability of Mikhail Gorbachev’s government to act decisively to reassert its authority (derived from the Soviet constitution) in places like the Baltic States, Moldova and the Transcaucasus which in the end undermined its authority across the whole USSR, causing the USSR itself to collapse.

By contrast it was the Chinese government’s determined reassertion of its authority during the Tiananmen protests of 1989 which secured its survival, and China’s stability thereafter.

Ultimately if the Spanish government were to ignore persistent blatant illegality in Catalonia its authority would collapse there, with the likely result that it would in time collapse across the whole of the rest of Spain as well.  Quite possibly that was the point which the Spanish government felt had been reached when this latest illegal referendum was called.

If so then the Spanish government’s decision to send police to Catalonia to reassert its authority and that of the constitution and of the law in the face of what was a concerted illegal challenge to its authority was almost certainly – in terms of its own and the Spanish state’s survival – politically speaking the right one and indeed the only one.

(4) There are no grounds to say that the Spanish courts behaved in a biased way in striking down sections of an autonomy agreement reached between a previous Spanish government and Catalonia

Again it concerns me that so many people have uncritically accepted this claim of Francoist bias on the part of the Spanish judiciary, self-serving on the part of Catalonia’s nationalists though it is.

Ultimately there is no better judge of Spain’s constitution and law than Spain’s own courts.  Possibly some of the judges in those courts are old fashioned people of right wing and conservative views.  However General Franco – Spain’s former fascist dictator – has now been dead for 42 years.  It beggars belief that after 42 years of constitutional democracy (a period longer than Franco’s rule) the entire Spanish legal and judicial system should continue to be permeated with his thinking.

I have seen no sustained legal criticism of the Spanish court decisions which are being objected to, and I see no reason therefore to think that those decisions were either biased or wrong.

The fact that the Catalan authorities secured for themselves in negotiations with an earlier Spanish government more than they may have been legally entitled to under Spain’s constitution does not mean that they are justified now in acting illegally simply because decisions in the courts have gone against them.

No one has a right to act illegally because they lose a case in court – the idea is actually absurd – and elected authorities such as the ones in Catalonia especially should not do so.

(5) the Catalan authorities did not need to act illegally to secure independence or greater autonomy for Catalonia

Again it concerns me how readily the obviously self-serving claim that a resort to illegality is somehow justified because of the supposed impossibility of otherwise extracting concessions from the Spanish state is being accepted.

Spain is not a monolith and Catalonia is one of its biggest provinces and is also its richest province.  That means that a Catalan government committed to the objective of greater autonomy or even independence for Catalonia has any number of legal options it could turn to in order to achieve its objective.

There are for example political forces in the rest of Spain – such as for example Podemos – with which it might be able to ally itself with in order to secure a new Spanish government with which it could negotiate greater autonomy or even independence.   It could also press for changes to Spain’s constitution – which can be amended in a legal and constitutional way, like any other constitution can – to achieve those objectives.

It could incidentally also have chosen to stage the recent vote not as a binding independence referendum but as a non-binding opinion poll in order to show how strong feeling in support of independence within Catalonia is.

Instead the present Catalan government wilfully chose the path of illegality thereby – almost certainly intentionally – triggering the present crisis.

The fact that it chose to act in this way instead of choosing one of the legal and constitutional (though incremental) options available to it makes me in fact question the whole foundation myth of this whole crisis: that there is a strong majority in Catalonia which supports independence from Spain.

Generally speaking a resort to illegality by a nationalist movement only takes place within a democratic and constitutional framework when the nationalist movement itself doubts that it has the support it says it does.  The intention is to use illegality to provoke a reaction from the authorities in order to polarise opinion and harden support behind the nationalist movement.

That for example was what lay behind the resort to illegality in Ukraine in 2004 and 2014, and it seems to me that that is what we are seeing being attempted in Catalonia now.

(6) Negotiations may not offer a solution

The claim that negotiations are the route out of the crisis is something which is always said in crises of this sort, and it perhaps the most dangerous myth of all.

The proper solution of the crisis in Catalonia is not negotiations.  It is a return to legality.

When President Yanukovych of Ukraine in 2014 sought to negotiate with the leaders of the Maidan movement who were acting illegally he did not secure a peaceful or proper solution to the crisis in Ukraine.  He secured instead his own downfall and that of the whole constitutional order of Ukraine.

In this case if the Catalan government persists in its claim that the illegal referendum has given Catalonia a ‘right’ to secede from Spain then negotiations between it and the Spanish government become unwise and even dangerous, since they can appear to be legitimising that objective and the way the Catalan government is going about achieving it.  In that case the ‘negotiations’ simply become a mechanism to achieve Catalan independence from Spain.  Anyone who observed Puidgemont’s speech to the Catalan parliament can see that that is exactly the agenda he is following.

Again it puzzles me that some people are unable to see behind this – wholly transparent – agenda, and construe a purported ‘offer’ from Puidgemont for talks – be it noted on his terms – as a ‘last chance for Spain’ when it is in reality the precise opposite.

The Spanish government’s challenge to Puidgemont – to clarify whether he has declared independence or not – by contrast makes total sense, as does the Spanish government’s eight day ultimatum to the Catalan government to scrap its independence declaration or face the consequences.

(7) This is not a major crisis in Spain and for the European Union

Though here I cannot be sure I suspect that the claim that this is a big or serious crisis is the biggest myth of all.

The Spanish government has threatened the Catalan government with the imposition of direct rule from Madrid unless it backs down and cancels its independence declaration.  It has also made it fairly clear that it is considering legal proceedings against the Catalan officials – including Puidgemont – who were responsible for the referendum and for the independence declaration.

This is being universally reported as taking Spain into ‘uncharted waters’, supposedly causing a huge crisis in Catalonia and Spain and ultimately for the EU.

I am not sure why.  No doubt the imposition of direct rule by Madrid would meet with opposition in Catalonia.  However short of a resort to outright violence I have no doubt the resources of the Spanish state would enable it to prevail quickly in the event of a stand-off.  Catalan society is divided on the independence question – with much of Catalonia’s working class said to be opposed – so it is difficult to see how opposition could be sustained for very long.

Needless to say if there is a resort to violence the resources of the Spanish state will quickly contain it.  A Spanish state that was able to defeat the challenge of Basque terrorism can certainly counter any threat of violence coming from within Catalonia.  I would add that in the event that they were to resort to violence – which I think is very unlikely – the Catalan nationalists would quickly lose support within Catalonia itself.

Here it is essential to make a point made previously by Haneul Na’avi.  The Catalan independence movement is in no sense a revolutionary movement.  It is not calling for a revolutionary transformation of Catalan or Spanish society.  Mostly it is a conservative middle class movement anxious to shore up the economic and cultural privileges of Catalonia’s conservative middle class.  That all but excludes any real possibility of it posing any true sustained challenge either to the Spanish state or to the EU or to the neoliberal global order, always provided that the Spanish government keeps its head and preserves its domestic support.

As for the European Union, the Catalan nationalists have pledged their loyalty to it.  Apparently they hope this will win them sympathy and support from the European Union, just as it did for Slovenia in 1991.

In that they are likely to be disappointed.  Though there may be some officials within the EU bureaucracy in Brussels who are sympathetic to Catalonia’s cause, the most powerful EU states – Germany, France and Italy, all of which face potential challenges from independence movements of their own – are all but certain to side with Spain, their fellow EU state, against them.

The basic lesson of the last 25 years is that no secessionist movement strongly opposed by the government of the state it is looking to secede from can win independence unless it has strong support from powerful outside powers.  As of this moment the Catalan independence movement has no such support – or none that matters – and unless that changes  – and there is no reason to think it will – that dooms its independence bid to certain failure.

Much will depend on how the Spanish government handles the situation over the next few weeks.  Provided it keeps its nerve and avoids being provoked into either excessive overreaction or unnecessary concessions, the strong odds seem to me to be that it will prevail, and that following a few days or even weeks of protests its imposition of direct rule on Catalonia will be seen to be successful.

In that case after a short time I would expect opinion in Catalonia – already divided on the independence question – to start to swing back towards the government, and the crisis in Catalonia to subside.

(8) Russia does not support Catalan independence 

It is actually ridiculous to waste time on this point and I only do so because a few people in Spain and the US who have lost all touch with reality appear to believe it.

The Russian government’s position is that the crisis in Catalonia is a strictly Spanish internal matter.  However in private I have no doubt the Russian government’s sympathies are not with the Catalans but with Spain.

Though the two countries are hardly close, relations between Russia and Spain are cordial, with Spain being one of those countries which in 2014 expressed doubts about the wisdom of the EU imposing sanctions on Russia.

Beyond that however is the overriding concern for Russia that the break up of Spain would increase regional instability – something the Russians deeply mistrust – without conferring on Russia any obvious advantages.  To be clear, quite how a pro-EU, right wing, Atlanticist independent Catalonia – which is what Puidgemont says he wants – would benefit Russia completely escapes me.

I am sure that no one in authority in Moscow wants to see that, and the Russian government’s repeated public pronouncements that it wants to see the crisis in Catalonia resolved peacefully within the framework of Spain constitution and its law should be accepted as its true position.

Summary

Internal crises in various states like the one in Spain and Catalonia blow up from time to time.  In my opinion when they do they pose little danger to world peace or to the international system unless they directly impact on the national security interests of the Great Powers.

In Catalonia’s case neither the US nor Russia – the two Great Powers which in this region matter – have any interest in an independent Catalonia, whilst the two other Great Powers – China and India – are certain to oppose it, and the dominant regional power – Germany – is certain to oppose it also.

That almost certainly means that provided the authorities in Madrid keep their nerve they should be able to contain this crisis with little difficulty. Whilst the challenge of Catalan nationalism will doubtless continue for a time to pose problems for the Spanish state, there is no reason to think it cannot surmount them.

As for Mariano Rajoy – Spain’s much maligned Prime Minister – the high probability is that he will emerge from this crisis with his popularity and authority enhanced amongst Spain’s people, so that he will win a victory in the election which he is likely to call soon.  In saying this I should make clear that (1) for entirely different reasons unrelated to the Catalan crisis I neither like nor support Rajoy; and (2) that it is important to stress that for Rajoy it is ultimately the support he gets in Spain from its people and from the leading Western powers which matters, and not what the international liberal commentariat says about him.

It is essential when discussing a crisis like this to keep a clear head.  Crises of this sort only start to become dangerous when the myths conjured up by those who intentionally trigger them start to become accepted as facts.  That is what happened disastrously in 1991 in Yugoslavia and in 2014 in Ukraine.

There is no reason to do this in Catalonia’s case and thankfully the indifference of the Great Powers to this crisis makes it unlikely it will happen.

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THIS speech by Vladimir Putin is what started the anti-Russia hysteria (VIDEO)

Russian President spoke about Western assault on Christianity and traditional values in 2013 – just before anti-Russian troubles began

Seraphim Hanisch

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Sometimes it is possible to lose clear sight of the reality of politics because of the optics and all the “noise” associated with differing points of view. For the average American partaker of mainstream network news (and lately this applies to cable news outlets as well), the viewing public still tends to absorb the tone and rhetoric of the day. These people, often without any personal critical thought, simply go and echo it to their friends and neighbors, and even back to the news media or polling agencies. This has certainly been the case regarding Russia.

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Case in point: An opinion piece on the Fox News website, by Dan Gainor makes note of the absolute media carnage (not too strong a word in this case) concerning the reaction of the political establishment and almost ALL media outlets (including Fox) to President Trump’s conciliatory tone struck with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki Summit, one week ago today.

We have excerpted from his piece, adding emphasis:

A raging epidemic of Trump Derangement Syndrome broke out among reporters covering the summit between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, as journalists gave the American president hellish reviews for his performance in Helsinki at a joint news conference.

No reporters knew what actually transpired in the main event of the day – the private meeting between the two presidents. So journalists put themselves in the position of critics, grading President Trump’s news conference performance…

…USA Today reported in a front-page story: “Every nation has an infamous traitor. … And now, after a news conference Monday in Finland, the term is being used in relations to the 45th president of the United States. Donald Trump, master of the political insult, finds himself on the receiving end.

The New York Daily News screamed “OPEN TREASON” on its cover page with a cartoon showing Trump holding Putin’s hand and holding a gun in his other hand and shooting Uncle Sam in the head. Really.

CNN host Fareed Zakaria wasn’t satisfied with “treason” as a descriptor. “I feel like treasonous is too weak a word, because the whole thing has taken on an air of such unreality,” he said.

Zakaria had lots of company: CNN analyst Max Boot, MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, and, of course, former CIA Director John Brennan, who now works for NBC and MSNBC.

CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said “the spirit of what Trump did is clearly treasonous,” and declared that the president “came off as being a puppet of Putin.”

The list of network reactions in Mr. Gainor’s article is very long and deserves a careful read. But all of those reactions and more led to this point:

The hellish outrage over the Helsinki news conference had its desired effect … for now. Newsweek posted a story on an opinion poll that declared: “According to a new Ipsos poll, 49 percent of Americans said Trump was “treasonous” during the summit and ensuing press conference, with only 27 percent disagreeing.”

In other words the viewing, listening and reading public did absorb this very unified tirade. One of the most unusual aspects of this which we have reported on here, is that the media’s unity included many conservative elements. In all but a few cases, most notably that of Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, even very respected conservative voices still bought into “Russian meddling” as though this were some sort of issue. It really isn’t, because as even some of these hosts acknowledged, “everyone does it.”

But as to why this is happening, the explanation really has to do with the establishment reaction to a speech that President Putin himself gave several years ago about the situation in the West. It is this speech that spurred most of the sanctions and actions taken against Russia. It is NOT the “invasion” of Crimea or the 25 invasions of Ukraine that were reported during the years 2014-2016. It is the alignment that the Russian President noted in the West, and Russia’s refusal to follow that same path.

Blackpilled offered this video clip and a translation of the speech in English. We offer that clip and the relevant part of the speech’s transcript here.

It is of tantamount importance to understand that this is the main factor in all the opposition against President Trump, because his presence threw a major monkey wrench into “the plan.”

Two things of note: 1. The narrator of the video here offers a translation that is slightly different than the one offered on the Kremlin’s own website. The link to the relevant page is included here.

2. The narrator of “BlackPilled is incorrect in attributing this speech as being given “shortly after Trump was elected.” The actual speech was given at the Valdai conference in 2013. If we consider this, and the timeline of events following – such as the Sochi Olympics and the concurrent list of “scandal after scandal” concerning Russia, then the pieces fall into place:

From the site Kremlin.ru, emphasis added:

Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilisation. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan.

The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote paedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.

What else but the loss of the ability to self-reproduce could act as the greatest testimony of the moral crisis facing a human society? Today almost all developed nations are no longer able to reproduce themselves, even with the help of migration. Without the values embedded in Christianity and other world religions, without the standards of morality that have taken shape over millennia, people will inevitably lose their human dignity. We consider it natural and right to defend these values . One must respect every minority’s right to be different, but the rights of the majority must not be put into question.

At the same time we see attempts to somehow revive a standardised model of a unipolar world and to blur the institutions of international law and national sovereignty. Such a unipolar, standardised world does not require sovereign states; it requires [slaves].”

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‘Treasonous’ Trump in the Conspirators’ Crosshairs

Every effort will continue to be made to ensure no concrete progress can be made on whatever was discussed in Helsinki while maintaining the 24/7 drumbeat of demonization.

Jim Jatras

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At least the White House can be happy that the resident Hitler-in-Chief’s inhuman separation of innocent migrant children from adults caught illegally crossing the US border with Mexico matters to nobody anymore.

Everyone’s moved on. “Children in cages” is yesterday’s news.

The issue now is treason, a crime carrying the death penalty.

On that score America and the entire world owe former CIA Director and onetime communist voter John Brennan a debt of gratitude for pointing out that President Donald Trump’s expressing the slightest hint of doubt about conclusions reached by the US Intelligence Community is both impeachable and treasonous.

Brennan didn’t just make that up, you know. It’s in the Constitution of the United States, right there in black and white:

Article II, Section 1: “The executive Power shall be vested in an Intelligence Community of the United States of America.”

Article III, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist in doubting the Intelligence Community in any way, shape, or form.”

There you have it, it’s an open and shut case of treason, committed in full view of the global public within feet of Russian President Vladimir Putin – who, as the crack journalists of our intrepid Fourth Estate have now revealed through their diligent investigative work, was once an officer in the Soviet  KGB!  Trump’s unmasking, through his very own perfidious words, now adds “traitor” to all the other terms of opprobrium already justly appertaining to him.

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We all know what happens to traitors, don’t we?

A day later Trump hastily sought to cover up his treachery with the lame suggestion that he had inadvertently dropped the semi-syllable “-n’t” during his Helsinki press conference with his Russian “handler.” (Actually, that “wouldn’t/would” dodge is pretty cute. Who thought it up – Steve Miller? Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Trump himself? Genius! One can almost hear them brainstorming over what explanation would most insult the limited intelligence of their critics.)

But try as he might, Trump can’t escape. His media pursuers have caught on to his Houdini routine:

‘President Donald Trump’s attempt on Tuesday to backpedal on his disastrous remarks siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which the stone-faced president read from a monotone prepared statement but deviated several times from it, was eerily reminiscent of the way he handled his infamous false equivalence in response to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer.

‘After accepting Putin’s denial instead of affirming U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, Trump on Tuesday tried to reverse course. Reading from prepared remarks, he said that he accepts the intelligence agencies’ conclusion and claimed that he misspoke during Monday’s press conference. (He added ‘that perhaps “other people” were responsible, and reverted to his usual talking point that “there was no collusion” between his campaign and Russia, which appeared to be unscripted.) [ … ]

‘Many reporters, commentators and other political observers made similar observations, noting that Trump could quickly reverse himself again, just as he did in his response to the events in Charlottesville.’

Indeed, just the day after his “stone-faced,” “monotone” semi-contrition, Trump was right back at it, colluding with fellow Putin-puppet Tucker Carlson on Fox News. (Even worse, the Trump-Carlson duo even blasphemed against the holiest of holies of US national security, Americans’ willingness to risk nuclear annihilation in World War III over tiny, corrupt Montenegro.)

Not only did this two-man, latter-day analogue to the Gunpowder Plot belittle the supposedly proven fact of Russian hacking of the 2016 election (which nonetheless is still disbelieved by almost 40% of Americans!), they took the opportunity to inject a note of – you guessed it!  racism:

‘Carlson used literal white supremacy to defend Trump’s news conference.

‘“I mean I’m not a shrink, so I don’t fully understand it. I mean I don’t think Russia is our close friend or anything like that. I mean, of course, they tried to interfere in our affairs; they have for a long time. Many countries do. Some more successfully than Russia, like Mexico which is routinely interfering in our elections by packing our electorate,” Carlson said, suggesting Mexican immigrants who become naturalized citizens and vote are somehow illegitimate voters.

‘Former FBI Director James Comey criticized Trump for sitting down with Hannity and Carlson.

‘“Having sold out our nation on an international stage, Mr. Trump will now explain it all to Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson? I’m guessing RT and [Sputnik] were unavailable.’

But aside from Carlson, virtually all of Trump’s supposed defenders (mostly on Fox News) agreed entirely with the President’s accusers that questioning the intelligence community was totally impermissible.

Indeed, both his defenders and even Trump himself have tried to deflect criticism by citing the myriad ways in which his Administration has been “tough” on the Russians: sanctions, expelling diplomats, striking Syria twice, and most of all reveling in the slaughter of Russian contractors in Syria.

This reflects a troubling fact that undermines optimism that the Helsinki summit will herald a change for the better in the US-Russia relationship. The fact is, Putin is master in his own house but Trump is not.

There is no order or instruction Trump can give that he can be sure will be carried out, either by the Pentagon or the intelligence community – and certainly not the Justice Department, which blatantly tried to sabotage the summit with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s issuance of avacuous indictment of 12 GRU officers. As described by former CIA intelligence officer Michael Scheuer:

‘Why should any American worry about the unending, manic claims that Russia interfered in the 2016 election? This story, after all, has been made up and perpetuated by aspiring traitors like Clapper, Hayden, Tapper, Acosta, Hillary Clinton, Comey, John Podesta, Maddow, McCabe, Brennan, Page, Strzok, Wray, the reporting staffs of the Washington Post and the New York Times, the Council on Foreign Relations, and most of all, by the foreign-born Obama.

To believe this crew’s statements about anything at all is to believe that John McCain and Lindsay Graham can open their mouths without lying us into yet another interventionist war. […]

‘In the face of what Jefferson surely would call a “long train” of perfidy, treason, obsessive avarice, and murder by the national government, one must ask why would any commonsensical American fail to see that the Russian-meddling narrative is transparently an attempt by Obama leftovers and the seething, quite mad Neocons to push the United States into a new Cold War with Russia, one that would lead to a hot war, as well as a means of keeping themselves out of the slammer and off the gallows.

‘Indeed, there is not a loyal American citizen who has a single credible reason to believe any intelligence-based claims made by the Obama administration, or the Obama leftovers in Trump’s administration, about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The citizenry’s only fair-minded conclusion is that Obama ordered his intelligence and military lieutenants to stand down on responding to “Russian hacking” in summer, 2016, because no such hacking occurred.

Certainly, the two indictments of Russians – written by Obama acolytes led by Rosenstein, Strzok, and old-man, disgrace-to-the-Marines Mueller and his merry band of Trump-hating attorneys — are clearly dreamed-up travesties that would disgrace a first-year law-school student and get him the boot therefrom.’

The bottom line is that, even after Helsinki, Trump remains besieged inside his own Administration. It cannot be said with any assurance that there is a single high official, including Trump’s own appointees, who agrees with the President’s desire for rapprochement with Russia.

Congress is almost entirely against him, as evidenced by a virtually unanimous Senate vote on a nonbinding resolution against treaty-based law enforcement cooperation with Russia (as discussed by the two presidents) and talk of fast-tracking more sanctions legislation.

Even in areas theoretically under Trump’s full control, most importantly his constitutional command of the military, there is pushback. One early deliverable of the summit should be US-Russia cooperation in Syria to help wind down that war.

But General Joseph Votel, who leads U.S. Central Command, was quick to point out that he’s received no instructions and that under prohibitory legislation enacted in 2014 no such cooperation would be legal without Congressional action to create an exception – which will not be forthcoming.

In a rule of law state, law enforcement should be politically neutral. In most countries it’s not, with those in power using police, prosecutors, and courts as weapons against the opposition. Only in America, and only since Trump’s election, has anyone seen the bizarre phenomenon of election losers abusing law enforcement against the winner.

Even as Trump talks optimistically of a second summit with Putin in Washington in a few months, the criminal Deep State conspiracy against him rolls on with the complicity of top appointees like Rosenstein.

Every effort will continue to be made to ensure no concrete progress can be made on whatever was discussed in Helsinki while maintaining the 24/7 drumbeat of demonization. (There’s even an attempt to force Trump’s interpreter in Helsinki, Marina Gross, to divulge what transpired in private between the presidents. Gross herself may draw suspicion on account of an unconfirmed report that she may actually speak Russian…)

For his part, Trump must seek support from the only direction he can: the tens of millions of “Deplorables” who voted for him. The more the media, the Democrats, and the GOP establishment trash him, the more they are convinced he is on the right track. By doubting the truth of Russian hacking and our sacred NATO obligation to every insignificant country few ordinary Americans could find on a map, he has increasingly mainstreamed those notions with his base.

Trump’s only way forward is continuing to be the wrecking ball he was elected to be. Twitter and his ability to change the subject with outrageous and “impermissible” utterances and actions are his main weapons. In that vein, as long as he’s being accused of treason, he might as well make the most of it:

Mr. Trump, fire Rosenstein and let the chips fall where they may.

Via Strategic Culture

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James Clapper rats out his former boss Barack Obama (Video)

Trump-Russia witch hunt started with order from former US President Barack Obama.

Alex Christoforou

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All roads in the Trump-Russia witch hunt lead to Barack Obama…at least that is what his former intelligence czar James Clapper admitted to fake news, CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper admitted in a CNN interview Saturday that former President Obama instigated the ongoing investigations into Donald Trump and his inner circle of advisors and staffer.

Speaking with Anderson Cooper, Clapper mad the stunning admission…

If it weren’t for President Obama we might not have done the intelligence community assessment that we did that set up a whole sequence of events which are still unfolding today including Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation. President Obama is responsible for that. It was he who tasked us to do that intelligence community assessment in the first place.

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Via Zerohedge

Recall in May, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) fired off a letter to the Department of Justice  demanding unredacted versions of text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former bureau attorney Lisa Page, including one exchange which took place after Strzok had returned from London as part of the recently launched “Operation Crossfire Hurricane”  referring to the White House “running” an unknown investigation.

Strzok had been in London to interview Australian ambassador Alexander Downer about a drunken conversation with Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who – after reportedly being fed information – mentioned Russia having Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Strzok: And hi. Went well, best we could have expected. Other than [REDACTED] quote: “the White House is running this.” My answer, “well, maybe for you they are.” And of course, I was planning on telling this guy, thanks for coming, we’ve got an hour, but with Bill [Priestap] there, I’ve got no control….

Page: Yeah, whatever (re the WH comment). We’ve got the emails that say otherwise.

With Clapper’s admission that Obama was in the know the whole time, it looks like Peter Strzok’s text message stating “the White House is running this” was spot on.

House Judiciary Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) told Fox’s Maria Bartiromo that the American public needs to see an unredacted version of the Carter Page FISA application.

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