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Trump comes out swinging! Breaking down an epic St. Louis debate

Trump was on his game. Clinton, who was on the defensive most of the night.

Joe Lauria

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As senior members of his own party were deserting him, Donald Trump found his footing in his rematch debate with Hillary Clinton on Sunday night, blasting her for “always” blaming Russia even without evidence and for backing rebels who turn out “worse” than the leaders the U.S. overthrows. He even disavowed his own running mate’ for supporting war with Syria.

Just before the debate 16 Republican senators withdrew their support for Trump because of the emergence of a tape on Friday in which Trump is heard making obscene remarks about unnamed women. It was all the U.S. corporate media could talk about and Trump was facing calls from with his party to step down.

Instead he stepped up. The town hall style debate at a Missouri university allowed Trump to move aggressively around the stage as he hurled invectives at his opponent. Clinton, who was on the defensive most of the night, tried to counter-attack on taxes, Russia, Syria and the scandal of the day, his treatment of women. But she seemed unnerved by Trump, expecting instead a defeated man who had performed so badly in the first debate after taking her bait, and who should now have been on the ropes.

Being against the whole word—the Democrats, the media and even his own party—seems to invigorate the totally unorthodox Trump. He felt confident enough to blithely disagree with his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana. In the vice presidential debate last week, Pence backed U.S. military attacks on the Syrian government and launched the most virulent criticism of Russia by any candidate in this campaign. Trump said he simply didn’t agree with his running mate, something probably never said before publicly by a modern presidential candidate.

“I don’t like [Bashar al-]Assad at all but Assad is killing ISIS,” Trump said, referring to the Syrian president. “Russia is killing ISIS. And Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.”

Trump said the priority should be defeating Daesh before talking about U.S. military intervention against the Assad government. “I believe we have to get ISIS,” he said. “We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved.”

Going After Russia…Again

Clinton went on the counterattack early and often against Russia, and by extension Trump. She blamed Russian “aggression” for “destroying” Aleppo, though only east Aleppo is under attack. “There is a determined effort by the Russian air force to destroy Aleppo in order to eliminate the last of the Syrian rebels who are really holding out against the Assad regime,” she said, not mentioning that the main group “really holding out” is the same one that brought down the World Trade Center.

Through ignorance or disinformation she said, “There are hundreds of thousands of people probably about 250,000 still left” in Aleppo as a result of Russia’s bombing. That’s the population of east Aleppo occupied by extremists. There are1.5 million Aleppans living in the rest of the city, loyal to the government, and whose water was shut off for a time by the extremists in the east.

Clinton again called for arming rebels and setting up a safe zone inside Syria, and a no-fly zone above it, a move that America’s top general, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told Congress two weeks ago would lead to war with Russia. Even she acknowledged in a leaked email that a no-fly zone would “kill a lot of Syrians.” But she’s still for it.

“She talks in favor of the rebels,” Trump shot back. “She doesn’t even know who they are. Every time we take rebels, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else, we’re arming people, and you know what happens? They end up being worse than the people” the U.S. overthrows.

“Look what she did in Libya with Gaddafi. Gaddafi’s out. It’s a mess,” he said. “The fact is almost everything she’s done in foreign policy has been a mistake and it’s been a disaster.”

Clinton again extended her attack on Russia to Trump for supposedly supporting its president, Vladimir Putin. She said U.S. intelligence has concluded, without making the evidence public, that Russia had hacked into U.S. election and Democratic Party computers “to influence our election.”

“And believe me, they’re not doing it to get me elected, they’re doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump,” she charged. “Now, maybe because he has praised Putin, maybe because he says he agrees with a lot of what Putin wants to do, maybe because he wants to do business in Moscow, I don’t know the reasons.” Maybe it’s because Trump has called for dialogue with Moscow while Clinton threatens Russia, even calling Putin “Hitler.”

Trump denied he had any outstanding loans with Russia or any business interests there.
“She doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking,” Trump responded. “But they always blame Russia and the reason is because they think they’re trying to tarnish me with Russia. I know about Russia but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia.”

And neither does the vast majority of the American public because corporate media never tells them Russia’s side of the story. If it had they might understand that Russia has been playing defense and that America is on an offensive in Ukraine after a U.S.-backed coup; in Poland and the Baltics after provocative NATO maneuvers and in Syria after a U.S. and allied-backed campaign of foreign extremists trying to overthrow the secular Syrian government.

Trump also disappointed, putting on a display of typical rightwing rhetoric on a number of issues. He again trashed the Iran nuclear deal, which has considerably reduced tension in the region, and in which Russia played a significant role. He called it “the dumbest deal I’ve ever seen” but it was probably the dumbest thing Trump said. He also wants to increase military spending, though the U.S. already outspends the next ten countries combined. He embraced guns, wants disastrous tax cuts for the rich, more deregulation and would have denounced climate change (the second most urgent problem after possible war with Russia) as a hoax. But the question never came up, to the shame of the moderators who chose the questions from voters and asked many of their own.

Trump really zeroed in on the email issue, which they did raise. He blasted away at Clinton for deleting 33,000 emails from her private server and for claiming not to know many of them were classified and vulnerable to hacking (though the FBI says none of them were). He said that if he becomes president he would get a special prosecutor to investigate her use of a private email server. The Obama Justice Department has already cleared her of all wrongdoing. At one point he quipped that she would be “in jail” if he were president. That led the humorless Dana Bash and others on CNN to compare him to Hitler and Stalin, who didn’t need prosecutors to send someone away.

Trump and Women

The debate began of course with a question about the video tape disclosed on Friday in which Trump makes several obscene remarks about women. He describes women letting him sexually touch them soon after meeting him because he is “a star.” It was a hideously sexist remark about abuse of power.

In the debate he claimed it was only an example of men talking lewdly about sex and that he didn’t do any of the things he boasted about. That would give Trump at age 59 at the time the mentality of a 14-year old. Clinton and her supporters instead say he was talking about actual sexual assaults that he committed. You can be sure the Clinton camp is searching for the woman Trump took furniture shopping or any others who might have been grabbed.

Faced with this onslaught, Trump pulled the ace from his sleeve that he threatened to play in the first debate. It pulled the second debate further into the mud. He said Hillary Clinton had in the 1990s attacked women who had accused her husband Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting them. Trump invited three of these women to the debate and held a press conference with them before it began.

Dismissing the importance of the videotape, Trump said it was more important to talk about defeating Daesh and Clinton’s disastrous and violent record as secretary of state. Trump was roasted for dropping F bombs, while Clinton is untouched for dropping real ones.

Indeed, the post-debate discussion on U.S. cable networks was frankly pathetic. They could not let go of the video story and instead examine her record in Libya and Syria, her dangerous threats against Russia or his desire to jack up military spending.

Clinton ignored his remark about her attacking her husband’s accusers. Instead she said the tape showed the world the real Donald Trump. “He has said that the video doesn’t represent who he is,” Clinton said. “But I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly what he is.”

But Trump went after Clinton’s character too for calling half his supporters “deplorable” in a public speech, while claiming at the debate that she wants to be president for all Americans.

You’re No Abe Lincoln

He then blasted comments she made to Wall Street bankers in speeches over the past four years that she has refused to make public. But buried by the video hysteria, Wikileaks also on Friday released portions of the speeches in which she again separated herself from the unwashed. She said she’s out of touch with the middle class, and presumably the “deplorables,” because she and her husband have made so much money. Wanting to be part of their club, she told a room full of Wall Street bankers that she’d arrived.

She also said sometimes she has to take a public position on issues that is different from her private one. An undecided voter at the debate asked, “Is it okay for politicians to be two-faced? Is it acceptable for a politician to have a private stance?”

In response, Clinton pointed to Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. president during America’s 19th Century civil war, who she said held both private and public positions when negotiating a change to the constitution to formally outlaw slavery.

“She lied,” Trump said. “Now she’s blaming the lie on the late great Abraham Lincoln. … Honest Abe never lied. … That’s the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you.”

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Why did Trump recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the reasons behind US President Trump’s sudden recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Following Trump’s statements as US President, acting Israeli Foreign Minister is saying that Trump will make it official and sign an executive order to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian border territory on Monday.

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Via DW

Israel says White House officials are preparing an official document to codify support for Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, which will be signed by US President Donald Trump on Monday.

The signing of the decree will be witnessed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during talks with Trump at the White House, Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz (pictured), said in a Tweet.

“Tomorrow, President Trump, in the presence of PM Netanyahu, will sign a decree recognizing Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan. Israel-US ties are closer than ever,” Katz said.

Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, subsequently annexing it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Trump’s tweet annoys allies

Trump broke with decades of US Middle East policy when he posted a Tweet on Thursday that said it was time to accept Israel’s widely-contested claim to the border territory.

The decision has been criticized by many US allies — Germany, Britain, France and the EU have all said they still consider the Golan Heights to be “occupied” by Israel.

Syria and other states in the region said the recognition, if confirmed, would violate international law.

Netanyahu has long pushed for Washington’s endorsement, and many analysts see Trump’s comments as a campaign gift ahead of Israel’s April 9 election.

In 2017, Trump drew condemnation throughout the Middle East when he recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary?

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain. She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

  1. Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.
  2. Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election
  3. Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire
  4. Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system
  5. Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.
  6. Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.
  7. Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely., even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

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