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Trust in China Remains Top- Trust in U.S. Plunges

Eric Zuesse

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The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer survey, which is the latest in the annual Edelman series taken in 28 countries, shows that the people of China have the highest trust in their country’s institutions, and that the people of U.S. recorded an all-time-record loss of trust as compared to the prior year: a stunning 37% loss of trust — that’s comparing 2017’s 52% of Americans trusting America’s institutions, down to 43% of Americans trusting them, a 9% slide, which Edelman referred to by saying, “Trust decline in the U.S. is the steepest ever measured.”

That 9% was the average loss for each one of the four institutions measured; and, so, Edelman’s Technical Appendix explained: “We then added these changes together across the four institutions, yielding a value of -37. This shows that in the U.S., the four main institutions lost a combined 37 percentage points.”

For comparison this year, against that -37%, the second-biggest loss of trust was the -21% in Italy. Tied for the third-biggest and fourth-biggest loss were Brazil and South Africa, both at -17%. Tied for fifth-biggest and sixth-biggest loss were Colombia and India, both at -13%. However India still remained one of the four highest-trust nations, having been #1 in trust in the 2017 survey, down now to the #3 position this year. Last year, China was #3; so, China and India switched positions between 2017 and 2018. The -37% for America simply outclasses all those other declines; and so this trust-plunge in America is major news.

At the very bottom of trust in institutions is Russia, which displays 36% trust in its institutions. Second-lowest is Japan, which displays 37% trust. The two lowest in 2017 were Russia, at 34% and Poland at 35%. Russia was at the very bottom both years because one of the four “Institutions” is NGOs, and “Trust in NGOs” ranged worldwide in 2018 from a top of 71% in Mexico, down to a bottom of 25% in Russia, and this Russian bottom is a stunning 12 points below the second-from-bottom, Germany, which is at 37%. By contrast, for example, “Trust in Government” was 44% in Russia, and is only 33% in the United States. Trust in Government is the highest in China: 84%. (That’s the highest-trusted of the four Institutions there; the lowest of the four Institutions there is NGOs: 61%.) So: whereas the plunge across-the-board is record-shattering in U.S., the sheer lowness of trust in that one institution, NGOs, is (and has been) record-shattering in Russia, and perhaps these are the two main take-aways (or main findings) in this Edelman study.

The four “Institutions” surveyed are: NGOs, Business, Government, and Media.

The page “Trust Crash in U.S.” shows that, in the “General Population,” Americans’ trust in NGOs plunged 9 points from 58% to 49%; trust in Business plunged 10 points; trust in Government plunged 14 points; and trust in Media plunged 5 points. However, amongst America’s “Informed Public,” these figures are even drastically worse that that: down 22 points on NGOs, 20 points on Business, 30 points on Government, and 22 points on Media. Looking further into those figures: what has happened in the U.S. is that, whereas in 2017, America’s Informed Public had enormously higher trust in each of these four Institutions than did the General Population, now the Informed Public (which in all nations typically displays much higher trust than do the General Population) plunged down not only to below where the General Population’s trust-level had been in 2017, but even to below that, and is now almost as low as is that of the General Population. That’s  a stunning plunge amongst the elite. So, Edelman’s reports noted for “Informed Public”: “23-point decrease: fell from 6th to last [28th] place,” meaning that the average decline on the four Institutions was 23%.

Furthermore: “U.S. Trust in Media Diverges Along Voting Lines” so that whereas 27% of Republicans trust the Media, 61% of Democrats do. This is the biggest type of partisan divide shown.

“Government Most Broken in the U.S.”: Whereas only 4% of Americans consider NGOs “broken,” and 7% consider Business “broken,” and 21% consider Media “broken,” 59% consider Government “broken.” In China, these figures are: 24% consider NGOs “broken,” 38% consider Business “broken,” 12% consider Media “broken,” and 10% consider Government “broken.” Though Russians place NGOs in the sewer, Americans place NGOs on a pedestal. That says a lot.

“Media Now Least Trusted Institution” amongst all 28 surveyed nations. However, trust in the media is above 60% in three nations: China (71%), Indonesia (68%), and India (61%). 7 nations have less than a third of the population trusting their media: Turkey (30%), Australia (31%), Japan, Sweden and UK (32%), and France and Ireland (33%).

Digging deeper into the “Media” issue: there has been, amongst the 28 nations, a movement away from online news (called “Platforms” by Edelman) toward traditional sources of news (called “Journalism” by Edelman): “While Trust in Platforms Declines, Trust in Journalism Rebounds”: trust in “Journalism” rose from 54% then, up to 59% now, and trust in “Platforms” sank from 53% then, to 51% now. This supports the view that the global campaign by “Journalism” (print and broadcast media) attacking “fake news” as being a product of “Platforms” (social media, search engines, and news aps) and not at all of themselves (such as the newspapers and TV that trumpeted “Saddam’s WMD” etc. and yet still are trusted as if they hadn’t been the ones spreading that pathologically fake ‘news’) has succeeded. In other words: ’news’ that is print or broadcast and thus can’t provide to its audience easy access to its sources being merely a click or two away, is more trusted than is online news, which can (and some of which sites actually do) provide such ability for the audience to check its allegations easily for themselves (merely by clicking onto a link). In other words: the public evidently don’t want to be empowered to verify allegations, but instead want ’news’ that they either can’t verify for themselves or would need to physically do their own personal investigation (not just by means of a click online) in order to decide whether or not to trust the purported ’news’. This shows that the billionaires, who control all of the traditional sources of ‘news’, will likely continue to control the ‘news’, perhaps even more in the future, than now. And it shows that the public, worldwide (at least in these 28 nations), want them to continue controlling the ‘news’. Independent online news-sites will thus likely be easy to crush. They aren’t even being called “Journalism,” no matter how much better than such “Journalism” the best of them might actually happen to be.

“Trust in Platforms Decreased in 21 of 28 Countries” and there was the “Steepest decline in U.S.” So: especially Americans are increasingly trusting and getting their ‘news’ from the Establishment (which generally crave every invasion that the government is considering).

“Uncertainty Over Real vs. Fake News”: 63% worldwide agree with “The average person does not know how to tell good journalism from rumor or falsehoods.” People are passive about that; they accept this personal incompetence that they attribute to themselves. The vast majority of people don’t know that all ‘news’ media that don’t require all reporters to link to any source that they’re using that’s online, should be distrusted and simply avoided, not relied upon (such as is increasingly being done). If there aren’t links provided to all reasonably questionable allegations, and if no quotations are provided of titles or key allegations that can conveniently be web-searched to find and evaluate its source, then that ‘news’ medium can’t reasonably be trusted — but it is instead trusted the most. Since there’s more trust in the non-verifiable print and broadcast ‘news’ media than in the verifiable online ones that do provide clickable links to their online sources, most of the public are satisfied to trust media on the basis of sheer ‘authority’, not on the basis of the reader’s open-mindedness and critical evaluation of every allegation.

“Voices of Authority Regain Credibility”: Out of 11 types of “spokespersons” cited in ‘news’ reports, what’s most distrusted are “A person like yourself” (now rated “at all-time low”) and an “Employee.” What’s most trusted of all is a “Journalist” (presumably here print or broadcast) and what’s second-most-trusted is a “CEO” — these two (the mega-corporates) are trusted considerably more than, for examples, a “Technical expert,” or than an “Academic expert.” So: the mega-corporates don’t even need to cite their own selected and paid ‘experts’, and can just cut their costs, while retaining the loyalty of their (and even growing) following. That makes dictatorship so easy to do — even while cutting costs.

“Employers Trusted Around the World”: this ranged from a low of 57% in Japan and South Korea, to highs of 90% in Indonesia, 86% in India, 83% in Colombia, and 82% in China. Obviously, CEOs are exceptionally high-status around the world. Employees, by contrast, are at or near the bottom.

“Trust in Government” is the highest in China (84%), UAE (77%), Indonesia (73%), India (70%), and Singapore (65%). It is the lowest in South Africa (14%), Brazil (18%), Colombia (24%), Poland (25%), Italy (27%), Mexico (28%), and France and U.S. (33%). Here is that complete list, from the top, all the way down to the bottom: 84% China, 77% UAE, 73% Indonesia, 70% India, 65% Singapore, 54% Netherlands, 51% Turkey, 46% Sweden, 46% Malaysia, 46% Hong Kong, 46% Canada, 45% South Korea, 44% Russia, 43% Germany, 41% Argentina, 37% Japan, 36% UK, 35% Ireland, 35% Australia, 34% Spain, 33% U.S., 33% France, 28% Mexico, 27% Italy, 25% Poland, 24% Colombia, 18% Brazil, 14% South Africa. Since UAE is the very opposite of being a “democracy”, that cannot reasonably be considered to be possibly a rank-ordering of these nations according to the extent they’re a democracy. However, it might possibly be a rank-ordering of the extent to which the public are satisfied with their government; and, so, the complete list is shown here on that factor.

“Trust in Media” national rankings are quite similar to the national rankings on “Trust in Government,” except that Turkey ranks at the very bottom, 28th on this, at only 30%, whereas Turkey ranks 7th (51%) on “Trust in Government.”

“Trust in Business” is topped by Indonesia (78%), India and China (74%), Mexico (70%), UAE (68%), Colombia (64%), and Netherlands (60%). At the bottom on this are Hong Kong and South Korea (36%), Ireland (40%), Russia (41%), and Japan (42%). Canada and U.S. are in the middle: respectively #14 (49%) and 15 (48%).

“Trust Declines in Nine Country Brands” (defined by “company headquartered in”) and by far the most decline of all (6% down, from 55% to 50%) was for U.S. products and services. The most-trusted brands shown (all rated 65% to 68%) are #1 Canada (same as last year) Switzerland (down 1 percent from last year but still #2), and Sweden (down 3% from being tied last year with Canada). The most-distrusted brands shown were India and Mexico (32%), Brazil (34%), China (36%), South Korea (43%) and U.S. (50%). Consequently, for example, any corporation that moves from U.S. to Canada, would, as of now, rise from being a 50%-rated national brand to being a 68%-rated national brand. Of course, such a trick would be more effective for a relatively new corporation, not for one that has already become widely known to be a U.S. brand.

“Polarization of Trust” contrasts the “6 markets with extreme trust losses” (which are topped by U.S.) versus the “6 markets with extreme trust gains.” The latter group are #1 China +27%, #2 UAE +24%, #3 South Korea +23%, #4 Sweden +20%, #5 Malaysia +19%, and #6 Poland +17%. Those latter 6 are becoming places where headquartering a corporation there is adding significantly to the brand-value of that corporation’s products and services.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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The Diseased, Lying, Condition, of America’s ‘News’ Media

Eric Zuesse

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Both President Trump and former President Obama are commonly said in America’s ‘news’ media to be or to have been “ceding Syria to Russia” or “ceding Syria to Russia and Iran,” or similar allegations. They imply that ‘we’ own (or have some right to control) Syria. That’s not only a lie; it is a very evil and harmful one, dangerously goading the U.S. President to go even more against Russia (and Iran) (and, of course, against Syria) than has yet been done — but the ‘news’media don’t care about that evil, and that falsehood, and that dangerousness — they do it anyway, and none of them attacks the others for perpetrating this vicious war-mongering lie, that lying provocation to yet more and worse war than already exists there. And the fact that none is exposing the fraudulence of the others on this important matter, is a yet-bigger additional scandal, beyond and amplifying the media’s common lying itself. Because they all function here like a mob, goading to more and worse invasions, and doing it on the the basis of dangerous lies — that America, and not the Syrians themselves, own Syria.

These lies simply assume that America (probably referring to the U.S. Government, but whatever) somehow “has” or else “had” Syria (so that America can now ‘cede’ it, to anyone); and this assumption (that the U.S. somehow owns Syria) is not only an imperialistic one (which is bad, and wrong, in itself), but it reduces to nothingness the rights (in the minds of the American public) of the Syrian people, to control their own land. That lie is what America’s ‘news’media won’t expose, but instead they all cooperate with it, when they’re not actually participating, themselves, in spreading these lies.

What they are doing is also to slur Russia, and to slur Iran, for having accepted the request from Syria’s Government, for assistance in protecting Syria’s Government, against the tens of thousands of jihadists who had been recruited throughout the world by the Saudi-American alliance, to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government, to replace it with one that would be appointed by the Saud family (’America’s ally’), the fundamentalist-Sunni royal family who (as the absolute monarchy there) do actually own Saudi Arabia — a monarchical dictatorship, which the U.S. Government calls an ‘ally’.

The evilness of this imperialistic assumption, which is being constantly spread by the U.S.-and-allied ‘news’media, is as bad as is its falseness, because “America” (however one wishes to use that term) never had, never possessed, any right whatsoever to control Syria. Of course, neither does Russia possess such a right, nor does Iran, but neither Russia nor Iran is asserting any such right; both instead are there to protect Syria’s national sovereignty, against the invaders (including the U.S., and the Sauds’ regime). But the U.S.-and-allied ‘news’media don’t present it that way — the honest way — not at all. Such truths are instead suppressed.

I was immediately struck by this false and evil assumption that the U.S. owns Syria, when reading the June 15th issue of The Week magazine. It contained, under its “Best Columns” section, a piece by Matthew Continetti (“Obama Too Good for America”), which says, among other falsehoods, “Obama was wrong about a lot of other things, too, like … ceding Syria to Russia.” That phrase, “ceding Syria to Russia” rose straight out from the page to me as being remarkable, stunning, and not only because it suggests that America owns that sovereign nation, Syria. I was especially struck by it because the CIA has several times attempted Syrian coups and once did briefly, in 1949, overthrow and replace Syria’s democratically elected President. But is that really something which today’s America’s ‘news’media should encourage the American public to be demanding today’s American politicians to be demanding from today’s American President? How bizarre, even evil, an idea is that? But it is so normal that it’s a fair indication of how evil and untrustworthy today’s American ‘news’media actually are. I just hadn’t noticed it before.

Publishing such a false and evil idea, without any accompanying commentary that truthfully presents its context and that doesn’t simply let the false and evil allegation stand unchallenged — that instead lets it be unchallenged both factually and morally — is not acceptable either factually or morally, but then I checked and found that it’s the almost universal norm, in today’s U.S. ‘news’media. For examples:

On 17 April 2018, CBS News headlined “Lindsey Graham ‘unnerved’ after Syria briefing: ‘Everything in that briefing made me more worried’” and presented that U.S. Senator saying, “It seems to me we are willing to give Syria to Assad, Russia, and Iran.” He was criticizing President Trump as being “all tweet and no action.” He wanted more war, and more threat of war. But when President Obama had repeatedly denied in public that only the Syrian people should have any say-so over whom Syria’s leaders ought to be, U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon repeatedly contradicted the U.S. President’s viewpoint on this, and he said, “The future of Assad must be determined by the Syrian people.” If the American people have become so dismissive of international law as this, then is it because the U.S. ‘news’media start with the ridiculously false presumption that “America” (whatever that refers to) is the arbiter of international law, and therefore has the right to dictate to the entire world what that law is, and what it means? Is America, as being the dictator over the whole planet, supposed to be something that Americans’ tax-dollars ought to be funding — that objective: global dictatorship? How does that viewpoint differ, then, from perpetual war for perpetual ‘peace’ — a dictum that’s enormously profitable for America’s big ‘Defense’ contractors, such as Lockheed Martin, but that impoverishes the general public, both in America, and especially in the countries (such as Syria) where ‘our’ Government drops bombs in order to enforce its own will and demand, that: “Assad must go!”

In fact, as any journalist who writes or speaks about the Syrian situation and who isn’t a complete ignoramus knows, Bashar al-Assad would easily win any free and fair Presidential election in Syria, against any contender. His public support, as shown not only in the 2014 Syrian Presidential election, but also in the many Western-sponsored opinion-polls in Syria (since the CIA is always eager to find potential candidates to support against him), show this.

On 17 December 2016, Eric Chenoweth, a typical neocon Democratic Party hack, headlined “Let Hamilton Speak: Recapturing American Democracy”, and he wrote: “Trump’s statements and appointments make clear he intends to tilt American policy to serve Russian interests: ceding Syria to Russia by ending support to pro-Western rebels; possibly lifting economic sanctions and recognizing the annexation of Crimea; proposing an alliance with Russia in the war on terror while remaining uncommitted to the defense of NATO allies, in particular the Baltic countries vulnerable to Russian aggression. Restoring American Democracy When they meet on December 19, Republican Electors who reflect on their constitutional duty should not then affirm Trump’s election.” Those “pro-Western rebels” in Syria were actually led by Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch. Without them, the U.S. regime wouldn’t have had any “boots on the ground” forces to speak of there. In fact, the U.S. regime has actually been fronting for the Saud family to take over control of Syria if and when Syria’s Government falls.

The Saud family even selected the people who in the U.N. peace talks on Syria represent ‘the rebels’ — the Sauds, who have been Syria’s enemy ever since 1950, selected ‘Syria’s opposition’, who were now seeking to take over Syria if and when ‘America’s moderate rebels’ succeed. Both Al Qaeda and ISIS are actually fundamentalist-Sunnis, like the Saud family are, and Assad’s Government is resolutely non-sectarian. Assad himself is a non-Islamist Alawite Shiite secularist, which virtually all fundamentalist Sunnis (such as the Sauds are) are taught to despise and to hate — especially because he’s Shiite. The U.S. regime knows that neither it, which is considered Christian, nor Israel, which is theocratically Jewish, could practically succeed at imposing rule in Syria, but that maybe the Sauds could — so, they are the actual leaders of the ‘pro-Western’ forces, seeking to replace Syria’s secularist Government. Overthrowing Syria’s Government would be their victory. It would be the Saud family’s victory. But this fact is kept a secret from the American public, by the U.S.’news’media.

Back on 17 September 2016, shortly before the change in U.S. Administrations, Obama bombed the Syrian Government’s garrison in Der Zor, or Deir Ezzor, which is the capital of Syria’s oil-producing region. He did it in order to enable ISIS forces, which surrounded the city, to rush in and conquer it. Obama did this only eight days after his Secretary of State, John Kerry, had conceded to the demand by Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Russia’s demand that in a cease fire, Russia be allowed to continue bombing not only ISIS there, which Kerry agreed should continue to be bombed by both the U.S. and Russia, but also Al Qaeda’s forces — which until 9 September 2016, Obama refused to allow to be bombed during a cease-fire. But, finally, after a year of deadlock between Russia and the United States on that crucial issue, Kerry and Lavrov both signed a cease-fire agreement, and it allowed both ISIS and Al Qaeda-led forces to continue being bombed. (Russia had been bombing both, ever since 30 September 2015, when Russia began its bombing campaign in Syria.) That cease-fire went into effect on September 12th. Then Obama, unannounced — and a great disappointment to his Secretary of State, who wasn’t informed of this in advance — broke the agreement, by bombing the Syrian outpost in Deir Ezzor — and that’s the moment when Vladimir Putin quit his efforts to get agreements from Obama, because Putin now recognized that Obama was totally untrustworthy.

Already by late September of 2015, even prior to Russia’s having been requested by President Assad to enter the war in order to speed up the defeat of what Washington still calls ‘the rebels’, it was clear that Washington (actually Riyadh) wasn’t going to take over Syria; and Americans were — and are — being taught by the ‘news’media, that this was because Obama was ‘weak’ and didn’t care enough about ‘human rights’ in Syria, and about ‘democracy’ in Syria. So, on 28 September 2015, Matt Purple at the libertarian “Rare Politics” site, headlined “Pentagon admits that the Syrian rebels it trained handed over weapons to al Qaeda”, and he wrote “Neoconservatives wail that President Obama is ceding Syria to Russia — but the reason the Russians are taking the lead is precisely because America has sidelined itself.” But the U.S. regime hadn’t at all “sidelined itself”; it continued — and it continues to this day — its invasion and occupation of that land. Trump’s policy on Syria is basically a continuation of Obama’s — and it’s not at all “ceding Syria to Russia,” or “ceding Syria to Russia and Iran.”

Because of America’s ‘news’media, it still isn’t “ceding Syria to the Syrians” — as Ban ki-Moon and international law would. That wouldn’t be profitable for Lockheed Martin etc. (whose biggest customers other than the U.S. Government are the Sauds, and Trump alone sold $400 billion of U.S. weapons to them); so, it’s not done.

Syria’s sovereignty is utterly denied by the U.S. regime, but if the U.S. regime were to succeed, the big winners would actually be the Saud family.

Do the American people have sovereignty, over ‘their’ (our) Government? U.S. ‘news’media effectively ban that question. Perhaps what controls the U.S. Government is the Saudi-Israeli alliance: the Sauds have the money, and the Israelis have the lobbyists. Of course, the U.S. ‘news’media are obsessed whether Russia controls the U.S. Government. That diversionary tactic is extremely profitable to companies such as General Dynamics, and America’s other weapons-manufacturers, which thrive on wars — especially by selling to the Sauds, and to their allies (and, obviously, not at all to Russia).

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How the New York Times Lies About Lies: Obama v. Trump as Example

Eric Zuesse

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Although the New York Times says that President Donald Trump lies vastly more than did President Barack Obama, the definite liar in that comparison — based on the factual record, to be presented here — is the New York Times itself. It lies in alleging this, which isn’t to say that either President lies more frequently than the other, but instead, that the Times’s calculation fails to count, at all, but instead altogether ignores, some of President Obama’s very worst lies — ones that were real whoppers. These were lies that were essential to his maintaining support among Democrats (such as the owners of this corporation, the NYT, are), and that would keep Democrats’ support only if they judged him by his words and not by his deeds: failed to judge him by his actual decisions and actions (such as the NYT’s owners do — or else they secretly know the truth on this, but prevent this truth from being published by their employees). Even to the present day, Obama is evaluated by Democrats on the basis of his lies instead of on the basis of his actions. He’s admired for his stated intentions and promises, which were often the opposite of what his consistent actual decisions and actions turned out to be on those very same matters, on which he had, in retrospect, quite clearly lied (though this was covered-up at the time — and still is).

For example, among the list of lies that the NYT counts from Obama, is excluded Obama’s having asserted on 20 May 2009, at the signing into law of both the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act: “This bill nearly doubles the FBI’s mortgage and financial fraud program, allowing it to better target fraud in hard-hit areas. That’s why it provides the resources necessary for other law enforcement and federal agencies, from the Department of Justice to the SEC to the Secret Service, to pursue these criminals, bring them to justice, and protect hardworking Americans affected most by these crimes. It’s also why it expands DOJ’s authority to prosecute fraud that takes place in many of the private institutions not covered under current federal bank fraud criminal statutes — institutions where more than half of all subprime mortgages came from as recently as four years ago.”

Also not counted, but excluded, by the NYT, as having been an Obama lie, was his 24 January 2012 State of the Union Address assertion: “Tonight, I’m asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. (Applause.) This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans. Now, a return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help protect our people and our economy.”

But both statements were lies. The Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice issued on 13 March 2014 its “Audit of the Department of Justice’s Efforts to Address Mortgage Fraud,” and reported that Obama’s promises to prosecute turned out to be just lies. DOJ didn’t even try; and they lied even about their efforts. The IG found: “DOJ did not uniformly ensure that mortgage fraud was prioritized at a level commensurate with its public statements. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Investigative Division ranked mortgage fraud as the lowest criminal threat in its lowest crime category. Additionally, we found mortgage fraud to be a low priority, or not [even] listed as a priority, for the FBI Field Offices we visited.” Not just that, but, “Many Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA) informed us about underreporting and misclassification of mortgage fraud cases.” This was important because, “Capturing such information would allow DOJ to … better evaluate its performance in targeting high-profile offenders.”

Privately, Obama, early in his Administration, had told Wall Street executives that he would protect them. That statement, made in private to the leaders of Wall Street, turned out to have been honest. Though he lied often to the public, he never (so far as the available public record has shown) did so in private (except that he lied in private to Vladimir Putin, but neoconservatives such as the NYT’s owners and executives and editors don’t mind that at all — but they also don’t count it, at all).

On 27 March 2009, Obama assembled the top executives of the bailed-out financial firms in a secret meeting at the White House, and he assured them that he would cover their backs; he promised them “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks”. It was never on the White House website; it was leaked out, which is one of the reasons Obama hates leakers (such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, and Julian Assange). What the DOJ’s IG indicated was, in effect, that Obama had kept his secret promise to them.

Here is the context in which he had said that (from page 234 of Ron Suskind’s 2011 book, Confidence Men, with boldfacings by me):

“My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

It was an attention grabber, no doubt, especially that carefully chosen last word.

But then Obama’s flat tone turned to one of support, even sympathy. “You guys have an acute public relations problem that’s turning into a political problem,” he said. “And I want to help. But you need to show that you get that this is a crisis and that everyone has to make some sacrifices.” According to one of the participants, he then said, “I’m not out there to go after you. I’m protecting you. But if I’m going to shield you from public and congressional anger, you have to give me something to work with on these issues of compensation.”

No suggestions were forthcoming from the bankers on what they might offer, and the president didn’t seem to be championing any specific proposals. He had none: neither Geithner nor Summers believed compensation controls had any merit.

After a moment, the tension in the room seemed to lift: the bankers realized he was talking about voluntary limits on compensation until the storm of public anger passed. It would be for show.

Obama said “Everyone has to make sacrifices,” but he was talking to people who simply refused to be included in that “everyone.” As the mega-crooks who had been profiting from the crimes that had brought about the global economic collapse, those “sacrifices” should have been life-imprisonments. Only by means of such accountability, would their successors not try anything of the sort that these banksters had done. But such was not to be the case. So, the crimes continued.

Obama kept his word to them. The banksters got off scot-free, and kept their personal hundreds of millions of dollars ‘earned’.

He had been lying to the public, all along. Not only would he not prosecute the banksters, but he would treat them as if all they had was “an acute public relations problem that’s turning into a political problem.” And he thought that the people who wanted them prosecuted were like the KKK who had chased Blacks with pitchforks before lynching. According to the DOJ, their Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) was “established by President Barack Obama in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes.” But, according to the Department’s IG, it was all a fraud: a fraud that, according to the DOJ, itself had been going on since at least November 2009.

The IG’s report continued by pointing out the Obama-appointed Attorney General’s lies, noting that on 9 October 2012, “the FFETF held a press conference to publicize the results of the initiative,” and:

“The Attorney General announced that the initiative resulted in 530 criminal defendants being charged, including 172 executives, in 285 criminal indictments or informations filed in federal courts throughout the United States during the previous 12 months. The Attorney General also announced that 110 federal civil cases were filed against over 150 defendants for losses totaling at least $37 million, and involving more than 15,000 victims. According to statements made at the press conference, these cases involved more than 73,000 homeowner victims and total losses estimated at more than $1 billion.

“Shortly after this press conference, we requested documentation that supported the statistics presented. … Over the following months, we repeatedly asked the Department about its efforts to correct the statistics. … Specifically, the number of criminal defendants charged as part of the initiative was 107, not 530 as originally reported; and the total estimated losses associated with true Distressed Homeowners cases were $95 million, 91 percent less than the $1 billion reported at the October 2012 press conference. …

“Despite being aware of the serious flaws in these statistics since at least November 2012, we found that the Department continued to cite them in mortgage fraud press releases. … According to DOJ officials, the data collected and publicly announced for an earlier FFETF mortgage fraud initiative – Operation Stolen Dreams – also may have contained similar errors.”

Basically, the IG’s report said that the Obama Administration had failed to enforce the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009. This bill had been passed overwhelmingly, 92-4 in the Senate, and 338-52 in the House. All of the votes against it came from Republicans. (Perhaps Obama was secretly a Republican.) The law sent $165 million to the DOJ to catch the executive fraudsters who had brought down the U.S. economy, and it set up the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, and had been introduced and written by the liberal Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. President Obama signed it on 20 May 2009. At that early stage in his Presidency, he couldn’t afford to display publicly that he was far to the right of every congressional Democrat, so he signed it.

Already on 15 November 2011, Syracuse University’s TRAC Reports had headlined “Criminal Prosecutions for Financial Institution Fraud Continue to Fall,” and provided a chart showing that whereas such prosecutions had been running at a fairly steady rate until George W. Bush came into office in 2001, they immediately plunged during his Presidency and were continuing that decline under Obama, even after the biggest boom in alleged financial fraud cases since right before the Great Depression. And, then, on 24 September 2013, TRAC Reports bannered “Slump in FBI White Collar Crime Prosecutions,” and said that “prosecutions of white collar criminals recommended by the FBI are substantially down during the first ten months of Fiscal Year 2013.” This was especially so in the Wall Street area: “In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest projected drop in the rate of white collar crime prosecutions — 27.8 percent — was the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).” On 29 July 2015, Syracuse University’s TRAC Reports headlined “Federal White Collar Prosecutions At 20-Year Low,” and linked to their full study, which showed that, whereas in fiscal year 2004-2005, under George W. Bush, “Bank Fraud” had been the #1 most-prosecuted of all ”white collar crime matters,” it was, in the latest fiscal year, 2014-2015, only #3.

These were extremely serious crimes: they crashed the world’s economy in 2008. But there was no White House interest in pursuing them. Instead, the Obama Administration blocked any such prosecutions, or even investigations into specific cases. An example: In January 2011, there was “The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report” from the Commission (FCIC, or Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission) that was appointed by the President and the leaders of both political Parties in Congress. It was rigged. An instance of this rigging appeared even in the NYT. On 21 September 2013, a non-NYT reporter, William D. Cohan, formerly of Wall Street but now an independent investigative journalist, managed to headline there, “Was This Whistle-Blower Muzzled?” and he described how Richard M. Bowen III, who had testified to the FCIC, was muzzled by them. Bowen’s attorney told him that Bradley J. Bondi, the FCIC’s deputy general counsel, demanded changes in his testimony, and personally threatened that he “thinks that the way it’s written now, Citi will declare war on both you and the F.C.I.C., and it will primarily consist of an effort to discredit you.” Bowen was advised by his attorney, “Remove the names of people at Citi,” as the way to prevent further retaliation. It was done.

However, when a bilked federal agency sued the banksters, quashing the crimes wasn’t quite so easy. Shahien Nasiripour, at huffingtonpost, bannered, on 16 May 2011, “Confidential Federal Audits Accuse Five Biggest Mortgage Firms Of Defrauding Taxpayers,” and he reported that the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had carried out audits of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Ally Financial, and found, in each case, that they had swindled the Federal Government. “The internal watchdog office at HUD referred its findings to the Department of Justice, which had to decide whether to file charges” under “the False Claims Act, a Civil War-era law crafted as a weapon against firms that swindle the government.” All of “the audits conclude that the banks effectively cheated taxpayers by presenting the Federal Housing Administration with false claims: They filed for federal reimbursement on foreclosed homes … using defective and faulty documents.” Obama’s ‘Justice’ Department refused even to prosecute, much less to pursue, any of these mega-crooks, who had cheated the U.S. Government — ultimately U.S. taxpayers.

At lower levels of the Federal Government, there was a desire to prosecute banksters. The official “2010 Mortgage Fraud Report” by the FBI analyzed “the breadth and depth of mortgage fraud crimes perpetrated against the United States and its citizens during 2010,” and found that, “Mortgage fraud continued at elevated levels in 2010, consistent with levels seen in 2009.” However, the FBI is only an investigative arm of the U.S. Government, not actually a prosecutorial agency. Only the Executive is that: the President, via his chosen U.S. Attorney General, refused to prosecute banksters.

So: if these sorts of lies weren’t outright frauds against the American public, then what could possibly be?

But that’s not all of what belongs in the “whopper” or “Big Lie” category from Obama: he lied constantly about Ukraine, and about Syria, and about Russia and about his intentions toward Russia, and about his proposed international-trade treaties: TPP. TTIP, and TISA.

None of these whoppers was included in the listing that the NYT presented in their 14 December 2017 article “Trump’s Lies vs. Obama’s”.

In addition, Obama lied massively regarding his foreign-policy intentions and actions, and the NYT (like other U.S. ‘news’media) hid and hide the truth and asserted, and they continue to assert, his lies on those matters, even though they were often blatantly false; so that the NYT’s ‘news’-reports on those key matters of U.S. foreign relations — not only on the U.S. Government’s actions, but even on its intentions — constitute egregiously false ‘history’ on those key matters of Obama’s foreign policies, and no historian (but only, at best, a ‘historian’) can unquestioningly trust that newspaper regarding those matters. Especially, a citation of the NYT as presenting truth regarding either Syria or Ukraine should elicit strong suspicion from a reader, not trust. This is not to say that other American newspapers are any better, nor that highly respected American journalists who are employed by other U.S. media deserve to be trusted, but only that the NYT isn’t, and doesn’t. No intelligent person can trust it. The record of its deceitfulness is clear, especially on important political matters.

I am nonpartisan toward persons and toward political parties, and consider all of America’s Presidents since 1981 (if not since 1968, but with the exception of Carter) to be and have been loathsome people (not even well-intentioned), but ‘news’media such as the New York Times aren’t any more trustworthy (nor more honest) than these Presidents have been, and the pontifications from such ‘news’media (in both their ’news’-reporting and opinion-pieces) are just propaganda, mixtures of truths with lies — and more and more of the public are coming to recognize this disgusting fact, so these media’s pretenses to honesty and trustworthiness are having fewer and fewer believers. But these media claim that fake ‘news’ comes only from their non-mainstream competitors (some of which are actually far more honest than they). Preserving their cartel is crucial to them. And it’s crucial to the people who benefit from this cartel.

Author’s note: this piece first posted at strategic-culture.org

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Americas

America’s Public Are Foie-Gras Ducks- American Billionaires Farm This Public

Eric Zuesse

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Photo by Nicolai Berntsen on Unsplash

Any animal farm needs to feed, to its livestock, food that the farmer has selected, so as to fatten the animals in the way that the farmer wants, in order for him to serve his selected market — serve them what that market wants.

Foie-gras ducks (and geese) are fed in order to produce foie gras — sickly enlarged bird-livers — which aristocrats traditionally have craved to eat. Many rich people eat this almost tasteless “delicacy”, as a status-symbol. By French law, foie gras is defined as the liver of a duck or goose fattened by force-feeding corn with a feeding tube. The final weeks of the bird’s life consist of nothing but these force-feedings, as the animal’s only supply of food. That’s the way to produce those highly valued, sickly enlarged, bird-livers.

In the following video, the actress Kate Winslet explains and shows how this force-feeding is done (it’s showing there a bird-analogue of what’s done to America’s voters)

Those ducks and geese need to be force-fed this food because the birds don’t actually want to eat it — they’re forced to ‘eat’ it; it’s simply forced into their stomachs. That’s not really eating of food, for nutriment or for health, and especially not for pleasure, like real eating is. It is, instead, just the farmer’s forcing corn into the bird’s stomach, regardless of what that victim wants, or needs, or can even tolerate. It’s something that’s done to the bird, not by the bird. So, although it’s feeding, it’s not actually eating.

This is the way that American elections increasingly are, for Americans — elections are increasingly something that’s done to them, and less and less what they themselves do.

America’s Democratic Party voters aren’t as politically disaffected as are America’s Republican Party voters, but both groups are reluctant to vote for the politicians whom the aristocracy is offering to them as constituting their final general-election options. And there are now a larger number of unaffiliated or “independent” American voters than the voters of either Party — and America’s independent voters are astronomically politically disaffected. This was shown on 26 October 2016, just before the U.S. election, when Britain’s Guardian bannered

Most Americans do not feel represented by Democrats or Republicans – survey

Poll finds Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump continue to face historically low favourability ratings, while pessimism about the country’s direction has grown

Participating in this poll had been (as shown on page 42 of the pollsters’ full report) two thousand scientifically sampled American adults, 18 or older — including ones who hadn’t even registered to vote (and so this was a scientific sampling of the total U.S. adult population, instead of only of registered voters, or only likely voters) and consequently the most disillusioned voters who don’t vote at all were included in this political poll, which is absolutely extraordinary — and it found, as the Guardian summarized it, that: “Sixty-one per cent of survey respondents say neither political party reflects their opinions today, while 38% disagree. Nearly eight in 10 (77%) independents and a majority (54%) of Republicans took this position, while less than half (46%) of Democrats agree.”

So (to clarify that incompetent writing in the Guardian): just before America’s 2016 general election, 46% of Democrats were politically disaffected, 54% of Republicans were, and a whopping 77% of independents were; and 61% of all Americans were. Fewer than 39% of Americans thought that the U.S. Government represented them. Not necessarily in words, but definitely in reality: 61% of Americans thought they weren’t living in a democracy — they thought that America is actually a dictatorship. A better headline for that news-report would therefore have been: “61% of Americans Think They Live in a Dictatorship.” It would have been shorter, clearer, and equally as true, as the Guardian’s headline.

Since Democrats are the least-displeased American voting-group, regarding the politicians that their aristocrats have selected for them and fed to them, let’s focus on and consider here, in some detail, this least-displeased American voting-group, because they’re the least like any resistant (or “anti-Establishment”) foie gras geese and ducks are; Democratic Party voters are far more passive than other Americans are, far more willingly accepting of what’s being fed to them by the aristocracy.

During the 2016 primaries-season, which are the contests within each of America’s parties, one candidate stood out above all others as being by far the most-preferred one by the American general electorate: Bernie Sanders. He was Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic Party primaries. Although all of the Democratic Party’s billionaires were funding Ms. Clinton’s campaign, the American public strongly preferred Mr. Sanders. In the numerous one-on-one polled hypothetical choices versus any of the opposite Party’s contending candidates, Sanders crushed each one of them except John Kasich, who, throughout the primaries, was the second-most preferred of all of the candidates of both Parties (and who performed far better than Trump did in the hypothetical match-ups against Clinton). But Kasich received almost as little financial backing from the billionaires as did Sanders; so, like Sanders, Kasich didn’t receive his Party’s nomination. In the hypothetical match-ups, Sanders beat Kasich by 3.3%, whereas Kasich beat Clinton by 7.4% — that spread between +3.3% and -7.4% is 10.8%, and provides a pretty reliable indication of what the Democratic National Committee threw away when rigging the primaries and vote-counts for Hillary Clinton to win the Party’s nomination. All of the DNC insiders knew that Sanders would be the stronger general-election candidate, no matter whom the Republican nominee would end up being; all of the polling showed it clearly, and they all read the polls voraciously. In all of this hypothetical polling, Sanders beat Trump by 10.4%, whereas Clinton beat Trump by only 3.2%. That spread was 7.2% in favor of Sanders over Clinton, and that’s a huge spread. However, the DNC cared lots more about satisfying its mega-donors, than about winning, when they picked Clinton to be the Party’s nominee. Ms. Clinton’s actual victory over Mr. Trump in the final election between those two nominees turned out to be by only 2.1% — close enough a spread so as to enable Trump to win in the Electoral College (which is all that counts), which counts not individual voters but a formula that represents both the states and the voters. Sanders would have beaten Trump in a landslide — far too big a victory-margin for the Electoral College to have been able to go the opposite way, such as did happen with Clinton (who was so stupid her campaign was a mess, definitely stupider than Trump’s). This fact, of Sanders’s clearly trouncing Trump, was also shown here and here. That’s what the DNC threw away; but discard it they did, because their billionaires were strongly opposed to Sanders (and many of them might have donated even to Trump in order to defeat Sanders).

Hillary Clinton received by far the biggest support from billionaires, of all of the 2016 candidates; Sanders received by far the least; and this is the reason why the Democratic Party, which Clinton and Barack Obama (two thoroughly billionaire-controlled politicians) effectively controlled, handed its nomination to Clinton.

The poll that had been reported by Britain’s Guardian, is shown in fuller detail here, documenting how loathed both of the two Parties’ Presidential nominees were:

“Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump continue to have historically low favorability ratings with fewer than half of the public viewing each candidate positively (41% vs. 33%, respectively). Clinton is viewed less favorably than the Democratic Party (49%), but Trump’s low favorability rating is more consistent with the Republican Party’s low favorability (36%).”

Of course, the Republican Party won everything, though its favorability-rating was the lowest. In no way was this outcome the result of democracy.

The real action in American politics is in the primaries, and the billionaires know this. The primaries are the process where any candidate who wants to represent the public instead of the aristocracy, gets eliminated from further competition. That’s the reason why the billionaires are especially concerned to win in their respective party’s primaries — the first-stage selection process — so that the general-election options will be only candidates who are acceptable to the aristocracy. Then, if a particular billionaire doesn’t like what his party has nominated, he can either back that candidate if acceptable, or else might back another party’s nominee, who was selected by that other party’s billionaires. In either case, the billionaires’ class-interest will still be served, even though the given billionaire might philosophically disagree with the other party’s candidate. It’ll still be the same aristocracy ruling the country, even if a different segment of it.

This means that, for the voters, the final choice doesn’t include any anti-aristocratic (or pro-democratic) option: it’s instead between nominees all of whom represent some faction or another within the nation’s aristocracy.

That’s the situation amongst Democratic Party voters — these being the voters who are the least-disillusioned about their country’s ‘democracy’. Apparently, no matter how much the Democratic Party lies to its voters, those voters are extremely reluctant to reject their Party’s nominee. Even if their Party has stolen the nomination from them, and handed it to a nominee who ends up losing in the final contest, Democratic Party voters are still willing to back the Party that stole the nomination from them, for the weaker candidate, and that thereby handed the victory to a different party.

But America’s Republican voters, and especially America’s independent or non-affiliated voters, are very much in the position of reluctant, or even highly resistant, foie gras ducks and geese (the ones who squawk and squirm more). Democratic Party voters are the most accepting of what they’re being force-fed. That’s why most of them remain as Democrats, even after their Party’s having stolen the nomination and handed it to Clinton, and even after Clinton’s subsequent choice for DNC Chair — and not Sanders’s choice — becoming selected in 2017 by the DNC to run the Party in the 2018 mid-term elections. The fewer-than-a-thousand people (447, to be exact) who are allowed to vote in DNC elections, are, as a group, thoroughly unrepentant, even though they had, to a large extent, made Trump President. (That last linked-to site, being mainstream, and thus necessarily controlled by the aristocracy, said that “the DNC’s exact roster of current members doesn’t appear to be easily available on its website”, but that was a lie, because the membership-list simply wasn’t at all available on its website — and it still is being kept a secret there, which fact, of the DNC’s secrecy about whom those 447 DNC members are, further displays the type of ‘democracy’ that America is, which fact, in turn, explains the vast political disaffection in the United States, though Democratic voters especially accept this ongoing abuse of Democratic voters, by the DNC.)

America’s voters are foie gras birds, but some of these birds (the Republicans and especially independents) are more resisting than some others (Democrats) are.

The way that America’s billionaires farm this public is by feeding to the voters the politicians, without even considering the needs — much less the wants — of that public.

And this is the reason why the only scientific study that has ever been done of whether a given country is a democracy or instead a dictatorship, which was a study that was done about the U.S., found that America is clearly a dictatorship, no democracy at all. It found that whereas the very wealthy and well-connected do have very significant effect shaping America’s laws, the public-at-large has virtually none: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” Such a country isn’t a democracy; it’s an aristocracy — a nation where only the rich and well-connected have impact upon the government. America’s public are foie gras ducks.

And the situation in America is getting rapidly even worse: Amy Baker Benjamin’s “The Many Faces of Secrecy”, in William & Mary Policy Review, 21 November 2017, is a path-breaking study of recent expansions of U.S. Governmental secrecy, and it concludes that: “We are confronting a systemic secrecy crisis. For various reasons and under cover of conflicting rationales, large swaths of policy-making have been placed beyond the review-and-reaction authority of the American people, to the detriment of even the most humble conceptions of transparency and democracy.” Dictatorship depends upon government-secrecy, because it depends upon lies, and because lies depend upon hiding the key truths. For each lie, there are key truths that must be hidden.

Two of the U.S. aristocracy’s leading magazines, Foreign Policy, and the super-prestigious Foreign Affairs, both recently headlined articles “Is Democracy Dying?” and neither magazine so much as even mentioned (nor linked to, either directly or indirectly) any of the studies — nor, really, referred to any of the realities — that have been mentioned here. This information is being blocked from reaching the public, blocked as much as the aristocracy can. The public are intended to supply the votes and the labor and the markets; and the way to get all three is to hide the truth, so that the lies can more readily be accepted, so that the aristocracy will remain in control — which they are determined to do, at all costs (especiallly all costs to the public).

Globally, the most prominent example of a duck or goose who refuses to cooperate and who is willing to experience the worst possible punishments for resisting (in other words, is a person of supreme courage and integrity), is Julian Assange; and, on June 9th, the great investigative journalist John Pilger, at Consortium News, stated the ugliness and depravity of the aristocracy, as displayed (and which the aristocracy does everything possible to hide) in that specific case:

“There is a silence among many who call themselves left. The silence is Julian Assange. As every false accusation has fallen away, every bogus smear shown to be the work of political enemies, Julian stands vindicated as one who has exposed a system that threatens humanity. The Collateral Damage video, the war logs of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Cablegate revelations, the Venezuela revelations, the Podesta email revelations … these are just a few of the storms of raw truth that have blown through the capitals of rapacious power. The fakery of Russia-gate, the collusion of a corrupt media and the shame of a legal system that pursues truth-tellers, have not been able to hold back the raw truth of WikiLeaks revelations. They have not won, not yet, and they have not destroyed the man. Only the silence of good people will allow them to win. Julian Assange has never been more isolated. He needs your support and your voice. Now more than ever is the time to demand justice and free speech for Julian. Thank you.”

If civilization doesn’t totally end from what that international network of thugs is doing, then human history will continue beyond the present generation, and the case of that lone and very courageously resistant bird, Julian Assange, will be a prominent part of it.

Author’s note: first published at strategic-culture.org

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