In recent weeks, Google has cut the ads for many news sites on YouTube because a few of its ads happened to be shown on channels for racist and hate groups and advocates for terrorism. The Wall Street Journal has run a series of sensational articles about how advertising on YouTube was helping to fund hate and terrorism, which has caused a number of high profile advertisers to pull their funding from YouTube in recent days such as Walmart, Pepsi, Starbucks, MacDonalds, Disney, AT&T and Verizon. Analysts estimate that YouTube may loose $750 million in revenues due to the controversy, out of a total of $10.2 billion in expected annual revenue. Some of these companies may be pulling their ads from YouTube in an effort to secure better advertising deals on more favorable terms, but they also may be spooked by the potential public relations scandal of advertising on offensive YouTube videos. The mainstream media also may be hyping the controversy partly because it helps redirect advertising funds toward the traditional media, rather than the new online formats like Google and Facebook.
I finished reading the 25 page unclassified report entitled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US elections,” which was released by US intelligence agencies to prove that Russia meddled in the US presidential election of 2016.
Frankly, most of the report is just assertions without proof, and the proof that is provided is mostly circumstantial and probably a misreading of the evidence. I wanted to see the proof that Russia gave the DNC emails to Wikileaks, but this report presents no additional proof aside from assertions by the US intelligence agencies. Furthermore there is no proof in the report that Guccifer 2.0 was a Russian agent and that Russia leaked material to DCLeaks.
Sam Harris recently got into a public debate with Noam Chomsky about whether US foreign policy or Muslim terrorists are morally worse. Harris argues that the US killing of civilians is fundamentally different from the civilian deaths caused by Muslim terrorists, because the US doesn’t intend to kill civilians, whereas the goal of Muslim terrorists is to kill civilians.
Every time I read another red-baiting article about how Russia swung the US presidential election, all I can say is “the chickens are coming home to roost.” For decades, the US has been engaged in trying to manipulate elections abroad, and now Americans get offended that someone might be trying to do it to them. The US covertly backed the Velvet Revolution in Georgia and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, which took those countries out of the Russian orbit. The CIA alleges that Russia hacked servers at the Democratic National Committee to give its documents to Wikileaks, but that is nothing compared to the US government financing youth groups in the Ukraine that led the massive street demonstrations and paying a Washington PR firm to create pro-Yushchenko websites. Maybe Putin is giving the US a little taste of its own medicine.
The death of Fidel Castro has provoked an outpouring of opprobrium in the US press for the island nation 90 miles from the coast of Florida. The US media has critiqued the words of President Obama, because he did publicly criticize the human rights record of the Cuban dictator on the hour of his death. The blogosphere and people in social media seem to have a binary view of Castro, either castigating him as one of the worst dictators in modern history or widely lauding the social achievements and anti-imperialism of Cuba under Castro.
Frankly, both of these reactions are wrongheaded in my opinion. Cuba under Castro was a much less repressive regime than many of the governments which are allied with the US. When far worse dictators such as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia or Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan died, President Obama didn’t publicly criticize their human rights records either, and the US media didn’t consider it scandalous or even worthy of much commentary. Obama spoke of a “genuine and warm friendship” with King Abdullah. “As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions,” he said. When Karimov died, Obama stated, “At this challenging time of President Isl[a]m Karimov’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the people of Uzbekistan. This week, I congratulated President Karimov and the people of Uzbekistan on their country’s 25 years of independence. As Uzbekistan begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to partnership with Uzbekistan, to its sovereignty, security, and to a future based on the rights of all its citizens.” Continue reading
Bill and Hillary Clinton invented a novel way of personally enriching themselves while Hillary held the offices of the US senator from New York and the US Secretary of State. During Hillary’s tenure in public office, Bill gave 544 speeches which earned him a total of $105,986,691, or an average of $194,828 per speech.
As pointed out in a previous post, it was never accepted before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, that high office holders could personally enrich themselves while in office, but the Clintons found a loophole around that restriction through a spouse. It would not be surprising if other high office holders copy the Clintons’ example in the future, by using family members to collect money from groups which seek to influence public policy or gain favors from the government.
The long term health of a republic depends upon transparency in the actions of its political leaders. Active vigilance is required to prevent any corruption on the part of elected leaders. To that end, I have compiled a list of the paid speeches given by Bill and Hillary Clinton in an Excel spreadsheet.
Between January 1, 2001 and May 14, 2015, Bill Clinton was paid to give 637 speeches which earned a total of $132,166,691 or an average of $207,483 per speech. Hillary Clinton was paid to give 91 speeches between April 18, 2013 and March 19, 2015 which earned a total of $21,442,000 or an average of $235,626 per speech. Together they earned a total $153,608,691. Continue reading