The Coarsening of Political Language

CANBERRA, Australia — Here in Australia, “Question Time” has long been one of my favorite exercises of parliamentary democracy. The prime minister and government ministers appear before other elected members in support of their policies, while the opposition asks pointed and sometimes funny questions in an effort to belittle those policies.

At Westminster in London, “Question Time” is great political entertainment. It sometimes airs in the U.S. on C-SPAN. Last week, here in Canberra, Australia’s capital, the performance I watched from the visitors’ gallery, however, was quite the opposite.

One government minister referred to an opposition member as “corrupt” and “shifty” before he then called him a liar. That this labeling is often preceded by the required “my right honorable friend,” or “the right honorable member” does little to mitigate the tone of what passes for modern political debate. In fact, it’s not a debate at all when one person shouts at another. You can hardly persuade someone by the power of argument that way.

Politics has always been a contact sport and in America’s early days fisticuffs sometimes broke out in Congress. With the advent of television and social media the public has not only been exposed to increasingly offensive language and behavior, it has often emulated it.

Across from where I sat in the visitors’ gallery, a large group of schoolchildren watched the adults go at each other. I wondered what they were thinking and what kind of example was being set. If these children misbehaved in class and their teacher admonished them, would they use what they had seen as justification for their bad behavior?

American politics is also getting worse under Trump. Last week, a White House aide dismissed remarks by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) opposing the nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA director. According to a leak from a closed-door meeting, Kelly Sadler said that McCain had become “irrelevant” because “he’s dying anyway,” a reference to his battle with brain cancer.

There has been no apology issued by the White House.

Nicolle Wallace, a 2008 McCain presidential campaign aide, apologized for a remark she made on MSNBC when she said of White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “How do you resist the temptation to run up and wring her neck?”

President Trump is not alone in bearing responsibility for this low level of rhetoric. He has, however, by his own caustic language, given tacit permission to his supporters to speak in similar ways. It is not just the disgusting nature of such remarks that should offend. We are not each other’s enemies. We are fellow Americans, who sometimes disagree, but ought to do so with some level of respect for each other.

One can have a minimum high regard for a political opponent, as some clever practitioners of better rhetoric have demonstrated in the past, but why this increasingly angry and poisonous pattern of speech?

For creatively cutting remarks in history, it is hard to top what the late British Prime Minister David Lloyd George said of Neville Chamberlain: “A retail mind in a wholesale business,” or comments by the English journalist William Cobbett about Benjamin Franklin: “A crafty, lecherous, old hypocrite whose very statue seems to gloat on the wenches as they walk the States House yard.”

Those and other insults, while biting, seemed more creative and less harmful than some of the venomous rhetoric that characterizes modern political discourse.

In the Australian parliament, members talked over each other. The same rudeness takes place in Congress. Some of the worst offenders of indelicate political speech then often appear on cable news where they denounce each other as unpatriotic, and worse.

In Australia’s parliament, as in the U.S. Congress, schoolchildren, and the rest of us, are no doubt learning lessons better left unlearned.

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How Its Done– Amid the Political chaos surrounding the Trump administration, VP Pence Reaches for Control of the G.O.P.

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Michael Bloomberg Slams 'Epidemic' Of Political Lies As Danger To Democracy

Billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg lashed out Saturday at the “epidemic of dishonesty” in politics that he said poses “one of the most serious dangers” to American democracy.

During a commencement speech at Rice University in Texas, Bloomberg slammed the “endless barrage of lies” and “alternate realities” in national politics.

“People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts,” he said.

Bloomberg didn’t single out President Donald Trump, though, he has called Trump’s candidacy a “con.” Bloomberg said Saturday that rampant dishonesty in politics is now “bigger than any one person … than any one party.”

He also held up presidents of the past — George Washington and Abraham Lincoln — as models of honesty. 

“How did we go from a president who could not tell a lie to politicians who cannot tell the truth?” Bloomberg asked. “Today when we look at the city that bears Washington’s name, it’s hard not to wonder, ‘What the hell happened?’”

Bloomberg sharply criticized “enablers” who tolerate and defend lies.

Lies, he said, are only the start of a profound disturbance in U.S. politics.

“When elected officials speak as though they are above the truth, they will act as though they are above the law,” Bloomberg said. That invites “criminality” in the “form of corruption [and] abuse of power.”

“These abuses can erode the institutions that protect and preserve our rights and freedoms and open the door to tyranny and fascism,” he added. 

Watch the rest of the speech is in the video above.

Bloomberg just last month committed $4.5 million to fund the United States’ annual commitment to the Paris climate agreement after Trump announced that the nation is withdrawing from the pact. He also last month criticized Environmental Protection Agency head  Scott Pruitt for “abandoning” the environment “100 percent.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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The Tunisians reject their political system

On 6 May, Tunisians were called to elect their local councils. Only 33 % of them voted, which clearly deprives those who were elected of democratic legitimacy.

In the past, municipal councils were appointed and not elected. However, the powers they were conferred with were minimal. However, a new Code regulating Local Authorities adopted last month, would appear to increase their responsibilities.

Two parties dominated the ballot: the Islamists of Ennahda (the Muslim Brotherhood) and the secular party, Nidaa Tounes. After fighting each other during the Coloured Revolution of 2010 – 11, they made an alliance on the national level, and would probably divide between themselves positions at the local level.

According to a survey taken at the end of 2017, 83% of Tunisians think that their country is going in the wrong direction.

The youth seem to have massively deserted the ballot.

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Childish Gambino Sends A Powerful Political Message About Police Brutality In America

by Luke Miller Truth Theory

Childish Gambino just released his new single “This is America” which tackles the issue of police brutality and racism in America.

Taken from Genius “This is America” is a commentary on the lives of black people in America and American culture as a whole in 2018. It contrasts popular culture’s perception of the black experience and the reality of the black experience by juxtaposing happy, carefree choruses and dark, aggressive verses.

In the music video, directed by frequent Gambino collaborator Hiro Murai, Gambino portrays this comparison by dancing around gleefully, distracting from the chaotic scenes of violence in the background.

This contrast may also allude to the cyclical shifts in mood whenever there is a shooting in America—one second, the entire nation is in an uproar, but the next, they are happy and unconcerned, placated by pop culture trends.

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‘Political Bully’ Echoes Trump, Calls Child Refugees ‘Gangsters and Thugs’ on ‘Madam Secretary’

Well, this is a timely coincidence. Within a week of the Trump administration announcing that it will end the 1999 temporary protected status for Hondurans, CBS’s Madam Secretary features the Secretary of State fighting for refugee status of Honduran children against a “political bully.” I guess the show has more foresight than I thought, though still not enough to let their Hillary icon or liberal biases go. As the Democrats have been learning lately, you can’t win them all. 

The May 6 episode “The Things We Get To Say” follows reporter Neal Shin (Tim Kang) as he observes an average day for Madam Secretary Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni). This day happens to be perfect since Elizabeth and her staff are handling a Honduran refugee crisis occurring just south of the border. In overcrowded and unsanitary detention centers in Mexico, many Honduran children are dying without care, requesting aid from the United States. There is even a sad online video depicting the children holding a funeral for their friends. Despite already working on a comprehensive immigration reform bill for Congress, they begin mulling over the prospect of giving them refugee status.

Of course, no controversial political move could be made without everyone’s favorite right-wing partisan hack Senator Morejon (José Zúñiga) chiming in. Once word spreads about the Hondurans, Morejon immediately goes on air and blasts the policy as letting in “gangsters and thugs,” paralleling Trump’s controversial statements on illegal immigrants coming in from Mexico.



Morejon: I believe in the dreams of immigrants who want to contribute to our great nation. But I simply cannot support legislation on immigration put forth by this president when his administration is offering refuge to gangsters and thugs.

Funny how the episode didn’t bring up the fact that many refugees dubbed “minors” brought to the U.S. are actually adults or that gangs like MS-13 are sending in younger members. After all, bringing up those facts would have offered a counter-argument, and this series, with its several ridiculous positions, can’t afford that.

In fact, the reporter bemoans “reckless statements and hate-mongering by that political bully [Senator Morejon].” From the previous episode this season on refugees, we already know that Morejon is basically a hypocrite when it comes to refugees considering his wife was an illegal immigrant. This time around, he takes his hypocrisy to a new level by holding the act hostage until the President backs off divestment from private prisons. Why the sudden interest in private prisons one might ask? Morejon’s largest donor just so happens to be the CEO of a large privatized prison. Now Morejon is not only accepting of poor refugee children dying, but he is also beholden to the will of wealthy prison owners. Such is the treatment of any political opponent on this show.

Reporter Neal Shin is shown to critique the secretary’s decisions regarding the Iran Deal, Afghanistan, and even her negotiations with Morejon. Still, he ends up just as supportive of her as any of her staff as he croons to his newborn child how Elizabeth’s “gonna be your president one day.”

Flattering appraisal or partisan hackery. Those are the only political views on Madam Secretary, and they don’t help a single Honduran child. 

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Trump & Macron’s political ‘bromance’ blossoming after attacks on Syria

Trump Macron


Long gone are French snorts at the US. Despite disagreeing on the Iran deal and climate change, Emmanuel Macron is the first foreign leader to be indulged with a full state visit by US President Donald Trump in the White House.

United in their recent crusade against Syrian President Bashar Assad, the two leaders are expected to iron out their differences on other international policy questions, including Trump’s threats to ditch the landmark nuclear deal with Iran.

While Macron, 40, trolled Trump, 71, over climate change a year ago, they now seem to be on much better terms, with the French leader claiming it was he who had convinced Trump to keep troops in Syria “for the long term.” The White House maintains, however, that US troops will get out of Syria as soon as possible, after they crush ISIS.

While the grande dame of German politics, Chancellor Angela Merkel, struggles to find common ground on reforming the Eurozone with Macron, Trump looks like the French president’s new best friend. Both were elected on their first try and have high hopes for being reelected while facing an increasingly loud chorus of public disapproval.

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EU Parliament Member Calls For Banning Political Parties that Criticize Immigration


EU Parliament member Soraya Post has called for political parties that criticize mass immigration to be banned in Sweden.

Post, who is a part of the Feminist Initiative party in Sweden, complains that “the arrival of a very large number of migrants during the migrant crisis” has led to an increase in racism and that not enough is being done “to prevent racist and xenophobic attacks” against Muslims and other minorities.

“Sweden must ban organizations that spread hatred and advocate fascism, nazism and racism,” writes Post, before making it clear that she is referring to the Sweden Democrats, which is the country’s largest anti-mass immigration party and has a chance of winning the next election.

The Party, led by Jimmie Åkesson, is polling number one amongst people aged 18-34 and causing deep consternation for both the establishment in Sweden and the European Union.

“Just because there is now a more right-wing extremist party than the Swedish Democrats in Sweden, it does not mean that the Swedish Democrats are not racist and xenophobic,” writes Post. “The Swedish Democrats still have a continuous female-fidelity, homophobic, nationalist, racist and xenophobic policy, this has not been changed. Their policies are still not inclusive, it still excludes minorities. Normalizing the Swedish Democrats and their racist and sexist policies is unacceptable and a major threat to our democracy and human rights.”

She appears to be advocating for some kind of new kind of EU power to punish countries that “violate human rights” by failing to take hate crime seriously.

Post then brazenly calls for political parties she claims are “racist” to be banned altogether.

“These organizations are not acceptable in a democratic society; in a democratic society everyone should be entitled to participate and feel safe,” she writes. “Therefore, Sweden should follow Finland’s example and prohibit organizations spreading hatred and advocating fascism, nazism and racism.”

Sweden is currently undergoing a surge in violent crime and sexual assaults partly as a result of mass immigration.

Politico reports that, “Shootings in the country have become so common that they don’t make top headlines anymore, unless they are spectacular or lead to fatalities.”

A private study of 4,142 rulings regarding sex-related crimes passed by 40 Swedish courts between 2012 and 2014 found that 95.6% of rapes were committed by men of foreign descent.

Two out of three rapes with aggravating circumstances were committed by newly arrived migrants or approved asylum seekers. Official crime statistics show that reported rapes have increased 34% in the last 10 years.

Numerous Swedes have been arrested and prosecuted for making jokes about Islam or criticizing the religion on social media.

Swedish police officer Peter Springare is also under investigation for merely observing that “foreign-born offenders” are largely responsible for the country’s gang rape problem.



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US Gov’t Admits Funding Political Change at the Direction of Billionaire George Soros

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) channeled funds into a ‘Justice for All’ campaign to reform the judicial system in Albania in 2016. The campaign was run by Soros’s East West Management Institute, according to the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch. The group obtained 32 pages of State Department documents in a legal battle, which concluded with the US government submitting to a Judicial Watch Information Act (FOIA) request in exchange for a dropped lawsuit.

“The Obama administration quietly spent at least $9 million in US taxpayers’ dollars in direct collusion with left-wing billionaire George Soros’s backing of a socialist government in Albania,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

Soros is a billionaire and “shouldn’t be receiving taxpayer support to advance his radical left agenda to undermine freedom here at home and abroad,” Fitton added.


Following the report’s publication, a USAID official told Fox News that the agency did not provide grants to Soros’s Open Society Foundation (OSF) in Albania, which is technically true according to the Judicial Watch publication. Instead, the US embassy in Tirana and the OSF “each provided funding to a local organization to conduct a public opinion poll on attitudes towards the Judicial Reform effort,” a document from February 2017 said. The poll’s result sounded favorable for the judicial reform championed by the OSF and the Obama administration.

“For decades, there has been broad bipartisan agreement in Washington, DC, on the need to promote democracy and human rights abroad,” a spokesperson for OSF told Fox News in a statement, adding: “Of late there has been an unfortunate and misguided effort to politicize this process.”

Fitton and Judicial Watch were especially critical of US Ambassador to Albania Donald Lu, whom the group called in the statement “a holdover from the Obama administration” and an official with inappropriately close ties to Soros. The embassy in Tirana, they point out, frequently asks representatives of the OSF to “participate in technical reviews” of applications for funding USAID receives, according to a February 2017 memo.

Judicial Watch accuses Lu of interfering in Albanian politics by backing the country’s ruling Socialist Party at the expense of the opposition. The group said that in May 2017 Lu declared that the US would recognize the results of the Albanian general election even if the opposition refused to participate.

In March 2017, five Republican senators wrote to then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, asking about claims that US taxpayer funds were spent on interfering in the internal politics of countries such as Albania, as well as neighboring Macedonia.

“This includes reports of diplomats playing political favorites, USAID funds supporting extreme and sometimes violent political activists, and the US government working to marginalize the moderates and conservatives in leadership roles,” Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) said at the time, adding that “this behavior is unacceptable and must be halted immediately.”

Judicial Watch has also made FOIA requests about the activities of Soros groups in Macedonia, Romania and Colombia.

Judicial reform in Albania remains a matter of controversy. In December last year, opposition parties in the national parliament tried to stop the appointment of an interim prosecutor general – with is part of Albania’s transition to the new system – by igniting smoke bombs in the chamber. The radical move was meant to express protest against what they called an unconstitutional move by the ruling party.

Last month, the political establishment in Washington was up in arms over the Trump administration’s proposal to cut the budget for “democracy promotion” activities abroad, specifically funding for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its partisan adjuncts, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI).

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Raging US/UK Political Assault on Russia

Raging US/UK Political Assault on Russia

by Stephen Lendman ( – Home – Stephen Lendman)

There’s no likely positive resolution to dangerously escalating US/UK-led Russia bashing – eerily similar to the run-up to earlier US-led NATO imperial wars.

Was Trump’s hardened war cabinet assembled to goad Russia into confrontation? Since the 1917 Russian revolution, US and UK imperialists sought regime change – from extremists under Woodrow Wilson in America and their counterparts under Britain’s Lloyd George to the present.

The Skripal affair is the latest Russia bashing incident – clearly a false flag the Kremlin had nothing to do with, but it doesn’t matter.

Despite no evidence suggesting Russian involvement, the official hostile narrative continues – supported by Western media.

During an OPCW Executive Council Wednesday special session, Moscow’s proposed joint investigation was rejected by Washington and Britain. 

A UK statement turned truth on its head saying the following:

“Russia’s proposal for a joint, UK/Russian investigation into the Salisbury incident is perverse. It is a diversionary tactic, and yet more disinformation designed to evade the questions the Russian authorities must answer.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blasted Britain saying “(t)hey will keep lying, prevaricating, shifting responsibility on each other. Why? Because this is not the first time they are doing this.”

Russia OPCW envoy Alexander Shulgin said “(w)e insist…that the investigation should be truly transparent, comprehensive and unbiased and necessarily involve Russian experts.”

Questions on the Skripal incident posed to the OPCW have not been answered, Shulgin saying “(t)his is absolutely unacceptable.”

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called what’s going on “abominable from the very beginning…evidence (showing) insane accusations by Britain…are based on nothing.”

Britain’s Porton Down Defense Science and Technology Laboratory exposed the Big Lie, explaining the origin of the toxin it examined can’t be determined. It could have come from any number of countries or sources capable of producing it.

A Times of London propaganda report said “(s)ecurity services believe that they have pinpointed the location of the covert Russian laboratory that manufactured the weapons-grade nerve agent used in Salisbury,” adding:

“Ministers and security officials were able to identify the source using scientific analysis and intelligence in the days after the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal a month ago, according to security sources.”

According to an unnamed Whitehall source the Times quoted, “(w)e knew pretty much by the time of the first (emergency briefing) that it was overwhelmingly likely to come from Russia.”

All of the above is pure rubbish, no evidence corroborating any UK claims made.

Britain’s Porton Down CEO Gary Aitkenhead admitted its scientists were unable to prove a Russia connection to the Skripal incident, saying:

“We were able to identify (the toxic substance in question) as novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent.”

“We have not identified the precise source” – meaning no evidence linking it to Russia.

No known antidote to the deadly agent exists, he explained. Anyone exposed would be dead in minutes.

Clearly, the Skripals and others allegedly affected weren’t exposed to a deadly military-grade agent of any kind. What’s obvious continues to be ignored by Western officials and media.

Separately, US National Intelligence director Dan Coats promised additional measures against Russia, turning truth on its head adding “we are more and more aware of the potential for Russia to continue to engage in any number of ways relative to our elections and a lot of steps are being taken.”

Intense US/UK hostility toward Russia shows nothing positive can be achieved by one or more Putin/Trump summits wherever held, no matter how much discussion takes place on bilateral relations, Syria, the arms race, and other key issues.

Nothing positive between both countries was achieved since the Reagan/Gorbachev era. Bilateral relations today are more dangerously dismal than ever.

Nothing suggests they’ll improve. Most likely they’ll worsen ahead. 

Focusing on ties away from the US-dominated West along with preparing for the worst ahead appear Moscow’s only sound options.

Talks with Washington and Britain are a waste of time or worse if Russia maintains its delusion that better East/West relations are possible.

The notion is hazardous to its security.

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My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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