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Politics and Why It Is Difficult to Wrest Power from the Elite

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Message Arshad M Khan

What is 'politics' a Senator's quip went ... 'Poli' he said means many in Greek, and 'tics' are bloodsucking parasites. It drew a large laugh not just from the audience and the Supreme Court nominee being questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the senators themselves. Judge Neil Gorsuch, a Federal Appeals Court judge, talked very modestly about following the orders of his "bosses" i.e. past Supreme Court decisions, precedent and following the law irrespective of his own beliefs, which he refused to discuss, begging off questions with the stock answer that it might dissuade or encourage future litigants. And that it really did not matter because he followed the law through precedent and statutes even if his personal views disagreed.

Judge Gorsuch is most certainly going to be confirmed; he has the votes and unknown parties have gathered $10 million to assist his nomination. Yet the hearings droned on for three days with often the same answers and the same half-dozen cases being cited although he has ruled on over 2000. He is a brilliant man, attended Columbia University and Harvard Law School -- the latter when Obama was there and knew him but not well. 'It's a big place' he explained when asked. He then went to Oxford under a Marshall scholarship and earned a doctorate. His conservative pedigree includes his mother, Ann Gorsuch Burford, the notorious Environmental Protection Agency Director appointed by Ronald Reagan.

Our elected politicians are earning their keep perhaps as another hearing is seeking to ferret out the truth about any connections or understandings between the Trump campaign and the Russians i.e. their government, intelligence, friends of Putin, the man himself, etc. This is being held in the other body, the House of Representatives, before the House Intelligence Committee. Given the line of questioning from the two parties, a casual observer might be forgiven for thinking that this in fact is two hearings: one on the leak of intelligence documents to the press -- a crime with a maximum ten-year prison sentence -- and the other a closer examination of the content of the resulting newspaper articles revealing the alleged connections and the parties from the Trump campaign.

Meanwhile, Trump's allegations about being wiretapped are in a way confirmed because some of his team have been surveilled incidental to primary targets, it was learned this week.


The two being questioned were FBI Director James Comey and Admiral Michael Rogers the Director of National Intelligence as the hearing was ostensibly on Russian Cyber hacking and interference in the U.S. election. The oft-repeated answer to nearly every question: "I can't answer that because of the ongoing investigation." Another question: since when did it become a crime to have business dealings with Russia?


No mention of the fact that Russian interference consisted mainly of exposing corruption within a Democratic Party leadership conspiring to deny Bernie Sanders the nomination, instead of remaining neutral as they are supposed to. That kind of interference is like a necessary dose of castor oil.


In the blinkered view presented to the public by politicians and media, Russia is not to be trusted. It has seized Crimea, started a civil war in the Ukraine and is supporting the 'murderous' Assad in Syria -- in general thwarting U.S. initiatives, which is always an unforgivable crime. Who cares about facts.

The facts of course are unpleasant truths. The U.S. started the Syrian war importing fundamentalist fighters from Libya after its destruction and Gaddafi's overthrow. The U.S. spent $5 billion in Ukraine to bring down a democratically elected government friendly to Russia, causing a response and a continuing civil war. Crimea which has a hugely majority Russian population wanted to be annexed to Russia, while the latter could not afford to lose its Black Sea naval base. What's more, Crimea was added to Ukraine as recently as the Khrushchev era for reasons including convenience in administering the dam being constructed on the Dnieper river.

It is in the interests of a powerful few to have Russia as an enemy although it is the only country in the world able to vaporize the U.S. in a half-hour. Rational thinking might welcome it as a friend particularly in the fight against ISIS. To that end, Assad may not be an angel but his government is secular and his people actually do support him.

The real trouble is as always the U.S. political scene and the bought-and-paid-for politicians elected. Nothing will change unless private financing of elections is ended. Without legislation to that effect, nothing can change, certainly not through the courts when Judge Gorsuch occupies the ninth chair and the deciding vote on the Supreme Court. The crowning achievement of the elite was the Citizens United decision where a corporation became a person for campaign financing , opening huge coffers. Judge Gorsuch confirmed the view of corporate personification.

So nothing will change; that much is clear ... unless we can insert a third party as leverage. But that is another st ory.

 

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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)
 
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