JOHN KIRIAKOU: The Depressing State of US Politics

There’s a lot wrong, including the hypocrisy of the Republican Party and the members of Biden’s national security transition team. The sole hope involves the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

Donald Trump supporters demonstrating, St. Paul, Minn., Sept. 12, 2020. (Fibonacci Blue, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By John Kiriakou
Special to Consortium News

The politics of the past month have been overwhelming.  I’ve had enough of the disaster that has been Donald Trump over the past four years.  I’ve had enough of the Democratic National Committee’s demonization of the progressive movement.  I’ve had it that nobody takes third parties seriously.  I’m sick of politics.  I’ve always been something of a political animal.  But this latest election has just been too much.  It has pushed me over the edge.

There’s a lot wrong. Foremost is the hypocrisy of the Republican Party.  For example, Trump’s margin of victory in battleground states in 2016 was far smaller than Joe Biden’s margin in those states in 2020.  Yet, Trump has pulled out all the stops to delegitimize Biden’s election, apparently with no memory of his or his underlings’ actions from 2016.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who right now is alleging pro-Democratic voter fraud at every opportunity, said in 2016:

“You have people trying to delegitimize the president-elect of the United States right now.  You have people out there that are calling for recounts that are unsubstantiated based on no evidence.”

That’s rich.  Rudy Giuliani, the president’s shameless lawyer, who at one time was actually a serious person, and who is currently leading the charge alleging voter fraud, called protestors against Trump’s election in 2016 “a bunch of spoiled crybabies.”  I get that politics is a tough game.  But this bald-faced hypocrisy is too much.

‘Twitter for Conservatives’

Another point of craziness — and I acknowledge this is just anecdotal — is what appears to be a mass move of conservatives away from Facebook and Twitter to Parler, which describe itself as “a microblogging and social networking service.”  Users call it “Twitter for conservatives.”

It promotes istelf as a place online to “speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being ‘deplatformed’ for your views. Engage with real people, not bots.”

Certainly there is a handful of respected conservative voices with large followings on Parler.  But they’re the exception.  Instead, Parler is known, according to Wikipedia,  as a bastion of anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny and Saudi nationalism. The site was virtually unheard of just a year ago, when it had some 100,000 users.

After Twitter began flagging some of Trump’s tweets as untruthful, there was an exodus of pro-Trumpers to Parler.  The site now has more than 6.8 million unique daily users.  Check it out.  They spend the day reinforcing their hatred and biases.  It’s ugly.  And it’s only going to get worse.

Dan Bongino, one of the owners of Parler. (Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

No Place for Progressives

The other downer is the realization that there won’t be many seats at the table for progressives in a Biden administration.  (Former Obama chief-of- staff and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2016 comment that “liberals are fucking retards” still rings in my ears.  Emanuel is now a Biden adviser.)

In These Times reported this week that Biden already is naming neoliberal war-lovers to his national security transition team.  Of the 23 people who comprise Biden’s Defense Department transition team, for example, eight are employees of think tanks that are funded by the country’s preeminent defense contractors, including Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing.

The think tanks from which Biden is pulling talent include the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), the RAND Corporation, and CACI International.  These are the people and ideologies that we should be afraid of, not endorsing.

These are the same people and same organizations that helped to plan and support the ongoing wars in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and elsewhere.  How would a Biden foreign police be any different from an Obama foreign policy?  How would it be different from a George W. Bush foreign policy?  It won’t be.  Biden has the same advisers.

One Hope

There’s no way Trump will be president on Jan. 21, 2021.  The American people have spoken and they’ve chosen Biden.  Overall, that’s a good thing.  Sure, we’ll no longer have the day-to-day craziness of a Trump presidency.  But I am not at all sanguine that we will see any real improvement, at least in national security and foreign policy.

I do have one hope, though.  Trump made some noise early in his administration that he wanted to move the Office of the Pardon Attorney out of the Justice Department and into the White House, where it was originally intended to be.  Both Trump and Biden have said that the Pardon Attorney has worked harder over the years to deny people pardons than to recommend them.

That has to change. Trump never got around to it. Maybe Biden will.

In the meantime, there’s hope that Trump may use his lame-duck status to thumb his nose at the establishment and pardon journalist Julian Assange, and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and me.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act — a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration’s torture program.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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16 comments for “JOHN KIRIAKOU: The Depressing State of US Politics

  1. Surrealisto
    November 14, 2020 at 13:46

    I don’t think a pardon from Stumpy for Assange, or Snowden, or yourself, is really all that likely. Given all the time his Justice Dept. has spent in hassling them, do you really think it’s in the cards. Not me. I presume unless (also unlikely) the Assange case is dropped in the UK, he will be on his way to a “safe location” in the United States next year.

  2. Nels
    November 13, 2020 at 18:15

    Kali spera, Ianni, you’re improving with age. Does ouzo improve, too? Plomari on Lesvos must be enduring hell, again from Erdogan
    and Syrian refugees out of Idlib.

  3. November 13, 2020 at 16:06

    Good luck on that one.

  4. Mike Burns
    November 13, 2020 at 15:39

    New Theory: Fascism is a condition in any individual in a failing Capitalist system, where they are forced to continue functioning during the devaluation of humanity. In their minds “We were just doing our jobs.”
    Shed no tear for either, since neither values humanity, ergo both are fascist.

  5. Reilly G
    November 13, 2020 at 11:07

    Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, who just ran for US senate in Massachusetts, goes over very scientifically how the election integrity in the US has been compromised.

    He posted a YouTube video with his evidence on November 11th, search for:
    “Dr.SHIVA LIVE: MIT PhD Analysis of Michigan Votes Reveals Unfortunate Truth of U.S. Voting Systems.”

  6. Jamie
    November 13, 2020 at 10:43

    Thanks for an excellent account of some of what we will see with the Biden presidency. Sadly it looks as if it will be worse than Trumps.

  7. Daniel
    November 13, 2020 at 09:46

    The article reminds me why we are in such a precarious state as a nation: the bending of reality that our media and political elites have perfected over many decades to flatter themselves and fool others has sewn so much mistrust that they have now completely delegitimized themselves. The vacuous (and dangerous) spin machines they have created – for the sole and selfish purpose of short-term gains – has ensured that consideration of long-term gains for the common good never takes place. And we are all suffering as a result. God help us that we will soon see through this rotted model for ‘democracy.’

    One thing that does give me hope is that, outside of the siloed news channels and cool-kid hangouts Facebook and Twitter, Joe Biden seems to be receiving no more congratulations than on the one point of his victory over Trump. On all else he seems to be receiving push back that I feel is absolutely necessary. He is receiving no quarter for the war-mongering Republican/Neoliberal cabinet he is assembling, his party’s smearing of the progressives who were instrumental in his electoral college victory, or the many damaging contributions he has made over decades to the elevation of corporations over government of, by and for the people. All of his many deficiencies are being laid bare now that the election is over. And I’m glad to see the people (if not the corporate media) acting more like realists and less like Stephen Colbert on a social media bender.

  8. Nathan Mulcahy
    November 12, 2020 at 21:24

    I think god had said – Thou shalt not have more than two parties. I also heard that having more than two parties in the US would violate some fundamental principle of physics, leading to the obliteration of the universe.

    That’s the response I get whenever I ask my friends to vote for a third party.

  9. Hot Sauce
    November 12, 2020 at 20:28

    “Instead, Parler is known, according to Wikipedia, as a bastion of anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny and Saudi nationalism.”

    All of which are and should be legal, at least in the US. If your argument is that since private companies don’t have to abide by the 1st Amendment and so legality is irrelevant, and so that Parler should crack down on this….UH, that’s maybe why the site is popular with such jackasses–because Twitter/Facebook cracked down. What did you think was going to happen?

    What do you WANT to happen? To continually crush any site that allows “bad ideas” like a game of whack-a-mole? I don’t know what your point is here, except to whine about people who have different/ugly views actually gathering on a platform to share those views…

    • Hot Sauce
      November 13, 2020 at 05:07

      Just crack them all down. Forums for misogynists, anti-semites, anti-apartheid South Africa, anti-police, anti-Organisation of American States, anti-semites, anti-Elliot Abrams, homophobia, pro-Palestine, anti-Zionist, pro-Kurdish, pro-Syrian, anti-US in Syria, pro Saudi Nationalism, pro Bolivian Nationalism, anti-Cuban, anti-Maduro, Pro-Maduro, Pro-Hitler, Anti-Gandhi, anti-racists, Green New Deal, pro-British India tea company, forum for anti-Mnuchin, anti-Haspel, anti-Obama, anti-Harris, anti-enablers.

      And, well, I’ll just leave it up to you, John Kiriakou, to authorize whether or not anyone above should have the right to talk about such things on an internet platform.

  10. Rondon
    November 12, 2020 at 20:14

    Electoral reform. finance reform, the imperial presidency – militarism, the existence of the Senate, banks, media control. We need a new constitution. I see the some Haitians are seeking to abolish the Senate. Americans would do well to follow that example.

  11. jdd
    November 12, 2020 at 19:36

    This is a Biden hit-piece. “There was no fraud” scream the same mouthpieces that told us with certainty that there was WMD and Russian collusion. But for some reason, we should believe them now. If that is so, and there is truly nothing to hide, then let the investigations continue unobstructed and we shall find out.

    • TimN
      November 13, 2020 at 08:39

      There was fraud–it came as usual, from the Republicans. This means that Cracker Joe’s margin was even bigger. Its true that Russiagate and the WMD stories were lies, frauds. But the irony is rich. The ‘Cons have been cheating for decades. The Dems certainly gamed the primaries for their right wing dementia victim Biden. But c’mon now.

    • Litchfield
      November 13, 2020 at 15:36

      Kind of disappointed in Kiriakou because that is also how I read it.

      Even if Everything is Effed Up, it is still necessary to dissect exactly what is effed up and to zero in on fraud and lies.

      Not sink in a morass of, basically, free-floating whataboutism, which is what this essay is. Glub, blug, blub,

  12. Jeff Harrison
    November 12, 2020 at 18:00

    Now we’ll get to see what it would have been like if we had elected Three Names instead of Donnie Murdo.

    • Rondon
      November 12, 2020 at 20:15

      That is probably pretty accurate.

Comments are closed.