Donald Trump and the Return of Liberalism 13

Let me give you a definition of the word ‘liberal.’…Franklin D. Roosevelt once said…It is a wonderful definition, and I agree with him. ‘A liberal is a man who wants to build bridges over the chasms that separate humanity from a better life.’ – Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon was our last liberal president. – Noam Chomsky

“Imagine a president who expands affirmative action, actively promotes school desegregation, enacts important new laws in social welfare, environmental protection, occupational health and safety, and consumer protection, supports comprehensive health insurance and a system of guaranteed income for all citizens, and whose Justice Department opposes the RICO Act on the grounds that it gives the government powers that are much too broad and sweeping for prosecuting criminals. In 2011, such a president would be considered far to left of Barack Obama and far to the left of almost everyone in Congress. Forty years ago, such a president was called Richard Nixon.”-Matthew Lyons (“Right-Wing Movements 101“)

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Now that Donald Trump has won an upset electoral victory and will be assuming the office of the presidency in a couple of months, I am going to offer the unconventional and, certainly to many people, counter-intuitive opinion that it was Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton that was the most left-wing of the two major party candidates.

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King Midas in the Post-Modern Age: Sales of Indulgences in Academia 4

By Aleksey Bashtavenko

Academic Composition

“Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? —for even Gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers?” Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

 

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The Latin etymology of the word “religion” emphasizes the act of bringing the community together. In almost all European languages, the word that translates to English as “religion” derived from Latin ligare which meant to bind . As early as 1200 B.C, this word commonly described a sacred lifestyle, commending obedience to divine authority . Above all, religiosity centered on a paternalistic covenant between mankind and God where the former prided themselves on their capacity for total surrender to the higher power. Such circumstances immediately prompted the question of how such a supernatural force can be identified, and more importantly, who can guide mankind to its relationship with God. Although prophets such as Abraham or Moses were revered for having reported to encounter God directly, the mortal sinners were expected to interact with God through a vicar.

In the Catholic tradition, the pope was deemed to be God’s direct representative and in the Eastern Orthodoxy, the tsar served a similar purpose. Under these circumstances, it was presumed that to defy the patriarch of the church was to rebel against the Almighty Himself.

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Thinkers Against Modernity: A New Book from Keith Preston 3

Available from Black House Publishing.

The prevailing sentiment of contemporary intellectuals is that the human condition has never been better. History is regarded as lengthy episode of oppression that human beings have gradually but steadily fought to overcome with considerable success. Evidence of these successes that are commonly offered include increased material consumption, better health and longer life expectancy, technological development and, above all, the ongoing triumph of “democracy” and “human rights.”

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The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer 2

By Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept

Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.

The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality. And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.

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Keith Preston: Intel services seek to cause ‘friction between US and Russia’ Reply

Press TV. Listen here.

The American intelligence community is seeking to cause “friction” between the United States and Russia as President-elect Donald Trump has signaled willingness to improve relations with Moscow, says a political analyst.

Keith Preston, the chief editor of AttacktheSystem.com, made the remarks on Wednesday in an interview with Press TV when asked about new legislation introduced in the Senate to impose sweeping new sanctions on Russia.

Five Democrats and five Republicans unveiled the new punishments on Tuesday after the intelligence community concluded in a report that the Russian government had sought to influence the outcome of the November election through cyberhacking and a smear campaign, a claim that Trump and Moscow have both rejected.

“It’s extraordinarily foolish for the American Congress to try to impose any kind of sanctions on Russia on the grounds that Russia has supposedly interfered in the American election, that has not been proven,” Preston said.

“The intelligence services are trying to create a greater degree of friction between the United States and Russia, and the Democratic Party is going along with this, in part because they want to blame the Russians for their loss in the election,” he added.

The proposed legislation would solidify many of the sanctions President Barack Obama’s outgoing administration has imposed against Russia and limit Trump’s ability to improve relations with Moscow.

Preston said, “the intelligence services and the political establishment are trying to undermine (Trump)’s efforts to bring the United States closer to Russia,” adding, “they have allies in Congress, particularly in the Democratic Party” to help them achieve their goal.

He said one reason they do not want better ties with Russia is that “the military industrial complex wants to expand NATO right up the Russia’s border and they also want to circle Russia with military bases in Central Asia.”

“This is part of a wider program of establishing and maintaining the American hegemony in that particular region,” the analyst added.

The new sanctions against Russia include visa bans and financial asset freezes against those the US intelligence claimed were behind the cyberattacks against US Democratic organizations and officials. The measure, called “Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017,” would also target Russia’s vast energy sector and companies that invest in or help develop its civil nuclear projects.

 

US Intel Agencies Try to Strong-Arm Trump into War With Russia Reply

Mike Whitney

Counterpunch

Powerful elites are using the credibility of the US Intelligence agencies to demonize Russia and prepare the country for war. This is the real meaning of the “Russia hacking” story which, as yet, has not produced any hard evidence of Russian complicity.

Last week’s 25-page report, that was released by the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, illustrates to what extent intelligence is being “fixed around the policy”.  Just as the CIA generated false information related to Weapons of Mass Destruction to soften public resistance to war with Iraq, so too, the spurious allegations in the DNI’s politically-motivated report are designed to depict Russia as a growing threat to US national security. The timing of the report has less to do with the election of Donald Trump as President than it does with critical developments in Syria where the Russian military has defeated US-proxies in Syria’s industrial hub, Aleppo, rolling back Washington’s 15-year War of Terror and derailing the imperialist plan to control vital resources and pipeline corridors across the Middle East and Central Asia. Russia has become the main obstacle to Washington achieving its strategic vision of pivoting to Asia and maintaining its dominant role into the next century. The Intelligence Community has been coerced into compromising its credibility to incite fear of Russia and to advance the geopolitical ambitions of deep state powerbrokers.

he “Russia hacking” flap shows how far the Intel agencies have veered from their original mandate, which is to impartially gather and analyze information that may be vital to US national security. As we have seen in the last two weeks, the leaders of these organizations feel free to offer opinions on  issues that clearly conflict with those of the new President-elect. Trump has stated repeatedly that he wants to reduce tensions and reset relations with Russia, but that policy is being sabotaged by members of the intelligence community, particularly CIA Director John Brennan who appeared just last week on PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

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Overthrowing other people’s governments: The Master List Reply

Q: Why will there never be a coup d’état in Washington?

A: Because there’s no American embassy there.

By William Blum

The Empire Report

  • China 1949 to early 1960s
  • Albania 1949-53
  • East Germany 1950s
  • Iran 1953 *
  • Guatemala 1954 *
  • Costa Rica mid-1950s
  • Syria 1956-7
  • Egypt 1957
  • Indonesia 1957-8
  • British Guiana 1953-64 *
  • Iraq 1963 *
  • North Vietnam 1945-73
  • Cambodia 1955-70 *
  • Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
  • Ecuador 1960-63 *
  • Congo 1960 *
  • France 1965
  • Brazil 1962-64 *
  • Dominican Republic 1963 *
  • Cuba 1959 to present
  • Bolivia 1964 *
  • Indonesia 1965 *
  • Ghana 1966 *
  • Chile 1964-73 *
  • Greece 1967 *
  • Costa Rica 1970-71
  • Bolivia 1971 *
  • Australia 1973-75 *
  • Angola 1975, 1980s
  • Zaire 1975
  • Portugal 1974-76 *
  • Jamaica 1976-80 *
  • Seychelles 1979-81
  • Chad 1981-82 *
  • Grenada 1983 *
  • South Yemen 1982-84
  • Suriname 1982-84
  • Fiji 1987 *
  • Libya 1980s
  • Nicaragua 1981-90 *
  • Panama 1989 *
  • Bulgaria 1990 *
  • Albania 1991 *
  • Iraq 1991
  • Afghanistan 1980s *
  • Somalia 1993
  • Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *
  • Ecuador 2000 *
  • Afghanistan 2001 *
  • Venezuela 2002 *
  • Iraq 2003 *
  • Haiti 2004 *
  • Somalia 2007 to present
  • Honduras 2009
  • Libya 2011 *
  • Syria 2012
  • Ukraine 2014 *

Chicago 1969: When Black Panthers aligned with Confederate-flag-wielding, working-class whites Reply

By Colette Gaiter

The Conversation

In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump won the white vote across all demographics except for college-educated white women. He did especially well among working class white voters: 67 percent of whites without a college degree voted for him.

Some post-election analysis marveled at how the white working class could vote against its own interests by supporting a billionaire businessman who is likely to support policies that cut taxes for the rich and weaken the country’s social safety net. Since the New Deal, the Democratic Party has been seen as the party of working people, while Republicans were considered the party of the elites. Donald Trump was able to flip this narrative to his advantage. Election 2016 balkanized issues and made it seem impossible to work on racism, sexism, poverty and economic issues all at once. A core question moving forward for social justice advocates and the Democratic Party is how they can move beyond identity politics and attract working-class voters of all races, building stronger coalitions among disparate groups.

One place to look for inspiration and instruction might be 1960s social movements that understood the power of alliances across identities and issues. During this period, a radical coalition formed that might seem impossible today: A group of migrant southerners and working-class white activists called the Young Patriots joined forces with the Black Panthers in Chicago to fight systemic class oppression.

So how did this alliance form? And how can its lessons be applied to today’s political moment?

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The Real Face of Washington (and America) Thank You, Donald Trump Reply

By Tom Engelhardt

TomDispatch.Com

Know thyself. It was what came to mind in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory and my own puzzling reaction to it. And while that familiar phrase just popped into my head, I had no idea it was so ancient, or Greek, or for that matter a Delphic maxim inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo according to the Greek writer Pausanias (whom I’d never heard of until I read his name in Wikipedia). Think of that as my own triple helix of ignorance extending back to… well, my birth in a very different America 72 years ago.

Anyway, the simple point is that I didn’t know myself half as well as I imagined.  And I can thank Donald Trump for reminding me of that essential truth.  Of course, we can never know what’s really going on inside the heads of all those other people out there on this curious planet of ours, but ourselves as strangers?  I guess if I were inscribing something in the forecourt of my own Delphic temple right now, it might be: Who knows me? (Not me.)

Consider this my little introduction to a mystery I stumbled upon in the early morning hours of our recent election night that hasn’t left my mind since.  I simply couldn’t accept that Donald Trump had won. Not him. Not in this country. Not possible. Not in a million years.

Mind you, during the campaign I had written about Trump repeatedly, always leaving open the possibility that, in the disturbed (and disturbing) America of 2016, he could indeed beat Hillary Clinton.  That was a conclusion I lost when, in the final few weeks of the campaign, like so many others, I got hooked on the polls and the pundits who went with them. (Doh!)

In the wake of the election, however, it wasn’t shock based on pollsters’ errors that got to me.  It was something else that only slowly dawned on me.  Somewhere deep inside, I simply didn’t believe that, of all countries on this planet, the United States could elect a narcissistic, celeb billionaire who was also, in the style of Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, a right-wing “populist” and incipient autocrat.

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Climate change: Fact or fiction? 1

Some scientists say the earth’s climate changes constantly and naturally, but the vast majority of them believe the current rise in global temperature is man-made, and could be catastrophic for the planet. But is all this but a case of extreme ‘climate alarmism’? Climate change sceptic Richard Lindzen is challenged on his view that concern about global warming is alarmist nonsense.

After the Hysteria Reply

An assessment of Trump by libertarian-decentralist-populist Bill Kauffman, whose take on Trump pretty much mirrors my own.

By Bill Kauffman

The American Conservative

Gore Vidal once said that the three saddest words in the English language were Joyce Carol Oates. “President Hillary Clinton” would have dislodged the exophthalmic novelist from that epigram, but as for “President Donald Trump”… the jury is not only still out, the crime hasn’t even been committed yet, despite the drama queens caterwauling on the campuses.

(For 13 years college snots sat on their lazy asses while the U.S. government waged immoral and unconstitutional wars, but now they take to the streets because the candidate of the proles defeated the candidate of the 1 percent? Gimme a break!)

I voted for Jill Stein on foreign-policy grounds. Gary Johnson was unsound on the mandatory cake-baking issue, and as for his running mate, the only good Weld is Tuesday.

I walked to the polling place with someone quite dear to me. She, too, intended to vote for Stein, but about halfway there she halted, as if thunderstruck, grinned, and said, “To hell with it; I’m voting for Trump to stick it to the media.” That’s the spirit!

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Debate/Discussion: Should Libertarians Support a Basic Income Guarantee? 1

An interesting discussion of this question between Matt Zwolinski (pro) and  Tom Woods (con). Listen here.

Some voices in the libertarian world have argued that a basic income guarantee for everyone would be better than the current welfare state from a pragmatic point of view. Matt Zwolinski adds that it is morally required, given the dubious origins of so many existing property titles. Result: an engaging exchange of ideas I know you’ll enjoy. But be sure to listen all the way to the end, since that’s where the best parts can be found.

About the Guest

Matt Zwolinski is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego and a co-director of the University’s Institute for Law and Philosophy.

Sponsor

Don’t be taken in by gold scams — and there are lots of them. Arm yourself with this free report from Schiff Gold.

Symposia Discussed

The Basic Income and the Welfare State (Cato Unbound)
The Basic-Income Debate (Independent Review) — this is the main one I drew from

Guest’s Blog

Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Guest’s Twitter

@MattZwolinski

Reinventing Politics via Local Political Parties Reply

These ideas might be particularly relevant to the United States where the two-party duopoly is particularly difficult to crack.

By David Bollier

P2P Foundation

It’s an open secret that political parties and “democratic” governments around the world have become entrenched insider clubs, dedicated to protecting powerful elites and neutralizing popular demands for system change.  How refreshing to learn about Ahora Madrid and other local political parties in Spain!  Could they be a new archetype for the reinvention of politics and government itself?

Instead of trying to use the hierarchical structures of parties and government in the usual ways to “represent” the people, the new local parties in Spain are trying to transform government itself and political norms. Inspired by Occupy-style movements working from the bottom up, local municipal parties want to make all governance more transparent, horizontal, and accessible to newcomers. They want to make politics less closed and proprietary, and more of an enactment of open source principles. It’s all about keeping it real.

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Feudalism, capitalism and corporatism: How the corporation is changing the world Reply

An interesting discussion of modern economic history that socialists and libertarians alike should be able to appreciate.

By Jeffrey Harrod

Philosophers for Change

Write about my vision of a “post-capitalist world,” I was requested. But I find this difficult. Difficult because I believe we are already in, or nearing, a post-capitalist world if by capitalism is meant the system described by Marx and his followers about 150 years ago.  In this essay I raise the possibility for future discussion and action that there is an ongoing attempt to create a system for the maintenance of privilege and the production of poverty which is so different from the past that a new name should be found for it. Because a key component of it is the corporation it may be that corporatism is a suitable name.

Introduction: History as a succession of different ways to empower the rich  

The French historian and progressive philosopher Fernand Braudel observed that throughout history there seemed to be a minority of people who held power and wealth, ruled society and exploited the population to sustain their power and privilege. If this were the case then the human history question of primordial importance is – “how does this minority do it?”

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The Age of Humanism is Ending Reply

I’d say this article is hysterical leftist paranoia. Neoliberalism and cultural leftism are friends, not enemies. The inequality of wealth that we see rising is similar to what happened during the industrial revolution when the rise of the liberal bourgeoisie paralleled the growth the proletarian class. It’s amazing how many of today’s leftists miss elementary observations that are compatible with basic Marxist theory.

It’s the supposed illiberal forces that are actually the ones that are taking some kind of stand, however modest, against neoliberalism. The National Front, for example, is the most leftwing party in France in terms of defending secular republicanism against reactionary Islam, the social safety net against global capitalism, and national self-determination against EU and US imperialism. The “right wing reactionary” parties of Europe are not trying to restore the ancient regime or the classical bourgeoisie, much less historic fascism. They’re trying to restore the middle class of the pre-neoliberal era.

Here’s a good way to look at it. The former middle class people in the West who have sunk into a reproletarianized labor force in the era of globalization are like the once largely independent peasants that began to make up the ranks of the urban industrial proletariat following being run of their land by enclosure and forced to move to the cities to find work in the factories.

Similarly, the once somewhat prosperous modern Western middle classes are now being reproletarianized thanks to globalization, and are no longer working in high wage manufacturing jobs with job security but are instead being forced into working in superstores, fast food joints, and call centers.

What the Left is unable to grasp is that what the populist-nationalist movements in the West at present represent is a working to middle class that is resisting being reproletarianized. Yes, they tend to be more socially conservative than the neoliberal elites because working classes have always been more conservative socially than the liberal bourgeoisie. “But Donald Trump is a racist!” Yeah? Even if true, so was Karl Marx. “But the populists nationalists are against gay marriage!” Yeah? That would have really flown in the old Communist Parties. “But they’re against feminism!” Yeah, Marine and Marion Le Pen really want to put women back in the kitchen and, besides, feminism has its roots in the thought of liberals like Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill, not historic socialism.

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Drug War Prisoners are Political Prisoners Reply

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The “war on drugs” is the third worst domestic policy the United States has pursued in the entire history of the nation, after slavery and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people. Drug prohibition is the modern version of crusades against witchcraft. https://www.amazon.com/Ceremonial-Chemistry…/dp/0815607687

If you go to a university library, you can find a good number of works critiquing the drug war from a scholarly perspective. There’s also a lot of popular level works of that type. It all depends on the angle you want to take from the perspective of criticizing the drug war. My personal favorite when it comes to describing the police state aspect of the drug war is Richard Lawrence Miller’s “Drug Warriors and Their Prey.” There are other works that look at the issue of drugs from a medical and scientific perspective and criticize the drug war from that angle. The best organization that I know of that opposes the drug war is Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. It’s an organization of former cops, judges, prosecutors, narcotics agents, prison wardens, and other veterans of the drug war that want to end it.
“The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander discusses the impact of the drug war on blacks, particularly inner city blacks. There hasn’t been a policy that the US has ever pursued other than slavery that did more harm to blacks, although I disagree with the way the Left frames their critique of the drug war (to the degree they pay any attention to this issue at all) in terms of “the drug war is racist” and leave it at that. Pointing out the racial disparities and impact of the drug war is great, but the drug war is much more than that. You can’t really thoroughly criticize the drug war without criticizing virtually every aspect of US government, politics, economics, foreign policy, culture, history, etc.

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The AltLeft “Tea Party” Reply

By Rabbit

AltLeft.Com

I know what you’re thinking, but no, I don’t mean “Tea Party” in the sense of the happy meal conservative movement that emerged in the early part of the Obama administration. Nor am I referring to anything relating to the Boston Tea Party or the American revolution.

I’m talking about the AltLeft and how for me it has come to resemble the tea party in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972 version of course!) This film was always on HBO in the mid 1980s, even though it came out in the early 70s. I believe the reason they began to re-air it in the 80s was because the star, Fiona Fullerton, had grown up and re-emerged as a Bond girl in “A View to a Kill,” which came out in 1985.

Anyway, when I first got involved with the AltLeft about a year and a half ago, in my mind it was always meant to augment the AltRight, not outright oppose it. It was a way to view and examine the affects of multiculturalism and political correctness from a cultural and economically left lens as well as from a secular and futurist perspective rather than the radical traditionalist, socially conservative one that dominates right wing circles. In other words, recognizing the implicit whiteness that underpins the identities of progressive cities like Seattle or Portland, and asserting that it must become explicit to some degree in order for those places to maintain their culture, aesthetic and quality of life. It was to put forth the idea that someone can be pro-white without the albatross of traditionally conservative culture, pre-modern aesthetics, capitalist economics, or widely accepted republican historical dogma (“the 60s were bad,” “Vietnam draft dodgers were traitors,” “McCarthy was right,” “I hate modern architecture” etc.) If you hang around right wing groups for any period of time, you’ll find they have an assumed historical narrative that informs many of their beliefs. I say “assumed,” because they just take it for granted that everyone who agrees with them one issue such as race also accepts their historical framing of a wide range of other issues, such as economic systems, religious beliefs or aesthetic preferences (just as someone on the “left” might assume that anyone who supports trans rights and raising the minimum wage automatically accepts the idea that racial diversity is always a good thing.) Not everyone buys the package deal.

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Keith Preston: McCain not credible to comment on Russia alleged hack Reply

Press TV. Listen here.

US Senator John McCain, an 80-year-old Republican from Arizona, is “not credible” to comment on Russia’s alleged hacking efforts against the United States presidential election, which gave Donald Trump control over the White House, an analyst says.

Keith Preston, the chief editor and director of AttacktheSystem.com, made the remarks in a Saturday interview with Press TV, while commenting on McCain’s statement following a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during a visit to the capital Kiev.

The West accuses Moscow of meddling in the crisis in eastern Ukraine and capturing the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, where people voted to join the Russian Federation in a referendum in March 2014.

McCain, who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been using the recent escalation with Russia over hacking allegations, as a pretext to attack Moscow.

“We have to make sure that there is a price to pay so that we can perhaps persuade Russians to stop this kind of attacks on our very fundamentals of democracy,” he said in Keiv on Friday, calling Russia’s hacking and “act of war.”

 

“John McCain is not a credible figure. He is a front man for a political faction in the United States, called the neoconservatives. And these people have a very antagonistic attitude towards Russia… and nations in the Middle East that reject the Washington consensus,” Preston said.

In the run-up to the 2016 vote, WikiLeaks kept releasing batches of emails from the campaign of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as well as the Democratic National Committee.

Democrats pointed the finger at Russia, an allegation later confirmed by the FBI and the CIA.

According to Preston, “none of this has ever been proven; all of these are simply allegations; the government of the United States has never issued any definitive proof, indicating that Russia was in any way responsible for the things that they (Russians) are being accused of.”

Apart from that, noted the Virginia-based journalist, the US has “interfered in the domestic politics of other nations more times than we can count; I mean the United States has organized coups against the elected governments.”

Moscow has rejected any interference in the US 2016 presidential election through hacking.