$1.98 Beauty Show: UN Human Rights Council Election

Gary Fouse

The UN Human Rights Council has for years been little more than a perverse joke when you consider the number of shady countries that have sat as members of this absurd body. I mean what could be more perverse than having countries with horrible track records on human rights sitting on the UN Human Rights Council?

So today, the HRC, which stands for Human Rights Council (and Hillary Rodham Clinton too) has elected 14 new member nations. Much to the dismay of  most decent and sensible observers, Venezuela has won a seat on the HRC.


Not only has Venezuela been an abuser of the human rights of its own people for years under Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, just within the past year, they have been faced with a humanitarian disaster with thousands of its citizens fleeing across the border to escape starvation-a catastrophe of the government's own making. And this is the country now elected to sit on the HRC. Next thing you know, the HRC will select a nation that still practices slavery.

Oh wait! What's this?


Yes, indeed. Mauritania, the West African nation where slavery is still practiced, is also one of the lucky winners. (Technically, there is a law against slavery, passed in 2007 (!), but it is largely unenforced.)

Here is the new makeup of the UNHRC as of 1-1-20:

African States
Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Libya, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Togo
Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Marshall Islands, Republic of Korea Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar
Eastern Europe
Armenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine        
Latin American and Caribbean States
Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela
Western Europe and other States
Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain

Watching this "election" reminds me of that old $1.98  Beauty Show, Rip Taylor and all.

Image result for 1.98 beauty show

Somebody tell me it's all a  spoof.

In Defense of China, Nepotism, and Influence Peddling: Juan Cole Champions the Bidens and China

Gary Fouse

University of Michigan comedian/professor Juan Cole is rushing to the defense of Joe and Hunter Biden, at least when it comes to their shady dealings with China. As a matter of fact, it looks like Cole is a solid defender of China too. In his latest article in Informed Comment (his blog), Cole tells us there was nothing wrong with then-Vice President Biden taking son, Hunter, along on a official trip to China, which netted Hunter a one and a half billion dollar business deal with the Chinese. In fact, here is the title of Cole's post:

Trump, head of GOP, demands Chinese Communist Party Prosecute Businessman for Crime of Making Money


First of all, there is nothing wrong with making money. It's how you make it that counts.

Cole starts off his essay with a history lesson of how the capitalist USA, or to be more specific, the Republican party, has always had it in for communism going back to the Russian Revolution of 1917.

"The irony of Trump publicly asking China to investigate the Bidens should not be lost on us. The Republican Party has campaigned since the 1917 October Revolution against Communism, championing the business classes and the rights of Capital (i.e. the inviolable rights of those who come to monopolize capital)."

By the same token, the irony of Cole, who seems to favor socialism over capitalism, defending a capitalist like Hunter Biden, who enriched himself in China (and Ukraine) thanks to his father being vice president, should not be lost on us either. Even capitalists like myself think that nepotism, conflicts of interest, and influence peddling are wrong. 

"Note that Trump has been working on a China investigation of Hunter Biden for some time behind the scenes, and while he denies it, his slapping of tariffs on so many Chinese goods may in part be his way of pressuring Beijing to give up the goods. It is yet another impeachable offense."

I seem to recall that Trump early on decided to change the status quo of our trade relationship with the Chinese because we were getting screwed. Trump has been in office since January 2017, but now with the Hunter Biden issue front and center, Cole is accusing Trump of using tariffs to force China to look into the Biden issue-which, according to Cole is yet another impeachable offense, no less! (I have no idea what the others are.) In short, Cole's attempt to link Trump's tariff war with China to the Hunter/Joe Biden scandal is rather flimsy, to say the least.

But it gets better as Cole conjures up the ghosts of Joe McCarthy and George F. Kennan. 

"Cooler heads such as George F. Kennan did not view China as a strategic threat to the United States and very much doubted that Moscow could dominate it. Kennan was enough of a social scientist to recognize that the big agrarian countries of East Asia did not have the sort of political economy that was suited to American-style capitalism, and that they might go through a Communist phase. As long as it did not get in the way of American geopolitics, he felt, why should Washington care?"

George Kennan may have been a much respected, albeit controversial diplomat, but China has proved to be, indeed, a strategic threat to the US, which has gone much farther than simply choosing to go communist. In addition, one might think that Cole, who is supposed to be a historian, might mention Mao Zedong, the Great Leap Forward (1958-1962), and the millions of Chinese killed by the regime during their "Communist phase". He also seems to have overlooked China's intervention against the US and its UN allies in the Korean War!! Is he aware of what is happening in Hong Kong as we speak? The question I would pose to Cole is this: Perhaps you think China was not a strategic threat to the US back in the days of McCarthy and Kennan, but do you actually think they are not a strategic threat to the US (not to mention Asia in general) today?

More conspiracy:

"I think we know exactly what Republicans of the 1950s would think about Trump cozying up to Beijing in order to put a domestic political rival in a vise."

No, I don't think you do know. Actually, back in the 1950s, the gap between the Republicans and Democrats in terms of ideology was nowhere near as wide as it is today. As for Trump cozying up to China- in spite of the tariff war- tying it to this Joe/Hunter Biden issue is a stretch. Trump's China policy was much in evidence early in his administration, long before this Biden scandal came out.

"Never mind that Hunter Biden did not personally invest in a partially Chinese government-owned investment firm, BHR Equity Investment Fund Management Company, until 2017 after his father was out of office. He only put in some $400,000, a tenth of the company’s holdings, which then come out to $4 million; and Hunter Biden maintains that he hasn’t seen a dime in returns yet. So he hasn’t exactly taken $1.5 billion out of China, though he may be guilty of influence-peddling (on an extremely small scale in China)."

The trip in question, when then-Vice President Biden flew to China and took Hunter along with him was in 2013, while Joe still had another 3 years to go as Veep. I don't know the particulars of the deal Hunter brought back with him, but the fact remains, that Hunter used his father's official trip to gain a business deal with the Chinese. He had no business being on that trip, and it is up to Joe Biden to explain to the public what exactly happened with Hunter on that trip and why he was there in the first place.

Cole in fact, concedes that Hunter made some sort of business deal and was (maybe) engaging in influence peddling, but that it was on "an extremely small scale in China".

"To have a Republican administration characterize Hunter Biden’s tiny China investment, done after his father was a civilian, as some sort of massive criminal undertaking is another fantastic claim from the biggest liar-in-chief the United States has ever had."

So he made a "tiny" investment, and then Cole says it all happened after Joe left office!? Then the learned professor segues into a rather unscholarly description of Trump as the "biggest liar-in-chief the United States has ever had."

And then Cole adds the cherry to the whipped cream topping with this suggestion to the great unwashed out there who support Trump and his agenda.:

"Maybe the MAGA crowd should rethink its opposition to socialism. Many of them are white working class people with limited education, and they are the ones that would most benefit from it. And since Trump seems to think there’s something wrong with making money, it isn’t as though the old “free enterprise” mantra means much any more."

Yes, People, we are all a bunch of white goobers with limted education. I myself confess that I do not possess a PhD like Cole. I got my bachelors degree at the age of 25 after doing my Army hitch and got a masters degree at age 48.  Fortunately, I stopped there. I do have enough education and life experience to know that socialism/communism is a failure as evidenced everywhere it has been tried. It is an ecomomic failure and a political failure since it requires an authoritarian state to enforce its vision. Would it help me? Hardly, all it would do is raise my taxes through the ceiling and take away my liberties.

Cole is clearly an elitist. I immediately saw that when I saw him speak at California State University at Long Beach in 2014. He clearly favors a socialist form of government and possibly even more. That is his right as well as his right to say and write nonsense. I would never take that right away from him. If we disagree with him, we are free to express our views as well.

I will close with a question to Dr Cole: Had we been talking about Donald Trump Jr. or Eric Trump accompanying President Trump to China on an official mission and using the occasion and family relationship to Trump to make business deals with China, what would Cole be writing about that in Informed Comment? Here is the answer: He would say that it represents another impeachable offense.