Would Fusing of Two Forms of Social Media Solve Critical Problems?

There are now two worlds on social media. There's the ad driven model of Facebook and, on a smaller, for the time being, less opaque scale, Twitter. Then there's the money exchanging hands model of eBay, which presumably is something like a peer-to-peer relationship. 

Those two models -- or something like them -- should perhaps not be separate. Presumably a social media model needs to make money. I'd like a way around that -- could the whole thing be nationalized, or be funded via some mechanism through the government* -- I don't know, but let's put that aside. The ad driven model incentivizes the platform to show you stuff to buy that is pushed by people who give the platform money. That's is quite likely corrupting. 

The beauty and potential of social media is the human connections to be made: I don't want to be told what movie to see by Facebook because Sony gave them money to promote some piece of crap -- I want intelligent software that tells me what people who I think are interesting are watching and reading. I want social media to point me to friends and friends of friends who have gone through a problem that I'm going through because they might help me solve it. I want recommendations from "friends" and others I think are thoughtful about fascinating things to do and see and use. And I'll spend some of my hard earned, modest some of money on those things. And I don't mind if the platform takes say one percent from the money I spend on those things it shows to me, just like eBay takes a cut when you buy stuff from someone using it. 

Some have suggested having social media you have to pay to simply use. That seems onerous to me. There are lots of poor people and other people who would never pay and they can't be left out. But if a mechanism can be found that gets people connected to things they are willing to spend money on that compensates the platform for that connection, then you have a platform that is self sustaining that serves the needs of the people using it. 

Of course, that has some level of danger -- things could devolve into a way that incentivizes the platform to have relationships that simply involve the exchange of funds -- making people into Amway sales people. There are dangers here too, but such a platform could be preferable to an ad based one using a totally secret system for showing you largely what it wants to show you. Such a structure would, in part, in effect de-segregate our economic from our social life and if done intelligently and ethically, could be a great positive step. 

* -- See media scholar Robert W. McChesney essay "Sharp Left Turn for the Media Reform Movement," which gives some critical historical perspective and adopts economist Dean Baker's "The Artistic Freedom Voucher: Internet Age Alternative to Copyrights" -- in effect a mechanism whereby people vote to where funds should go for cultural work. 

Clinton on Rightwing Funders vs Her Funders

Apparently, "doing bidding" is what other people do.

Last night (2/4/16), in her debate with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton dismissed scrutinizing her funding: "But time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that he is putting forth, which really comes down to -- you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought."

The previous day (2/5/16), when asked at a CNN "Town Hall" meeting if there was still a "right wing conspiracy," she said: "Yes. It has gotten even better funded. You know, they brought in some new multi-billionaires to pump the money in. And, look, these guys play for keeps. They want to control our country. Senator Sanders and I agree on that completely. They want to rig the economy so they continue to get richer and richer, they could care less about income inequality. They salve their consciences by giving big money to philanthropy, and, you know, getting great pictures of them standing in front of whatever charity they donated to. But make no mistake, they want to destroy unions. They want to go after any economic interests that they don't believe they can control. They want to destroy our balance of power. They want to go after our political system and fill it with people who will do their bidding."

Iowa: The Establishment and Corporate Media Lose

Monday night began on CNN with Anderson Cooper asking "who would have thought we'd be talking about Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump winning?" The actual answer to that question is anyone who's not wedded to the establishment.

And Monday night ended with Ted Cruz and Sanders giving victory speeches, both of which attacked the establishment and major media:

To perhaps the biggest cheers of the night, Sanders said: "I think the people of Iowa have sent a very profound message to the political establishment, to the economic establishment, and by the way, to the media establishment." 

Similarly, Cruz: "Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee for the next president of the United States will not be chosen by the media. Will not be chosen by the Washington establishment."

The simple numbers show a serious anti-establishment majority transcending party: 50 percent for Sanders, 28 for Cruz, to 24 for Trump. And anti-establishment tendencies are probably deeper among independents and those who have dropped out of the political process. 

The more wedded to the establishment a candidate is, Lindsey Graham, Jeb Bush et al, the more they are stuck in single digits -- in spite of them being treated to extensive, and generally positive, major media coverage. 

Clinton's rise has more to do with the Republican attacks on her. She's deemed as "good on foreign policy" by many ostensibly anti-war Democrats simply because the Republicans vilify her over narrow issues like the Benghazi attacks. This has had the twisted effect of eclipsing from public memory her Iraq war vote -- and host of other militaristic positions. (Ironically, Clinton backers will the next moment often argue that she would be more skilled at working with Republicans -- ignoring among other things that she works with Republicans against the interests of much of the Democratic party base.) 

Sanders may ultimately well be defeated for a variety of reasons: His unwillingness to pointedly attack Clinton in debates (Martin O'Malley's sharp crit of Clinton will be missed in future debates); his own contradictions (calling himself a democratic socialist while in fact being a New Dealer); his largely pro-establishment foreign policy. 

But it's also possible that the media attacks on Sanders will benefit him -- that was the apparent dynamic in Britain, as Jeremy Corbyn rises with each unfair attack from a corporate media there that has lost legitimacy. The more sophisticated media are already finding other ways to attack Sanders: Show his supporters in the most unflattering light. If Sanders won't give them a "Dean Scream," find a supporter who will. 

Still, we have -- in the highly flawed candidacies of Cruz, Trump and Sanders -- an insurgency in each of the major political parties against the permanent political and media class. Or, we should say, that is their appeal to their bases. 

If the establishment gets their way, the two insurrections will demonize each other and peter out instead of finding ways to build up. 

The solution, may ironically lay in a substantial fight from each of these two insurrections, but an ultimate defeat at their conventions. 

If it ends there and the voters so riled up against the establishment now ultimately vote for Clinton or Marco Rubio or Bush, then Sanders, Cruz and Trump would have served as "sheepdogging" function -- shepherding voters to the establishment of each party they claim to deride. 

But there's the possibility for another approach -- a serious victory: These insurgencies could conceivably go deeper and have an ultimate victory in joining forces. There is a new anti establishment center: The U.S. is a republic, not an empire; it must abide by the rule of law; it should not be forever meddling in other countries; liberty must be preserved; the corporate class can no longer be favored with Wall Street bailouts and corporate trade deals tailored for the benefit of transnational corporations. 

What's needed in a sense is meaningful transpartisan caucusing: The anti-establishment from within each party making plans for how and to what extent they can possibly join together instead of allowing the monied establishment to perpetually divide them. In so doing, the election becomes at minimum a tool of outreach for those who want to see serious change hearing each other out as to what sort of change that should be. Such an outcome would be the worst possible defeat for the establishment. 


Sam Husseini is the founder of VotePact.org

The Anti-Democratic Structure of Two Party Elections, Chomsky, Bloomberg and the VotePact Solution

And the parting on the left
Is now the parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight
And I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the changes all around

I was nearly moved to tears this week hearing WTMD in Baltimore, which barely gets into Washington, D.C., play Richie Havens’ rendition of The Who's “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” It was a good week to hear that as Nature herself seemingly attempted to intercede and ground Washington, D.C. to a halt.

But officialdom knows no rest — and has built and used over and over the edifice of the two party system that virtually assures non-choice. That’s exactly the problem attempted to solve with VotePact.org — whereby populists from the left and right join together in voting.

The establishment onslaught was made clear in a number of recent events and statements, perhaps most vividly in a piece by the Washington Post in which Dana Milbank writes “I adore Bernie Sanders” while the point of the piece is “Democrats would be insane to nominate Bernie Sanders.”

I should clarify at the top, before showing how rotten this thinking is: I’ve been a critic of Sanders. I think his main problem is a lack of radicalness, especially on foreign policy.

But the logic that is being employed by Milbank and others is that as a “strategic” matter, one shouldn’t vote for Sanders because he won’t win in the general election. Milbank notes that the polls don’t bear that out, but argues that when the Republican propaganda machine gets through with Sanders he will be unelectable.

One of the main things that this ignores is that if indeed Sanders becomes unelectable, the culprit will not be simply Republicans, but the establishment media which has shifted from largely ignoring to largely deriding Sanders, including the Post itself. And Milbank does not take it upon himself to debunk the notion that Sanders will raise taxes to pay for healthcare and save millions of people a ton of money in the process by stopping their hemorrhaging of dollars to the health insurance giants, Milbank simply says that mythology will win out — so you’d have to be nuts to vote for Sanders. Resistance, even of the limited Sanders flavor, is futile.

But beyond that, what Milbank is explicitly arguing for is, at its heart, a renunciation of the slightest pretense of democratic process that has long been implicit in electoral thinking: The Democrats and Republicans must field the most establishment candidate so that they win in the general election. It’s the pundification of the populace.

A corollary to this line of thinking — which has, implicitly or explicitly, dominated political thinking in the U.S. — is that one should not vote for a third party candidate in the general election. Doing so is “throwing your vote away” and is “nonstrategic.”

So you, dear voter, are a fool by this establishment logic if you voice your views in the primaries and you’re a fool if you voice your preferences in the general election!

While such establishment logic may be very strategic for the status quo, it is not “strategic” at all from the voter’s point of view because the end result of this course of action is to further and further mute the power of the anti-establishment voter — which now seems to constitute a working majority of the public. The establishment of each party becomes stronger and stronger, even as it becomes less and less popular, and dissent from the establishment becomes weaker and weaker because it always has to cave in no matter how huge it gets.

Unfortunately, Noam Chomsky plays a part in this farce, since he granted an interview to Al Jazeera which apparently put out a rather skewed bit of his election analysis that some other mainstream and social media ate up — and did so several days before releasing the full video on Friday. As Ben Norton notes: “Essentially the only time Chomsky gets a mainstream platform in the media is when he is talking about partisan politics.”

When I emailed Chomsky about reports that — in the words of the seemingly ecstatic Politico headline: “Chomsky: I’d ‘absolutely’ vote for Hillary Clinton,” Chomsky stated “I never said I’d rather vote for Clinton” and indicated that he’d rather vote Green. Of course, Chomsky lives in Massachusetts, which is not a “swing state.”

But at one level, of course, Chomsky must know the media will use his statements as they do, which is to corral progressive Democratic voters to pull the lever for Clinton where Clinton needs it, part of the “sheepdogging” role Sanders plays as put forward by Bruce Dixon.

But even Sanders — flawed as he is — is in fight mode, yet Chomsky has allowed himself to broadcast the progressive terms of surrender already, which are virtually unconditional. While the media somewhat skew Chomsky’s words, the underlying capitulation is plain — though he did in my exchange with him tacitly accept the logic of VotePact.

Contrast this effective waving of a white flag with what billionaire Michael Bloomberg did this week. The New York Times reported on Jan. 23: “Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side.”

I predicted this, tweeting several days earlier, on Jan. 19: “Prediction: if it's Trump-Sanders, the establishment will run a ticket as a perversion of @votepact.”

Thus, if the anti-establishment wings, limited as they are, on the Republican and Democratic side gain the nominations, the media mogul Bloomberg will attempt to unite the establishment.

Or at least threaten to. It’s quite possible that Bloomberg is just threatening this in order to scare primary voters into voting for Clinton.

In either case, what Bloomberg is actually doing the perverse inverse of what I have been advocating with VotePact.

The idea behind VotePact is that a populist, anti-establishment center can rise. It would draw support from both principled progressives and conscientious conservatives.

That is, VotePact is an electoral strategy — a voting manifestation of the overdue populist anger. The commonalities between the left and right are continually treated like aberrations, but they now compose a great many political issues, from anti war to anti Wall Street to anti corporate trade deals to anti surveillance. Certainly left and right use different language and reasoning to come to some of those conclusions and their affirmative solutions often vary, but they could, with hard work, come to sensible consensus if they engaged in honest dialogue without demonization and were somewhat freed of the perennial manipulation of the establishment.

As events show, the emergence of an anti-establishment center is more desperately needed than ever: There are massive rallies for Sanders. And for Trump. Much of the public wants an end to the Democratic and Republican establishment regime.

Many thoughtful people are itching for a debate between Sanders and Trump. I’d like a dialogue. They could talk about both things that they agree and disagree about. Indeed, real media would now be facilitating a dialogue between their supporters.

But the current electoral and media logic pushes away such a dialogue and pushes voters — and ultimately candidates — toward the establishment center.

It’s past time that structures give rise to anti-establishment center candidates that skillfully appeal to both the left and right.

Chomsky in my exchange with him did accept the notion of VotePact, especially its potential as an organizing tool — that is, it encourages those on the left to dialogue and cooperate with those on the right, who are also against the establishment — that is, fellow populists of various orientations. He regards the potential number of people who would embrace that approach as very small and I think he’s very wrong on that; especially if “notables” embrace the concept and that facilitates proliferation of the idea.

In either case, part of Chomsky’s line of argument is to unite against the “lunatics” of the Republican party, based largely on their denial of human-caused global warming. At one level, this ignores commonalities even on issues where the left and right disagree: Trump and Rand Paul might not believe in global warming, but they might oppose subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, which may do more to slow global warming than the actions someone of like Clinton, who claims to oppose global warming, but will almost certainly continue to back fossil fuel subsidies.

There’s other threatening lunacies coming from the establishment of both parties, as Robert Parry notes in his recent piece “A Crazy Establishment Demands ‘Sanity’” about the perpetual war stance of both Democrats and Republicans. Is the immediate threat of global warming really more than the threat of nuclear war from continuing wars and even provoking Russia?

And there’s a lunacy ultimately driving this: Saying you want the system to change when you signal from the onset that you will capitulate. Or that you should capitulate at all. The insanity of year after year having an alleged set of beliefs but then, using the vote, when people sacrificed and died to get this paltry tool, to in effect back establishment candidates you say you regard as criminal. 

It’s past time to stop allowing election years to be when much organizing takes a rest and instead use the election — in part by fomenting a greater left-right alliance.

Holocaust Memorial Day and Yellow Snowflakes

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day and just as surely as we need to remember the Nazi holocaust, we have to understand how it has been manipulated. Saddam is Hitler, Nasser is Hitler, etc. At times it's been manipulated to silence those who want peace and to demonize those opposed to Israel's crimes.

But that insight of course shouldn't blind us to the reality of the massive suffering brought on in the Nazi Holocaust toward the many victims of the Nazi regime, including socialists, gypsies, Slavs, gays, dissidents, "asocials" and of course Jews. 

During the blizzard this weekend, I painted snow. I've been painting all kinds of natural and other intricate objects lately, and since it snowed, I painted snowflakes.

Perhaps my most moving moment during the storm was when it hit me that if I let snow land on cold metal instead of paper, as I'd been doing till then, and immediately sprayed it with cold paint, the individual snowflakes could be preserved. So I got a window screen I'd just recently purchased at Community Forklift, a local reuse nonprofit, and started spray painting the snowflakes as they fell in. Consciously or not, the can of paint I grabbed was yellow. The second I started spraying and saw the individual flakes, it hit me that I was making a Nazi Holocaust Memorial -- since of course the Nazis made Jews wear yellow Stars of David in the buildup to their plans of extermination and the most extensive of the snowflakes were six sided.

On the street outside my home with one hand I held up the screen as the snow fell. I tried to focus and gently gather and "save" each snowflake as I sprayed with the other hand and the snow began to taper off.

Some of the results are below, photographed with a phone camera barely up to the task. Unfortunately, I got to this idea late in the snowstorm, after quite a bit of experimentation throughout the weekend, so wasn't able to make it as extensive as I'd have liked. So I, perhaps nearly alone among adults in D.C., eagerly await the next snowstorm.



In Defense of the Rise of Trump

The establishment so wants everyone else to unfriend Trump supporters on Facebook. There's even an app to block them. That'll teach them!

Yes, Trump plays a bully boy and is appealing to populist (good), nativist, xenophobic, racist sentiments (bad). 

Those things need to be meaningfully addressed and engaged rather than dismissed by self-styled sophisticates, noses raised.

Focusing on the negative aspects of his campaign has blinded people to the good -- and I don't mean good like, oh, the Democrat can beat this guy. I mean good like it's good that some of these issues are getting aired.

Trump is appealing to nativist sentiments, but those same sentiments are skeptical of the militarized role of the U.S. in the world -- as was the case of Pat Buchanan's 1992 campaign. 

The New York Times recently purported to grade the veracity of presidential candidates. Of course by their accounting, Trump was off the scales lying. But he recently said the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State "killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity....The Middle East is a total disaster under her." Now, I think that's pretty accurate, though U.S. policy in my view may be more Machiavellian than stupid, but the remark is a breath of fresh air on the national stage. 

But I've not seen anyone fact check that, because that's not an argument much of establishment media wants to have. Of course, a few sentences later Trump talks about the attack on the CIA station in Benghazi, causing Salon to dismiss him as embracing "conspiracies," which is likely all many people hear. 

Shouldn't someone who at times articulates truly inconvenient truths be noted as breaking politically correct taboos? Trump says such truths -- like at the Las Vegas debate about U.S. wars:

We've spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that frankly, if they were there and if we could've spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we've had, we would've been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.

Which I think is a stronger critique of military spending than we've heard from Bernie Sanders of late.

But Trump -- or Rand Paul's -- remarks about U.S. policies of regime change and bombings are often unexamined. It's more convenient to focus on our kindness in letting a few thousand refugees in than to examine how millions of displaced people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somali might have gotten that way because of U.S. government policies. 

People say Trump's proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigrants is unconstitutional. News flash: the sitting Democratic president has bombed seven countries without a declaration of war. We've effectively flushed our constitution down the toilet. Does that justify violating it more? No. But the pretend moral outrage on this score is hollow. 

And there's a logic to the nativist Muslim bashing. It's obviously wrong, but it's rational given the skewed information the public is given. Since virtually no one on the national stage is seriously and systematically criting U.S. policy -- it's invasions, alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel -- then it makes sense to say we've got to change something and that something is separating from Muslims. 

Some sophisticates slam Trump for acting in the Las Vegas debate like he didn't know what the nuclear triad is. Well, I have no idea if he knows what the nuclear triad is or if he was just acting that way. But I'm rather glad he didn't adopt the administration position of saying it's a good idea to spend a trillion dollars to "modernize" our nuclear weapons so we can efficiently threaten the planet for another generation. People may recall that for all the rhetoric from Obama on ending nuclear weapons, it was Reagan who apparently almost rose to the occasion when Gorbachev proposed getting rid of nuclear weapons. But Reagan is totally evil, so "progressives" have to hate him and so we're not supposed to remember that. 

So much of our political culture just lives off of hate. People hated Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Ladin, so they backed anything GW Bush wanted. People hated GW Bush, so they backed Kerry or Obama or whoever without condition, no matter where it lead. People hated Assad, so they helped the rise of ISIS. People now hate ISIS -- some apparently want to nuke 'em -- that will almost certainly lead to worse. John Kasich -- the great reasonable Republican moderate -- says "it's time that we punched the Russians in the nose" -- who cares if that brings us closer to nuclear war. Many demonize Trump -- at last, someone from the U.S. who some in the mainstream label a Hitler. Hate, hate, hate, hate. Can we just view people for who they are with clear eyes, assessing the good and bad in them? 

Trump calls for a cutoff of immigration of Muslims "until we can figure out what the hell is going on" -- which, given our political culture's seeming propensity to never figure out much of anything, might be forever. Then again, he's raising a real question. Says Trump: "There's tremendous hatred. Where it comes from, I don't know." Trump -- unlike virtually anyone else with a megaphone -- is actually raising the issue about why there's resentment against the U.S. in the Mideast. 

Virtually the only other person on the national stage stating such things is Rand Paul, though his articulations have also been uneven and have been a pale copy of what his father has said.  

Of course, what should be said is: If we don't know "what the hell is going on!" -- then maybe we should stop bombing. But that doesn't get processed because the general public lives under the illusion that Obama is a pacifistic patsy. The reality is that Obama has been bombing more countries than any president since World War II -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. 

At the Las Vegas debate, Trump said: "When you had the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, family, girlfriends, and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia." Which is totally mangled, but raises the question of Saudi Arabia with relation to 9/11. 

Half of what Trump says is boarderline deranged and false. But he also says true things -- and critically, important things that no one else with any media or political access is saying. 

Yes, Trump says he'll bomb the hell out of Syria, as does virtually every other Republican candidate. But Obama's already bombing the hell out of Syria and Iraq -- but it's quiet, so people think it's not happening. So they reasonably think passivity is the problem. 

What people are right in sensing is that Obama, Bush and the rest of the establishment is playing endless geopolitical games and they're right to be sick of it. The stated goals -- democracy in the Mideast, getting rid of WMDs, stability in the right and protecting the U.S. public are obviously not going to be achieved by the policies of the establishment. They in all likelihood pretexts and the planers have other, unstated, objectives that they are perusing.  

Trump touts his alleged opposition to the Iraq war. Some of us launched major campaigns to try to stop the 2003 invasion. I don't remember seeing Trump at any of the anti war rallies in 2002, but he apparently made a few remarks in 2003 and 2004. Certainly nothing great or courageous. But it's good that someone with the biggest megaphone is saying the Iraq war was bad. People who are getting behind him are thus reachable on the U.S. government's proclivity toward endless war. 

And perhaps think for a minute about what a Trump-Clinton race would be like, given that she voted for the invasion of Iraq. 

Now, Trump may well be no different if he were to get into office. But he conveys the impression that he will act like a normal nationalist and not a conniving globalist. And much of the U.S. public seems to want that. And that's a good thing. He's indicating that there's a solution to constant war and that he's different from everyone else who has signed on to perpetual war. It's good that that's energizing people who had given up on politics. 

Trump -- apparently alone among Republican presidential candidates -- is saying that he will talk to Russian President Putin. Having some sense that the job of a president is to attempt to have reasonable relations with the other major nuclear powered state is a serious plus in my book. He conveys the image of being a die-hard nationalist, but -- unlike most of our recent leaders -- not hell-bent on global domination. People who want a better world should use that. 

No prominent Democrat has taken on the position that we should really seriously examine the root causes of anger at the U.S. government. The public is never presented with a world view that does that. The only one on the national stage in recent memory to have done so in recent history was Ron Paul -- and he was demonized in ways similar to Trump by much of the liberal establishment in 2008. 

Bernie Sanders has of course rightly touted his vote against the Iraq invasion in 2002 and has very correctly linked that invasion to the rise of ISIS. But Sanders had a historic opportunity to address these issues in a debate just after the Paris attack on Nov. 13, and actually didn't seem to want to talk foreign policy. Now he's complaining about a lack of media coverage. Yes, the media are unfair against progressive candidates, but you don't do any good by refusing to engage in what is arguably the great, defining debate of our time. 

Even more troubling has been that Sanders has adopted the refrain that we need to have the Saudis "get their hands dirty." That's exactly the wrong approach and one shared with most of the Republican field. Even at the liberal extreme, Barbara Lee has declined to take issue with the U.S. arming with Saudi Arabia as it kills away in Yemen. 

In terms of economics, Trump is alone in the Republican field in defending in a progressive tax. Tom Ferguson has noted: "lower income voters seem to like him about twice as much as the upper income voters who like him in the Republican poll." Trump has "even dumped on some issues that are virtually sacred to the Republicans, notably the carried interest tax deduction for the super rich." Writes Lee Fang: "Donald Trump Says He Can Buy Politicians, None of His Rivals Disagree." 

Can progressives pause for a moment and note that it's a good thing that someone who a lot of people who have checked out of the political process are backing someone saying these things?

It's important to stress: I have no idea what Trump actually believes. Backing him as person is probably akin to picking a the box on The Price is Right. He could of course be even more authoritarian than what we've seen so far. The point I'm making is what he's appealing to has serious elements that are a welcome break from the establishment as well as some that are reactionary. 

I have no personal love lost for Trump. Truth is, I lived in one of his buildings when I was growing up in Queens. His flamboyance as my dad and I were scraping by in a one bedroom apartment rather sickened me. I remember seeing the recently completed Trump Tower in Manhattan for the first time as a teen with my father and my dad bemused himself with the notion that he'd own one square inch of the place for the monthly rent checks he wrote to Trump for years.  

And Trump for all I know is a total tool of the establishment designed to implode, as some of critics of Bernie Sanders have accused him of Sheepdogging for Hillary Clinton, so too Trump might be doing for the Republican anti establishment base. Or he might pursue the same old establishment policies if he were ever to get into office -- that's largely what Obama has done, especially on foreign policy. Trump says "I was a member of the establishment seven months ago." 

The point is that the natives are restless. And they should be. It's an important time to engage them so they stay restless and funnel that energy to constructive use, not demonize or tune them out. 

Sam Husseini is communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy and founder of votepact.org -- which urges left-right cooperation. Follow him on twitter: @samhusseini.

DowPont

From news release from accuracy.org: "Dow – DuPont Merger: Perpetuating GMOs, Squeezing Farmers and Consumers?" -- 

Wenonah Hauter is the founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch and the author of Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America. She said today: “Just a handful of large chemical companies including Dow and DuPont already control most of the seed supply used to grow crops like corn and soybeans, as well as the herbicides that genetically engineered seeds are designed to be grown with. Any merger that consolidates this market into fewer hands will give farmers fewer choices and put them at even more economic disadvantage. And it will make it harder for agriculture to get off the GMO-chemical treadmill that just keeps increasing in speed. The Department of Justice needs to block this merger to prevent the further corporate control of the basic building blocks of the food supply.”

Diana Moss is president of the American Antitrust Institute. She said today: “Any merger on the agricultural inputs side of DuPont and Dow will get antitrust scrutiny. Some of the markets for biotech and seeds are highly concentrated, which has been driven by Monsanto having made so many acquisitions in the past. If you put a new merger in the this mix, it’s going to raise concerns about leaving only two or maybe three firms. That’s a market landscape that doesn’t promote competition, entry, and innovation. Farmers could be squeezed even more and consumers could pay higher prices.”

--

Notes Rick Hind of Greenpeace: 


In 2014 Dow began selling off their chlorine units. This may be an attempt to mitigate their liability but may also leave workers and communities facing the same hazards run by different corporate entities.
http://www.reuters.com/article/dowchemicalunits-ma-idUSL2N0RO1OV20140925and

Read more »

Immediate Reaction to San Bernardino Attack

Below is a statement I wrote for an accuracy.org release on Dec. 3, the day after the San Bernardino attack that killed 14 a week ago. Unfortunately, much of it continues to apply. -- Sam Husseini 

Ritualistic denouncements of ‘violence’ are ubiquitous after the murderous shooting Wednesday afternoon in San Bernardino, Calif. They come from many — including U.S. officials in an administration conducting bombing campaigns as well as from grassroots Muslim activists affiliated with groups backing bombing campaigns.

It’s remarkable that Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s notion, which goes back at least to the 1980s, that the U.S. government participates in ‘wholesale terrorism’ is so rarely invoked in progressive, to say nothing of mainstream, discussions of ‘terrorism,’ even as many note hypocrisies like Christian and Muslim suspects being treated quite differently. See: 'Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Drone Assassination Program Is "The Most Extensive Global Terrorism Campaign The World Has Yet Seen,"' and The Real Terror Network, by Edward S. Herman; see below for excepts.

This massive oversight obscures all discussions of terrorism, as the elephant in the room of U.S. government violence is not meaningfully discussed. Under those conditions, discussions are not going to lead to solutions.

As I write, there’s endless media discussion along the lines of ‘Police have not identified a motive for the shooting. They have not ruled out terrorism.’ (NPR) But terrorism is not a motive. It’s a tactic to peruse a political motive or goal, like to dominate the Mideast (an apparent U.S. government motive) or violently coerce the people of the U.S. to stop their government from dominating the Mideast (an apparent al-Qaeda motive).

Nor should the word ‘radicalized’ be demonized. Radicalized can and should mean to gain a greater political understanding, to see root causes of problems; it’s antithetical to someone who decides meaningful solutions lay in slaughtering 14 civilians.

Restrictions on information often seem designed to make officialdom appear prescient, or at least have that effect. For example, a name of one of the suspects, Syed Farook (or, rather, a mangled form of it) was mentioned on Twitter at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday — some seven hours before it was made public by officialdom and major media, but well before President Obama suggested — apparently for the first time — that people on the quite problematic no-fly list should be particularly restricted from buying guns.

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Is Sec. of Air Force Falsifying About Weaponization of Space?

While the current box office hit "The Martian" by director Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon depicts coordination between the U.S. and Chinese space programs, that's not the way it's playing out in the real world. 

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James on Wednesday at the National Press Club responded to a question about the U.S. blocking efforts at by Russia and China and over 100 other countries to ensure the disarmament of outer space by alleging that China and Russia are engaging in activities in space that are are "worrisome." 

Sec. James stated "we don't have weapons in space in the United States." She then added: "Now what has been very worrisome in recent years is that some other countries around the world, notably China and Russia, are investing and they're testing in different types of capabilities which could shoot satellites out of orbit, and do other things to our capabilities and the capabilities of allies in space, which is worrisome." [Question at 54:00, video of event.]

Sec. James' comments were in response to a question this reporter submitted citing a UN vote last month which was 122 in favor to 4 against disarmament outer space. The U.S. was one of the nations voting against the resolution. [full question and response below.] 

John Hughes, the president of the National Press Club and moderator of the event, in his introduction of James, noted that she was recently made "the principle space adviser with expanded responsibilities of all Pentagon space activities." 

Still, Sec. James stated today "I'm not familiar with that vote." 

Alice Slater, who is with Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee and is a leading activist on disarmament said today: "It’s hard to believe that the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force is unaware of the U.S. military program to 'dominate and control the military use of space' as set forth in Pentagon documents such as Vision 2020 [PDF] or that the U.S. also has tested anti-satellite weapons in space." 

A summary of the votes in question on Nov. 3 on the UN's website states: "The text, entitled 'No first placement of weapons in outer space,' reaffirmed the importance and urgency of the objective to prevent an outer space arms race and the willingness of States to contribute to that common goal." The UN summery references a "draft treaty, introduced by China and the Russian Federation. ... The draft was approved by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Ukraine, United States, Georgia), with 47 abstentions." Yet, James, in her remarks painted Russia and China as the aggressors. 

But consider Sec. James' exact words. While she indicates the U.S.: "we don't have weapons in space" -- she has a different standard when talking about Russia and China: They "are investing and they're testing in different types of capabilities which could shoot satellites out of orbit" -- which the U.S. obviously is doing as well. There is a race to weaponize space though it would seem Russia, China and most other nations are making moves through the UN to stop it and the U.S. government appears to be hindering that. 

In addition to Vision 2020, the Project for a New American Century also called for U.S. control of space as one of its goals: "CONTROL THE NEW 'INTERNATIONAL COMMONS' OF SPACE AND 'CYBERSPACE,' and pave the way for the creation of a new military service -- U.S. Space Forces -- with the mission of space control." [archived PDF