Senator Lott on President Carter’s Palestine book


Sam Husseini: Senator Lott, how do you react to President Carter’s recent statements that Israel is imposing an apartheid system on the Palestinians, and there’s been a defacto silence, a complicity, by both parties in the Congress. How do you react to that statement?

Senator Trent Lott: I really have been concerned by a lot of what former President Carter had to say, and I don’t think a lot of it has been helpful in any way. The situation with Israel and how they deal with the Palestinian issue and others is very very serious, very critical, and I think while we should try to be helpful, we should also be very careful in what we propose and what we say.

Husseini: Senator, have you been to the West Bank, have you been to any Palestinian towns?

 Yeah, uh, I have not recently, but I have been there in the past, yes.

Husseini: In Israeli settlements, or on the other side of the line?

Lott: On the Israeli side of the line.

Husseini: So you haven’t been to the Palestinian towns and villages.

Lott: No, no I have not been to the Palestinian side of the equation. Look, it is not a perfect situation, I don’t deny that

Husseini: Doesn’t that prove Carter’s point?

Lott: Now part of what you do in finding a solution is not start, you know, using names and casting dispersions on either side. You try to find how you solve the problem. You try to move to a positive solution without trying to characterize or condemn one side or the other. Look, there’s no perfection in how that part of the world and the Middle East is being done. But we need to try to find a way to come to some solutions and I think good men and women of good will are going to have to do that.

Husseini: But how can you do that if you only go to one side of the line? You said you’ve only been to one side

Lott: Look, I haven’t condemned the other side

Husseini: No, no, but you haven’t been there, you don’t see their point of view. How do you know it’s not apartheid if you haven’t been on their side of the fence?

Lott: I’ve never been to North Korea either, do I have an opinion on that situation, yeah. I haven’t been to Iran

Husseini: So it might be apartheid for all you know.

Lott: I would not describe it that way.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on Dec. 10, 2006; posted on posthaven Nov. 11, 2015]

Privatizing Iraqi oil? Iraq Study Group Co-Chair Lee Hamilton questioned


Sam Husseini: Mr. Hamilton, can you clarify one of your recommendations, number 63, which called on the US to “assist the Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise and to encourage investment in Iraq’s oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies. Are you calling for some sort of privitization?

Lee Hamilton: Oil of course is the critical asset in Iraq. It furnishes a very large percentage of the GDP of Iraq. It furnishes a huge percentage of the total revenues of the government. We recommend many things with regard to the oil industry. I think there are as many recommendations on oil as any other feature of it, and you have to look at them as a package. Okay, thank you.

[originally published on Washington Stakeout on Dec. 10, 2006; posted on posthaven Nov. 11, 2015]

Song Sellout: Free, Love

More memories gone to hell: As I watch Pulp Fiction and Butch wakes from a nightmare -- as he should from his memories of killing a man the night before -- a commercial for Chase credit cards groves to "I'm Free" by the Stones and one for Macy's bops to the Beatles' "[With Love] From Me To You."

A notable piece on song sellouts is "Riders on the Storm" by John Densmore. I could hardly believe it when Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" was commercialized by Mercedes-Benz several years ago. Even as a child I was worried that "Who Will Buy" from Oliver would end up being commercialized, especially by some pharmaceutical -- perhaps the one that makes propranolol.

But maybe it's all for the best. If you don't want songs that are meaningful to you to be commercialized, write your own.

[originally published at on Nov. 26, 2006]

New Meaning to "United States of Amnesia"

"60 Minutes" aired a segment tonight about propranolol, a drug that some claim can erode memories of traumatic events. At the end of the segment Leslie Stahl noted that the military will be funding further research. The great thing about something like this is that even if it doesn't work, the "promise" of it working helps facilitate All the War Crimes, None of the Guilt.

[originally published at on Nov. 26, 2006]

The Week in Review Pseudo-Haikus on Kerry, Borat -- and Haikus

He says he calls him dumb

but claims he tricked him to war
If so, who's dumb?

Bush repents?
some finally ask as stunt
No, Kerry for wrong reason

We can pretend
we have global dialogue
More like global blackface

But it's funny
says my friend
Maybe that's the problem with us

Haiku says much with little
There are few real thoughts
and too many words

Really it's more than
just seventeen syllables
I will try to learn

[originally published at on Nov. 4, 2006]

How Third Parties Can Solve the "Spoiler" Problem -- And Win Elections

The Problem:

Most voters don't vote for -- often don't even consider voting for -- third parties because they view voting for a third party as helping the establishment party they most dislike. Disenchanted Democrats continue to vote for Democrats because they don't want Republicans; disenchanted Republicans continue to vote for Republicans because they don't want Democrats. This continues despite the relative bankruptcy of both establishment parties as reflected in polls and general disillusionment.

VotePact - The Solution:
Disenchanted Republicans and disenchanted Democrats should join together and both vote for the third party of their choice. They can each vote for the same party or they can each vote for different parties. This way they siphon off votes by twos from each of the establishment parties and give them both to third parties. This liberates the voters to vote their actual preference from among parties on the ballot, rather than to just pick the "least bad" of the two majors. It offers an enterprising third party a path to major electoral success.

What it's not:
This is not "vote swapping" -- in which voters in "swing" states who want to vote for third parties "swap" votes with committed Democrats and Republicans in "safe" states. Unlike "swapping," VotePact does not depend on the electoral college to work. It does not result in people voting for candidates they don't want, it frees people to vote for candidates they do want, but are held back by fear. It does not link people up from different states; it compels people to join with people they know in a new way. And unlike "swapping," VotePact is not an attempt to "minimize the damage" of a third party run -- it is designed to actually shake up the political spectrum and open the door to actual electoral victory for third parties.

Reconfiguring the Political Spectrum:
The dominant political alignment can be described as the "Cheney-Lieberman" axis. Progressives, libertarians, and authentic conservatives, as well as others, have been unrelentingly manipulated by the establishments of the two major parties. They should wake up to the fact that they can join together, rather than be kept apart by the establishment party apparatchiks who exploit them to maintain the duopoly.

Achieving Dialogue:
This would facilitate and would be propelled by meaningful dialogue on the issues by citizens. This would likely emphasize issues in which the establishment parties have most colluded: constitutional powers, issues of war, corporate transnational-dominated trade, infringement on civil liberties and big money in politics to name a few. The creative powers of the citizens will likely produce "pair ups" that no political consultant could possibly have predicted. This could achieve a steady stream of novel news stories that could continue to draw attention to VotePact and the relevant third party candidate(s).

The Voting Precursors:
The VotePact idea is not dissimilar from how politicians actually act towards one another -- one votes for the other's project in return for a favor. The politicians manipulate the voting system all the time for their narrow interests; the people should be able to vote in a manner which maximizes the public interest. Note that VotePact would be largely irrelevant if instant runoff voting were adopted. VotePact can be seen as "do it yourself" instant runoff voting. But VotePact has one peculiar advantage even over even that system: it can help force meaningful dialogue between unlikely protagonists, potentially leading to a healthier political culture.

The Campaign Strategy:
Get endorsements in pairs -- a former union official with a small business owner for example. They would each give their reasons for voting for the candidate at a news conference, which would end with the candidate bringing them together, both shaking hands with the candidate in the middle. Thus the candidate is seen as bringing people together, ending the partisan bickering and moving people forward together in positive direction. This will be an example for other people, giving them ideas for how they can creatively "pair up" with someone else.

The creative powers of the citizenry could then be set free in a novel manner. No political consultant could possibly predict the vibrant ways people could "pair up." Groups like "Democrats for Candidate C" and "Republicans for Candidate C" could be brought together and pair people up.

This would work especially well for candidates (such as Kevin Zeese, running for the Senate seat in Maryland) who have gotten multiple party nominations and who are in the debates with the Democratic and Republican candidates.

Turing the "Spoiler" Question Around:
VotePact is in a sense self-promoting; that is, it answers the perennial "aren't you a spoiler" question in a direct manner. It does so in part by putting the onus on the questioner -- by finding their "political mirror image" -- to find a way out for themselves. The question is answered thus: "I understand your concern: you don't want A to win, so you'd rather vote for B even though you really want to vote for me. There's a way out for you: Join with someone in your life, someone you know and trust, a relative, a friend, a coworker, who prefers A to B and both agree to vote for me (or your friend can vote for some other third party candidate). This solution requires work, but it gets you political freedom. There's a way out of your dilemma, I hope you'll take it."

People all over the world and throughout history have risked their lives and fortunes for political freedom. People in the U.S. today should be able to exert the emotional and mental strength to join with someone they disagree with to emancipate themselves from the two party duopoly.

The Issue of Trust:
There is the issue of how the people can trust one another to actually vote for who they say they'll vote for; this is similar to the classic "prisoner's dilemma." The major answer to this fear is dialogue, dialogue and more dialogue -- for the people to really talk through what they want and to develop trust in the political realm that they have in other areas of life, as friends, co-workers or neighbors. This interweaves the personal and political. Another alternative is to both get absentee ballots, fill them out together and mail them together.

Creating a Three-Way Race:
However, if VotePact has a substantial impact, it will affect the polling results and therefore its major consequence would be to let people see the viability of third parties. That is, VotePact helps the scales to drop from the peoples' eyes so they can judge candidates on their merits rather than being confined to the Democratic-Republican horse race. Once this happens, trust in effect becomes less of an issue as the illusion of inevitability of Republican-Democratic dominance is shattered. Think of the success of Ventura; or that the Greens in Germany were fond of saying that they are not from the left or right, but out in front.

This idea was written about several times, but was never been seriously pursued. It was raised in Ralph Nader's opening press conference in the 2004 campaign, but the Nader campaign did not adopt it until in the last few days of the campaign; though it was featured prominently on their web page at that point. But by its very nature, this is not a last minute maneuver -- it should be central at the height of the campaign. To take effect, it requires the voters to have a serious dialogue with people who they have typically disagreed with, build trust, take political effect and spread. See: "A New Way To Vote -- As A Duet" (Common Dreams) also, for related repercussions on polling, see: "Why Public Opinion Polls Aren't."

[originally published at on Oct. 19, 2006]

Global Non-Dialogue, Chapter XXII

Most of the broadcast outlets -- or atleast their affiliates in DC -- I noticed ABC and Fox -- as well as CNN of course -- carried Bush's speech but not the speeches before.

So although Bush had to endure Annan, the head of the General Assembly and Lula (who proposed an international conference on the Mideast) air some very mild criticism of US policy, the US public -- thanks to the networks (obvious exception of C-Span) -- were spared it.

As I recall, this is exactly what happened each time Powell addressed the UN in 2003.

[originally published at on Sep. 19, 2006]

John Negroponte Questioned

John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence questioned outside Fox studios in Washington, Sunday, September 17, by Sam Husseini.

Husseini: Ambassador, why did your office approve the Fleitz Report on Iran's nuclear program, even though according to the IAEA, the report contained 'erroneous, misleading, and unsubstantiated information' about Iran's nuclear program?

Negroponte: We did not -- of course, as you know, that report was written by a staff member of the House Intelligence Committee, we did not originate it, and we weren't commenting so much on the content, as we were -- we dealt with it from a declassification point of view, what could be published in an unclassified format, so I wouldn't associate us one way or another, we didn't comment one way or another on the conclusions that were drawn by that report.

Husseini: Ambassador, do you know that Israel has nuclear weapons?

Negroponte: I don't want to get into a discussion about Israel's nuclear powers.

Husseini: You can't comment on whether Israel has nuclear powers?

Negroponte takes questions from other journalists and then turns to leave.

Husseini: How can you expect to have any credibility on the Middle East if you can't say whether or not Israel has nuclear weapons?

Negroponte continues walking away.

Husseini: Mr. Ambassador, you are head of national intelligence and you can't say whether Israel has nuclear weapons?

Negroponte's Handler: He answered the question.

Husseini (following Negroponte): No, he didn't answer the question. If he'd answered the question I'd go away. Mr. Ambassador, I just want a simple answer to a simple question. Does, do you know that Israel has nuclear weapons? You've made all these statements about Iran and Iraq and so on. Everybody knows that Israel has nuclear weapons. You're director of national intelligence and you can't say whether Israel has nuclear weapons? It's ridiculous. How can you have any credibility on the Middle East? How can you have any credibility Mr. Ambassador?

Negroponte gets in his car and is driven away.

[originally published at on Sep. 19, 2006]