The Irony of Trump's Sweden Comment: What Bin Laden said

Re Trump's recent comments on Sweden

People of America this talk of mine is for you and concerns the ideal way to prevent another Manhattan, and deals with the war and its causes and results.

Before I begin, I say to you that security is an indispensable pillar of human life and that free men do not forfeit their security, contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom.

If so, then let him explain to us why we don't strike for example -- Sweden?

-- Osama bin Laden in a 2004 videotaped address to the American people on the September 11, 2001 attacks. 

Progressives Need to Think Through Implications of Flynn's Resignation

[A slightly edited version of this was first published by The Progressive.]

Many so-called progressives are stoked that Trump's National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned charges surrounding his discussions with a Russian ambassador while Trump was president-elect.

Congressional Democrats want to use this to go after Trump. Rep. Nancy Pelosi: "After Flynn resignation, FBI must accelerate its investigation of the Trump Administration's Russian connection."

Even before Flynn's resignation, Rep. Maxine Waters did a segment on "Democracy Now:" "Trump Should Be Impeached If He Colluded with Russians Ahead of Election." 

There's certainly reasons to want to see Flynn go -- he recently put Iran "on notice" while the White House tried to gin up the case against Iran

And there are obvious reasons to try to impeach Trump that don't require congress people to qualify them with an "if" -- his violations of the "emoluments clauses."

But it's perhaps easier, more "nationalistic" and ultimately horrifying for "progressives" and others with an alleged interest in peace to be harping on the Russian angle. 

The Clinton campaign repeated that time and again during the campaign -- with disastrous results. Clinton talked about Russia and Trump talked about jobs in the rust belt. Guess who won the presidency?  

Many so-called progressives are in effect making an alliance with the most war-mongering parts of the U.S. establishment. They are in effect buttressing incredibly dubious notions of U.S. victimology and demonizing official enemies that increase U.S. militarism and the likelihood for confrontation with the other nation on the planet that could destroy the planet a hundred times over. 

Farid Yousef Husseiny, 1932-2017

My dad died this [Thursday] morning in Amman -- as he had been saying he wanted. It was fairly fast. I was with him. I'd gotten up around 9, saw him going back to bed from the bathroom, gave him a rub on the back as he went for more sleep and a few minutes later, I heard gasping. I thought maybe he was having a bad dream, but he was gasping for breath, seemed to pull away his oxygen tube. I put it back, kept rubbing and patting, called my cousin Hind who was coming over and neighbors who called 911. We were supposed to fly to the US tonight for a TAVR heart valve operation. He spent last night talking to pastor neighbor, saying he wanted to be with Jesus, that his sins were cleansed. I took this picture of him yesterday, proudly showing his file of documentation of our family's property around Tiberius, stolen by the Israeli state agencies.

I Correct Schumer Fudging What Medicare Privatization Would Mean and He Pretends He Was Being Honest All Along

The new Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer began his remarks at the recent "Hands Off Medicare" event [video below] by noting that he and Bernie Sanders -- another speaker at the event -- both went to James Madison High School in Brooklyn. Said Schumer: "Bernie was on the track team and they won the city championship. I was on the basketball team. We weren't that good our motto was 'we may be small -- but we're slow.'"

The quip turned out to be rather apt. 

At the event, Schumer went on about about how privatization of Medicare would mean that doctors could charge what they wanted. I call him on this -- he was totally omitting the role of the insurance companies -- and he responded by basically pretending that he was saying that all along. 

In contrast, Sanders in his opening statement railed: "The leadership of the Republican Party in the House, in the Senate and Mr. Trump have got to start listening to the American people not the drug companies not the insurance companies -- not the billionaire class." Similarly, Sandra Falwell of National Nurses United argued the U.S. needed to stop wasting "tax dollars by subsidize profit making health insurance corporations." 

Navigating the Trump Crisis: Both "Anti-Trump" and "Give Him a Chance" Are Wrong

Two views seem to be dominant among progressives regarding Donald Trump: Either protest all he does, people are holding "anti-Trump" rallies -- or "Give Him a Chance", let's see what he does, maybe it will be okay. 

Both the demonizes and those urging a passive approach are wrong.

"Anti-Trump" is hollow. Trump is a human being who has said a lot of contradictory things. To protest a person is dubious. Too often, "progressives" have simply galvanized against a person -- remember "Anybody But Bush"? That's not a particularly uplifting way of approaching things and doesn't lead to genuinely positive outcomes. 

You can certainly talk about rights for immigrants or women's rights or ensuring anti-Muslim policies do not escalate. But to say "anti-Trump" or to ignore good things that Trump has said is hollow. And, yes, there are good things he's said, for example, during the primaries, he attacked the regime change wars waged by George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton: 

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.

But it also doesn't make sense to say "let's see what he does". To stand aside is to allow Trump to be cutting deals with Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will doubtlessly work to take away what populist, anti-interventionist and pro-working class instincts Trump may potentially otherwise follow.  

Bernie Sanders has in recent days struck a reasonable tone at times. In this interview and in a statement just after the election, he said: “Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media. ... To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

The Threatening Dynamics Behind a Secretary of State Giuliani

Many media are reporting that Rudolph Giuliani is slated to be nominated as Secretary of State [New York Times: "Secretary of State Giuliani? He's the Leading Choice, Trump Aides Say"]. This would likely mean that he is being backed by Mike Pence, VP-elect, now head of the Trump transition. Pence of course is a major figure in the so-called Christian Right. In 2007, many were surprised that Pat Robertson backed Giuliani for president. At that time, I wrote the following piece arguing that it actually made a good deal of sense. 

"Giuliani, Robertson and Israel."

Many from across the political spectrum seemed surprised when Pat Robertson recently endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president, but this was only the most recent manifestation one of the worst aspects of the relationship between Christianity and the state. As Blase Bonpane, whose books include Liberation Theology and the Central American Revolution has written:

“Back in the fourth century when the Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea on the Turkish coast … imperial theology was born. The sword and the cross came together in building empires, in the Crusades, the Inquisition, the conquistadors and most recently among the ‘Christian’ war mongers who are cheerleaders for the war in Iraq.”

Bill Berkowitz has noted the most pertinent statements from Giuliani and Robertson:

"We had a lot of time coming back from Israel to talk about our understanding of how important Israel is to the United States, how important they are in this whole vast effort that we’re involved in this terrorist war against us," Giuliani recently told Radio Iowa. "We realized that we agreed on far many more things than we disagreed on."

For Robertson, Election 2008 is not about the bread and butter social issues that have fueled the conservative Christian movement for more than two decades. Rather, it is about the "defense of our population against the bloodlust of Islamic terrorists," Robertson told the National Press Club audience. "Our world faces deadly peril…and we need a leader with a bold vision who is not afraid to tackle the challenges ahead."

All this is notable, but it only touches on some of the deeper reasons why you see an alliance between the likes of Robertson and Giuliani and what that says about the nature of how religion is used in the political sphere today and for centuries — going back to the oldest books of the Bible.

Election helps bring into view serious issues in polling

I just posted this on the American Association for Public Opinion Research listserve.

While I certainly agree that framing etc huge problem, doesn't seem to me that this gets at critical issues made evident from what happened.

There of course is a spiral of silence with regard to "third party" candidates. Stein and Johnson supporters concluded that voting was futile, as was the framing in media and polling reports throughout.

What I think is happening is the public is lurching for real change and the political system doesn't want to give it to them. Pollsters role in this is that the "prediction" of election has totally outweighed actually understanding the public's views. No poll asked who people WANT or PREFER to be president. Why?

No scientific poll asked the preference question in RCV or Range Voting form. A wealth of information could be gotten this way. A huge part of this is that this is just no on agenda of major media. But if polling is to be anything other than an accessory for media framing of whatever corporate media want to frame, then something very real has to give here.

There's a volatility in the polls because of the hunger for change and the sense that the choice (apparently feasible choices) are probably phony. There could be a plurality for a "third party" and we'd never know it because the right question isn't being asked, much less reported prominently, understood.

Sam Husseini
VotePact.org

Democracy Now's Non-Correction on Nuclear Vote


After I posted my piece on Friday, "Democracy Now" changed the transcript to read

The United Nations on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to start talks aimed at abolishing all nuclear weapons. The landmark resolution will see the U.N. convene a conference next year to negotiate a legally binding instrument for worldwide nuclear prohibition. The vote was 123-38, with 16 countries abstaining. [Not supporting the measure] were all nine known nuclear states: China, Russia, France, the U.K., India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea and the United States.

But this is also incorrect. As I noted in my piece, North Korea in fact voted for the proposal. There has apparently been no on-air correction or pseudo-correction -- the following program's headlines made no mention of the vote. 

This is no minor matter. What's needed is a basic acknowledgement and understanding of the role the U.S. government and NATO play in ensuring the continuation of the nuclear weapons threat. "Democracy Now" is unwilling to make that acknowledgement. 

"Democracy Now" Gets Nuclear Ban Vote Totally Wrong

"Democracy Now" sadly continues its descent, which I've alluded to occasionally on twitter. To fully tell this story would require a very long and detailed piece, but the latest chapter of this is worth noting in more than a tweet as it happens. On this morning's headlines, Amy Goodman claimed: 

The United Nations on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to start talks aimed at abolishing all nuclear weapons. The landmark resolution will see the U.N. convene a conference next year to negotiate a legally binding instrument for worldwide nuclear prohibition. The vote was 123-38, with 16 countries abstaining. Voting against were all nine known nuclear states: China, Russia, France, Britain, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea as well as the United States. [Note, this is wording as broadcast, the transcript is minorly different.] 

In fact, China, India and Pakistan abstained. North Korea actually voted for the resolution. As even the AP correctly reported: "The United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among the countries voting against the measure." See country by country breakdown results from International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. See excellent map from ILPI. If you're still skeptical, see actual pic of vote board