Two Trump Quotes May Show What Did and Will Happen

In Donald Trump's remarks following his win of a plurality of votes in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois on Tuesday, he made two particularly critical statements that may help us understand what did happen and what will happen in this election. 

Properly understanding these remarks I think highlights the need to address perpetual war -- and foreshadows the compulsion of the establishment to merely use populist rhetoric, highlighting the need to form genuine populist alternatives. 

What did happen: Trump addressed foreign policy as well as other issues -- while Bernie Sanders didn't meaningfully address foreign policy and largely limited himself to a one issue campaign.
 
First Trump quote: “And Paris was a disaster. There have been many disasters, but it was Paris. This whole run took on a whole new meaning -- not just borders, not just good trade deals. ... And the meaning was very simple: we need protection in our country, and that’s going to happen. And all of a sudden the poll numbers shot up.”

Trump has a point here -- Paris and San Bernardino attacks gave his campaign a different dynamic. Meanwhile, Sanders didn't meaningfully respond after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, even thought he had tremendous opportunity to do so. Most notably, there was a Democratic debate on CBS the day after the Paris attack. As I wrote at the time

So, at the CBS debate the day after the Paris attacks, Sanders didn't even want to talk about foreign policy. It was tragic really. He could have laid into U.S. foreign policy, he could have said that by arming the Saudis we've fostered problems, it would have jolted the campaign and the public could have been engaged in foreign policy in a meaningful way.

But he didn't.

The most he could do is criticize the invasion of Iraq, which is valid -- no one who voted for the Iraq war is qualified for any title other than inmate -- but 13 years later, totally inadequate. Whatever you have to say about economy (and even here I think Sanders could be better) will ultimately be trumped by the fact that you can't articulate a path out of perpetual war. If you don't show you've got a path out of perpetual war, the people will pick someone who they figure knows how to do perpetual war.

The conventional wisdom is that foreign policy doesn't matter. That may be true in terms of specific policies, but not in terms of a deep understanding of the U.S.'s place in the world. A president must help define that. Sanders failed. People are right to complain about the disparities in media coverage, but part of this has been self inflected by Sanders. 

Trump has been contradictory, but has generally outlined a tough but non-interventionist, "America First" foreign policy. In fact, Trump has even discussed the trillions of dollars spent on wars that should go to infrastructure -- another thing Sanders failed to do. Of course, we don't know what Trump would actually do were he to become president, I'm merely noting what he appeals to -- which brings us to the second point. 

What may well happen: Economic Inequality may well fade as an issue in a meaningful way. This ironically could erode Trump's base. 

Second Trump quote: "We don't win at trade, we're going to win at trade. We're going to make our country rich again, we're going to make our country great again. We need the rich in order to make the great, I'm sorry to tell you."

Marcy Wheeler tweeted in response the night of Trump's victory speech: "3/15/16: When inequality ended being campaign issue." 

Both Trump and Hillary Clinton will feel drawn to increasingly focus on each other and could jettison their populist rhetoric. It's clearly phony in her case, and clearly could be in his. 

This ironically creates an opening. While establishment candidate Michael Bloomberg has ruled out running, there is space now for an anti establishment campaign that can authentically be called populist. Trump has benefited from the populist orientation of the country, but he didn't create it and he doesn't define it. He does not own the votes of poor working class whites. He has benefited from them, but -- positioning himself to take his base for granted could be vulnerable. 

Indeed, as seems likely, if Clinton and Trump start ripping into each others hypocrisies, an opening may develop for a campaign from the radical center to draw in Sanders supporters and others from the left -- and Trump supporters and others from the right. The later would be people who are draw to populism, but don't want to be tainted by xenophobia, racism and misogyny. The Libertarian and Green parties may be the vehicle for such and effort, or they may continue to approach the electoral process from the margins, continuing to relegate themselves to low single digits. 

Central to this is the spoiler argument. As I outline at VotePact.org/about -- the imperative is to develop a campaign that draws support from both the anti-establishment left and right. Doing so in effect siphons off votes in pairs from the establishment Democrat and psudo-anti-establishment Trump campaigns. At the very minimum, such an effort gives voters leverage. Absent such efforts, Wheeler's comment about inequality ceasing to be a campaign issue will likely prove tragically prescient. 

News Release and Video of USAID Action on Slain Honduran Activist Cáceres

Here's video I took and news release I got over the transom after going to the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center where I saw the action. 


Contact: Jake Dacks
Email: dcforberta@gmail.com

March 14, 2016

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ACTIVISTS DEMAND USAID BREAK TIES WITH HONDURAN DAM PROJECT

DENOUNCE POLITICAL ASSASSINATION OF HONDURAN INDIGENOUS ACTIVIST BERTA CACERES

Washington, DC – Concerned DC residents unfurled banners inside the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building today, in front of the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) information office, calling for USAID to break ties to the controversial Agua Zarca dam project being built in Honduras.

On Thursday, March 3, world-renowned Honduran indigenous environmentalist Berta Cáceres, who led her Lenca peoples against the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River, was assassinated in her home. Berta had received the Goldman award in 2015 – the highest award for environmental activism – in the very same Ronald Reagan building in April of last year.

The two DC residents, Jake Dacks and Nico Udu-gama, scaled an art installation in the atrium of the building and unfurled two banners which read: “USAID stop funding murder in Honduras” and “Berta Cáceres, Presente!”. They read demands of Berta’s indigenous organization, COPINH (the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), which included an end to USAID’s collaboration with the DESA-Agua Zarca Hydroelectric company, which has been denounced for years by Honduran social movements for their use of paramilitary violence to kill, threaten and displace the Lenca people in order to build dams along the river.

“We stand in solidarity with our dear comrade Berta and the Lenca people and all Hondurans who are valiantly resisting displacement in their territory,” said activist Jake Dacks. “If USAID is serious about involving communities in development, they will listen to the Lenca people and stop working the DESA-Agua Zarca hydroelectric project immediately.”

After the 2009 coup in Honduras, the US State Department continued to fund projects through its development arm, USAID, despite the bloody repression of Honduran social movements who denounced the land and mining concessions given to Honduran and transnational companies without consulting the communities. The United States continues to train Honduran police and military through institutions like the School of the Americas, despite their proven track record of silencing dissent.

COPINH continues to demand that the material and intellectual authors of Berta Cáceres murder be brought to justice.

The two activists were detained by Federal Protective Services and then turned over to Metropolitan Polce. For more information, visit www.bertacaceres.org

###

Russia expert Stephen Cohen on Trump

Stephen Cohen was on the John Batchelor Show on Feb. 16. At around 38:00 -- audio at TheNation.

Cohen is professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University. His books include Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War.

Cohen: 'In my lifetime, in such moments of dire international crisis, I do not ever remember a presidential campaign or season where the candidates, on their own or because they were forced to by moderators or by the public or the media, won’t tell us what they think other than a bumper sticker like “I hate Putin and I won’t talk to him,” things like that, tell us what they would do if they were president today or tomorrow. Of the Republicans, since Rand Paul left the race, all of them simply say “we’ll punch Putin in the nose and that will solve the problem.” Only Donald Trump, also in bumper stickers, has said something different. He said:

1) 'He doesn’t accept all of these criminal allegations against Putin because there’s no proof, they’re just allegations, and in America we have due process.

2) 'He keeps saying that he’s a man who knows how to make a deal with Putin. So I interpret this for Donald Trump, who never uses the word, to mean “diplomacy.” That he would do diplomacy.

'Now what there’s been since the beginning of the New Cold War is a complete collapse of American diplomacy, or the militarization of American diplomacy towards Russia. Kerry is struggling, as we have already spoken, to demilitarize American diplomacy and to restore real negotiations. Trump in his odd way — “I’m the greatest deal maker in the world, I can make a deal with anybody, Putin doesn’t bother me, I’ll sit down and make him an offer he can’t refuse, and will make a deal and things will be okay.”

'Alright, he probably doesn’t know exactly what he means. But I would prefer a president who tells me not that “I’m going to send more troops to Russia’s borders in order to provoke them into a war,” but a president who tell me “I’m going to sit down and discuss this with you and see if we can work it out.”'

Nuclear Annihilation of a Radical Message on Israel: The Case of Concepcion Picciotto

There were some lovely, moving moments in the memorial service of Concepcion Picciotto at Luther's Place Church on Saturday. 

Concepcion is known -- with William Thomas, who died a few years ago -- for leading what is apparently the longest protest in U.S. history: Against nuclear weapons in Lafayette Park, in front of the White House. She died last month. 

As WTOP -- the local news station -- noted today: "Picciotto’s nuke vigil became a permanent fixture across from the White House for five consecutive presidents, including President Barack Obama, but not one of the presidents ever spoke to her."

Tom Siemer, with trembling hands holding the microphone, sobbed "I built nuclear weapons for 23 years" and then that Concepcion "was so unselfish" -- as she literally died to the end for peace, with failing health, virtually homeless, continuing the vigil. She was almost like a protester who immolates oneself, but in slow motion. 

At the memorial service, the speakers included former CIA man Ray McGovern who noted the Washington Post's apparent proclivity for questioning Concepcion's sanity, and asked who was the mad one here given the Post's apparent view that her desire to prevent nuclear war was at best quaint. Her lawyer, who spoke first and long, did some of the same, but seemed at one point to frame the nuclear threat stemming from the doctrine of MAD, mutually assured destruction, as a simple relic of the Cold War. He almost echoed a patronizing tone that one might hear from the Post, referring to his arguments with her, barely disguising an eyeroll. 

There were glimmers of Concepcion's radicalness certainly during the service -- she wasn't outright cooped into a banal liberal symbol as Martin Luther King often has been, but, critically, the word "Israel" was not uttered at the memorial in the church. This was incredible since it was hard to go three minutes talking with Concepcion without her talking about Israel -- either its crimes or the incredible threat posed by its unacknowledged nuclear weapons. Her work stressed things that so few do: Israel is perhaps the greatest threat because it has a massive nuclear arsenal, refuses to sign the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, uses violence with incredible impunity and it is an expansionist settler colonial state. 

And Concepcion was not -- as some, including Caitlin Gibson of the Washington Post have referred to her as -- an anti nuclear "proliferation" activist. She was for disarmament. Concepcion was clear: "Live by the bomb, die by the bomb." Her point was the U.S. and other nuclear powers live by the bomb and must stop. She was about disarming the current nuclear weapons states; not simply preventing proliferation of nuclear weapons to more states. After all, it is largely the policy of the U.S. government that current nuclear weapons states should maintain them and others should be denied them. The U.S. government occasionally does wage or threaten wars over this issue -- or perhaps I should say, using this pretext. 

Concepcion focusing on Israel was at times even jarring even to me -- a Palestinian American -- when I'd talk to her. Don't take my word for it, look up some videos of her. She doesn't go long before mentioning Israel. And if you think it through, for very good reason. 

The word "Israel" was finally uttered from the microphone -- after a hundred or so people left the church and went to the site of her long-standing protest in front of the White House, setup there photo-op style by Medea Benjamin of CodePink. 

It was left to Simin Royanian, an Iranian-American activist and analyst to utter the word when finally granted the mic. She noted Concepcion's staunch opposition to Israel's Zionism and said she was always supportive of Palestinian and other liberation movements in the Mideast. 

Perhaps it's thus with all prophets -- the moment they die, many around them push aside their central statements that seem inconvenient but were actually the center-line to their dedication and integrity. 

But, no, Concepcion was largely ignored in life. John Steinbach, longtime antinuclear peace activist and co-coordinator of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee told me: "Concepcion wasn't taken serious by a lot of groups. I can't tell you the number of times I tried to get mainstream peace groups that had protests in Lafayette Square to include or invite or at least acknowledge her vigil which was right there. It never happened." In contrast, Steinbach notes: "The Japanese [nuclear bomb] survivors loved and respected her and always wanted to spend time with her." 

The memorial service did feature a Japanese representative reading a statement from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee. Unfortunately, it also offered a fair number of clichés -- "We Shall Overcome" and a lengthy homily presuming to praise the prophetic voice while ignoring much of the substance of it, instead repeatedly invoking the song "Turn, Turn, Turn". 

But there was nothing cliché about Concepcion. 

She had a pointed, high pitched, Spanish accented voice and would utter totally political incorrect statements. "Don't Be a Lemming -- Save Yourself -- Renounce Genocidal Weapons" read her sign. "Silence is a war crime." She'd be good at staying on message as they say, repeating what her signs would say. "Bush is war criminal" she'd repeat. 

And she held signs on Israel up high and unapologetic: "Judaism YES / Zionism NO" and "Disarm IsraHell -- 200 Illegal Nucs -- Save the World -- Save the Children" and "Stop Funding Israeli Terrorism."

Great stuff. 

But she did make political statements on Israel that I would never make; and I didn't delved into her personal struggles with other activists, which were apparently contentious at times. One sign she'd hold up was "One Nation Under Israel" (which featured a U.S. flag with a star from the Israeli flag on it) and another: "Terrorists Are Us -- 'Holocaust:' A Word Used by Zionists to perpetrate Crimes Against Humanity" (with a swastika scrawled in) -- which featured the website of Neturei Karta - Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism

The Nazi "Holocaust" isn't just a "word" that's been used for murderous purposes of course, but also an actual historical fact. But she didn't write that it was "just" that, though many may have read it that way. Nor do I subscribe to the view that the U.S. is "Under Israel". In fact, I don't much see nations any more. I mostly see forces: imperialism, colonialism, corporate capitalism, white supremacy and misogyny asserting their power and how other forces resist and are complicit with them. 

But I've not seen any of Concepcion's signs on Israel any more at the memorial, which is continuing and seems to be sanitizing itself. As I write, the vigil does have one sign about an upcoming protest against AIPAC -- so it's apparently still alright to criticize rightwing Zionist groups -- and perhaps unintentionally pump them up -- but not the more liberal varieties. This type of framing divorces the centrality of Israel's nuclear weapons, which the U.S. government has rendered it forbidden to speak of, from the anti-nuclear work on the vigil. 

Really, did you catch that? It's illegal for U.S. officials to talk about Israel's nuclear arsenal. As Grant Smith has found: "Under two known gag orders -- punishable by imprisonment -- U.S. security-cleared government agency employees and contractors may not disclose that Israel has a nuclear weapons program." So perhaps score one for the "One Nation Under Israel" camp. 

But ignoring Israel's nuclear weapons has the ironic effect of the naive viewer wondering "why pick on Israel?" -- since the Israeli nuclear arsenal -- which was the brainchild of liberal Zionists Ben Gurion and Shimon Peres -- is sidelined instead of being front and center. 

Concepcion was certainly difficult, at least for me, to talk with. I tried helping her find housing at one point, which might have lead to connections that might have helped, it was hard to tell at times, but she was undoubtedly a handful -- only housing around the White House would do of course. As if that were selfish of her. I end up wishing I were more patient in trying to help her; God knows she was patient with us. 

Still, I wished that the protest would be more understandable, it certainly came off as eccentric at times. But I think that can be fixed without it being effectively sanitized, which seems where it is headed. 

Front and center are now typical banal signs, which were back bench material for Concepcion: "War Is Not the Answer". Really? I've got news for you: War often is the answer. War can be exactly the answer if the question is how to effectively dominate the planet, which it often is to many. 

The memorial service put on for Concepcion featured a rendition of "Ain't Gonna Study War No More." I disagree. We actually haven't studied war nearly enough. The "peace movement" needs to get over itself and talk about war: the death, destruction, flying limbs and stench of it in precise terms if it has any interest in actually changing things and not just feeling superior to those dreaded Republicans. 

Fast disappearing from the vigil is what was central to Concepcion: by embracing a radical humanity, discerning the taboos of the establishment, she rightly raged against them. At the current rate, I fully expect "Free Tibet" signs to pop up at the vigil. 

In my chatting with her occasionally over the years, I think Concepcion pointed to a central truth -- that colonialism and Zionism were central forces threatening the planet. And that central truth is continually obscured by people talking about neo-conservatives or liberal interventionists instead of seeing an entire neo-colonial project at work, or perhaps not so "neo" at times -- just plain colonial. And one should be clear: She didn't really single out Israel as some do -- she'd talk about unmentionable U.S. "terrorism" and "war crimes" as easily as Israeli. 

If she seemed to become overly persistent on imperialism and Zionism and Israel's unacknowledged threat to humanity, I think it was a reaction not just to those threats and officialdom and not just to corporate media -- but also "progressive" activists' silence on central questions of nuclear armed Zionism. 

Unfortunately, her own memorial service became a monument to that silence. 

Talking VotePact on "Watching the Hawks"

Talking about VotePact.org with Tyrel Ventura and Tabetha Wallace on RT's "Watching the Hawks" -- Feb 25. Great interview -- would have loved to learn more from Tyrel about the dynamics around his dad's -- Jesse Ventura's -- success at breaking out of the two party system. 


Tabetha Wallace: Gridlock is the name of the game in Washington and I don’t mean traffic. I mean congress. And if you’re a concerned citizen you may not take notice anymore. That’s because the process of moving through effective legislation didn’t come to a sudden screeching halt or a stumble with a deafening thud. Congress has been deadlocked for a decade or more, which for some people constitutes their entire young adult life. Enter from stage left and stage right the candidates for the Republican and Democratic parties and the race to the White House 2016. The GOP has been trying to push establishment candidates like Rubio and Bush but Cruz and of course Trump are dominating. The Dems thought that Hillary was a lock and then came Bernie with a successful message of social justice and an aggressive stance against Wall Street. The establishment just can’t seem to get it’s sway this time. But will that really matter in the end? Let’s say Hillary gets through against one of the GOP candidates. Are hardcore Republicans really going to vote for Hillary? Even if their only option is Trump? And will Bernie supporters really lead the fold to vote for a Trump, a Cruz or a Rubio? No, probably not. And thus: voter deadlock. So it there a solution? Well our next guest Sam Husseini seems to think so. His new organization VotePact has come up with an interesting strategy for Democrats or Republicans to team up and take votes away from the establishment by supporting third parties in pairs.

Welcome Sam.

Sam Husseini: Good to be with you 

Tyrel Ventura: Always a pleasure. Thank you for coming on today.

Sam: Great to be on the show.

Tyrel: Yeah so you know, we were just talking about the gridlock in our democracy. We see it in congress, we see it all over, even on the local level. You see this right-left gridlock. You know? What is the reason behind this and is there any reason to suspect that we are going to be able to move beyond this gridlock in congress, senate with this system of democracy and the way we vote as it is today?

Sam: It’s not a total gridlock you know, the establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans collude on a bunch of issues. They are trying to get their trade bills through, keep their wars going so on and so forth. So when it suits them they can (laughter).. But you’re right that by and large there are people that are basically boxed in to both parties. People leftist, you know, feel they have to keep voting for the Democrats no matter how establishment they become no matter how corporate they become no matter how corrupt they become. same thing on the other side, bunch of libertarians other folks who want to see another way out but can’t. You can vote for a third party but then you’re quote-unquote throwing your vote away. You’re afraid of doing that because you’re afraid you’ll help the guys you hate most.

Tabetha: Right.

Sam: So you become a prisoner. You gotta keep voting for the Republicans you gotta keep voting for the Democrats no matter if they stop listening to. Solution to VotePact. Team up. Find somebody in your life, ideally. Your brother, your wife, your brother-in-law who annoys you over the Thanksgiving day table. But you trust them as a person, you trust them with your kids they take care of your kids, whatever. Your debate partner, your coworker, whatever -- and say ‘Okay we’re both going to use our personal bond to vote for the third parties that we most want.' Now it can end up that they vote, you know, one votes for the Socialist or the Green and the other votes for Libertarian or Constitution party. That’s all well and good. But this could, conceivably be a path for literal electoral victory. If you can get a ticket that appeals to what I call 'radical center.’

Tyrel: Radical center, interesting term.

Tabetha: I like ‘radical center’ that seems like a good place to be, actually.

Sam: Against the Wall Street bailouts, corporate trade deals, for civil liberties --

Tyrel: Most of America I think if you look at the polls and stuff, most people are fiscally conservative, socially liberal. Generally by and large they are kind of in that middle area. We can pull ideas from …

Tabetha: Yeah, more people now as they are looking, the center is a little further left than it was

Sam: Certainly among young people

Tabetha: Yes, which is the biggest chunk of the voting block which they finally figured out which I’m very, very glad. I’m very glad that my slightly younger brothers and sisters have gone ‘Oh wait a minute, there’s a lot of us and we don’t like this and we can do something about it’ and that’s really powerful. But I wonder if part of what you’re seeing is this gridlock in democracy and part of the pushback against it, the fall out that we’re seeing … the two party system is from the gridlock  in Congress. Is it just that or I mean is that the main thing because it seems to me watching years of our legislative body just sit there and do nothing has had such an impact on us.

Sam: The repetition in terms of gridlock does two things it makes people fed up with the establishment as a whole but in a way by focusing in a few narrow issues it compels people to be more on their side digging in their heels and hating the other side more. So you see, focusing on issues likes refugees or immigration where there is a difference in left and right. What I think is really interesting about those issues is that they are in a way symptomatic of other issues. Refugees from Syria wouldn’t be coming over getting out of there in desperation if there weren’t a perpetual war policy. Immigration is largely a result of drug war and corporate trade policy. Now all those deeper issues are things that the left and the right, the principal left and right as we would call them, agree on. But they end up bickering over the symptomatic issues of refugees and immigration. Now those are real issues I’m not diminishing them but they are in effect a result of other things.

Tyrel: You gotta take a step back and look bigger and say what is the bigger policy we need to be looking at? That seems to get like as you said the earlier - that sails through - bigger policy that effects that trickle down of things like immigration and things like that sails through without a problem.

Tabetha Wallace- Emotional issues. People seem to have gotten very emotional. Millennial are always accused of being too emotional. Like have you seen Capitol Hill? It’s temper tantrums and crying and even without John Boehner it’s temper tantrums and everything’s very like ‘they don’t want to talk to me, oh what’s going on?.'

Tyrel: What’s interesting is that you talked about kind of corralling the disenfranchised voters saying hey go to your family member or your friend say how do we vote for a third party or something like that you know. Will that strategy work and with I mean do you believe you can create this powerful enough voting block to break the two party system.

Sam: I think it can. People have to work it out and dialogue it out and really be serious about it. They have to trust the person that they’re dealing with. And in a way, we have the politics of hatred. MSNBC is telling all the Democrats hate the Republicans and Fox does the other way around. So this is building a bridge so that people can talk to each other and get stuff on the table. And you see, I mean, even in this election it’s Sander and Trump and they agree on some stuff. In past elections it was Kucinich and Ron Paul. They agreed on stuff. I mean imagine if you had a ticket of Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich saying we are gonna run on the stuff that we agree on and that’s what we’re gonna implement. And don’t talk too much about the other stuff that we don’t agree on. But that’s a hell of a lot. That’s a hell of a lot.

Tyrel: Other people could get behind that if we didn’t have that kind of left-right paradigmers. My dad called it, when he was running and he was in office he always   it’s like professional wrestling. On T.V. they fight with each other but behind the scenes they all get in favor of some people and are all hand-in-hand.

Tabetha: Of course.

Tyrel: Yeah it’s pretty interesting stuff. Especially when you get to third parties.

Tabetha: Yeah. And I think part of the thing about third parties that is so interesting is that you’re organization is trying to sway voters away from democrats and Republicans ultimately or the two big --

Sam: Well to at least, you know, not be prisoners. To vote their actual preferences instead of feeling like they have in effect been browbeaten into putting aside all their hopes, desires, their dreams because 'I just gotta vote against the other guys I don’t want.'

Tabetha: Right. So let me ask you a question because I think what I’ve seen and what you’ve seen in your personal experience is that the problem isn’t necessarily the party problem and getting a third candidate it’s that the media obsess over those two things and what happens is when you have a third party candidate, someone like you know Jill Stein, the green party Gary Johnson of the libertarian party, ugh some Ventura guy might have ran a while ago. (Laughter)  When you have those people they are not included in the polls. They’re not included in the conversation and they’re just left out. So how do you make that next step when the media has such a Trump-esque wall in front of you to keep you from even knowing about them?

Sam: The media is an absolute wall but I put a little bit of responsibility on the third parties themselves. They don’t have a strategy for breaking out of that saying they want to get into the debates. And then they have their alternative debates and they end up agreeing on a lot of stuff on their own. So I’m saying.. A lot of policy issues. Why not join together? But part of the strategy would be getting endorsements in pairs. So you imagine a ticket like this getting endorsements of the old union official and a small business man coming together. Over and over again people coming together in pairs to this campaign. The strategy implies a media strategy that I think would generate serious news stories.

Tyrel: I wanna bring up one thing, this is interesting we are talking about voting and all that. Look the electoral college in today’s day and age, is I believe, pretty unfair and out of date. Especially for third parties because if you look at like DC. Put it in a two-party perspective. DC primarily votes, has three electoral votes, primarily votes Democrat every time. So if you have a Republican in DC generally your vote is kinda of just disappears every presidential election because of the electoral college. How do we? Is it time to drop the electoral college and do a legit popular vote or develop a new system so that way people in red and blue states or states that predominantly go red or blue. Well we have about a minute lets try to sum that up.

Tabetha: So fixing it on a structural level.

Sam: Sure, there are all types of structural proposals that should happen. The electoral college, instill run-off voting, proportional representation all kinds of things. But you’re in effect asking the political establishment to please dismember itself.

Tabetha: Yes!

Sam: And they’re not going to do that. And the beauty of VotePact is saying we don’t need anything else. We can come together as people and using the votes that we have to implode the system as it is. So it doesn’t require their cooperation.

Tabetha: I get it. Thank you so much, thank you.

Tyrel: I like that, come together and change the system Sam Husseini thank you very much for joining us and educating us.

Sam: My pleasure.

Face It: Trump is Right About Iraq -- and that Should Sink Clinton


At first I thought it ironic that Saturday's Republican debate happened in the "Peace Center" in Greenville, South Carolina. [video and transcript

But perhaps that had a positive effect.

Actually, no. For the discerning listener, Donald Trump has been critical of U.S. militarism for some time. On Russia, on Syria, on Iraq and on North Korea

People say that Trump is loud. But I don't think he's been loud enough.

Last night, he finally screamed an anti war stance to the boos of Bush's and Rubio's and Kasich's one percent donors. It's only half of what needed to be said, but it was a measure of reality that's desperately needed.

Trump: "You fight ISIS first. Right now you have Russia, you have Iran, you have them with Assad and you have them with Syria. You have to knock out ISIS. ... You can’t fight two wars at one time." But of course, to some of the U.S. establishment, two wars is slacking, they want more than two wars. Trump continued: "We shoulda never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East. They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. And they knew there were none. ... The World Trade Center came down (BOOING) during the reign. He [G. W. Bush] kept us safe?"

And, if anyone noticed, even as the auditorium packed of monied interests booed Trump, the tracker at the bottom of the screen went up for him. 

Trump's truth telling was met with more ridiculousness and lies.

Jeb Bush described Trumps attacks as "blood sport" which, given the subject matter at hand -- his brother's appetite for illegal war and failure in his responsibility to protect the U.S. public -- was, to put it mildly, ironic. And then Bush appealed to the values of his family, which, evidence would show, includes hands quite drenched in blood. 

John Kasich's reaction on Iraq WMDs was to appeal to Colin Powell's credibility, which has been a late night TV joke for over a decade. He also claimed the U.S. got into a civil war, which is wrong -- the U.S. government helped foster the sectarian violence. And no, Kasich, the borders of the Mideast were not "drawn after World War I by Westerners that didn’t understand what was happening there" -- they were drawn by Westerners who wanted to divide and rule -- as is the actual goal of Western interventions to this day

Marco Rubio was perhaps the most priceless -- "Saddam Hussein was in violation of UN resolutions, in open violation, and the world wouldn’t do anything about it." That's a total lie. Iraq had disarmed and the U.S. did everything it could to prevent the UN from verifying that disarmament so that the draconian sanctions would continue on Iraq indefinitely and they could have their regime change war, see my time line: accuracy.org/iraq

The worthies at the Weekly Standard now write: "Interviewers should press Trump on this: What evidence does Trump have that George W. Bush and his top advisers knowingly lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? How many other government officials does Trump believe were in on the deception? What does Trump believe would have been the point of such a lie, since the truth would soon come out?"

In fact, it's quite provable that the Bush administration lied about Iraqi WMDs before the invasion. I know, I helped document such lies at the Institute for Public Accuracy, where I work, before the 2003 invasion: 

In October, 2002, John R. MacArthur, author of Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf Warnoted: "Recently, Bush cited an IAEA report that Iraq was ‘six months away from developing a weapon. I don’t know what more evidence we need.’ The IAEA responded that not only was there no new report, ‘there’s never been a report’ asserting that Iraq was six months away from constructing a nuclear weapon." That's just the tip of the iceberg of what was knowable at the time. See other such news releases from before the invasion: "White House Claims: A Pattern of Deceit" and "Bush’s War Case: Fiction vs. Facts at Accuracy.org/bush" and "U.S. Credibility Problems" and "Tough Questions for Bush on Iraq Tonight."

The problem in 2002 and early 2003 was that Bush didn't get those tough questions. Just like there are no real tough questions about U.S. policy in Libya, Syria, etc. now. 

What we're getting is Trump raising these issues years later when it seems some of the public is finally/still willing to hear them. And that's splendid. The establishment has tried to just keep rolling along with their wars and deceits after the Iraq invasion. No accountability, no nothing. They make Wall Street look like self-critical introverts. To answer the Weekly Standard's question -- the truth still hasn't come out in full force; Bush and the other pro-war deceivers have managed thus far to get away with it all. 

The only problem with what Trump is saying is that he's not saying it loud and strong enough. He didn't back up the case for impeachment against G. W. Bush for the Iraq invasion, which was the point of one of the questions to him, though several legal scholars have done so, including Francis BoyleJonathan TurleyBruce Fein and Elizabeth Holtzman. Reps. Dennis KucinichCynthia McKinney and John Conyers, in different ways and at different times, pursued the possibility. 

Some are deriding Trump for apparently exaggerating his objections to the Iraq war in 2003 and 2004. Maybe so, but the fact of the matter is that most who spoke out meaningfully against Iraq war early were defacto drummed out of establishment media and politics. 

Trump is being Buchanan 2.0 -- that there's some real bad that comes with that and there's some real good that comes with that. And quite arguably in a post 9/11 world, the good is more important than it was in 1992. 

As I've written elsewhere, I have no idea what Trump would actually do in office and what his current motivations are. He's been contradictory, but the thrust of his comments is quasi isolationist. His campaign should certainly be a huge opening to groups wanting to reach out to millions of working class whites on issues of foreign policy, trade, as well as some core economic issues. 

And even on foreign policy, Trump can be extremely dangerous. For example, the apparent force behind his anti Muslim comments is Frank Gaffney, a rightwing pro-Israel militarist.

The point is that what Trump is appealing to is an electorate that is sick of deceit and perpetual wars and there's a lot of good that comes with that. It should be an opportunity for anyone claiming to care about peace -- and not a cause to mock the people supporting him as I've seen many "progressives" do. 

But, for the Democrats, the import now is this: What's it going to look like if Trump is the Republican nominee? If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, Trump -- with very good reason -- will tie the stench of perpetual wars and the lies that accompany them around her neck. She will make the 2004 John "I-was-for-the-war-before-I-was-against-it" Kerry look like a stirring exemplar of gracefully articulated principles. 

If any Democrat cares a bit about electability, Clinton -- the candidate not only of Wall Street, but of endless war and of the war machine -- should have been dumped yesterday. 

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.